Can I Use Guitar Chords for Ukulele? All You Want to Know

by Madonna

Playing the ukulele can be a delightful experience, especially for those who have some background in playing the guitar. The transition from guitar to ukulele often raises questions about whether guitar chords can be used directly on the ukulele. While the chord shapes are similar, there are fundamental differences in tuning between these instruments that necessitate chord transposition.

Introduction to Chord Conversion

Chord conversion from guitar to ukulele involves adapting chord shapes to fit the ukulele’s tuning. Although some shapes may look similar, the chord names will change due to the different tuning between the instruments. Understanding these differences is essential for effectively playing chords on the ukulele.


Tuning Differences

1. Guitar Tuning (Standard EADGBE):

The guitar is typically tuned to EADGBE, from lowest to highest string.

  • E (6th string, lowest pitch)
  • A (5th string)
  • D (4th string)
  • G (3rd string)
  • B (2nd string)
  • E (1st string, highest pitch)

2. Ukulele Tuning (Standard GCEA):

The standard ukulele tuning for a soprano, concert, or tenor ukulele is GCEA, from bottom to top string.

  • G (4th string, lowest pitch)
  • C (3rd string)
  • E (2nd string)
  • A (1st string, highest pitch)

The key difference is the pitch relationship between strings and the overall tuning, which affects how chords are formed and played on each instrument.

Transposing Chords

To play guitar chords on the ukulele, you’ll need to transpose the chords. Transposition involves shifting the chord shape to accommodate the ukulele’s tuning. Here’s how you can transpose guitar chords to ukulele chords:

1. Identify the Guitar Chord Shape:

Start with a familiar guitar chord shape, such as C major (x32010).

2. Understand the Interval Difference:

Recognize that the ukulele is typically tuned up a fourth (or five half-steps) higher than the guitar. This means that for each string, the ukulele’s note will be a fourth higher than the corresponding guitar string.

3. Apply the Transposition Rule:

Move each note of the guitar chord shape up a fourth.

For example, a guitar C major chord (C-E-G) transposed up a fourth becomes a ukulele F major chord (F-A-C).

4. Adjust for Chord Quality:

Minor chords: Maintain the same interval pattern but adjust the starting note according to the transposition rule.

Seventh chords, suspended chords, and other variations should be transposed accordingly while maintaining the integrity of the chord structure.

Practical Tips

Certain chords, such as the E chord on the ukulele, can be challenging due to the limited number of strings and the finger stretch required. Here are some practical tips:

Simplify the Chord Shape: Use alternative fingerings or omit certain notes to make the chord easier to play, such as playing an E7 instead of an E major.

Practice Finger Placement: Focus on accurate finger placement and utilize the tips of your fingers to press down on the strings, maximizing contact and reducing buzzing or muted notes.

Gradual Progression: Start with easier chords and gradually work your way up to more complex ones as your finger strength and dexterity improve.

SEE ALSO: Ukulele vs Guitar: Which is Better for Beginners?

Beginner-Friendly Songs on the Ukulele

Starting with songs that use simple chords can help build confidence and familiarity with playing the ukulele. Here are some songs that primarily use chords like C, Am, G, and F:

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole: This iconic song uses basic chords (C, G, Am, F) and is a staple for ukulele players.

“Riptide” by Vance Joy: Known for its catchy melody and simple chord progression (Am, G, C, F), this song is popular among beginners.

“I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz: Featuring chords like G, D, Em, and C, this song is upbeat and fun to play on the ukulele.

“Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley: A classic ballad with a chord progression (C, Em, Am, F, G) that is accessible for beginners.

“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen: Although it has more chords, including more complex ones, simplified versions with basic chords (C, Am, F, G) are available and suitable for beginners.


In conclusion, while guitar chords can be adapted for the ukulele, understanding the tuning differences and transposing chords correctly is crucial. By following the principles of transposition and starting with simpler chord progressions, beginners can effectively play a wide range of songs on the ukulele. With practice and familiarity, playing the ukulele can become a rewarding musical experience, whether as a standalone instrument or as a complement to guitar playing. Enjoy exploring the unique sound and versatility of the ukulele through chord conversion from guitar!


You may also like


Musicalinstrumentworld is a musical instrument portal. The main columns include piano, guitar, ukulele, saxphone, flute, xylophone, oboe, trumpet, trombone, drum, clarinet, violin, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023