Hurt Guitar Chords and TAB Easy Guitar Song for beginners

Welcome to my Hurt guitar lesson. Here, we will taking a look at the Hurt guitar chords and TAB and by the end, you’ll know how to play this emotion packed track from start to end. This is a guitar lesson that’s open to guitarists of all levels including those at the early beginner stages.

Hurt was written and originally recorded by Nine Inch Nails. It was a track from their second studio album The Downward Spiral which came out in 1994 and it was then later released as a single. In 2002, Hurt was covered by Johnny Cash to commercial and critical acclaim for His album American IV The Man Comes Around. Nine Inch Nails member and Hurt composer Trent Renzor praised Cash’s interpretation of the song for its sincerity, but he was sceptical at first.

Trent Renzor – “I pop the video in, and wow… Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps… Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore… It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form. I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning – different, but every bit as pure.”

For Trent to state that he feels the song is no longer his is high praise indeed. In truth, both recordings are beautiful, deep and in my opinion, not massively dissimilar but it’s the Cash cover that we will be drawing inspiration from in this lesson.

I will be making this lesson as simple as possible. All we need is a simple set of chords and a couple of nice and easy rhythm guitar sections. Next, we will learn how to play Hurt on guitar one step at a time and we will start by looking at the chords you’ll need to know.

hurt guitar chords and tab

Hurt Guitar Chords and TAB – The Chords

The Hurt guitar chords are all beginner friendly. Nothing complicated. They’re all basic open chords (mostly). Ones that most guitarists learn in the first few weeks of their guitar journey. Here are the chords that you need to know.

hurt guitar chords the chords

Couple of things regarding these chords. Firstly, the G major chord. Some of you may be wandering why the G in the chart looks different to the one you’ve learned. Well, I always recommend the above shape. To keep a long story short, my shape is easier. Moving from my G chord to other chords such as the C major is more efficient. There’s less finger movement compared to when using the typical G major shape.

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You can substitute my shape for another if you like but at least give mine a try and see what you think

Now I did state that Hurt is a beginner friendly lesson but I know many of you beginner guitarists out there will be having issues with that F major chord.

Don’t be put off by the inclusion of the F major. I honestly can’t think of a better song for practicing the F major chord. The strumming is nice and slow and uses the absolute most basic strumming possible. That happens in the chorus but there is some other stuff to learn before we get to that point. Here’s an article offering advice on the F major chord if you would like some help but next, we will learn that chord based hook that gives the song a big chunk of its identity.

Hurt Guitar Chords and TAB – Main Hook

If you’re familiar with the Johnny Cash recording of Hurt (and I would hope you are if you’re learning the song), you’ll know that the main guitar part is based around three chords that are part picked and part strummed. This is the part that we are going to learn first. The chords that are used are A minor, C major and D major in that order. Let’s take a look at that TAB.

Main Hook TAB

hurt guitar chords and tab the tab

You’ll notice that the above is a rather short segment of TAB. No, that’s not a mistake. This really is all you need to learn. Learning this tiny part of TAB enables you to play a huge portion of Hurt. Once you’ve learned this, you’re basically half way there.

So, what’s going on in that TAB? Well as I mentioned earlier, there’s a mix of picking and strumming which is visible in the TAB. Everything is either a downward pick or downward strum. You pick the individual notes and downward strum the “stacked” notes. The individual notes which are a part of each chord so place your fingers in position for the full chord when instructed, don’t try to pick the notes and then finger the chords.

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It’s easy to match up this TAB with the recording so listen closely and try it out and you’ll soon figure out the rhythm and where this part is played.

Hurt Chords and TAB – Chorus Section

After providing the last TAB, I mentioned that you were half way to the end. That’s because there’s only one more section to learn. Once you’ve learned this next part, you’ll know how to play Hurt on guitar all the way through and we don’t even need any TAB.

You just need to do two things. You need to first learn and memorise the chord progression and then, you need to learn the strumming which is incredibly easy. Let’s take a look at the chord progression.

G / Am / F / C

Nice and easy right? There’s no catch either. It’s just those four chords repeated. I’ll let you use you’re ears to figure out how many repeats there are and when the section appears in the arrangement.

As for how to perform it, keep it simple. One chord per bar and just four simple downward strums per bar, one on each beat. If you want to go crazy, you could throw in one upward strum right at the end of each bar. So, 1 2 3 4 and, instead of 1 2 3 4. Those last two strums (down up) would last half as long as the previous strums as the two strums are squeezed into one beat. They’d still be evenly spaced out. They’d be eighth notes instead of quarter notes for those who know about note values.

That’s really all there is to it. Learning the above two parts means you can now play Hurt on guitar all the way through. We could end this guitar lesson here, but we can build on what we’ve learned a little without much effort. You don’t need to continue. If you’re happy to take away what you’ve learned already, you can do so but with just one finger, we can take our Hurt cover to the next level. Read on if you’re interested.

Alternative chorus section

Well done for going the extra mile. This little development is very easy but it gives the section a slightly different and perhaps more interesting vibe.

Here’s what you need to do. You play the chord progression exactly the same. Make the changes at the same points and strum the chords in the same way.

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The only thing we are going to do is add our fourth finger to the third fret on the high e string while strumming the chords. This obviously isn’t needed for the G major chord as that note is already in play but add it to the other chords. This creates a new sound. Try it and see what you think. I think it gives the section more depth.

You don’t have to do this but I recommend that you do include it. Its s tiny bit of extra work but the resulting sound is quite tragically beautiful.

Hurt Guitar Chords and TAB – Conclusion

That just about wraps my Hurt guitar lesson. I know many of you out there will be well past the beginner stage and would have flown through this. To those guys, thanks for sticking with it. I know the guide notes were aimed at the beginner guitarists, your patience is appreciated. For the newer guitarists out there, I have a couple more tips for you.

Firstly, Hurt is an ideal track for practicing your timing with a metronome. The simple and consistent rhythm of both sections can help to fine tune your timing skills. Set a metronome to approximately 90 beats per minute and practice either the full arrangement or simply alternate between the parts.

Secondly, consider dynamics. Dynamic range is something that is often over looked by the newer and even the intermediate guitarist. Hurt is a song that can be performed with a wide range of dynamics so do consider this when playing this song. The verses can be performed softly and delicately but is there room for dynamic development in the chorus parts? I think you’ll find this is a question that gets answered fairly quickly.

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