Ukulele Chords: A Beginner’s Guide (and Play-Along!)


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Learning how to play ukulele chords and changing between them is perhaps one of the most exciting things. The reason for this is that every song you hear is composed of chords, and you’ll often hear the same ones played over and over. The most common of them is covered here.

So as you learn a handful of these you will be on your way to playing hundreds of songs and even thousands if you wanted to.

How do you play basic chords on the ukulele? You can play basic chords on the ukulele by using your fingers to hold down from one to four notes on the fretboard which make up a chord. There are different chords which are made up of different notes. Each chord will have a different positioning for your fingers on the fret board. The most common chords typically uses two to three fingers.

This article will help you learn how to play chords easily and the second half of this article goes over how to change between them! I’ve put together clear step by step instructions to help you. I hope to make your journey easier while you learn how to play them.

These basic chords I will show you in great detail really are the most popular and the most common. There are so many you can learn, but the reality is that there are a small amount of them that are most significant.

My goal is to save you a lot of time, money, and stress that may come with music lessons. I say this from personal experience. So here you will learn the chords that will help you play over 80% of all songs.

Learning how to play becomes a lot easier once you know that there are only 12 basic ones you really need to know to play 90% of songs. There are over 100 chords you can learn, but you would rarely need to use more than half of those if ever.

So I’ve sifted through many songs to save you time and have come up with a list of the 12 most popular chords you should learn. After learning these chords you will be able to play almost any song you can think of. Oh, and did I already mention learning to play is really exciting?

How To Play Basic Ukulele Chords

The Major Chords

1. How To Play C Major

C is the most popular chord of all time. Whether you play piano, saxophone, accordion, trumpet, the C chord is the most common and most played chord. This applies to any instrument you play and pretty much any musical genre. It’s basically the first chord every musician learns at the beginning stages. By the way, this happens to be the easiest to play of them all! Examples of songs that use C: Somewhere Over The Rainbow, I’m Yours, Let It Go, The Lazy Song, Imagine. Before trying this chord, make sure you know how to tune your uke.

The most common way to play this chord is simply to place your ring finger on the first string/third fret. The reason for this is that you can easily maneuver if you need to switch to play chords that include notes on the first and second fret for example A chord, or F chord. However, get used to playing this chord with the middle finger also as sometimes it will be a more comfortable position certain cases. For example at the very beginning of Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

  1. place your ring finger on the 1st string / third fret.
  2. Or using your middle finger may be more convenient depending on the song.

2. How To Play G Major

G chord is a hugely popular chord as well. Almost as much as the C chord actually. A lot of the popular songs usually use the C chord and the G chord together. So it’s no surprise that G is the next most popular on the list. Examples of songs that use G: Somewhere Over The Rainbow, I’m Yours, Let It Go, Imagine. Be sure to see this list of songs where you can use this chord often.

  1. place your middle finger on the 1st string / 2nd fret
  2. place your index finer on the 3rd string / 2nd fret
  3. place your ring finer on the 2nd string / 3rd fret

3. How To Play F Major

Similar to the G chord, the F chord is widely used together with C. It is very common to see all three of these chords together. So if you’re getting started on the uke, these are the first three that you should learn really well before learning the rest. Examples of songs that use F: Somewhere Over The Rainbow, I’m Yours.

  1. place your index finger on the 2nd string / 1st fret.
  2. place your middle finger on the 4th string / 2nd fret

4. How To Play D Major

The D chord is another important chord to learn. Remember we went over learning how to play Happy Birthday together? The D chord was used a lot together with G and the next chord on this list. Example of songs that use D: Happy Birthday, Amazing Grace

  1. place your index finger on the 4th string / 2nd fret
  2. place your middle finger on the 3rd string / 2rd fret
  3. place your ring finger on the 2nd string / 2nd fret

5. How To Play A Major

A is the chord used in Happy Birthday right after D. If you get this chord, you’ll be able to play songs like Hey Jude, Hey Soul Sistah and other great classic songs.

  1. place your index finger on the 3rd string / 1st fret
  2. place your middle finger on the 4th string / 2nd fret

6. How To Play E Major

This one is a classic chord because probably the one you hear when you listen to sad songs like Somewhere Over The Rainbow. This chord is known for giving the sad vibe to songs. Get used to this chord because you will see it very often.

  1. place your index finger on the 1st string / 2nd fret
  2. place your ring finger on string 2, 3, and 4 / 4th fret

7. How To Play Bb Major

The most commonly used flat chord. This one is a must know.

  1. place your index finger and cover the 1st & 2nd string / 1st fret
  2. place your middle finger on the 3rd string / 2nd fret
  3. place your ring finger on the 4th string / 3rd fret

The Minor Chords

The following uke chords are just as important as the top 7. These are the minor chords you will see frequently as your learn to play. A lot of songs use these chords to add emotion and feeling. So you will likely see these combined with the top seven major chords we covered already.

8. How To Play Am

  1. place your middle finger on the 4th string / 2nd fret

9. How To Play Bm

  1. place your whole index finger covering all strings / 2nd fret
  2. place your ring finger on 4th string / 4th fret

10. How To Play Dm

  1. place your index finger on the 2nd string / 1st fret
  2. place your middle finger on the 4th string / 2nd fret
  3. place your ring finger on the 3rd string / 2nd fret

11. How To Play Em

  1. place your index finger on the 1st string / 2nd fret
  2. place your middle finger on the 2nd string / 3rd fret
  3. place your ring finger on the 3rd string / 4th fret

12. How To Play Gm

  1. place your index finger on the 1st string / 1st fret
  2. place your middle finger on the 3rd string / 2nd fret
  3.  place your ring finger on the 2nd string / 3rd fret

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