How to play an e chord on the ukulele

There comes a point in a ukulele player’s journey where one must face head on, with courage and bravery, that dreaded and difficult-to-play E major chord on ukulele.

By learning the E chord on ukulele, you unlock a whole new world of playing songs on the ukulele with the most notable song using the E chord being Hey Soul Sister by Train.

Don’t worry because together in this lesson we look at three of the best ways to play the E major chord on ukulele. I provide you with three variations of E major and give you the pros and cons of each, so you can learn how to play the E chord and determine which one is easiest for you.

Watch the video and learn how to play E major on ukulele.

How to Play the E Major Chord on Ukulele: Variation #1

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

To play the E major chord on ukulele in this first variation, place the middle finger at the 4th fret of the top g-string, ring finger at the 4th fret of the C-string, and index finger at the 2nd fret of the bottom A-string. Let the E-string ring open.

How to Play the E Major Chord on Ukulele: Variation #2

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

To play the E major chord on ukulele in this second variation, perform a barre by pressing your index finger on the top g-string, C-string, and E-string on the 4th fret and place the little finger on the 7th fret of the bottom A-string.

How to Play the E Major Chord on Ukulele: Variation #3

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

To play the E major chord on ukulele in this third and most popular variation, perform a barre by pressing your index finger on all four strings on the 2nd fret and perform a barre by pressing your ring finger on the top g-string, C-string, and E-string on the 4th fret.

Be sure to watch the video to get tips for playing this tricky position.

How to Play the E Major Chord on Ukulele: Variation #4

This fourth variation of the E major chord is the same chord as Variation #3 but uses a different fretting hand position.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

To play the E major chord on ukulele in this fourth variation, place the middle finger at the 4th fret of the top g-string, ring finger at the 4th fret of the C-string, little finger at the 4th fret of the E-string, and index finger at the 2nd fret of the bottom A-string.

I recommend using this Variation #4 if you have small hands and fingers, but for those of us with larger hands and fingers (like myself), learning Variation #3 is better.

Was This Chord Too Hard to Learn?

The E major chord on ukulele is infamous for being the hardest chord to play on ukulele.

If you’re a beginner and this was too difficult, don’t be discouraged. I recommend starting with the free ukulele lesson book Your First Ukulele Lesson and Then Some where I teach you easy ukulele chords and how to apply those to strum and play actual songs.

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How to play an e chord on the ukulele

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The first four chords I learned were Am, C, G and F. After a while I also got the hang of Em, D, Dm, Bm, A, Cm and a few more. But learning the ukulele E chord was a nightmare. Nevertheless, I did it and you can do it too!

Once upon a time

The first chords I started with when I was in the early stages of learning the ukulele were Am, C, G and F. I could already play quite a lot of songs with just those four chords! And I stuck to playing those four for several weeks, until I could switch very quickly between them.

After a while, though, I went looking for other songs and steadily built up my personal database of chords I could play. These included: A, Am, Bm, C, Cm, Em, D, Dm, F, G and a few more. Whenever I saw a song with an E chord in it, I would skip it, but I couldn’t keep ignoring it forever. It really is a chord that you should learn at some point.

How did I learn the E chord on the ukulele?

Most of the times when you are looking up ukulele chords, you’ll see the ukulele E chord the way it’s shown below on the ukulele from UkuTabs Chord Library. This shape is the one most widely known and is generally taken as the standard shape for the E chord.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

However it is very difficult to play, especially for someone who is just starting out. You play it with your first finger on the second fret of the A string and then your other fingers on the fourth fret of the G C and E strings, or you barre the three strings with one finger (you can even use your thumb). Unless you have some guitar background, this is very difficult to get the hang of properly.

When you look at the E chord in the UkuTabs Chord Library, however, you will find another shape listed as first option. This is my favourite shape for the E chord and it’s the one I always use. It sounds very clear – there is no barring – and allows for quick changing between chords. It is the one shown on the left here (G string on the first fret, C string on the fourth fret, open E string, A string on the second fret – 1402).

Play the ukulele E chord as “4402”

Another way to play the E chord was recently sent in by Bill. He suggests playing it as “4402”: you can see the ukulele chord diagram below. This is basically an E5 chord and it won’t always fit the song you are playing, but you can always give it a try.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

It will take quite a lot of practice to master the ukulele E chord, but it will be very rewarding once you get there since it is quite a popular chord and used in tons of well-known songs. Another popular shape is 4447 — barre the fourth fret and use your pinkie to press the A string on the seventh fret.

Ukulele E chord learning tip

I suggest you that you pick one shape and play it for a few minutes everyday. After a few days, try switching to another chord and back to the E. If you are really (I mean really) struggling, you can try replacing the E chord with an Em or E7. I do not recommend it as it changes the tone of the song, but it can be helpful if you really want to play a certain song in the early stages.

Need more input?

Feel free to contact me whenever you need more information about playing the E chord on your ukulele properly. I wish you good luck! You can find ukulele songs with chord diagrams on UkuTabs to get you going.

Also interested to know how to put a strap on your ukulele without drilling? Or perhaps some information more about basic ukulele chords?

The e chord is every beginner ukulele player’s nemesis. Players will go to great lengths to avoid playing an E chord on ukulele. It’s not uncommon for people to play an E7 in it’s place or just to transpose a song completely. Check out my guide to helping you get to grips with the e chord…

Can’t I just permanently avoid playing an E chord?

In a word, no. Well technically you could but you shouldn’t. Why place that restriction on yourself? That’s like saying you’re only ever going to play down strums because up strums are a little bit tricky. It’s hugely limiting to you and your ukulele playing. Get to grips with the E chord and you’ll never need to transpose songs or drop in an E7 that might not work anyway.

The good news…

Here comes the good news, just like every chord there are multiple ways to play an E (otherwise known as chord inversions) and some are easier to fret than others. It’s a case of selecting the one that fits into what you’re playing and which chord you’re transitioning from. Here’s 3 of them (there are more though)…

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

Looking at the chord boxes above, it’s the first E chord that usually strikes fear into a players heart. Essentially this version of an E is a D chord shifted up 2 frets. I personally almost never play this version of the e chord they way I’ve shown it in the diagram. More often than not I will play this chord with 2 fingers using my third finger to bar strings 2,3 and 4 of fret 4. It takes a little getting used to, and again I would recommend using the 60 second chord changes method daily to get this version down.

The second version of the E chord shown above is quite different and there’s no barring involved (phew). I’m more likely to call on this shape when I’m coming from a chord that shares similar fretting positions. A G chord is a good example, you get to leave your second finger where it was.

Finally, and in my opinion the easiest way to play an E – simply bar all the strings at fret 4 with your first finger and then use your pinky to hold down fret 7 of the A string (help playing barre chords here). If you’re coming from a bar chord then it makes sense to stay with another bar chord and the transition should be relatively easy. The only real issue with this version is that it can sound a little strange if you’ve been playing open chords before it (but try it and see) and it can also be a bit of a jump moving 4 frets higher.

More options to master the E chord

There are more ways to play an E on ukulele but we’ll stick with those for now. I’d highly recommend getting to grips with each one. Over time you’ll start to find that you develop a feel for which one you should be using in the context of the song that you’re playing. Take a minute every day to work on your e chords – maybe even throw it into your practice routine, you’ll have them mastered in no time!

Extra – the really easy way to play an e chord

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

If you’ve read this far then congratulations, your reward for reading on is this rather easy way to play an e chord.

Notice it’s the same as the rather difficult way to play an e chord but this time we’re either muting or just not strumming the bottom (A) string. That’s because it’s not necessary.

This is where a bit of chord construction knowledge comes in handy. Fear not though, I’ll save the lesson on chord construction for another day. All you need to know is, a major chord consists of only 3 notes. So that’s all we need.

Ordinarily we fret the A string at fret 2 giving us a B but as we already have a B note fretted on the G string we don’t need to have another in. You can simply leave it out and you’ve still got an E.

The E chord – the bete noire of all ukulele players. Trying to cram all your fingers into a tiny space on the fretboard. Impossible. So here are ten possible ways to play the E chord. Try them out and see if you like any of them (I don’t).

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

1) The Way the Books Tell You

Index finger – A string 2nd fret
Middle finger – G string 4th fret
Ring finger – C string 4th fret
Little finger – E string 4th fret

Disadvantages: A lot of fingers to fit into a small space.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

2) The Double Up

Index finger – A string 2nd fret
Middle finger – G and C strings 4th fret
Ring finger – E string 4th fret

Disadvantages: Takes some practice to get the hang of.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

3) The Treble Up

Index finger – A string 2nd fret
Ring finger – G, C and E strings 4th fret

Disadvantages: You need to have your ring finger leave the strings at a difficult angle so you can still hear the A string.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

4) The G-String Block

Index finger – A string 2nd fret
Middle finger – Muting the G string (stopping it from sounding by resting against it rather than fretting it)
Ring finger – C string 4th fret
Little finger – E string 4th fret

Or with your thumb.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

5) The Treble Up and Block

Ring finger – G, C and E strings 4th fret
A string muted with any finger (including the underside of the ring finger).

If you stop the A string ringing in the triple-up, you will still have and E chord as the G string is giving you the same note. You can use individual fingers along with a mute to make this chord.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

6) The Fourth Fret Lay-Across

Index finger – Barre across all strings at the 4th fret.
Little finger – A string 7th fret.

Like a C chord moved up four frets. It’s one of my favourite ways to play it.

Disadvantages: The barre takes some practice. Can be a big jump to and from open chords.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

7) The Blocked E7

Index finger: G string 1st fret
Middle finger: Muting C string
Ring finger: A string 2nd fret
E string open

Like an E7 chord with the middle finger muting the C string rather than fretting it. Or you could use the underside of your index finger to mute the string.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

Disadvantages: Sounds a bit nasty as you have a big ‘thunk’ in the middle of the chord.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

8) E5

Index finger – A string 2nd fret
Ring finger – G string 4th fret
Little finger – C string 4th fret
E string open

Disadvantages: No major third note so it’s not a major chord. In some songs this it doesn’t really matter.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

9) Up the Neck

Index finger: E and A strings 7th fret
Middle finger: C string 8th fret
Ring finger: G string 9th fret

The Bb chord shape moved up the neck.

Disadvantages: A long way to travel if you’re playing open chords.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

10) Thumb Lay-Across

Index finger – A string 2nd fret
Thumb – G, C and E strings 4th fret

Disadvantages: Makes changing to and from other chords difficult. Almost always sounds horrible.

The infamous E chord. There’s no doubt about it, it’s extremely awkward to play on a ukulele. The shape feels unnatural and it hurts your fingers. I have been playing the ukulele for over 7 years and I still struggle with it.

I’m going to show you a much easier way to play it. You only need two fingers for the fretting. It’s not a shortcut and it’s not cheating. If anything it’s going to make you a better player doing it this way.

Stop worrying about the pain in your fingers and keep reading to explore the E chord in more detail.

How to Play An E Chord

The “Correct” Way

To add some context let’s quickly get to grips with the official way to play the E chord. You would use your first finger on the bottom A-string. Then your pinky on the E, ring on the C and lastly your middle finger on the G string.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

The Easy Way

Its time to crawl out the cave you have been hiding in. The E chord has shed its scary skin and been reborn. For this way of playing it, we are only using 2 fingers.

  • Barre all the strings on the 4th fret.
  • Place your pinky on the 7th fret of the A string.

If barring chords is a new concept to you, it’s worth checking out this guide on how to play them effectively . The short answer is, you place your first finger across multiple strings.

Put your thumb right in the centre of the neck when playing a barre chord. This is going to spread the pressure evenly. Putting less strain on your other fingers.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

This isn’t the magic bullet that’s going to have you instantly playing E chords on the ukulele. But there are many benefits of doing this way. Let’s take a look at them

The Benefits

This shape is what we call a movable chord. You could do this same shape two frets down and that you create a D Major chord. Interesting to note that if you go down another two frets. You wouldn’t be barring anymore and you are left with a C Major shape.

The biggest benefit would be that it’s going to lower the hurdle. Tackling the E chord can be enough to put some people off playing the uke altogether. As a beginner in something, we are always seeking out the path of least resistance. Overcoming these issues is what gives us more confidence.

Lets Learn A Song

Time to take what we have learnt and apply that to a song. We will be using our new E major chord and the A Major chord.

Rolling Stones – Satisfaction

Moving from the barred chord to the open chord is great practice for strengthening your fingers. For this song all you need to do is switch between the two of them.

So now you have mastered the dreaded E chord. It’s time to play it faster. I spent 20+ hours working on this technique that is guaranteed to increase your speed on the ukulele.

Musicians have been struggling to play the dreaded ukulele e-chord for years.

In fact, many ukulele players can’t play the e-chord, and choose to avoid songs that include it.

The e-chord is particularly difficult to fret, meaning it requires the hand and fingers being placed in an awkward position. The tricky nature of the ukulele e-chord means that transitions between chords also become more tedious.

How do you play an E chord on a ukulele? Put the index finger on the second fret of the first string, your middle finger on the fourth fret of the fourth string, your ring finger on the fourth fret of the third string, and your pinky on the fourth fret of the second string. This is the correct way to play the e chord on a ukulele.

Ukulele players often find it easier to avoid this chord altogether, or use a similar chord in its place (most commonly the E7 chord).

However, to be a truly well-rounded ukulele player, the ability to play all major chords is essential. Eventually, players become restricted by their avoidance of the e-chord and unable to master their craft.

Thankfully, by following these professional ukulele chord tips, mastering the e-chord is possible for even the most uncertain players. With a little time and practice, this chord begins to blend in with all the others and becomes part of a comprehensive ukulele playing skill set.

Are you ready to do what it takes to overcome the ukulele e-chord? Then let’s dive in!

STEP 1 – KNOW YOUR E-CHORD VARIATIONS

Traditionally, the e-chord is played by cramming multiple fingers together.

You can see how it was originally meant to be played in the quick YouTube video below.

While this is the authentic way to play a ukulele e-chord, it is also the most difficult way. If you are a ukulele purist, you may prefer to learn the chord this way and master it with extra effort and practice.

However, if you are like many ukulele players, you’ll likely find it easier to play a variation of the e-chord. Most commonly, musicians choose to play the 1402 chord. While this variation is undoubtedly easier than the traditional e-chord on ukulele, it does still require concentration so as not to mute the C-string.

If you are a more advanced ukulele player and are comfortable playing barre chords, another alternative is to play the barred version. Playing barre chords requires additional pressure (since you are holding down multiple strings with one finger), but many ukulele players still prefer this over the awkward finger maneuvering that’s required to play the e-chord the original way.

For a more in-depth lesson on how to play barred ukulele chords, check out this article by Coustii.

By learning your alternatives, you free yourself from a one-size-fits-all solution. Only you know which variation feels best to your playing style, so try each and find the one that works for you.

STEP 2 – PUT THAT THUMB TO WORK

For several chords (we’re talking about you, G7), your thumb doesn’t have to do much. It just sits there effortlessly behind the neck of your uke. But when playing the ukulele e-chord, this should never be the case.

When playing this chord, you’ll want your thumb to be pressing intentionally on the back of the neck.

The advantage? You get solid coverage without making your more delicate fingers do all the work!

This ukulele e-chord tip is especially helpful when playing the barred version, since your index finger is flatter against the fret. By letting your thumb do the heavy work, your index finger and pinky finger can focus on holding their place.

STEP 3 – STRATEGIC HAND PLACEMENT

Believe it or not, the way you angle your left-hand (or the hand creating the chords) can have a significant impact on how difficult or easy it is to play the e-chord.

When most musicians hold their ukulele, their left-hand is facing palm up, with the neck of the ukulele resting on top of the palm. Since this is how the majority of players hold their instrument, they often play chords accordingly, with their hand remaining in relatively the same position.

However, if you change the angle of your left-hand, everything changes! Ukulele player Aaron Keim covers this ukulele tip in this YouTube video. It’s worth a watch!

Try holding your ukulele with your left elbow at a 180-degree angle rather than the usual 90-degree angle (keep your elbow perpendicular to the neck of the guitar).

This angle will make it easier to place your fingers in the tricky required positions for the e-chord.

Remember, the e-chord is a challenge for every ukulele player at some point in the learning process. No matter which way you decide to play this chord, finding the variation that works best for you and allows you to seamlessly transition between chords is all that really matters. When you can effortlessly transition, the music you play will sound more natural and pleasant to the ear.

Soon, you will be playing songs like Killing Me Softly (by Lauren Hill), Hotel California (by The Eagles), Don’t Stop Believin’ (by Journey), and many other classic hits that feature the e-chord.

It is also important to remember that playing the ukulele e-chord can be easier or more difficult depending on the chords that come before and after it. If you are playing a chord before the e-chord that makes it difficult to transition, you may want to play another variation of the first chord that allows you to more easily move to the e-chord after.

Either way, the more you play and experiment, the more you will be able to play all chords and songs with ease.

And of course, if you encounter any other problems while learning ukulele, be sure to revisit our blog for more tips and tricks.

Now that you know how to overcome the e-chord, why not read some of our other articles? Check them out below!

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

So you’ve gotten your first ukulele and you’re pretty excited about learning your first few chords. You were able to master the C, G, A and D chords easily.

And then. the E chord.

The major chord that is hated by most beginners.

Trying to fit all your fingers into a tiny space on the fret board can be very frustrating. So I decided to list down the various ways to play the E chord.

Just like any chord, there are several ways to play E. Here are the different chord patterns that you can use:

I’ve listed five methods on how you position your fingers following the chord diagrams above.

Try them and see which is most comfortable for you.

The regular position

This is how the books tell you to do.

Index finger – on the 2nd fret of A string

Middle Finger – 4th fret G string

Ring Finger – 4th fret C string

Pinky finger – 4th fret E string

If you have bigger fingers, then this method can be a nightmare. But with constant practice, you can still pull off this style of playing the E chord. I don’t have a problem playing the E with this finger position.

Treble Up

Index finger – 2nd fret on A string

Ring finger – 4th fret on G, C and E strings.

The only problem with this method is that there’s a possibility that your ring finger will interfere with the A string. Your ring finger should be slightly bent in order to avoid hitting the A string.

Treble up and muted A string

Ring finger – 4th fret on G, C and E strings.

Mute the A string using any of your fingers.

The 2nd fret on the A string has the same note/sound with the 4th fret on the G string. So even if you mute the A string, it will produce the same melody.

Fourth Fret Bar

Index finger – use it to barre across all strings on the 4th fret.

Pinky finger – 7th fret on A string.

If you are new to playing the ukulele, holding the neck in a barre position can be a big struggle.

Quick tip: If you have difficulty holding the barre chord with your other fingers pressing another string, try this – just do the barre chord position using your index finger.

For example, take a look at the image above showing the index finger on the 4th fret and the pinky finger on the 7th fret. What you need to do is remove that pinky finger and just leave the index finger holding the barre position. Try to move the index finger from one fret to another while strumming. Do this for a 5 minute interval until you feel comfortable doing it.

Once you get the hang of it, go ahead and include the other fingers (with this example, you use the pinky finger to press the 7th fret of A string).

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

Most of the chords that are played on the ukulele are really simple, especially if you compare them to guitar chords.

When someone starts learning how to play the ukulele, they usually start with easy chords.

In my humble idea, this is actually a smart plan for practicing.

Not only do you get to learn a lot of songs faster this way, but also it allows you to build calluses in your fingertips.

While I admit this way is more efficient, you can’t just learn a couple of chords and keep playing them forever.

Instead, it’s better if you work on building your steady base of ukulele chords.

A lot of times, I come across people who have been playing the uke quite some time now, yet whenever they figure out a song that has an E chord in it, they skip it.

If you are a professional ukulele player or you ought to be one, you will have to learn to play the E chord sooner or later.

So in this article, we will go through what ways you can make that happens, so please stay around, and without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

The First Shape:

  • The index finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • The middle finger on the 4th fret of the G string.
  • Ring finger on the 4th fret of the C string.
  • Pinky finger on the 4th fret of the E string.

If you look up the E chord, this is the way that is going to pop up on your screen most of the time.

It’s the classic way and considered to be the standard E chord shape.

The disadvantage of playing this chord in this way is that a lot of fingers fit into such a small space.

Same Frets, Different Fingers:

Another way to play the same shape is to put your finger on the 2nd fret of the A string, as mentioned above; however, you will barre the other three strings with one finger.

This is known as “The Treble up.”

This isn’t very easy to play, especially if you are a beginner but, if you practice enough, you can surely get the hang of it.

The Second Shape:

It’s called “The Double Up.”

  • Index finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • The middle finger on the 4th fret of the G and C strings.
  • Ring finger on the 4th fret of E string.

This way is much simpler than the way mentioned above.

You use the middle finger on two frets, which is why it’s called the double up.

It might take you some time to learn how to place your fingers in this matter through the song without muting any chords or causing any buzzing.

Yet, mastering this is easier than learning to barre three strings for some people.

The Third Shape:

  • Index finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Ring finger on the 4th fret of the C string.
  • The little finger on the 4th fret of the E string.
  • The middle finger is muting the G string.

Muting the G string is the challenging part when it comes to this shape.

Some people play this shape without muting the G string, which makes it an E5 shape.

Whereas this might go unnoticed in some songs, it won’t fit in others, so maybe you should try and see how it sounds if you want to play it this way.

Now, these are the most common ways to play the E chord on the uke. However, some unpopular ways to play it are:

  • Ring finger barring E, C, G strings
  • Muting the A string with any finger or maybe using the lower part of your ring finger as well.

So basically, it’s the treble up method we talked about it earlier but blocking the A string.

Also, you can play something like the following

The Fourth Shape:

  • Index finger barre across the 4th fret of all the strings.
  • The pinky finger on the 7th fret of the A string.

Again, the barre will take some practice, but this is a lot like the C chord moved up one string, which might make it a little easier.

If none of the above worked, try this

The FiFth Shape:

  • Index finger on the 1st fret of the G string.
  • Ring finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Middle finger muting the C string.
  • E string open.

If you are already familiar with the E7 chord, this will be a piece of cake because this is the same way it is played except that you mute the C string rather than fretting it.

And lastly, you can try to play it like this

The sixth Shape:

  • Index finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
  • Thumb barring E, C, and G strings on the 4th fret.

It’s my least favorite way to play the E chord.

It’s hard to change from other chords to playing the E chord in this manner and the other way around, especially if you need to make this change fast.

Conclusion:

Even though playing the E chord is a challenge for every ukulele beginner! It’s totally worth learning.

You can add a lot of songs to your playing collection if you learn it.

Add to this, for a lot of people, including myself; it is only fun when it’s challenging. This is the part that makes me feel satisfied and making progress.

My advice to you if you are trying to play this chord is to practice every day. You don’t have to play a song right away, just play the shape of the chord, get used to it.

Make sure you can play a barre correctly, and when you feel like you are now familiar with it, try to integrate it into a song.

Don’t try to go fast in your first trials; instead, take as much time as you need and focus on getting it right at first, then you can speed it up.

How to play an e chord on the ukulele

When it comes to learning chords, it is important to know not only the notes (frets on each string) but also the fingering (what fingers to put on each string). Learning a string instrument such as the ukulele is based a lot on memorizing patterns and figures; which form chords, scales, and chord progressions. A same chord can be played in a different way according to the musician, but also according to the previous or next chord in the song, though this is a bit of an advanced topic for a beginner.

3 Must-know chords

The first 3 chords you should learn are C, F and G. They correspond to degrees I, IV and V of the C major scale.

C Chord – 0003

The most basic chord just requires one finger on the third fret of the first string. It is recommended to use the ring finger of the left hand to play this chord, as it will make it easier to change to another chord later.

F Chord – 2010

Now, for this chord, we need two fingers: the index finger must be placed on fret 1 of the second string, and the middle finger on fret 2 of the fourth string. With this finger position, it is very easy to change from C chord to F, because they don’t require the same fingers.

G Chord – 0232

One notch harder now with this 3-finger chord: index finger on the second fret of the third string, middle finger on the second fret of the first string, and ring finger on the third fret of the second string.

5 useful chords

If 3 chords are more than enough to play hundreds of songs on your ukulele, it’s also rather limited. By simply adding 5 more chords to your collection, you will be able to play thousands of songs.

Am Chord – 2000

Another very easy chord, which requires only one finger (preferably the middle finger) on the second fret of the g-string. That’s by far the most popular minor chord.

A Chord – 2100

Another 2-fingers chord: the index finger must be placed on fret 1 of the third string, and the middle finger on fret 2 of the fourth string. With this finger position, it is very easy to change from A chord to Am (remove your index finger… that’s it!) or F (index finger stays on 1st fret, but is placed on the string below – the E-string).

D chord – 2220

This one requires 3 fingers, all placed on fret 2. Index finger on 4th string, middle finger on 3rd string, and the ring finger on 2nd string. Main difficulty here is to place 3 fingers in a relative tiny space, especially on the Soprano. It’s even harder with big fingers, and almost impossible if you combine both.

Note that it is possible to play this chord with a single finger (usually the ring finger) if you’re physically able to bend it outwards enough.

Em chord – 0432

This chord requires 3 fingers, each placed on a different fret and on a different string: Index finger on fret 2 of the 1st string, middle finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd string, and the ring finger on 4th fret on 3rd string.

E chord – 1402 or 4442

I kept the best for the end… The chord every ukulele player hates: the E major chord!

If you try to play it properly (one finger per fret), you only need three fingers but… it requires the little finger! Needless to say it’s VERY complicated. It would not be important if this chord was not so common. Here is how to play it: index finger on 1st fret (4th string), little finger on 4th fret (3rd strong), middle finger on 2nd fret (1st string).

Hopefully, there exists an alternative position a bit easier (but not necessarily easy) to play:

The trick consists of replacing the non-conventional 1402 shape with something more common. On the downside, you need to use 4 fingers instead of 3.

Place your index finger on 2nd fret of 1st string, and other finger on 4th fret (middle finger on 4th string, ring finger on 3rd string, little finger on 2nd string). You can also bar and then (like for the D chord above). You can eventually press all four 3 strings with the same finger.

If you learn to play these basic chord shapes, you can play hundreds of songs.

C Major

Playing a C major chord on ukulele is a snap – simply hold down the third fret on the first string and strum away on all four strings. Typically, this note is played with the third (ring) finger.

Note that instructions in this feature assume the ukulele has been tuned to “standard C” tuning – G C E A. For more info on tuning, read how to tune your ukulele.

G Major

Recognize this chord shape? If you play guitar, you will. it is a D major chord shape. Because of the uke tuning, however, this translates to a G major chord. Put your first (index) finger on the second fret of the third string, your third (ring) finger on the third fret of the second string, and your second (middle) finger on the second fret of the first string. Strum all four strings.

F Major

The F major chord is a much simpler chord to play on the uke than it is on guitar. Place your second finger on the second fret of the fourth string, your first finger on the first fret of the second string, and strum all four strings.

A Minor

Another simple to play chord – to play an A minor on the ukulele, you simply need to hold down the second fret of the fourth string and strum all four strings. This note is typically played with the second (middle) finger.

E Minor

To play E minor on the ukulele, place your first (index) finger on the second fret of the first string. Next, put your second (middle) finger on the third fret of the second string. Lastly, place your third (ring) finger on the fourth fret of the third string. Strum all four strings.

D Minor

Guitar players will recognize the D minor chord shape on the ukulele – it's the same fingering as an A minor chord on guitar. Place your second (middle) finger on the second fret of the fourth string. Now, put your third (ring) finger on the second fret of the third string. Lastly, place your first (index) finger on the first fret of the second string. Strum all four strings. Note that switching the second and third fingers when playing this shape is common.

A Major

To play A major on the ukulele, place your second (middle) finger on the second fret of the fourth string. Next, put your first (index) finger on the first fret of the third string. Strum all four strings on the uke and you're playing an A major chord.