How to Play Unisons On The ʻUkulele

Unisons on the ʻukulele are a great way to fill out the sound of a note and give it more sustain. A unison is two notes of the same octave played together at the same time. They don’t have any sort of weird or special sound, but they pack a punch that helps emphasize certain notes. The work required to reach most of the unisons on the ʻukulele makes you wonder whether it is even worth it. It’s up to you, but the search for tone will go on…

The easiest way to play a unison is to use open strings. Just like you were tuning you ʻukulele relative to itself, you play the 5th fret on the E string along with open A to get an A unison. The 4th fret on the C string along with open E to get an E unison, and with a low G, the 5th fret on the G string to go with open C – C unison. Or with a high G, you can get a G unison by playing the top string along with the 3rd fret, E string. Here they are in tab:

A |-0-|---|---|---|
E |-5-|-0-|---|-3-|
C |---|-4-|-0-|---|
G |---|---|-5-|-0-|

These are easy, but to get to the rest of the notes, you need to do some stretching.

You can move these shapes around to get different unisons. The last two are for either high or low G:

A |-3-|---|------------|-----------3-|
E |-8-|-3-|------------|-------------|
C |---|-7-|-Low-G----4-|-High-g------|
G |---|---|----------9-|-----------5-|

There are a couple articulations that I like to use with unisons: slides, hammer ons, and bends.

Slides and hammer ons work best with open string unisons because with the closed positions, your fingers are already stretched pretty far, leaving little room for moving.

A |--0-|---0-|
E |-/5-|-3h5-|
C |----|-----|
G |----|-----|

Bends are a little easier with closed positions because you are actually lowering the number of frets that you have to stretch.

A |-5----|
E |-9b10-|
C |------|
G |------|

Learn more! Play Better!

Check out my ebooks on chords and technique! Learn essential tricks and how to play more confidently with some of the very best uke resources available.

Browse my ebooks!

Brad Bordessa
brad bordessa smiling holding ukulele

I’m an ‘ukulele artist from Honokaʻa, Hawaiʻi, where I run this site from a little plantation house in the jungle. I’ve taught workshops internationally, made Herb Ohta Jr. laugh until he cried, and once jammed with HAPA onstage in my boardshorts. More about me