Stand By Me is an absolute classic song. It’s simple, timeless and it sounds pretty good on a ukulele too. Read on to find out the strumming pattern, chords, structure and a few little tricks to make it sound even better on ukulele…
I better start by saying that this is a ukulele lesson for Stand By Me by Ben E. King, not the Oasis song of the same name. It’s a song that will always make me think of a bunch of kids going to look for a dead body (thanks for that Stephen King!)
Stand By Me Chords
It’s a really easy song to play and it has just 4 chords in it and none of them are particularly tricky to master – the G7 is about as difficult as it gets (and that’s pretty easy). I’ve included the chord boxes here for anyone that’s not familiar with them already.
For the record, I’d recommend playing the Am chord with your second finger rather than first for a more fluid change to the F chord that follows.
The pattern is exactly the same throughout the song, 2 bars of C, 2 bars of Am, 1 bar of F, 1 bar of G7 and back to 2 bars of C.
Stand by Me has a really distinct rhythm and to make the song recognisable you’re really going to need to emulate that as closely as you can. If you’re new to Ukulele then I’d suggest this strumming pattern repeated throughout…
Stand By Me Strumming Pattern
The as you get more comfortable thing about replacing the second down strum with a chuck/chunk/muted strum so the pattern becomes something like…
DUXU – UDU
Give It A Slap
Finally, if you really want to push it a little bit more, you can try hitting the body of your ukulele for a more percussive sound.
On the audio example above I’m playing one down strum then slapping my hand down on top of the strings and then playing an up strum. Give it a try, it takes a little getting used to but once you slap the strings your hand is in the perfect position to play an up strum. Keep the timing really relaxed and you’re all done!
If you really want to progress your strumming at a rapid rate then I’d highly recommend taking a look at Al Wood’s downloadable ebook How To Play Ukulele Strums. For just $12 you get an in-depth guide showing you how to play 49 different strums with supporting videos and MP3 files. There’s also a really useful section that focuses on counting strums the easy way (something I wish I had when I was learning to play).