Basic Ukulele Chords
Basic ukulele chords aren’t all as easy as the C chord, which requires pressing on one string with one finger, but they’re all basic to playing a variety of tunes on the ukulele. So start with the commonly used chords here and branch out as your skills and musical taste expands.
Creating a C chord on the ukulele
The first chord to tackle is the C chord, which uses a single finger. What could be easier?
The chord diagram looks like this:
Note that the g-, C-, and E-strings all have 0 at the top of them. That means you don’t have to fret them at all. But the A-string has a dot at the third fret. So take your third finger (ring finger) and hold down the A-string at the third fret (between the second and third fret wires). Your hand should look something like this:
Fingering an F chord on your ukulele
The F chord is a little trickier than the C chord. For one thing, you have to use two fingers to play it, but more importantly, you need to reach over other strings to fret. The chord diagram looks like this:
The C- and A-strings are open and so you don’t need to do anything with those. Here’s what you do:
Use your index finger to hold the E-string at the first fret.
Use your middle finger to fret the g-string at the second fret.
Make sure that your fingers arch high over the strings that you’re not fretting.
Strum the ukulele and listen to how it sounds.
Your hand should look like this:
Playing a G7 chord on your ukulele
The G7 chord is another step up in difficulty from the F and C chords because it requires three fingers, because you fret three strings, as the chord diagram shows:
Play G7 with your fingers in the following positions:
Index finger on the E-string at the first fret.
Middle finger on the C-string at the second fret.
Ring finger on the A-string at the second fret.
The g-string is open.
Your hand should look something like this:
Creating the E7 chord on your ukulele
The E7 chord uses three fingers, as shown in the chord diagram:
You play E7 with your fingers in the following positions:
Index finger on the g-string on the first fret.
Middle finger on the C-string, second fret.
Ring finger on the A-string, second fret.
The E-string is open.
This chord is a tricky one because your middle finger has a tendency to catch on the E-string. So double-check that the chord sounds clear. If not, try to arch your middle finger farther over that string by bringing your wrist around a little, so that your fingers look like this:
Using basic chords to play a song on your ukulele
You can combine basic chords to play the song I’ll Fly Away. The song sheet shows the notes, which you can sing, the chord names, and the strumming pattern you use for this song, which is down once, and then down-up three times. You can play along by clicking the play button at I’ll Fly Away.
Make your chord transitions smoother and quicker by anticipating the next chord. For example, when you play a C chord, your index and middle fingers are free. So you can prepare for the F chord by putting them over the place they have to fret next. In this way they don’t have far to move when you change chords.