Jon MacLennan


Call Me The Breeze Lynyrd Skynyrd Guitar Lesson + Tutorial

In this post, I'll share with you a guitar lesson on how to play "Call Me The Breeze," as recorded by Lynyrd Skynyrd. You may be wondering who originally wrote "Call Me the Breeze?" The original writer of this classic blues jam was American guitarist and singer-songwriter J.J. Cale.

"Call Me The Breeze" first appeared on Cale's 1972 debut album, Naturally, as the opening track. Cale's version has a soulful rhythm and blues-style guitar groove to it, and also features a lo-fi sounding drum machine.

Lynyrd Skynyrd's version takes the energy up a couple of notches with more driving guitar tones and horns.

In this article, I'll break down some key points to understanding the guitar groove and style used in this classic blues jam.

Call Me The Breeze Chords

To start off this "Call Me The Breeze" guitar lesson, you'll only need to know three chords to be able to play along to the entire song.

Now keep in mind, these three chords are the foundation and a level 1 approach, while the actual guitar playing on the song is more of a level 10 in a blues rock guitar style.

To get started, you'll need to know the chords A, D, and E.

You could play the A chord like this:

The D chord like this:

And the E chord like this:

What key is Call Me The Breeze by Lynyrd Skynyrd in?

These three chords (A, D, and E) make up the primary chords in the key of A major. So if you're wondering what key is "Call Me The Breeze" in by Lynyrd Skynyrd, the answer would be A major.

Cale's version is actually in a lower key than Lynyrd Skynyrd's. Cale plays it down in the key of F#, which gives his version a completely different sound. Overall, Cale had a much more easy-going and mellower sound in contrast to the hi-energy Lynyrd Skynyrd version. 

Is Call Me The Breeze a 12 bar blues?

"Call Me The Breeze" is based on a typical 12-bar blues chord structure and progression; however, there is a little twist.

I talk about blues progressions so much here on my site, and that is also why I recommend my students who are serious about leveling up their guitar skills fast to join my programs. Once you start applying the systems and frameworks that I've created over the past 25+ years of learning songs and teaching them, you'll immediately see MASSIVE progress in your guitar playing. I point out all the crucial information you need to know to learn to play millions of songs.

How do you play Call Me The Breeze on guitar?

So now that you have the basic chords down, you'll want to drop them into a 12-bar blues progression. To do this, you'll need to spend a specific amount of time on each chord. This is what separates the noobs from the pros. However, with this song and the way the groove feels, you actually double the length of each chord. So it's essentially like a stretched-out 12-bar blues progression, so in this case, it's actually a 24-bar blues. A basic outline of this structure might look something like this: 

  • A (8 bars)
  • D (4 bars)
  • A (4 bars)
  • E (2 bars)
  • D (2 bars)
  • A (4 bars)

So in comparison to a 12-bar blues you are basically doubling the amount of time spent on each chord in comparison to the 12-bar blues progression. The long term goal would be to just feel and hear it the same as a 12-bar.

Lynyrd Skynyrd takes this blues progression to the next level in this song. Now, not only are they just playing those chords, but they are embellishing around them and creating an awesome blues rock groove to go with it.

Example 1 demonstrates how you can play off the A chord in this style. You can break up the bass notes or bass strings from the chord like this:

This creates a double-stop on the 3rd and 4th strings, a typical sound used in many classic blues songs.

In Example 2, you can take those double-stops up to the 5th fret and get a “La Grange” style groove made famous by ZZ Top just a year before this Lynyrd Skynyrd version was released. 

Also, note more bass movement on the lower strings. Here, we are also adding in a pull-off technique from the 3rd fret of the 5th string to the open 5th string and the note G on the 3rd fret of the 6th string.

Lynyrd Skynyrd also used the A major pentatonic scale for fills and licks throughout this entire song. Here is an example of a riff in this style:

Another common blues move to note in this style is when you go from the V chord down to the IV chord. In this example, those chords would be the E chord down to the D chord, you can use a chromatic slide.

If you look at the notes on the guitar neck, E and D, you'll notice that they are a whole step or two frets apart, so as you are progressing from one chord to the next, you can use the fret in-between the two chords as a passing chord. This is a trick used in millions of songs.

Call Me The Breeze Guitar Solo 

When it comes to playing a guitar solo over this groove, you'll want to first establish the key of the song. As we determined above, the key for "Call Me The Breeze" is A major. So let's look at two options for scales we can use to solo over this progression.

The first scale I would recommend would be the A minor blues scale. This is the #1 scale for playing in this style, and it makes up the majority of the guitar solos you hear on the track.

A simple way of playing this on a fretboard map would be to use this pattern:

These would be the frets to play on each string:

  • 6th string frets = 5, 8
  • 5th string frets = 5, 7
  • 4th string frets = 5, 7
  • 3rd string frets = 5, 7
  • 2nd string frets = 5, 8
  • 1st string frets = 5, (8)

This sound is going to get you a bluesy, gritty sound and is a great place to start experimenting within your solos.

Another scale pattern you could use could be the A major pentatonic scale:

For this scale, play these frets:

  • 6th string frets = 5, 7
  • 5th string frets = 4, 7
  • 4th string frets = 4, 7
  • 3rd string frets = 4, 6
  • 2nd string frets = 5, 7
  • 1st string frets = 5, (7)

How do you get a Lynyrd Skynyrd tone?

The next step you'll want to try once you are starting to feel comfortable with the riffs and grooves is to achieve a similar guitar tone. Here is a quick guide to some Lynyrd Skynyrd style amp settings: 

  • Gain: 3
  • Bass: 4
  • Mids: 6
  • Treble: 7
  • Reverb: 3

You could also try experimenting with some effects. Now you won't need many but here are a few:

  1. Overdrive: This gives you that pushed tube amp sound. 
  2. Phaser: this was an effect that Lynyrd Skynyrd used on a lot of their hit songs.
  3. Reverb: this will add a sense of space to the sound, and keep it from sounding too dry.


Overall, "Call Me the Breeze" is a classic blues rock hit that will continue to captivate listeners for generations. Whether you're playing the original Cale version or Lynyrd Skynyrd's it's a must-know tune for any blues rock player. For another great blues in the key of A check out "Crossroads" next! 

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