Chord a Day, January 1st - C

What better way than to start the new year off with learning a new ukulele chord every day of the year.

Published: 01 Jan 2013 Updated: 01 Jan 2022Visits: 1176Code: ULCAD0101

Topic: Chords Instruments: ukulele Subjects: Chords • Beginner • Core • Common • Primary • Keys

Chord a Day, January 1st - C

Happy New Year!!!

Here's hoping for a better year and more enjoyment and growing with our ukes.

What better way than to start the new year off with learning a new ukulele chord every day of the year. Or, learning more than you'll ever need to know about your favorite chord(s).

The chord for January 1st is C. (spoiler alert, we don't actually go all year. There are far too many chord shapes to memorize.)

C or C Major

The C, or C Major, 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, seldom written and seldom pronounced — simply say C.

C is most likely your first of three or four chords that each new ukulele player learns.

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.

Harmonic Function for C

The Harmonic Function of a chord is simply how is a chord being used in context with other chords in a song or chord progression.

C is a Full Diatonic primary chord in the the common Major key(s) of: C (I) , F (V) , and G (IV) .

C is a Full Diatonic chord in the common Minor key(s) of: Em (VI) , Fm (V) .

Open Position Chords

Today's chord, C is an Open Position chord.

For a further exploration of this chord and its movable form visit the Movable Ukulele Chords Lesson Series .

Learn a New Chord Each Day!!!

This Learn a New Chord Each Day!!! series of lessons was created and published in 2013 (10yrs ago) and has been added to an expanded ever since. 2020 brought videos to the show. 2023 is bringing more Harmonic information.

To find out more than you would ever need to know about C chord — more below .

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

ULCAD0101 Chord_grid_legand.png

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


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

The same number notation of TAB can be used to describe the open strings and frets to be played when using text only notation or verbal communications. Using an open position C as an example we can describe it as: 0003 indicating open strings four, three and two with fret (3) being fingered on string one. An open position D7 indicated as 2020.

As you can see that are numerous ways to describe a chord, either verbally, Standard Music Notation , TAB , in text, graphically using a Chord Grid , etc.

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:


The chord tones are the 1 3 5 scale degrees of the parent C Major Scale .

Additional Information

Recommended Fingering

LH_fingersAlthough additional fingerings are possible for many chords. Fingering for any given chord depends the science of how our fingers work and on the harmonic context the chord is being used in, what was the previous chord and what's the next chord. The goal is to play all the notes right behind the frets when possible. Remember longer fingers can reach the lower strings better and finger two and stack on finger three and finger three can stack on finger four.

Although ou can play any chord with any finger — as long as it's yours, 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 <strong>your</strong> 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 (nose to toes). Here is the text notation for January 1st C chord.

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

Note: A Zero (0) fingering notation represents an open string that doesn't require using a finger.

Chord Photos

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

This following photos I'm sure where intended to show a chord and inadvertently shows several points of bad technique:

A) Thumb too high in a non-supporting role.
B) Too far from the fret.

A) Knuckle collapsed. The end knuckle of the third finger is the weakest knuckle on the hand and needs more work.

A) Too far from the fret. Right behind the fret is the position of least effort to get a clear note. Any further away from the fret and you need to press harder.

Impolite Fingering — Try not to flip people the bird as in the second photo above. Finger one, the index finger is the only finger that is really capable of a Full Barre across all the four strings.

* Fingers Not Over Fingerboard And Out Of Position. All the non chording fingers in the above photos are out of position. Most likely to show a chord fingering – but not good fingering and really drives home the point of why photos are not the way to show a chord.

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 or recommend to others.


Major Chords

C – Pronounced C major or just plain ole 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. Actually close to 40 different way to play C — granted some not very practical but all worth exploring.

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 , Fingerpicking patterns, and exploring the Movable Chord versions of today's chord, to your ukulele skills.

End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!


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