Stars and STripes Forever (Sousa)


This is OF COURSE NOT the famous and fantastic arrangement of Guy van Duser, which was covered by Doug Smith, Chet Atkins and others. First, you can find it on the web elsewhere. Second: I am not gifted enough to play that fluently. Not in this life.


Original Key

Eb / Ab 

(fingerstyle gods: E) 



Drop DG


Tab Notes ... a long story 

In my bullish obsession to simplify everything I thought that there must be a less finger twisting way to play this masterpiece of John Philip Sousa.  

With lots of confidence I started to noodle around with the trio (the most famous part), which rolled along quite nicely in Drop DG. No pitfalls, except for a little pinky stretch during the B minor. 

The chromatic and sometimes dissonant interlude is a nightmare in any key, but playable with some practice. The good thing is that (in this tuning) the bass octaves are so neatly placed on the same fret on sixth and fourth string . And I find this part essential, because after all the fretboard sliding it leads beautifully back to the trio melody. 


But…. when trying to adapt the first strain I discovered that this is in a different key. Something that should not happen when you are in an this particular tuning. Ended up in headache and tears, so I put it aside and for a while enjoyed playing an abridged version: faked the intro to make it fit the chosen key, skipped the first strain and started right with the trio [ Part B ], followed by the interlude [ Part C ]. Who cares, all the great artist have unfinished works….. 

Finally took some time to complete it. It requires some cheats and some barred fretting high up the neck, which is something I usually try to avoid. But in all, I think it sounds ok now. 


I have included both versions.

Stars and Stripes_full.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Dokument 532.7 KB
Stars and Stripes_abridged.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Dokument 198.3 KB

Facebook ?   Twitter ?   LinkedIn ?   Xing ?  Instagram ?    None of it, thank you very much. I still have some friends in real life.

Get in touch via the CONTACT FORM.  I would be happy to hear from you.

Learning Ukulele 50 Sites
Top Ukulele Sites