The first four chords I learned were Am, C, G and F. After a while I also got the hang of Em, D, Dm, Bm, A, Cm and a few more. But learning the ukulele E chord was a nightmare. Nevertheless, I did it and you can do it too!
Once upon a time
The first chords I started with when I was in the early stages of learning the ukulele were Am, C, G and F. I could already play quite a lot of songs with just those four chords! And I stuck to playing those four for several weeks, until I could switch very quickly between them.
After a while, though, I went looking for other songs and steadily built up my personal database of chords I could play. These included: A, Am, Bm, C, Cm, Em, D, Dm, F, G and a few more. Whenever I saw a song with an E chord in it, I would skip it, but I couldn’t keep ignoring it forever. It really is a chord that you should learn at some point.
How did I learn the E chord on the ukulele?
Most of the times when you are looking up ukulele chords, you’ll see the ukulele E chord the way it’s shown below on the ukulele from UkuChords. This shape is the one most widely known and is generally taken as the standard shape for the E chord.
However it is very difficult to play, especially for someone who is just starting out. You play it with your first finger on the second fret of the A string and then your other fingers on the fourth fret of the G C and E strings, or you barre the three strings with one finger (you can even use your thumb). Unless you have some guitar background, this is very difficult to get the hang of properly.
When you look at the E chord in the UkuChords Chord Library, however, you will find another shape listed as first option. This is my favourite shape for the E chord and it’s the one I always use. It sounds very clear – there is no barring – and allows for quick changing between chords. It is the one shown on the left here (G string on the first fret, C string on the fourth fret, open E string, A string on the second fret – 1402).
Play the ukulele E chord as “4402”
Another way to play the E chord was recently sent in by Bill. He suggests playing it as “4402”: you can see the ukulele chord diagram below. This is basically an E5 chord and it won’t always fit the song you are playing, but you can always give it a try.
It will take quite a lot of practice to master the ukulele E chord, but it will be very rewarding once you get there since it is quite a popular chord and used in tons of well-known songs. Another popular shape is 4447 — barre the fourth fret and use your pinkie to press the A string on the seventh fret.
Ukulele E chord learning tip
I suggest you that you pick one shape and play it for a few minutes everyday. After a few days, try switching to another chord and back to the E. If you are really (I mean really) struggling, you can try replacing the E chord with an Em or E7. I do not recommend it as it changes the tone of the song, but it can be helpful if you really want to play a certain song in the early stages.
Need more input?
Feel free to contact me whenever you need more information about playing the E chord on your ukulele properly. I wish you good luck! You can find ukulele songs with chord diagrams on UkuTabs to get you going.
Also interested to know how to put a strap on your ukulele without drilling? Or perhaps some information more about basic ukulele chords?