Basic Ukulele Chords And How To Read Them

If you are new to the ukulele, it can be quite overwhelming, especially if it’s your first instrument ever. Difficult chord diagrams, painful fingers, and sore hands from constant strumming can be discouraging.

In this article, I will show you some basic ukulele chords and how to read them, preparing you for learning more advanced chords.

What we will learn

  • How to Read Chord Charts
  • Basic Major Chords
  • Basic Minor Chords
  1. Vertical Lines: Represent the strings of the ukulele, starting with the G-string on the far left, then the C, E, and A-string on the far right.
  2. Horizontal Lines: Represent the frets (the spaces between the metal lines on the ukulele fretboard).
  3. Dots: Indicate where to place your fingers. For example, a dot on the far left line between the first and second horizontal lines means you hold down the G-string at the second fret.
  4. Zeroes: At the top indicate strings that should be played open.
  5. Numbers: At the bottom tell you which finger to use for each fret:
    • 1 = Index finger
    • 2 = Middle finger
    • 3 = Ring finger
    • 4 = Little finger

Basic Major Chords

Here are three of the most common major chords you will play on the ukulele. These diagrams mirror the ukulele, so just mimic what you see. It may take some time for your fingers to get used to these shapes, but with practice, they will become second nature.

Basic Minor Chords

Minor chords give songs a more intimate feel, while major chords are more upbeat and happy. The important minor chords to learn as a beginner are Am, Dm, and Em. Practice switching between major and minor chords, such as C to Am (both use one finger) and F to Dm (similar shapes).

Summary

Now you know some basic ukulele chords and how to read chord charts. Next, learn how to read ukulele TABs to play riffs, solos, and fingerpicking. If you already know how to read tabs, head over to the songs section of this website and start playing!

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The Basics

In this section, we will cover everything you need to know about starting to play the ukulele.