Below you will find explanations and diagrams to learn how to play the 8 easiest chords on the ukulele, these are also very common in songs so they are useful to know 🙂
The Ukulele is a member of the lute family and originated in the 19th century as a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese machete. “Ukulele” roughly translates as “jumping flea”!
If the ukulele was a season it would be summer, it’s smooth, happy sounds will help you to imagine crashing waves and long sandy beaches. It is a beautiful instrument to learn and also very practical as it is much easier to transport then a guitar or a piano!!
Before learning the chords you should know the strings of a ukulele – GCEA – the tone does not go from low to high like a guitar but rather high, low, low (but higher then C), high – see below 🙂
The first chord to learn is the C chord, this is the first chord I learnt, with it you can play row row row your boat 😉 – you just need to put your index or middle finger on the 3rd fret of the A string (the furthest away from you).
If you’re still not sure have a look at the image to the right, all chords are depicted like this, with the 4 vertical lines each representing a string GCEA with the left string representing the G string and the closest string to you. The horizontal lines represent the frets which you will find on your ukulele too. Finally the Os at the top represent whether the string is open or not (as in if you play it).
If you’re still not sure check out the Am chord below represented on the ukulele and also on the chord diagram
The A chord moves on nicely from the A minor with just an extra finger being added on the first fret of the C string – NOT to be confused with the F chord though which also only needs an extra finger on the first fret of the E string.
The Dm chord moves nicely on from the F chord with just an additional finger on the second fret of the C string. To play the D chord you just need to move from the first fret to the second fret on the E string (see below). If you play guitar a good way to remember the shape of the D chord is that it is the same as the A chord on the guitar.
To confuse you further if you are a guitarist the G chord is the same shape at the D chord on the guitar!
Finally the Em chord, a little bit trickier as you need to stretch over 3 frets:
Once you have memorized the shapes of these 8 chords and where to put your fingers you should try to move between them all – I would recommend doing this in the order I have placed the chords as I have placed them by similarity so:
C, Am, A, F, Dm, D, G, Em
When you feel comfortable you should try to play a few songs, here are 12 songs you can play using a mixture of the chords you’ve just learnt.
Check out our cover of I’m Yours using the ukulele:
You can find chords, tabs and sheet music for ONLY ukulele on our FREE ukulele app!!!