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Chord a Day, January 1st - C

Learn a new chord everyday of January.

by Curt Sheller, Curt Sheller Publications

Happy New Year!!!

What better way than to start the new year off with learning a new `ukulele chord every day of the year. The chord for January 1st is C.

The C chord is typically the first chord all new ukulele players learn, uses a single finger and is relatively easy to play on ukulele. The C chord is a major chord type and the most common chord type. The major part of the chord is seldom written and almost never pronounced - simply say C.

The C chord is responsible for getting more people hooked on the ukulele than any other chord. Even if you already know this C chord I've included a lot more information regarding the C Chord. So take a look and around.

In the common keys of C, F, and G - C functions as a "primary" chord.

C is a Core Chord

A core chord is a basic chord that other chords can be derived from - creating new chords from your known chords. Your ever expanding set of core chords creates a solid foundation for playing music on ukulele or any instrument capable of playing chords. There are just far too many chord shapes to memorize all the possibilities. Some chords you can simply create on the fly as needed based on known information and how chords work.

Chord Type(s): Major
Chord Categories: Open Position Triad


Related Lesson: Understanding a Chord Diagram

Open Position chords typically do not show the location of the root or letter name of the chord as these chords are the first chords a ukulele player learns and are almost entirely learned by shape and sound - hopefully, the chords' name. Later on one develops the ability to determine the location of the chord root(s) or letter name within the chord.

Standard Music Notation and TAB
C Tuning - High 'G' and Low 'G' Tunings


Standard music notation and TAB for C Tuning, Low and High "G" variations

Chord Spelling

Chord Spelling is simply knowing what the notes of a chord are. The notes of all chords can be determined from its corresponding major scale based on the root of the chord.

The notes for C are:


These are the 1 3 5 scale degrees of the parent C major scale.

Recommended Fingering

LH_fingersAll though additional fingerings are possible for many chords. Fingering for any given chord depends on the harmonic context the chord is being used in, what was the previous chord and what's the next chord.

Although you can play any chord with any finger as long as it's your, the recommended fingering for C is:

Recommended Fingering
0 0 0 3

Alternate Fingering(s)

Here are a few alternate fingerings for today’s C chord depending on the context the chord is being used.

Alternate fingering(s) for C:

  • 0 0 0 1
  • 0 0 0 2
  • 0 0 0 4

Pretty much ANY one of your four fingers can be used to play this chord. It all depends on the context the chord is functioning within the song or progression. Let the chord's context determine the most efficient fingering to use.

Fingering Notation

Fingering of a chord using text only, without using a chord grid is typically done using the finger numbers from left to right, string four to string one. Here is the text notation for January 1st C chord.

The Typical text representation of a chord fingering without a chord grid.

Note: A Zero (0) fingering notation represents an open string that no finger is required.

Photos •

Photos typically are NOT a good way to show a chord as they can't always show efficient chord fingering.

If you're using efficient fingering and keeping all the fingers over the fingerboard and ready to go and as close to the action as possible. You might not be able to see in the photo if a finger is actually being used to play a given chord. This is true for most chord photos

In the photos for the open position C chord I took for January 1. I kept the other fingers out of the way for the photo and that is not how I would actually play those chords.


Major Chords

C – Pronounced C major or just plain C. With major chords being the most common chords the “major” part of the chord's name is seldom said and is implied.

Major chords have a bold sound.

C is a core chord and should be memorized. From your core chords other chords can be derived.

  • Your First Ukulele Chord - With every letter of the C chord (C E and G) available on every string, there are quite a few C chords along the ukulele fingerboard.

Fingering Chords

Additional alternate fingerings might be possible for selected chords. If there isn't an overwhelming musical reason for one fingering over another, let efficiency be the determining factor. Something as simple as longer fingers can reach the lower string four and three goes a long way to being efficient when switching chords.

Factors such as playing notes right behind the fret takes less effort than in the middle of the fret. Less effort leads to overall efficiency in play, lower maintenance for maintaining your technique and efficiency leads to speed. This can help in determining what finger to use. Finger three can overlap finger four and finger two can overlap finger three a little allowing them to get closer to the fret.

Remember – the thumb's primary role is to support the fingers – not play notes. Think of the thumb as a Stagehand. He is unseen, doesn't get any lines BUT is a critical member of the team.

Chord Construction, Notes and Intervals

ALL chords can be be constructed based on the their intervals relative to the major scale of the root or letter name of the chord. The individual names of the notes of the chord can also be determined from the same scale.

The chord tones for C are: C E G

C is the 1 3 5 of the C Major Scale based on the root (C) of the chord.

Next Steps

After memorizing todays C chord and able to switch in time with other chords. The next step is adding various Strums and Fingerpicking patterns to your ukulele skills.

End of Lesson

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Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books!Peter Rhee

Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the bestGlen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys

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I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent.fatveg — Portland

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