Open Position Chords

Published: 04 Nov 2013 Updated: 08 Nov 2022Visits: 1355Code: UL114a

INSTRUMENTS: Chords Main: Ukulele Others: Ukulele
Subjects: Chords • Beginner • Core • Foundation • Position • Open • Basic

Open Position Chords

The basic first chords most players learn. There are the chords in the first one, two, three and four frets of the ukulele and include at least one open string.

These are the chords you'll be playing the most in your ukulele travels.

Open Position Chords are the basic, first chords most ukulele players learn. These chords, played in the fret one, two, three, and four area of the ukulele and include at least one open string in the chord.

Here is a FREE — Basic Open Position Ukulele Chords chart in common keys to get you started in C tuning, high or low G. For most simple songs, the chords all are from the main key and stay in that key.

Shown if the Open Position C Chord — by far the most common chord used on ukulele.


Learning Chords

The The Song Approach is to pick a song that you would like to learn and those are the chords you need to learn. Look them up, ask a friend or take a lesson or two. Then practice away.

A song is like a recipe, it contains ingredients: the chords, lyrics, and melody. The style and arrangement can be like the original recording or your own arrangement.

For basic open position chords in a few common keys, this approach will get you started. Simply memorize the shape and sound of each chord required.

Another approach is to learn the common chords that show up in common keys and songs. This is especially helpful for occasions where you might have never played a particular song before or are reading the chords as you go. This happens a lot at jam sessions, meetup groups and club play-a-longs. Still, just memorize the shape and should of the chord.

All you really need is to know one of each chord you might encounter.

For Folk, Rock, Pop, Country and and Bluegrass common major keys are C, G, D, A, and E.

Common Chords for the Key of C Major and the C Major Scale

The key of C Major is one of the most common keys. It’s sometimes called the learning key as it corresponds to the white keys if the piano. It’s a good place to start.

The basic chords are:

  • C major
  • D minor
  • E minor
  • F major
  • G major
  • A minor
  • B diminished

The diminished chord rarely is rarely used and a G7 is substituted for it. A Diminished Seventh chord can also substitute for the diminished chord.

With major chords being the most common chord the “major” part of the chord is typically not said or notated. If you say play a C chord, it’s understood to mean “C Major”. The minor chord type is shortened to “min”, “m” or -. The diminished notation is shortened to “dim” or a degree sign. Leaving us with an easier to read list.

  • C
  • Dm
  • Em
  • F
  • G
  • Am
  • or Bdim

Any one of the chords can be a seventh chord, a Secondary Dominant : C7, D7, E7, F7, G7, A7, and B7. These are 4-part chords containing four notes with no duplicate notes. All but the G7 are chords outside of the key of C major but common.

Here are all the possible open position seventh chords. For the chords that do not have an open position form their basic movable form is shown.

See the Key Signatures Series of Lessons — Introduction for the common chords to all 15 major keys.

The Second Approach, which is almost required with movable form and "Jazz" chords is to have a core set of chords and a system for deriving additional chords from those known chords. And, knowing where and how chords are created and used.

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End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!

Related Lessons, Videos, Lesson Series, Songs, Books & Reference Charts, Resources & Assets, Workshops are below.

Related Lessons

Related Lessons for Open Position Chords.


Basic Open Position `Ukulele Chord Chart

Updated: 03 May 2024

A core set of basic ukulele chords that ALL Ukulele players should know in the five common keys of C, G, D, A and E. With the possible seventh chords for the same common keys. The chart is organized in common keys and covers basic chords in these keys.


Basic Open Position `Ukulele Chord Chart for Lefties

Updated: 26 Mar 2019

A core set of basic ukulele chords that ALL Left Handed Ukulele players should know in the five common keys of C, G, D, A and E. With the possible seventh chords for the same common keys. The chart is organized in common keys and covers basic chords in these keys.


Understanding a `Ukulele Chord Diagram

Updated: 24 Jul 2011

There're a lot different ways to show chord shapes, diagrams and images on a fretted instrument. This is the basic chord diagram I use in all my lessons and book. In this lesson the basic chord diagram as used for ukulele is explained.


Types of `Ukulele Chords

Updated: 29 Mar 2022

Naturally, for Ukuleles, all chords need to be voiced using only the four strings available. You would think that this is limiting when in actuality it's quite liberating when you learn the makeup of chords. Chord can be categorized into four categories: "Open Position Chords", "Movable Form Chords", "4-part - a.k.a. Jazz Chords", and "Free Form Chords."


Basic Movable Form Chords

Updated: 09 Jun 2015

Sometimes called barre chords, these chords venture beyond the third fret.


Traditional and Contemporary Triads

Updated: 20 Feb 2014

A "Triad" is a three note chord. In traditional chord theory there are four traditional triad chord types: major, minor, diminished and augmented. And four contemporary triad chord types: sus2, sus4, add2 and add9. Triads can be used harmonically, as chords and melodically, as single notes. Triads are a great way to get started with creating melodic solos and improvising.


4-part Contemporary Chords, a.k.a. Jazz Chords

Updated: 17 Nov 2014

Core Chords is a series of lessons for building your 4-part chords. These chords commonly called jazz chords, are really just 4-part chords used in a wide range of musical styles. Beyond basic open position chords, basic movable form chords and a core set of 4-part chords. There are just too many chords shapes too memorize. Learning the principles of how chords are constructed and the ukulele fingerboard are the way to go. Then you can create more advanced chords like 9#11, 7#5-9, 13b5, 7+9 on the fly as needed.


Free Form Chords

Updated: 30 Nov 2015

"Free Form" chords are those chords that do not fall into one of the other chord categories. They typically don't show up in chord dictionaries or software programs.

Related Lesson Series

Related Lessons Series for Open Position Chords.

Open Position Chords and Their Movable Forms

Updated: 01 Jan 2003

This series explores open position chords and their movable forms. As well as a few of their derived chords.

Related Songs

Related Songs for Open Position Chords.


Any Song Will Do

Updated: 07 Dec 2015

This is not really a song, but simply saying that for the purposes of a lot of the lessons and lesson series on this site ANY song will do for exploring the lesson's material and concepts presented in the lesson.

Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets

Related Assets for Open Position Chords.


Basic Ukulele Chord Chart

Updated: 11 May 2019

A chart of the most common ukulele chords in the most common keys of C, G, D, A, and E.


Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G

Updated: 11 May 2019

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G. Shows natural, sharp and flat notes for the ukulele fingerboard. This tuning can be used on a soprano, concert, tenor and baritone ukuleles.

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