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 Book
While the free content here will, no doubt give you a jump start, my flagship work here on Live ‘Ukulele comes in the form of my comprehensive book on chords: ‘Ukulele Chord Shapes. It covers everything you need to know (and probably everything you will ever want to know) about how ‘ukulele chords work, how to use them, and how to understand shapes for easier chord memorization.
‘Ukulele Chord Charts:
If the book 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:
- 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
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.
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:
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:
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: