How to Play the Ukulele for Beginners

how to play the ukuleleOne of the most fun instruments you’ll find in the music world is the ukulele. It is that cute smaller-sized guitar-like instrument that people love pulling out at parties and get-togethers. What makes it so popular is that on top of its convenience, it is relatively easy to learn how to play the ukulele.

If you have no musical background whatsoever the ukulele is the perfect instrument to start with. You’ll get the education on music you are looking for and have pretty quick results if you put time into practice. With a good guide (like this one), you’ll also be able to work at your own level.

How to Play Ukulele Basics

Holding Your Ukulele

Let’s start at the beginning of your ukulele journey. Here is where you learn the proper hold for the instrument. If you are a fan of the musical instrument (and you likely are if you want to learn how to play it), then you probably have seen Tiny Tim. He’s a musician from the 60s who made the instrument famous. Now his musical style may be in question, but if you look at a picture of him playing, he has the perfect hold for it. Note that he plays left-handed style so if you’re a righty, hold it the same way but reverse.

For a right-handed hold, the ukulele should be cradled by the right arm and held between your body and your forearm. On your right hand, your index finger is extended and used for strumming. You should be strumming at the neck of the ukulele, where it meets the body. If you play the guitar, you might be tempted to strum near the hole of the ukulele but this isn’t right. You should focus on strumming much higher; this is how the vibration works uniquely to the instrument.

Hold your instrument high to your body as you are playing. Again- a guitar is held much lower, but the ukulele has to be higher to get the proper sound. The crook of your elbow is where it should rest. If you are holding it properly you should be able to move either one of your hands away and the instrument should stay in place. Take a look at this video tutorial showing how to hold a uke:

Ukulele Chords Structure and Tuning

If you hold your ukulele up facing you, the strings are outlined as follows:

• The top left is the C

• The top right is the E

• The bottom right is the A

• The bottom left is the G

Inevitably at some point you’ll have to tune your uke. There are 4 notes you should concern yourself with: A, C, E and G. You may be wondering why this is an important step of your ukulele training. The truth is that it is important because properly tuning it will give you the right sound. Sometimes when people first start with a new instrument, they think their playing is bad or they are just “not getting it”, when in reality their instrument just isn’t tuned properly. That’s why it is important to take a few moments to make sure you’re getting the right basic notes.

The first time you purchase your ukulele you should ask someone at the store to tune it for you. You can get a tuner for reference, but once you get the hang of it, you won’t likely need it. That’s why it is not always a good idea to invest in a tuner. The good news is that you can go online for an example of an A, C, E and G note. Play each one and match your ukulele to it. Strum each of the strings individually and tighten or loosen them until you get the appropriate sound. Start with the G-note and then move on to the C-note, the E-note and finally the A-note. When you’re done, remember to go back and make sure that the earlier tuned notes are still calibrated.

Learning How to Strum your Uke

When you strum all four of your strings at the same time you are creating a “chord”. This is where the real music starts. The first chord you should work with is the C-chord, also referred to as the C-major chord. To create it, you press your ring finger down on the A-string. You want to hold it down hard enough so that it’s pressed against the ukulele’s fret. Next, take your fingernail of your right index finger and glide it down across all four of the strings. When you do, you have created your first chord! Be sure that you’re strumming and using your down-stroke where the neck joins with the body of your instrument.

It will take some practice to learn how to hold the instrument properly and then remember which string is which. Here’s where practice will come into play. One good tip to use when you’re getting used to your ukulele is to count. Saying “One, and two, and three” as you strum your uke chords can help you with timing. This isn’t long-term—you’ll stop soon enough. It is just a method of getting used to the timing needed for a cohesive song delivery. It helps your brain to synchronize and that’s why counting is a part of formal musical education. Use it – it may make your ukulele training easier!

While you’re playing your ukulele you may hear some people tell you that you get a “better” sound with a pick. This isn’t necessarily true, but you do get a slightly different sound. It basically comes down to preference. Some people love using picks on their ukulele and others don’t. Try each option and see which ones is easiest for you and which one produces the sound you want.

Be sure when you are strumming that your right index finger stays extended and your nail is facing downward. Focus on giving yourself enough time to learn each chord you work with. It may be tempting to rush ahead and start playing more chords, but resist the temptation. You want the chord play to become automatic. When you need to create a C-chord you want your fingers to automatically know where to go and what to do. To get this automatic response, it takes practice.

Practicing Your Ukulele

When you start formally practicing your ukulele, pick a few easy ukulele songs. Play them and get used to the sounds you find. You want to pick songs that have only a few chords and are relatively short. These are the best to start with because they let you really train your brain and hands to replicate the sounds you hear.

After you are comfortable with the C-chord, move on to the F-chord. This is going to be played by pressing down on two strings (rather than one for the C-chord). You’ll be using your index finger on the third string (from the top) and your middle finger on the first string (top string). When you have both secured to the fret, try strumming to hear the F-chord. Again, play this chord a few times to get used to the finger position and movement needed. This one may take a little getting used to because you need to use your fingers on two different strings. Keep with it though—once you train your fingers it will be much easier!

You can use the “one, two, three” count here too. It should go like this: “one” with a strum, “two” with a strum, “three” with a strum. This is an exercise that will teach you tempo and rhythm. Though you’re new to creating music now, once you get to playing songs these both will be very important.

The Ukulele Chord Exchange

When you’re comfortable with the C- and the F-chord, you next are going to start changing chords. It may be clumsy at first; most likely it will take some time to get used to it, but don’t fear! Start by saying out loud “C-chord” and play the C. Then, say “F-chord” and play the F. The strategy here is to train your fingers to go where you want them to go automatically. At firs the chords (in particular the F) may seem difficult to master. It isn’t! It’s just not what your hands are used to…yet!

While you continue to practice transitioning from C to F and back, be sure that you give yourself adequate time to learn. Automating your brain to play takes time. Saying the name of the chord is a helpful tool that will expedite your learning, so be sure to use it!

Other Uke Chords

Once you start getting used to the C- and the F-chord, you can start working with other chords the same way. The most popular chords you’ll work with are the C-, the F, and the G7-chord. The good news is that learning these three chords is going to take you far in the world of ukulele songs. You already know the C and the F. The G7 involves holding three strings down- the second, third and fourth with your middle finger on second string, the index finger on the third string and the ring finger on the fourth string. This is another chord that you should practice on its own. Because you have to get used to holding down three strings while you strum, this may take some time.

Next, you should start doing more exchanges, only this time using all three chords you know. Say “F-chord” and play it. Say “C-chord” and play it. Say “G7-chord” and play that one. Do this exercise a few times a week to train your mind to handle transitions easily. Vary your transitions from the C to the F, and then the F to the G7 and then the G7 to the C, and reverse. The purpose here is to get your fingers used to transitions and the chord delivery. You want to be able to create sounds as smoothly as possible and that takes practice!

Easy Ukulele Songs

You likely have been looking forward to playing songs on your ukulele. Though it’s tempting, give yourself enough time to feel comfortable with chords before trying to tackle one. Once you are good, try easy songs. One great learning tool is “Happy Birthday”. Another one is “Twinkle, Twinkle”. What makes them so helpful is that they use the three chords you already worked on. They are great tools in helping you to learn your transitions and movements without just strumming one chord after another, which can admittedly get boring.

You will know when you have perfected these songs. You’ll feel comfortable with them and be able to play them without concentrating. Your fingers will know where to move and what to do.


By far the most important thing to do with learning to play the ukulele is to practice. Set aside a half-hour every day where you practice holding it, tuning it, strumming it and eventually playing songs. As you grow as a musician, you’ll find that things get easier. The good news about ukuleles is that they are relatively easy to learn how to play and with some practice, you should be producing the music that everyone loves!

Be sure to enjoy and have fun with this little instrument from Hawaii. If you enjoyed this article from Ukulele-Lessons, please share it with your friends!

Ukulele Strings That Make You Sound Better

ukulele stringsIf you’re brand new the ukulele scene, you’ve probably carefully picked out the perfect one that was recommended or that you’ve done research on. Additionally, you’ll want to know what strings you should be purchasing that will result in the best sound, especially since this is something you’re new to.

Tips and Advice on Ukulele Strings

If there’s one thing to remember, is that there’s not one single type of string that’s considered the best one.

Stringed instruments rely on the actual construction of its sound chamber to successfully create a desired tone and to sustain that tone. If you’re using a laminated top ukulele, you’ll want to invest in aquila strings, which help give a sound boost to these types of ukulele. When it comes to solid wood ukuleles, there are a variety of strings that will suit this build best, such as nylons and flourocarbons. Brands that provide these types of strings include Worth and Martin.

Comparing Various Ukulele Strings

Some of the ukulele strings available for purchase are manufactured with precious metals in their build. And even though strings can be inexpensive doesn’t necessarily mean that you should cheat yourself by purchasing some of poor quality.

Both the playability of your ukulele and the sound of your instruments can be compromised if you manage to purchase the inappropriate set of strings. The difference in sound between the variants strings is very noticeable, regardless of what your preference in sound may be. This is discussed directly below:

It’s also to remember that when it comes to the “best” ukulele strings, a lot of it has to do with the performer’s preference in sound in addition to the strings’ compatibility with the instrument itself. If the strings are too thin, they will become the consistency of spaghetti strings at any lower tunings. This means, however, that you’re free to experiment with different types of strings with various thicknesses. This is the best way for a beginner to get started and it will help him or her become more familiar with the workings of their new instrument.

Additional ukulele and String Pairings

Mahalo ukulele (cheap ukuleles you’ll find in most hobby catalogs): Aquila strings

Mainland Mahogany (Concert) ukulele: Martin strings (flourocarbons)

Pono (Concert) MHC Mahogany ukulele: Martin Flourocarbons

Kanile’a K1 Tenor ukulele: Worth CM Strings

Best Ukulele to Buy for Christmas

ukulele for christmasWant to play the Ukulele, but you haven’t mastered the skill quite yet and you’re still a beginner? There is more than one type of ukulele and if you are looking to buy one then you will need to choose the best one for you. Ukulele’s come in soprano, concert, tenor, baritone, or hybrids. I would steer clear of baritones and hybrids for a newbie. Here are the top 5 ukuleles that are recommended for beginners.

Best Christmas Ukulele Picks

Makala Dolphin Soprano Ukulele

Priced under $50 this ukulele comes in 9 different colors. They are made out of plastic but have a great tone and they are easy to play. It is suggested that you upgrade the strings but this one is easy to through in your backpack and get playing.

Lanikai LU-21 Soprano Ukulele

The Lanikai is priced approximately $100 it’s easy to play and has 12 frets (the string you play). If you are looking for a ukulele with the look of a “real” ukulele then this one is for you. The Lanikai has laminate wood; the only drawback is that you may have to tune the strings often depending on how hard you play.

Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele

Just a side note; soprano ukulele’s are the closest to the real thing fashioned in Hawaii in the 1800’s and they are most recommended for youth because of their size. If you have bigger hands moving up to a concert ukulele maybe a better option. However, the Cordoba also comes in soprano and tenor sizes. The finish is mahogany.

Kala KA-T Mahogany Tenor Ukulele

This is another easy to play ukulele for people with bigger hands. The Kala is easy easier to hold with bigger hands and the Kala brand is well known. This is another one that is available in soprano and concert sizes.

Lanikai S-T Solid Spruce Tenor Ukulele

This Ukulele is solid wood with spruce on top and a mahogany back and sides. A solid wood ukulele will sound better than the laminate versions especially when they age. The Lankai is approximately $260, but shop around for this one you can catch some pretty good deals and pick one up for under $200.

Final thoughts on buying a ukulele for Christmas

One thing’s for sure, if you are new to purchasing a ukulele and you are taking learning to play seriously you do not want to purchase a model that is too cheap. Also be conservative about spending one of the worst things that can happen is you find out you hate playing the ukulele and you spent tons of money on it. Sound and quality are most important when you are learning to play. Another thing to steer clear of is anything to weird or heavily decorated.

Ukulele Basics: Sizes, Types, String Order

ukulele basicsThe ukulele is a small guitar-like instrument from Hawaii that originated in the 19th century. It generally employs 4 strings to provide a unique sound. It’s played with the fingertips, thumb, or a pick. There are 4 basic sizes of ukuleles. Each one has its one sound and tone which can be changed with tuning and string size.

Most ukuleles are made of wood. The cheapest ukes are made of ply or laminate wood, with a soundboard of a higher quality better sounding wood like spruce. More expensive ukuleles may be made of mahogany, but the highest priced ones are from a Hawaiian wood, koa.

Four basic types of ukulele sizes


The soprano uke is the standard Hawaiian instrument. It’s approximately 21 inches long, with 12 frets. It will be tuned to G C E A but can be tuned to A D F# B, which is sometimes called Vaudeville tuning. The frets will be close together, so if you have large hands, you may want to start with another size. This is what most people learn on.


This ukulele is 23 inches long, which provides more tension on the strings. It can have 15-20 frets and is sometimes considered an alto. It’s usually tuned like a soprano ukulele, G C E A, but the G may be tuned an octave lower. Its larger size may provide a fuller sound than the soprano.


The tenor is an even longer ukulele, at 26 inches long. This length gives it even more sound fullness. It will have 15 or more frets, and you’ll be able to reach more high notes with more frets. It is generally tuned as a concert ukulele, but can also be tuned to D G B E, like a baritone.


At 30 inches or even longer, the baritone will generally have 20 frets. . It is typically tuned to D G B E, similar to the bottom 4 strings on a guitar. Baritones are good for fingerpicking and blues players, who want a deep, rich sound. Strings are available for other tunings.

There are additionally 2 not-so-common ukuleles. The sopranino or piccolo, which is only 11 inches. It will generally be tuned to a D G B E or C F A D tuning. It will have a higher pitch than the standard uke. The bass ukulele has the deepest sound, and it will be tuned to E A D G.

More Ukulele Basics

When buying strings for your ukulele, make sure you get the strings for your instrument. Changing the strings may change the way your ukulele plays. What type of string you get will be your preference. A harder string will sound brighter, but may be rough on your fingers when you start playing. Softer strings produce warmer sounds, but tend to stretch faster.

If you enjoyed this article, you will likely find this basic ukulele chords post helpful.

10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Play Ukulele

beginner ukulele playerMaybe you’ve thought about learning how to play the ukulele. There is literally nothing stopping you from picking up this great instrument and learning how to play today. Here are ten reasons why everyone should be playing the ukulele.

10 Reasons to Play Ukulele

1. It’s Inexpensive

As opposed to a costly guitar or piano, the ukulele is one of the most cost effective instruments to pick up and play. Bargain hunters should be able to find a quality ukulele for less than 100 dollars. If you’d like to make the investment, there are always more expensive, fancier ukuleles on the market, but they are typically a cheaper instrument.

2. Easy To Learn

While some people are simply naturally gifted when it comes to playing instruments, even the less inclined among us should find it easy to pick up the ukulele and learn. When compared to other stringed instruments, the ukulele rates out as one of the easiest to learn. All you need to do is tune your uke and strum away to happyville.

3. Ease Of Transport

No, the ukulele will not fit in your back pocket like a harmonica, but a backpack or a case does the trick quite nicely. Maybe you’ll be able to start a new career as a sidewalk performing artist, who knows?

4. It’s A Lot Of Fun

Learning a new instrument may not always be fun, but mastering one sure is. A ukulele is not just a fun instrument to play, but it is great fun to listen to, as well. Combining the right amounts of soul and playfulness, the ukulele provides a unique musical experience. To see what I mean, take a look at this article that covers easy ukulele songs by the Beatles.

5. More Popular Than You May Think

Popular music is littered with examples of those who learned how to play the ukulele and incorporated it into their music. Bands ranging from Train to Pearl Jam have used the ukulele in their music, as has pop vocalist Jason Mraz. Not the mention, the awesome classics that have truly catapulted the ukulele such as Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

6. They Are A Great Icebreaker

Thanks to their portability, ukuleles can be brought to parties and are often a big hit. They are known as a happy instrument, so their presence is typically welcome in most social settings.

More Reason to Play Ukulele

7. Variety Of Styles

Most instruments limit the user’s choices of color and style, limiting their ability to express their individuality. No such worries with the ukulele, as you can pick from a dazzling array of shapes, size and color schemes. The only limit is your imagination.

8. Low Maintenance

Since there are a mere four strings to tune, the ukulele does not require very much maintenance. Ukulele strings are quite durable, as opposed to the guitar, so you won’t be shopping for new ones on a regular basis.

9. Joining A Community

No matter where you go, chances are, you will find a fellow ukulele enthusiast or two to jam with. What could be more fun than that? Purchasing this instrument means becoming a member of a musician community. Don’t forget to like my easy ukulele songs facebook page.

10. Versatility

No matter how much musical expertise you have, there are melodies to be learned on the ukulele. Whether you are an advanced musician seeking to learn complex techniques or a beginner just looking to strum out a simple melody, the ukulele is right for you.

Best Ukulele Brands Beginners Should Know

best ukulele brandsSo, you’re interested in learning to play the ukulele, but not sure whats the best ukulele brand you should buy or what to look for? Instead of purchasing one that will end up under your bed, here are a few tips.

Remember, you get what you pay for. If you buy an inexpensive brand of instrument it is very possible you will have problems and it will discourage you from playing. However, this doesn’t mean to say you have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars. Figure on budgeting approximately $50.00 to $60.00 for a decent beginners ukulele.

The first thing you need to consider is the size. There are four standard sizes of ukuleles. Soprano is the smallest size and the most recommended for beginners. It is easier to reach for the notes and is usually cheaper than the other sizes. Concert and tenor sizes are fairly similar, the tenor is slightly larger. Most professionals today opt for the tenor as it gives them more room to operate the fret board. Both can work well for the novice ukulele player though. Since you are just beginning, it is suggested to stay away from the baritone. It’s much more difficult to find tutorials, tabs, etc. and they are tuned differently than the others described.

Best Ukulele Brands for Beginners

Now that you’ve chosen the size, it’s time to decide on a brand. These days there are several really good selections to pick from for your first ukulele. Beware, there are still a few duds, but these days there are several really good selections to pick from for your first ukulele. When you have your ukulele, be sure to practice Somewhere Over the Rainbow ukulele chords. Here are a few you will want to check out.

Makala Dolphin Soprano ukulele is the only one that you will be able to purchase under $50.00. The users of this instrument rave about it. Though it is made out of plastic and you will definitely have to purchase better strings, the playability and tone are great. This is the perfect ukulele for parents on a budget whose child wants to learn how to play. It’s sturdy and durable so you won’t have to worry about them just throwing it into their backpack.

For the beginner the Lanikai LU-21 Soprano is a favorite amongst people just starting out. It has the look of the real deal but is a laminated wood ukulele. You can’t go wrong with this instrument; it receives exceptional reviews and is a great purchase. The only issue any owner has had is the intonation in not perfect the higher you go up on the fret board and you may have to tune the strings more often, depending if you tend to play hard.

Next is the Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele is a sporty mahogany with a satin finish and is available in the smaller soprano size and the larger tenor. This instrument deserves a mention due to the amazing reviews it receives on a regular basis.

Final thoughts on Ukulele Brands

Finally, we’ll discuss the Kala KA-T Mahogany Tenor Ukulele. This is worth a mention even though a tenor is not usually recommended to beginners. However, if you have larger hands and bigger fingers, this might be easier for you to play since the sopranos are smaller. Kala is a worldwide known maker of ukuleles. It is a good choice and is also available in the soprano and concert size.

For the love of the ukulele, please share this post on your social media. Connect with me on the easy ukulele songs facebook.

17 Epic Ukulele YouTube Videos

Nothing inspires me more than seeing other people playing the ukulele. I mean, I absolutely love it! When I see new beginners take on the ukulele and learn their favorite songs, and most importantly have fun, it’s really fulfilling for me. So I curated these 17 ukulele videos on Youtube that I wanted to share with you for your enjoyment.

Observe the the playing styles and strumming patterns so you can get ideas for your own covers. These are good practice points. Check them out and have a great time appreciating other uke players. Continue reading 17 Epic Ukulele YouTube Videos

Best Ukulele For Beginners (Kala 15S)

best ukulele for beginnersBefore you get started with lessons, I want to make sure you have one of the best ukulele for beginners to play along with. Of course you need a ukulele to take these lessons, so just in case you don’t already have a one, I wanted to introduce you to the most popular ukulele for beginners. It’s the Kala 15S, and It’s actually this very instrument which is the one I’m going to be using in one of my free ukulele video lessons.

Before you continue, be sure to follow the easy ukulele songs facebook.

The reason why its the best seller is because it really has great quality. It has a mahogony build and it comes with Aquila strings already included which are also the best ukulele strings on the market. So this ukulele has great quality at a economical price for beginners. It’s currently available on Amazon for $53.99. I highly recommend that you buy this today if you don’t already have a ukulele. I’ve included the link that takes you to the amazon product page for you to purchase it. The Kala 15S has a 4.5 star rating with over 1000 positive reviews. So you can click the link and you can see the amazing reviews this ukulele has.

Another thing I want to advise you to buy is a clip-on electronic tuner because you are really going to need it. As you play ukulele for a long time, the strings will naturally get out of tune as you press and strum the strings. So not only is it recommended for beginners to have a tuner, but even professionals have it handy while on stage for quick tuning. One of the biggest mistakes you can do as a beginner, which you definitely want to avoid, is to try and play the ukulele out of tune. Definitely know how to tune your uke! It will be a big obstacle and will hinder your learning progress. So this ukulele and the tuner are 2 things you need to have going forward. Only when tuned can you go on strumming ukulele chords to your hearts content.

In the next video I will show you how to tune your ukulele with this same tuner I’m recommending to you. Even if you buy a different tuner, the lesson will still help you tune your ukulele properly. If you have any questions or need help please send me an email. I read all of my emails and will be very happy to help you.

Take a look at this video of a fellow uke player unboxing his new Kala 15s.

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One Love Ukulele Chords

one love ukulele chordsLearn how to play One Love which is a wonderful song by Bob Marley. This classic song by Bob Marley uses 4 basic chords, you will need to know C, A Minor, F, and G. Get ready to have some fun with this ukulele tutorial. Be sure as always to tune your uke.

One Love Uke Chords Tutorial

Did you enjoy this tutorial? You might also want to take a look at our tutorial on Somewhere Over The Rainbow ukulele chords.

Amazing Grace Ukulele Chords

amazing grace ukulele chordsLearn how to play Amazing Grace on the ukulele. Take a look at this simple video covering how to play the song. I enjoy this song very much. I know this is a song that can connect with the listener. It certainly connects with me. Hope you enjoy this tutorial. Don’t forget to tune!

Uke Chords for Amazing Grace

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