It isn’t always about learning loads of different chord shapes. You can play just a few different chord shapes and have access to a huge amount of chords. Not only that, but by learning a few moveable chord shapes you’ll never struggle to remember a chord again.
The Chromatic Scale
One of the first things you need to know is the notes of the chromatic scale. Those notes are as follows…
Just take a look at that for a minute. You’ll see a sharp (#) or flat (b) between each note with the exception of between B to C, and E to F.
How Does This Relate To A Ukulele
You’ll be pleased to know that these notes relate directly to your ukulele. Each fret of your ukulele represents a note. Moving up and down those frets is exactly like counting up and down the chromatic scale.
Let’s take a C note for example. 3rd fret of your A (bottom) string. If we slide our finger up one ret to the 4th fret we just need to count up one in the chromatic scale to get the note name. Looking at the table above, that gives us a C#/Db.
For now that’s all you need to know, those notes relate directly to your ukulele frets.
Movable Chord Shapes
So we know that we can slide a note around our ukulele fretboard and quickly work out what note it is. What’s to stop us sliding a whole chord up or down? Nothing.
As an example I’m going to take a B chord. Note the form of this B chord doesn’t leave any open strings, that’s important.
If we take that B chord and slide the whole thing up a fret, that gives us a C chord (there’s no sharp or flat between a B & C remember). If we slide it up another 2 frets, we’ve got a D chord. Just by sliding one chord shape around we’ve now got 3 chords at our disposal. Handy.
Now let’s get back to our B chord again, but this time we’ll take off our second finger. This gives us a B minor. Slide the B minor shape up one fret and you’ve now got a C minor.
Hopefully this is starting to make sense to you now. You’ll be pleased to know that this applies to most chord shapes (technically it applies to all of them, but some need a little tweaking).
Let’s take a look at one of those that needs a little tweaking. The good old fashioned C chord.
The open C chord has 3 open strings. You only need to fret one string. This means we can’t simply slide one finger up and strum all the strings. What we need to do is account for those open strings. If we want to slide our whole C chord up 1 fret, we need to make a bar with our first finger.
Have a look at the diagrams above. Notice the addition of the first finger across the first fret for the C#/Db and then slid up another fret to make the D chord.
Extra Chord Knowledge
You can quickly see that just by sliding a chord around (and making the necessary adjustments for open chords) it changes the chord that you’re playing. You don’t necessarily need to know how to fret every single chord by memory.
In a future post I’ll elaborate on this further. Any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments!