How to Read Ukulele Tabs & Chords

So you got a new ukulele and you’re trying to learn how to play it, but you can’t read tabs and chord charts? Well you’ve come to the right place.

How to Read Ukulele Tabs

When searching for music arrangements on the Internet you’ll often find them in tab (or tablature or tabulature) form. Tabs make it easier for new players to learn a piece by leaving out all the music theory and just trying to duplicate the visual aspect of playing of the instrument (like the 4 strings of the ukulele or the 6 strings of the guitar).

When reading tabs you want to start from left to right. As you come to a number on one of the lines, you play that line’s string on the fret of the number. The top line represents the string furthest away from your head when you’re looking down while playing your ukulele.

If you see a zero (0) on the line, play the string open (with no fret pressed down). If you see two numbers on the same vertical line, play both strings at the same time.

Here’s an example of the C Major Scale tabbed for ukulele (GCEA Tuning): 

A|-----------0-2-3-|  
E|-----0-1-3-------|
C|-0-2-------------|
G|-----------------|

Many tabs will also try to show the rhythm or timing of the music by spacing out the numbers differently or borrowing symbols from standard music notation.

For example, here’s that same C Major scale, but with more time (space) between the first 4 notes and the last 4:

A|-------------0-2-3-| 
E|-----0-1---3-------|
C|-0-2---------------|
G|-------------------|

How to Read Ukulele Chords

Reading ukulele chords is similar to reading tabs. They’ll usually show the fret board laid out with markings on the frets that should be held down. All the strings are then usually strummed together to play the chord.

Usually the strings will be shown with the G string on the bottom and the A string on top.

So for this chord, you would hold down the A string on the third fret and play the rest of the strings open:

How to Read Ukulele Tabs & Chords
C Major Ukulele Chord

In GCEA tuning, that would be a C Major Chord.

For this chord, you would hold down the A string and C string at the 2nd fret, and the E string at the first. You’d then strum all four strings and get a G7 chord (in GCEA tuning):

How to Read Ukulele Tabs & Chords
G7 Ukulele Chord

Conclusion

Well hopefully that cleared things up and you’re able to read ukulele tabs and chords now. Leave a comment if we’ve missed something!