The Rolling Stones – Sympathy for the Devil (Chords)

The Rolling Stones – Sympathy for the Devil (Chords)

This is my all time favourite Rolling Stones song. And it’s proved of interest to a few ukulele groups too. Most notably it’s the tune that kicks of The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s medley track Melange and Sinfonico Honolulu did a great version.

The song is very straight forward. It consists of just four chords (E, D, A and B). You can just stick with those chords all the way through if you like. But the piano does throw in a few Esus4 chords and I’ve included those as well.

Chord dictionaries can include a few janky versions of Esus4. Here’s the version I like to go with:


An alternative is to use this version of chords throughout the song. If you’re in a group, it’s a good idea to vary the chord inversions to create a fuller sound. Here’s a set of inversions that you can use:


Suggested Strumming

To start of with you can do just one down strum per chord. When it gets going you can use this as the main strum:

d – d – d u d u

The tricky bit comes in the switch between E and Esus4 chord. In those bits play the main strum once then one down strum on E. Then switch to Esus4 for:

d u – u d-

Together they sound like this:


Twiddley Bits

Sympathy for the Devil (Solo)

The solo is a decidedly rough around the edges affair but I love it for that. If you want to take a similar approach to it just arm yourself with your E minor pentatonic scale and have at it.

I fancied doing it close to the original and just moved a few bits around to make it ukeable.

Here’s my go at it (with another uke playing the chords underneath):



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View Comments


  1. Janne April 12th, 2016 11:51 pm

    The inversions seem to be missing.

    Also, you think it’s possible to do a version of the solo and chords at the same time? I bet James Hill could ;)

  2. Woodshed April 13th, 2016 6:58 am

    Janne: Thanks! Fixed it.

    Yeah, I think it would be possible.

  3. J Boy Shyne April 15th, 2016 7:41 pm

    Hey Woodshed! Back in ’09, I visited the Cosmos crowd for Brother Ray’s little uke fest in Hollesely, UK. Anyways, during a little jam with some friends, I broke into Sympathy. That’s me on banjo uke, with Clarification strumming a Makala next to me, Fleabit’s on the electric Applause, and that’s Archie smashing away on the kiddie drum kid.

  4. J Boy Shyne April 15th, 2016 7:42 pm

    Opps, I tried to embed the video and it didn’t work. Here’s the link-

  5. Woodshed April 16th, 2016 6:03 pm

    J Boy: Looks like a ton of fun!

  6. Jonny April 17th, 2016 5:14 pm

    Great post as always Al. I’ve always struggled with which Esus4 to use but your alternative way works well here.I will have to try it with other songs too!

  7. J Boy Shyne April 17th, 2016 7:59 pm

    I should point at that with regard to the E and Esus chord (and all chords using the D shape (2220) up and down the neck, the easiest way to play the chord is to use only 1 finger and not play the higest string (A string). Indeed, it’s very simply to mute the with the finger that covering the g,C, and E string. So,
    D= (222x) Dsus (223x)
    Eb=(333X) Ebsus (334X)
    E= (444X) Esus (445X), etc……

    I explain all this is further detail in a thread called
    “1 Finger chords and 3 stringed chords” located at

    Cheers . . .

    J Boy

  8. Woodshed April 18th, 2016 11:13 am

    Jonny: Thanks! Glad it helps.

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