After I started playing ukulele, I realized that I needed a way to create my own song arrangements. There are numerous web sites that offer chord arrangements for songs, many specifically geared to ukulele. We all know that Dr Uke ‘s Songs and Richard G’s Songbook are great sources of ukulele arrangements. And of course, Chordie.com has everything.
But I’m not always satisfied, especially with Chordie. Chordie often provides a good starting point, but I always want to do things differently. There are always multiple ways to finger every chord, and often, there’s a better sounding alternative to the standard open fingering used in most song arrangements. Here’s an example of the three main chords in the key of D, using my favorite alternative form of A7:
To prepare your own chord arrangements for your favorite songs, you need a couple of things. First, a good word processor. LibreOffice Writer is my choice since it has full-fledged desktop publishing features. It also runs on a variety of different operating systems.
Second, you need a source of graphics for the chord diagrams. One way to do that is to download the chord graphics from a site like Chordie.com. But finding all the diagrams you need can be tedious. If you’re technically oriented, you can figure out a way to download them all, but then you’d have a torrent of files to sort through. And you still won’t get diagrams for alternatives, such as the 0454 A7 (pictured above).
And so, I created my own chord diagrams, which you can download from my Ukulele Chord Box Collection. There are six collections to choose from, with chords geared to standard GCEA tuning, ADF#B tuning, and standard baritone tuning. In addition, there are left-handed variations for them all. The diagrams come in two sizes: 48×64 pixels and 36×54 pixels.
I’ve made these available under a Creative Commons License, so you can do what you want with them. If you find these chord diagrams useful and want to show your appreciation, there’s a Paypal link on the download page where you can donate $10. I certainly won’t get rich from these donations, but $10 will pay for a couple of beers at the local bar where we hold our monthly ukulele jam in Kingston.
Using LibreOffice Writer, I usually include the chord names within parentheses within the song lyrics, and highlight the chord names in red. I then put the chord diagrams at the bottom of the page. If there’s no room at the bottom, I add a frame to the side, and put the chord diagrams there. With a folder view of the chord diagrams open, I drag and drop the image into the document. With a right mouse click on the image, I choose “Anchor”, and then select “As character”. I then cut and paste to position the diagram where I want.