Just like learning a new language, starting out with a ukulele can be quite overwhelming and confusing. However, learning the different ukulele chord diagrams and shapes are not that difficult. Although some symbols require much more explaining, it is quite intuitive to understand for beginners.
You’ll just need to go through some basic elements and learn how these chord diagrams work in a song page. Once you’re done, you’ll surely be surprised with how fast you can translate these chords into strums. Here’s your quick guide to help you get started.
Before you Proceed
You need to imagine a ukulele as if it was placed right in front of you. The diagram should be read from top to bottom. That is, from the part of the fretboard near the headstock and down to the part near the body.
Sometimes, chord diagrams can be a little bit difficult for left-handed players and so, you need to find your own way on how to interpret and make these diagrams easy for you. Several left-handed players picture the chords as a mirror image, but you can also try seeing the fretboard through the neck of your ukulele.
1. Chord Name
The chord name is usually written on the top of the chord diagram. Some chord names contain abbreviations within them. Am, for example, stands for A minor.
2. G-C-E-A Strings
The vertical lines represent the ukulele strings. The leftmost line represents the first and topmost string in the ukulele, the G-string. Next to the right are the C, E, and A strings. To make it easier to remember, you can call the entire batch of these four strings simply as the G-C-E-A strings.
The horizontal lines, on the other hand, illustrates the frets. Depending on the number of frets required to play a chord, a chord diagram can be made up of four to five frets.
Aside from the lines and the chord name, a chord diagram also has dots which illustrates the proper placement of your fingers. Each dot represents a note.
Some chord diagrams are provided with numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 along with each dot to direct where your index, middle, ring, and pinky fingers should be placed respectively in the fretboard.
For example, above G major chord，Your pointer should be on the second fret of the C string, middle on the second fret of the A string, and your ring finger to complete the triangle on the third fret of the E string.
The thickest horizontal line is called the nut, which is often the starting point or topline of most chord diagrams.
However, there are some diagrams which have numbers indicated on each side to represent a fret. With the same rule, you are going to treat that fret as the top line. For example, if the number on the side of the diagram is 4, then you’ll have the diagram start on the fourth fret.
6. Open Strings
The open circles or indicated with the symbol (O), are usually placed on the top of the chord diagram. Strings with circles are played open.
7. Muted Strings
Muted strings are specified with “X” mark, placed on top of the chord diagram. A vertical line carrying this symbol means that the specified string should not be played at all. When muting a string, you simply place one or more of your fingers forcing it to stay as it is or to remain unfretted.
8. Bar Chords
Bars are chords where you basically use one or more fingers to press down multiple strings at once, using them as a capo. These chords are usually indicated with clustered dots. Most of the time, you can use only your index finger to get this done, but sometimes you’ll need the other fingers to make it work out.