One-Chord Ukulele Songs for Beginners – No Fail


As a beginner, after you finish tuning your ukulele, one of the easiest ways to get started with playing is to start with one-chord songs.

More specifically, one-chord songs where the single chord being played only requires one finger to make its chord shape on the uke.

Many of the songs in this collection will fall into that latter category, but some of the chords will be slightly more difficult.

The one thing they do all have in common is that they all only use one chord for the entire song.

“Coconut” and “Shortnin’ Bread” in C Major

Here’s two songs you can play with just the C7 chord.

A chord which only requires one finger (the index finger) to play in GCEA tuning.

“Are You Sleeping?” in F Major

This song is based on the French children’s song “Frère Jacques”.

Its only chord is the F chord which uses two fingers in GCEA tuning, as shown here.

F
One-Chord Ukulele Songs for Beginners - No Fail
Are you sleeping ukulele chords

“Are You Sleeping” in C Major

Here’s the same song as above in the key of C major.

This song (and most songs in this collection) could really be played in any major key by just playing that keys root chord (I in roman numerals).

For example, to play it in in Bb major, play it over a Bb major chord (Bb), etc.

“Get Up, Stand Up” in A Minor, “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Coconut” in C Major

The version of “Coconut” in this video uses a repeated finger-picking pattern which is cool.

The other two songs are also played with interesting strumming patterns with stops etc.

“The Farmer in the Dell” in G Major

Another classic children’s song, this version uses only the G major chord.

This chord requires three fingers for GCEA tuning (or you can tackle both 2nd fret strings with one finger).

Here’s the chord shape.

G
One-Chord Ukulele Songs for Beginners - No Fail
One-Chord Ukulele Songs for Beginners - No Fail

What is a Ukulele Chord?

In music, a chord is a set of 3 or more pitches played simultaneously.

Usually, these pitches are harmonically related, meaning their frequencies are divisible into each other at relatively simple ratios (i.e 2:1, 3:1, 5:1, etc.).

This is what make music sound “right,” pleasant, or consonant, as opposed to the random sounds of everyday life.

How Do I play Cords on my Uke?

Playing chords on the ukulele involves two main components, each being done by each of the two hands of the player.

The first component is making the appropriate chord shape on the fretboard of the ukulele (the long skinny part with the horizontal lines).

The player holds down the strings at the various frets of the chord shape so that their strummed pitch will be altered from the pitch of the open string (the string without being held down at any fret).

The second component is the strumming.

The player uses their other hand (usually right hand for right-handed players) to glide over the strings so that they vibrate, producing the pitches desired from the chord shape in the first step.

This can be done with the thumb, index finger, or any number of other techniques,.

But for new players, the thumb or index finger are probably your ideal choice (a felt pick is another option if one came with your uke or you would prefer one).

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