Black Keys – Five Riffs (Tab)

I went to see the Black Keys last week and they were incredible. They’re at the perfect place in their career. They’ve got an extensive enough back catalogue to provide a set with no flat moments but they haven’t got to the stage where they’re just plodding through the songs until it’s blue M&M time.

So in homage to them for the best gig I’ve been to this year (sorry UOGB) here are my five favourite Black Keys riffs arranged for uke – in order of decreasing uke-suitability.

10 A.M. Automatic

10 A.M. Automatic (Riff)

Being mostly chord-based, this one works pretty well on the uke. I beefed up the chorus a bit.


Act Nice and Gentle

Act Nice and Gentle (Riff)

Originally, a Kinks song but the Black Keys overhauled it, made a feature of the melody-line riff and made it their own.


Tighten Up

Tighten Up (Riff)

A few variations in this riff through the song – some of which stray too far out of uke range – this one is based on the one that starts at 1:08 (1:32 in the hilarious video).


Your Touch

Your Touch (Tab)

The intro part of this one sounds a bit wimpy on the uke, but the chord part works well. The chorus riff is the same as the verse riff with a few additions.


Modern Times

Modern Times (Tab)

My favourite Black Keys riff but there are a few problems ukeing this one. The final A is too low. If you’re on a low-G, that’s not a problem. For the high-G, I’ve added in the C# because the extra harmony confuses the ear a little so it doesn’t stand out as being an octave too high in quite the same way. Also, if you’re using low-G you can knock the chorus riff down an octave.


Buy everything the Black Keys have ever released or consign yourself to a life half lived.

View Comments


  1. cardboardfrog November 11th, 2010 6:11 pm

    Brilliant choice of band and some great arrangements!
    serioiusly good stuff, Only thing that could of made this better is the riff to set you free.
    Well done woodshed, thanks very much. i freaking love the black keys.

  2. Armelle November 11th, 2010 7:41 pm

    Didn’t know the Black Keys, shame on me.
    The riffs sound really cool on the ukulele, seems like you’ve had lots of fun arranging them! Well done!

  3. mictoboy November 11th, 2010 8:01 pm

    Oh yes indeed. Great tab of great song choices from a great band. CBF is right though, ‘set you free’ is a glaring ommission :D

  4. Woodshed November 13th, 2010 11:03 am

    cbf: Thanks. I love this band.

    Armelle: Shame on you indeed! Glad it’s rectified.

    mictoboy: I’ll see what I can do.

  5. Carl November 14th, 2010 2:01 pm

    Like Armelle, Black Keys are new to me. Thanks for the intro.

  6. Woodshed November 15th, 2010 3:19 pm

    Carl: Very glad I could introduce them to you.

  7. Martin Y.unfortunately Iam driving November 17th, 2010 9:25 am

    I not allowed out much – or at least that’s my excuse … ‘cos I’d never heard of the Black Keys either – but I do like Act nice & gentle, to the extent that I’m driving myself crazy playing the bit that you tabbed!
    Take care …

  8. J-Hob December 7th, 2010 4:08 pm

    They were semi-new to me, I can’t say I know too much about them.

    Which album would you recommend as a starting point?

  9. Woodshed December 7th, 2010 7:16 pm

    J-Hob: Definitely start with Rubber Factory (Magic Potion is also really good but perhaps not the best introduction).

  10. Jake May 20th, 2011 11:18 pm

    if anyone wants to put a full tab up for ‘your touch’ i would be very greatfull, i dont think it would be that different from the riff, but still helpfull, as well as ‘next girl’ if possible cheeeeers x

  11. Jake May 20th, 2011 11:45 pm

    forget what i just said about your touch realised it is the whole song i was just being stupid, next girl would still be good though x

  12. Woodshed May 21st, 2011 7:48 am

    Jake: Thanks for the suggestion.

  13. Jake June 6th, 2011 7:14 pm

    and ‘Just Got To Be’ would be really cool

  14. Oogie Boogie September 21st, 2011 3:11 am

    The opening of Your Touch is so, so fun to play. I’ve just toyed with the repetition and the rhythm of it to make it sound better. As you said, that opening bit does sound wimpy :3

  15. Oogie Boogie September 24th, 2011 2:03 am

    I just noticed that switching between C (3345) and D (5546) barre chords from the “chord” section of the riff later on actually makes a nice ukey alternative to the D-C (5-3) repetition in the intro sequence, if you can move the barre chords fast enough. Easier to strum at that rhythm to pick too… though it’s a bit tough for me either way in my state of inexperience.

  16. TreeClouds October 9th, 2011 3:24 pm

    I did tighten up on uke! Think I did it a little different than what you got here though. And I included terrible singing.

  17. monkeycamera January 13th, 2012 3:39 am

    For me, it was love at first sound. I saw their name come up in Rolling Stone magazine, looked them up on iTunes, had my mind blown, and had all the albums within the next couple of weeks (happy birthday to me!). My favorite songs (if only someone would tab them… ;D)
    1. Unknown Brother
    2. Everlasting Light

  18. Sahds January 20th, 2012 11:32 pm

    A friend introduced me to these guys just a few days ago with ‘tighten up’. Instantly hooked, listened to a couple more and got their new album El Camino today..yay! Thought I would check for chords, and woohoo, theres loads! Can’t wait to get started..

  19. Woodshed January 23rd, 2012 9:52 am

    Sahds: I’m planning to do one from El Camino at some point.

  20. kael May 5th, 2012 7:54 pm

    Awesome job thanks A LOT!
    I love TBK and “Your touch” I was so happy to find it here. But its quite tricky for me – the intro is easy but the “xxxx” strumming in combination with “5567” is soo hard. Still exercising. Is there any video showing how its done? thanks again

  21. Woodshed May 16th, 2012 11:13 am

    kael: The xxxxs are mainly to keep time. So you can drop them if it makes it easier. Worth practicing still, though!

  22. Simon May 19th, 2012 4:53 pm
  23. Woodshed May 21st, 2012 8:19 am

    Simon: Cool stuff!

  24. Lance August 12th, 2012 8:57 pm

    this very cool cant wait to show this to my friends!!

  25. Lance August 12th, 2012 8:57 pm

    this is*

  26. Woodshed August 12th, 2012 9:29 pm

    Lance: Thanks very much! And double thanks for spreading the word!

  27. Vince January 20th, 2013 2:41 am

    Wow the riffs are awesome and the recording of the riff is essential in my opinion, it helped SO MUCH!!!

    Thanks so very much this is awesome once again!

  28. Woodshed January 20th, 2013 8:46 am

    Vince: Thanks very much!

  29. Rick February 16th, 2013 5:42 pm

    Got any tabs for “The Lengths”? I think it would sound great on the uke!

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