Ukulele Chord Alternatives

Category: Ukulele
Tue, 09 Nov 2010, 17:25

We all know that there are multiple fingerings for each ukulele chord. There are the open, or first position chords, which typically have a few unfingered strings. Then there are the barred chords, or second position chords. Often, although published chord charts indicate particular fingerings for certain chords, other fingerings may turn out to be easier for a particular song. In this missive, I'll list a few alternatives for a couple of chords, and show how the alternatives work better in one particular song.

First, let's consider the easiest of all uke chords, the Am7. I know of at least 4 ways to play the Am7:

0000 2433 5430 0453

The first is the form everyone is familiar with, and the second is the the normal barred form. But by rearranging the notes, you can come up with the other two chord forms. I like the 5430 form of Am7 especially when the next chord is Em. For that transition, you just shift your fingers across the strings.

Now, lets consider a less common chord, D9:

2423 5420

Often when looking for alternatives, look at switching around the notes on the G and A string. In the standard form of the D9, the notes A and C# are played on the G and A string (respectively). But why not play the A on an open A string? Then, to get the C#, just finger the 5th fret on the G string.

Now on to a practical example, with the Paul McCartney song My Love. (Click on the link and print the song.) It's a slow song, and can be strummed with just one down-stroke per beat.

Look at the first three chords: Bbmaj7, Am7, and D9. For the Bbmaj7, use the normal 3210 fingering, with index, middle, and ring fingers on the E, C, and G strings (respectively). When you reach Am7 after two bars, just keep your fingers in the same shape and move them all up two frets. Then, for the transition to D9, slide just the index finger down the fret board to the second fret.

Here's what that chord sequence looks like:

3210 5430 5420

That's a nice easy set of finger movements, and sounds great too.

Later on in the verse, there's another example with the Dm6 chord:

2212 5210

The first chord diagram is what you see on most published chord charts. But it requires an awkward bit of fingering. Since we're moving from Bbmaj7 to Dm6, the second form turns out to be much easier. Moving from Bbmaj7 to Dm6, we already have most fingers in place. All we have to do is put the pinky finger on the fourth fret of the G string. The following chord sequence illustrates:

0000 3210 4210

Ukulele players, like most people, should be lazy. We should always be on the lookout for easier ways to play our songs. Sometimes, we can substitute an easier chord. But also, we should look for alternative fingerings. And here are a few examples I hope you find useful.

Cheers! Hans

path: /Ukulele | permanent link to this entry

ukulele image