When the Stars Come Out

by Chris Stapleton • Lesson #498 • Jun 8, 2023

In today’s lesson I’ll teach you to play When The Stars Come Out, the 2015 Chris Stapleton song from his breakthrough album Traveller. I’m tackling this song without a capo, which I state because Stapleton plays it capo 3rd fret. But fear not, you can still play along with his recorded version – and the chords we’re using are all typical Key of G fare.

For the intro riff in particular, Stapleton’s exact tab has stumped me for years… I just can’t get my ring & pinky fingers to do what he does. So, I’m excited to share a simplified version of the riff I worked out. It lets you play the same notes, but on the thinnest three strings - and sounds almost identical to his version.

  • 0:00 Lesson Overview
  • 2:48 Intro Riff (Stapleton’s version)
  • 4:26 Intro Riff (my version)
  • 7:47 Chords & Progressions
  • 12:07 Strumming
  • 18:34 Vocal Melody

Print-Friendly Song Sheet 3 pages

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Play-Along Cover

Here’s how I play the song, start to finish. I use everything I show in my main lesson. For the intro, I play it once using my custom version, and then play it once in Stapleton’s style. For strumming, notice how I’m using low-key, dialed-down strums during the verse… and then I’ll slowly ramp things up as I approach the chorus.

Apologies for the “early” typo in the chorus! It should say “L.A.” — and rest assured that it’s fixed in my song sheet.

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Video Practice Track

Here’s a jam track you can play over while practicing this song. It combines a steady drum beat (74 bpm) with low-volume guitar for each of the sections of this song, played over and over. This lets you practice anything you want — strumming, lead guitar, singing, etc — with a steady beat (and chords!) being played for you.

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Audio Jam Track

If you’d like an audio-only track to play over, try this! It gives you a steady drum beat played at 74 beats per minute (which matches Stapleton’s tempo). It’s a low-key drum beat, roughly matching the vibe heard in the intro to Stapleton’s album recording.

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Click to download, or play below:

Here’s a few lessons I mention in my main tutorial. If you need help with the four-string F chord, strumming while palm muting, or the G major pentatonic scale — check these out!

My Other Chris Stapleton Tutorials

Chris Stapleton’s Album Version (2015)


Stapleton at NPR Tiny Desk (2015)

Here’s Chris and his wife Morgane playing this song live at NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. You can watch the full performance here, if you want to see the other songs they sing. This is a great way to see what he’s playing up close!

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