ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

6 Essential Chords for the Beginning Ukulele Player

Updated on February 2, 2015
Kennedi Brown profile image

Kennedi Brown has written fiction under a pen name for years now. She plays the ukulele and writes songs no one will ever hear (hopefully).

The pink Mahalo I learned on. Sure, people may scoff at you for playing a Mahalo, but you're just learning. Tell 'em to back off.
The pink Mahalo I learned on. Sure, people may scoff at you for playing a Mahalo, but you're just learning. Tell 'em to back off.

Note: this article assumes you know the basics, like tuning and strumming. If you don't, here's some Youtube videos that can help. I also wrote this article with a Soprano ukulele in mind. If you're not sure what kind of ukulele you have, here's an article that can help.

The ukulele, a cute little four stringed instrument, has enjoyed somewhat of a revival lately. Let's say you want to get in on some of that action, but you're not sure which chords you should learn first. No worries! I got you covered. Below are the chords you should memorize (and practice switching between) if you want to be able to play, and possibly even write, songs as quickly as possible.

The glorious and simple C chord
The glorious and simple C chord

C

Ah, the C chord! You'll see this chord more often than you'll see rain in Portland. Thank God it's an easy one. Just take any finger you want (I like to use my fourth finger, the one next to my pinkie) and stick it on the A string, third fret down. There you go!

Oh, and you should probably strum it or it won't make any noise.

Sorry if my fingers seem a little loose. I was holding my giant ipad and trying to take a picture of my fingers at the same time.
Sorry if my fingers seem a little loose. I was holding my giant ipad and trying to take a picture of my fingers at the same time.

G

The next chord you should learn is the G chord, which you'll use almost as often as the C. It's a little more complicated, but you should do just fine after some practice. Take your pointer finger and put it on the C string, second fret. Your middle finger goes on the A string, second fret. Lastly, put your fourth finger (remember, the one next to the pinkie, on the E string, third fret. After a bit of practice, your fingers will naturally find this position and you won't even have to think about it!

F chord
F chord

F

The F key is the third key you should learn. To play it, but your pointer finger on the E string, first fret. Then put your middle finger on the G string, second fret. Try not to laugh every time I have to say "G string".

A minor
A minor

Am

Another very simple, one finger chord that sounds like heaven. To play an A minor, just put your middle finger on the G string (heh) second fret.

An Em chord. See the diagonal? Once again, sorry if my fingers look a little sloppy.
An Em chord. See the diagonal? Once again, sorry if my fingers look a little sloppy.

Em

Some would argue that E minor isn't one of the "basic" chords, but I've seen it come up quite a bit a beginner level songs, so I thought I'd include it here. It's not that difficult to play, but I still have a hard time switching between E minor and other chords. It might take a little getting used to.

To play, but your pointer finger on the A string, second fret, your middle finger on the E string, third fret, and your fourth finger on the C string, fourth fret. It should make a diagonal line on the fretboard.

Do chord. See how every string on the second fret is closed but the A string?
Do chord. See how every string on the second fret is closed but the A string?

D

This is another one that people might not view as "basic", which is why it's last. To play the D chord, you put your pointer finger on the G string, second fret, your middle finger on the C string, second fret, and your pointer finger on the E string, second fret. The only string that should be open here is the A string.

Songs to Help You Learn

Now that you've used your fingers to get a feel for the basic chords, here are some songs that make good use of them so you can actually practice "in the wild." That's the best way to learn ukulele, anyway.

The Hanging Tree from The Hunger Games

This is a wonderful song for learning to comfortably switch between Am, F, G, and C--the most common chords. It's actually the first song I learned. I started by just strumming down to 4/4 time until I got comfortable with the chord changes. Then I went to a basic D-DU-DU-D strumming pattern, which sounds pretty good for this song.

Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen

This has been one of my favorite songs for a long time, and Leonard Cohen has been one of my favorite songwriters. Hallelujah is a beautiful song, and it makes use of almost all the chords in this article. I've found that any strumming pattern works pretty well, but I like to use D-DU-DU-D. Again, like with The Hanging Tree, you can just play D-D-D-D to 4/4 time until you get comfortable with the chord changes. I do that with any song the first few times I play it.

Happy Little Pill by Troy Sivan

This one makes use of D and Em, so it's good to start playing when you're ready to get into using those chords.

I'm Yours by Jason Mraz

Not only is this a popular song that most people you play for will recognize, it's also really easy! I've seen tutorials for this one use a basic D-D-D-D strumming pattern, so it's also a great candidate for the first song you learn to play.

What's your favorite basic ukulele chord?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)