Ain't That A Shame
An Easy Version Of A Familiar Song
"Ain't That A Shame" is a great beginner's song to learn.
It's familiar to many people, a three-chord version sounds pretty good, and it's within a reasonable vocal range. Best of all, since there are multiple versions of the song... if you mess up, no one can tell. If anyone notices, a smile and simple explanation that you're playing "another version" will do!
Most people are familiar with two widely played versions of "Ain't That A Shame": the mid-1950's version released by Fat's Domino, and the more recent 1979 arrangement by Cheap Trick on their Live From Budokan album. Others to record the song include Pat Boone, Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
The recorded versions include various riffs and bass-note runs. We'll ignore those and focus on a simple rhythm-guitar version. I'll also describe how to simplify the chords by using a pivot finger.
By the way... Start-Playing-Guitar.Com is all about learning to play the guitar. One way to accomplish this is to explain how to play songs that most people are familiar with. My intent is to help you play guitar, not to reproduce copyright materials. The simplified versions here are my own work, intended for private study and self-education while taking ease of play into account. If you want a copy of the as-recorded sheet music, you can get it here: Ain't That A Shame Sheet Music .
Playing The Chords
To begin with, let's take a look at the chords for this version: A, D, and E. These are all major chords, and you don't have to move your hands much to play them as open chords.
|SIDEBAR: An "open chord" is a chord-form with with no fret's pressed down on one or more strings. Usually two or more strings are left "open." The advantage of open chords are: they are easier to play; and they sustain their sound longer than barre chords. My Common Guitar Chords page shows how to play nine of the most frequently used open chords. Every beginning guitarist should learn them.|
Take a look at the following chord diagrams, and notice how the index-finger (finger 1) never leaves the 3rd string (G). For two of the chords, it rests on the second fret of the string. For the third chord, it simply slides down to the first fret. When it's time to repeat the chord progression over, it slides up to the second fret again. The index finger can be used as a pivot finger, a finger that does not change frets during a chord transition. You can use the pivot finger as a reference point to speed the transition to the next chord.
Try strumming the chords first. Don't worry about rhythm or speed or the words.
Concentrate on using the pivot finger, placing the fingers as close to the fret as possible (but not ON the fret), and using just the finger-tip.
Strum each chord slowly and check that each note sounds clean. If not, adjust your fingers and try again.
Remember to use the Index finger to pivot from chord to chord.
After you've practiced the chords slowly, experiment with strumming patterns. Sing the song in your head initially. It's much harder to strum and sing than you think, so get the chords right first.
Take a look at the lyrics and chords, below. The song is often played with no strumming until after the word "made" in the first line. Then you can strum the A-major chord as you like through the rest of the verse (ending with "goodbye."
The D-major chord is played on the word "shame" in the chorus. Pivot back to the A-chord on the word "rain." Pivot back to D on "shame" then pivot to E-major on "blame."