View Full Version : Using the fretboard

01-01-2011, 03:47 PM
Hi everyone, I've been playing for a few months now, but most songs and chords I've learned are all at the end of the fretboard, I think it is the top!?!? Near the headstock. Anyway, I want to learn more, but I don't know where to find songs requiring me to play closer to the soundhole. Anyway, the other issue I have is chord diagrams. A C chord is easy to figure out, but for a chord that is closer to the soundhole, how do you know what fret to place your fingers on?

I'd love advice for some fun songs to begin to work the rest of the fretboard on.
Any advice?? As always, thank you for any expertise.

FYI- I usually play songs using C, G, G7, F, E, B, D, and all the different versions like 7ths, diminished, sustained, minor, et cetera. I'm not perfectly fluid in my hord transitions, but I'm getting better.


01-01-2011, 03:56 PM
Hey Mendel. What it sounds like you're looking for is a way to learn second and third position chords. I've actually found books to be more useful than the web for this, but here are a couple online resources:

Second position chords (http://www.ukulelestrummers.com/Secondpositionchords.html#SIXTH%20PAGE)
Third position chords (http://www.ukulelestrummers.com/Thirdpositionchords.html#SEVENTH%20PAGE)

I'd also recommend the books Ukulele Fretboard Roadmaps (http://www.sokolowmusic.com/instructional/other), and Treasury of Ukulele Chords (http://www.amazon.com/Treasury-Ukulele-Chords-Roy-Sakuma/dp/0966289706/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1293936789&sr=8-1).

As for finding chord charts using second and third position chords - I haven't seen too many out there online, but some of the Beloff uke books have some interesting arrangements and even a couple of chord solos.

Are you also interested in learning/reading tab and playing the melody? A UU member has posted some pretty easy tab here (http://www.mammothgardens.com/ukulele/songs/).

Hope that helps!

Chris Tarman
01-01-2011, 04:13 PM
Go to amazon.com and order yourself a copy of "Ukulele Fretboard Roadmaps" by Fred Sokolow and Jim Beloff. I found it to be very helpful. It shows little tricks and recurring patterns to play chords in different spots on the neck.
BTW, even though it seems counter-intuitive, the end of the neck towards the headstock would be the LOW end, or bottom notes. Because they're lower in pitch. Same reason the string closest to the ground is the TOP (or first) string of a guitar/bass/uke. That "top string" thing seems to confuse even some experienced players I know, who habitually refer to the high string as the "bottom" string.

01-01-2011, 04:18 PM
Great information. It is very much appreciated. I'll get myself a copy of that book.

01-02-2011, 11:12 AM
Actually, it sounds like a perfect time to learn basic chord theory. It's not difficult, simplified chord theory can be absorbed in about 30 minutes, and you'll be able to figure out chords on your own anywhere on any fretboard!


01-02-2011, 12:19 PM
That's one sad thing about ukulele-it seems perhaps people start on it because it's a "simple" or easy instrument to learn-and indeed it is if you play in 1st position using one or two finger chords and that's that! Truth is, the uke is an honest- little powerhouse of a stringed instrument-if one should take it more seriously as if learning the classical guitar or violin-learn the scales, Arpeggios (notes that make up the chord-1,3,5,7th and minor) the 4 finger chords forms up the neck and families of chords (at least in the keys you play in)-one would find what a joy it is. To get together with a couple of guys who call out tunes-singing or not, and just jam-playing melody or adlib-is great fun! One does not need endless classes, CD's or books.
Start with just the key of C-with it's circle of 5ths (you already know them-it's like "Five Foot Two") learn the 3 chord shapes up the neck and them how to connect them with the notes of the scale. One you learn this-if you can get a song in your head-you can play it! Three or four times through, you can perform it.

01-02-2011, 12:22 PM
Hi Mendel, I highly recommend the book "Understanding Ukulele Chords" by Robbert van Renesse, published by Mel Bay. He makes a point of teaching all the closed chord positions, that can easily be moved up the neck to give you different chords. That is one of the fastest ways to master a lot of chord inversions.


01-02-2011, 12:41 PM
Yes, learn chording. One of my goals this year is movable chord positions and learning them, and then starting to mix them into the simple songs.

One of the books MGM sent me with a beginning package I bought last year was UKULELE CHORD DICTIONARY by Morton Manus. It's $4.95 and published by www.alfredpub.com. I'm learning my moveable major chords from it right now!

01-02-2011, 02:16 PM
Once again the UU comes through. In excited to start learning.

Bradford- when you have chance, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the PM I sent you.

01-02-2011, 02:43 PM
Another book, also from MGM ( I think) that has been very useful to me: HAL LEONARD UKULELE CHORD FINDER. $4.95

01-02-2011, 04:18 PM
The chords you are playing are called open chords because you are using the nut, the plastic thing where the strings go through to the tuning pegs, as part of the chord.

One easy concept to understand are barre chords. Barre chords are the same as open chords but you use your index finger placed across all the strings to act like a nut but on a higher fret.

Play a C;

then place your index finger across all the strings on the 1st fret and press down on the 4th fret on the A string and you are playing a C# chord;

if you place your index finger on the 2nd fret and press down on the 5th fret on the A string and you are playing a D chord. This the second position D chord that janeray1940 was talking about. Play both D chords and you can hear they are the same chords played at different places.

Learn to play all the basic chords with a barre up the 5th and you will cover most 2nd and 3rd position chords.

And... getting a book with some theory, as others have suggested, will teach you how to construct chords and you will be playing both barre and open/semi-open chords all the way up the neck.

Good luck and have fun!