Riptide Vance Joy Ukulele Lesson

Riptide Ukulele Lesson – Vance Joy

Vance Joy’s 2013 hit Riptide has been one of the most popular songs to play on ukulele since it’s debut 5 years ago. Thanks to its positive feel and pop culture references throughout, Riptide has become a modern classic. Let’s take a look at how to play it…

Riptide Chords

The good news is that there are just four chords in Riptide and you’ll probably already be familiar with them (especially if you’ve ever read my post about four chords). The chords are Am, G, C and F.

Riptide Ukulele Chords

Nothing too tricky there. If you do know the chords well I’d throw a few chord inversions in the mix to keep your chord knowledge developing.

The original key to this song is actually C# which is half a step up from regular tuning. If you want to play along with the record you’ll need to drop a capo on at fret 1.

The intro, verses and chorus all use the same 3 chords in the same order throughout. Those chords are…

Am | G | C

If you’ve played ukulele for a while, those chords will be pretty familiar to you. You can give your pinkie finger a rest on this one, you won’t need it.

You’ll be playing a bar of Am, a bar of G and 2 bars of C.

Strumming Pattern

Riptide has an incredibly recognisable rhythm that really drives the song. If you get the rhythm right, you’re pretty much there.

For almost the whole song, the strumming pattern is down, down, up, down, up repeated. As with any rhythm, the say it play it rule is true. If you can say the rhythm out loud, you can play it. Here’s what that rhythm looks and sounds like.

Riptide Strumming Pattern

It’s actually pretty simple and shouldn’t be too difficult to get to grips with. Because it’s so simple it’s really crucial to get the timing bang on. I’d recommend using a metronome to get this down.

I like to play the first 2 down strums with a little more emphasis to really accent them. It should end up sounding something like this…

(Note in the audio file I’m playing without a capo)

The song tears along at a pretty rapid rate – 155bpm to be precise so take it slowly initially. Speed will come with time. You can actually get faster at playing ukulele by taking things very slowly. Tortoise and the hare!

Song Structure

For the most part the song remains pretty much the same throughout simply repeating Am, G and C. This only changes later on in the song where our F chord makes it first appearance.

Take a look at the PDF songsheet below for the full breakdown.

Riptide Vance Joy Songsheet

Grab my free Ukulele Go! beginners pack.

20 thoughts on “Riptide Ukulele Lesson – Vance Joy

  1. This was really helpful, thanks! I was struggling trying to find a way to keep my rhythm when counting out aloud in order for it to be the same pace. Once again, thanks!

  2. Hi I am a newbie at playing ukulele and your lessons help but are not that easy for me to follow I will still try to follow along other wise my dad will say I don’t like playing musical instruments when I do this is not a life story so I shall go but if you old try make them easier please do bye for now

  3. I couldn’t find the strumming pattern on here so I found it on another website, but for anyone who’s asking it’s DDU DU

  4. This seems amazing, but is it good for beginners? Because I’ve never played big songs before. I hope I can play this because it’s one of my favourite songs.

  5. Thanks for this great tutorial ! Can you grab the strumming pattern without chords, just the sound of the strings?

  6. Hey so I’m a total beginner and I have a few questions. So if I put a capo on the first fret (I made one with a pencil and rubber bands) and I’m playing A minor which is normally holding the G string on the second fret then with a capo do I hold the chord on the second fret or the third fret?
    And then why does playing through the stumming pattern on each chord then twice on C sound nothing like the real song? What am I doing wrong?

    1. Great question, so the trick is when you add your capo whether it’s home made or not, you then take your capo as though it’s the nut. That means if you’re trying to play the A minor chord with the capo on the first fret, you’d need to fret the G string at the 3rd fret. Hope that makes sense. This will help with the second part of your question too.

  7. I’m a beginner, but have my fingers patterned on the chords needed for this song. It doesn’t seem that difficult, should I make this the first song I try? Or it’d be too difficult for me ?

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