How to Play the National Anthem on Electric Guitar

Written by matthew caines
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How to Play the National Anthem on Electric Guitar
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is played at the raising and lowering of the flag (American Flag image by dwight9592 from

The American national anthem, known as "The Star-Spangled Banner," was officially made the sacred song of the U.S. by Congress in 1931 and signed by President Herbert Hoover. The timeless melody of the anthem is often replicated on the electric guitar (made famous by Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock in 1969) and is easily played by following a guitar tab.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Electric guitar
  • Computer with Internet access

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  1. 1

    Open the "Ultimate Guitar: Star Spangled Banner tab" website - see "Resources" - and scroll down until you can see the whole tab (the musical staves with numbers inside) in your Internet window screen.

  2. 2

    Tune your electric guitar to the standard tuning. Standard tuning for a six string electric guitar is, from the thickest, lowest-sounding (E) string to the thinnest, highest-sounding (E) string: E,A,D,G,B,E notes.

  3. 3

    Recognise how the guitar tab on the Internet website is divided into six "lines" - each "line" of the guitar tab represents one of the six strings of your guitar. Your thickest, lowest-sounding (E) string matches the bottom "line" of the guitar tab - your thinnest, highest-sounding (E) string matches the top "line" of the guitar tab.

    Essentially, the "lines" of the tab are written as if you are looking down at your guitar strings while playing it.

  4. 4

    Follow the guitar tab by matching the numbers on the screen to the fret board of the guitar. One line from "Star-Spangled Banner," for example, reads: 7,7,7,8,10,10 on the G string. This would translate to playing, on the G string, the 7th fret three times, the 8th fret one time and the 10th fret twice.

  5. 5

    Read the entire guitar tab from left to right by matching the numbers to the string frets and complete the song.

    You can make your own variations of the song by altering the sound effects (with an electric guitar sound pedal), by using a whammy bar on the longer-held notes or by improvising a solo at the end of the anthem.

Tips and warnings

  • The first line of the guitar tab is notated with a "x2" which means, put simply, to play it twice before moving on to the next tab line.
  • Look out for "/" and "\" notations in the guitar tab: a "/" represents a sliding-up to the next note and a "\" stands for a sliding down.

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