Musicians have been struggling to play the dreaded ukulele e-chord for years.
In fact, many ukulele players can’t play the e-chord, and choose to avoid songs that include it.
The e-chord is particularly difficult to fret, meaning it requires the hand and fingers being placed in an awkward position. The tricky nature of the ukulele e-chord means that transitions between chords also become more tedious.
How do you play an E chord on a ukulele? Put the index finger on the second fret of the first string, your middle finger on the fourth fret of the fourth string, your ring finger on the fourth fret of the third string, and your pinky on the fourth fret of the second string. This is the correct way to play the e chord on a ukulele.
Ukulele players often find it easier to avoid this chord altogether, or use a similar chord in its place (most commonly the E7 chord).
However, to be a truly well-rounded ukulele player, the ability to play all major chords is essential. Eventually, players become restricted by their avoidance of the e-chord and unable to master their craft.
Thankfully, by following these professional ukulele chord tips, mastering the e-chord is possible for even the most uncertain players. With a little time and practice, this chord begins to blend in with all the others and becomes part of a comprehensive ukulele playing skill set.
Are you ready to do what it takes to overcome the ukulele e-chord? Then let’s dive in!
STEP 1 – KNOW YOUR E-CHORD VARIATIONS
Traditionally, the e-chord is played by cramming multiple fingers together.
You can see how it was originally meant to be played in the quick YouTube video below.
While this is the authentic way to play a ukulele e-chord, it is also the most difficult way. If you are a ukulele purist, you may prefer to learn the chord this way and master it with extra effort and practice.
However, if you are like many ukulele players, you’ll likely find it easier to play a variation of the e-chord. Most commonly, musicians choose to play the 1402 chord. While this variation is undoubtedly easier than the traditional e-chord on ukulele, it does still require concentration so as not to mute the C-string.
If you are a more advanced ukulele player and are comfortable playing barre chords, another alternative is to play the barred version. Playing barre chords requires additional pressure (since you are holding down multiple strings with one finger), but many ukulele players still prefer this over the awkward finger maneuvering that’s required to play the e-chord the original way.
For a more in-depth lesson on how to play barred ukulele chords, check out this article by Coustii.
By learning your alternatives, you free yourself from a one-size-fits-all solution. Only you know which variation feels best to your playing style, so try each and find the one that works for you.
STEP 2 – PUT THAT THUMB TO WORK
For several chords (we’re talking about you, G7), your thumb doesn’t have to do much. It just sits there effortlessly behind the neck of your uke. But when playing the ukulele e-chord, this should never be the case.
When playing this chord, you’ll want your thumb to be pressing intentionally on the back of the neck.
The advantage? You get solid coverage without making your more delicate fingers do all the work!
This ukulele e-chord tip is especially helpful when playing the barred version, since your index finger is flatter against the fret. By letting your thumb do the heavy work, your index finger and pinky finger can focus on holding their place.
STEP 3 – STRATEGIC HAND PLACEMENT
Believe it or not, the way you angle your left-hand (or the hand creating the chords) can have a significant impact on how difficult or easy it is to play the e-chord.
When most musicians hold their ukulele, their left-hand is facing palm up, with the neck of the ukulele resting on top of the palm. Since this is how the majority of players hold their instrument, they often play chords accordingly, with their hand remaining in relatively the same position.
However, if you change the angle of your left-hand, everything changes! Ukulele player Aaron Keim covers this ukulele tip in this YouTube video. It’s worth a watch!
Try holding your ukulele with your left elbow at a 180-degree angle rather than the usual 90-degree angle (keep your elbow perpendicular to the neck of the guitar).
This angle will make it easier to place your fingers in the tricky required positions for the e-chord.
Remember, the e-chord is a challenge for every ukulele player at some point in the learning process. No matter which way you decide to play this chord, finding the variation that works best for you and allows you to seamlessly transition between chords is all that really matters. When you can effortlessly transition, the music you play will sound more natural and pleasant to the ear.
Soon, you will be playing songs like Killing Me Softly (by Lauren Hill), Hotel California (by The Eagles), Don’t Stop Believin’ (by Journey), and many other classic hits that feature the e-chord.
It is also important to remember that playing the ukulele e-chord can be easier or more difficult depending on the chords that come before and after it. If you are playing a chord before the e-chord that makes it difficult to transition, you may want to play another variation of the first chord that allows you to more easily move to the e-chord after.
Either way, the more you play and experiment, the more you will be able to play all chords and songs with ease.
And of course, if you encounter any other problems while learning ukulele, be sure to revisit our blog for more tips and tricks.
Now that you know how to overcome the e-chord, why not read some of our other articles? Check them out below!
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.