‘Ukulele Tabs: Fingerpicking Tablature

‘Ukulele 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 ‘ukulele tabs usually has to do with orientation.

If you’re new to reading tablature, check out this guide to reading tab and understanding the lines, numbers, and symbols.

To quickly get started, the main thing you need to know is that the top 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.)

how to read ukulele tab infographic

Anytime you see stacked numbers you should play them simultaneously as a chord.

In each section, the tablature for a song is color-coded by difficulty:

Easy
These tabs have basic single note melodies, sometimes interspersed with simple chords.
Intermediate
Middle of the road ‘ukulele tabs with more intricate lines, double stops, and techniques.
Hard
Difficult melodies, complex chord integration, note-for-note transcriptions, and subtlety.

Rock/Pop ‘Ukulele Tabs:

21 Guns
Green Day
China Grove
The Doobie Brothers (Low G)
El Condor Pasa
Simon and Garfunkel
Europa
Carlos Santana
Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue
The California Ramblers (Solo Arr.)
Mack The Knife
Bobby Darin
Moondance
Van Morrison††
Puff The Magic Dragon
Peter, Paul, and Mary
Samba Pa Ti
Carlos Santana
Stairway to Heaven
Led Zeppelin (low G)
Tennessee Waltz
Bonnie Raitt and Norah Jones
Victory
Eric Johnson (low G)

‘Ukulele/Hawaiian Instrumentals:

Beachwalk
Herb Ohta Jr.
Body Surfing
Ohta-San
Glass Ball Slack Key
Brittni Paiva/Herb Ohta Jr.
Hawai’i
Ohta-San‡
Little Rock Getaway
Da ‘Ukulele Boyz
Memories of You
Herb Ohta Jr.†
Pahala We Go
Herb Ohta Jr. & Daniel Ho
Sand Castles
Herb Ohta Jr.
Song For Shelly
Brad Bordessa
Together
Herb Ohta Jr.
Ukulele Boogie
Brittni Paiva

Hawaiian:

Aloha ‘Oe
Queen Lili’uokalani
‘Ama ‘ama
Isreal Kamakawiwo’ole (Instrumental version)
E Ku’u Morning Dew
Eddie Kamae (Low G)
Island Style
John Cruz
Lovely Hula Hands
Troy Fernandez
Pandanus
The Peter Moon Band

Jazz/Bossa:

All of Me
Frank Sinatra/Ella Fitzgerald (Solo Arr.)
Misty
Erroll Garner (Solo Arr.)
Wave
Antonio Carlos Jobim

Reggae ‘Ukulele Tabs:

One Love
Bob Marley

Soundtrack/Themes:

Cavatina
(low G version) | Stanley Myers‡
Jeopardy
Merv Griffin
M*A*S*H Theme
Johnny Mandel

Folk/World:

Csardas
Brittni Paiva
The Leaving of Liverpool
Traditional (Solo Arr.)
Nancy Spain
Barney Rush (Solo Arr.)
Rose of Allandale
Mary Black (Solo Arr. – low G)
Streets of London
Ralph McTell (Solo Arr.)
Since so many of the folk songs people make ‘ukulele tabs for are in the public domain, it’s pretty easy to find high quality, professional transcriptions. (Other genres are always at risk of being taken down on copyright grounds.)

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.

Classical:

Canon (in C & D)
Johann Pachelbel
PDF Minstrel provides a selection of great classical ‘ukulele tabs.

Traditional:

Christmas:

Mele Kalikimaka
Bing Crosby/Don Ho/Blue Hawaiians/etc…

Credits:

  • – Tab by Herb Ohta Jr.
  • †† – Tab by Jeromy Renynolds
  • – Tab by Glenn Reither

These ‘ukulele tabs are in PDF format created with Guitar Pro, Powertab, or good ol’ Microsoft Word.

Where to Find More Free ‘Ukulele Tabs

There are lots of user-sourced tab sites that get a ton of traffic these days. “Amateur” tabs are how I got started (back when that’s ALL you could find) so I hate to knock them, but be aware that their quality can vary dramatically. If something just doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t. Move on to the next thing.

That said, there are lots of really great sources of free ‘ukulele tabs out there! My favorites 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.
  • 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 Tab – ‘Ukulele tabs aren’t hard to figure out, but you need to know what you’re looking at to make sense of them.

How to Read Tablature – Quick Start Guide – A single-page PDF containing everything you need to know to get started reading tabs.

How to Use Powertab – A walkthrough of manipulating this old open-source tab program to work for ‘ukulele.

Tab Legend – A PDF of common symbols seen in tabs from hammer-ons to trills to bends.

Short ‘ukulele tab snippets, Intros, Ideas – Excerpts from songs that aren’t complete, but worth sharing.

Blank Tab Sheets

Create your own ‘ukulele 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.

Blank Tablature

Blank Tablature and Standard Notation

By Brad Bordessa

brad bordessa avatar

I’m an ‘ukulele artist from Honoka’a, Hawai’i, 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 borrowed a uke to jam with HAPA onstage in my boardshorts. More about me