“Chord Magic” – Unleash Your Fretboard with Four Chord Shapes

Following the break at Saturday’s Pluckin’ Strummers we got a quickie lesson that made my head spin by dint of its simple, power-packed awesomeness: namely, that you only need to learn four shapes to play every major chord!

I’d already experienced the fun of “moveable” (or “closed”) chord shapes and though I’d picked up some patterns they were mostly a random set of awkward finger poses. Now, however, they suddenly made sense!

Read this article: “Ukulele Chord Magic”!

(yes, it’s on a site for renting a Kauai vacation home, but isn’t that all the more reason to respect how well done the lesson is?)

Here’s your executive summary: Each chord “family” — Major, Minor, 7th, Augmented, whatever, it makes no difference — has only FOUR chord shapes!


Four major chord shapes. Four minor, etc. All you need to practice is moving them up and down the fretboard.

Spicing up a song with alternative chord “voicings” is suddenly easy.

(Note: If you don’t recognize a few of them (like your “G” major) remember that Major chords are, by definition, only three notes (the “why’s” and “how’s” of chord construction and theory are beyond me, and thankfully, irrelevant for playing them). This means that since the uke has four strings we’re doubling up on one note. Sometimes we’re lucky and can choose a simplified fingering, giving our fingers a break while still covering the three required notes. So we have options. That’s why the “G” chord shape is, to my original eyeballing, unrecognizable as being identical to the F#’s, but it is!)

Anyway, invest the fifteen minutes. Pour a coffee and settle into “Ukulele Chord Magic”!

(Note #2: Why begin with “seventh chords”? Because, while you might want to begin with the majors, the spacing on the seventh chords is clearer and better illustrates the technique and its simplicity. I discovered this while making the colorized diagrams shown above.)

(Last Note: the diagrams show the standard 12-frets found on soprano ukuleles — your tenor uke has substantially more, so you just keep repeating the patterns!)

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