How To Play Lava on Ukulele

Lava – Ukulele Lesson

Learn to play the rather brilliant Lava on ukulele from Pixar’s 2014 short movie of the same name. It’s a beautiful song and really easy to learn. Read on for help with the strumming pattern, chords and song structure.

Lava is a 7 minute computer animated short movie released by Pixar in 2014. It tells the story of a lonely volcano named Uku. That’s as much as I’ll say as I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t already seen it. It features a beautiful song (also called Lava), if you haven’t heard it check out this video…

3 Chord Trick

There are just 3 chords in the song Lava and they should all be pretty familiar if you ever picked up a ukulele before. Those chords are C, F and G7.

Lava Ukulele Chords

The beauty of Lava is that it’s a very easy song to play, the chords are simple and the strumming is fairly relaxed. Kuana Torres Kahele and Napua Greig do a great job on the vocals – if only I could sing like that!

Lava Strumming Pattern

You’ll see a lot of tutorials telling you the strumming pattern for Lava is D DU UDU which misses out the 3rd down strum. They’re wrong, you can clearly hear the 3rd down strum when you listen. The actual pattern is D DUDUDU but the dynamics that are used soften some of the those strums so it doesn’t sound quite so rigid.

Here’s what that pattern looks like…

Lava Strumming Pattern


It’s a really simple song but when you listen to it you’ll notice some subtleties in the dynamics that stop it sounding too one-dimensional. It’s a great example of what can be done with a very simple song. Once you get comfortable playing it through spend some time on getting those subtleties in your version too.

Lava Song Structure

There are only 2 real sections to get to grips with. The intro/verse and the chorus. There’s nothing too tricky going on with them but here’s the structure.


C  C  G7  G7  F  F  C  G7  G7

Which sounds something like…


F  F  C  C  G7  G7  C  C  F  F  C  C  F  G7  C  C

Which sounds like…

Essentially you’re playing 2 measures of each chord with the exception of the 3rd C in the intro/verse and the 5th F in the chorus.

Half way through the song the tempo slows down but you’re still playing the same chords and the same strumming pattern.

That’s pretty much it!


ukulele-strumsStrum Like A Pro

If you really want to progress your strumming at a rapid rate then I’d highly recommend taking a look at Al Wood’s downloadable ebook How To Play Ukulele Strums. For just $12 you get an in-depth guide showing you how to play 49 different strums with supporting videos and MP3 files. There’s also a really useful section that focuses on counting strums the easy way (something I wish I had when I was learning to play).

Buy How To Play Ukulele Strums

Grab my free Ukulele Go! beginners pack.

39 thoughts on “Lava – Ukulele Lesson

  1. I already knew how to play the uke, just wanted to try something new, like a new song other than “somewhere over the rainbow”

    1. The only issue you’d have is if you were playing baritone. The chord boxes would be different, but the actual chords themselves would be the same. Hope that helps!

  2. Thank you for putting the numbering in with the strum pattern. I think it’s important for even beginners to start to understand counting and not just a D DuDuDu pattern that is echoed from a recording (yeah, I’m a music teacher…)

  3. Ohhhhhhhh what a wonderful find ! I’ve been trying to learn this song for a month, but was never able to follow along. I find everything on this page perfect! From the YouTube link (awesome song as always) to the individual sound of the strumming. It helped me work through the song step by step. Thank you so much. I don’t think you know how much this means to me !!

  4. this was sooo easy to learn i got most of it on my first try. thanks soooo much for this great lesson

  5. I’ve never played ukulele (or guitar for that matter) before, but had one in my closet for five years. This is the first song I’ve tried playing. You make it so simple, I’ve almost got it down after only two days of practice.


  6. Wow, that’s amazing. I had already found how to play ‘lava’ on a different website, but that one didn’t explain the strum pattern, and I was told that it was the D DU UDU. It also didn’t have the intro. This was very helpfull, thanks!

  7. These lessons were so helpful!!! After a days worth of practice I nailed it and showed it to my friends and they loved it!!!! Thanks : )

  8. My Mom wanted me to learn a few Hawaiian songs, and this is one I really like. I cried a little bit when I first heard it, but it’s an awesome song. I can’t wait to play it for my Ukulele/Banjo teacher Mr.Buddy. He’ll be so proud! Thanks so much for the chords and strumming pattern!!!!!

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