Saturday, March 16, 2013

5 ukulele chords for a beginner to learn

This will be a two part-er specifically geared at all you beginners that are just picking up the ukulele.  In this first part, we'll cover 5 basic chords that I consider to be the most vital "first" chords to learn. Here's part two where we cover 5 beginner songs that use these 5 chords.

I sometimes contemplate what I would do differently if I had a Delorean and I could travel back in time to when I first started playing the ukulele....of course, I would also need a flux capacitor, but anyway....

One of things that I keep coming back to is what chords I would have chosen to learn at the beginning of my ukulele journey.  As I thought about this, I narrowed it down to 5 chords that I believe are most important and essential for a beginner to build around.  It's my hope that these 5 basic chords will be a good foundation
for you to build upon.

Tuning: GCEA
Before we get into specific chords, I guess it's probably best to tell you what notes we're tuning to.  We'll be using standard re-entrant tuning.

The "C" chord

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The C chord is one of the easier chords to play on the ukulele due to standard ukulele tuning.  If you were to strum the uke with all strings open (no fingers on any frets), it would produce a C6 chord.  The C chord is not all that much more difficult.  Leave the first three strings open and press down the 3rd fret of the A string with your ring finger, as per the illustration on the left.

Remember that our tuning was GCEA, right?  By fretting the 3rd fret of the A string, you are now changing the notes to GCEC.

The "Am" chord

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The lower case "m" stands for "minor".  Basically, a minor chord consists of a root (in this case A), a flatted third (in this case C), and a perfect fifth (here an E).  This differs from a major chord which has a root, a major third, and a perfect fifth.  The difference between an A major and an A minor lies within the third of the chord.

This is another one of the easier uke chords to play.  Place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the G string and leave the rest of the strings open.

The "F" chord

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The F chord is another major chord.  A bit more challenging than these previous two chords since we are adding an extra finger on the fretboard.  Are you intimidated?  I didn't think so!

We are basically just adding an extra finger to that Am chord that we just formed.  To form the F chord, place your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the G string and your index finger on the 1st fret of the E string.  Leave the other two strings open.

The "G" chord

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Now we're starting to get somewhere!  These last two chords require you to fret with three fingers, but I'm sure that you're up for the challenge.

To form the G major chord to the left, place your index finger on the 2nd fret of the C string, your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the A string, and your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the E string.

The notes that you are forming are GDGB.  Trivia time!  Which one of these notes is the root of the chord?  If you said "G", you are correct!  Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!  The major 3rd of this chord is B, and the perfect fifth is D.

The "G7" chord

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The last chord that we'll look at here is the G7 chord.  To play this chord, place your index finger on the 1st fret of the E string, your middle finger on the 2nd fret of the C string, and your ring finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.

You probably noticed that this chord is very similar to the G major chord that we just learned.  The finger placement is a little different and we are playing one note in the chord different.  Instead of playing GDGB, we are playing GDFB. The extra note (F) is the seventh of G, which is what makes this a seventh chord.

 I certainly hoped that these basic chords will be good building blocks for you as you start down the musical path of the ukulele.  At first, you'll have trouble forming the chords, but don't worry.  Muscle memory will kick in and pretty soon, you'll have no trouble forming them.  Just keep at it!

Check out the next post here where we cover 5 songs that use these 5 basic chords!

1 comment:

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