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Ukulele Chords: Learn To Play Chord Changes

May 26, 2008
Ukulele is a great instrument to use when you play chords to songs. Your chord playing on your ukulele can be more effective if you apply a few guitar playing principles. In this ukulele lesson you will find out how you can change between chords better and easier!

First a few easy to follow principles as you play any chord:

1. Fingerings. The left hand fingers you use as you play chords can make chord changes easier or harder.

2. Minimize finger movements. Try to take the shortest distance between two frets if you have to move a finger to change chords.

3. Keep fingers down on frets that are shared between two chords.

Let us take a closer look at these principles:


As an example of the first principle we will take a look at two common ukulele chords. We will use the common C-tuning. In this tuning the C-major chord will look like this:

C-major: 04 03 02 31

The number pairs tell you how to put your fingers to play the chord. The first number in the pair tells you which fret to press down and the next number which string to play. The number 0 means that you will not press down any fret. For example 04 means play the fourth open string. The number pair 31 tells you to press down the third fret on the first string.

The strings are numbered from the string with the highest pitch. This string is called the first string and is the bottom string when you play your ukulele.

In the C-major chord written out above you can see that there is only one fret to press down. This makes for many fingering alternatives. The easiest way to finger this C-chord is of course to use your index finger. But let us look at the next chord to play, G7, to see if there is another way to finger the C-chord. Here is the G7 chord:

G7: 04 23 12 21

The most common fingering for this chord is using the ring finger for the first string, the index finger for the second string and the middle finger for the third string. Try it out and see if it is this way you have played it.

A common chord progression is to move from C-major to G7. In order to make this chord change as smooth as possible I suggest that you use your ring finger to play the third fret on the first string in the C-major chord. When you move to G7 you simply slide your ring finger to the second fret and add the remaining two fingers and you have the G7 chord.

If you are going from G7 to C you only have to reverse the procedure.

Minimize finger movements

As an example of this principle we will use the chords A-minor and and F-major. Here you have these chords written out:

A-minor: 24 03 02 01

F-minor: 24 03 12 01

Suppose you have to move from Am to F. As you can see there is only one change to make between Am and F. The only thing to do is to put your index finger on the first fret on the second string and you will have the F chord. To make this chord change as smooth as possible you can keep your index finger as close as possible to this fret even when you play Am. This principle applies to other chord changes as well.

Keep fingers down on frets that are shared

In order to illustrate this principle we will use the chords F-major and G7. I have already showed the chords above so I just have to describe how to move your fingers. If you take a look at the two chords you will find that the first fret second string is shared by both chords. This fret is pressed down with your index finger.

As you move from F to G7 you only have to move your middle finger from fret two on the fourth string to fret two on the third string and press down fret two on string one with your ring finger and you are done!

Using the chords and principles we have already discussed you can practice the following sequence that is very common in many songs:

C Am F G7 C Am ...and so on.

How to practice

The best way to practice chord changes in a song is to take two consecutive chords and practice them by strumming once on every chord as you move between them. Slowly at first, making it possible to apply the principles we have discussed. In a short time you will find that you automatically will use the right fingerings, minimize finger movements and you will also find that your playing will be more effective and enjoyable!
About the Author
Peter Edvinsson invites you to download your free ukulele tabs and ukulele lessons at http://www.capotastomusic.com
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