Jon MacLennan


Guitar Lesson: How to Play "Run Through the Jungle" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Unlock a swampy blues jam you can add to your repertoire with this guitar lesson on how to play "Run Through The Jungle" as recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival. This lesson will guide you through the tuning, chords, strumming patterns, and riff variations so you can start playing in this style like a pro today!

Who wrote Run Through The Jungle

"Run Through The Jungle" was written by singer, guitarist, and songwriter John Fogerty. The song was first released on Creedence Clearwater Revival's fifth studio album, Cosmo's Factory, in 1970. The lyrics and title of the song have led many to believe that the song is about the Vietnam War.

What tuning is Run Through The Jungle in?

The guitar tuning for "Run Through The Jungle" is drop D tuning. To get there from standard tuning, you'll want to take your low 6th string and tune it down from E to the note D. This gives the song and riffs a deep bass foundation that adds to the emotion and feel of the song. Simply tune the 6th string down and leave the rest of the strings the same.

6th string = D

5th string = A

4th string = D

3rd string = G

2nd string = B

1st string = E

Run Through The Jungle Guitar Chords

"Run Through The Jungle" actually doesn't have many chords. At the core of this song is a blues groove that is based around just one chord! This is a writing style in the blues that I refer to as the "One Chord Blues." John Lee Hooker also used this in his song "Boogie Chillen." Yes, you can play a whole song with just one chord, and legendary guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, and Howlin' Wolf/Hubert Sumlin have all used this technique to create cool jams. The chord for this song is Dm.

Here’s a simple way of playing it in the open position:

Now as we get more into the rhythm and riff variations we are also going to use a Dm7 shape which can be played like this:

In standard tuning, you would typically not play the low 6th string with these chord shapes. However, being tuned to drop D allows you to play the low 6th string open in these chords and this gives a huge sound to your guitar playing.

How To Strum Run Through The Jungle

Before you start playing all the riffs, it's important to begin by making sure you are feeling the basic groove of the song. The song has a backbeat feel, which means we are going to place an emphasis on beats 2 and 4.

To play this feel, start by plucking the low 6th string on beat 1 and then strumming the treble strings on beat 2 with a slight accent. Then, repeat this again for beats 3 and 4.

Essentially emphasizing beats 2 and 4 will start to create that backbeat feel. Count out loud as you play like this: 1, 2, 3, 4. 

Riffs And Variations

Once the chords and strumming are starting to feel comfortable, next, you’ll want to try adding in some riffs.

The majority of the riffs in the song come out of the Dm blues scale. This is the master scale for the song, and can be played in the open position like this:

Example 1 plays a riff in this style combining notes from the blues scale and also the chord shapes from above. Start by plucking the low 6 string, then the 1st fret on the second string, and the 2nd fret on the 3rd string. This first part is based on the Dm7 chord shape. After that move up to the Dm chord and strum that on beat 4 and then rest.  

The second half of this riff uses notes from the D minor blues scale. It starts on the note Ab on the 1st fret of the 3rd string and walks down the scale. This immediately gives the riff a bluesy, gritty sound coming right in on that Ab, which is the b5 of the scale one of the bluesiest notes you can hit.

Next, try putting them both together like this:

Example 2 uses double-stops. First, pluck the low 6th string and then move to the double-stops on the 3rd and 2nd strings. This riff pivots back and forth again moving from the Dm7 chord shape up to the Dm chord.

From there move up to the 1st and 2nd strings on the 1st fret for more double-stops, and then back to the Dm chord. Then finally, end with the 2nd fret on the 3rd string to frets 1, and then 3 on the 2nd string. These notes come straight out of the D minor blues scale.

Now try putting both those measures together. 

Here’s one more variation that sounds great over the chorus of this song. This again combines the low bass string tuned to drop D, the Dm7 chord, and the blues scale.


Guitar Tone:

For the guitar tone that I had in the video above, I used my Fender Telecaster on the bridge pickup. I used a little bit more distortion. However, the guitar tone on the actual recording is relatively clean and uses a tremolo effect with a little reverb.

Here is a starting preset that would get you in the ballpark on a typical Fender-style amplifier.

Bass: 5

Middle: 6

Treble: 6

Reverb: 3

Tremolo Speed: 4

Tremelo Intensity: 4


"Run Through the Jungle" by Creedence Clearwater Revival is an iconic song that any guitarist can have a ton of fun jamming with. By breaking down the song into its individual parts, such as the chords, scales, and riffs, you can develop the skills needed to play the song. Remember, the right practice makes perfect, so take your time and practice each part of the song until you feel comfortable playing it. In time, you'll be playing this rockin' tune with ease. And for more CCR guitar fun, check out "Suzie Q" next!

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