Insight 8: Types of Chords

In this edition of Insight we talk about the 3 most important types of chords we need to learn and how they differ.  The first chord that most of learn is the C chord.  This is the easiest open Major chord to play because we only need to fret one of the strings.  Open chords refer to chords that have open strings in them, like the C chord which has 3 open strings.  So how does this chord sound to you?  So many times when we are learning music we forget that listening is one of the most important skill that we need to develop!  So take some time and play some major chords that you know and see if you can hear how they all sound or feel major.   Use some words to describe the sound or feeling.  It might be easier if you have something to contrast it like an am chord.  Like C, am is the easiest open minor chord with only one string fretted.  Now try playing some minor chords you know and really listen to them and try and describe how they sound and feel.  Also pay attention to how they differ from major chords.  If I had to choose one word to describe each it would be happy for major and sad for minor.  The third chord we need to know is 7 chords.  Play a G7 and try and describe the feel of this chord.  Do you notice a certain tension in the sound?  7 chords are what are called tendency chords because they tend to want to move to other chords in order to resolve that tension.  Try playing G7 a number of times then moving to the C.  Can you you hear and feel that resolution?

     Remember these 3 types of chords are the most important, as a matter of fact if you can play all of them then you can play ANY song so try adding some Major, minor, and 7 chords to your left hand arsenal.

Insight 3: Harmony and Chord Progressions

Today let’s dig a little deeper into the second important element of music, HARMONY.  We can define harmony as being more than one note being played simultaneously.  On the ukulele we are usually talking about four notes right?  One on each string to form a chord.  I like to use the metaphor of music as a language where we combine each of the pitches into a chord like letters making up a word.  We can extend this metaphor to start to view groups of chords the same way we view sentences as a combination of words to form a statement.

I have a little bit of a love hate relationship with the song sheets that I’ve been creating for our songbook.  I think that song sheets are a great tool to be able to learn a song quickly, but all too often they can become a crutch where people begin to need and rely on them to be able to play a song.  We need to be able to memorize a song as quickly as possible and learning the musical sentences, or progressions, in a song is a lot more realistic then memorizing every single chord change in a song.  Many people don’t notice that songs are usually comprised of a couple of 3 or 4 chord progressions that repeat a number of times throughout the song.  Lets take the song Brown Eyed Girl from our song book, and try to find our musical sentences or progressions.  If we look closely we see that there is a repeating set of chords that make up that first verse:  C  F  C  G.  Now we want to look further down to the 5th line to find where our progression changes to:  F  G  C  am  F  G  G  C.  We can simplify this into two of the SAME four measure progressions with a C replacing the am on the second line.  If we examine it some more we see that the chorus is the same as the verse.  The only other thing we need to know is G for 3 measure before each chorus.  So now memorizing this song becomes a little more simple if we can focus on each of these progressions:

Verse:    C F C G

Bridge:  F G C am (C 2nd ending)

Chorus: same as verse preceded by G for 3 measures.

Easy right?  Give it a try and see if you can condense a song sheet you have into a few different progressions and see if you can commit it to memory.

Thanks again for all the support, if you found this or any of our resources helpful be sure to connect with us on social media in the sidebar and sign up for our email list under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired. I want this to be interactive so don't be shy and

send me

some requests for the songbook and other content that you would like to see!

Beginner Questions 7-10

7.  WHERE CAN I FIND ONLINE RESOURCES?Some of the best online resources out there and what they offer:

Ukulele Underground The underground is a great place to improve your ukulele playing. They offer the highest quality instructional videos, and are consistently adding to there enormous amount of content.

Ukulele Hunt UkeHuntUke Hunt is one of the longest running blogs about the ukulele and offers such a wide variety of content. You can find almost everything uke related on this blog, from funny and informative articles to a wide variety of instructional and inspirational videos. They offer a large selection of ebooks, both free and for sale, that can be a good resource for introducing you to the ukulele.

Dominator Ukulele Tabs  got_tabs_1 Dom has created a great resource that is more geared towards the intermediate and advance ukulele player. His tabs are some of the only ones available that are specific for the ukulele and he has some great performance and instructional videos.

uke_inspired_small_logoUkulele Inspired A little biased, but want to list it as a resource for getting inspiration and information. We want to offer high quality video and written content for all aspiring ukulele players out there.


15mins8. HOW OFTEN SHOULD I BE PRACTICING? The best way I’ve found to practice is for short periods of time as often as possible. Since learning an instrument involves a lot of muscle memory, the more often you do it the better. Practicing for 15 minutes every day is going to produce results much faster than an hour of practice once a week. Finding a qualified teacher for private lessons can be great in providing personalized instruction as well as accountability for your practice every week.


searchbarThere are a lot of resources out there for learning new songs. If you are starting to become familiar with your ukulele chord shapes, then searching the name of the song and “chords” should get youyoutube to some links with lyrics and chords. You can also type the name of the song and “ukulele tutorial”. There are many videos on YouTube and other places of varying quality and helpfulness, but in general you are looking for a more detailed description of the chords and strumming pattern. There are a few ukulele specific tab sites out there as well:

10. HOW DO I STAY INSPIRED? ukulelecommunityLast and definitely not least, inspiration is something that I feel is so important when learning anything new. Inspiration can help you get excited about playing the ukulele, it will encourage you to practice and get better, and when you are ready can help to cultivate your creativity should you begin to write your own music. Inspiration is something we take very seriously here at Ukulele Inspired, whether it is our own video content, links to other videos, articles or interviews, we try to provide as much as we can for all aspiring players out there.  I encourage you to find and interact with your local ukulele community as well. There are so many local and regional ukulele clubs around the country there is sure to be a group that meets nearby. If there isn’t, maybe you can start one up! Stay on the lookout for performances by ukulele artists in your area, and start to listen to as many players as you can. Inspiration is out there, you just have to find it!

Click here to see the full list of beginner questions answered.

Thanks again for all the support, if you found this or any of our resources helpful be sure to [fblike url="" style="button_count" float="none" showfaces="false" width="200" verb="like" font="arial"] us on facebook and sign up for our email list under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired. I want this to be interactive so don't be shy and send me some requests for the songbook and other content that you would like to see!

Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel



I was so excited to get to meet Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel this past weekend.  Craig's workshop was a lot of fun and he shared some strumming and rhythmic techniques that he uses in his unique and exciting playing style.  Sarah taught some classic blues and jazz progressions and some her favorite variations and chord shapes that she uses in her own music.

In the evening concert following the workshops, both artists put on incredible shows.  Both performances included covers, collaborations, and originals and really showcased how talented Craig and Sarah are on stage.  The highlight for me was their collaboration of "More Than Words", a song that brought a lot of memories and a few tears (I got to admit) when they sang it together.

Afterwards I got to chat with them a bit and get some autographed copies of their albums.  They were both really down to earth people that are passionate about their craft.  The next couple of months is very busy for these two, please check them out and support if you can.

Craig Chee

Sarah Maisel

Thanks again to Mike DaSilva of DaSilva Ukulele Co. for hosting such a wonderful event and to Craig and Sarah, really great job to both of you guys.[fbshare type="button"]

Beginner Questions


Hey all,

I thought that a great way to start off was to answer a some questions that people might have when they are first introduced to the Ukulele.  So for the next few posts I will be answering these ten questions.  If you find them useful, then please feel free to comment and let me know some other questions you might have so I can do another round of these in the future.  For now:

QUESTIONS FOR UKULELE BEGINNERS 1. Why should I play the ukulele? 2. What kind of ukulele should I buy? 3. What is the deal with different size ukuleles? 4. How do I tune the ukulele? 5. What are the first chords I should learn? 6. What is the first strum I should learn? 7. Where can I find online resources? 8. How should I be practicing? 9. How do I learn new songs? 10. How do I stay inspired?