Did you know you can play nearly an endless list of easy ukulele songs with just four chords?
The keyword here is easy, so get ready to learn just a few chords and how to go about playing almost any tune you can think of because chances are these chords will fit right in.
Here’s why it’s possible.
In every song you hear, you will notice the repetition of the chords throughout the song. All pop songs, for example, have these repeating patterns.
Here’s what this pattern looks like. Let’s suppose we are looking at the key of C.
If we number these notes from left to right we have this:
Now the reason you can play thousands upon thousands of songs is because these songs have the same chord progression. This means that when the ukulele player switches between chords they are usually switching between the same group of chords.
This same group of chords is based on what’s called the I V Vi IV chord progression. Don’t get caught up with the Roman numerals. All this means is that using the key of C for example, all you would use is C F G A as shown below.
Now this is great news because with just these chords the sky is the limit!
Using a capo for some songs
Although all of these songs can be played with the same chords, some songs might originally be in a different key. So for example, the key of E would like this:
However have no fear! We can still use C, F, G, Am by using what’s called a capo. Basically a capo, as you can see pictures here, is a tool you can use to change the pitch of your open strings.
This is just a fancy way of saying you can use the capo on a given fret to be able to play the song using the same chords we are talking about in exactly the same finger positions. Not to worry this would only apply to some songs and we will be sure to tell you for each song.
A little note before we hit the ground running. I will let you know when and where to use a capo if you want to play in the original key of the song. However you can feel free to play any of these songs without a capo. But keep in mind that if you plan to play along with the original then using a capo will be required in some cases. I’ll be sure to let you know when that is the case. But again, feel free to play without capo if you want. The only difference is you will continue playing the same chord progressions but will sound slightly different.
Okay? Let’s go!
How to Play C, G, Am, F Ukulele Chords
To play C major, place you ring finger on the third fret on the first string. The ring finger is best in this case because it makes it easier to switch to F, G, and Am.
To play G major, place Your middle finger on the second fret of the first string. The use your index finger on the second fret of the third string. Finally, place your ring finger on the third fret of the second string.
A minor is probably the easiest chord because it takes only one finger although there is a better grip on F major. To play Am just place your middle finger on the second fret of the fourth string.
For F major, place your middle finger just like you did with A minor, on the second fret of the fourth string, and add your index finger to the first fret of the third string.
That’s it for the chords. You’re all set and ready to go learning these easy ukulele songs.
1. Octopus’s Garden – The Beatles
Optional: Capo on 4th fret
Order of chords: C, Am, F, G
This classic rock song by the Beatles is sang by their drummer, Ringo Star. He was so good on drums and packed some good vocal chords too. Fun fact: Ringo got the song idea during a boating trip with his family in Sardinia after he learned about octopuses and the gardens they build from the captain.
The order of the chords is C, Am, F, G. Here’s what the chord chart looks like for the first verse lines at the beginning of the song. This repeats throughout the whole song.
Strumming Pattern suggestion: down up, down up, down up, down up.
In the bold down up, you can add more emphasis, and use less force on your strumming in the second and fourth down ups (the ones not bolded).
It would sound something like this:
2. Rude – Magic
Optional: Capo on 1st fret
Order of chords: F, G, C, Am
This song together with the others on the list makes for an easy catchy tune to play. I especially like the bridge and the chorus. The reggae vibe will definitely rub off on you, let it lead your strumming!
3. Ho Hey – Lumineers
Capo not needed for original
Order of chords: C, F and F, G, C in chorus
4. Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
Optional: No capo for Leonard Cohen version – capo on 1st fret for Jeff Buckley version.
Order of chords: Verse: C, Am, C, Am, F, G, C, Chorus: F, Am, F, Am, C, G, C
There’s almost no way to leave out this song from the list. It’s highly popular but it is in fact easy, and very memorable too! Don’t forget to play it a few times and getting the hang of it before playing with others or for others.
5. I Don’t Know My Name – Grace Vanderwall
Capo: none for original
This one came as a shocker when Grace performed this song as her audition on America’s Got Talent. You’ll enjoy her sweet voice, and play along just fine sine it has the same chords we’ve been working with so far. Keep practicing and enjoy using the same patterns.
6. Let It Be – The Beatles
Capo: none needed
7. What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction
Optional: Capo on 4th fret for original.
This song hasn’t over 1 billion views on YouTube, and for good reason! It’s certified quadruple platinum in the US. It’s a catchy pop song with lots of chord repetition, so the ukulele player (you) will enjoy playing along with the chords. Feel free to sing and play this for your significant other 🙂
Heres a snippet of the chords chart showing the verse
8. Hey Soul Sister – Train
Optional: Capo on 4th fret for original.
9. I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
Capo: it’s best to play without capo. The original key starts with B major which technically already has the second fret capo’d.
10. Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars
Capo: 5th fret for original, but a little uncomfortable to play especially on a soprano ukulele. So it might be best to do without a capo for this one.
11. Your Welcome – Moana
Capo: none needed for original.
12. Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel
Order of chords: C, Am, F, G
The original title of this song is “Over The Rainbow”, a ballad sung by Judy Garland for the movie Wizard of Oz. Then Israel Kamakawiwoʻole recorded a medley version together with What a Wonderful World. He recorded the song by him singing and accompanying with his ukulele. This song version has been used in many movies and soundtracks.
Start playing using a simple all down strumming pattern for this song. Once you get comfortable at your strumming technique you can try ‘down, down up, up, down up’ swinging the pattern to get the correct feel of the song.
Follow the Strumming Pattern: Down, Down up, up, Down up
Listen to what the strumming pattern sounds like here first in the songs original tempo then in a slower tempo for you to practice.
Original 85 BPM
Before you try playing along, get familiar with the chord progression as you see in the chord chart below. These same chord changes repeat throughout the whole song so this is a good pattern to practice. After you’ve gone over these changes a couple of times and you feel comfortable, play the play along track and you can practice playing the song together with us!
After playing along with some of these songs, I think you would agree with me that it is so fun to play songs that have the C, G, Am, and F chords. These are among the most common chords you can play, so why not use these same chords and be able to play hundreds and even thousands of songs!?
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