If you can already play the guitar, you could be forgiven for thinking that you could simply pick up and play an instrument like the ukulele too. After all, it’s just a small guitar, isn’t it? Then you realise all of the chords you already know and love no longer work! There’s no need to panic though because we’ve put together a guide to the 4 most-important ukulele chords you should learn first that will enable you to play hundreds of well-known songs.As a guitarist, you’ll be sure to pick them up in no time and if you want to progress even faster, why not purchase one of our ukulele books?
Popular songs to play
Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’, U2’s ‘With Or Without You’ and even Lady Gaga’s ‘Pokerface’ can all be played effortlessly on the ukulele with just a few simple chords. They all use the same I-V-VIm-IV chord structure that, in the most common key of C, translates into C, G, Am and F chords. Learn these popular chords first and you’ll be playing your first songs on ukulele in no time.
From guitar to uke
As a guitarist, you’ll use chord shapes that are similar to the G, D, Em and C chords on a guitar to form the C, G, Am and F chords on a ukulele. Although this may sound confusing at first, it actually makes perfect sense when you think about it. If you place a capo on the fifth fret of your guitar and pretend that the two thickest strings no longer exist, the open notes on the 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st strings would be G-C-E-A, the same as they are on soprano, concert and sopranino ukuleles. If you find the relationship between the chords shapes hard to visualise, take a look the chord diagrams under the next paragraph.
Familiar yet different
Now that you know the theory behind the chord relationships, it’s time to put it into practice. To play a C chord on the ukulele (which is based on a guitar’s G chord), all you have to do is hold down the 4th string at the 3rd fret. To play a G (based on a guitar’s D chord), you need to hold down the 2nd and 4th strings at the 2nd fret along with the 3rd string at the 3rd fret. For the Am (based on a guitar’s Em), you only need to hold down the 1st string at the 2nd fret. And finally, for the F (based on a guitar’s C chord), you need to hold down the 1st string at the 2nd fret along with the 3rd string at the 1st fret. As you can clearly see in the diagram below, these ukulele chords are simplified versions of guitar chords because there are two fewer strings to work with.
If you’re interested in learning more, why not take a look at our range of ukulele books? Need a ukulele, a new set of strings, a strap or a bag, you can find our entire range of ukulele products here.
Below, you’ll find an example of just what you can do on a ukulele after a decent amount of practice.
Which songs are you going to play on your ukulele? Do you have any tips for other guitarists who want to play ukulele?
» 4 Differences Between Ukulele & Guitar
» Buyer’s Guide – Ukuleles
» How to Hold Each Size of Ukulele
» 5 tips to improve your tone on the ukulele
» Ukulele Strings that Are Right for You
» Ukulele Rhythms: Learn Them Here!
» How to Tune Up & Play a Guitarlele
» Help! What Size Ukulele Should I Buy?
» Learn to Play Ukulele in 3 Easy Steps!
» How to Tune Your Ukulele
» The Difference Between the Ukulele, Mandolin, and Banjo