Playing the ukulele is a great way to improve your musical skills and be able to express yourself through music. Playing chords, especially on the ukulele, is a key aspect of playing any type of music. One way to play chords on the uke is through understanding chord shapes and reading chord charts. In this article, we will cover how to read chord charts for the ukulele in-depth and also will explore some basic eighth-note strumming patterns.
There are many types of chord charts, including the following:
1) Figure-8 or ukelele notations. These show shapes that a guitarist might use on his guitar and have the same function on a ukulele. The numbers along the bottom indicate fret numbers for each string. There are different ways to read these charts depending on how they are formatted, so we will cover all of them in this article. These charts are similar to figure-8 notations except that they have numbers above each fret. They are read along the bottom in order from lower string to higher string. For example, a C chord is played on the second fret of both the E and A strings.
2) Symbol chord diagrams. These are also similar to figure-8 notations, except they are printed on musical symbols such as mutes, notes, and sharps. These charts are read from left to right along the top of the chart. For example, an E chord is played on the third fret of the A string.
3) Circle chord charts. These are similar to figure-8 notations, except that they have circles instead of numbers on them. Circles are usually printed top to bottom on a circle chart with numbers corresponding to frets underneath each circle. For example, a C chord is played on the fifth fret of the E string. The circle notations are read from the outside edge in order starting from lower string to higher string. For example, a C chord is played on the fifth fret of the E string.
4) Circle chord diagrams. These are similar to circle charts except that they have circles instead of numbers and circles inside other circles. Circles are usually printed top to bottom on a circle chart with numbers corresponding to frets underneath each circle. For example, a C chord is played on the second fret of the B string. Then, a circle inside the C chord shape indicates where to put your finger for an F# chord (second fret of the A string). The circle notations are read from the outside edge in order starting from lower string to higher string. For example, a C chord is played on the second fret of the B string.
How to Learn to Read Ukulele Chords?
Reading Chord Charts on ukulele:
Start by determining what type of chord chart you are looking at. Figure-8 notations are read by finding your desired chord shape and counting along the bottom from low string to high string. You will then strum each string within the chord shape from low string to high string in eighth-note pairs (like in a strumming pattern). Standard guitar diagrams are read by reading the chart with numbers such as 1, 2, etc.
It is important to note that a ukulele chord shape might be a part of a larger shape, or there might be a fingering overlap, meaning that you strum more than one string with the same finger. For example, all C chords have an A string in the chord shape. Therefore, when strumming a C chord, you would play an open A string and then play the fifth fret on the E string while holding down your second finger for all strings. All F chords have an open E-string in their chord shape.
A fretted version of the same chord is played on the same string but at a different fretted fret (third string for C, fifth fret for F). For example, you can play a C chord on the fifth fret of the A string, or you can play an F chord on the third fret of your B-string.
Barre Chords are played by using your first finger to barre (cover) all strings. A common way of reading a barre chord chart is to determine the first finger fret for each string and then multiply that number by 16 (for example, if I am looking at a D chord on my ukulele, which is played by barring the first finger across all four strings, I would divide the first-finger fret of each string by 16 to get 3.
It can be helpful to group every third string of every chord together. For example, if I look at a B7 chord played on the second fret of the E string, I would count three strings from the low G-string on the second fret of the A-string and write it as an open G chord on my ukulele.
When you get to more complex chord charts such as the circle ones, it is best to practice these chords one at a time until you are familiar with each one. In addition, remember that you will be playing both fingers and strings simultaneously, so your strumming hand will look slightly different from a standard strumming pattern.
We hope this article was helpful! This program will walk you through chord charts step-by-step so that you can learn without trying to figure it out on your own.