Cabral Estudos Part 3: God Save the Queen, Rule Britannia (Machete Tab)

It’s the big day tomorrow. Prince William finally makes Ken Middleton his bride. He’s always been royalty in our eyes.

As luck would have it, the Cabral machete method that I’ve been covering has two tunes appropriate to the occasion (read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series if you’ve no idea what I’m on about). Quite why a Madeiran machete method would dedicate two tunes to UK anthems I’m not sure.

Both these pieces are written for machete tuning DGBD (an octave above the baritone and with a low-D string and the E-string tuned down to D). But both of them sound great played with a standard ukulele with the A-string tuned down to G (so it’s the same pitch as the g-string).

God Save the Queen

God Save the Queen (Tab)

As an atheist, republican with no desire to crush the Scottish, I have problems with this being the national anthem. I’d much prefer a song with a sentiment everyone can get behind like this one.

One thing I’m unsure of in this tab: the second chord in bar 3. I’m pretty sure I’ve written it up correctly but it sounds very discordant. Even more so in re-entrant tuning. Play it with an, “I know it sounds like shit and I don’t care,” attitude and you’ll get away with it (or pretty much anything).

Here it is played on a standard- uke tuned gCEG:

God Save the Queen (MP3)

Rule Britannia

Rule Britannia (Tab)

In Manuel Morais‘s Colecção de Peças para Machete (well worth buying if you’re interested in this stuff) he says that an open bracket shape in the standard notation indicates that the chord is strummed down with the thumb. Which is the way I’ve written it up. But I didn’t play it that way. To play bar 16 that way is going to require some very nifty thumb work. Instead I went the easy way and used my fingers to pluck all the notes. Not authentic, but neither is playing it on a ukulele. Here’s the result:

Rule Britannia (MP3)

Creative Commons License
These pieces with arrangements by Manuel Joaquim Monteiro Cabral; and tab and audio by are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

View Comments


  1. Ken April 28th, 2011 6:46 pm

    And I’m sure we’ll live happily ever after.

  2. Ron Hale April 29th, 2011 2:05 am

    Happier, no doubt, than Wills will live with
    Lady MacBeth. Expect to see the fall of the House of Hanover and the rise of the House of Middleton. Or the Ohana of Middleton, with Kanikapila every week in the palace. Camilla in a faux grass skirt
    (or Wills, we know who wears the pants in that union, Jack) would set tongues wagging.

  3. Jim T. April 29th, 2011 7:47 am

    Cabral included UK anthems because Madeira was crawling with British tourists in the 19th century. It was good for business (selling machetes and giving lessons.)

  4. Mike April 29th, 2011 1:43 pm

    If sovereignty and organized religion make you uncomfortable, just change “God save the Queen” to “My Country ’tis of Thee,” like we did in the States. The lyrics are mostly about how pretty the land is with a bit about freedom thrown in, and God and royalty aren’t even mentioned until the fourth verse, which no one in my experience has ever gotten to.

  5. Woodshed April 30th, 2011 9:17 am

    Ken: You looked wonderful in the dress.

    Ron: William is pretty obviously not happy with being a royal.

    Jim: Ah, fleecing tourists. Another tradition picked up by the Hawaiians. Thanks for the info.

    Mike: I think the association is too strong to enjoy even the tune.

  6. Jay Lee June 3rd, 2011 7:03 am

    Hey Al,

    Nice to see the Cabral manuscript getting more exposure.

    As you know, the manuscript was found my John King in the case that his Octavianno Nunes machete came with from Austria. There may be some evidence that the machete (and accompanying manuscript) was a present to the tragic Elisabeth of Austria (of Sissi fame) on one of her visits to Madeira.

    Hence the ‘royal’ theme, perhaps.

  7. Woodshed June 3rd, 2011 9:45 am

    Jay Lee: Thanks for the info.

  8. Stephen Vaughan September 29th, 2013 9:23 pm

    The chords in the first bar or “the queen ” just isn’t right

Sorry, Comments Are Broken Right Now