Riptide Ukulele Chords By Vance Joy

Riptide by Vance Joy continues to be one of the most popular ‘ukulele songs from the last five years. It uses simple chords and a fun strum to bring life to bizarre lyrics.

Jump to the chords.

Riptide Strumming Pattern

The strumming pattern for Riptide 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:


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

My ear tells me that it’s very likely the person playing ‘ukulele on the Riptide recording used a thin flatpick to strum the rhythm part. Getting one might help you achieve the sound if you want to be super exact.

Other Tidbits

The original key is a half step higher than what is written here. If you DO want to play it in C#, tune your ‘ukulele up a half step to G#-C#-F-A# or use a capo on the 1st fret and play these chords as written.

The ‘ukulele chords for Riptide sound like they have the low tone of a baritone. So if you have one to use, find the baritone shape for these chord names (they’ll be different!) and strum along.

riptideRiptide ‘Ukulele Chords
Vance Joy
God Loves You When You’re Dancing
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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

Am   G    C
Ooh, ooh, ooh
Am  G         C/
Ooh, and they come unstuck

Am    G                   C                          Am
Lady, running down to the riptide, taken away to the dark side
G               C
I wanna be your left hand man
Am         G                        C                            Am
I love you when you're singing that song and, 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



Am                             G C                                   F
I just wanna, I just wanna know, if you're gonna, if you're gonna stay,
Am                            G  C                                F/
I just gotta, I just gotta know, 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> x3

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

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