The world of music is vast and diverse, offering a plethora of instruments for enthusiasts to explore. Among these, the guitar and the ukulele hold a special place.
The guitar, with its rich, resonant tones, has been a staple in music for centuries, while the ukulele, with its cheerful, melodic sound, has seen a surge in popularity in recent years.
For guitarists looking to expand their musical horizons, the ukulele presents an exciting opportunity.
However, the transition from guitar to ukulele can seem challenging due to the differences in chord structures.
In this article, we will discuss the process of converting guitar chords to ukulele chords, making it easier for guitarists to pick up a ukulele and start strumming.
The Fundamentals: Understanding the Differences
Before embarking on the journey of chord conversion, it’s crucial to understand the fundamental differences between the guitar and the ukulele.
The standard tuning for a ukulele is GCEA, with the bottom string (the one nearest your chin) being G and the top string (nearest the floor) being A. This tuning is equivalent to placing a capo on the fifth fret of a guitar and only using the top four strings.
The ukulele’s string order (GCEA) shares the same set of intervals as the top four strings on a guitar (DGBE), but it’s up a fourth.
In musical terms, a fourth refers to a space of four letters between notes. For instance, if you count from A to D (A, B, C, D), you have a fourth. This understanding of intervals is the cornerstone of the conversion process.
The Art of Conversion: Transposing Chords
The process of converting guitar chords to ukulele chords is relatively straightforward once you understand the concept of ‘up a fourth.’ The same chord shapes you use for guitar can be used to make ukulele chords if you transpose that chord up a fourth.
For example, an A chord on a guitar becomes a D chord on a ukulele. Similarly, a D chord on a guitar translates to a G chord on a ukulele.
This principle applies to all chord types, including minor and 7th chords. An E minor on a guitar is an A minor on a ukulele, and a C 7th on a guitar is an F 7th on a ukulele.
Here’s a simple rule to remember: an A shape on a guitar equals a D on a ukulele, B minor equals E minor, C 7th equals F 7th, and so on.
The Shortcut: An Easy Way to Convert Chords
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to convert guitar chords to ukulele chords, here’s a handy trick: on the guitar chord shape diagram, ignore the two strings on the left (the two nearest your chin) and use whatever shape is on the remaining four strings. That’s your ukulele chord.
For instance, if you have an E chord shape on the guitar, ignoring the two strings on the left gives you an A chord on the ukulele. Similarly, a G7 chord shape on the guitar translates to a C7 chord on the ukulele.
Practical Applications: Playing Your Favorite Songs
Many guitar songs are in G major and use the four chords G, Em, C, and D7. These songs transition to the ukulele quite seamlessly as a C, Am, F, and G7 progression.
This conversion works well because the pitch of the ukulele often complements the vocalist’s voice better.
If you’re playing the ukulele with guitarists, you can easily find the ukulele tab for the song online. Also, with time and practice, you’ll learn all the basic chords on the ukulele and be able to play along with anyone.
For further information, Please play the video below:
Converting guitar chords to ukulele chords doesn’t have to be a complex process.
With an understanding of the basic principles and a bit of practice, you can easily transpose your guitar knowledge to the ukulele. So, pick up a ukulele, apply these principles, and start strumming your favorite songs in a whole new way.
Remember, the joy of music lies in exploration and learning. Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist or a beginner, the ukulele offers a unique musical journey filled with fun and satisfaction.
Let us know in the comments if you have any other questions or queries.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the standard tuning for a ukulele?
The standard tuning for a ukulele is GCEA, with the bottom string (the one nearest your chin) being G and the top string (nearest the floor) being A.
What does it mean to transpose a chord ‘up a fourth’?
Transposing a chord ‘up a fourth’ refers to moving the chord up by a space of four letters in musical notation. For example, if you count from A to D (A, B, C, D), you have a fourth.
How can I convert a guitar chord to a ukulele chord?
The same chord shapes you use for guitar can be used to make ukulele chords if you transpose that chord up a fourth. For instance, an A chord on a guitar becomes a D chord on a ukulele.
Is there a quick way to convert guitar chords to ukulele chords?
Yes, on the guitar chord shape diagram, ignore the two strings on the left (the two nearest your chin). And use whatever shape is on the remaining four strings. That’s your ukulele chord.
Can I play guitar songs on the ukulele using the same chords?
Many guitar songs can be played on the ukulele by converting the chords. For example, a song in G major on the guitar that uses the chords G, Em, C, and D7 can be played on the ukulele using the chords C, Am, F, G7.
- Greenberg M. The Ukulele in Your Classroom: The ukulele is an ideal instrument for general music classes. Marvin Greenberg explains how this Hawaiian instrument can help you teach music skills and concepts //Music Educators Journal. – 1992. – Т. 79. – №. 3. – С. 43-48.
- Tamberino P. Uke Can Do It Bundle: Developing Your School Ukulele Program. – R&L Education, 2014.
Best Ukulele for Beginners
Marko is a passionate composer, producer, and multimedia artist with a Master of Music degree. His career involves performing, creating, and producing his own music in his home studio using digital and analogue equipment. Marko is a multi-instrumentalist (he plays guitar, bass, piano, theremin, and other instruments). performs live acts and DJ sets, and works on feature and short films, documentaries, festivals, theaters, and government initiatives.