Easy ‘Ukulele Songs: Chords to 30 Beginner Songs

soprano ukulele sketchPerfecting your strumming and chording techniques require a sandbox of fun, easy music.

Which is why three or four chord easy ‘ukulele songs totally rock!

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Lots of people like to make lists and link to songs that are popular on the uke. But, of course, “popular” is not the same as “easy.”

Which is why most of these collections are not particularly useful and possibly frustrating. Some lists actually include quite difficult songs!

Since truly easy uke songs can be hard to find if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, I put together some favorites that I often teach my students.

What qualifies as an “easy” song, in my opinion?

  1. It has four or less chords in the whole piece.
  2. The chord shapes require no more than three fingers.
  3. The chords can be played by most beginners without too much struggle.

Easy Rock/Pop ‘Ukulele Songs

With popular music where it’s at today, it’s easier than ever for a beginner to strum recognizable songs on their ‘ukulele. Pick a favorite here and click through to the chords to get started.


All Along The Watchtower

By Bob Dylan/Hendrix

Chords: Am, G, F

Of all the easy songs I play on my ‘ukulele, All Along the Watchtower is one of my favorites. Its minor mood with the descending/ascending chord progression is a total win.

And since Bob and Jimi set the bar with their raspy and legendary “bad” voices, it’s a great tune to start singing on if you haven’t tried before.

All Along the Watchtower ‘ukulele chords


Counting Stars

By One Republic

Chords: Am, C, G, F

A modern classic of driving pop music, Counting Stars translates to ‘ukulele surprisingly well.

Because of the nature of its repeating chord pattern, be sure to vary your strumming styles between sections so the song has some give and take. Even a simple down, down strum works wonders here.

Counting Stars ‘ukulele chords


Down On The Corner

By Credence Clearwater Revival

Chords: C, F, G7

An oldie, but goodie about jamming music in the street by CCR. Learn to pick the intro guitar part in addition to strumming the chords.

Down On The Corner ‘ukulele chords


Happy

By Pharrell Williams

Chords: E7, C, Bm7

With easy, but interesting chords, Pharrell’s Happy is a great change-up if you’re getting tired of the same-ol’ C, F and G7. The positive message of the song can be boosted even further with inventive strumming. It’s a totally blank slate!

Happy ‘ukulele chords


I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

By U2

Chords: C, F, G

Still Haven’t Found is a total sleeper. Who would have thought that it is based on such easy chords? Because of The Edge’s tricky effected guitar work it sounds much more complex.

So get out a delay pedal and strum along!

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m looking For ‘ukulele chords


I Won’t Back Down

By Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Chords: Em, G, D, C

A study in chugging rock from the late Tom Petty, I Won’t Back Down has a fun push-pull rhythm that shortens the time spent strumming some chords and lengthens others.

With a steady downstrum and some nimble changes you’ll be rocking your uke like the Heartbreakers!

I Won’t Back Down ‘ukulele chords


Jambalaya

By Hank Williams

Chords: C, G7

One of the three easiest songs on this list, Jambalaya is the perfect first tune for a total newbie. It’s also a fabulous opportunity to make a local parody and change the lyrics to reflect your hometown (like this one about Big Island by my friend Konabob).

Jambalaya ‘ukulele chords


Leaving On A Jet Plane

By John Denver

Chords: C, F, G

I’m partial to Justin Young’s version (above), but the original follows the same chords and both get huge mileage from just three chords.

Leaving on a Jet Plane ‘ukulele chords


Love Me Do

By The Beatles

Chords: C, F, G7

This is the first Beatles song I ever remembering hearing. The sound that the fab four put together for this early hit still is so relevant.

And despite the brilliance, it’s easy to play on the ‘ukulele. Sometimes it’s harder to write a simple song!

Love Me Do ‘ukulele chords


Margaritaville

By Jimmy Buffett

Chords: D, A, G, D7

With visions of palm trees and margaritas, Jimmy Buffett has been able to lure Parrotheads around the world to his paradise-centric music since the late-60s. Join the everlasting beach party and learn to play Margaritaville on your uke!

Margaritaville ‘ukulele chords


Octopus’s Garden

By The Beatles

Chords: C, F, Am, G

One of Ringo’s finest moments with the Beatles, Octopus’s Garden is a fabulously fun and well-written song. It’s also a perfect ‘ukulele strum-along!

With minor sections and rhythmic breaks it’s fun to jam out on and create variations.

Octopus’s Garden ‘ukulele chords


Riptide

By Vance Joy

Chords: Am, G, C

One of the ‘ukulele’s most popular current songs, Riptide rocks a low baritone sound and a bordering-on-out-of-control strum to rock through bizarre lyrical scenes.

The chords are very easy, but the strum is a little tricky. Because I’m nice I included a detailed write up on it here:

Riptide ‘ukulele chords and strumming pattern


Whistle

By Flo Rida

Chords: Am, F, C, G

Here’s a club-banging tune with a repeating chord progression through the whole thing.

Whistle ‘ukulele chords


Easy Island Jams

“Island” music can be a lot of things, but to me, living in Hawai’i, it means contemporary local music that sits somewhere between traditional Hawaiian and either reggae or mainstream music.

These are awesome tunes for chilling out and jamming at mellow events where a little island flavor on the uke can make things a little more tropical.

Big Ship

By Brother Noland

Chords: F, Bb, C

This is one of the more difficult songs on this list because it contains the dreaded Bb. If it’s still too hard for you after some trial and error, you can always transpose F to C, Bb to F, and C to G for an easier variation in a different key.

Big Ship ‘ukulele chords


Cane Fire

By the Peter Moon Band

Chords: Am, G, F

Peter Moon’s legendary song about growing pakalolo in the cane fields is probably out of reach in picking department. But the chord structure is a piece of cake and the minor key is fun for jamming on and a great place to begin trying your own lead improvisations.

Cane Fire ‘ukulele chords


Country Road

By Paula Fuga and Jack Johnson

Chords: C, Dm, Am

A clever duet between Paula and Jack with a conscious message, Country Road isn’t very well known outside the islands, but it was a big deal here for a while.

Country Road ‘ukulele chords


Heartache

By One Groove

Chords: C, F, G

One of my favorite Jawaiian (Hawaiian reggae) songs of all time, One Groove keeps it simple with a repeating reggae chord pattern. For those who want more of a challenge, you can try picking the intro lead.

Heartache ‘ukulele chords


Island Style

By John Cruz

Chords: C, F, G7

In his anthem of life in Hawai’i, John Cruz captured a Hawaiian style feel while keeping the words contemporary.

This is usually the very first song I teach complete beginners. It’s just so easy and has a lot going for it. Little effort for a really fun sound with lyrics anybody can sing (even if you don’t know what “lomi salmon” is).

Island Style ‘ukulele chords


Ku’u Home O Kahalu’u

By Olomana

Chords: C, F, G7

This song is about the area of Kahalu’u on the island of O’ahu. It’s a very nostalgic song that all the old timers love.

With such easy chords the Hawaiian refrain is probably the most challenging part for most people!

Ku’u Home O Kahalu’u ‘ukulele chords


Shine On

By John Cruz

Chords: C, G7

The second Cruz song on the list also ties for the easiest song with Jambalaya – two chords!

Shine On ‘ukulele chords


Easy Reggae Songs

Reggae by default isn’t a super easy genre to play since it relies heavily on a syncopated skank strum. But some reggae style songs are just too good to pass up for an easy songs list.

One Day

By Matisyahu

Chords: C, G, Am, F

Certainly one of the most powerful songs on this list, One Day is more of a pop song than reggae, but Matisyahu IS modern reggae in my mind.

Take note of the progression. With these four chords in this order you can play LOTS of songs.

One Day ‘ukulele chords


One Love

By Bob Marley

Chords: C, F, G, Am

While the chords aren’t too hard, Bob’s tricky timing is a good challenge for those that want a little more.

One Love ‘ukulele chords


Traditional

These songs are a part of North American culture. They are some of the most well-known tunes to be found anywhere.

Amazing Grace

Chords: C, F, G7

THE beautiful gospel song.

Amazing Grace ‘ukulele chords


Happy Birthday

Chords: C, F, G7

If there’s one song that any musician in North America should know it’s Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday ‘ukulele chords


Easy Hawaiian Songs

These are songs in Hawaiian. If you can get a grasp on basic pronunciation, Hawaiian music is a beginning ‘ukulele player’s paradise.

There are many, many Hawaiian songs that follow the same exact chord progression (order).

E Huli Makou

By David Chung

Chords: F, G7, C7

A great simple ‘ukulele tune and also one of the easiest songs to learn to hula.

E Huli Makou ‘ukulele chords


E Ku’u Morning Dew

By Eddie Kamae

Chords: G, Am, D7

One of Hawai’i’s more popular love songs, E Ku’u Morning Dew follows a repeating pattern that stays consistent even as the melody changes.

E Ku’u Morning Dew ‘ukulele chords


Haleakala Hula

By Alice Namakelua

Chords: C, F, G7

A rousing song for Maui’s majestic mountain, easy chords can be made difficult by the speed!

Haleakala Hula ‘ukulele chords


I Kona

By James Kelepolo

Chords: C, G7

One last fabulously easy song with two chords that is more of a vocal showcase song. If you’re a comfortable singer, give the falsetto style a try!

I Kona ‘ukulele chords


Kaulana Na Pua

By Ellen Prendergast

Chords: C, F, G7

Kaulana Na Pua is a song of resistance and support for our late Queen, Lili’uokalani.

Kaulana Na Pua ‘ukulele chords


Koke’e

By Rev. Dennis Kamakahi

Chords: C, F, G7

A modern classic by the late Rev. Dennis Kamakahi about the Kalalau area on Kaua’i.

Koke’e ‘ukulele chords


Maori Brown Eyes

By Johnny Noble

Chords: C, F, G7, D7

A popular slack-key style instrumental, Maori Brown Eyes also has words about a lovely woman from Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Maori Brown Eyes ‘ukulele chords


A Tip on Learning New Songs:

Work on one aspect at a time. It really helps to break a song down by chords, strum, and vocals.

If you try and do everything at once you’re going to struggle. Get familiar with the chords first – look them up, write them down, learn to finger them. Then take a look at a simple strum without trying to hold chords. Then sing through the song without trying to play.

Once everything is easy separately, start adding pieces together – strum (muted) and sing or strum and hold chords. Then try and do it all at once. The idea is to get everything running on autopilot in one form or another. If you are trying to play it all at once with brute determination and thinking power, you might be able too, but it will feel way harder than it should.

More songs here.

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