People sometimes ask me how I learned to play the ukulele so quickly. For me, it is very easy, because I already know how to play guitar, and the ukulele is like playing a guitar with a capo on the 5th fret and 2 strings missing. That is how I think of it. Sometimes I look down at what my fingers are doing and get confused because of the dots, because on the guitar the dots are on the 5th and 7th frets (also the 3rd, 9th and double dots on the 12th) but on the ukulele, they are on the 3rd and 5th, so what I do is, I don’t look at it. It is better not to anyway, like touch typing. In my head I am just playing my familiar guitar and though I broke the low E and A strings, I don’t really need them anyway. The system I use on guitar to remember the chords shapes and scales is called CAGED. You play a C in open position, then move that shape up without using any open strings to get the other 11 chords. Or the A, G, E, and D chords. Blah blah blah. If you really wanted to get that complicated you would play the guitar, not the ukulele, so I won’t trouble you at this time with the particulars when it is just going to go in one ear and out the other.
Anyway, the ukulele is much simpler and there aren’t as many chord shapes to learn. For the ukulele the equivelent of the 5 chords, C, A, G, E, and D, in a word, CAGED, is FDCAG. That doesn’t spell a word, but there are just 5 chords to keep track of, so it is a trade off. These are just the major chords for now, but next are minor chords, dominant 7th chords, minor 7th chords, diminished chords, half diminished chords, augmented chords, sharp 9 & flat 9 dominant 7th chords, and so forth and so on. There are a lot of folk or country songs that use only 3 chords, so the bulk of your chord memorizing chores will be covered here:
F = 2010
D = 2220
C = 0003
A = 2100
G = 0232
These numbers represent which fret to put your fingers behind on the 4 strings of the uke. It couldn’t be more obvious, but if you can’t decipher I will be glad to help you out.
Now, let’s say you need to play a Bb. You just move the A up a fret:
Bb = 3211
B = 4322
Move it up one more and you have another way to play a C:
C = 5433
That is all for now. Let that sink in and start using these 5 chord shapes, and finding ways to use them to play the other 7 chords.