If you’ve not heard the Wellerman over the first few months of 2021, where have you been? This sea shanty became massive thanks to Nathan Evan’s rendition on Tiktok, lets learn The Wellerman on ukulele.
It’s a simple song, as sea shanties tend to be with a driving beat and it shares a lot of similarities with perhaps the most famous sea shanty of all, What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor?
The Wellerman originated in New Zealand in the mid-19th century.
The Chords You’ll Need
For this ukulele version of The Wellerman we’ll be using 5 chords: Am, Dm, C, F and the dreaded E. If you need a little help with the E chord, check out my post on playing the E chord.
The Strumming Pattern
As sea shanties were primarily sung on ships and boats, they’re largely unaccompanied by any instruments and performed acapella which means anything we play is going to be quite simple.
We’re going to go with a steady D DUD DU repeated across the entire song, this will give us the driving beat that keeps the song moving forwards.
Here’s that strumming pattern as a diagram…
And here’s what it sounds like…
Try and emphasise the first and third beats to really drive it.
Here are the lyrics alongside the chords so you can perform it and become a TikTok sensation.
For the verses you’ll be repeating the chords as follows…
Am x 4 | Dm x 2 | Am x 2 | Am x 4 | E x 2 | Am x 2
And the chorus…
F x 2 | C x 2 | Dm x 2 | Am x 2 | F x 2 | C x 2 | E x 2 | Am x 2
Taking It To The Next Level
If you’d like to push this song further then I’d recommend checking out my Patreon channel. Jonathan Lewis and I covered a more comprehensive fingerstyle performance of this one which you can hear a demo of below.
Our Patreon is just $5/month and includes many intermediate level lessons which will really develop your playing. Every month we produce a combined lesson alongside other lessons and tabs for you to learn.