Stand By Me by Ben E. King – Ukulele Lesson

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!)

If you’re short on time, here’s the micro ukulele lesson that I created on Instagram for this one.

If however, you have a little more time, read on…

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.

Stand By Me Ukulele Chords

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.

The Rhythm

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

Stand By Me Ukulele 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…


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!

Stand By Me Ben E. King – PDF Songsheet

ukulele-strumsStrum Like A Pro

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).

Grab my free Ukulele Go! beginners pack.

20 thoughts on “Stand By Me by Ben E. King – Ukulele Lesson

    1. Hi Tim, the pattern just repeats the following 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

      Hope that helps!

      1. thank you so much for making this website. I have had a ukelele since I was 6 yrs old and never knew how to play

  1. Adding second down with chunk is really great!

    Can you explain ”try hitting the body of your ukulele” ? When/how?

    1. Yeah sure, instead of playing your chunk raise your hand off your uke and just slap down directly on the strings. This will leave your hand sat on top of the strings ready for the up stroke directly afterwards.

      When I play it with the slap I tend to switch the pattern up to be much more basic and I go with D-SU–S- (S being a slap).

      That mean that I’m not playing anything at all on beat 3. Beats 2 and 4 become slaps. I threw a few example audio files into the post to help.

  2. When you say two bars of c and two bars of Am do you mean two times throught the down down up up down up strumming pattern

  3. In the strumming pattern section, you explain the strumming as DDUUDU. Then when you add the chunk the pattern becomes DUXU-UDU. Shouldn’t your new pattern be DDXU-UDU?

    1. Hey Maria, it actually probably should be D-XU-UDU but if you listen to the recording I am actually playing the up strum after the first beat (just before the chunk). The chunk adds enough emphasis on that second beat that you can get away with playing the up strum before. I hope that makes sense!

  4. Hello!

    First off, thank you for this. I’ve just started playing the ukulele and this site has been really really helpful.

    Anyway, I wonder why the “bridge” of the song is missing from the songsheet. I mean the part in which Ben E. King sings “whenever you’re in trouble…”
    I guess that part of the song goes C C Am Am F G as the rest of it. I just want to ask if there’s a particular reason that part isn’t included in the songsheet.

    Thanks again!

    1. Hey Paolo, glad you’re finding the site useful. I’d love to give you the answer to why that section is missing but I honestly can’t remember. I’ll add it on to my list and get it updated!

  5. Hi all, I’ve just got a Uke and I love the thing already despite losing my lovely fingernails. After three weeks I find that my finger ends are starting to harden up but i still have days when I have to grit my teeth to play for a few minutes. I’ve just started trying different strumming patterns but I still find it difficult but I value the time I have to practice and find I feel guilty if I only manage to pick my Uke up once a day, someone did warn me it was addictive! My Uke is a Rocket soprano,it was very cheap but I think she sounds great though at some point I know I’ll want a concert, did I say someone told me it was addictive!

  6. Wow! I’m having a hard time coordinating the strumming. How can I tell how many bars to play when I am playing different songs? The sheet music only shows the UD.
    Should I just do 2-2-1-1???

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