ʻUkulele tabs are a study in simplicity. With just fours lines and some numbers, anybody – regardless of musical knowledge – can make sense of uke tablature.
A huge advantage that tablature has over standard music notation is that there is very little learning curve. The hardest part of understanding ʻukulele tabs usually has to do with orientation.
Tab Reading Crash Course
To quickly get started, the main thing you need to know is that the top horizontal line of a tab represents the A-string and the bottom line represents the G-string. The C and E-strings sit between.
Numbers placed on those lines show which fret to press down and are read left to right. (“0” means open string.)
Anytime you see numbers stacked vertically you should play them simultaneously as a chord.
For much more, check out this guide to reading tab for better understanding the lines, numbers, and symbols.
In each section, the tablature for a song is color-coded by difficulty:
ʻUkulele tabs marked with “lead sheet” are Guitar Pro transcriptions of the melody, words (if applicable), and chords.
Tunes marked with “solo arrangement” include the melody interlaced with the chords, intended to be played by a single player and imply harmony and lead simultaneously.
These are my own interpretations, not necessarily a transcription of a specific performance. I try to keep them as simple as possible because I feel that it’s easier to add your own flavor than to sift through someone else’s style.
“Note-for-note transcriptions” are ʻukulele tabs of a specific recording and transcribed as accurately as possible.
Rock/Pop ʻUkulele Tabs:
These songs can often be found elsewhere, transcribed for guitar, but not necessarily arranged or tabbed for ʻukulele. My uke-specific interpretations follow.
The songs found here mostly feature ʻukulele as the lead instrument. As such, most tunes are from Hawaiʻi-based artists I grew up listening to and emulating.
To me, these are Hawaiian ʻukulele “standards,” if not by song then by style. If you want to study the Hawaiian sound, this is the section for you.
General purpose Hawaiian songs with lyrics are filed here.
Reggae ʻUkulele Tabs:
Ken Middleton is as effective an arranger as anybody and has a collection of free bluegrass and Celtic style tabs available. He’s also published a few eBooks of transcriptions.
- † – Tab by Herb Ohta Jr.
- †† – Tab by Jeromy Renynolds
- ‡ – Tab by Glenn Reither
These ʻukulele tabs are in PDF format created with Guitar Pro, Powertab, or good ol’ Microsoft Word.
Where to Find More Free ʻUkulele Tabs
There are lots of user-sourced tab sites that get a ton of traffic, such as the massive ukulele-tabs.com and even massive-er ultimate-guitar.com. While you can find most any song, be aware that the quality of these tabs vary with the skill of the transcriber.
That said, there are lots of really great sources of free ʻukulele tabs out there! My favorites for top-notch transcriptions are:
- Dominator’s Ukulele Tabs – Dom was one of the first guys posting note-for-note transcriptions online. Some of his stuff is VERY advanced if you need a challenge. Mostly Hawaiian and popular songs.
- Ukeeducation.org – A large collection of simple chord melodies.
- Ukulele Hunt – Al Wood does a good job covering riffs and intros/outros for a lot of pop/punk/rock songs. They usually include video examples/tutorials.
Other Tab Articles/Resources
Here are some links to information regarding how to read tab and other related articles.
Converting guitar and high/low-G tabs to the tuning you play in – How to shift the numbers around so you can play a tab that isn’t necessarily meant for your tuning.
How to Figure Out Songs – Being able to ear out a song is a very valuable skill. Here are some tips for DIY songs.
How to Read ʻUkulele Tabs – ʻUkulele tabs aren’t hard to figure out, but you need to know what you’re looking at to make sense of them.
Short ʻukulele tab snippets, Intros, Ideas – Excerpts from songs that aren’t complete, but worth sharing.
Blank Tab Sheets
Create your own ʻukulele tabs! Quickly notate the notes to a song, picking part, chord sequence, arpeggio, scale, etc…
Use the standard notation version for relating notes on the fretboard to their pitches as they appear on the staff. Great for notating fingers on tab and note duration on the staff.