Bon Iver – Skinny Love (Tab and Chords)


Bon Iver – Skinny Love (Chords)

UPDATE – Sophie’s Version: I’ve added the video for Sophie Madeleine’s version based on this tab. But her version is one step up (g#C#FG#). So you’ll have to tune up or put a capo on the first fret to play along.

Living in the UK makes it easier to pick an album of the year this year as Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago didn’t come out over here until 2008. And if you’re not familiar with its charms, get over to his website and download the album’s standout track Skinny Love.

I had a bit of trouble working out how to get this tune onto the uke. It’s obvious he’s using an usnusal tuning and a bit of research turned up that he was using CGEGCC. There are only three notes there (G, C and E) and, happily, they are open uke strings as well. So I tuned the A string down two frets so it’s exactly the same as the G string. From there, this arrangement is very similar to what he’s actually playing.

For the outro (and the intro) I play this:


MP3

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88 Comments

  1. Benjamin January 28th, 2009 12:21 am

    Wow, you read my mind. I was thinking about trying to convert this to uke if I had some spare time this week and you have beaten me to it!

    I’ll second that everyone should pick up Bon Iver’s whole CD, too. And he just put out a new EP last week, I think (at least, over here in the states). I haven’t heard it yet though…

  2. Courtney January 28th, 2009 12:56 am

    Favourite song from one of my new favourite artists.
    I’m so stoked to try this one out!!
    Thanks a lot :)

  3. Suzanne January 28th, 2009 1:26 am

    What kind of uke are you playing in your recording? When I compare yours to mine, mine sounds like a different and higher key.

  4. Woodshed January 28th, 2009 8:02 am

    Benjamin: I’ve emusic-ed the first couple of tracks of the new EP (Blood Bank). I didn’t much like previews of the other two so I left well alone.

    Courtney: Good luck with it.

    Suzanne: I’m using a tenor ukulele for this one – a Ohana TK-35G. It’s in the same key, but it does sound fuller and bassier. Also, there’s a fair bit of reverb on there.

  5. Allison January 28th, 2009 3:46 pm

    THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!!!!!

    This made my day!

  6. Woodshed January 28th, 2009 7:42 pm

    Allison: You’re very welcome.

  7. Anne January 28th, 2009 10:33 pm

    i love that you posted this. it’s fantastic. it’s my second uke song that i have learned and it’s great. when i play the E+5 during the middle section, it sounds wrong. am i doing something funny?

  8. Anne January 28th, 2009 10:34 pm

    sorry, i meant the E7+5.

  9. Kelly January 29th, 2009 5:29 am

    yessssss! ive been recently hypnotized by bon iver. at first i wasn’t sure how much i liked the falsetto, but i’ve come to love the whole album. and the new EP. now i can’t wait to pick my uke up and give this a good try!

  10. Woodshed January 29th, 2009 10:02 am

    Anne: It is quite discordant. Are you playing the chord with your index finger on the 7th fret? It could be that the intonation isn’t too great on your uke (so it sounds out of tune when you play high up the neck).

    Kelly: Good luck with it. What did you make of the second half of the EP? I’m still not convinced.

  11. andrew February 4th, 2009 1:35 am

    i love you for tabbing this. a lot. thanks. you’ll be getting a gift-basket next christmas or something.

  12. Woodshed February 4th, 2009 7:46 pm

    andrew: Thanks. Looking forward to xmas already ;)

  13. DrSilverworm February 5th, 2009 8:56 pm

    I’m new – finger pattern is down down down up down? Using index? just to be sure..I never know with the finger patterns

  14. Woodshed February 5th, 2009 10:37 pm

    DrSilverworm: Yep, index finger. For the strumming pattern try:

    down, down (pause) up down up

  15. matt March 17th, 2009 3:13 pm

    a fine choice indeed, still yet to master it though, just wondering if you know the chords for stacks?

  16. Woodshed March 17th, 2009 8:14 pm

    matt: There are some chords for it here. But you’ll have to move everything up two frets.

  17. matt d April 6th, 2009 10:57 pm

    Could someone post a video tutorial of this song on the uke? Im having some trouble learning it..

  18. stanley April 26th, 2009 7:04 am

    I love this, thanks. Is there something different for the chorus? I feel like I’m missing a chord between the C and the Am. Guitar tabs say it’s a C/B.

  19. Jhube May 18th, 2009 6:59 am

    I cant believe I missed this! THANKS :D

  20. Woodshed May 18th, 2009 10:12 pm

    Jhube: You’re welcome.

  21. Ashley October 7th, 2009 1:15 am

    I’m so excited to learn this! I have a question though: how does one play the d7 add 13? I’m still a bit of a newb..

    thanks!

  22. Woodshed October 7th, 2009 11:52 am

    Ashley: When you’re tuned GCEG, it’s:

    G string at the fifth fret
    C string open
    E string 7th fret
    G string (that used to be A string) 7th fret

  23. Mcnilly November 27th, 2009 11:06 pm

    Woodshed :O
    This is fantastic! nice work, i look forward to trying to play this and failing!

  24. Woodshed November 30th, 2009 9:41 pm

    Mcnilly: Thanks. Good luck with it.

  25. O'Ghost January 6th, 2010 2:38 am

    Could you explain in more detail how to play the 4th measure? The one going 2-4-2-0 2-4-2-0 on the C string in the intro. I’m trying to get how to strum that quickly, but I am lost.

  26. Dylan March 21st, 2010 9:55 pm

    Perhaps it’s because I’ve got it tuned wrong, but this song is making me veeery frustrated…it just doesn’t sound right.

  27. Hannah March 25th, 2010 7:45 pm

    THANK YOU!!! I’ve ben working on this all night now and I can’t wait to perfect in the weeks to come. I can’t believe I missed this before. Never too late to run across Skinny Love though.

    PS: Glad to read it’s done on your tenor- it was my choice, too. Sounds so much better on it.

  28. Woodshed March 26th, 2010 9:10 am

    Dylan: Yeah, if it’s not tuned right it’ll sound wrong.

    Hannah: You’re welcome. Good luck with it.

  29. Lauren May 25th, 2010 4:17 am

    which is the first string and which is the bottom/top string? i’m new to this whole thing… so if i’m holding the uke, left hand on the fretboard, right hand strumming, what is the order of tuning from the string closest to my chin to the string that is below it (closest to my thighs).

    sorry, i dont know how to be clear on internet forums haha

  30. Lauren May 25th, 2010 4:18 am

    i’m wondering for tunings sake, sorry

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

    Lauren: Those terms are quite confusing (which is why I try not to use them). The A-string is usually referred to as the top string and the 1st string. The G-string as the 4th and bottom.

  32. caitlin August 17th, 2010 3:18 am

    thanks so much for this!i love bon iver, and you arranged this beautifully! did you check out blood bank, the title track from his EP, i thought that one was pretty good. also you should youtube the acapella version of for emma. it was gorgeous.

  33. Russ October 2nd, 2010 9:12 pm

    your a saint for putting all these amazing songs. u have such good taste. i have used this site for so long but never comment on any, so thanks. this is a tricky one so far but im starting to get it.

  34. Woodshed October 2nd, 2010 11:09 pm

    caitlin: I really like Blood Bank (the song) not so keen on the rest of the EP.

    Russ: Thanks very much for the kind words. And good luck getting it down.

  35. Alissa December 8th, 2010 11:42 pm

    In verse 1, at “sink of blood”, it calls for Dmadd13, but the chord key only shows you D7add13. are they the same thing or…?

  36. Maggy January 3rd, 2011 11:24 pm

    I’m 100% sure that I’m tuned correctly, but when compared to your recording and the original, it definitely sounds like it’s in a lower key. I’m not sure what’s up.

  37. vvn April 3rd, 2011 9:35 pm

    DWould anyone happen to know the chords for Creature Fear?

  38. MacKenzie August 22nd, 2011 6:14 am

    I’m still trying to figure out the different fillers for inbetween. I get the 2/4/2 one but I’ve seen and heard two or three other fillers that I just can’t figure out. Any help?

  39. Lucas November 27th, 2011 5:23 am

    Thanks again Woodshed, this is awesome! Now I just need a voice to go along with it…

  40. jess December 6th, 2011 9:49 am

    hey woodshed just wondering how do you play e7+5 and c7m sorry still a newbie but im very keen to learn this song! :) thanksss

  41. Woodshed December 6th, 2011 5:17 pm

    Jess: The chord shapes for those are at the top of the chord chart.

  42. asteadyrain December 31st, 2011 5:28 am

    Thanks so much for posting!

    I agree that the Blood Bank EP leaves a lot to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, Blood Bank (the song) is awesome, but Woods? Seriously, auto-tune? You gotta be kidding me!

    Please please PLEASE! post more Bon Iver songs. I’d love to learn Re: Stacks, Flume, and Blood Bank. Just a humble request :)

  43. Yvonne January 14th, 2012 10:01 am

    hello, I know how to just blindly strum according to the chords. But how do you play the melody concurrently with the chords? Will you consider doing youtube tutorials? :) I really love this song!

  44. Woodshed January 14th, 2012 10:55 am

    Yvonne: Sorry, I don’t do video tutorials.

  45. Nicolas January 18th, 2012 1:17 am

    Amazing song!!! But, as Anne said higher, I have some dificulties with the E7+5 chord. I’m correctly tuned, but it still sound wrong. Don’t know why. Is it because I play with a soprano?

  46. Siddiqi January 27th, 2012 5:13 pm

    Thanks for the Chords!

    I also have difficulties with the E7+5 and the D7add13/Dmadd13 (are these the same?). I’m tuned correctly, using a baritone uke, but these notes do not sound right. Help me out?

  47. Woodshed January 27th, 2012 6:04 pm

    Nicolas and Siddiqi: Are you sure you’re playing them at the right fret? The numbers by the side of the diagrams indicate which fret the diagram starts at.

  48. Nicolas February 2nd, 2012 12:58 am

    Yes I do. I just don’t understand why it sounds like this!

  49. Ally February 14th, 2012 1:28 am

    I have a concert uke, and none of these chords are the same. And additionally, the intro tabs don’t sound anything like what im playing, and im sure that im playing it right

  50. Woodshed February 14th, 2012 8:46 am

    Ally: Have you retuned to gCEG?

  51. Karen February 16th, 2012 5:49 am

    I just picked up the ukulele two weeks ago and haven’t learned how to read tabs could you explain that to me?

  52. Woodshed February 16th, 2012 2:05 pm

    Karen: There’s a guide to reading tab here.

  53. Anna March 22nd, 2012 9:01 am

    Hey! Thanks so much for this! So exciting!

    Sorry to keep jabbering on about this: the E7+5 chord is really sounding off.. it’s definitely tuned to GCEG and my ukulele is a really nice one.

    I know you may not be able to help.. but is there the possibility that there’s another chord I can sub in instead?

    Thanks again :)

  54. Woodshed March 22nd, 2012 9:20 am

    Anna: Does it improve matters if you take your index finger off the 7th fret and play the string open?

  55. Pablo May 22nd, 2012 1:07 am

    Hi! That’s a great job :-) ! I love this song !
    Just one question…
    In the Chorus [ I told you to be... ], the strum pattern changes ? What it is exactly :-/ ?

    Thanks a lot :-) !

  56. megan June 2nd, 2012 10:15 pm

    Thankyou so much for posting this I looove to play it and you are freakin fantastic :)

  57. Woodshed June 3rd, 2012 11:28 am

    megan: Thanks so much!

  58. Rohan June 4th, 2012 10:12 am

    not sure if you are still checking this page, but I am tuned the same as you (gceg) and whenever I play it on its own it sounds perfect, but whenever I try play with you or sophie the chords clash and it sounds pretty bad, any idea why?

  59. megan June 8th, 2012 1:31 am

    Hey I was wondering if you could tell me the tuning and chords you used on the ukulele for your cover of “You win again” it would make my mommma and grand dad’s day! We are all huge fans :) <3

  60. Abby June 17th, 2012 7:56 pm

    Will I need to tune my ukulele differently in order to play this, or can I just play it down two frets?

  61. Woodshed June 18th, 2012 11:04 am

    Abby: Yes, you need to tune the A-string down two frets.

  62. Karleia June 21st, 2012 3:19 am

    Why is it that in the chorus she looks like shes playing something different than the notes written? She looks like she keeps the finger placement and moves from the bottom of the neck to the top. I don’t think shes playing the notes given in the music. Any help??

  63. Karleia June 21st, 2012 3:31 am

    Just kidding, I figured it out :) Thanks so much for this!! It’s brilliant!! :)

  64. Shaun June 23rd, 2012 11:20 pm

    I also have a concert uke and just retuned it to what you suggested. It sounds way off. I’ll try experimenting with it a little bit more to see what might work for mine.

  65. Caitriona June 27th, 2012 2:04 pm

    I’m a bit of a noob here… And finding myself very confused. I’m tuned at GCEA, is it meant to be tuned differently? I can play G and C fine, and it sort of sounds like Skinny Love, but it still sounds off… Also, I’ve no idea how you are doing the solo-ish bit.. Am I getting ahead of myself by trying to learn something to difficult?

  66. Isabella June 27th, 2012 4:17 pm

    I love this song! I’m having some trouble with the intro though, particularly strumming the 8th and 12th measures. Any suggestions?

  67. Woodshed July 2nd, 2012 4:43 pm

    Caitriona: You have to retune the A string so that it’s the same as the g string. Yeah, this isn’t a beginner-friendly piece.

    Isabella: Both those are just dudududu.

  68. R July 5th, 2012 8:01 am

    Thank you so much for posting! I’m fairly new to the uke, and am used to playing “newbie” songs with just some simple chords so this was a little tricky for me but I figured it out! Sounds really great, thanks.
    One question though- this works for the intro and outro for the song, what are you playing in the middle? I was kind of winging it but it’s not sounding great. Thanks!

  69. Anna July 10th, 2012 8:51 am

    I have a vintage banjo-uke, and am just starting to play. This is the first song that I’ve pieced together and it is sounding great! Thank you for taking the time to arrange this! I think I’ll be coming to your site often, haha.

  70. Woodshed July 10th, 2012 6:05 pm

    R: Glad you got the hang of it! Did you download the chords in the orange box?

    Anna: Very glad to hear it. Look forward to seeing you around!

  71. Mooseman July 28th, 2012 4:30 pm

    This is amazing! Kudo’s

  72. Woodshed July 29th, 2012 7:03 pm

    Mooseman: Thanks very much!

  73. Kayla July 31st, 2012 3:26 pm

    The D7add13 does not souund right.. My ukulele is tuned to GCEG. But it sounds terrible on that chord.

  74. Hagen August 10th, 2012 3:13 pm

    Thanks so much for this, I love it. Please please please can you try and trasnpose the song ‘Towers’ to uke aswell i’ve looked everywhere but it just doesn’t exist and i’ve tried my self, without any success haha. cheers.

  75. Woodshed August 12th, 2012 9:27 pm

    Hagen: Thanks for the suggestion. There’s every chance I’ll do some Bon Iver at some point.

  76. Amelia October 6th, 2012 9:51 pm

    This is great! Getting the intro down was soo exciting. Would you mind sharing the chords for the chorus? Like, “And I told you to be patient. . .kind.?” I can’t for the life of me figure out which chords you’re playing for the chorus but I want to be able to play it all and its causing me trouble. Thanks! (:

  77. Woodshed October 6th, 2012 9:59 pm

    Amelia: Thanks. The chords are in the orange box under the video.

  78. Amelia October 6th, 2012 10:00 pm

    Oh my goodness that’s so obvious, I just didn’t notice it. . .embarrassing, hah. Thank you!

  79. Woodshed October 6th, 2012 10:25 pm

    Amelia: You’re welcome. Don’t worry, you’re not the first to miss it.

  80. Mary November 19th, 2012 1:08 pm

    Thanks so much for the time you took to do this! One question. You mentioned to tune it to gCEG. So do you mean that the top string G is tuned one octave lower than the bottom string G? Is that how you’ve tuned it? I have a tenor uke with both G tuned exactly the same and the D7 chord and E7 chord don’t quite sound right. Thanks for your help.

  81. Woodshed November 20th, 2012 10:55 am

    Mary: Thanks! It’s the same tuning as the other G.

  82. Beth Clifford November 26th, 2012 3:28 am

    Woodshed, you’re so great! I always stop by your site for some fun material to play around. I would love if you threw down some original compositions or songs? Do you have any links to show off your stuff?

  83. Woodshed November 26th, 2012 7:09 am

    Beth: Thanks very much! There are a few originals on my YouTube channel. But this is the only one I still like.

  84. Elliott June 2nd, 2013 1:06 am

    After playing the video multiple times and noticing other comments about the sound difference when playing along I figured out the ukulele is tuned a half step higher. Would have been good to know in the beginning. Any reason why it’s tuned half a step higher?

  85. Elliott June 2nd, 2013 1:15 am

    To play along in tune with video tune strings this way. G#-C#-F-G#

  86. Woodshed June 2nd, 2013 6:21 am

    Elliott: Thanks. Sophie did her version based on these chords rather than the other way round. So the post came before the video. I guess because it was better for her to sing that way. I’ve added a note to the post.

  87. Talia December 16th, 2013 4:01 am

    what are the strumming patterns? im having trouble reading the tabs

  88. Woodshed December 16th, 2013 11:17 am

    Talia: Mostly d – d – – u d u. But there are a couple of bars that are d u d u d u d u.

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