Beach Boys – Sloop John B (Tab)

Sloop John B (Tab)

Edit: Dangit! I published this a day early

Following on from Good Vibrations, another Pet Sound with bass from Lyle Ritz. Sloop John B is a traditional Bahamian song. The earliest version was recorded in Nassau in 1935 under the title Histe Up the John B Sails. There are many lyrical variations. My favourite being the the verse in Blind Blake’s version (the Bahamian one rather than the American blues guy) about having to go home because his pants burst.

This arrangement starts off with that shimmering guitar riff from the Beach Boy’s version. And I keep interlacing this riff with the melody throughout. Be sure to play this softer than the melody so the two don’t get confused.

The verse is all fingerpicked with the melody mostly on the E- and A-strings with some lower notes on the C-string to keep the rhythm going. To give the chorus a bump I play the melody with strums. That means you have to switch between strumming and picking. Which can be tricky. If you need a bit more time to switch you can miss out a note or two of the backing without losing anything important.


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  1. Art Crocker March 16th, 2017 9:06 am

    Thanks Al,
    I find that an outstanding arrangement of John B. Really like the fingerstyle and then the strumming chorus combination.

    Thanks for slipping it out early. Going on a weekend boating trip so I may have time to learn it….

  2. Woodshed March 16th, 2017 4:12 pm

    Art: Thanks very much! Have a great time this weekend.

  3. Glenn March 17th, 2017 4:40 pm

    Wow. I never thought I wanted to learn this song, but I love the arrangement. Definitely going to have to learn it now. Thanks!

  4. Woodshed March 18th, 2017 12:36 pm

    Glenn: Great! I hope you enjoy it.

  5. Brent March 21st, 2017 3:11 am

    Wow just beautiful (sniff, sniff) After murdering this week after week, New Years Eve after New Years Eve, while in a covers band in the 80’s, I thought I never needed to hear it again. Consequently I have resisted all requests to teach it on Ukulele. But hey hey it looks like it’s back on the menu. Thanks

  6. Woodshed March 21st, 2017 1:31 pm

    Brent: Great! Glad I could rekindle your interest.

  7. Vicki August 15th, 2017 1:22 pm

    I love this tab! Just wondering how to read the strum patterns in the chorus as I’m a bit of a beginner. Thank you!

  8. Marje October 10th, 2017 5:45 pm

    Just like Vicki I’m also a beginner and would like to know the strumming patterns

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