Banks of the Ohio

Folk ballad
First published in the 1800s
Words by unknown

First verse:
I asked my love to take a walk
To take a walk, just a little walk
Down beside where the waters flow
Down by the banks of the Ohio


Banks of the Ohio guitar tab and notes (pdf)

tabs tabs & notes


Banks of the Ohio instrumental guitar (mp3)

Banks of the Ohio - guitar tab, notes, chords and lyrics

"Banks of the Ohio" is a folk ballad, or a murder ballad, since it tells a story about boy who is killed by his girlfriend. The first recorded version is from 1927 by Red Patterson's Piedmont Log Rollers. The song has later been recorded by artists such as Joan Baez, Johnny Cash and Pete Seeger.

The music transcriptions of the song with tabs and notes are available for download as PDFs. It's free for personal use only.

Banks of the Ohio (full accompaniment) - two versions

"Banks of the Ohio" for guitar with full accompaniment in two versions. The first version includes a simple harmonizing whereas the second has the harmony in a higher voice. Both can be downloaded free in pdf-files and listen to.

Download version 1 | Download version 2

Banks of the Ohio flute

"Banks of the Ohio" for flute in the key of C. Free download in pdf-file and audio.


Banks of the Ohio (only melody)

"Banks of the Ohio" standard and tablature notation for guitar.

Banks of the Ohio notes and tabs

Tips on how to learn this song

In this easy version, the melody consists only of quarter and whole notes. It only involves two strings and three frets (including open strings). Notice that the last note is played once over two bars (bars 15 and 16).

Lyrics and chords

Banks of the Ohio chords in the key of G
Verse 1:
I asked my (G)love to take a (D7)walk
To take a walk, just a little (G)walk
Down be(G7)side where the waters (C)flow
Down by the (G)banks (D7)of the Ohio.(G)

Verse 2:
And only (G)say that you'll be (D7)mine
In no others' arms en(G)twine
Down be(G7)side where the waters (C)flow
Down by the (G)banks (D7)of the Ohio.(G)

Verse 3:
I held a (G)knife against his (D7)breast
As into my arms he (G)pressed
He cried "My (G7)love, don't you murder (C)me
I'm not prepared(G) for(D7) eternity".(G)

Verse 4:
I wandered (G)home 'tween twelve (D7)and one
I cried, "My God, what have I (G)done?"
I've kil(G7)led the only man I (C)love
He would not (G)take me (D7)for his bride.(G)

Verse 5:
And only (G)say that you'll be (D7)mine
In no others' arms en(G)twine
Down be(G7)side where the waters (C)flow
Down by the (G)banks (D7)of the Ohio.(G)

Only four chords are involved in the song as presented above (which is one of several versions of the song). These are the I, IV and V chords in G major key and including two dominant seventh chords. As normal, the song starts and ends with the I chord (G). Otherwise, the progression goes from I to V (line one) and from I to IV (line three) in each verse, and finally I - V - I in the final line.

There are possibilities to change to key further by using a capo. These are the keys that the song would transpose in depending on which fret the capo is put:

Key, time, tuning and tempo

Information about "Banks of the Ohio" considering musical key, time signature, tuning and bpm.

Key signature music symbol


The presented version of Banks of the Ohio is played in the key of G.

Time signature music symbol

Time signature

The song is played in 4/4 tempo (counted one, two, three, four for each measure)

Tuning overview


The song is normally played in standard tuning (EADGBE).

BPM symbol and numbers

Tempo (BPM)

The tempo in beats per minute is 180 for the presented version. The tempo marking presto can also be used.

Tags: Flute