Beirut – The Penalty

Beirut – The Penalty (Chords)

The standout track on The Flying Club Cup as far as I’m concerned – although I am completely biased in any matter that involves ukuleles – is the uke lead tune The Penalty.

The first thing to notice in the chords for the song is that there are three different inversions of the C chord in there. The Penalty starts off with a shortened bar of the usual open C shape. Then the three strings remain open while the A string is played at the seventh fret. I’ve called it e/C as the highest note is the E. Finally, there’s another C chord – I’ve called it C(alt) which acts a passing chord between the Em and the F (it is only played for a short time and is, therefore, in square brackets). There’s is also a short Fadd9 chord which is made simply by taking your finger off the G string and letting it run open. This chord is only played for a short time also and is used to create a little harmonic interest in the long F bars.

There’s only one other set of chords in the tune: a simple F C F G. Then you are good to go.

More Beirut tab and chords for ukulele

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  1. Pete Wissinger August 28th, 2007 8:20 pm

    Thanks for working this out so soon! I am excited to play it. Keep up the good work

  2. amber August 29th, 2007 8:06 am

    How exciting.

  3. ryantheduke September 18th, 2007 10:48 pm

    amazing work on the chords. i’m going to buy a ukulele soon, just playing it on guitar now.. do you know where this video is from?

    check our site at the end of september, we should have some content from the beirut shows in montreal up there.

  4. Woodshed September 19th, 2007 9:43 pm

    Hi Ryan. The video was shot at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, South Bank. I’m looking forward to your Beirut stuff. I can’t get enough of them.

  5. Jim September 28th, 2007 5:21 pm

    Hi Ryan,

    After listening to a number of versions of The Penalty, I’ve discovered that instead of “or get through the day” in the second verse (from your pdf chords), Zach sings “our friends rue the day”. The song makes a lot more sense now.


  6. Jim September 28th, 2007 5:27 pm

    Hi again,

    My “website” is not “http://noneyet”. I meant that I do NOT have a website yet!


  7. Benjamin October 3rd, 2007 10:42 pm

    Thanks for all the hard work! I’ve been playing through it, and this is a truly beautiful song. I was surprised not only to find the chords, but to find such a helpful explanation. Thanks!

  8. Woodshed October 3rd, 2007 11:06 pm

    Thanks, Benjamin. I’m glad you found it useful.

    Thanks for your comments, Jim. I’m sure you’re right.

  9. Daniel November 15th, 2007 2:56 am

    Love these guys. Can’t get enoguh of the Flying Club Cup, its an amazing record. I jost actually bought their first one.

  10. Daniel November 15th, 2007 2:57 am

    oh and I’m learning this song right now. I just found out that I own a ukulele and just tuned it five minutes ago and now I’m learning this great song!

  11. Woodshed November 17th, 2007 10:38 pm

    Congratulations on finding a ukulele, Daniel. Better than finding buried treasure :)

  12. Joshua December 6th, 2007 7:10 pm

    I Love this song and Everything Beirut,
    and i have learned all of the chords for this song – But!
    i cannot get the strumming pattern right so it sounds rubbish : ((
    does anyone have any tips to help a beginner-ish uke player?

  13. Woodshed December 9th, 2007 3:47 pm

    The strumming pattern changes around a lot. A good place to start is down, down, up, up. Here’s me playing that pattern slowed down, then at full speed. Hope that helps, Joshua.

  14. Best of 2007: Beirut - St Apollonia | Uke Hunt January 16th, 2008 8:06 am

    […] are a couple of uke-heavy tracks on the album: The Penalty (you can find the chords for The Penalty here) and St […]

  15. Beirut - Flying Club Cup | Uke Hunt February 26th, 2008 6:00 pm

    […] The Penalty (Chords) […]

  16. Spordan February 29th, 2008 1:30 pm

    only just got into Beirut, and being a novice uke player I thought i’d search for some tabs and found this site.
    Just wanted to say thanks a lot for transcribing this song as there’s no way i’d be able to work it out myself! :)

  17. Woodshed February 29th, 2008 7:21 pm

    You’re welcome, Spordan. Glad you liked it.

  18. Siddhartha April 3rd, 2008 7:35 pm

    When I first heard the song, I started crying. Thank God that someone was able to work out the cords.

  19. Woodshed April 3rd, 2008 8:10 pm

    It’s a damn fine song, Siddhartha, no doubt about that.

  20. Rachel April 4th, 2008 12:48 am

    Amazing. I love everything Zach Condon touches.

    I just got a ukulele and I’m amazed at how easy it is. I play several instruments and ukulele has been by far one of the easiest and the most fun to play.

    Thanks for posting the chords! I was looking around and I could only find chords rewritten for electric guitar.

  21. Woodshed April 4th, 2008 9:52 pm

    Hi, Rachel. You’re welcome. Anything I can do to help people avoid gu***rs and their boring chords will be reward in heaven. I have no doubt.

  22. Izzy April 22nd, 2008 4:01 pm

    Thanks… Any chance someone could put the chords up on, in that format? That’d be tres helpful as I’m having trouble working out the chord progression completely accurately..

  23. justin April 24th, 2008 6:51 am

    the link to the pdf file doesn’t seem to be working for this song….
    can you email me the pdf to

    that would be greatly appreciated. :)

  24. traveling/strings June 12th, 2008 12:49 am

    I’ve been looking through several of these songs lately, thanks for posting actually accurate stuff… these songs are great!!!

  25. Janice August 22nd, 2008 6:32 am

    thank you so much. I’m a beginner on the uke but have been playing the guitar for 2 years already and this is awesome. YOU’RE awesome!

  26. Woodshed August 23rd, 2008 5:04 pm

    Thanks, Janice. Happy to help.

  27. bobchaw April 7th, 2009 7:46 am

    I’ve been working on this song for a little while now. I can get most of it save the strumming pattern, which is really tricky. I’m also having trouble getting the second chord of the song to come out right (the e/C). Maybe it’s just my factory strings doing their work. It seems to me that this video has an alternate way of playing that chord. Any suggetstions?
    Thanks one million.

  28. felix May 10th, 2009 12:25 pm

    the e/c sounds really off but the rest sounds incredible

  29. Woodshed May 10th, 2009 2:26 pm

    felix: Are you sure you’re playing it at the right fret. It needs to be at the 7th.

  30. Simon September 6th, 2009 1:28 am

    It really sounds like this song starts with an F, not with a C.

  31. Beatrice Everett September 7th, 2009 4:13 am

    I am in awe at how simple but beautiful this song is on the Ukulele. I play viola and used to play guitar, and expected the uke to be much of the same, but instead found it to be a refreshing. Plus it helps that this site is freaking AMAZING! This song is equally amazing, too. Thank you so much for all that you do!

  32. Woodshed September 13th, 2009 8:47 am

    Simon: You’re absolutely right. Not sure how I missed that.

    Beatrice: Thanks so much for the kind words.

  33. Woodshed September 13th, 2009 8:50 am

    Beatrice: Holy crap! I just checked out your blog. That Garden of Earthly Delights is amazing.

  34. Sammi A. October 2nd, 2009 6:03 pm

    hey i recently just bought a ukulele and they are awesome. I did not relize how many songs you can play on them plus im not the tallest person in the world so having a small instrument helps a lot. I used to play violin but this is much cooler. I bought a black one from kilauea i didnt see this brand on your website but i got a good deal and a free felt pick which is hard to play with, Do you have any advice for me?

  35. Woodshed October 2nd, 2009 6:55 pm

    Sammi: Don’t bother with a felt pick, use your index finger for strumming instead.

  36. Uke Hunt Is One | Ukulele Hunt November 20th, 2009 4:59 pm

    […] Beirut – The Penalty 6. Britney Spears/Sweetafton23 – Toxic Molly linked to this post in her description. It still […]

  37. john January 1st, 2010 5:58 pm

    hi mr woodshed i really really like beirut and the ukulele and i got one for christmas and i really want to play this song but i cant get the strum pattern also happy new years

  38. TedM February 13th, 2010 9:54 pm

    This song is eerily like Death Cab’s Talking Bird demo, is it not?

  39. Woodshed February 14th, 2010 1:49 pm

    TedM: I think it’s probably more accurate to say Talking Bird is eerily like this.

  40. groen March 6th, 2010 4:19 am

    hello everyone, hello Woodshed,
    i don’t play any instrument but i’ve been thinking of getting a ukulele for some time now. today i came around with your website and find all this amazing info! now i want one really really bad!

    i have this question (actually i’ve endless questions but..) that i hope you might help me with (please be honest even if the answer will flush my dreams down the toilet!):
    – is it realistic to want to learn the ukulele when you don’t know a thing about reading music tabs or music notes?

    i don’t know why but i pend for the tenor ukulele (maybe for the way it sounds) but now i realized it’s kinda big and that intimidates me (blush). what do you think? do you know which uke zach is playing in this video? (i’m a beirut adorer and this one looks like a friendly little uke.)

    thank you ^_^

  41. Woodshed March 6th, 2010 11:12 am

    groen: Yes, it is realistic. There are tons of ukulele players who don’t read tabs and even more who don’t read music. And all those that do started off not being able to. They’re both pretty easy to learn.

    He’s playing a concert Bushman Jenny in the video.

  42. chris May 23rd, 2010 7:44 pm

    what kind of ukulele is he playing there?

  43. Woodshed May 24th, 2010 2:20 pm

    chris: It’s a Bushman Jenny.

  44. Dom May 24th, 2010 10:11 pm

    This song is amazing thank you so much for the chords. I’ve been trying to work out a correct strumming pattern but cant seem to get it just right any suggestions?

  45. Dom May 25th, 2010 12:59 am

    This is a great how to video that explains the strum pattern well.

  46. Woodshed May 25th, 2010 8:22 am

    Dom: Yeah, it’s a good video. Glad it solved your strum woes.

  47. tom July 29th, 2010 2:12 am

    this site turned my shortsighted impulse buy into by and far the best $20 i have ever spent.
    been an hour since i pulled it out of the bag and i learned the song that inspired the purchase already, dunno where to go next!

  48. Woodshed August 3rd, 2010 4:32 pm

    tom: Glad you’re enjoying the site and the uke.

  49. Tatyana August 21st, 2010 1:06 am

    What is the strum pattern? I’ve listened to this song so many times in lots of different versions and I still can’t get it down :/

  50. Quinn February 23rd, 2011 1:52 am

    Great job on this one! I would just like to request a tab for “Cliquot,” if it’s not too much trouble. Thanks again for the awesome tab!

  51. Woodshed February 23rd, 2011 3:49 pm

    Quinn: Check the Beirut page.

  52. AmyRoseStallard July 10th, 2011 12:03 pm

    I absolutely adore Beirut, and i wouldn’t have discovered them if it weren’t for this site(‘:

    I was wondering if you’ll be putting any more of their stuff on here?
    Then i’ll keep my eye out :B

    Cheers for this site. It’s taught me everything I know about the Uke.


  53. Woodshed July 11th, 2011 12:29 am

    Amy: I’ve done most of the songs Beirut have put out. But I might well be doing some from the new album once I get my hands on it.

  54. Vinicius July 26th, 2011 6:41 pm

    Which kind of ukulele is that? Concert or Tenor? Can someone please help me?

  55. Woodshed July 29th, 2011 7:45 am

    Vinicius: It’s a concert. More details here.

  56. Connor August 26th, 2011 10:27 pm

    Just revisiting the Beirut posts — thanks for putting your version of the strumming pattern up there (I’d more or less come to terms with my goof of it). Now I start over again. Like learning a sweet song twice — thanks!

  57. Woodshed August 26th, 2011 11:45 pm

    Connor: Thanks. I think if you’ve found a strum you’re happy with, stick with it.

  58. Victor October 26th, 2011 1:54 am

    My favorite Beirut song along with Elephant Gun, and an excellent job on the chords. My only question is how he gets his strings to sound that way when he plays them. Whenever I play, especially on the C and eC chords, the open strings sound so low and sort of drown out the higher tones. Should I only be playing certain strings, or is it the strings and tuning that he uses?

  59. Gabi January 18th, 2012 12:37 am

    Few tweaks:

    Like an ancient day, and im on trial, let them seize the way
    This once was an island
    And I cannot stay for I believed them
    Left for the lights, always in season
    Impassible night in a croud of homesick fully grown children
    You’ll leave the lights?
    Your family may not wait sir, keep on believin’
    Our parents rue the day they found us kneelin’
    Let them think what they may for they’ve good reason
    Left for the lights always in season
    Let them think what they may for they’ve good reason,
    Left for the lights, always in season.

  60. Woodshed January 18th, 2012 6:52 am

    Gabi: Thanks, I can never work out what Zach McMumbles is on about.

  61. Gabi January 18th, 2012 11:42 pm

    Haha, yeah…. He’s a task

  62. Loni March 2nd, 2012 7:02 am

    This is wonderful!!!
    Thank you very much. :)
    Instead of the c(alt) I just continue with the Em with a hammer on, try it!

  63. Johan July 20th, 2012 4:31 pm

    On the Beirut concert DVD, East Harlem is begun with a uke. Any chance you’ll transcribe that one for us?

  64. Woodshed July 23rd, 2012 8:16 pm

    Johan: Sorry, I don’t know that version.

  65. Kyle September 13th, 2012 12:04 pm

    Thank you! This website is great, it has many Beirut song that I could learn. Thank you for these chords. But I have a big problem in my strumming.

  66. Klaus April 27th, 2013 10:35 pm

    It sounds like there is a hammer on the Em chord in the intro, do you know how to manipulate this?

  67. Adriatic June 15th, 2013 10:37 am

    like someone said the intro starts with F, so here it is for easier understanding (the brackets in the pdf were confusing me :p)

    F | C(2) | Em – C* | Fadd9 – F |
    Fadd9 – F| C | Em – C* | Fadd9 – F |

    Fadd9 – F is just to denote the stardard hammer-on on the G string that zach always uses
    also C on the 7th fret (i called it C(2) can be played 0407.

  68. Woodshed June 16th, 2013 6:57 am

    Adriatic: Thanks very much.

  69. Kassel311 January 9th, 2014 8:13 pm

    Thanx so much! i love this song.! The strumming pattern I’m using is Down, Down, Up, Down, Up twice per chord, but a hammer down on the bracketed chords :)

  70. Woodshed January 10th, 2014 8:15 am

    Kassel311: Thanks!

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