Ukulele Slash Chords: How to Play Slash Chords

Slash chords can be confusing, because on top of the hundreds of normal chords to be learned, add a slash and you have a whole new meaning.

A slash chord is written like this: C/B, G7/A, etc…

What a slash chord is, is a normal chord voicing (before the slash) with an added bass note (after the slash). The bass note is supposed to be the lowest note played. With the limited number of strings on an ‘ukulele, adding a note on the lowest string can change the whole makeup of the chord. You will have to move the location of the notes around until you can have the bass note and the main chord in a usable fingering. It gets tricky to do slash chords right if you play with a high G string. So for this lesson I’ll write for a low G.

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A lot of times a slash chord makes things look simple, but as you try and figure out the bass note you realize that it is really another way of writing this chord, or that chord.

For example, a slash chord would be something like: C/B. So put B on the G string – there is your bass note. But by doing that you take away the G note from the C triad, so move it to the E string, 3rd fret. Now you have eliminated the E note from the triad, so move it to the C string, 4th fret. Now you have the C triad notes plus the bass note. 4433 – this is a Cmaj7 chord. So C/B is just a hard way to write Cmaj7.

Here is another example: Em/C. Because there are already two Gs in an open Em chord, the open G string can be used for the bass note very easily. Add the C note on the 5th fret of the top string – it’s still the lowest note – guess what! It’s Cmaj7 again – 5432.

G7/A is a harder one because a 7th chord already uses up all of the ‘ukulele’s strings to hold the 4 notes. So if we add a an extra note to the mix we will need 5 strings to house all of the notes. The ‘ukulele does not have a fifth string to give, so to fit the bass note one of the G7 notes needs to go. Usually you can get away with removing the root note from a big chord, so I would take away the open G and replace it with the A bass. This is a G9 chord. G9 is an extension of G7 – if you had the room you would just add the 9th (2) note of the scale to G7. It adds more color.

So you’ve probably noticed by now that slash chords are kind of pointless (at least for the ‘ukulele). I find that they are, but as long as they are found in sheet music we will have to know how to decipher them.

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