While learning to play the Ukulele it may be easiest to learn a handful of chords first. There are a number of chords, including C major and A minor, that only require a single string to be held down to play the entire chord. However, as you progress as a player you’ll want to learn the open notes down the neck. We can help!
You do have a few things working in your favor, though. First of all, you only have four strings to worry about. Compare that to the six to twelve strings you’ll find on a guitar, you’ve got it easy. The second thing is that the Ukulele follows the normal note progression that all western music does!
If you memorize the order of notes and the open strings you’ll always be able to count your way to a note. A couple of tips to help you with the notes follow:
- B and E don’t have sharp notes (#)
- C and F, therefore, don’t have flat notes (b)
- One step along the scale (D to D#/Eb) is one semi-tone
- Two steps along the scale (A to B) is one full tone.
JustinGuitar.com also shows this as a Note Circle which can be a lot easier to remember for some. Remembering this is very important to your continued education on any instrument!
Open String Notes
The first thing you want to learn is the open string notes for the four strings. An open string simply means no frets are pressed down. Most players and books will teach you to learn the strings from the thickest (top) to the thinnest (bottom) strings. We’ve included a few acronyms you can use to remember them, which are:
Remembering Standard Tuning
Use these two acronyms or make one up yourself, but if you can remember the open string notes and Note Circle or order of notes you’ll always know the note of the string you’re playing!
Ukulele Notes for the first 12 Frets
Below you’ll find a chart of all the Ukulele notes for the first 12 frets on your instrument. This will repeat on down to the end of the fretboard in a consistent pattern. So, the 13th fret on the G string is an A note, and the 14th is a A#!
While you are learning the notes Ukulele-tabs has a very useful tool which covers a few other common tuning patterns.
Reentrant vs Linear Tuning
One important thing to note about the G string and how it’s tuned. In Reentrant tuning, it will be tuned to the G note above the other strings, while with linear tuning the G is lower than the C note. It is fairly common to see Soprano and Concert Ukuleles tuned in the reentrant style, while the large models go with Linear.
The trick to learning the notes on any stringed instrument begins with knowing the open strings and the standard note order, but it is nice to have a chart near you as you’re learning so you aren’t constantly pausing to find a particular note. If you spend a little time (5 minutes) in each practice session familiarizing yourself with the notes you’ll quickly learn where they are!