Classical Guitar Instruction with Douglas Niedt
Beach Boys License Plate

God Only Knows

The Beach Boys (Brian Wilson)
Arranged by Douglas Niedt

As a subscriber to my Technique Tip of the Month, you get this arrangement for free. Others must purchase the music so please do not give it to friends or distribute it in any manner.

The arrangement I play in the video is difficult. But I also provide an easier intermediate-level version. You can mix the two as needed. When you come to a spot you cannot play in the advanced version, try the same measure in the easier version. Both versions come in standard notation with tab or standard notation only.

Download PDFs of any or all the versions.
These are downloads from Dropbox. NOTE: You do NOT need a Dropbox account and don't have to sign up for Dropbox to access the files.

  1. Advanced version, standard notation only.
  2. Advanced version, standard notation and tab.
  3. Easier version, standard notation only.
  4. Easier version, standard notation and tab.

You may also download the video. After the Vimeo video review page opens, click on the down arrow in the upper right corner. You will be given a choice of five different resolutions/qualities/file sizes to download.


  • Brian Wilson wrote the song in 45 minutes with Tony Asher, an advertising copyrighter and lyricist.
  • Released in 1966, God Only Knows is considered a Beach Boys classic, but was released as a B-side, partly because of fear that radio stations would refuse to play a song with "God" in the title.
  • The song reflects Wilson's interest in spirituality, and was a big departure from previous Beach Boys songs that dealt with girls, cars, and surfing.
  • Lyricist Asher felt they were taking some real chances with the song, not just because "God" was in the title, but also because "it opens by saying, 'I may not always love you,' which is a very unusual way to start a love song."
  • In the version recorded by the Beach Boys, a percussionist plays an almost continuous rhythm on two empty jugs of orange juice. At measure #39, I imitate the sound with tongue clucks.