How to Play Moveable Chords on Your Ukulele - dummies

How to Play Moveable Chords on Your Ukulele

By Alistair Wood

Many ukulele chords are open chords, which means that they have at least one string played open. In contrast, in a moveable chord, you fret every string. Moveable chords have a very useful property: they can be moved up and down the neck to create new chords.

Each time you move the shape, you get a new chord. So for every shape you master, you effectively learn 12 new chords (the total number of notes there are, including sharps and flats).

Playing a moveable barre chord on your ukulele

You can easily move barre chords to form new chords. Start by playing a B minor chord:

  1. Barre across all strings at the second fret with your index finger. Then, reach over the strings with your ring finger to play the g-string at the fourth fret to create a Bm chord:


    Position your thumb at the back of the uke’s neck so that you can squeeze the chord a little.

  2. Move the whole chord down one fret to create a Bm chord:


    You’re barring the strings on the first fret, with your ring finger at the third fret.

Making open chords moveable on your ukulele

Moveable chord shapes are based around open chords — you’re simply moving the shape up the fretboard and replacing the nut of the uke with a barre. For example, you can move from an open Am chord to a barred B♭óm:

  1. Play the open A minor chord (open strings except for the fretting the g-string at the second fret).

    Use your ring finger rather than your middle finger to fret the g-string.

  2. Move every note up one fret to play the B♭m chord.

    So the second fret on the g-string is now a third fret and all the open strings are moved up to the first fret (but played with a barre).

You can turn any open chord into a moveable chord shape:

  1. Rearrange the fingering of the chord so that your index finger is free.

  2. Move the chord shape up one fret.

  3. Barre across at the first fret.

When you have this shape down pat, you can move it up and down the fretboard and the chord keeps its flavor (major, minor, or seventh) but changes its name (C, D, E♭and so on).