Back to index of Beatles pages by Donald Sauter.
I didn't figure out the fine approximation of the Hard Day's Night chord presented below, so I shouldn't really claim this page. But I was the one who brought the subject up to my friend Bob, and it's worth sharing with the world, and I've got a website - so there you have it.
Bob Wysong is a classical guitarist with an excellent musical ear. He admires the Beatles greatly, but hasn't ever actually immersed himself in Beatles scholarship. When I mentioned the confusion that has always surrounded the opening chord of A Hard Day's Night, he couldn't believe it. To show me that this wasn't any sort of a problem, he turned directly to his fancy Complete Beatle Scores. Of course, the chord they give is a flimsy approximation. Then I directed him to rec.music.beatles to see the discussion and argument that still goes on after almost 4 decades. [I must have first put this page up before 2004.]
So, to put this limping dog of an issue out of its misery, Bob grabbed his guitar and within seconds came up with what is surely the best 6-string guitar solution to date, x53013 (low to high), or in tablature:
--3-- --1-- --0-- Kwannnggg!!! --3-- --5-- -----
It's bin a haaard daaay's ni-ight . . .
Yeah, it's a bit of a stretch (at least on a classical guitar), but you can take as much time as you want to load up.
The claim here is NOT that any Beatle guitarist actually played this exact chord. I'm in no position to dispute the current wisdom that the chord crash we hear is really an ensemble of guitars, bass guitars, pianos (plus marching bands, gospel choirs, the Berlin Philharmonic, and who-knows-what-all?) I also apologize for any distress I may have caused the world for possibly implying in my Beatle Significa game that it may have been as simple as the 3rd-position, G7add11 barre chord, played as 353533, or in tablature:
--3-- --3-- --5-- (Still close enough for rock 'n' roll...) --3-- --5-- --3--
The two chords use the same notes, just distributed a little differently and with some octave adjustments. The notes of the barre chord are G D F C D G, low to high. Bob's chord is D F G C G.
...no pun intended.
Of all the earth-changing pages on my website, this one generates about the most feedback. A lot of the people who write know a better chord - but they somehow forget to mention what it is. Here's a really nice discovery from Jay Peters, who must have highly sensitive ears.
From: Jay Peters
Subject: Hard days night chord
Date: Jan 2004
I was just reading your stuff on 'that' chord - thanks - seems easy.
On fiddling about with the 2 options (I'm buggered if i can play the first option) it seemed to me that when playing the second option of the G7sus, the one note that didn't quite sound right was the D played on fret 3 of the B-string. In option 1 [Bob's chord] the note played on the B-string is a C (i.e. at the first fret.) I then set up option 2 again and plucked (pulling outwards with finger nails) all the strings except the B string - that sounded better to me and the pulling gave the right tone.
It's still not quite right, but is relatively easy to do. I think the pulling of the strings helps. I'd like to hear it done on a Riccy 12 string!
The chord Jay is describing is 3535x3, or in tablature:
--3-- ----- --5-- --3-- --5-- --3--
This is good practice for us classical guitarists, even, who almost never use our right-hand pinkies to pluck notes.
Here's a very clear-headed and plausible look into what's going on with that chord.
From: Steve Triggs
Subject: A Hard Day's Night Chord
Date: May 2006
I know you've probably heard just about everything about this "mystical" chord. It's been a great debate for years. An acquaintance of mine who met George Harrison, told me that George claimed he couldn't remember exactly how he played it!
Several years ago, I came across a CD bootleg of the very first takes of the song, complete with breakdowns...and just plain studio chatter. At times you can hear each Beatle rehearsing their piece of the "chord." Here's what you hear:
Paul is playing a D in octaves
John is playing a G chord on an acoustic guitar, probably his Gibson. 320033
George is playing what amounts to a D7sus that's close to the F9 he uses at the end of the song for that chimey ending. The only difference is in the opening chord he leaves the 4th string open to match Paul's bass. So...here's the simple chord that launched a classic song. XX0213
Put all 3 together and voila!
After playing the commercial version on cd an vinyl a few times, I'm willing to concede that most or all of that is in there. But I mentioned that I know there are people who will swear, for instance, that there is NO low G in the chord on the recording. Steve wrote back:
From: Steve Triggs
Subject: A Hard Day's Night Chord
Date: May 2006
Thanks for entertaining my AHDN guitar ramblings. One factor that some guitarists may omit is that they don't have access to a Ricky 360-12 that generates a lot of overtones. I've got one modeled on my Line 6 Variax that reproduces the tone nicely.
Since I wrote my note to you, I have revisited the recordings. The bootleg on the Yellow Dog Label is takes 6 & 7 recorded on Thursday April 11, 1964. Take six breaks down when George Harrison misses a chord change and John blurts out "I heard a funny chord!" From the control room, George Martin responds "So did I." That's the point where everyone starts rehearsing their parts individually (as bands are wont to do) until John counts them down for take 7. At one point, you can hear George all by himself strike his part of the chord on the Ric. The triad that rings is clearly G (on top) C and A. I also listened to the take that's on Anthology 1 (with that gawd awful delay) and the final released version. I agree with those who don't hear the low G that's produced by the (incorrect in my opinion) barre chord version of the "chord." The dominant bass note is Paul's D in octaves. Although I believe John is playing a G chord on his acoustic, it's recorded in a thin trebly manner where you don't hear a pronounced low G. George is only striking his guitar from strings 4 - 1. Now the wild card in all of this is the addition of a piano overdub. It's obviously missing from the early takes I have, but you sure can hear it contributing to the sustain of the chord on the final version. I doubt I'll ever convice some of the skeptics...but, hey it's fun to discuss.
Take care and rock on!
Again, I stand aside for those listeners with super-sharp hearing. Try as I might, I don't hear any sound waves in that two-and-a-half-second jumble indisputably smeared with piano DNA. (I can barely tell it's a piano in the break!) By the way, you'd think there must be concert footage out there at least showing JP&G striking the chord together. Anybody?
From: Henry Davis
Subject: guitar chord "a hard day's night"
Date: Jun 2006
could that chord be just--3-- --1-- --0-- --0-- --0-- --1--
I'm not much of a guitar player but it doesn't sound that bad ! take care !
Very interesting! Doesn't sound bad to me, either, Henry. Notice that your chord supplies an A (F A D G C D, low to high) that the other single guitar versions on this page do not.
Subject: Hard day's night chord
Date: Mar 27, 2007
I was searching for that "lost chord" from Hard Day's Night and I came upon your discussion. Has that discussion ended yet? If so, what was the ultimate verdict. If anyone is interested, I have a suggestion:--3-- --6-- --5-- --3-- --5-- --3--
I may well be far too late (and/or totally wrong) but there you go. Thanks for an interesting article.
Al Brady (aging hippie)
It's never too late, Al! Sounds good and easy to play. Notice how it's related to Jay's chord above; gets rid of the 2nd string D, but now you don't have to play around it.
Contact Donald Sauter: send an email; view guestbook; sign guestbook.
Back to Donald Sauter's main page.
Rather shop than think? Please visit My Little Shop of Rare and Precious Commodities.
Back to the top of this page.
Helpful keywords not in the main text: robert wysong, rickenbacker.
Parents, if you're considering tutoring or supplemental education for your child, you may be interested in my observations on Kumon.