Guitar Tablature: “Oh Susanna” by Stephen Foster
Learning to play “Oh, Susanna” on guitar gives you the chance to practice three types of 7th chords: dominant 7ths (D7 and G7), minor 7ths (Dm7, Em7, and Am7), and major 7ths (Cmaj7 and Fmaj7). Using minor 7ths and major 7ths gives the song a hip sound. Lest you think this attempt to “jazz up” a simple folk song comes from out of the blue, listen to James Taylor’s beautiful rendition of “Oh, Susanna” on the 1970 album Sweet Baby James to hear a similar approach. He actually says “banjo” without sounding corny. Use all downstrokes on the strums.
To play “Oh, Susanna,” you need to know how to play Cmaj7, Dm7, Em7, Fmaj7, Am7, D7, Dm7, G7, and C chords and how to balance a banjo on your knee while traveling the Southern United States.
When moving between Cmaj7 and Fmaj7, notice that the second and third fingers move as a fixed shape across the strings. The first finger doesn’t fret any string in a Cmaj7 chord, but keep it curled and poised above the first fret of the 2nd string so that you can bring it down quickly for the switch to Fmaj7.