Three Great Guitar Versions Of The Star Spangled Banner

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Neal - Journey - Live

If you live in a certain country, today – and this song – might be important to you.

In the USA, we’ve been celebrating the 4th of July with this song for 199 years – in fact, in September of next year, the song will be 200 years old. After reflecting on the performing of the Star Spangled Banner by Steve Vai we’d posted a couple of years ago we thought why not see how some other guitarists played the famed anthem? It makes sense that a song that’s meant so much to so many people would eventually be picked up as a favorite by guitarists, each expressing their own creativity and individuality through it’s expression.

So here are three versions of the Star Spangled Banner, which also happens to be our National Anthem, for those of you who slept through history class (I don’t know anything about this personally – it’s just a phenomenon I’ve heard about).

Which one do you like best and why?

Eric Elrod

Smokehouse Road guitarist Eric Elrod plays around for a bit building a delightful atmosphere that sets the mood for his own rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.  His is a delicate version that exercises great dynamic ranges to cultivate an interesting feeling. Starting as soft as a somber whisper and building up to a dominating force it’s graceful with every note played along the way.


Here Slash breaks the Star Spangled Banner down to the lone guitar with a wah pedal as made famous by Jimi Hendrix.  Probably the most gratifying thing about this performance is it doesn’t go overboard with liberties.  No asinine scale fills or crazy arpeggios. Apart from some mild stylistic traits it’s largely the Star Spangled Banner as it was written.  And just look at his hat.  How can a guy get any more patriotic than that?

Neal Schon

Journey guitarist Neal Schon goes for a much more expressive rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.  You can hear pure emotion resonating through the guitar and out of the amps.  Backed by a keyboardist playing pedal tones to fill in the bottom end the guitar seers through with unrestrained emotive power.  It’s ambitious, it’s bold, it’s touching, and, oh yeah.  It’s awesome.

Guitar-Muse Staff

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There are 4 comments

  1. Uh…Jimi Hendrix? He was the innovator who took the heat for playing the National Anthem in a non-traditional way. These other guys just imitated what he did. Jimi’s version is still the best ever. No question!

    1. Guitar-Muse Staff |

      Agreed, but everyone has heard Jimi’s version. We can’t write an article about the same performance every year


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