Cathys Chords for Uke

Subtitle

Cathy's Chords for Ukulele

This site was created as an addition to my main CathysChords.com site, in order to help with some of the increased traffic, when the main site was having problems. The material here is all on the main site, just copied here. 


** PLEASE NOTE: This page is no longer updated; for latest songs etc., visit my main site, cathyschords.com

the ukulele pages are:


UKULELE SONGS (general info, songs in level order ) and 

LIST OF UKULELE SONGS (in alphabetical order)

 

Beginner Ukulele chords

As with the guitar, ukulele can be easy to start with, but of course you can take it as far as you like. Check out some of the virtuoso players on YouTube.

However, I'm starting off with the very basics: simple chord formations and strumming.


Beginner Ukulele Chord Chart - click on this link for a chart of basic chords for the Key of C and Key of G.

These are easy chord formations for beginner playing*  You may notice they are the same as the top (thinnest) 4 strings on a guitar, but in a different key.

You may want to vary the chord formations for other songs or for more advanced playing; there are several sites on the Internet with ukulele chord charts.

You can use whatever fingers are comfortable to press the strings down. Try to keep enough pressure so the strings have a clear, ringing sound when played.


 Parts of the ukulele; making chords:

Chord diagrams-

this is the way the chords are written out: the name of the chord is at the top.  The diagram shows the nut across  the top, the strings going down and the frets going across. The white dots are where you put your fingers (see photo at right). 

Press your fingers down just behind the frets. Try to keep your fingers as upright as possible so that you're not muffling the other strings (bring your wrist forward a little if you need to).


Ukulele Main Chords Table 

Here is a handy chart I've made with the 4 main chords in each key (Tonic, Sub-Dominant, Dominant 7th and Relative Minor). These are the chords mainly used in simple melodies. There are other chord charts available on the Internet for extra chords, but I wanted to have all the main chords, on one page, arranged in their keys. Click on the title or the picture to open the PDF chart; you can then save it to your computer or print it if you like.

The Main Chords Table is laid out in a pattern so that each key is next to its neighbour on the Circle of Fifths... you can see the pattern if you look at it, and this will help if you want to change a song to a different key (and also to work out which keys have easier chords to play on uke!).


Tuning: Note that the strings on a ukulele with standard tuning are tuned to G, C, E, A (from the top as you are holding it), so the  G string is higher in pitch than the next 2 strings. If you don't have a tuner/piano etc to tune with, you can find a free online tuner at get-tuned.com, HERE (you need to click on each note, listen to the sound and then tune your string to the same sound). 

You can also download a free audio tuner that uses a microphone from supernifty.com.au, HEREYou can install this on your computer, iphone etc. You need to select your instrument and tuning type (e.g.ukulele standard), then the string. It's very effective and useful (just note that it's difficult to get a string to vibrate to an exact frequency, but try to get it in the "green" zone).

I bought a cheap clip-on "Eno" tuner online for around $10, and it seems to work fine. It can be changed to work with different instruments, and it even has a built-in metronome if you want to practise sticking to a regular beat.

Practise a little, frequently, so

a) your fingers don’t get cramped

b) you build up your muscle memory and

c) you develop some hardness in your fingertips!

Strumming: 

You can just strum with your right hand; use your thumb and/or fingers to get an even up-down rhythm.

Think about the rhythm of the song- is it a 3/4 (waltz) time or a 4/4 time? Strike the first beat, downwards, a little stronger on each bar: “ONE 2, 3, ONE 2, 3” etc for 3/4 time or “ONE,2,3,4, ONE,2,3,4” etc if the song is in 4/4 rhythm. (Listen to the song in a recording, or sing a bit of the melody, to hear the timing).

Up-strokes: In between the down-strokes, you can flick the strings lightly upwards with your thumb or fingers, e.g. strum "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and", where the 1,2,3,4 beats are down-strokes and the "and" beats are up-strokes. Don't stress too much about the rhythm; try to keep it nice and natural, with a loose wrist. It will become easier when you've been playing for a while.

Ukulele for Kids

Ukulele is an ideal instrument for children's little hands. They need to be old enough to be able to press the strings down on the fingerboard,and to remember the tunes and chord formations, but you can teach them an easy song or two and they will have lots of fun.

You can buy cheap ukuleles for under $30 (but make sure that you can tune them and don't expect them to sound brilliant). Even a toddler will enjoy just strumming; when I ran a creche group, the littlies just loved "playing" my small guitar - and a uke is a perfect size for them.

(* Note- these chord patterns are for right-handed playing, i.e. strumming with the right hand, making the chord forms with the left hand on the fingerboard. If you need to play left-handed, you would need to reverse the strings on the ukulele and “mirror” the chord formations).


LIST of EASY UKULELE SONGS  -  see next page >
The songs are organised in levels, equating to my original "guitar course" levels.