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How to Play Big Iron by Marty Robbins Chord on Guitar

Big Iron is a classic country song by Marty Robbins, released in 1959 as part of his album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs. The song tells the story of a showdown between a Texas outlaw and an Arizona ranger, who has a big iron (a large-caliber revolver) on his hip. The song has been covered by many artists, such as Johnny Cash, Colter Wall, and The Highwaymen.

If you want to learn how to play Big Iron on guitar, you will need to know some basic chords, strumming patterns, and capo positions. Here are some tips and resources to help you master this song.

Chords

The original version of Big Iron by Marty Robbins uses the following chords: Am, E, C, and F. You can play these chords in the open position, or use a capo on the fourth fret to make them easier. Here are the chord diagrams for both options:

[Intro]
Am
E Am
 
 
[Verse 1]
        C                       Am
To the town of Agua Fria rode a stranger one fine day
        C                                                  Am
Hardly spoke to folks around him, didn't have too much to say
        F                                 C
No one dared to ask his business, no one dared to make a slip
                                           Am
for the stranger there amongst them had a big iron on his hip
 F               C
Big iron on his hip
 
 
[Verse 2]
        C                           Am
It was early in the morning when he rode into the town
         C                                             Am
He came ridin' from the south side slowly lookin' all around
         F                                 C
He's an outlaw loose and runnin' came the whisper from each lip
                                            Am
And he's here to do some business with the big iron on his hip
 F               C
big iron on his hip
 
 
[Verse 3]
         C                                Am
In this town there lived an outlaw by the name of Texas Red
      C                                                Am
Many men had tried to take him and that many men were dead
        F                             C
He was vicious and a killer though a youth of twenty four
                                        Am
And the notches on his pistol numbered one and nineteen more
 F                C
One and nineteen more
 
 
[Verse 4]
         C                                Am
Now the stranger started talking, made it plain to folks around
        C                                       Am
Was an Arizona ranger, wouldn't be too long in town
         F                           C
He came here to take an outlaw back alive or maybe dead
                                      Am
And he said it didn't matter, he was after Texas Red
 F           C
After Texas Red
 
 
[Verse 5]
         C                         Am
Wasn't long before the story was relayed to Texas Red
         C                                               Am
But the outlaw didn't worry, men that tried before were dead
        F                                 C
Twenty men had tried to take him, twenty men had made a slip
                                         Am
Twenty one would be the ranger with the big iron on his hip
 F               C
Big iron on his hip
 
 
[Verse 6]
     C                                Am
The morning passed so quickly, it was time for them to meet
        C                                              Am
It was twenty past eleven when they walked out in the street
            F                                 C
Folks were watching from their windows, everybody held their breath
                                    Am
They knew this handsome ranger was about to meet his death
 F                 C
About to meet his death
 
 
[Verse 7]
           C                                Am
There was forty feet between them when they stopped to make their play
         C                                               Am
And the swiftness of the ranger is still talked about today
       F                                   C
Texas Red had not cleared leather 'fore a bullet fairly ripped
                                          Am
And the ranger's aim was deadly with the big iron on his hip
 F               C
Big iron on his hip
 
 
[Verse 8]
        C                       Am
It was over in a moment and the folks had gathered round
       C                                             Am
There before them lay the body of the outlaw on the ground
        F                                C
Oh, he might have gone on living but he made one fatal slip
                                            Am
When he tried to match the ranger with the big iron on his hip
 F               C
Big iron on his hip
 
 
[Outro]
     F        C
Big iron, big iron
         C                                  Am
When he tried to match the ranger with the big iron on his hip
 F               C
Big iron on his hip

Strumming

The strumming pattern for Big Iron is fairly simple and consistent throughout the song. You can use a down-down-up-down-up pattern for each chord, or vary it slightly depending on the rhythm of the lyrics. Here is an example of how to strum the first verse:

[Strumming example]

You can also add some palm muting or accents to create more dynamics and expression in your playing.

Capo

The capo is a device that clamps onto the guitar neck and changes the pitch of the strings. By using a capo, you can play songs in different keys without changing the chord shapes. This can make some songs easier to play or sing along with.

The original version of Big Iron by Marty Robbins is in the key of A minor, but he uses a capo on the fourth fret to play it in C minor. This makes the song sound darker and more dramatic. You can also play it without a capo, or use a different capo position to suit your vocal range.

The cover version by Colter Wall is in the key of C# minor, but he uses a capo on the ninth fret to play it in E minor. This makes the song sound brighter and more upbeat. You can also play it without a capo, or use a different capo position to suit your vocal range.

Conclusion

Big Iron is a great song to learn on guitar, whether you prefer the original version by Marty Robbins or the cover version by Colter Wall. By following these tips and resources, you can master the chords, strumming, and capo positions for this song. Have fun playing Big Iron and impressing your friends with your guitar skills!

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