Everybody Hurts – R.E.M. Guitar Lesson: Make it Hurt So Good

Ever wanted to strum along to R.E.M.’s classic “Everybody Hurts”? This song is surprisingly beginner-friendly, and with a little practice, you’ll be playing it in no time!

Everybody Hurts - R.E.M. Guitar Lesson: Make it Hurt So Good

Gear Up:

  • Your trusty guitar
  • A pick (optional, you can use your fingers too!)
  • A capo (optional, but can make things easier)

Chords We’ll Use:

This song relies on just a few basic chords. Let’s break them down:

  1. E minor (Em): This is a common beginner chord. Find your third finger and place it on the A string, second fret. Index finger goes on the D string, second fret, and pinky on the G string, first fret. Strum across all the strings (except the very thin high E string).
  2. B minor (Bm): Similar to E minor, but move everything up two frets. Third finger on A string, fourth fret. Index finger on D string, fourth fret, and pinky on G string, third fret. Strum all strings.
Everybody Hurts - R.E.M. Guitar Lesson: Make it Hurt So Good

The Fun Part: Playing the Song!

The intro and verses use the same simple pattern:

  • Strum E minor for two beats
  • Strum B minor for two beats

That’s it! Strum along with the recording to get the timing down.

Tips for Beginners:

  • Don’t worry about fancy strumming patterns for now. Just focus on switching between the E minor and B minor chords cleanly.
  • If barre chords (holding a finger across multiple strings) feel difficult, you can use a capo to make them easier to play.
  • Strumming with just your thumb is totally fine! You can experiment with fingerpicking later.

Taking it Further:

Once you’re comfortable with the chords, you can explore the picking patterns in the bridge section. There are many resources online to help you with this, including YouTube videos: search for “Everybody Hurts REM guitar lesson”.

Remember, practice makes progress! Don’t get discouraged if it takes time to get it right. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the music.


This lesson focused on the basic chords, but the song also includes a single-note melody in the chorus. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try learning that part too! There are many online resources that can show you how to play it.

So grab your guitar, crank up “Everybody Hurts,” and get ready to make beautiful music!

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