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Mastering Riptide on the Ukulele: Chords Strumming and Lyrics

Learning to Play Riptide on Ukulele

If you’re a fan of the ukulele, chances are you’ve heard of the song “Riptide.” Originally released in 2013 by Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy, this song has become a popular choice for ukulele players around the world. In this article, we’ll dive into the chords, strumming patterns, and lyrics of “Riptide,” as well as how to transpose the song and make it your own.

Chords for Playing Riptide

Let’s start with the chords used in playing Riptide on the ukulele. The song uses three main chords throughout most of the piece: Am, G, and C.

To play these chords on your Ukulele, place your index finger on the first fret of the second string to form an A minor chord. Then, place your middle finger on the second fret of the fourth string and your ring finger on the third fret of the first string to create a G chord.

Finally, place your ring finger back on the third fret of the first string and add your pinky finger to the third fret of the second string to form a C chord. The chord progression for playing the verse and chorus is Am-G-C, while the pre-chorus uses the chords F and G.

If you’re new to playing the ukulele, these chords may take some time to get comfortable with. But with a bit of practice, you’ll find yourself strumming along to “Riptide” in no time.

Strumming Pattern

Now that you know the chords, it’s essential to learn the strumming pattern that goes with the song. The strumming pattern for “Riptide” is “DDU-UDU.” The DDU part stands for down-down-up, while the UDU is up-down-up.

It may take some time to get the hang of strumming the pattern comfortably while playing the chords. However, once you practice, you’ll find it’s not too difficult to keep up with the song’s rhythm.

Make sure your strumming hand stays loose and relaxed, and don’t be afraid to take it slow and build up speed gradually.

Transposing the Song

One of the most common reasons ukulele players transpose songs is to match their vocal range. Transposing involves moving the song into a higher or lower key to make it easier to sing.

To transpose the song “Riptide” on a ukulele, you’ll need a capo. To move the song up into a higher key, place the capo on the first fret of your ukulele.

This will increase the pitch of the song, and you’ll need to use the chords G, F, and C instead of Am, G, and C. If you want to bring it down into a lower key, place the capo on the third fret of your ukulele.

This will make the song easier to sing, and you’ll need to use the chords F, Dm, and A# instead of Am, G, and C.

Riptide Lyrics and Chords for Ukulele

Finally, let’s take a look at the lyrics and chords for “Riptide” on the ukulele. The lyrics of this song contain four verses and a chorus, with a pre-chorus and a middle eight section.

Here is the chord progression for each section:

Verse: Am-G-C


Chorus: F-G

Chorus: Am-G-C

The middle eight section uses the chords F, C, and G. While these chords may take some practice to get down, keep in mind that you can always slow down the strumming pattern to start.

Once you feel comfortable, you can gradually increase the tempo and match the song’s original recording.


Playing “Riptide” on the ukulele is a fantastic way to hone your skills while enjoying a popular and catchy song. By mastering the chords, strumming pattern, and lyrics, you’ll be on your way to playing this song like a pro.

With a bit of practice and patience, you’ll be able to transpose and play the song in a variety of keys, making it a versatile addition to your repertoire. Continuing on the topic of playing “Riptide” on the ukulele, we’ll now take a deeper dive into the strumming pattern and transposing the song.

These sections are crucial to learn if you want to play the song proficiently and explore different variations.

Strumming Pattern for Riptide on Ukulele

The strumming pattern of “Riptide” on the ukulele is essential to get right if you want the song to sound good. The pattern is DDU, which stands for “down, down, up.” The “ghost” strumming or muting is also critical to the song’s sound, so it’s essential to master this technique.

Ghosting involves lightly touching the strings while strumming to quieten them down and create a percussive sound. It also helps to improve continuity in the rhythm and prevent any excessive buzzing.

Practicing the ghosting technique adds depth and nuance to your strumming patterns and can be applied to other songs and genres. To practice the DDU strumming pattern, start by strumming down on beat one, then down again on beat two, and then up on beat three.

After this, ghost on the fourth beat, and repeat the patterns for each bar. The strumming pattern can be challenging to learn initially, but with practice, you’ll get it down.

Importance of Ghosting

Ghosting plays a vital role in the song’s sound and is an essential strumming technique for ukulele players. It’s essential to note that ghosting is not a single technique, but rather a combination of different methods.

One technique is palm muting, where the player rests their palm on the strings as they strike it, producing a muffled or muted sound. Another technique is string muting, where you use your left-hand fingers to mute the strings, creating a staccato effect.

Apart from this, you can also use a combination of strumming down and ghosting up or vice versa to create unique rhythmic patterns. One thing to keep in mind is that ghosting is a matter of personal preference, and it can vary depending on the song or the player’s playing style.

There’s no right or wrong way to ghost the chords, as long as it fits with the song’s rhythm.

Transposing Riptide on Ukulele

Another essential aspect of playing “Riptide” on the ukulele is transposing the song into different keys. Transposing means changing the key, or pitch of the song, to better match your vocal range or change the mood of the song.

If you are playing with a group or need to match another instrument, transposing the song is vital. Addition of Capo for Key of A#m

One way to transpose “Riptide” on the ukulele is by adding a capo.

A capo is a tool that allows you to raise the pitch of the ukulele by changing the effective length of the strings. For example, if you need to move the song to the key of A#m, you can use the capo to change the pitch without changing the fingering of the chords.

To transpose the song to the key of A#m, place the capo on the first fret. This will raise the pitch of the song by half a step and shift the entire chord progression up in pitch.

Make sure to use the chords F#, E, and B instead of the original chords to match the key.

Transposing Half Step Down

Another way to transpose the song is by moving it half a step down. This can be achieved by lowering the pitch of the ukulele by half a step.

In doing so, you’ll need to use the chords G#, F#, and C#. This method is useful if your vocal range is lower than the original key.

You can use a tuner or an online resource to help you tune the ukulele down.


Mastering the strumming pattern and transposing your favorite songs is an excellent way to develop your ukulele skills. Practicing these techniques helps you develop a deeper understanding of rhythm and melody and enhances your playing ability overall.

By combining the different techniques and approaches, you can take on new challenges and explore new sounds and styles. Keep practicing and experimenting, and the results will undoubtedly show!

Learning to play “Riptide” on the ukulele involves not only mastering the chords and the strumming pattern but also understanding the lyrics.

In this section, we’ll break down each section’s lyrics and chords to help you become more familiar with the song and enhance your performance.

Verse 1

The song’s opening verse contains the chords Am, G, and C, with the lyrics telling the story of the singer’s journey as he tries to find his place in the world. The lyrics are as follows:


Verse 1]

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 magician’s assistant in their dreams



The pre-chorus contains the chords F and G, and its simple melody adds emphasis to the repetitive “oohs” that the singer uses as a transition for the chorus. [




Ooh, ooh, and they come unstuck


The chorus is the central part of the song, featuring the chords Am, G, and C. The simple yet catchy melody and meaningful lyrics make this part a crowd pleaser.

The lyrics refer to a woman’s moody and somewhat dangerous persona. [


Am G C

Lady, running down to the riptide

Am G C

Taken away to the dark side

Am G C

I wanna be your left-hand man

Am G C

I love you when you’re singing that song and

One unique part of the chorus is the last line, “I got a lump in my throat because you’re gonna sing the words wrong.” This line builds up an emotional connection with the listeners and adds variety to the song’s overall tone.

Verse 2

The second verse contains the same chord progression as the first verse and references New York City and the actress Michelle Pfeiffer. [

Verse 2]

Am G C

I love you when you’re singing that song and

Am G C

I got a lump in my throat ’cause

Am 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

Middle Eight


Middle Eight section, which is also known as the bridge, features the chords F, C, and G. The lyrics reference the singer’s desire for his lover to stay with him and bring their love story to the “screen.”


Middle Eight]


Ooh, and they called it lonely


hearted Claimed that this would be


Destined for the screen


The song ends with an outro that contains the chord progression Am, G, and C. The final lyrics refer to the “lump in my throat” earlier emphasized in other parts of the song.


Am G C

I just wanna, I just wanna know

Am G C

If you’re gonna, if you’re gonna stay

Am G C

I just gotta, I just gotta know

Am G C

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


By understanding the lyrics and chords of “Riptide,” you can bring a more personal touch and depth to your playing. By paying attention to the song’s lyrics and overall tone, you can add nuance to your performance and better connect with your audience.

To become a great ukulele player, both the musical and lyrical aspects of a song should be given equal importance. With continuous practice, you’ll be able to perform “Riptide” with confidence and style, captivating your audience every time.

In conclusion, playing “Riptide” on the ukulele involves mastering the chords, strumming pattern, and lyrics. Understanding the lyrics adds emotional resonance to your performance, and focusing on the nuances of the song enhances your ability to connect with your audience.

From the DDU strumming pattern to the importance of ghosting and transposing the song to different keys, each of these techniques has its role, and learning them can help you become a better ukulele player. By keeping these aspects in mind and practicing them continually, you’ll be able to perform “Riptide” with confidence and style, captivating your audience every time.

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