Even the biggest masters have started out with easy songs and simple melodies – that’s why today, we’re bringing you the Riptide Ukulele Chords and Tabs, including a detailed how-to about mastering this easy ukulele song!
Riptide is a song by Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy. This ukulele song was first released as a track on his debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing (2013), serving as its second single, and is also featured on his debut studio album Dream Your Life Away (2014).
Learning to play ukulele can be very helpful if you are already a musician, and it can also be a great endeavor if you are a total beginner. But if you stick to a solid system and work your way up step by step, you will be able to learn any song you can think of!
This specific guide will combine some of our unique methods for learning guitar and bass songs, including the ACE method and the 4 C’s method, but at he same time, we will try to cover some unique aspects of the ukulele as an instrument.
We are also going to show you two ways of playing this song:
1) Using a tenor, concert, or soprano ukulele, tuned to G – C – E – A;
2) Using a baritone ukulele, tuned to D – G – B – E.
So, if you are ready to start learning this amazing ukulele song, we can begin!
Table of Contents
FIRST THING FIRST: TUNING YOUR UKULELE
In case that this is your first song or you are a total beginner, it is important to know how to tune a ukulele. Depending on the size of your ukulele, you are either going to tune to G – C – E – A (tenor, concert, or soprano ukulele) or to D – G – B – E (baritone ukulele).
The reason for tuning the ukulele is that all the strings have to produce very specific pitches or notes, and if the ukulele is out of tune, then you won’t be able to play Riptide, or any other song, along with the recording. You must make sure that you know what type of ukulele you are using because you will need to learn the correct shapes to play the song along with the recording, as well.
To tune each string, you need to turn the tuning peg on the headstock that the string is attached to. Tightening the string will make the note go higher, and loosening it will make the note go lower.
The best way for beginners to tune is to use an electronic clip-on tuner and to watch an instructional video. Of course, asking a friend who is a musician for help is not wrong, either!
Soprano, Concert, Tenor Ukulele
Make sure that you tune your ukulele carefully and try not to snap a string. Keep in mind that your ukulele might go out of tune very fast during the first few days or even for up to two weeks, especially if it is brand new or if the strings were changed recently.
Another reason for going out of tune is change in temperature. Don’t get frustrated if your ukulele goes out of tune constantly. It is just part of how all musical instruments work. As long as you can play the song from beginning to end without the ukulele going completely wacky, you are fine.
After tuning your ukulele, try to play a few easy chords. If you are a total beginner, make sure to check out websites like ukulele-tabs.com which offer chord charts for the easiest chords on the ukulele.
Also, try to watch some chord videos and don’t forget that the shapes are different between baritone ukulele on one side and soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles on the other side, which is the result of tuning them in a different way.
And if you don’t know any chord, we will try to learn and revise the few chords that we will need for Riptide right now!
Basic Ukulele Chords
The ukulele only has four strings, but they are tuned in such a way that playing chords is made rather easy. The key of the song Riptide is also one that fits the ukulele rather well and that is why we can play almost all of the song’s chords in open chord positions.
In music for stringed instruments, especially guitar and ukulele, an open chord (also called open-position chord) is a chord that includes one or more strings that are not fingered. That makes it easy to play all four strings at the same time while having to use only one or two fingers of the fretting hand.
Because of the different tuning, on different ukulele types, the same shapes will produce a different chord, but the shapes on both instruments are the same and are interchangeable, so you will be able to use a few shapes to get different results on different instruments.
And interestingly enough, the same shapes can be applied to guitar, as well! That means that learning to play Riptide on one ukulele type will make it easier to switch to another one later on, and even make it easier to learn it on guitar later on.
The song’s first few chords and opening two lines were originally written at Joy’s Glen Iris, Melbourne, home in 2008.
The chords that we need for the song Riptide are:
and F major.
With only these four chords you can play dozens of songs, including Riptide, but you can also use them for your own compositions.
Open Chords On Tenor, Soprano and Concert Ukulele:
On the three smaller ukulele types, we can play all four chords of the song Riptide in open chord positions.
The hardest one is the G chord because it uses three fingers, but with just a little bit of practice you will manage to play that one, too.
Keep in mind that you need to use only your finger tips for fretting and try not to mute any of the other ukulele strings.
F Major A Minor G Major C Major
Open Chords On Baritone Ukulele
On the baritone ukulele, we can still play 3 out of 4 chords in open positions, but the F chord needs to be a bar chord. That means that you need to use your index finger to play two notes at the same time.
Learning this F chord is somewhat harder but once you do get it you will find it to be really easy. If it is impossible, just play the F chord on three strings only until you get better.
Rather than squeezing harder which will soon tire your finger, try to rotate your barring finger back towards the nut very slightly and press the string with the harder side of the finger for more strength and pressure.
F Major A Minor G Major C Major
Final Words On Ukulele Chords
Mastering a few simple ukulele chords is important before attempting to play a whole song, but luckily, learning only a few chords will allow you to play Riptide and other easy songs.
Always make sure to play all strings individually to check if all the strings are ringing out properly. After memorizing the shapes , practice changing the chords while staying in rhythm. This will be tricky at first, but with enough practice, you will be able to do it without even thinking about it.
Now that we know the chords that we need, let us take a quick look at the strumming hand. We will also learn a few rudimentary strum patterns.
Pro Tip: If you want to play chords correctly, you will need to keep your fingernails on your fretting hand very short and neat. This is necessary so that you can use the very tips of your fingers and not block open strings. Your fingernails on your strumming hand can be grown-out, though.
Strumming Hand And Strum Patterns
The strumming hand determines the rhythm, speed and dynamics of the chords fretted by the fretting hand. That means that you need to invest a certain amount of time into synchronizing your left and right hand.
As a beginner, you don’t necessarily have to worry about countless strum patterns. The reason for that is that a lot of them are simply a combination of smaller, shorter and simpler strum patterns. Once you learn a few basic strum patterns, you will be able to play almost any song.
We have covered the topic of the strumming hand in more detail in our guitar related articles. In short, you can use your dominant hand either with a pick or with fingers only. Both ways can yield results, but they will produce a different tone.
While there are players who are holding the pick with the flat or bottom side of their index finger and thumb, most professional players hold the pick on the side of the index finger. This is a matter of personal preference, though, and no way is necessarily right or wrong.
There are numerous strum patterns to choose from and often they make each song sound unique. As a beginner, you should try to master only a few ones which sound good over many different chord progressions and will make your strumming sound good.
The easiest strum patterns are to continuously alternate between a downstroke and an upstroke, and playing downstrokes only. If you can master these two, all other strum patterns are just a combination of those.
Now, are you ready to combine what we’ve learned and play the whole song?
Ukulele Song – Riptide
A modern and popular song, that is also easy to play even for beginners, is 2013s “Riptide” by the Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy.
Lyrically, the upbeat indie folk song has been described as “a coming of age love story” and the song is known for its metaphors and pop culture references.
Listen to the recording of the song multiple times and try to remember certain things like lyrics, order of verses and chords and try to memorize the strum pattern. Write those things down and don’t be afraid to add your own remarks and notes about the cover.
After doing that, try to combine your strumming and fretting hand. Try playing the song using only tableture and your ears. If that doesn’t work out, watching a detailed walk-through instructional video might be helpful.
Soprano, Tenor and Concert Ukulele Tutorial:
Baritone Ukulele Cover:
Learning Riptide Completely
There are certain ways to make learning a song from beginning to end easier and those ways certainly apply to Riptide, too.
One important thing to do is to map the song out.
Every song has its own structure known as the song form or arrangement. You will have to count how many verses, pre-choruses, choruses, a possible bridge section there are in a song.
Using the lyrics of a song and chord over lyrics notation can help you out with this, but you will still have to memorize parts without singing.
When practicing, make sure to turn off the TV and remove as many distractions from your environment as possible, such as mobile phones or fidget spinners. 5 minutes of focused practice is way better than 15 minutes of broken, unconnected strumming.
Remember to practice every day, even for 5-10 minutes, because anything is better than nothing. The key to getting better is continuity.
And one of the most important tips is that you should always break the song down into small sections and tackle a section at a time. You should probably start off by learning only about four bars at a time, and learn them at a slower tempo. Practice each bit until you are happy with it, then try to play it up to speed.
An additional advice to remember is the saying that, if you are not completely sick of playing a part of a song, you probably haven’t practiced it enough times.
If you’ve followed each part correctly, you should by now be able to play Riptide at least partially. Keep on practicing until you get it right and don’t get discouraged if you are stuck with the song for a long time. The beginnings are often the hardest parts of every new endeavor.
For more song ideas and additional tips on how to play easy chord patterns, take a look at our guitar related articles, like the Top 10: Easy Guitar Songs For Beginners article, or our Definitive Guide on how to learn and practice guitar techniques and songs.
We hope you enjoyed this article! Please consider sharing it with family and friends, so that maybe they, too, can pick up a new instrument and practice together with you! And maybe you can try out different ukulele types together? An electric ukulele, for example could be a great addition to an acoustic arrangement!
If you keep on practicing, we are sure that you will be able to learn Riptide on ukulele and many other songs very soon! Till next time!