How do you memorize ukulele chords?

Uke is the most difficult type of stringed instrument to learn, as it is completely different than an acoustic guitar. As for chord shapes & fingerings – if the chord’s name is a different way of spelling a musical chord than uke is then you can forget it. The only exception to this is for the 7th chord of a major scale, which is known as a D7 chord. This chord has a completely different chord shape than the other major chord forms, thus it is easy to memorize it if the chord name is the same. For uke, the only chord the fretting hand has control over is the major chord on its own. For a D7 scale chord, the fretting hand always knows a D7 chord shape.

This is the reason if your finger’s fingerboard is clean by any means, uke is quite the challenge to memorize. Many guitarists will practice it like this for weeks on end and then never have a chance to even memorize it.

The second type of chord is the “maj7” chord (sometimes called the 9th chord). A very common chord shape for a major scale is a C7 which has the shape of an maj7 (maj7.5). It sounds great and will be your favorite chord shape. On the other hand, if you play it the same way for all chords you will only be able to remember one or two chords.

The third type of chord is the pentatonic chord shapes that all of the major scale has. These are the shapes that all of the other major scale chords have. These shapes are called the dominant 7ths, 5ths, etc. I’ll leave them open for now.


When memorizing these chord shapes, try to keep them in mind like this: there are 6 ways to pronounce a chord, 7 would be the best because of the 7th, 10 would be the best because of the 10th, etc. It is important to remember the 7th and the 10th chords as they are the only shape of the major scale that you do not memorize. You should memorize the major scale chords, as it is the main way to play other scales and will eventually make it easier for you to play most scales in the future. For example, if that you memorize the major scale chords, you will know the major pentatonic scale, as well as the dominant pentatonic and minor pentatonics.

A quick example