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How to Play "You Are My Sunshine" on Guitar?

How to Play “You Are My Sunshine” on Guitar?

In this article, we’re heading way back to 1939. We will break down one of the most recognizable American standards, “You Are My Sunshine.” “You Are My Sunshine” is a famous American song. It is written and sung by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell in the early 1940s. Hundreds of other versions followed, so you may have heard it performed by more than one musician.

This simple three-chord piece is ideal for beginners. It allows you to practice altering chords in the key of E. These are basic chords to learn. Moreover, the recurrence of the chords in the song encourages you to become acquainted with them more quickly.

In this lesson, we’re going to start with a basic form of chord melody that mixes chords with the melody line. That’ll be for your intro. Then from there, we’re just going to have a simple 1-4-5 chord progression in the key of A for your verse sections. In these sections, we will apply a basic country-style strumming pattern.

It’s a great song to learn whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned musician. Its simple harmony and pattern allow you to be more imaginative with how you handle the guitar chords. In brief, you need to be familiar with a few chords. However, don’t worry. They are the chords you most likely already learn on the guitar: A Major, D Major, and E Major. Even if you don’t know, with Deplike’s 3D tutor feature, you can be familiar with them quickly.

This guide will show you how to play these chords on the guitar and approach them in various ways. So, you can perform this song more creatively. It will also cover basic harmony ideas that should help you grasp this tune and other songs with similar chord progressions.

Who has recorded a cover of “You Are My Sunshine”?

There are lots of different renditions of the song. “You Are My Sunshine” was recorded by various musicians throughout the years, which is why so many people remember it instantly.

Listed below are some of the musicians that have recorded their rendition of this song at some time: Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Jessie Lee Miller, Frank Turner, Andy Williams, Trini Lopez, Jasmine Thompson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Maceo Parker & WDR Big Band Cologne, and Peter Abrahamsen & Bell Pepper Boys.

You may also listen to some of these recordings to learn how certain artists arrange a song by another artist. You can create it on their own so that you can be more creative when you try to cover a song.

How to Play “ou Are My Sunshine” – Harmony and Time Signature

This song has no complex harmony by any means, so this is likely to be light content.

Johnny Cash’s rendition of this song is in the key of A Major, which implies that A Major is also the basic chord, represented by “I” in Roman numerals. The song’s other chords are related to the tonic/root and play distinct functions based on the interval between them.

This song has only three chords: A Major, D Major, and E Major.

These are the only notes you need to know to go through the song’s verse and chorus portions. As you see, it is pretty simple. The only chords you need are basic ones which you can cover easily on Deplike.

Fortunately for you, the time signature of the track “You Are My Sunshine” is not difficult. It’s in 4/4 time, sometimes known as “common time” because it’s the most commonly used time signature overall.

Each bar/measure contains four beats, and each quarter note is considered one beat.

How to Play You Are My Sunshine – Strumming Patterns

You’re almost there if you’ve remembered the chords of a song and know how to play them on the guitar. It would be best if you now chose the technique you will employ and the rhythmic patterns you will use.

You may use the simplicity of a simple chord sequence to concentrate on how to make it intriguing. It can be achieved by using practical chord voicings, sophisticated rhythmic patterns, and other techniques.

How to Play You Are My Sunshine – Intro (Basic Chord Melody)

Throughout this section, we will create melody lines by lifting the pinkie on and off and targeting individual strings. Getting started with a little bit of chord melody for our intro section, we’re starting with an A major chord fretted. So that was second fret D, second fret G, then the open B string. That will set up the A major chord strumming to get started. So, the strum of the A major chord, second fret B. Another strum you can do from the D string to the B string, and at 0-2 on the B string. Put that together with the first measure of the intro line.

Alright, the third measure of line number one sounds like a melody to walk us up into the next chord, which will be D major. We will strum again, but this time only to the G string. So, A, D, and G. Then, second fret and second fret again on the G string, then 0 on the B, and then 2 on the B. Now, you put measures 1,2 and 3 together. Then, that will get you to the second line of the intro part.

Second Line of The Intro Part

The second line sounds a little bit more repetitive. Line number two introduces a new chord: D major. For beginners, the second fret of the G string, the third fret B string, and the high E string second fret. It is strumming from the D string to the high E. Measure number one is going, to begin with, a short strum D string to the B string.

Afterwards, grab the high E string second fret, a full strum of the D major chord, upstroke on the high E string open, and then the third fret of the B string with a down stroke. That gets you to the next measure for an A major chord, just a strum from the A string to the B string. Then, we’re going to do that walk up again, second fret G, open B string into the second fret of the exact string. That once again gets you to the D major chord, where we will repeat the first measure of line number two. Then, that’ll get you to line number three.


The first measure of line number three again sounds like a strum of the A major chord. We will strike the G string, the D string, the G string again, and the open B string. Now, note that upstroke at the end, whenever you switch to the eighth notes, you want to start alternating the pick.

On to the next measure, we’re going to strum the A major chord, just going from the D string to the B string and grabbing the third fret of the B string. Then, introduce the five chords in the key of A, which is E major. We’ve got the second fret of the A string, the second fret of the D string, and the first fret of the G string. Strumming from, in this case, the E string to the B string. Then, we’re going to finish up 0-2 on the B and finally go to the A major chord. Either let it ring out or jump right into our strumming pattern.

How to Play You Are My Sunshine – Verse/Chorus

The chord melody instrumental intro is excellent for developing your pick and accuracy and also building up some confidence if you’re a beginner guitar player. Now, we’re jumping into our verse/chorus section. In this section, we’ll learn a slightly more advanced strumming technique than you might be used. An alternating bass pattern that is synonymous with a lot of country music, especially from this era of the 30s and 40s.

Our verse section starts with the A major chord. We’re going to have that for two measures followed by a measure of D major, another measure of A major. Then, we’re back to the D major chord for a measure, back to the A major chord. Afterwards, back to a measure of A major to E major, then back to the A major chord for a measure. And then, you’ll start the next verse or chorus. Now, let’s take a look at the strumming pattern.

Ways of Strumming Patterns

You can do this in many different ways. If you’re a super beginner, you can simplify this and do down strokes or even stay constant on a single bass tone. But the way we’re playing now is striking the A string and then, strumming the chord of all the strings below that root note. So, bass-stroke, then switch into my low E string and again bass-stroke. Each time we strum, we’re really only strumming from the D string to the high E string. It is another measure of the A chord before moving to the D major chord.

By now, when you’ve gone to the D chord, we need to change up our picking. So, we’re going to play the D string strum and then go to the A string. It is called alternating in fifths, so if you take a look at the space between the notes A and E in the A major scale, you’ll see that there are a fifth apart. And the same can be said for D and A. It is a widespread bass pattern that we have in many different types of music, specifically in country music.

Now, moving on to line number two, we’re going to the D major chord for one measure. D string- strum – A string – strum – D string – strum and return to the A major chord for one and a half measures. Now here’s where we’re going to change it up and jump to an E major chord. We’re going to play the low E string strum, then alternates the A string second fret followed by a strum. For one measure, though, you can actually hold out that last A cord as long as it takes for you to remember the next verse.


This article showed you how to play You Are My Sunshine on guitar. If you’re starting on the guitar, this pleasant and easy tune is a great place to start! Once you’ve mastered the three chords that comprise the length of this song, you’ll be performing covers and composing original compositions in no time. As we mentioned above, there are many covers that you may heard. You can also cover “You are my sunshine” with different amps on Deplike.

With Deplike Guitar Learning, you can learn the chords, look for a song in the app and learn how to play it. Moreover, you might discover the musician using the 3D interactive learning approach. With instant feedbacks, you can improve yourself easily. You may learn many other songs with the Deplike Guitar Learning App, You Are My Sunshine, which you learned in this post.


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