~Tuesday 16th of October 2018~

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UkuGuides offers you tons of guides and resources to learn playing the ukulele, how to take care of your beloved instrument and much more. Some guides are directed to newer ukulele players, while others are for advanced players. At the top you can find maintenance guides. After that we go to the moment before your first ukulele (green booklets) until you are an advanced ukulele player (orange booklets). At the end you can find some more theoretical guides. UkuGuides is constantly being updated and new guides are added frequently. Can't find the answer you were looking for? Request a guide by clicking here!

  • How are chord diagrams made
  • Symbols explained
  • Different versions of chord diagrams
  • How to transfer to the fretboard

How To Read Ukulele Chord Diagrams

When you are just starting out with the ukulele it can be quite overwhelming when looking at all the different chords and their shapes. They are quite intuitive to understand, but some symbols may need some explaining. Once you know how the chord diagrams “work” you will be glad seeing them on song pages, because it will really help you speed up learning a song.

Chord Diagrams (As Seen On UkuTabs)

The Basics


The UkuTabs chord diagrams are quite easy to understand and I’ve made to be as simple as possible. You should imagine watching at an ukulele in front of you and you are looking at the fretboard with the headstock at the top. The strings are illustrated as vertical lines (from left to right G C E A string) and the frets are the horizontal lines.

All the different chord shapes are  represented by dots. Each dot represents the placement of your finger. In the example on the left you can see a G chord. So how should you place your fingers? You play the C string at the second fret, the E string at the third fret and the A string at the second fret. That little circle (o) at the top of the G string means that you have to play that string open (i.e. not place a finger on it).

This is a basic chord diagram and most of time you will see diagrams like this. There are however a few symbols that  need some explaining.

Higher Up The Fretboard


Sometimes you will see numbers at the sides of diagrams. These refer to a certain fret number, because sometimes a chord is played higher up the fretboard (if nothing is displayed it means frets 1 -> 4 are shown). In the example on the left the A string is played at the sixth fret, C string at the fifth fret and the G string at the third fret.


When you see a little “x” at the top of a string it means you should not play that string at all. In other words, you have to mute it. You can do this be resting one or more of your fretting fingers on the string without actually fretting it. An example is shown at the left (same example as in “Higher Up The Fretboard”).

Text Chords

Sometimes in the notes of a song or when you are talking with people about chords you won’t see chord diagrams, but only four simple numbers. For example, when you see “0232” it represents a G chord. So the four numbers refer to each string of the ukulele (order: GCEA). This is incredibly useful to quickly tell someone how to play a certain chord. The second example in this guide would be: 35×6.

UkuChords Chord Charts

You can find the complate UkuChords chord charts for soprano, concert and tenor sized ukuleles right here. It features all the main chord diagrams and you can either download a print-friendly pdf or a “poster” like chart.

A picture is worth a thousand words

how to read chord diagrams ukulele

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