How to Play Guitar Chords on the Ukulele

Be mindful when transcribing a guitar tab into an appropriate ukulele chord; any notes which repeat themselves should be deleted to free up one or more strings for strumming.

Ukulele fretboards are smaller, so finger placement will vary somewhat from what is expected for playing guitars. But over time, your fingers will adapt and recognize these shapes without needing a chart as often.

F Major

Beginners often start with F major chords as a starting point. While more difficult than its C major counterpart, you must bar all six strings with your index finger, yet the sound produced from it is incredible. To reduce wrist strain try this higher voicing (figure 4), which mutes E strings while leaving G string open so you can strum freely.

Chords fall into various families that each share certain relationships between themselves; major chords tend to sound happy and bright while minor chords have more of an ominous sound. You can transpose any chord played on the guitar to the ukulele using this principle; all it requires is learning the different ukulele chord shapes from those found on guitar and altering your finger positioning accordingly.

A Major

At first, using just one major chord shape may suffice in most simple chord progressions; however, adding additional shapes can add considerable variation and depth to your chords, since different voicings exist for every chord.

Starting off right is A Major, an accessible major chord to learn quickly and familiar. To play it, place your index finger on the fifth fret of A string to form its bar; leave all other strings open for playing this chord.

Note the thicker top horizontal line with double lines at its edges; this indicates that ukulele tuning differs by one fifth compared to guitar tuning, making a D chord at seventh fret position sound like G chord on ukulele.

C Major

Once you learn to place your fingers correctly on the fretboard, this chord becomes quite straightforward to play. Be sure to use only the tips of your fingers and avoid their pads! Also ensure your middle finger has a rounded tip rather than being flat as this will ensure clean chord sounding notes.

Practice until your fingers “remember” the shape and can strum without constantly looking back to a chord chart for guidance. This will save both time and increase accuracy.

Keep in mind that ukulele chords are three notes lower than their guitar equivalents, so if you see a D chord on guitar sheet music, play a G chord instead on your ukulele to remain in the same key.

G Major

G Major chord is one of the first chords beginners attempt to master, yet can seem challenging due to needing two fingers across the fretboard at once. Luckily, there are multiple ways you can strum this chord; try open G shape or one that uses four fingers.

Typically, chord shapes used to form chords on guitar can also be created using ukulele; however, when changing keys of songs some chords must be transposed for your singing voice to fit them properly; for instance an A-shaped chord on guitar becomes D-shaped when playing it on ukulele and vice versa – simply move up or down one fourth note to accommodate your singing voice!

D Major

One of the easiest ukulele chords, this basic major chord requires only three fingers to play correctly; however, getting all notes to sound can be challenging. A rounded middle finger and playing on its tip could prove useful.

To play a G chord at fret 2 using three fingers: your first on G string fret 2, second finger on high E string fret 2, third finger on B string fret 3, to form a triangle shape. It is easy to fret but more challenging to strum as you must avoid low E and A strings; for better leverage lower your left-hand thumb slightly when strumming this chord.