Learn Chain Of Fools, by Aretha Franklin, on Guitar
This blog post is an easy guitar lesson for all beginners on how to play Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin on guitar.
Chain Of Fools Gets a 0/10 Difficulty Rating
The backup musicians that play on Chain Of Fools are basically riffing off of the C7 chord. For our purposes, we could say that the entire song uses the chord system C–F–G. It sounds cool if you play it on either acoustic guitar or electric guitar, and this tutorial is an arrangement of the song (in other words, you won't hear this part on the original recording).
What skills are required?
Though this tutorial is appropriate for you if you have little to no experience with guitar, you do need to know how to tune your guitar to successfully play it.
What are the benefits to learning Chain Of Fools?
Practicing this song will help you become more familiar with both the C7 chord as well as guitar strumming patterns in general. The C7 chord is not one of the most popular guitar chords, but the shell chord (the C Major) is one of seven incredibly popular guitar chords used extensively in pop music. Additionally, guitar strumming patterns are widely used in popular rhythm guitar songs.
Having both of these skills under your fingers means you'll be in better shape to learn more songs on the guitar.
Recommended: Download the song
There are a few versions of this song you can find online, but this tutorial is based off of the recorded version. I strongly recommend downloading a MP3 copy of this song for yourself.
Getting familiar with the song
Among the smartest things you could do before you learn Chain Of Fools is to become really, super familiar with it first. Why? Here's a thought for you: The better you know a song before you start to learn it on guitar, the faster you'll learn it. My recommendation is to listen to the song three or four times before you jump into the guitar techniques.
Aside from simply listening to the song, there are plenty of ways you can become more familiar with this song. You could learn the lyrics. You could dance to it. If you're interested in it enough, you can research the backing band by watching Muscle Shoals, a documentary on FAME recording studios where so many hits were made.
My point is this: The more familiar you are with this song, the easier it'll be for you to learn it. Now, let's hit the guitar part.
Learning the guitar part
Guitar part overview
As I mentioned, this arrangement of the song has only one chord and one strumming pattern. As long as you can play this one chord and can strum this one strumming pattern, you're set to play this song.
It should also be noted that the guitar part that I'm going to show you is not heard on the original recording, simply because it is an arrangement that was designed to help you learn guitar. I wasn't going for perfection with learning a song perfectly. Instead, I care more about helping you learn guitar.
The C7 chord
There is one chord you need to know: C7
The strumming pattern
Put it all together
If you can play the strumming pattern and the chord along with the song, you've got it! Congratulations!
"My C7 chord sounds terrible!!!"
Many people have trouble with making the C7 chord sound clear and ringy at first. You're not alone! The best thing you can do is to be good to yourself and not stress yourself out about it. It's okay. Give the chord time. If you like to play guitar and you keep up with it, then chances are really good that you'll be able to play the C7 chord quite a bit better in time, without worrying about it.
That said, here are some technical suggestions to help you play this chord better:
- Play on your fingertips, only. Imagine you're playing with a claw. It will hurt your fingertips at first, but after a couple of weeks of practice, that pain will be gone.
- Try not to be on the pads of your fingers.
- Cut your fingernails.
- Try to be as close to the frets as you can. This will help you get a clearer, and less buzzy sound.
- If you can get three strings of this chord sounding good, that's good enough. Be good to yourself and relax if the chord doesn't sound all that great right now. If you enjoy playing guitar enough and stick with it, this problem will solve itself over time.
If none of my suggestions above work, my next suggestion is to simply play a C Major chord.* It's not all that different, and it'll sound just fine:
"The strumming is hard and I can't play along with the song."
Play the strumming pattern at three tempos, just like in the free module. Playing at slower and faster tempos gets you ready for playing the real thing.
"I can't hear the song!"
Turn the volume of the song up slightly louder than your guitar and use headphones. The most decrepit pair of headphones is far better than most computer speakers.
"When is it time for me to move onto a new song?"
Here's a thought for you: When you can play along with the recorded version of this song from start to finish without a single thought entering your mind, you're ready for a new song.
Want an interruption-free version of the same information? Want some free downloads, too? It's free!
I've put together a totally free video module to help you learn this song. The module has the same information you've seen in this blog post, but it has some a couple of perks:
- Free download of the mp3 backup track.
- Free download of an mp3 of me playing the guitar part alone.
- Free PDF download of the song sheet for this song.
- Zero interruptions of any type in your learning experience.
*The C Major chord and the C7 chord are very similar to each other. A C7 chord basically takes the C Major chord and adds a Bb to it. The Bb is the note that your pinky is on. If you lift up your pinky on a C7 chord and just play a C Major, you're still going to be just fine.