Common Questions About Ukulele Chords

March 11, 2020

Common Questions About Ukulele Chords

It’s incredibly common to have more questions than answers when you first pick up the ukulele. In fact, you’ll have questions throughout your entire ukulele journey. That’s part of the fun!

Thankfully there are a multitude of resources to answer those questions (thanks for checking this one out!). We’ve gathered some of the most common questions about ukulele chords and put them in one place.

What Are The 4 Basic Ukulele Chords?

While the chordal possibilities on the ukulele are vast, there are four chords that tend to be the first ones taught. The chords are G, C, D, and Em.

They’re all open chords. Which means they utilize open strings. Open chords have a unique vibrance to them. These 4 chords actually hold the key to unlocking hundreds (if not thousands) of songs. While songs may be in different keys, much of popular music uses only 3 or 4 chords in a given song.

These chords play really well together, and all of the possible combinations of these chords make common chord patterns. Here’s a fun example to show you what I mean.

What Ukulele Chords Should I Learn First?

Much like the last question, you should learn the “4 basic ukulele chords” first. Though they’re anything but basic. These are a great starting point to get you playing songs ASAP. Which is why you picked up the ukulele in the first place.

Once you get through those chords, it will be time to learn the rest of the Major and minor chords. Starting with the natural chords (the ones without flats or sharps). They’ll be the ones you’ll end up using the most.

After you know all of your Major and minor chords you can move onto the exotic chords if you want to. Like diminished, augmented, and so on. They’re not as common to use in most styles of music, and especially uncommon on ukulele.

But that’s certainly not to say they can’t be!

How Do You Memorize Ukulele Chords?

I’ll start by saying everyone has a different method of learning and memorizing. But here are a few tips that seem to work for a lot of people:

1) Work on the muscle memory. I do this by fretting the chord, and releasing without strumming. Fret the chord again, and release. This imprints the chord shape into your mind, and ultimately your muscle memory.
Once that feels pretty good (after doing it a few times) strum the chord. If you get any dead notes or buzzing adjust your fingers as needed.
2) Play chords together. I personally learn best by doing. What’s not really helpful for me is playing a chord out of context. So if you’re learning a G chord, it’s way better to play it together with chords that are commonly played with G. Like C, D, and Em (hey, aren’t those the 4 basic chords we just read about?). This not only helps you memorize the chord, but it also lets you work on your chord changes. And in a small way, your ear training.
3) Play them in songs. This is technically the same as the above. But the big difference is the joy you get from playing a song you like as opposed to a random chord progression. Honestly, even if they’re the same chords and progression. Knowing that you’re playing a song you like is super motivating. That motivation easily turns into playing a lot, which means you’ll get a lot of...
4) Repetition. Flash cards won’t be much help here. The absolute best way to learn ukulele chords is to play them! So whether you’re just strumming away while you’re watching TV, or if you’re playing songs, just play

What questions do you have about ukulele chords? Let us know in the comments!

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