10 Easy Ukulele Songs By The Beatles

easy ukulele songsEven if you’re a Beatlemaniac, you might not know that you can teach yourself to play ukulele by playing exclusively Beatles songs! In this article, I’ve gathered 10 Beatles easy ukulele songs that are perfect for ukulele beginners and provided a few tips for learning and playing them.

I’ve also used this article to showcase 10 wonderful Beatles covers from YouTube that don’t get much attention (maybe because 9 of them are ukulele covers, and we’re still a little underground!). At the time of this writing, most of these don’t even have 1,000 views, but I think all of them are worth listening to, both as a way to learn the songs more easily and to get inspired to play more ukulele!

Please enjoy this article, and if you end up recording your own Beatles cover (or if you have any questions!), I’d love to listen… and by the way, for help with chords you can take a look at my ukulele chords guide. It will come in handy as you learn new songs.

1. In Spite of All the Danger

“In Spite of All the Danger” is a great place to start playing The Beatles – after all, it’s where The Beatles started playing The Beatles!

John Lennon and Paul McCartney, then called The Quarrymen, wrote “In Spite Of All The Danger” together in 1958, before the other two slackers ever hopped on the bandwagon.

When you’re first starting on the uke, a lot of your strums tend to be “Down” strums. Adding the “up” strum at a softer volume can be challenging – but because of the strong “Down” presence in this song, you’ll get a feel for how to accent your Down strums and play a little more gently on your Up strums.

The tab is a little confusing after the line “If you’ll be true to me.” What you want to do is play a Down strum on the E chord on the word “Me.” Then, wait one more Down strum before switching to the A chord for two Down strums, then back to the E chord. While you’re practicing, you could say that section aloud like this:

“Me, Down, A, Down, E, Down”

Check out this awesome father-son uke-guitar duo playing “In Spite of All the Danger” on YouTube for some inspiration! But before playing along, don’t forget to tune your ukulele!

2. Tomorrow Never Knows

Written in 1966 and inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, “Tomorrow Never Knows” is one of the most famous and most unusual songs of the 20th century.

There are only two chords in this song, so most beginners won’t struggle with the chords themselves. What’s tricky about this song – and the thing that makes it a great song to learn and practice – is learning to sing more freely over your strumming rhythm. This is a great song for developing the ability to sing a little more independently from your strumming.

The best strategy is to relax. If you’re having a hard time singing along, practice the strumming and singing separately! It’s perfectly alright to practice with a recording to get the timing of the melody in your head. Then, you can practice singing while tapping the rhythm on your thigh or a desk before adding the strumming back in. Don’t be afraid to let loose – being expressive can only help you.

I loved this simple but powerful acoustic guitar cover of the song:

3. Act Naturally

Alright, this isn’t technically a Beatles song (it was written by Buck Owens in 1963). But the Beatles made it famous in 1965 on their album Help!, showcasing the vocal talent of Ringo Starr.

This song feels like it was written for the uke. It’s got a relaxed, folky feel. It’s also a great way to get your inner percussionist involved in your uke playing.

The Beatles had their drummer sing this song for a reason: it’s not as easy as it seems to keep the vocals in time!

Most people who sing this song tend to slow themselves down. You can avoid this by practicing with a metronome, and also by recording yourself. That way, you can play back the recording and hear whether you’re singing the words in rhythm.

I love the way this gentleman acts naturally in his uke cover:

4. Let It Be

“Let It Be” was The Beatles’ last single before Paul McCartney left the band. Today, this song has become part of the Great American Songbook, right alongside other 70s tracks like Mrs. Robinson.

This song uses one of the most common groups of chords in contemporary music, so it’s a great staple. Its popularity also makes it ideal for practicing expressive playing – once you’ve learned the chords, be bold! Don’t be afraid to experiment – try different speeds, rhythms, or accents to give “Let It Be” your own creative twist.

The young lady in this YouTube video takes the song at her own pace and includes a couple subtle flourishes that make her version unique.

5. Yellow Submarine

If you have three people in a room, you’ve got four interpretations of the 1966 classic “Yellow Submarine.” But when he was asked about the song, Paul McCartney maintained that there wasn’t a special secret meaning to it.

“It’s a happy place… that’s all,” he said. “We were just trying to write a children’s song.”

Without sharp chord changes, this song doesn’t come together well. So, it’s perfect for teaching yourself how to pick up speed and change chords more quickly!

Don’t start at the actual speed of the song (about 105 BPM). Instead, start at a much slower speed, say, 85 BPM. When you have mastered it at that speed, gradually increase your speed by five beats per minute each time.

It’s kind of like lifting weights: doing an exercise properly with less weight is a thousand times better than doing it improperly with too much. If you start at a manageable speed, you’ll get to your goal speed much faster, and you’re less likely to strain your muscles or get frustrated and give up.

If you’re curious about this method or how your muscle memory works, you can check out my article on How To Play the Ukulele Faster!

Here’s another top-notch ukulele cover from someone who seems like he’s having a lot of fun:

6. Eleanor Rigby

“Eleanor Rigby,” also from the album Yellow Submarine, marked a subtle turning point for The Beatles as they moved from being a live pop music group to a more studio-oriented group. Pete Townsend from The Who also cited “Eleanor Rigby” as an inspiration.

Eleanor Rigby is an unusual pop song, particularly because it uses a lot of syncopation. “Syncopation” is just a fancy word that means “rhythms that fall in surprising places.” As you learn the song, you’ll notice that the “strong beats” in the vocal melody don’t always fall right in step with the strong beats in the strumming pattern. That’s one of the things that gives this song such a memorable sound and drives the melody forward.

If you’re having trouble lining your strumming up to your singing, you might not be ready to bring the singing in yet. You need more muscle memory, so that your strumming feels natural! When I learned this song, I practiced the strumming and chord changes on their own until they felt comfortable; then, I added the singing back in.

For inspiration, check out this creative uke version – that also incorporates cello!

7. Obla-di, Obla-da

“Obla-di, Obla-da” is a lighthearted song with a great message. It also highlights the Beatles’ reggae influences, which makes it great for bringing an “island feel” into your playing – very appropriate for the ukulele.

“Chunking” (a.k.a. muting your strings to create a percussive sound, rather than strumming) really adds to the strumming pattern in this song. Here’s my two-step process for making the “chunk” sound:

STEP ONE: Before your strum, rest the base of your palm on the strings near the bridge. While you usually strum closer to the neck, for a muted strum, you want to strum lower on the uke, because otherwise, all the notes could become sharp!

STEP TWO: Strum with your finger(s) curling inward toward the strings, making sure all the strings are evenly muted.

For inspiration, I love this carefree cover from YouTube:

8. Octopus’s Garden

Ringo Starr said he got the idea for “Octopus’s Garden” from his first experience eating squid, which happened in 1968 on a boat that belonged to comedian Peter Sellers. According to Ringo, he had ordered fish and chips, but he was served squid instead – and, in 1969, we got “Octopus’s Garden.”

This song can help you get the hand of faster chord changes: the speed of the strumming doesn’t leave much time for dawdling between chords!

As you practice, try to think of the next chord shape before the time comes to switch chords – so that while you’re playing a phrase, you’re already mentally preparing to move your hand to the new position.

This does take practice, and you might want to practice the strumming by itself before adding the vocal melody. One thing that can help, while you’re practicing, is to actually say the name of the chord on the beat you put your fingers down. This way, your brain is reinforcing the chord change verbally as well as kinesthetically.

I was transported to a summer campfire by this woman’s cover of “Octopus’s Garden”:

9. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away

“You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” is The Beatles’ tribute to Bob Dylan. It’s also a good way to learn to play something that really sounds like folk music.

Most of the time, if you tap your foot along to a song, you’ll feel yourself tapping in groups of 2 or 4, with the emphasis on the first tap. But folk music is often felt in groups of 3 – that’s one of the things that makes “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” feel so folky.

Don’t believe me? Try tapping quickly along with the strums of the song. If you pay attention, you’ll find yourself tapping in groups of 3, with the emphasis on the first tap of each group.

As you practice and listen to this song, keep that feel in the back of your mind. It’ll help you bring out the musicality of the songwriting.

Check out this video to hear what I’m talking about:

10. We Can Work it Out

“We Can Work It Out” is remarkable because it was a true Lennon-McCartney collaboration. Even the lyrics seem to reflect that!

For many beginners, this song can be the perfect cumulative project, putting together several of the concepts that the other songs on this list highlight individually.

If you can play this, pat yourself on the back and move on to a different article – because you’re now an intermediate player, not a beginner… and you can create your own Beatles cover!

For now, I’ll leave you with this one:

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Riptide Chords for Ukulele (Vance Joy)

Learn how Vance recorded the song here, you’ll know the inspiration behind Riptide chords.


Am G C (x2)

 
Am 
I was scared of  
G 
dentists and the  
C 
dark
Am 
I was scared of  
G 
pretty girls and  
C 
starting 
 
conversations
Am 
Oh all my  
G 
friends are turning  
C 
green
Am 
You’re the magicians  
G 
assistant in their  
C 
dreams

Pre-Chorus:

 
Am 
Ooh, 
 
 
G 
ooh, 
 
 
C 
ooh
Am 
Ooh, 
 
 
G 
and they  
C 
come 
 
unstuck

Chorus:

 
Am 
Lady, 
G 
running down to the  
C 
riptide, taken away to the  
Am 
dark 
 
side
G 
I wanna be your  
C 
left hand man
Am 
I love you  
G 
when you’re singing that  
C 
song and, I got a lump in my  
Am 
throat 
 
’cause
G 
You’re gonna sing the  
C 
words 
 
wrong
Am 
There’s this movie  
G 
that I think you’ll  
C 
like
Am 
This guy decides to  
G 
quit his job and  
C 
heads to New York City
Am 
This cowboy’s  
G 
running from  
C 
himself
Am 
And she’s been living  
G 
on the highest  
C 
shelf

Pre-Chorus>

Chorus>

C

Am 
I just wanna, I just wanna  
G 
know, 
 
 
C 
if you’re gonna, if you’re gonna  
F 
stay,
Am 
I just gotta, I just gotta  
G 
know, 
 
 
C 
I can’t have it, I can’t have it  
F 
any other way
Am 
I swear she’s  
G 
destined for the  
C 
screen
Am 
Closest thing to  
G 
Michelle Pfeiffer  
C 
that you’ve ever seen, oh

Chorus> x3

C 
I got a lump in my  
Am 
throat ’cause  
G 
you’re gonna sing the words  
C 
wrong.

 

Learn more about Vance Joy’s music here or take a look at Vance Joy and Taylor Swift covering each others songs here

For an overview of basic ukulele chords visit this link.

Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners

The best way to get started on the uke is to learn how to play easy ukulele songs for beginners.  While there are what seems like an unlimited amount of songs you can get started with, here are a few that will be easy for you to help build your uke skills. From kids of 5 years all the way to around 97 years old, ukulele is a beloved instrument. So get ready and have fun with the following lessons:

 

12 Basic Ukulele Chords for Beginners

basic uke chordsLearning how to play ukulele chords is perhaps one of the most exciting things. The reasons for this is that every song you here is composed of chords. So as you learn a handful of these chords you will be on your way to playing hundreds of songs and even thousands if you wanted to. This article will help you learn how to play ukulele chords easily. I’ve put together clear step by step instructions to help you. I hope to make your journey easier while you learn how to play ukulele chords.

These chords I will show you in great detail really are the most popular and the most common. There are many ukulele chords you can learn, but the reality is that there are a small amount of them that are most significant.

My goal is to save you a lot of time, money, and stress that may come with music lessons. I say this from personal experience. So here you will learn the chords that will help you play over 80% of all ukulele songs.

Learning how to play ukulele becomes a lot easier once you know that there are only 12 ukulele chords you really need to know to play 90% of songs. There are over 100 chords you can learn, but you would rarely need to use more than half of those if ever. So I’ve sifted through many songs to save you time and have come up with a list of the 12 most popular chords you should learn. After learning these chords you will be able to play almost any song you can think of. Oh, and did I already mention learning to play ukulele chords is really exciting?

By the way, be sure to check out the ukulele chords video library. It’s free and an awesome resource for beginners.

ukulele chords

How To Play Ukulele Chords

The Major Chords

1. How To Play C Ukulele Chord

C is the most popular chord of all time. Whether you play piano, saxophone, accordion, trumpet, the C chord is the most common and most played chord. This applies to any instrument you play and pretty much any musical genre. It’s basically the first chord every musician learns at the beginning stages. By the way, this happens to be the easiest to play of all the ukulele chords! Examples of songs that use C: Somewhere Over The Rainbow, I’m Yours, Let It Go, The Lazy Song, Imagine.

The most common way to play this chord is simply to place your ring finger on the first string/third fret. The reason for this is that you can easily maneuver if you need to switch to play chords that include notes on the first and second fret for example A chord, or F chord. However, get used to playing this chord with the middle finger also as sometimes it will be a more comfortable position certain cases. For example at the very beginning of Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

  1. place your ring finger on the 1st string / third fret.
  2. Or using your middle finger may be more convenient depending on the song.

2. How To Play G Ukulele Chord

G chord is a hugely popular chord as well. Almost as much as the C chord actually. A lot of the popular songs usually use the C chord and the G chord together. So it’s no surprise that G is the next most popular on the list of ukulele chords. Examples of songs that use G: Somewhere Over The Rainbow, I’m Yours, Let It Go, Imagine

  1. place your middle finger on the 1st string / 2nd fret
  2. place your index finer on the 3rd string / 2nd fret
  3. place your ring finer on the 2nd string / 3rd fret

3. How To Play F Ukulele Chord

Similar to the G chord, the F chord is widely used together with C. It is very common to see all three of these chords together. So if you’re getting started on the uke, these are the first three ukulele chords that you should learn really well before learning the rest. Examples of songs that use F: Somewhere Over The Rainbow, I’m Yours.

  1. place your index finger on the 2nd string / 1st fret.
  2. place your middle finger on the 4th string / 2nd fret

4. How To Play D Ukulele Chord

The D chord is another important chord to learn. Remember we went over learning how to play Happy Birthday together? The D chord was used a lot together with G and the next chord on this list. Example of songs that use D: Happy Birthday, Amazing Grace

  1. place your index finger on the 4th string / 2nd fret
  2. place your middle finger on the 3rd string / 2rd fret
  3. place your ring finger on the 2nd string / 2nd fret

5. How To Play A Ukulele Chord

A is the chord used in Happy Birthday right after D. If you get this chord, you’ll be able to play songs like Hey Jude, Hey Soul Sistah and other great classic ukulele songs.

  1. place your index finger on the 3rd string / 1st fret
  2. place your middle finger on the 4th string / 2nd fret

6. How To Play E Ukulele Chord

This one is a classic chord because probably the one you hear when you listen to sad songs like Somewhere Over The Rainbow. This chord is known for giving the sad vibe to songs. Get used to this chord because you will see it very often.

  1. place your index finger on the 1st string / 2nd fret
  2. place your ring finger on string 2, 3, and 4 / 4th fret

7. How To Play Bb Ukulele Chord

The most commonly used flat chord. This one is a must know.

  1. place your index finger and cover the 1st & 2nd string / 1st fret
  2. place your middle finger on the 3rd string / 2nd fret
  3. place your ring finger on the 4th string / 3rd fret

The Minor Chords

The following ukulele chords are just as important as the top 7. These are the minor chords you will see frequently as your learn to play. A lot of songs use these chords to add emotion and feeling. So you will likely see these combined with the top seven major chords we covered already.

8. How To Play Am Ukulele Chord

  1. place your middle finger on the 4th string / 2nd fret

9. How To Play Bm Ukulele Chord

  1. place your whole index finger covering all strings / 2nd fret
  2. place your ring finger on 4th string / 4th fret

10. How To Play Dm Ukulele Chord

  1. place your index finger on the 2nd string / 1st fret
  2. place your middle finger on the 4th string / 2nd fret
  3. place your ring finger on the 3rd string / 2nd fret

11. How To Play Em Ukulele Chord

  1. place your index finger on the 1st string / 2nd fret
  2. place your middle finger on the 2nd string / 3rd fret
  3. place your ring finger on the 3rd string / 4th fret

12. How To Play Gm Ukulele Chord

  1. place your index finger on the 1st string / 1st fret
  2. place your middle figer on the 3rd string / 2nd fret
  3.  place your ring finger on the 2nd string / 3rd fret

Well my ukulele friends, I really hope this article was informative for you. My main goal is to help beginner ukulele players and I’m confident this guide will help you learn how to play ukulele chords and how to become better. Remember that practice makes progress. Take it one step at a time. Learn a chord really well before you go on to the others.
Here’s a really helpful video covering common chords.

_______

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Somewhere Over The Rainbow Ukulele Chords

Difficulty Level: Easy

Somewhere Over The Rainbow has 5 chords. The chords are basic and are among the top most popular ukulele chords. I highly recommend this song for beginners to learn. This song has a structure of AABA: verse /verse /bridge/verse. The song was written for the film Wizard of Oz for release in the 1930’s. Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwoʻole popularized the song with the ukulele outside of Hawaii gathering millions of admirers. Enjoy learning to play with this somewhere over the rainbow ukulele tab.

Before you start, make sure you tune your ukulele. You can also use this ukulele chords video library to learn or refresh your memory on how to play the chords for this song.

Verse 1

 
C 
Somewhere 
 
 
Em 
over the rainbow
F 
Way up  
C 
high
F 
And the  
C 
dreams that you dreamed of
G 
Once in a lulla
Am 
by
F 

Verse 2

 
C 
Somewhere 
 
 
Em 
over the rainbow
F 
Blue birds  
C 
fly
F 
And the  
C 
dreams that you dreamed of
G 
Dreams really do come  
Am 
true 
 
 
F 
ooh 
 
oh

Bridge

 
C 
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
G 
Wake up where the clouds are far be
Am 
hind 
 
me
F 
 
Where  
C 
trouble melts like lemon drops
G 
High above the chimney tops
 
That’s wh
Am 
ere you’ll fin
F 
 
me

Verse 3

 
Oh,  
C 
somewhere 
 
 
Em 
over the rainbow
F 
bluebirds 
 
 
C 
fly
F 
And the  
C 
dream that you dare to,
G 
Oh why, oh why  
Am 
can’t 
 
 
F 
I?

Bridge

 
C 
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
E 
Wake up where the clouds are far be
A 
hind 
 
 
F 
me
 
Where  
C 
trouble melts like lemon drops
E 
High above the chimney tops
 
That’s wher
Am 
e you’ll  
F 
find 
 
me

Verse 3

 
C 
Somewhere 
 
 
Em 
over the rainbow
F 
Way up  
C 
high
F 
And the  
C 
dream that you dare to,
 
Oh w
G 
hy, oh why can’t  
Am 
I?
F 

______

For practice, follow along with the song original song here:

How to Tune Your Ukulele (Ukulele Tuning Guide)

In this lesson we will cover a key step to take before actually strumming away at your favorite songs. That is to tune your ukulele.

There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, and I’ll be covering the most common ways to do so. So for example, I won’t be covering how to tune your uke with a tuning fork. But the best methods are all here. Now let’s get started.

Ukulele Tuning: The Easy Way

1. Using A Clip-On Tuner
My first recommendation is perhaps the most popular way to tune and maintain your tuning. That is to use a clip-on tuner. For absolute beginners this the best method as it relies on the accuracy of an electronic tuner and they are indeed very accurate.

They usually go for about $10-$20 on a site like Amazon. Not only is the price convenient, but they are very easy to use and portable as well. Clip-on tuners usually discovers the current tuning of your ukulele by feelings its vibrations when its clipped onto the headstock. Most clips-on work this way and are incredibly accurate in detecting the pitch of your strings.

The one I like to use is the Snark SN2. As with any other device, it will last long as long as its taken care of. However, there are many options available in the market and you may happen to find another that you make like better. But this one has excellent reviews and I have no complaints. It works perfectly fine and gets me up and running right away.

How to use the clip-on tuner

I would suggest starting from the top string (string #4, to be tuned to G) since it is the natural starting point when you strum. Although, feel free to start from the first string which will be tuned to A.

So suppose you are starting by tuning string #4. You’ll want to play the string without fretting at all. That means that you are playing the open string. Once you play the string, take a look at what the tuner is detecting. It will show you whether you need to tune up or down to reach the goal of the correct tuning, which in this case is G.

By the way, you will usually be tuning up, because when ukuleles get out of tune they usually do so by the notes becoming more flat.

If you’re using the Snark tuner, it will have a nice visually beautiful display that will show you that you are perhaps reaching G but needs a little more sharp or a little more flat. This determines how much or how little you need to tighten or loosen the tuning of the string to finally reach the right tuning.

You can basically go through this process with the other strings until you have your standard tuning of G-C-E-A.

2. Using a Smartphone App

If you have an iPhone, I recommend that you try out insTuner. It gives you the option of letting the app detect your tuning so you can adjust accordingly, or you can use its ‘tone generator’ which gives you the sound of the note of your choice for you to tune with by ear.

For Android users, you can try out DaTuner or Easy Ukulele Tuner. DaTuner is an all purpose tuner so it will apply to other stringed instruments as well, but it will help you reach your goal which is ukulele tuning.

These apps will help you tune to the standard G-C-E-A tuning (or any other tuning).

3. Ukulele Tuning By Ear

This method of tuning is just a tiny bit more advanced. The only reason for this is because you are relying on your ears to get the accurate tuning for your uke. This is perfectly fine as long as you are comfortable with getting the feel for the notes by ear.

So if you start tuning your first string and its not quite the tuning it should be, the rest of the strings will also be off. The starting off right is key here.

It’s just a matter of tuning the first string accurately so the rest can tune relatively to your first tuned string.

Speaking for myself, I’ve played music by ear for years. But I find that using an actual tuner benefits me the most because I never tune by ear as precisely as using a tuner would accomplish for me.

With that said, why not mix it up a bit? If you are not super comfortable tuning by ear you can use a tuner to tune the very first instrument and challenge yourself to tune the rest by ear. It will help you grow tremendously. Your skills will improve and it will make you a better ukulele player in the process.

This is how you would go about it.

Since C is the lowest sounding string on the uke, let’s get started there shall we?

  1. Once you tune the 3rd string  (C String), you can go ahead and play the seventh fret of this string to get G. So you will want to then match the fourth string (G String) to sound exactly like the seventh fret of the C string.
  2. Play the 4th fret on the C string to play E. Match the second string to the sound of E on the C string. So you want to make sure that the E string sounds exactly the same as the E on the 4th fret of the C string. Until it does, you will need to adjust the second string until it sounds identical.
  3. Once the E string is in tune, you can then tune the very first string which is A. So play the 5th fret of the E string to get the A note. You can now match the first string to this note.

So there you have it. In this lesson you have learned how to tune your ukulele in three different ways. I suggest to try them all out, since learning is best by doing.

After getting your uke in tune, you may want to take a look at this Ukulele Chords Video Library. It’s an excellent page for beginners to use as a chords reference throughout their ukulele learning journey.

Here’s a 1-minute video that briefly covers ukulele tuning. I hope you enjoyed this article. Are you on social media? Follow my easy ukulele songs facebook page.