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Know the Basics: Ukulele Chords and How to Use Them

learning ukulele chords

When learning to play the ukulele, or any instrument for that matter, it can be a frustrating experience if you don't have a good guide to follow. After you get familiar with all the parts and how to tune it, sooner or later you should focusing on learning some ukulele chords so you can starting playing music! 

A chord is simply a combination of three or more notes played at the same time to create a harmonious sound. On the ukulele, this is accomplished by strumming the different strings, each representing a different note in the chord. Your finger placement on the fret changes the combination string by string to create a wide range of different sounds. Some chords can be formed with only a single fret, while others require two or three frets. Here's a look at some of the most popular Ukulele chords for beginners and how to use them. 

Simple Chords

Two of the most popular chords for beginners are C Major and A Minor. Both of these chords only require a single fret. To form C Major, place your third finger on the third fret of the bottom string. Strum all four strings to create the chord. To form A Minor, place your second finger on the second fret of the top string. Again, strum all four strings. These two chords are easy to remember and play and appear frequently in all different kinds of music. 

Other Common Chords 

Now it's time to add another finger on your fretting hand. The F Major chord is formed by placing your first finger on the first fret of the second string and your ring finger on the second fret of the top string. The bottom and third strings are played open. At first, your fingers may feel slightly cramped as you adjust to these movements. You will need to practice regularly to create muscle memory and limber up your fingers. Pay close attention to where your fingers land on the frets to ensure you are not muting either of the open strings or causing any buzzing. 

Another common chord formed by two frets is the A Major chord. This is done by placing your first finger on the first fret of the third string and your middle finger on the second fret of the top string. In this case, the two bottom strings are played open. Again, muscle memory and practice are important as you learn to move between multiple chords without missing any of the key elements that make up the combination. 

There are major and minor chord variations for every note on the scale. However, some of them appear more often than others. 

 
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Ukuele Chord Progressions

Once you have learned each chord independently it is time to put them together to form a progression. Some chords sound better together than others because they are in the same family of notes. Practicing progressions help cement your ability to move from one chord to the next smoothly and accurately. 

Most ukulele songs are made up of chord progressions, and many songs are made up of only three chords. Once you understand the way chords work together and you build up your library of chords, you will be able to play a wide range of musical styles and songs. As you memorize more chords you will be able to add variations over time to explore even more music.

Did you know you can learn ukulele with Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel online at ArtistWorks? They'll teach you all the ukulele chords you'll ever need to know and more!

 

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