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Happy Helpful Guide to the Ukulele – Step 4: Fingering Chords

Step 4: Fingering Chords

In Step 4, we start to get a little more involved and ready to play! This step is highly involved, and essential to master before you move on to Step 5. You’ll learn how to read chord charts, correctly finger, and activate the strings in new chords. This step includes a lot of focus on the left hand and how to form chords that only require one finger.

left hand placement

Because the ukulele is a small and light instrument, you can cradle the neck between your left thumb and fingers. Alternatively, you can also press your left thumb against the back of the neck so there is space between the neck and the other fingers.Try these two options.

ukulele chords

ukulele chords

ways to represent chords

Visually: This is a chord diagram. It represents which finger goes on which string, and on what fret.

Am Chord Ukulele

Aurally: Calling out the numbers of the frets that need to be pressed “2000”. See the section on Aural Method.

Eventually, you will be able to finger a chord and switch to another chord by looking at the names of the chords and not the diagrams.

The 0 on top of the strings indicates to play those strings. An x means not to play that particular string. The number on the single black dot in the chord diagram indicates the finger to be used to press the string on that fret. For the A minor chord2, use the 2nd or middle finger. See next page for finger numbers for the left hand.

reading chord charts

left hand chords ukulele

C chord ukulele

creating good sound

  • Ensure the left hand fingers do not unintentionally touch the wrong strings.
  • Keep your fingernails of your left hand short you can produce a better sound. Use the tips of your fingers to press the strings on the frets.
  • You can grow your right hand finger nails but keep your left hand finger nails short.

finger numbers

  • For now, we will show the finger numbers on the chord diagrams. These numbers indicate which finger to use on which fret.
  • Most song sheets and chord diagram charts (tables) do not show the finger numbers so you will need to memorize which fingers to use while you’re learning these chords.
  • Stick to the most optimal fingering as indicated in the chord diagrams. Don’t arbitrarily use different fingers on different frets for the same chords. By sticking to the optimal fingerings as indicated in the chord diagrams, you will be able to memorize and switch between chords easily and quickly.

tips for fingering a chord

Unless it’s impossible, use the finger that’s the same number as the fret: first or index finger on the first fret, second or middle finger on the second fret, third or ring finger on the third fret.

For chords with more than two frets to be pressed, use your strongest fingers (index is stronger than middle, etc).

tips for ukulele chords

the aural method

  • This method involves calling out four numbers, each one pertaining to the fret to be pressed for that particular string, starting with the one furthest to the left when you look at the ukulele standing up.
  • The first and left-most of the four numbers refers to the fret to be pressed on the G-string (also known as the 4th string).
  • The second number that’s called out refers to the fret to press for the C-string (also known as the 3rd string)
  • The third number that’s called out refers to the fret to press for the E-string (also known as the 2nd string).
  • The fourth and final number that’s called out refers to the fret for the A-string (also known as the 1st string).
  • When the number 0 is called out, it means no fret is pressed for that particular string.
  • Examples: 0000 is the fingering for the Am7 chord. 0003 is the fingering for a C-chord. 0100 is the fingering for A7.

one finger chords

We now introduce one-finger chords, from the easiest to the most challenging.

• Never use the left thumb to finger a chord. The thumb is used to stabilize the neck of the ukulele by pressing it against the middle of the neck or allow the neck to cradle between the left thumb and the rest of the fingers. See illustrations on page 37.

exercise 10: some new chords

1. Retune your ukulele now.
2. Finger each of these chords on the next page: C7, CM7, C, A7, and Am
3. When learning a new chord, do a slow downstroke on each of the strings from 4th to the 1st so that you can hear each string clearly, note by note. Then do a faster down strum to hear the chord.

ukulele chords

 

 

ukulele chords

 

exercise 11: switching between chords

  1. Switch between chords, counting 4 beats for each chord: C7 – CM7 – C – CM7 – C7 etc.
  2. For down strokes, use flesh of your right thumb.
  3. Repeat the entire sequence with nail of your right index finger.
  4. Repeat these sequences until you don’t need to look at your left hand anymore

ukulele chord tips

exercise 12: more new chords

  1. Switch between C and Am, four down strokes on each chord.
  2. Try the first time slowly with flesh of right thumb so you hear each string individually and then faster the second time.

ukulele chord tips

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