Member's Content Only
Members can view all pages of the PDF on-line.
This PDF contains 6 page(s).
Resize the browser window to a mobile smaller size to view the PDF images larger.
This download is part of a LearningUkulele.com site membership. Register to become a LearningUkulele.com Site Member.
Download a Printable PDF file • Each PDF file is a formatted high resolution file that prints out great.
You will need Adobe Reader or a PDF viewing application to view your PDF file.
The art and science of chord fingering. Learning your basic open position chords in common keys.
We have four fingers and there're all not equal. Some shorter then others and some stronger that others. Everybody's hand is a little different. This does play a role in fingering chords. A example shows up with the first chord most ukulele players learn, a C major chord. It's a one finger chord. That one finger can be anyone of your four fingers.
The combination of fingers used play a role. Whether the fingers are on adjacent strings or skipping strings, different frets or adjacent frets, the total range of frets that need to be covered, your finger dexterity, etc...
Additional Content Available for Site Members Only
This lesson is a Premium / Gold Member lesson and part of the LearningUkulele.com Site Membership and Study with Curt - On-line and Private Lesson Program. To view additional content for this lesson you'll need to either login, sign-up for a site membership or upgrade your membership level from your user profile.
What is a Chord?
A chord is a group of three or more different notes sounded together or almost together. Note: Not all of the notes of a chord need to be played to imply the actual chord.
On stringed instruments like the ukulele, chords can be grouped into four categories for learning: Open Position Chords, Movable Form Chords, 4-Part Contemporary or “Jazz” Chords and Free Form Chords. This lesson focuses on basic open position chords and why some might be harder to play vs. other basic chords.
Basic Open Position Chords
An open position chords is one of the basic, first chords most ukulele players learn. These chords are played in the fret one, two, three and four area of the ukulele and include at least one open string.
There are two approaches to learning chords, the song based approach and learning the fundamentals approach. I'm a big advocate of building a solid base of the fundamentals. A lot of players new to the ukulele like to jump right in a learn songs.
For the song approach you pick a song learn the chords you need to learn know for the song. A song is like a recipe, the chords are one of the ingredients. Look them up, ask a friend or take a lesson or two. Then learn at least one version of each of the chords in the song.
Another approach is to learn the most 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 and club play-a-longs. You never know what songs are going to be played and would like to participate in every song. No time to look up chords, you need to know chords.
For Folk, Rock, Pop, Country and and Bluegrass common major keys are C, G, D, A, and E. S ee the Common Chord for C Major chart below.
For most simple songs the chords all are from the main key and stay in that key. There are a lot of songs with just two or three chords.
Common Chords for Common Keys
The chords for a major key all come out of the major scale for that key. If we number each scale degree of the major scale from 1 to 7 we have the chord's position and harmonic function within the key. When talking about chords these position numbers are typically indicated using roman numerals: I II III IV V VI VII. This position will help with transposing to other keys and to recognize similarities between songs and chord progressions. There a quite a few common chord progressions that are used in popular music.
Using triads, three note chords, the chords for all major keys are:
On the ukulele these triads are commonly played with one of the notes doubled. Giving us a four note chord that matches perfectly with the four strings of the ukulele. Allowing you to strum all the strings.
Common Chords for the Key of C Major and the C Major Scale
- C major
- D minor
- E minor
- F major
- G major
- A minor
- B diminished
The diminished chord rarely shows up and when it does a diminished seventh chord can be substituted for it. Diminished Seventh chords are a 4-part chord covered in a later section.
With major chords being the most common chord, the "major" part of the chord is typically not said or notated. The minor chord type is shortend to "min" or "m". The diminished notation is shortened to "dim" or a degree sign. Leaving use with an easier to read list.
Any one of the chords can be a seventh chord 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 some are common.
Here are all the possible open position seventh chords. A few do not contain any open strings and their basic movable form is shown.
Download the lesson PDF file for the complete and most up-to-date version of the lesson
Members and Active Students need to sign-in
to download the premium lesson PDFs for the complete lesson.
No additional assets for Basic `Ukulele Chord Fingering at this time.
Basic Open Position `Ukulele Chord Chart
A core set of basic ukulele chords that ALL Ukulele players should know - at least - in the five common keys of C, G, D, A and E. As well as the seventh chords for common keys. The chart is organized in common keys and covers basic chords in these keys. Of the 15 possible major and relative minor keys in music. There are five common keys to get started with: C, G, D, A, and E. These keys allow you to play quite a few popular songs. There's more in common between songs that your might think.
Happy Birthday to You, also known more simply as Happy Birthday, is a song that is traditionally sung to celebrate the anniversary of a person's birth. According to the 1998 Guinness Book of World Records, "Happy Birthday to You" is the most recognized song in the English language, followed by "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" and "Auld Lang Syne". The song's base lyrics have been translated into at least 18 languages.
Brown Eyed Girl
Brown Eyed Girl is a song by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. Written and recorded in 1967 by Van Morrison and produced by Bang Records chief Bert Berns, it was first released in May 1967 on the album Blowin' Your Mind!. When released as a single, it rose to number eight on the Cashbox charts, and reached number ten on the Billboard Hot 100. It featured the Sweet Inspirations singing back-up vocals and is widely considered to be Van Morrison's signature song.
No videos for Basic `Ukulele Chord Fingering at this time. Filming a lot of videos for various lessons, songs and books.
Site Membership Plans
FREE Plan - A limited selection of basic lessons ( currently over 140 ) and 100+ songs for ukulele as well as basic general music reference material — Completely FREE — Simply Register/Signup to access associated lessons, books, songs and their related assets.
Basic Plan - The Basic Plan gives you access to a larger selection of lessons, downloads, books, songs and all of the premium play-along jam tracks. A site membership so inexpensive that I might as well have called it FREE.
Premium Plan - The Premium Plan gives you access to ALL lessons, downloads, songs, play-along jam tracks, videos, email support, resources and related assets. As well as additional FREE book downloads - depending on your payment plan selected - pay more, get more.
NOTE: Each higher membership level includes ALL the benefits of each of the lower levels of membership. The Private Lesson Plans include all the benefits of the Premium Access Plans
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 best — Glen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys
Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too. — Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg
I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent. — fatveg — Portland
Thanks for visiting and checking out the site!
Content is added and updated almost daily - so check back often.
LearningUkulele.com has one of the largest collections of lessons, songs, and TABS, luthiers, ukulele builders, ukulele festival and club information, and, ukulele links on the web. I’ve been on the ®Internet since the early 1990's and This site just never stops growing!!!