How to Play ‘I’m One’ by The Who

how to play im one by the who 2

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play “I’m One” by The Who on the guitar? Well, you’re in luck! In this article, we’re going to break down the steps for you in a friendly and conversational tone. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have all the tools you need to impress your friends with your guitar skills.

First things first, let’s talk about the chords you’ll need to know. “I’m One” is played in the key of D, so you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the D, A, and G chords. Don’t worry if these chords are new to you – we’ll walk you through each one and show you the finger positions.

Next, we’ll dive into the iconic opening riff of the song. This riff is what immediately grabs the listener’s attention and sets the mood for the rest of the track. We’ll break it down note by note and give you some tips on how to get that classic sound.

Finally, we’ll talk about the strumming pattern and overall feel of the song. “I’m One” has a driving and energetic vibe, so it’s important to get the strumming right. We’ll show you a basic strumming pattern to start with, but feel free to experiment and make it your own.

So, if you’re ready to rock out to “I’m One” by The Who, let’s get started! Keep reading our detailed tutorial to learn all the ins and outs of playing this iconic song on the guitar. You’ll be jamming along in no time!


Introduction to ‘I’m One’

In this article, you will learn how to play the iconic song “I’m One” by The Who on the guitar. This song, released by the band in their 1973 album “Quadrophenia,” is a fan-favorite and showcases the powerful guitar-driven sound that The Who is known for. By following this guide, you will be able to replicate the chords, riffs, and solos that make this song so distinctive.

Background of The Who

The Who, formed in London in 1964, are considered one of the most influential rock bands of all time. Their unique blend of rock, pop, and artistry has inspired countless musicians and set the stage for the development of genres like punk and hard rock. With iconic members like Pete Townshend on guitar, Roger Daltrey on vocals, John Entwistle on bass, and Keith Moon on drums, The Who created a sound that was hard-hitting, energetic, and emotionally charged. “I’m One” is just one example of the band’s incredible musical legacy.

Equipment Needed

To play “I’m One” on the guitar, you will need a few essential pieces of equipment.


First and foremost, you will need a guitar. Any type of guitar will suffice for this song, whether it’s an acoustic, electric, or even a bass guitar. The choice depends on your personal preference and the sound you want to achieve.


If you’re using an electric guitar, you will need an amplifier. This device helps amplify the sound produced by your guitar, giving it volume and tone. Experiment with different settings to find the sound that best suits your interpretation of the song.

Effects Pedals

Although not necessary, effects pedals can add depth and texture to your guitar sound. Some common pedals used in rock music include distortion, overdrive, delay, and reverb. These pedals can help you achieve the signature sound of “I’m One” as played by Pete Townshend.

How to Play Im One by The Who


Before diving into the chords and riffs of “I’m One,” it’s important to ensure your guitar is properly tuned. The standard tuning for a guitar is E-A-D-G-B-E, starting from the lowest string to the highest. Use a guitar tuner or an electronic tuning app to make sure each string is in tune.

Alternate Tunings

Keep in mind that some songs, including “I’m One,” may use alternate tunings. While the original recording of the song is in standard tuning, you may want to experiment with different tunings to add your own twist to the performance. Some popular alternate tunings include open D, open G, and drop D.

Chords and Riffs

To play “I’m One,” you will need to familiarize yourself with the basic chords and riffs used in the song.

Basic Chords

The main chords used in “I’m One” are E, D, and A. These chords form the foundation of the song’s verse and chorus sections. Practice transitioning smoothly between these chords to maintain a steady rhythm throughout the song.

Riff Patterns

In addition to the chords, “I’m One” features distinctive riff patterns that give the song its character. The opening riff, played by Pete Townshend on the original recording, is instantly recognizable and sets the tone for the entire song. Spend some time practicing this riff until you can play it confidently.

How to Play Im One by The Who

Verse Section

Strumming Pattern

The verse section of “I’m One” has a simple yet effective strumming pattern. You can start by strumming downwards using downstrokes on each beat. Experiment with adding some upstrokes to create a more dynamic rhythm.

Chord Progression

The chord progression for the verse section is E-D-A, repeated throughout. Practice transitioning smoothly between these chords while maintaining a steady strumming pattern.


As you play the verse section, you can also sing along to the lyrics of “I’m One.” The heartfelt and introspective lyrics, penned by Pete Townshend, add an additional layer of emotion to the song.

Chorus Section

Strumming Pattern

The strumming pattern for the chorus section of “I’m One” is slightly different from the verse section. Experiment with using downstrokes and upstrokes to create a more dynamic and energetic sound.

Chord Progression

The chord progression for the chorus section is the same as the verse section, E-D-A. The repetition of these chords creates a catchy and memorable chorus that will have your audience singing along.


The lyrics in the chorus section of “I’m One” reflect the passionate and rebellious spirit of The Who’s music. Singing along to these lyrics will help you capture the essence of the song.

How to Play Im One by The Who

Bridge Section

Strumming Pattern

The bridge section of “I’m One” introduces a different strumming pattern. Experiment with using different strumming techniques, such as palm muting or accenting certain beats, to add variation to your performance.

Chord Progression

The chord progression for the bridge section consists of E and A chords. This section provides a contrast to the verse and chorus sections, building anticipation before the solo section.


The lyrics in the bridge section of “I’m One” delve deeper into the personal struggles and identity crisis that the song explores. Singing these lyrics with intensity and emotion will bring out the raw essence of the song.

Solo Section

Lead Guitar Techniques

The solo section of “I’m One” gives you the opportunity to showcase your lead guitar skills. Experiment with techniques such as bending, sliding, and vibrato to add expressiveness to your playing.

Note Selection

To play the solo section, you will need to familiarize yourself with the specific notes and the order in which they are played. You can find guitar tabs or sheet music online to guide you through this section.


Phrasing is an essential aspect of playing any solo. Take your time and play each note with intention, emphasizing the melodic qualities of the solo. Experiment with different phrasing techniques, such as vibrato and sustain, to add your own personal touch to the solo section.

How to Play Im One by The Who

Performance Tips

To truly capture the essence of “I’m One” and deliver a memorable performance, consider the following tips:

Dynamic Changes

The dynamics of your playing can greatly enhance the impact of the song. Experiment with playing softer during the verse sections and gradually increasing the volume and intensity during the chorus and solo sections. This will create a dynamic range that captures the emotional journey of the song.

Expressive Playing

Don’t be afraid to add your own personal flair to your performance of “I’m One.” As you become more comfortable with the song, experiment with adding fills, embellishments, or improvisations to make the song your own.


In summary, playing “I’m One” by The Who on the guitar is an exciting and rewarding experience. By following the chord progressions, strumming patterns, and solos outlined in this guide, you will be able to replicate the iconic sound of the song. Remember to experiment with different techniques and add your own personal touch to make the song uniquely yours. As you delve into playing “I’m One” and other songs by The Who, take a moment to appreciate the musical genius and enduring legacy of this legendary band. Rock on!

How to Play Im One by The Who

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