Ukulele Chords for Beginners
The ukulele has become one of the most popular string instruments. People like its charming sound, this little instrument from Hawaii that has Portuguese origin.
If you are interested in learning the ukulele, some musical knowledge won’t hurt. The first thing you should look at is the chords. As a beginner, what chords should you learn first? What is the chord sequence on uke strings?
We answer this and other related questions in the following article.
How Tuning Affects the Chords
On an uke chord chart, you will see four vertical lines – they represent a ukulele’s four strings.
The first string on the chart is usually a G string, but not always. The order of the strings on the chart will depend on how your ukulele has been tuned.
When learning to play chords on your ukulele, it’s necessary that you first know which chord is played with which string on your uke. As we have said, it varies according to the tuning of your ukulele.
The standard tuning is G-C-E-A. In this configuration, the string closest to your chin is the G string. The string at the bottom is the A.
The sequential order of counting strings is from the bottom going up. In other words, in the G-C-E-A configuration, the A string is the first string, the E string is second, the C string is third, and the G string is the fourth string.
If you are using a ukulele that is poorly tuned, the chords and notes will have a terrible sound. As a beginner, it’s important that you get into the habit of tuning your uke before playing. An easy way to tune it is using an electronic tuner, an online tuner, or a ukulele tuning app.
As you tune the uke, be closely attentive of the sound. It may seem like a long way off when you are a newbie, but over time you will learn how to tune your uke by ear, a skill that is very useful and necessary for a player.
The Basics of a Ukulele Chord Chart
As you can see on the diagram above, chord charts display four vertical lines. Each of these lines represents a string. A ukulele has four strings.
The first vertical line, that is the one at the leftmost, represents the topmost string on your ukulele. In standard tuning, that is the G string, counted as the fourth string.
On the other hand, the horizontal lines on the chart represent the frets on the uke’s neck. As is evident on the diagram above, the topmost horizontal line is thicker. This top line represents the nut.
Should the chord chart display frets higher than the fourth fret, the top horizontal line will not be represented as a bold line. There will be numbers on either the left side or the right side. The numbers refer to particular fret numbers when a chord is played beyond the fourth fret.
The first type of chord you should look at when getting into ukulele playing is the major chords.
You see, everything you are going to play is based on the 7 major chords. These are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G.
For your ukulele playing, the most important of the major chords are A, C, D, E, F, and G. In other words, all of them except for B.
B doesn’t come into use a lot because of the difficulty of playing it. The E chord is also quite difficult, but many songs have it, so you have to learn it.
A Few Useful Pointers
When playing your uke, ensure that your thumb is on the back of the neck and your fingers are parallel to the frets. You use the fingers to hold the chord notes.
The index finger is considered the first finger. The middle finger is the second. The ring finger is the third. The little finger or the pinky is the fourth finger.
The general rule is to use your index finger to hold the first fret notes, the middle finger for the second fret, the third finger for the third fret, and so forth.
When starting out, focus on the major Chords C and F.
You hold the C using your third finger on the third fret.
You hold the F using your first finger on the first fret, second string up, and your second finger pressed on the second fret of the topmost string.
The minor chords are the next type of chord to learn.
Minor chords are in wide use, and you might even say this is where things start to get interesting.
You see, minor chords give your song an intimate feel, and that comes in handy a lot when you are playing the kind of romantic songs that draw tears from people’s eyes. In contrast, major chords have a more uptempo and happy sort of vibe.
For you as a beginner, important minor chords are Am and Dm.
To play the Am chord, press your second finger on the G string (top string) on fret.
To play the Dm chord, you use the first fret and the second fret. On the first fret, place your first finger on the E string (second from bottom). On the second fret, place the second finger on the G string (top string) and your third finger on the C string (second from top).
Here is where things get even more interesting: seventh chords.
You see, seventh chords are what give you song that type of groovy, funky feel that is so central to the magic of jazz, soul, and uptown songs. It’s the kind of vibe that makes a song like Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry sound so good as you play for a group of friend sitting around a crackling fire under the stars.
The first seventh chord you should work on as a beginner is G7.
You hold the G7 chord using your first finger on the first fret, second string, with second finger pressed on the second fret, third string, and your third finger pressed on the second fret, bottom string.
We kept it as simple as possible in this article. We didn’t want to make things look too complicated. The chords we have mentioned here are some of the basic ones that you should learn to play well if you want to get anywhere with your uke playing. Just keep practicing and you will certainly get better.