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How To Play Achy Breaky Heart On Guitar

How To Play “Achy Breaky Heart” On Guitar?

Don Von Tress wrote the song “Achy Breaky Heart” in 1990. The Marcy Brothers first released “Don’t Tell My Heart” in 1991, and it was then covered by Billy Ray Cyrus and published on his first album, Some Gave All, in 1992. Cyrus’ debut hit and trademark song is this one. It was the first single in Australia to earn triple platinum certification and the best-selling song in the country in 1992. 

It became a crossover smash on mainstream and country radio in the United States, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and leading the Hot Country Songs list, and becoming the first country single to be certified platinum since Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “Islands in the Stream” in 1983. The track reached the top of the charts in various countries, including the United Kingdom, where it peaked at No. 3 on the U.K. Singles Chart after being played on Top of the Pops. It was Cyrus’ biggest successful track in the United States until he was featured on rapper Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 27 years later.

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The music video for the song catapulted the line dance into the popular.

The music video for the song catapulted the line dance into the popular. Some believe the song to be one of the worst of all time, ranking second on VH1 and Blender’s list of the “50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever.” However, it went on to become a cult masterpiece.

In this article, we are going to show you how to play “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus on guitar. “Achy Breaky Heart” is a super easy, two-chord song with the chords E major and A major, appropriate for beginner-level guitarists. It is a classical country pop hit that every guitarist should keep in their repertoire. This article explains how to play “Achy Breaky Heart” on acoustic and electric guitar.

Who is Billy Ray Cyrus?

Billy Ray Cyrus is a country singer and actor from the United States. He was born on August 25, 1961, in Flatwoods, Kentucky, to steelworker Ron Cyrus and his wife, the former Ruth Ann Casto. Cyrus began singing when he was four years old. In 1966, his parents split. His granddad served as a Pentecostal minister. As a child, he was surrounded by bluegrass and gospel music because his family had a band. His right-handed father played the guitar, but Cyrus, who was left-handed, couldn’t.

He received a baseball scholarship to Georgetown College before switching to music. Bill Ray Cyrus dropped out of Georgetown during his junior year after realizing he wanted to be a musician after seeing Neil Diamond perform. He set a 10-month goal to begin his career. He was a member of the band Sly Dog in the 1980s before earning a recording agreement with Mercury Nashville Records. Sly Dog was named after Cyrus’ one-eyed dog.

Billy Ray Cyrus has recorded 16 studio albums and 53 singles since 1992 and is most known for his smash tune “Achy Breaky Heart,” which topped the U.S. Hot Country Songs chart and became Australia’s first triple platinum single. In 1992, it was also the best-selling song in the same country. The line dance gained popularity due to the song’s music video.

Cyrus is a multi-platinum-selling performer with eight top-ten hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs list.

Cyrus is a multi-platinum-selling performer with eight top-ten hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs list. His greatest successful album to date is his debut. Some Gave All, which has been classed nine multi-platinum in the United States and holds the record for the longest period spent at number one on the Billboard 200 by a rookie artist and the most consecutive chart-topping weeks in the SoundScan era. It spent 43 weeks in the top ten, a record held by just one country album in history, Garth Brooks’ Ropin’ the Wind. Some Gave All was also the first debut album to top the Billboard Top Country Albums list.

The album has also sold over 20 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling debut album for a solo male artist. Some Gave All was also the best-selling album in the United States in 1992, selling 4,832,000 copies.

He has had 36 charted singles throughout his career, with 17 of them reaching the top 40.

As a featured artist on a remix of Lil Nas X’s song “Old Town Road,” Cyrus won his first number-one hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 2019, spending a record-breaking nineteen weeks at the top. It also lasted a record-breaking twenty weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Billboard Hot Rap Songs charts (nineteen of which were credited to Cyrus). Cyrus received his first two Grammy Awards for the song in Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Music Video categories.

Cyrus was in the television program Doc from 2001 until 2004. The plot revolves around a rural doctor who relocated from Montana to New York City. From 2006 to 2011, he co-starred with his daughter Miley Cyrus in the Disney Channel series Hannah Montana. He played Vernon Brownmule on the CMT sitcom Still the King from 2016 to 2017.

How To Play Achy Breaky Heart – Acoustic Version – Chord Progression

The chord sequence here will have three bars of A chord, four bars of E chord, and then one bar of A chord again. We want to do the three bars of A from the start of the song through when he starts singing up until if we think of the chorus first of all that’s the best way to go because it’s the same pattern as the chorus all the way through. It’s on the word “stand” or the part of stand the part of the word “understand and that’s where we go to the E major chord.

So, when you cycle that around, you get four bars of A in a row; it’s almost like four bars of A. Still, you’re much better off thinking of it as three bars of A, four bars of E, and then one bar of A again because that’ll put you in the right place with the melody and how the song is rolling. So, that’s the sequence, and that sequence all of the way through the whole tune.

How To Play Achy Breaky Heart – Acoustic Version – Easy Strumming Pattern

Playing at just one strum per bar starts to get a little bit boring after a little bit. So, you probably want to try some other strumming patterns as well, but if you’re a beginner and you’re just learning the A and E chords, it’s not a bad thing to be working on like that, just doing the one strum per bar. Rhythm is generally the most challenging thing after you’ve gotten use making your chord changes. 

Chord changes it right at the beginning of the hardest part; fairly soon after that, the rhythm starts to become the hardest part. So if you’re new to the chords, just focus on that and get use those chord changes first.

How To Play Achy Breaky Heart – Acoustic Version – Alternative Strumming Pattern

If you are ready to do some other rhythms, the first step up along the line is doing two strums per bar. It’s kind of a country tune, and perhaps this is not on the original one, but you can play the bass note on beats one and three, and then a strum on two and four also sounds really good. For the A chord, you’d play the fifth string and then a strum. For the E chord, you’d play the thickest string; that’s where the bass note then plays a strum and back to the fifth string again.

How To Play Achy Breaky Heart – Acoustic Version – Original Strumming Pattern

The strumming pattern on the original recording is more like: D – DUDUD. However, it doesn’t really matter what strumming pattern you play on this song. You’re tune like this; you can use almost any strumming pattern that’s going to work it and would be really fun.

How To Play Achy Breaky Heart – Electric Guitar Version – Rhythm Guitar

Basically, the song is in key A for the first part of it, we got the rhythm guitar, and it’s basically at least for the intro section that’s just staying on the main riff. What we do is actually take our third and fourth fingers, and I put them on the 3rd and 4th strings the second fret to kind of create this A chord shape, and then we are just using our middle finger to do a hammer on from the open E to the 2nd fret of the E string there. It’s open E, hammer on the 2nd fret, and then the A chord shape; then going back down, it’s kind of the opposite it’s the A chord shape, 2nd fret of the E, and pull off to the open E string.

After that

There is a little bit later in the section of the song; the guitar does a little break between the first chorus and the second verse, where it goes to the E chord, and they’re just kind of doing the same shape. But in this position, you’re just doing the same thing. What you’re doing is hammer on from the second fret of the A string to the fourth fret, then hitting the D note on the second fret of the fourth string and you just walk it back down. Actually, for that little resolution part, just doing the 2nd fret of the E string, the 4th fret of the E string, and then back to the A, just a little walk up.

How To Play Achy Breaky Heart – Electric Guitar Version – Verse

For the verses and choruses, you really just kind of the guitar sit again, kind of basic rock groove rhythm. The main point is that you know how to obtain the sound; perhaps specifically for this song, you will have two guitar players doing the bulk of the work. If you’re one guitar player band, you’ll have to suffice, or you will have to switch back and forth between the two parts.


Achy Breaky Heart was compose in 1990 by amateur composer Don Von Tress of Cypress Inn, Tennessee, while “just messing about on the guitar and a drum machine.”

The Oak Ridge Boys were going to record the song in the early 1990s, but they opted against it because lead vocalist Duane Allen claimed he didn’t like the phrase “achy breaky.” The Marcy Brothers covered it in 1991 under “Don’t Tell My Heart,” albeit their version modified certain words.

In 2008, the song was ranke No. 23 on CMT’s 100 Greatest Videos, No. 2 on VH1’s 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs, and No. 50 on Blender magazine’s 50 Worst Songs Ever. Shelly Fabian of placed the song No. 249 on her list of the Top 500 Country Music Songs of 2002. The song was vote No. 87 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 1990s in 2007.

Despite initially receiving harsh critical feedback, the song has become a cult favorite.

Cyrus released an updated version of the song for his 2017 album Set the Record Straight. The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section was involve in the recording that Rolling Stone described as “more true to lyricist Don Von Tress’ swampy demo.”

Billy Ray Cyrus heard Von Tress’ rendition of the song and used it in his 1992 debut album Some Gave All. It’s in the key of A major, with only two chords: A and E.

We hope you enjoyed this “Achy Breaky Heart” lesson by Billy Ray Cyrus. If you’re a beginner and looking for more songs, there are loads on the Guitar Learning Game specifically arranged for beginners. You can even select the songs by the chords you know, which is a pretty handy thing.