When you first start learning how to play ukulele, chords are a great place to begin. Chords are groups of notes that, when played together, create a harmony. Learning to strum a sequence of chords is a great way to practice ukulele and eventually learn to play songs.
Luckily, learning how to play ukulele chords can be quite simple once you get started. First we’ll go over one basic chord and how to read chord charts and by the end of this article you’ll be ready to strum away!
Note: Make sure your ukulele is in tune. If you need help, check out this guide on how to tune a ukulele.
The C Chord
Ready to learn your first chord? Great! First step: grab your ukulele. Next, hold down the bottom string on the third fret with the ring finger of your left hand. Finally, strum. Congratulations, you just played a C chord!
Here’s what the chord chart looks like for the C chord you just played:
Chord charts are always written such that the bold line at the top represents the head of the ukulele. The vertical line on the far left represents your top string, the G string, while the line on the far right of the diagram represents the bottom string, the A string. Each horizontal line represents a fret.
Some chord charts also include numbers, like the one above. The number on the diagram, three, represents which finger on your left hand should be used to fret that particular string. In this case, the chart indicates that you should use your third or ring finger. The left hand fingers are numbered one through four, starting with the index finger.
Many chord charts don’t include finger numbers. Once you get more comfortable playing ukulele, you will likely find you no longer need to see instructions for fingering on the left hand as it becomes more natural to you. If you’re having trouble learning chords from charts, you might want to check out some video tutorials or schedule private lessons with a ukulele teacher.
More Chord Charts
Now that you know how to read a ukulele chord chart, here are some of the basic chords that you will need to know in order to start learning songs:
When you’re just getting started, focus on learning two or three chords and switching back and forth between them. One very common sequence of chords is C, D, and G. First, practice switching between the C and D. Next, try switching from D to G, and then from G to C.
Get even more out of your practice time by adding a metronome to the mix. Start slow, maybe at 60 or 70 beats per minute. Practice switching between C, G, and D chords while staying on tempo. Try to play each chord for four beats and then switch as smoothly as you can to the next chord. Once you get comfortable switching chords at a slow tempo, start to increase the speed of your metronome in increments of 5 or 10 more beats per minute. Once you’re able to change chords with confidence, you’re ready to start learning some easy ukulele songs!