Learning ‘ukulele chords is most easily done with ‘ukulele chord charts. This vital part to becoming a good ‘ukulele player can be a challenge sometimes because material is hard to find. Here are some resources for learning new and/or unique chords.
Learn the location of the root note in each chord shape and use it to find the chord in all 12 keys. This e-book contains shape diagrams for 25 chord types, each with at least four voicings. This is a quick way to learn chords and become familiar with fretboard relationships.
Buy ‘Ukulele Chord Shapes on Lulu.com in PDF format for $4.
‘Ukulele Chord Charts:
- Major 6th
- Major 7th
- Minor 6th
- Minor 7th
- Minor 7-5
- Dominant 7th
- Dominant 9th
- Suspended 7th
Other Chord Charts:
- Basic Chord Chart - Major, Minor, 7th chords
- C major, minor, and 7th substitution chords
- Hawaiian Vamp Chords – Matrix
- How to Play Major Chords in Pictures, Tab, and Box diagrams
- How to Play Minor Chords in Pictures, Tab, and Box diagrams
- How to Play 7th Chords in Pictures, Tab, and Box diagrams
If you are a lefty, here is a basic chord chart: Lefty Chord Chart
- Constructing Chords
- Diminished and Augmented chords
- Hawaiian style jazzy chord intros and outros
- Hawaiian Vamp Chords
- Mandolin-Style “Open” Chords
- Power Chords
- Resolving 7th chords
- Slash Chords
How to Read Chord Charts:
‘Ukulele Chord Diagram/Chord 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. At the very top is the chord name. This tells you what chord the box shows. Below the name is the first horizontal line followed by several more at even intervals. These are the “frets”, and the top line usually designates the nut of the ‘ukulele*. The spaces in between these frets are where finger dots are placed – just like how you would fret a note. The 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. The last part of a chord diagram is finger dots. These are round, usually black, dots that go on the string line and in between two fret lines. If you can imagine this, the finger dots show where you put your fingers (wow!). 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 bar), or as several dots bound together to form a bar.
- * – The exception to this rule is when a number floats off to the left side of the first fret. This number is usually shown as a Roman numeral and indicates that the first “fret” of the chord box should be slid up to match whatever fret the number shows. So if there is a IIX to the left of the first fret, you would start the shape on the 8th fret. If there is no number, then the top horizontal line represents the nut (sometimes this is stronger than the fret lines).
Number Format – 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:
Each number space indicates a string. On the left is G, on the right is A.
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
It is great to have a extensive book of ukulele chord charts lying around so that next time you need to find a new voicing, you have a place to look. This is the one I use. It’s by no means got every chord in it, but by the time you learn all of these you will be ready to build chords yourself.
Roy Sakuma’s Treasury of Ukulele Chords shows four voicings on all of the ‘ukulele chord charts: Major, Minor, 7th, min7th, 6th, Maj7th, min6th, 9th, sus7th, min7-9, 7b9, 6/9, 7+5, 7-5, dim7th, Aug, Maj 9th, sus, 7+9, 13th, 13b9, and add9.
Here are some web sites that you can find ‘ukulele chord charts and help info on:
Chord Ear Trainer – Learn to identify the sounds of each type of chord
Train Horn Chords – good chords to know in case you are ever asked to play Ka’a Ahi Kahului – or some other train song – with someone. No ‘ukulele chord charts, but interesting anyways.