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make your own chord shapes...

Did you know you can work out your own chord shapes with just 3 bits of information? All you need to know is...

1. how chords are 'spelt' (that is, which notes make up the chord)
2. the notes included in the major scales, and
3. where these notes 'live' on the ukulele

The 3 charts below provide all this information. But first, a few examples of how the information is used.

The first chart 'spells' most chords you'll ever need.

Example 1 - the major chord
the major chord is 'spelt' 1  3  5
it is made up of the 1st, 3rd & 5th notes of the scale
in the key of C the notes are - 1st C, 3rd E, 5th G
so the major C chord is 'spelt' C  E  G

Example 2 - the minor chord
the minor chord is 'spelt' 1  3b  5
it is made up of the 1st, 3rd flattened & 5th notes of the scale
in the key of C the notes are - 1st C, 3rd flattened Eb, 5th G
so the Cm chord is 'spelt' C  Eb  G

By knowing how the chord is 'spelt' the second chart below reveals at a glance that the Db chord is 'spelt' Db  F  Ab, that Em is 'spelt'  E  G (flattened 3rd G#)  B, that A is 'spelt' A  C#  E and so on.

So now you know that C is 'spelt' C  E  G and Cm is 'spelt' C  Eb  G all that's left is to know where these notes are found on your ukulele...this is where the third charts come in! The open strings of a C-tuning ukulele are G C E A and notes rise by a semitone per fret. Of course, there are 4 strings on the uke so one note of a triad (3-note chord) will be repeated. Therefore, on a C-tuning ukulele...

the easiest C chord shape is made up of the notes G  C  E  C and is formed by leaving the G C and E strings open and holding down the A string on the 3rd fret producing a C chord thus...

C Chord

the easiest Cm chord shape is made up of the notes G  Eb  G  C and is formed by leaving the G string open and holding down the the C E and A strings on the 3rd fret producing a Cm chord thus... Cm chord

The 3 charts below provide all the information you need to create any chord shape for nearly any chord in any key.

The first chart - Chord 'spelling' - 'spells' just about every chord you'll ever need. Obviously on a 4 stringed instrument you can't play all the notes of 5-, 6- or 7-note chords...you need to select 4 of the notes to create the chord shape.

The second chart - Diatonic Major Scales - lists the notes of each major scale and their position number.

The third charts - Ukulele Notes - show where each note 'lives' on both C-tuning and D-tuning ukuleles (use for all ukes except baritones).

It may look a bit complicated at first but if you work through the system slowly, beginning with simple chords, it should become clear. Once the concept is grasped, the shaping of all chords is easy!

Ukulele Notes

Ukulele Notes