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Total Guitar gives viral Wellerman sea shanty a hard-rock makeover

Wellerman singer Nathan Evans
(Image credit: Jo Hanley / Chay Chay Sae Hêng / EyeEm)

Of all the viral trends to hit in 2021, the last thing we expected was a TikTok-fuelled revival of a 19th century sea shanty – yet that's exactly what happened, and in the guitar world, the likes of Brian May, Matt Heafy and YouTube behemoth Andre Antune all got in on the act.

Now, admittedly, we can’t imagine that guitar, amp and pedalboard featured too highly in most 19th century sailors’ luggage. But that didn’t stop Total Guitar contributor and Haken guitarist Charlie Griffiths from plugging in and rocking out with a fresh, guitar-heavy version of Wellerman, the 150+ year-old sea shanty that took on a new lease of life with Nathan Evans’ sensational viral TikTok hit – ultimately landing him a number one single in the UK chart.

An unlikely and unfathomable trend it may be, but this traditional tune has endured thanks to its strong, instantly memorable melody line. As with What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor or a trad. folk tune like The Wild Rover, one listen to Wellerman and it’s in your head for good.

So, here we present our own, ever-so-slightly heavier version of this traditional tune, which adds chugging rhythms, wailing vibrato, unison bends, and some slick legato runs to close.

If you fancy setting sail for the high-gain seas yourself, the full tab for the arrangement can be found in the latest issue of Total Guitar, which also details how you can write your own shanty masterpiece, and boasts interviews with Ben Howard, Tash Sultana, Steve Cropper and The Offspring.

You can grab a copy over at Magazines Direct.