Riptide Ukulele Chords by Vance Joy

god loves it when you're dancing album cover vance joy thumbnailUse this song sheet to learn the ukulele chords to “Riptide” by Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy. It’s easy for a beginner and you’ll also find lots of tips below to help bring life to the bizarre lyrics.

4.7
(100)
Intro: Am  G  C     (x2)

Am              G                C
I was scared of dentists and the dark
Am              G                C
I was scared of pretty girls and starting conversations
Am        G                   C
Oh all my friends are turning green
Am                   G                  C
You're the magicians assistant in their dreams

Pre-Chorus:
Am   G    C
Ooh, ooh, ooh
Am  G         C/
Ooh, and they come unstuck

Chorus:
Am    G                   C
Lady, running down to the riptide
                  Am
Taken away to the dark side
G               C
I wanna be your left hand man
Am         G                        C
I love you when you're singing that song and
                   Am
I got a lump in my throat 'cause
G                     C
You're gonna sing the words wrong

Am                 G                   C
There's this movie that I think you'll like
Am                  G                C
This guy decides to quit his job and heads to New York City
Am            G               C
This cowboy's running from himself
Am                    G              C
And she's been living on the highest shelf

Pre-Chorus:
Am   G    C
Ooh, ooh, ooh
Am  G         C/
Ooh, and they come unstuck

Chorus:
Am    G                   C
Lady, running down to the riptide
                  Am
Taken away to the dark side
G               C
I wanna be your left hand man
Am         G                        C
I love you when you're singing that song and 
                   Am
I got a lump in my throat 'cause
G                     C
You're gonna sing the words wrong

(High-g tuning)
A |-----------------|
E |------0-------0--| x4
C |--2h4-------0----|
G |--------0--------|

*OR*

(Low-G tuning)
A |-----------------|
E |------0-3-----0--| x4
C |--2h4-------0----|
G |-----------------|

Am                             G
I just wanna, I just wanna know
C                                   F
If you're gonna, if you're gonna stay
Am                            G
I just gotta, I just gotta know
C                                F/
I can't have it, I can't have it any other way

Am/           G/               C/
I swear she's destined for the screen
Am/              G/                C/
Closest thing to Michelle Pfeiffer that you've ever seen, oh

Chorus:
Am    G                   C
Lady, running down to the riptide
                  Am
Taken away to the dark side
G               C
I wanna be your left hand man
Am         G                        C
I love you when you're singing that song and
                   Am
I got a lump in my throat 'cause
G                     C
You're gonna sing the words wrong

Chorus:
Am    G                   C
Lady, running down to the riptide
                  Am
Taken away to the dark side
G               C
I wanna be your left hand man
Am         G                        C
I love you when you're singing that song and
                   Am
I got a lump in my throat 'cause
G                     C
You're gonna sing the words wrong

Chorus:
Am    G                   C
Lady, running down to the riptide
                  Am
Taken away to the dark side
G               C
I wanna be your left hand man
Am         G                        C
I love you when you're singing that song and
                   Am
I got a lump in my throat 'cause
G                     C
You're gonna sing the words wrong

Tag:
C                  Am
I got a lump in my throat 'cause
G                     C
You're gonna sing the words wrong.

How useful was this tab?

Please tell us what the problem is

What can be improved about this post?

(Be sure to read below if you still have any questions about the song.)

Printable PDF version

Why Does the Recording Sound Different than my Uke?

The recorded key is actually A#m. This means the above chords need to be A#m, G#, C#, and F# to match the pitch.

Option A – Easiest for GCEA

Since playing in A#m makes for hard chords, it’s a lot easier to simply use a capo on the first fret. (You could also tune up a half step to G#-C#-F-A# to achieve the same result.)

When you use a capo you can play the easy Am, G, C, and F chords you’re familiar with, but they will sound correct if you play with the recording.

a minor ukulele chord diagram

Am

g major ukulele chord diagram

G

c major ukulele chord diagram

C

f major ukulele chord diagram

F

For a basic overview on how these chords fit with the strum, check out ukulenny’s video lesson tutorial over on Kala’s website.

Option B – Vance’s Signature Down-Tuning

Even if you use a capo to match the pitch of the Riptide recording, the tone will still be off.

This is because instead of using a capo, Vance actually tunes down – WAY down. He drops all the strings down a major 3rd interval – or four frets – from standard GCEA.

His uke is tuned Eb-Ab-C-F (your tuner might also display it as: D#-G#-C-F).

Detuning a normal-sized ukulele so far down is what gives the Riptide strumming its low, “flabby” sound. You can see in this video that it looks like he’s playing a Kala tenor.

What Are the Chords if I Tune Down?

If you choose to tune your ukulele like this, you have to use a different set of chord shapes to match the recording.

Vance uses baritone shapes to play the same-sounding chords on the de-tuned uke.

Remember, because of this in-between tuning, the chords are shown as Am, G, C, and F, but sound as if they were up a half-step in A#m.
am baritone ukulele chord diagram

Am

G baritone ukulele chord diagram

G

C baritone ukulele chord diagram

C

F baritone ukulele chord diagram

F

What is the Strumming Pattern for Riptide?

The strumming pattern is: D D UDU.

That’s down, down, up, down, up (then repeat). The trick is to keep your hand moving down and up even when you aren’t strumming the uke!

If you keep the strumming hand “ghosting” over the strings during the times you don’t play, it’s much easier to keep your momentum and build a groove.

To do this, you need to change how you think of the pattern a bit. Your hand is now going to make the motion of: DUDUDUDU in the same space as the “real” strum, which, remember, is: D D UDU.

But you aren’t going to hit the strings for every strum otherwise it would sound wrong! Instead, you are going to (while continuing the non-stop down/up pattern) move your hand closer to your body when it’s time to sound the strings and further away from your body when it’s not.

If you superimpose the two on top of each other it looks like this:

The Strum:  D   D     U D U
The Motion: D U D U D U D U

Everywhere there is a gap in the original pattern you don’t strum – but your hand keeps moving! So all together the pattern will look like:

D(U)D(U)(D)UDU

On the strums in parenthesis you miss the strings as you go by.

For more on this concept, check out my book, Right Hand Technique For Ukulele, which includes the secret to groovy strumming.

My ear tells me that it’s likely that Vance used a thin flatpick to strum the rhythm part. Getting one might help you achieve the sound if you want to be super exact.

The Breakdown Riff Picking Tab

In the song chords above there are two versions of the breakdown picking shown in tab.

The first is for high-g tuning. This one sounds best to my ears since it utilizes the open G-string to create a ringing sound.

The second is for low-G tuning. This one isn’t as nice, but works in a pinch if you only have a low-G uke.

Adapting the Picking for Vance’s Down-Tuning

If you tune your uke to Eb-Ab-C-F, as shown in the section on tuning, you’ll have to play the picking differently. This is actually how Vance plays it – with a “high-g” (even though it’s tuned down).

F  |------0-3-----0--|
C  |----5------------| x4
Ab |------------5----|
Eb |--0--------------|

If you’re down tuning with a low-G, just move the open Eb-string note onto the 3rd fret of the C-string.

Brad Bordessa
brad bordessa holding ukulele white aloha shirt

I’m an ukulele artist from Honokaʻa, Hawaiʻi, where I run this site from an off-grid cabin in the jungle. I’ve taught workshops internationally, made Herb Ohta Jr. laugh until he cried, and once jammed with HAPA onstage in my boardshorts. More about me