Guitar lesson for

Stand By Me

by Ben E. King  •  Lesson #308

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

Hey friends! Here’s a lesson showing you how to play the Ben E. King classic “Stand By Me” with an acoustic guitar, no capo, key of C. Notably, I’m deviating from the “official” key of this song (Key of A) in order to prioritize an “easy to play & sounds just like the song” arrangement, which I trust you’ll find helpful. I break the lesson into two halves: (1) learning the intro, and then (2) learning how to strum the verse & chorus sections. Here’s timestamps for my video lesson:

I hope you enjoy!

Notes on capo and “key”

Ben E. King’s version of this song is in the Key of A. Most guitar lessons show you how to play it in the key of G, using capo on 2nd fret. I don’t care for either of these options, when playing solo acoustic guitar. Why? Neither allows you to play the full bass line tab, due to the guitar “not going low enough” with regard to available bass notes. As such, I like to play it in the Key of C, which is what I do in my lesson.

If you do want to use the key of C and play along with Ben E. King’s version, slap a capo on the 9th fret.

Intro tab

See PDF chord sheet.

Lyrics with chords

         C            C       Am                  Am
When the night,   has come...     and the land is dark
        F             G                       C       C
And the moon is   the only...     light we'll see
     C                C                 Am             Am
No I won't...     be afraid...    oh, I won't...   be afraid
        F                G                 C        C
Just as long...   as you stand... stand by me... so darling, darling

    C           C         Am          Am
    Stand... by me... oh, stand... by me
        F       G                C              C
    Oh, stand....... stand by me... stand by me

       C                     C     Am                    Am
If the sky... that we look upon....... should tumble and fall
       F                  G                  C       C
Or the mountain... should crumble... to the sea
        C              C             Am              Am
I won't cry... I won't cry... no, I won't... shed a tear
        F                 G                C         C
Just as long...   as you stand... stand by me... and darling, darling

    [C] Stand, by [C] me... oh, [Am] stand, by [Am] me... Whoa, [F] stand...[G], stand by me [C], stand by me [C]

[ Instrumental verse ]

    [C] Darling, darling

    [C] Stand... by [C] me... oh, [Am] stand, by [Am] me... oh, [F] stand...[G], stand by me [C], stand by me [C]

    [C] Whenever you're in trouble won't you

    [C] Stand... by [C] me... oh, [Am] stand, by [Am] me... oh, [F] stand...[G], stand by me [C], stand by me [C]

    [ repeat chorus if desired, fade out, end on C ]

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