Paolo Nutini – Pencil Full of Lead (Chords)

Paolo Nutini – Pencil Full of Lead (Chords)

What’s she doing with a bloody mandolin? There’s already enough mando/uke confusion out there. Luckily, most commenters were distracted by the drummer.

Suggested Strumming

This will see you most of the way:

Twice for D, once for G, once for D.

For the A – G – D – A chords and the end of each verse just do the first half of the bar (four down strums) for each chord.

Chord Inversions

With the song just being 3 chords, it’s a great place to start playing with chord inversions (playing the same chord in a different way) and chord substitutions (playing one chord in the place of another).

A dead easy chord substitution you could use in this song is to use 7 chords (D7, G7, A7). And of course, you’ve got inversions of the 7 chords.

Put these together and you could play a verse like this:

Verse with inversions (MP3)

She didn’t request it, but this one is for Ida.

View Comments


  1. Logan August 10th, 2010 7:49 pm

    I’m new to the uke, so be gentle if I’m missing something obvious…
    After the strum visual, you continue to write of C chords until the inversions. Do you mean D, as the song is lacking a C?

  2. Woodshed August 10th, 2010 7:51 pm

    Logan: Yep, you’re right. Thanks for picking up on that – fixed it.

  3. UncleElvis August 10th, 2010 8:07 pm

    I have decided that when and if I am able to play and sing this song from start to finish without any serious flubs that I will be allowed to proclaim myself a ukulele player.

    (Yes… I am totally obsessed with this song and have been practicing it for a couple of weeks.
    Still a beginner, so it’s not coming as fast as I’d like, but I’m gettin’ there!

    LOVE the idea of inversions and 7ths… thanks for the suggestion! It really is the perfect song to do that.)

  4. Woodshed August 10th, 2010 8:39 pm

    UncleElvis: I can’t sing and play an entire song. Can’t sing at all. Good luck getting it down.

  5. Matt E August 10th, 2010 9:06 pm

    What a beastin’ ukulele song. Nice choice! I’m gonna try my best to learn this one.

  6. cardboardfrog August 10th, 2010 9:25 pm

    this song is excellent and good work with the chords, keeping up standards as per usual woodshed.
    The video however upsets me, These young ladies are clearly not playing these instruments being in your underwear is lovely (and to be encouraged) but personally i find women who know their C7 from their Am7 sexier. might just be me though.

  7. Ron Hale August 10th, 2010 11:20 pm

    Another can’t singer. Haven’t the attention span or the patience to play a song all the way through. Each song has a favorite bit or two that I like, and these bits are the ones that get played over and over. Can’t see any reason to play anything that I don’t like for even a second or two. Total waste of time…

  8. Alex August 11th, 2010 12:55 am

    Woodshed, you are my hero. I’ve been playing the uke since spring began and probably once a twice a week you post something that makes me want to practice even more.
    Suggesting chord inversions just opened my neewbie mind to a whole new realm of possibilities. Thank you!
    P.S. This song rocks, wait… no, it swings!

  9. Carl August 11th, 2010 12:16 pm

    Great choice, thanks! I liked the original video but the “musicians” in this video are a bit less motley.

  10. Rob NY August 11th, 2010 1:16 pm

    Very Louie Prima-esque

  11. David Barnes August 11th, 2010 2:12 pm

    No plug for your blues ebook? This is one of the jollier tunes to use the 12-bar.

  12. Marie August 11th, 2010 3:54 pm

    mmmmm, love this, thank you for introducing me to it! Also, I’m excited about the inversions, I was just looking at the idea of learning some the other day. I’ve been sticking to the easy bits for far too long.

  13. Humble Jeff August 11th, 2010 5:28 pm

    Great video. Thanks for some inverted thinking.

  14. Redmond August 11th, 2010 5:38 pm

    You say tyres, I say tires… Let’s call the whole thing off…

  15. UncleElvis August 11th, 2010 8:35 pm

    Just wanted to be clear that it was a personal standard, not one I hold anyone else to! *grin*

    When I can play it and sing it, I’ll consider myself a ukulele player.
    This don’t mean I don’t consider folks that can’t play it not to be ukulele players. Just me. *grin*

    I can’t (and part of it is that I refuse to learn to) play “Soul Sister”! *grin*
    What kinda ukulele player am I?

    (And this is another reason I want to learn this one! “Oh, hold on… *plays ‘Pencil Full Of Lead’*… I’m that kind…” *lol*)

  16. Woodshed August 15th, 2010 6:27 pm

    Matt E: Good luck with it.

    cbf: Yeah, just you.

    Ron: Fair enough. So long as you haven’t got an audience.

    Alex: Thanks very much. Enjoy those inversions.

    Carl: I prefer the live version as well. But the uke is easier to hear in this version.

    Rob: Put me in mind of Reet Petite.

    David: I probably should have done. I’m a hopeless marketer.

    Marie: Good luck testing them out.

    Jeff: Glad I could invert you.

    Redmond: Your way makes more sense.

    UncleElvis: Don’t worry, I didn’t take any offense. If I could sing, I wouldn’t have practiced uke so much.

  17. Uke Fan December 31st, 2010 4:37 pm

    I LOVE UKULELE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Woodshed January 1st, 2011 11:43 am

    Uke Fan: Me too.

  19. RedCrayon January 24th, 2011 6:52 pm

    I wasn’t so keen on this song before but I’ve been practising it for about an hour and I can play most of it and it’s grown on me! Thanks for the chords Woodshed!

  20. Woodshed January 28th, 2011 10:23 am

    RedCrayon: I often find songs grow on me after I’ve started playing them. Although I liked this one from the off.

  21. J.Kendle May 21st, 2011 10:14 am

    I’ve literally only just picked up my first uke this week, thank you so much for this amazing website!

  22. Woodshed May 22nd, 2011 1:11 pm

    J.Kendle: Thanks very much!

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