Chord Charts, Theory, and Resources

As you learn songs on the ‘ukulele with new chords, you will gradually need to expand your chord knowledge to keep up. While it doesn’t need to happen all at once, any chord or shape you memorize can be used at a later date. This is infinitely helpful when you are playing along at a jam to songs you don’t know. If you know your chords you can follow. The more chords you know, the more complex songs you can play.

What you’ll find here are ‘ukulele chord charts and resources that span easy open position chords to advanced jazz voicings.


‘Ukulele Chord Shapes E-Book:

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In 2014 I sat down to write a chord book – the kind I had always hoped to read. This book came to fruition as ‘Ukulele Chord Shapes.

Everything I know is in it, including:

  • 115 chord shapes.
  • How to move them into 12 keys. (1,380 chords total!)
  • 30 chord types that will cover 99.9% of musical situations.
  • Detailed sections on theory, inversions, slash chords, and much more.
  • 54 full-color pages.
  • Only $10

‘Ukulele Chord Charts:

If the ebook isn’t you cup of tea, well what can I say? It’s not for everybody. Here are static charts for many of the more common chord types:

Other Chord Charts:

Chord Articles:

Constructing Chords
How a chord is created from a scale and a formula.
Diminished and Augmented chords
The funny sounding crew. Hard to use, but their shapes repeat so memorizing them is easy.
Jazzy Intros And Outros
How to add some smooth changes to the beginning of a song.
Hawaiian Vamp Chords
Also known as a “turnaround,” the Hawaiian vamp is the glue that holds traditional Hawaiian songs together.
Mandolin-Style “Open” Chords
Using open strings to create widely voiced chord leads to some great-sounding chords.
Power Chords
With only a 1 and a 5 you can blast yourself through some rockin’ tunes.
Resolving 7th chords
How to use a 7th push to lead your ear to the next chord.
Slash Chords
Easy for piano, hard for ‘ukulele. Here are some tips to defeat the mystery of the slash chord.
Transposing
Not everybody sings easily in the same keys. That’s why you transpose the chords to match.

How to Read a Chord Diagram Box:

Chord diagrams are handy and probably the easiest way to show finger positions on the fretboard. This is due to the fact that a chord box looks just like the fretboard and has dots on the frets where your fingers should go. It’s very intuitive.

A chord diagram is made up of a grid. Four vertical lines represent the 4 strings of an ‘ukulele. On the left side is the G string. C and E follow, and on the right side is the A string.

Completing the grid are the horizontal fret lines, starting at the nut and making their way up the neck at even intervals as far as you need them two, though five lines is the most common.

Finger Dots are the last component of a chord diagram. These are round, usually black, dots that go on the string line and in between two fret lines. Each dot shows where you put your fingers. Sometimes the finger dots have numbers in the middle. These are guidelines as to what finger to place where (1=index, 2=middle, etc…). There are instances where a barre across several strings is necessary. This is shown with either multiple dots across one string (in which case you have to determine if you need to barre), or as several dots bound together to visually form a bar.

At the very top of the box is the chord name. This tells you what chord the box shows.

Sometimes, if the diagram is showing a section of the neck where the nut is not the lowest fret line, a number is shown to the left or right of the chord to tell you which fret to start the shape from.

chordboxbreakdown

The Grip Method:

The above chord diagrams are awesome for learning chords, but are not very practical when you are trying to explain something in a plain text format (song sheet, forum post, etc…). Sometimes you will see a dedicated person take the time to format a chord like this:

_ _ _ _
| o | |
o | | |
| | | |
| | | |

But it would be easier to just notate it like:

2100

Each number space indicates a string. On the left is G, on the right is A.

GCEA
2100

Each number itself shows what fret to play (0 = open string). So for this example you would play the G string, 2nd fret, the C string, 1st fret, and leave E and A ringing open. The best example of this format I can think of would be GX9901’s explanation of “Trapped” by Jake Shimabukuro.

Other ‘Ukulele Chord Resources:

As far as I know, the ebook I put together (‘Ukulele Chord Shapes) is the most extensive ‘ukulele chord book around. That said, its method has a bit of a learning curve and might fly over the head of a beginning player. If you are in the market for a book that shows single-use chords, my favorite is Roy Sakuma’s Treasury of ‘Ukulele Chords. A chord book of some type is really good to have!

Blank Chord Charts:

Blank ‘Ukulele Chord Chart (12 wide – small)

Blank Chord Chart (8 wide)

Blank Chord Chart (12 wide – landscape)

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Ukulele Chord Shapes Ebook