Carl Ray Villaverde – Tears in Heaven

Carl Ray Villaverde – Tears in Heaven (Tab)

When I first saw Carl Ray Villaverde’s ukulele cover of Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven, I knew I had to work it out. Once I made that decision, I noticed two problems:

1) He uses a low-G ukulele and I don’t have one.
2) He’s a million times better at playing the ukulele than I am. There’s one part of the song that’s not only faster than I can play, it’s faster than I can hear.

So, equipped with a classical guitar capoed at the fifth fret and the certain knowledge I wouldn’t get it note perfect, I’ve given it my best shot.

As always, the main consideration is making sure the melody stands out against the the accompaniment. Carl Ray Villaverde provides a masterclass on it in this video. In the fingerpicking sections, the melody notes are pushed forward and the gaps between are filled with very softly played notes from the chords. The exception to this is the bass notes – usually those on the low-G string – which are often plucked more forcefully.

The job of bringing out the melody gets even tougher once the strumming starts. Luckily, he’s done some of the work for you. The chords in this section change more often than in the fingerpicked section – often changing each time the melody note changes – with the melody note on the A string. This makes it more like a harmonized melody than a chord accompaniment. You still have to make sure that the melody strums have more umph to them than the supporting chords. Villaverde’s main way of doing this is using a roll strum (or ‘rasguedo’ if you want to be fancy about it).

Good luck getting to grips with it. This arrangement would make a great basis for you to work out your own way of playing it. Particularly if you wanted to adapt it to re-entrant tuning.

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  1. Art Crocker March 6th, 2008 8:25 pm

    Al, Thanks so much for the Carl Ray video, It is an amazing piece of ukulele playing. One of my favorite songs and have been waiting for a tab-ed version, so Thanks for your work on the Tab. Unfortunately after watching Carl Ray I have lost a little of my steam in even trying to play it.

  2. Woodshed March 6th, 2008 10:28 pm

    There’s a simpler version here if you don’t fancy taking on the Carl Ray version.

  3. Loke Cahill June 9th, 2009 4:44 pm

    Can you please tell me if the Tears in HEaven Ukelel version by Carl Ray Villaverde is available on C.D.? I am in deep need to get a copy of this before this friday as I need it to use for a healing retreat .


  4. harry August 8th, 2009 6:33 pm

    i find the carl ray one easier than the simplified :P
    but i’m just weird lik that :L
    great tabs tho :)

  5. Woodshed August 9th, 2009 12:23 pm

    harry: Finding hard things easy is a very good way to be weird!

  6. Al Jones August 16th, 2010 3:58 am

    Thanks to both of you for posting the tab for this wonderful song. It has always been one of my favorites and I have spent a year learning it on my guitar. I just started playing the uke so it will take a while to learn it. I am learning fast on the uke thanks to all the tabs and chords on the web and the kind people who post them. I lived in HI for three years and it had a great affect on my soul. Iz is one of my favorites. Mahalo from Kansas

  7. James October 15th, 2011 10:07 pm

    I have my own version, heres a tab of it.

    Then repeat, not much but its a different and easier intro

  8. James October 15th, 2011 10:09 pm

    I have my own version, heres a tab of it.

    Urgh.. hope this one works…

  9. James October 15th, 2011 10:14 pm

    A-2 5 5 2 0 3 3 3 2 0 0(2)0
    E-3 2 2 3 3 0 0 0 3 3
    C-2 2 2 4 0 0 0 2
    G-0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0

    K… if this doesnt work i give up D:

  10. Simon April 2nd, 2013 12:54 pm

    My style of playing is pretty similar’ so’ this is my suggestion (that is what Ido):
    *Take more than one ‘uke with u, as do Harmonica players.
    I always take a “regular tuning”‘ an “octave lower 4th string”, a Soprano (Am7 tuning), and, sometimes a G tuning one (Cavaquinho).
    All that stuff: less weight than a Gibson J200 (inc. cases…)
    BTW: I only bought one. The others has found me!

  11. Woodshed April 3rd, 2013 9:05 am

    Simon: Yeah, I have a low-G now. But I don’t know if I play enough to make it worthwhile.

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