Taylor Swift: cardigan | fingerstyle guitar
Photo by Ilyuza Mingazova | Unsplash


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I've always liked Taylor Swift. In fact, she's responsible for most of my physical lesson business. In the mid 2000's, mostly boys (and very few girls) played guitar. That suddenly changed around 2007 when Taylor Swift became the biggest star in the world. Ever since then, my lesson roster has been at least 70% girls/women.

The entire guitar industry was caught in Taylor Swift's wake. Taylor Guitars saw an uptick in sales having no associating other than the name. [They eventually partnered and released the Baby Taylor Swift guitar.]

I had to adjust quickly to the new wave of female guitar players. The key was understanding that they really wanted to be singers and the guitar was the vehicle by which they could sing. To be a great great teacher you have to be fully on board with your student's musical whims. You have to see the excitement through their eyes. That meant that I had to become a fan just like them. I did.

Swift has deceptively wide vocal range. Her songs are among the toughest for any of my students to sing. Her verses often have a LOW speak/singing thing, while her choruses go up an octave from their. It's tough for most girls to pull off. Even really good singers.

Taylor Swift's new record Folklore is co-produced by guitarist Aaron Dessner from (one of my all time favorite bands) The National. Even Bon Iver sings on one of the tunes. I chose cardigan because that's the one that most of my guitar students are currently obsessing over.

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Gear used

For cardigan this I used my Cordoba GK Studio guitar. You can find a current list of my gear recommendations here.

How to play cardigan | fingerstyle guitar

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The guitar tab for cardigan is beautifully written across two pages. However, it's a fairly "involved" piece for just two pages. I recommend this for intermediate guitar players and up.  My order of play looks like this, in accordance with the guitar tab:

Verse 2x
Chorus 1x
Post Chorus #1

Verse 1x
Chorus 1x
Post Chorus #2

Chorus 2x.

My fingerstyle version of the actual bridge section was unremarkable -- so I decided to write my own solo section in place of the bridge. It actually became my favorite section to play. Enjoy, the guitar tab is available below:

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Written by:

Matthew's dad, Jennifer's husband, bass player - New Invisible Joy, YouTuber, short-film composer, creator of modern content for guitar.