Beginner to advanced.
It's easier than you think.
Putting it all together.
But Part 2 is where the magic really happens.
You'll learn how to turn the Riptide chords into thousands of easy songs.
Already know the chords to Riptide? Jump straight to Part 2.
If you're a total newbie, be sure you know how to tune your instrument and read chord diagrams.
- Here’s a primer for guitar.
- Here’s one for the ukulele.
Let's dive in.
How to Play “Riptide” by Vance Joy
What Key Is Riptide In?
The studio recording is in the key of C# major. But most guitar and ukulele websites display the song in C major – with instructions to place a "capo" on the 1st fret.
You don’t necessarily need a capo. But using one lets you play in the original key (while fingering much simpler chords).
Never used a capo before? Here’s a great resource.
How to Use a Capo
What Are the Chords for Riptide?
With a capo on the 1st fret, the Riptide chords are unofficially Am, G, C and F (you might sometimes see Fmaj7 – and we’ll cover that in a bit).
On the ukulele, these 4 chords are very easy.
Ukulele Riptide Chords
And if you can play these, jump to the next section.
But on the guitar...
... those 4 chords are a different story.
Guitar Riptide Chords
F Barre Chord Tips (for Guitarists)
5 practice techniques to make the F barre chord easier to play.
1. Bony Part of the Finger
Use the bony side of your index finger to “barre” the chord.
If you use the fleshy part, you’ll have to press down much harder.
When playing the F barre chord, your thumb acts as a counterbalance – on the back of the guitar’s neck.
2. Move the Capo Higher Up
Play the entire song higher up on the fretboard.
The farther you are from the headstock, the easier it is to play barre chords.
The song won’t be in the right key. But the chord “shapes” will stay the same.
3. Use Thinner Guitar Strings
Using thinner guitar strings can make playing barre chords a little easier.
That’s because you don’t need to apply as much pressure with your index finger.
The National Guitar Academy has instructions on how to change strings.
4. Lower the Action
The “action” of your guitar describes how far the strings are from the neck. The higher the action, the more pressure you need to apply when playing.
With the right tools, adjusting the action is a DIY job.
But any guitar shop can do it for you too.
5. Practice on an Electric
If you have access to an electric guitar, practice on this instead.
Acoustic strings need more pressure than electric ones do.
Once you've locked down the F chord, switch back to acoustic playing.
If the F barre chord is still too hard, don’t give up just yet.
Below are 2 more options.
Option 1: Alternate Fingerings for F Major
There are many fingerings for F major – some that aren’t barred.
Below are 2 of them. They don’t have the same rich sound as the barre version. But they can get you over the hump.
Option 2: Try Fmaj7 Instead
Another solid option is Fmaj7.
It’s even easier to play. And it’s also more correct (if you listen to Vance's studio version).
What Is the Riptide Strumming Pattern?
That strumming sequence is below. But if you’re a beginner, this pattern can be tricky. So I’ve included 2 easier versions as well.
The good news is that the Riptide strumming pattern basically repeats throughout the whole song.
There are a few parts that slow down. But if you can master the first bar, you're pretty much set.
Watch video below - starting at 9:53.
Pattern starts at 1:13 in the next video.
Strum pattern starts at 2:16 in the next video.
The studio version of Riptide has roughly 102 beats per minute (bpm).
That’s pretty fast.
And if you have trouble with this tempo, no worries. Here’s a practice tip that'll help you reach the speed you want.
- Use a metronome and set the tempo very slow (e.g. 50 bpm).
- If you can play the song with no mistakes, increase the speed to 60 bpm.
- Keep working your way up – setting faster and faster tempos.
You can program these metronomes to speed up over time. So start super slow. And as the minutes go by, the tempo gradually gets faster and faster.
We're almost done.
There's only one more section we need to cover. The 10-second riff in the middle of the song.
How to Play the Riptide Solo
It’s 100% optional. But it's pretty easy. And if you wanna play the entire tune from start to finish, learning this solo is worth it.
Below are tabs and video tutorials - for both guitar and ukulele.
If you've never seen a tab before, read this.
On the Guitar
Guitar Riff Tab
Guitar Riff Video
On the Ukulele
Ukulele Riff Tab
Ukulele Riff Video
Riptide by Vance Joy: Music & Lyrics
If you can play along with the video below:
- At the right speed.
- Using a capo.
- With no mistakes.
You're ready for Part 2 – the real meat of this article.
Taking It Beyond the Riptide Chords
Before getting started, I wanna give you a little taste.
If you know the chords to Riptide, you can play all 47 of the songs in the Axis of Awesome video below:
- The order of the chords is C, G, Am, and F (on a loop).
- You’ll need a capo on the 2nd fret to play in the same key.
You just turned 1 song into 47 – without learning any new chords.
And that's just scratching the surface.
There are literally thousands of tunes that use the Riptide chords – Am, G, C, and F.
And with the Chord Genome Project's free search engine, finding them is both fast and easy.
Just type in the chords you know. And seconds later – Voila!
You have a clickable list of songs from around the Web.
... All of which use your exact chords.
Try it yourself (below).
But definitely come back.
You'll learn how to turn those 1,000 songs into 4,500.
How to Search Songs by Chords
Click on the orange button below and do a search of the Riptide chords – Am, G, C, and F:
If you’re logged out, you'll get about 100+ songs. But with a Free Account, you’ll get 1,000+ results.
Hopefully, you got some solid hits.
And because you know the chords already, those songs are all easy wins.
But we can make this list even larger.
Turning the Riptide Chords into Thousands of Easy Songs
You already know that you can play any 4-chord song that uses…
We started Part 2 by searching those exact chords. And we got 1,000+ hits.
But if you put a capo on the 1st fret, you can play Riptide – plus any other song that uses…
So if you do a search of those 4 chords, you’ll find even more music.
And if you put a capo on the 2nd fret, you can play all 47 songs in the Axis of Awesome video – plus any other tunes that use…
Search those 4 chords, and you’ll find more songs... all of which are playable with Am, G, C, and F.
See a pattern here?
Moving the capo higher and higher unlocks more music at each stage:
- The key signature changes each time.
- The basic chord shapes stay the same.
So do separate searches for all of the chord combos below.
And you’ll end up with more than 4,500 songs…
All of which are playable with our original Riptide chords (Am, G, C, and F).
Stand back for a second. And think about what you've just done.
You learned the chords for 1 song.
But you unlocked 4,500+ new tunes in the process.
That's a PHENOMENAL return on investment.
Each songs has a different melody, tempo, and strumming pattern. And it'll take time to clean them up.
But they're all playable with the same 4 chords.
Try it out now.
And if you know anyone who:
- Is struggling on the guitar or ukulele...
- Or really likes the song, Riptide...
Consider sharing this article with them.
Thanks for reading.
And happy strumming.