One of the first things you should do as a beginner Ukulele player is to find a few chords you are comfortable with. If you pick easy ukulele chords out you should be able to progress at a reasonable rate, you’ll even be able to pick up songs quickly!
Most popular songs that you’ll want to strum on your uke are made up of a combination of the basic ukulele chords. By that, we mean the major, minor, and 7th chords. Each of these groups has 7 chords (one for each note!), giving you a grand total of 21 basic chords.
Below you’ll find a detailed chord diagram for each of these chords, the recommended order you learn them in, and tips to make each one easier!
Fingering Basic Ukulele Chords
When looking at chord diagrams you’ll often see numbers placed on individual frets. These numbers correspond to the fingers on your hand.
Luckily, universal numbering is used so regardless of what website or book you are looking at the index finger will always be labelled #1.
Similarly, the number two is for the middle finger, three for the index, and finally the pinky finger gets the number four.
Note that the thumb is not given a notation. This is because if you are trying to hold down a fret with your thumb chances are you’re doing something wrong!
Tuning For Ukuleles
There are two common ways to tune a ukulele, standard and re-entrant tuning. Both are very popular so when you are looking at chord charts you’ll want to note which tuning is being used. Most of the time if no label is applied to the chart, you are looking at standard tuning.
Standard Ukulele Tuning
With standard ukulele tuning, the open notes of the ukulele will be G-C-E-A. The G string will be the thickest, and closest to you, while the A string, will be the furthest from you and the highest note. Most basic ukulele chords are written this way, but definitely not all.
You also may hear the strings referred to as the first string, 3rd string, etc. In this case the first string is your A string, the 2nd corresponds with the E string, the C string is your third string, and finally, the G is the fourth string.
While standard is the most common way to tune a ukulele, you will find many people who prefer the re-entrant method. This means that unlike standard, where the string notes are arranged lowest to highest as you work your way down the strings, with re-entrant tuning the C string (3rd string) is your lowest note.
This also means you need different strings to tune your ukulele this way, the G string (4th string) will need to be thinner to produce the higher note G, rather than the thicker string which will produce a lower G.
If you see a lower case g when reading a chord diagram (gCEA), you are looking at a re-entrant tuned diagram!
Chord Chart Symbols to Know
Luckily, the notation for the basic Ukulele chords is very simple.
If you see an open circle next to a string it means you want to play the open string, a note that you play fretted will have a filled in circle. Normally, you’ll also have a number corresponding with the normal finger that plays that fret.
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Lastly, a symbol you won’t have to worry about with any of the simple ukulele chords, the “X” signifies that a string should be muted, or not strummed, when the chord is played.
The Major Chords on Ukulele
We will start out the the major chords for each note. These are easily the most common of the simple ukulele chords that you’ll find. Luckily, most of them are also very easy to play.
A few of these chords are a bit tougher to play and beginners can struggle with them, so we’ll address them last!
The first three to look at are the A, C, and D chords.
A Major Chord
C Major Chord
D Major Chord
The A major chord is fairly simple, using just your index and middle fingers at frets fairly close together, its a great starting chord.
The C major chord is possibly the easiest of all, with just one finger on the 3rd fret of the A string! We recommend you start by playing this note with your ring finger, but as you are more comfortable you may find it easier to transition to other chords if you play this chord with different fingers! Start easy, then work up to that!
Slightly more difficult is the D chord. With three fingers on a single fret some players can struggle to make each note ring true. Try to stagger your fingers to give them more room, or place one finger on each (a barre chord), this will be great practice for later too!
F Major Chord
G Major Chord
Next up, the F Chord. This is a very similar shape the A chord, just move your first finger down one fret.
The G chord will look familiar to guitar players, it takes the same exact shape as a D chord on a standard six string!
B Major Chord
E Major Chord
The last two major chords are much more difficult, so we saved the “best” for last.
The B chord requires you to hold down both the A and E strings with your index finger, then stretch to get the 3rd fret of the C string with your middle finger and the 4th fret of the G string with your ring finger. Tough, but doable with practice!
Unlike the B chord, which you don’t play much, you’ll need the E chord quite a bit. Many people when they start struggle to reach the 4th fret with their ring finger when the first and second fingers are resting near the nut. We like to play that note with our pinky, it can help alleviate the long reach!
The Minor Chords on Ukulele
While the major chords carry a full, strong sound the minor chords tend to be softer and have more bite. These are great to know to add a little attitude to your playing. Many songs you’ll come across will use both major and minor chords to add variation and originality.
There is really only one difficult minor chord, which is the B minor, and we’ll cover that one last.
A Minor Chord
C Minor Chord
D Minor Chord
The A minor chord is similar to the C major chord. One finger! Just like the C chord it isn’t a bad idea to practice playing this chord with different fingers to make transitioning to the next chord easier!
Slightly harder is the C minor chord, which has three fingers on the highest three strings on the 3rd fret. At least it’s easy to remember (3, 3, 3!).
Next up is the D minor chord, which is another very easy chord. In fact, if you struggle to play the regular D chord this is a great alternative as it will spice up your songs too.
E Minor Chord
F Minor Chord
G Minor Chord
Thankfully, the E minor chord is no where near as difficult to play as the major version of the chord. A comfortable chord for most, just three fingers on three different strings and frets!
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The F minor chord on the other hand is a bit more difficult. Just like we recommended with the E major chord, the best way to play the last note is with your pinky finger.
Both the G and the G minor follow the same pattern as the D chords on guitar. Just move your first finger back one fret and you’ve got it.
The only truly difficult minor Ukulele chord is the B minor. The combination of a three string barre on the second fret and the stretch to the G string of the 4th fret is challenging for many.
B Minor Chord
The 7th Chords on Ukulele
The last group of chords that we consider to be basic Ukulele chords are the 7th chords. These are staples of the blues and jazz genres and can add a nice touch to any song.
Five of these chords are very simple to play, and we’ll start with those. After that we’ll look at another difficult B chord and the D7, which requires a barre.
A7 and C7 are a cinch if you’ve already mastered some of the major and minor chord shapes. Just put your index finger on the correct fret and you’re done!
The E7 chord is slightly more difficult, but with no difficult stretches or hand positioning you’ll have this one mastered quickly too.
If you can play the G minor chord than the F7 will be a piece of cake. It is the same shape just shifted up one fret on each note.
The G7 is just as easy, and is a simple flip of the G major chord. The most difficult part of this shape is making sure your middle and 3rd fingers don’t touch the E string, muting that note.
The last two chords we have to cover are both fairly difficult because of the barres that are required. Luckily, the B minor is harder, so if you’ve mastered that these should come easy.
It’s a good thing that B chords are not extremely popular, because none of them are easy to play! Like we just said though, the B7 requires less of a stretch than the B minor chord so it is slightly easier to play.
The final chord, the D7, requires a bar very similar to the B7. The difference is your middle finger will be playing the A string, which can be a difficult shape for many beginners to form.
What are the 4 Basic Ukulele Chords?
The four basic Ukulele chords that we teach beginners first are C, D, G, and Em. All four of these chords are easy to finger and move between, and they open up a ton of songs for you to play.
What Ukulele Chords Should I learn first?
When first learning the ukulele I recommend learning C, D, G, and Em first. This opens up a huge number of songs for you to learn and gives you a great basis to start from. After that, I teach the A and F major chords. After that I would advise you to learn chords as you need them for songs you’d like to play!
How Many Different Ukulele Chords are there?
There are 12 of each major, minor and 7th variation of each chord, giving you 36 different chords on a ukulele. There are multiple ways to play each of these chords too depending on what fret you playing and if you’re using a capo!
The Final Note
There you have it! By learning these easy ukulele chords (or even half of them) you can literally play hundreds of songs.Combine a handful of these chords with some basic finger picking patterns and you will be impressing friends in no time! Keep an eye out for new and useful ukulele tips, tricks, and reviews on our main page!