Bon Iver – Skinny Love (Guitar Chords)

Picture of Bon Iver

Photo credit: Count Me Out.


I’ve done this in an open G C tuning: G C C G C C. I tried a number of different tunings (E A D F# B B + capo I was a favourite), and this is the one I think works best. On the record, he’s tuned just slightly below pitch, but it’s easy to figure out if you listen to the ringing top notes (they’re both C) and tune backwards from there.

Since it’s such an open tuning, you can be as sloppy as you need/want to be. If you’re having trouble making the chords, you can omit everything but the notes on the low E (fattest) string.

[UPDATE]: I’ve added a way to play it in regular tuning.

[UPDATE #2]: I’ve noticed a lot of people ending up here searching for “how to tune G C C G C C”. Don’t be scared about breaking your strings and do the following:

  • E: up three steps to G
  • A: up three steps to C
  • D: down two steps to C
  • G: keep as is
  • B: up one step to C
  • e: down four steps to C


Bon Iver
Skinny Love

Tuning: G C C G C C
*Note: on the record, he's tuned a bit down. Since the top two strings are the same, it's best just to tune based on them.

Am: 204000 -or- 200000
C: 507000 -or- 000000
D: 707000 -or- 700000
C/B: 407000 -or- 400000

- or -

Tuning: E A D G B e (standard)
*Note: This is only an interpretation for standard tuning. Chords are labeled to coincide with the way I named the open-tuned version.

Am: x0201x
C: x3201x
D: x5403x
C/B: x2x01x

Here are a couple of the riffs he uses throughout the song. Since it's in an open tuning, you can let the other strings ring out:


Am C
Am C
D Am C


Am              C
Come on skinny love just last the year
Am             C
Pour a little salt we were never here
        Am           C
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
               D                                Am   C
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer

Am                 C
I tell my love to wreck it all
Am               C
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
        Am           C
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
             D                   Am
Right in the moment this order's tall


I told you to be patient
  C/B            Am
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced

  C/B            Am
I told you to be kind
In the morning I'll be with you
            C/B             Am
But it will be a different "kind"

I'll be holding all the tickets

              C/B            Am
And you'll be owning all the fines


Am               C
Come on skinny love what happened here
Am             C
Suckle on the hope in lite brassiere
        Am           C
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
               D                          Am
Sullen load is full; so slow on the split



I told you to be patient
  C/B            Am
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced

  C/B            Am
I told you to be kind
Now all your love is wasted?

     C/B              Am
Then who the hell was I?
Now I'm breaking at the britches
           C/B             Am
And at the end of all your lines


Who will love you?

C/B      Am
Who will fight?

C        C/B      Am
Who will fall far behind?


Am C
Am C
Am C
D Am C

Tabbed by Matthew Gruman,

Music Video

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  1. » Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago Pre-Order | January 28th, 2008 | 11:21 am

    [...] very excited to get an official release. You can listen to the album over on Virb or teach yourself how to play “Skinny Love” [...]

  2. Daniel Fox | March 27th, 2008 | 10:43 am

    Great interpretation! Have you tried to figure out Re:Stacks in a open tuning?

  3. Matthew | March 30th, 2008 | 1:53 pm

    Thanks Daniel! I haven’t really looked at re: Stacks, but it sounds like standard tuning capo’d at the 5th fret.

  4. Eric | August 7th, 2008 | 10:02 am

    I used your tabs as a launching point, but I’ve been tuning E-A-D-G-C-C (similar to your straight tuning capo 1), I agree that it sounds best, and it’s faster than retuning everything. instead of Am7 (0-0-2-0-0-0 (in this tuning) I’ve been doing Am (0-0-2-2-0-0), then playing D like this (0-0-0-2-2-0). And isn’t the run a double stop (highest two strings, fretting together) 7-9-7-4 2-4-2-0 ?

    Either way, thanks for sorting this out. My ear is good with standard tunings and capos, outside of that I’m a wreck. I think the only thing missing now is a warm and beat up acoustic sound like he gets – so good.

  5. Emme | September 1st, 2008 | 1:11 am

    Hey Matt, thanks for the tab! I’m also trying to work out Re: Stacks.

    Apart from it not being standard, I can’t really figure out the tuning he’s using:

    any suggestions?


  6. Nikita | April 24th, 2009 | 8:19 pm

    Such a fabulous song… Thanks for posting this!

    (over in Ottawa!)

  7. NICO | October 27th, 2009 | 5:31 pm

    To Emme: I’ve also been trying to figure out re : stacks, so far I think what he uses is the capo at the 7th fret, with standard tuning. try that playing A, D, G. thats more a less what i could figure

  8. Alex | December 3rd, 2009 | 6:05 pm

    Your a legend, thanks :)

  9. Jason | December 10th, 2009 | 9:47 am

    Thanks for this post Matthew. Am I wrong in thinking that G C C G C C is not actually open G tuning? Does that make me pedantic?

  10. admin | April 12th, 2010 | 6:23 pm

    Only pedantic in the sense that you’re correct… Thanks Jason!

  11. Gill | July 13th, 2010 | 3:12 am

    Thanks for this! Well done! For me the D seems to sound better as a Dm. That said, I’m just starting out so I don’t really know what I’m doing!! Thanks again. Great song.

  12. Stefaan | September 16th, 2010 | 4:42 am


    I have a tuner but i don’t know how i can tune it for this song… :) Help? THX!

  13. Matthew | September 17th, 2010 | 3:22 pm

    Hey Stefaan,

    If it’s chromatic (i.e. it tells you what note you’re playing automatically), just follow the instructions at the top of the post. If it goes note by note, most tuners have options for flats and sharps that lower and raise the notes by a half step.

    For example, to make the low E a G, you have to push the sharp (#) button 3 times.

    Good luck!

  14. Stefaan | September 20th, 2010 | 9:04 am

    Thx a lot but i have only a flat button :) Is there an other way to tune the E,A and B strings?

    Thanks in advance.

  15. Matthew | September 20th, 2010 | 10:02 am

    Of course, just go backwards! To get a G, push the flat button twice from an A. Get the C by flatting the D twice, and flat the high E four times to get C.

  16. Stefaan | September 21st, 2010 | 9:36 am

    Thank you very much. you really helped me!

    Greets from Belgium/Europe ;)

  17. Susie | June 8th, 2011 | 10:40 am

    I love your blog. this song, in particular, is awesome.

  18. Ben | February 7th, 2012 | 7:36 pm

    The GCCGCC version isn’t really correct. If you tune the 4th string to an E and keep the rest the same (to make GCEGCC), then you get the third of the chord in there too, which is rather prominent in the recording itself. In your listed tuning, you just don’t get a third, so it’s only logical to conclude that this one is correct.
    In this tuning, the Am is just second fret on the 3rd and 6th strings, and the C is the same on the fifth fret.
    Also, the D is a Dmaj7, which requires you to hold the 4th as well as the 3rd and 6th, on fret 7.
    The transitional lick is just 2-4-2-0-2-0 on the 2nd string, then 2-0 on the 3rd, all while playing all three top strings.
    That should take care of pretty much the whole song.
    Just trying to help,

  19. Toby | July 6th, 2012 | 10:17 am

    This is the only correct version I could find after hours of searching. Thank you so much! Very helpful.

  20. Quirijn Bakker | May 20th, 2013 | 11:25 am

    well my g snare did break :(

  21. Matthew | June 12th, 2013 | 1:22 pm

    Super :( Sorry Quirijn!

  22. smilingcastillo | July 30th, 2014 | 10:53 am

    Hey Matthew;
    Thanks, good version, I agree that you have to have a third in the chords. Also just a tech point, you indicate to tune three steps up from E to G, that’s actually three half-steps. A half step on guitar is one fret. Just helping out, and thanks for tackling this song.
    One other point: In the vid, he is clearly sliding quite a ways up the neck. This produces interesting chord possibilities with other tunings as well which I’ve been having fun with. Interesting song.

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