Course: Absolute Basics for Brand New Beginners: “Ukulele 3x3x3”
Chords are the building blocks of all songs, and with just these three chords, you'll be able to play thousands, nay, millions of songs in any style.
Even if you've already got some chords under your belt, you might want to go through the videos for the extra tips on speed, comfort, and smooth transitions.
Important: are you new to chord diagrams?
If so, start with this first video to quickly understand the essential basics.
(If you know this, you can skip this).
The backbone of good ukulele playing
Strumming is truly the most important skill for uke players. But it doesn't need to be complicated, and you can start off with some pleasantly simple patterns.
- WHERE to strum?
- WHAT to strum with?
- HOW to hold the uke?
WHERE to Strum?
There's a natural inclination to aim your strumming hand right at that big sound hole in the middle of your ukulele.
For most people though it's a little more natural to strum further along up the neck, somewhere around fret 12.
This does not affect the sound, so you may as well be comfortable while you strum! It's a little different for every person, but your hand should be natural, relaxed — some curve at the wrist is ok, but never twist backwards toward the sound hole. If it hurts, it's wrong!
How to Hold the Uke?
You almost can't go wrong.
If you're standing, tuck it under your arm to hold it in place. Experiment to see what works best for you so you can both pinnion the uke with your arm and have your strumming hand able to move freely.
If you're sitting, you can do the same thing, or relax a bit and let it sit in your lap.
WHAT TO AVOID: A lot of beginners like to roll the uke back in order to see the neck. This is understandable — you want to see what's going on there! Just be sure to roll it back to vertical. If you try to play with the uke inclined toward horizontal, it will just be a mess! — Keep it in line with your body, and all will be well.
WHAT to Strum With?
- Your thumb
- Your first finger
- Multiple fingers together as a unit
- Thumb and finger together as a unit
- A pick
There's a time to for each of these. Just know that any one is a good as another, and don't let anybody bully you into their “right” way of doing it!
Experiment and see what works for you. Bear it mind, that each variation will slightly change the sound and also impact the choice techniques you can employ.
Once you get familiar with the options, there's nothing wrong with changing even within a song — variety is the spice of life!
As you've seen, when you learn that magical third chord, suddenly the world opens up and you can play a billion songs in virtually any style.
This quick download sheet, lists out a huge handful of songs, listed by the number of chords it takes to play them.
You'll see there's a surprising number of surprisingly good 1-chord songs.
A bunch of 2-chord songs.
And then — bam! More 3-chord songs than you can shake a stick at.
Click here to download.
Let this list be a jumping-off point for your own discoveries. Once you get the “sound” in your mind of how these chords work together, you'll start detecting the pattern in songs that you hear every day. (And that's the beginning of “playing by ear,” another lesson for another time).