Play Your Ukulele
December 11, 2014 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Do you play the ukulele? Do you like strum-alongs? Ukulele Play Along is there! The site offers YouTube videos of songs synced with displays of their chords and lyrics, and fretboard displays for each song that comes up, in the three most common ukulele tunings (C6, D6, G6). (Hat tip: Molly Lewis, who has also made the world's shortest ukulele tutorial.)

Ukulele Play Along is part of a larger ukulele site that includes a chord-finder and a series of Dutch uke videos. The first of those, "Eindejaar Special," features holiday songs.

But perhaps you are learning to play the ukulele, and would like some pointers!

Ukulele Instruction

Probably you've already found Ukulele Hunt. It's got tabs and chords for songs sorted by difficulty, or listed according to which chords you know. It's got lessons. And it's got two free ebooks with the very basics and more basics, and a bunch of other e-books you can pay money for (but I have not, and cannot speak to their worth).

Oh, and it offers advice on how to play the dreaded E chord. (There are more suggestions in the comments.) offers a basic ukulele video course, and a number of other tutorials, including strumming, fingerpicking, and clawhammer uke, among other ukulele content.

Play Ukulele By Ear has 26 lessons, and a weekly feature on three-chord songs, wherein they post song videos and challenge you to figure out what the chords are.

There are also free lessons available from (he's branching out).

But perhaps you want some more songs to play!

You can get those from Ukulele Boogaloo, Ukutabs (with the lyrics obscured), or even sneak behind the lines at Ultimate Guitar.

The last of those might require you to find out how to play more chords, without immediately helpful diagrams. Don't worry, there are sites for that too!

Chord finders

My favorite chord finder is the Ukulele Helper. It serves both as a chord-finder (tell it what chord you want, it'll show you how to play it) and a reverse chord-finder (tell it where your fingers are on the fretboard, it'll tell you what chord it is). It includes a ton of alternative fingerings for any given chord. And, in a feature not found on any other site in this list, you can also use any tuning you want on the strings, not just the three major conventional options.

There are few chords so esoteric that Ukulele Helper doesn't cover them, but they do exist. If you find yourself needing to know how to play a Cmdim13, there's Brian's huge chordlist collection for C6 and G6 tunings.

For slashed chords, you'll want Ukulele Chords, which has a complete library. (Also for C6 and G6 tunings only.)

The Ukulele Chords site also includes a key transposer; cut-and-paste a uke tab in, and you can switch it to any other key you'd like.

Finally, UkuChords has a giant poster of C6 chords you can print out and hang on the wall, plus a smaller, multi-page version that's more portable.


A note on terminology: C6 is the most common tuning for non-baritone ukuleles, in which the strings are tuned G, C, E, A. (If strummed with no fingers on the fretboard, you get a C6 chord; hence the name.) D6 is an older non-baritone tuning that's still common, especially in Hawaii and Canada; in that one, the strings are tuned A, D, F# B. G6 is the most common tuning for baritone ukuleles; it corresponds to the last four strings on a guitar: D, G, B, E.
posted by Shmuel510 (22 comments total) 151 users marked this as a favorite
Great post!

I'll add a link to for a holiday lesson on Greensleeves and one to for one on blues picking.

Can anyone tell me what ukulele Molly Lewis is using? I like the wide fretboard for my fat fingers.
posted by jabo at 12:27 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Bitchin post!

I've been playing guitar for twenty years or so, but I got a ukulele for Christmas three or four years ago and it's really been a joy. I keep it in the living room and sing for the baby (her favorite right now is "All About That Bass," A Bm E ad infinitum, although I suppose you could play it in F or G instead and avoid the evidently-dread E chord).

And you know, it's funny, I never once thought about E major until I saw a link to that article last week. I've got regular-sized hands, though, and play a tenor, so maybe it's a small-ukulele thing.

Clawhammer uke is a ton of fun, too. I never really got the hang of clawhammer banjo until I sat down for an hour or so and worked on clawhammer ukulele (with the aid of the linked ezfolk videos, as a matter of fact). Suddenly a light went off. My clawhammer banjo still sucks, but I can play enough to bust out "My Old Kentucky Home" on derby day.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:34 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is fantastic! I have a little ukulele that I bought to play for my toddler son, but I don't actually know any songs or anything so it's mostly been collecting dust.
posted by synecdoche at 12:37 PM on December 11, 2014

Can anyone tell me what ukulele Molly Lewis is using?

Quoth Molly: It's a Flea! Made by Magic Fluke Co. (
posted by Shmuel510 at 1:32 PM on December 11, 2014

Shepherd bought me this beautiful concert ukulele last spring and aside from a few lessons--I cannot learn this easy instrument on my own; I just don't have that kind of brain--taken in late summer, I still can't play the damn thing very well. It's surprising how much this upsets me.
posted by Kitteh at 1:33 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm hoping this post is perfect because I just bought my wife a uke for her birthday.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:40 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Great post, and just the kick in the ass I need to get back to playing.
posted by COD at 4:35 PM on December 11, 2014

After playing guitar for nearly two decades, I cemented my reputation as a "real musician" with my then-girlfriend -eventual-wife when she bought me a uke for my birthday and I learned her favorite — "Over the Rainbow" natch, but what are you going to do? — in like an hour. I didn't have the heart to tell her that if you can manage G, C, and D you can play a passable version of almost anything. I did break my old guitar jamming partner's mind when I busted out a full version of "Hotel California" later that year.

Anyway, I haven't had it out of its case since she and I split up, but now I'm feeling like playing. So thanks for this, Shmuel510. Great post.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:19 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I love playing the ukulele. I'm terrible at it (for me B-flat is more annoying to hit than E) but it's still fun. They're cheap and you can learn enough to accompany people singing in about an hour if you can read music. What could be better?
posted by winna at 6:29 PM on December 11, 2014

My Dad just got a ukulele...and now I kind of want one, too. This post is not helping!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:49 PM on December 11, 2014

Yeah, B-flat was my bête noire for a long time. I've gotten to the point where I have it covered, but switching in and out of it quickly is still a challenge.

I bought my first ukulele about three and a half years ago. It then mostly gathered dust in my apartment for the next year and change, as I had half-suspected would happen. (I have a decent ear for music, but historically, I've never had the discipline to practice any instrument.) And then Superstorm Sandy hit. Suddenly I had a week with no power, not much to do... and a ukulele.

I've been playing ever since.
posted by Shmuel510 at 6:54 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

That Ukelele Play Along site is great, although this is an unfortunate typo...
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 7:03 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Love this, thank you!

Doctor Uke is great as well. I particularly like the neat way they publish song charts - they print out nicely and are really easy for beginners to follow.
posted by bunderful at 8:05 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Chordie is also really useful; it's got tabs that you can switch to uke or guitar or whatever and the little diagrams update.
posted by bink at 11:14 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I started taking lessons a few weeks ago, and practicing diligently every night. While I have trouble singing along as I play, my repertoire now consists of "You Are My Sunshine", "Ghost Riders in the Sky", "Folsom Prison Blues" and -- unsurprisingly -- "Books About UFOs."
posted by pxe2000 at 3:31 AM on December 12, 2014

I have seen a man perform solo on a ukelele in a hockey arena.
posted by thelonius at 3:32 AM on December 12, 2014

A friend of mine's young son has taken up the ukelele recent, apparently learning the "classics". I pointed him to some contemporary ukelele.
posted by juiceCake at 8:50 AM on December 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Great post! Getting started is hard.

I find Ukulele Mike's YouTube lessons to be some of the clearest and most helpful.
posted by cleroy at 11:37 AM on December 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

YAY I'm so excited about this :D I've been playing uke primarily for a couple years now, and there are lots of familiar resources here, but also some new ones, and I'm super stoked about combing through this post with my uke when I get home tonight.
posted by unknownmosquito at 1:17 PM on December 12, 2014

And tonight is the big ukulele concert at the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles! Great timing!
posted by Sophie1 at 8:26 PM on December 12, 2014

wow> What a post ! Thanks!
posted by dougiedd at 11:02 PM on December 12, 2014

My younger son got a uke last Christmas, and he mastered it so quickly that his teacher (hey, don't judge: I know I can't teach him) immediately suggested he switch to guitar -- and he's really done well with that. And he often grabs the uke and bangs out a few minutes of tunes as a break from the harder stuff his guitar teacher assigns him. :7)

So now I am casting covetous glances at his idle uke. Maybe on Christmas break this year….
posted by wenestvedt at 1:32 PM on December 15, 2014

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