When you’re in the process of learning the ukulele, all those chords you need to learn can seem pretty daunting.
But stop right there!
You don’t need to learn dozens of chords. You only need a handful of basic chords. In this article, we’ll show you which they are and how to play them.
Agreed? Let’s get to it then.
The following chords are for soprano, concert, and tenor ukuleles set up with standard tuning – in other words, the string notes are tuned to gCEA. That’s not to say gCEA is the only possible tuning for the ukulele. Not at all. For example, if you check out our guide to tenor ukulele tuning, you’ll see there are various alternative tuning systems.
Which are the Basic Ukulele Chords for Beginners?
Seven. That’s right, just seven ukulele chords.
The first four to learn are C, G, F, and Am. With just these, you can play hundreds of easy ukulele songs.
Here they are:
G Major Chord
F Major Chord
C Major Chord
A Minor Chord
Once you have these four chords down, now learn these three chords. With these seven chords, you’ll be able to play more challenging pieces.
D Major Chord
E Major Chord
E Minor Chord
Ukulele Major Chords (Chord Chart)
Of course, you shouldn’t just stop at seven chords. Here are the main major chords (with fingering numbers at the bottom of the chord charts) to learn:
Ukulele Minor Chords
Same for the minor chords (typically thought as ‘sad ukulele chords’ but it depends on the context. Here are the main ones. Get them learned:
7th Ukulele Chords
7th chords crop up a lot, especially in blues songs. Here are the main ones:
With these seven basic chords, you can play hundreds of songs.
What’s the best way to learn them? Well, a good idea is to set aside some practice time every day, even just 5 minutes a day. That’s more effective than doing a load of playing one day, then nothing for two weeks.
For beginners, the biggest challenge is switching between chords.
There are many simple methods of chord changing. Here are two of the most popular:
- Pivot Method: The pivot method is the simplest way of getting your fingers to move to the right spot quickly. In this method, one finger first moves, and then other fingers move one by one to the right spot by pivoting around the finger that moved first. Usually the first finger moves to the lowest string then the others move around it one at a time.
- Freeze Method: Using this method, you first form the chord’s shape and then strum it once. Thereafter, you take your fingers from the fretboard without changing the shape of the chord. Finally, you return the fingers to the fretboard. Repeat this process as many as ten times to gain effective muscle memory.
It might take as many as two hundred attempts to become perfect at chord changing so keep on practicing as many times as possible.
It’s also worth considering the type of ukulele you’re playing, especially getting the right size uke. If you want maximum comfort on the fretboard, go with a concert of tenor which are that bit bigger.
Good luck with your new-found passion!