If you’re about to start learning how to play ukulele or taking ukulele lessons, it would be good to understand how the uke works first.
You should start with the basics and get to know the ukulele string names, notes, and numbers.
And after you’ve mastered the basics, you can learn simple ukulele chords.
Learning the ukulele is a fun and rewarding process – and we’re here to help you get started!
Before you start learning how to play the ukulele, you should learn the ukulele string numbers and names.
A standard ukulele has four strings (unlike guitar, which usually has six.)
There are different sizes of the uke though, so the tone and volume vary. Generally, there are four common ukulele sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.
The most common and standard type of ukulele is the soprano ukulele. It’s the smallest ukulele, so it’s ideal for traveling.
But you can also try playing other types of ukulele. You should certainly explore their differences before buying anything.
Regardless of what you choose, you’ll get a portable, simple instrument that is easy to play. And that’s exactly why so many beginners decide to play the uke.
Now, let’s get back to the strings.
As we’ve already mentioned, there are four strings on a ukulele. They are tuned in fourths.
Starting from the string closest to your chin, the ukulele string names are:
So, ukulele strings are traditionally tuned G-C-E-A.
Some ukulele students learn string names by memorizing the popular acronym ‘Good Charlie Eats A Lot.’
This is definitely a very convenient and easy way to remember the ukulele notes!
Also, when it comes to the order of uke strings, it’s important to know that there’s actually no right way to string the ukulele – it all depends on your teacher or playing style.
Nevertheless, many players put the thicker strings on the bottom. That way, they create a balance in the sound.
Essential Ukulele Chords
Now that you know the uke notes, you can start learning your first ukulele chords.
The good news is that you can learn many easy songs using just four chords. So, every ukulele player should master these four essential chords.
C Major Chord
The first ukulele chord you can practice is the C Major chord.
This is arguably one of the most useful ukulele chords because it’s present in many popular songs.
It’s also very simple to play the C Major chord on ukulele. You just need to press the “A” string in the third fret and then strum all the four strings.
F Major Chord
Another easy ukulele chord is the F Major chord.
To play this essential chord, you need to put your middle finger on the second fret of the G string and your pointer finger on the first fret of the E string. You need to press them and strum all four strings together.
Not so difficult, right?
G Major Chord
Another simple uke chord that every beginner needs to practice is the G Major chord.
To play the G Major, you need to do this:
- place your middle finger on the second fret of the A string
- place your ring finger on the third fret of the E string
- place your pointer finger on the second fret of the C string.
Now strum all four strings.
While you’re practicing the G Major chord, make sure that your fingers aren’t accidentally muting other strings.
It will take a while until you get used to it, but don’t worry – you’ll master this chord sooner than you think.
A Minor Chord
The fourth ukulele chord you should learn is the A Minor chord.
To play the A Minor chord on uke, you just need to place your middle finger on the second fret of the G string. Now strum all the strings.
And that’s it!
Practicing Ukulele Chords
With the four basic chords we showed you today, you can learn many beginner-friendly songs.
Some songs that use the combination of these chords are ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz, ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen, and ‘Let It Be’ by The Beatles – just to name a few.
Playing easy songs on ukulele is, in fact, a great way to improve your skills. Learning basic chords isn’t difficult, but it will take a while until you play them effortlessly.
To master the chords and improve your technique, you can choose a single chord shape and work on different strumming patterns.
The basic strumming patterns are: down-up-down-up, down-down-up, down-up-down, and down-down-up-up.
You can also practice chord changes with a metronome. This will help you get better at chord progressions and fretting.
And when you feel confident enough, you can practice by playing complete songs. There are many easy ukulele tutorials with tabs online – just make sure you start with beginners songs.
As you progress, you’ll be able to expand your repertoire and even compose your own songs.
Just be patient – learning ukulele might be easy, but if you want to play it well, you’ll have to be persistent.
Either way, it’s a beautiful instrument to play, and learning it will certainly be fun and enjoyable!
Ukulele String Names, Notes and Numbers – Final Thoughts
We hope our simple ukulele guide helped you understand the basics of playing the ukulele.
As you can see, learning ukulele isn’t so hard – you just need to take it step by step.
And now when you know all the string names and notes, you’re already on the right track!