Ukulele Chords and How to Use Them

Posted by Michael Sabourin on

Learning to play a new instrument on your own can be a frustrating experience, especially when you don’t fully understand what it is you’re supposed to be playing. Not sure what a chord is? Unlike notes, chords are a combination of several notes that are played at the same time. The placement of your fingers on the fret will change the combination with each string you strum. A wide range of sounds can be achieved by playing around with different chords and their combinations. However, this guide will teach you how to use the most common ones for beginner ukulele players.

The Simple Chords

The most popular chords for beginners looking to play the ukulele are C Major and A Minor, as both only require the use of a single fret. Placing your third finger on the third fret located on the bottom string will form C Major. To play the chord, strum all the ukulele strings in one fluid motion. To play A Minor, using the top string, lay your second finger on the second fret and stum all four strings at once. These chords are the simplest because they’re easy to play and even easier to remember. It also helps that C Major and A Minor appear in a variety of music, so you’ll be able to play several songs as your lessons progress.

More Common Chords

Once you’ve become better acquainted with playing your ukulele, you can move on to learning other easy to master chords. This can be done by utilizing another finger on your fretting hand. You can play F Major by placing your first finger on the first fret of the second string while placing your ring finger on the second fret of the top-most string. Leaving the other fingers untouched, strum the chords and ta-da! You’ve just played F Major. The unusual positioning of your fingers may cause cramping when you’re starting out, but continuous practice will create muscle memory and make it easier over time. Always watch your finger placement when starting out, as you don’t want to cause any buzzing or muting of the open strings.


A Major is another common chord that can be formed by two frets. Place your index finger on the first fret of the third string while resting your middle finger on the second fret of the top-most string. Once again, your fingers will get used to the awkward position.

Chord Progression

Once you’ve mastered each individual chord, you’ll be ready to put them together and form a ukulele chord progression. Chords that are in the same note family will sound better more often than not, which is why it’s important to practice progressions. Doing so will allow your fingers to move more fluidly and accurately between chords. As most ukulele songs contain chord progressions, and many of them only use three chords, you’ll be able to play a wide variety of songs and musical styles.


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