Stay Rihanna Chords – How To Play The Rihanna Famous Ballad

Learn about barre chords, slash chords and more with this famous Rihanna ballad ‘Stay’.

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • How to play “Stay” by Rihanna & Mikkey Ekko
  • How slash chords work
  • How to tackle the F chord
  • How to work on chord transitions

Let’s Take A Close Look At The Stay Rihanna Chords & Song

Rihanna is a Queen of a pop performer with insane vocal capabilities.

From dance-pop hits to soulful R&B ballads, this lady has covered a lot of ground in her 18 year career.

Rihanna has become a mainstay in the pop world, having collaborated with a wealth of different artists and musicians.

Her song “Stay” featuring Mikkey Ekko peaked at #2 on Billboard in March of 2013, spending ten weeks on the chart.

This song teaches a couple amazing chords that we won’t soon forget, so let’s dive in shall we?


In this lesson, there are a few big takeaways that we’re going to cover, including:

  • The strumming pattern that follows the Stay Rihanna chords
  • How slash chords work
  • An approach to barre chords that works
  • How to approach chord transitions intelligently

This lesson is going to focus closely on these topics in order to help you make the most of these Stay Rihanna chords and the song itself.

This one will take some patience, dedication and practice especially around the F chord.

Before we get into the details of how to play this song, let’s discuss why this song is so awesome and why we should learn it.


A Brief History Of This Tune

The Stay Rihanna chords hit the airwaves in 2012, taking the world’s ears passionately by storm.

This emotional ballad about heartbreak was written by Mikkey Ekko – a songwriter and music producer from Nashville, TN.

The simple piano melody creates a haunting atmosphere that accompanies Rihanna’s smoky vocal.

This is another example of how simplicity often works extremely well when it comes to accompanying a vocalist.

Some of the best songs in the world are far from technical, and the Stay Rihanna chords are no exception to this rule.

So why don’t we take a closer look at what we’re dealing with, chord-wise?


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Let’s Check Out The Stay Rihanna Chords In Full

“First off, where’s the guitar?”

Good ear – there isn’t any, at least not in the original version.

Check out the song here.

However, this is the beautiful thing about music – although there is no guitar in this song’s recording, we can easily lift the piano chords and translate them to our instrument of choice.

All we need to do is figure out which chords the pianist is playing.

So, how do we do this?

We can employ one of two methods:

  1. Look up the chords (easy)
  2. Use your ears and match the chords on guitar to the chords being played on piano (difficult)
  3. Use this lesson to figure out which chords to play (recommended)


The Stay Rihanna chords consist of seven shapes that are all relatively unique.

Let’s see the chords at a glance below:

C major // D minor // A minor // A minor 7/G // F major // G major // E minor

Some of you may be looking at this list of chords and thinking “I don’t know what some of these are, should I bother learning the Stay Rihanna chords at all?”

Yes, you should. Although a few of these chords will prove to be a bit challenging, you’ll find that these chords will push your playing forward in a positive way.

Music will always be a challenge in some way, so you might as well embrace it!


 The bulk of the Stay Rihanna chords are straightforward, so let’s go over a few tips for the easier ones first:

C major: To form this chord easily, build the chord backwards with your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the A string. Use wrist rotation to help make all the notes ring out evenly.

D minor: Make sure to block out the low E and A strings to get the sound of the chord properly arranged. You’ll only need four strings for this one, with the D string being left open.

A minor: You’ll need to squeeze your middle and ring fingers together on the second fret at the G and D strings to pull this one off. Like the C chord, use wrist rotation to sound out the chord.


(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)



G major: This chord is more spread out, but your pinky or ring finger can take the G note on the third fret at the high E string. Keep your middle finger on the low E string for stability.

E minor: The easiest of the bunch, you’ll just need the index and middle fingers for this one.

Use your wrist to make sure all of the open strings ring out together.

Alright, that’s the easy stuff out of the way – ready for the hard part of the Stay Rihanna chords?

No turning back now, keep scrolling!




Stay Rihanna Chords: Tackling The Dreaded F Chord

Don’t worry, we get it – every beginner guitarist hates the F chord.

Barre chords can be confusing, especially because our index finger does most of the heavy lifting.

So, try this: Before attacking this among the Stay Rihanna chords, begin ‘warming up’ your index finger by simply placing it across your top three strings at any fret.

You’re going to want to try to articulate all three notes.

Add pressure as needed to get the strings to sing out.

Pro Tip: Making sure that your guitar is set up well helps incredibly well, as your guitar’s action (distance from fretboard to strings) will be easier on your fingers.


Once you’ve gotten comfortable with three strings, you can add another string and continue until you’ve reached all six.

It takes time, but it’s worth it.

From there, move your newly-confident index finger to the first fret and make that F chord ring out. You’ll find that the more you practice this chord, the easier it gets.

Of all of the Stay Rihanna chords you’ll learn in this lesson, you’ll find that this one will be one of the two most difficult.

These two chords will also be the most rewarding to learn and play, so let’s tackle the second big challenge in the Stay Rihanna chords.


Stay Rihanna Chords: What Are ‘Slash Chords’?

This one may be a new concept for many, but we promise it’s going to be well worth it.

Slash chords are unique, because they are one part of one chord, and one part of another.

Essentially, slash chords are chords with a different root note than usual.

In the Stay Rihanna chords, we find an “A minor 7/G” – what?

As confusing as it looks immediately, all of the information that we need is in the chord name itself.

So by reading the chord name, we can imply that we are playing an A minor 7 chord with a G note as the root.

Let’s see what that looks like:


See the A minor 7 chord between from the A to high E strings?

All we’re doing is adding the G note at the 3rd fret on the low E string in order to root the chord differently.

You’ll find that this changes the sound of the chord a bit, but these types of chords serve as wonderful transitional chords from one to the next. We’ll see how that works in the “progressions” section of the Stay Rihanna chords below.

Pro Tip: Slash chords are unique and very useful. You can try rooting a familiar chord on a different note to see how that chord sounds when it becomes slightly altered. Experimentation is the key to progress!


Stay Rihanna Chords: The Progressions

We only have five sections to learn in this song, and now that we can play all of the chords it will be that much easier.

The first section to tackle is our intro. Let’s have a look with the beats below. Play this section twice. 

C major                   D minor     

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


A minor                  Am7/G

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


A minor                  Am7/G

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


A minor                  Am7/G

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  & 

Pro Tip: Count slowly to be able to strum evenly through each chord – don’t rush!


Our next section is the verse, which uses all of the same Stay Rihanna chords in the same order as the intro. Once you’ve conquered the intro sequence, ride that wave all the way through the verse to the first pre-chorus section.

Check out the chords from the pre-chorus below. Follow the beat count to hit the changes accurately.

F major

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


A minor

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


F major

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


G major

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &

Once we’ve got the Stay Rihanna chords from the pre-chorus section under our belt, let’s move on to the chorus.


The chorus section is a bit more laid back compared to the intro, so let’s relax our way through this part.

Check out the progression, and strum evenly throughout:

C major                           D minor

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


A minor                          F major

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


C major                          D minor

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


A minor                         F major

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &

For the “I want you to stay” bit at the end, play the progression from the intro:

C major                   D minor     

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


A minor                  Am7/G

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


A minor                  Am7/G

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


A minor                  Am7/G

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  & 


From here, we come finally to the bridge section where we see the E minor chord at long last.

This one can get a bit tricky because of the push in the rhythm, so follow us closely through this part.

Here’s the first half up until “cause I need this hole gone”:

F major                          A minor

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


D minor                                                E minor

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


F major                          A minor

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  & 


D minor

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &

Scroll down for the second half of the bridge section.


Bridge, second section from “Funny you’re the broken one”:

D minor                          F major

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &


G major

1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &  1   &   2   &   3   &  4  &

Pro Tip: Notice the movement from the F to the G instead of the D minor the last time through? This provides us with a nice bit of suspense before we return to the C major chord for the chorus.

And that’s it! That’s all of our sections worked out. Now, let’s talk about strumming patterns so we can add a solid rhythm to all of the Stay Rihanna chords we’ve worked out today.


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Stay Rihanna Chords: The Strumming Pattern

If you’ve made it this far, suffice to say you’re well out of the woods now. Congrats!

The only thing left to do besides putting the sections together is to add rhythm.

Due to this being a slow ballad, we can work out the strumming pattern to accompany the Stay Rihanna chords we’ve learned a bit more easily.

(The less of a tempo we have to keep up with, the better.)

Try a strumming pattern that looks like this:

1   &   2   &   3   &   4   & 

D       D        D        D   U

Pretty straightforward, right?


Pro Tip: The slower you practice, the easier it is to internalize rhythms.

Good memorization doesn’t come from speeding through exercises and tunes – it comes from slow and consistent practice that helps our brains figure out what our hands are doing. Take your time!

The more time you commit to practicing (especially when it comes to rhythms like the one for the Stay Rihanna chords), the more you will effortlessly remember.

Now, let’s put this song together using the chords and rhythm that we’ve learned.

Stay Rihanna Chords: Putting The Song Together

Now that we’ve assembled all the pieces, it’s time to put this puzzle together once-and-for-all.

The sections are quite easy to get through once we have a grasp of what the chords themselves are doing.

Take your Stay Rihanna chords and your new strumming pattern and apply it to the list of sections below, in order:










Everything makes more sense once we can see all the moving parts, wouldn’t you say?

With that in mind (and now that we have all of our pieces of the Stay Rihanna chords and song in place), it’s time to wrap it up then once again.

More Ways To Improve On Guitar

If you really want to tune up your ears, try singing along to the song.

Ear training is a great way to tighten up your musical sensibility, and singing along to a song that you’re learning really helps to get the job done.

Remember, nobody is truly tone deaf. Give singing a shot and you’ll slowly start to realize that you can recall chords and melodies more easily.

You always get back what you put in with the guitar! 

Recommended Resources

If you loved this lesson on how to play the Stay Rihanna chords, you’ll love the other lessons we’ve got for you below:

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