Stand by Me Guitar Lesson – Ben E. King


Difficulty: Level IILevel II
Length: 5:52

Stand by Me Wikipedia pageWikipedia page
Stand by Me music videoArtist website
Stand by Me music videoMusic video

With our guitar tutorial on Stand by Me, you will learn these guitar skills:
  • Barre chords
  • bass and treble line playing

Stand by Me is an incredible classic that’s pretty easy to learn if you are already comfortable with bar chords. If you’re not, than this lesson is a must see for you, as it’ll give you a great chance to practice bar chords, while playing an ultimate soul classic.

You’ll start out by learning the bar chords you’ll need to play Stand by Me. It uses the so called 50s chord progression, particularly associated with doo-wop music. The progression is: I-VI-IV-V. Next, you’ll move on to learning the bass and treble line finger picking pattern you’ll be using in the song. You can actually play this song by just strumming the given chords, but the alternating bass-treble finger picking pattern is what really makes it come alive, as it simulates 2 instruments being played together.

This is a short, but a very useful and fun beginner guitar lesson. My personal students love playing it, and I’m sure you’ll love it as well, as it presents a great opportunity to practice E and A shaped bar chords and a nice sounding finger picking pattern.

Stand by Me song details

Stand by Me was written and performed by Ben E. King in 1975. The song was first released as a single, than on Ben E. King's album Don't Play That Song 2 years later.

Since then, Stand by Me has become a world wide classic, and has been performed and covered by just tons of musicians, including John Lennon, U2, Seal, and many other great artists, who all added their personal style to it. Actually, many of these cover versions made it to the charts as well. The song has been used in many commercials and movies as well, i.e. Lion King, Stand by Me, etc.

Stand by Me awards and chart rankings

  • U.S. Top 10: #4 (1961), #9 (1986)
  • UK Singles Chart: #1 (1987)
  • United World Chart: #8
  • Rolling Stone Magazine - 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: #121
  • BMI: Fourth most-performed song of the 20th century, with about 7 million performances

If you want to refine the skills you learned in Stand by Me, check out these lessons on songs by clicking these links:

Download tabs for Stand by Me

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Download backing track for Stand by Me

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2 replies
  1. Lydia
    Lydia says:

    Hi, I’m confused on stand by me: the tabs in the first chord, (A), you say 3rd and 4th finger on string A and D at fret 7 but I don’t see those in the tab. Is that just how tab works? those aren’t usually listed?

    Thanks so much,

    • Tom -
      Tom - says:

      Hi Lydia, the tabs there indicate that you’re holding down an A major barre chord, the fingering of which is displayed in the initial summary at the top of the tabs. So with all tabs, you’ll see which chord you should be holding down, but the tablature itself will only show which notes you actually need to play.
      If you don’t have to play all the notes of the chord you’re fretting, you won’t see those notes on the tablature sheet, even though you should be holding the full chord.


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