Although it seems like a bit of a chore, learning all the notes on your fretboard is so helpful when it comes to learning to play ukulele. The ability to instantly know what note you’re playing wherever you are on the neck on your uke opens up all kinds of possibilities and should start to connect the dots for you on which notes and chords work together and why.
If you would prefer to listen to the audio version of this article, you can press the play button below.
44 frets to memorise
By now you should know the names/notes of your open strings, the next step is to get to grips with some of the names of the fretted notes that you play. We only need to know the notes up to the 11th fret, as once we hit the 12th fret we’re a whole octave up and the notes repeat themselves starting from GCEA again.
That’s a whopping 44 frets (4 strings x 11 frets) that you need to learn. It’s going to take a little while to get that memorised. I find the best way is to break it up into much smaller chunks, starting with frets 5 and 7. The beauty of frets 5 and 7 is that just like the open strings, they contain no sharps or flats.
The notes at the fifth fret are C, F, A and D. At the seventh we have D, G, B and E. Or as I call them, Chickens Fight All Day (CFAD) and Don’t Go Breaking Everything (DGBE). However you remember them doesn’t matter. What matters is that you find a way to make them stick.
What about the rest?
Ok so we’ve done 8 (plus the 4 open strings which you already know right?) and you’ve got 36 left to go. There’s no quick trick that is going to force the rest into your brain and keep them there. I’d suggest that you work on them in small chunks. Once you have the open strings and frets 5 and 7 memorised. It should be easy enough to add in frets 1, 4, 6 and 8 as you have a reference point for all of them, you already know the notes next to them.
It will take time, there’s no getting around that but try and do a little bit each day and before you know it, you’ll be well on the way to becoming a fretboard master. I’ve included another fretboard diagram for you of all the basic notes (not including sharps and flats).
Ukulele Fretboard Notes: Charts & Diagrams
A player’s most important piece of foundational knowledge is, without a doubt, the notes on an ukulele fretboard.
They hold the key to everything and yet, these 48 little destinations get pushed aside by almost everybody! They are like the times tables of your uke – not fun, but useful and necessary.
The Chromatic Fretboard Layout
GCEA fretboard diagram PDFs
Diagrams for other tunings
Memorizing the fretboard
Before we get too excited about what is where (if you really can’t wait, click the button), it’s nice to have a vague idea why the notes are laid out the way they are on an ukulele fretboard.
The Chromatic Ukulele Fretboard Layout:
Western music uses 12 notes, in this order:A - A#/Bb - B - C - C#/Db - D - D#/Eb - E - F - F#/Gb - G - G#/Ab
It’s called the chromatic scale. Once you get to the end, it repeats back to A. This chromatic scale also happens to be exactly the same as the A-string. If you were to play every note on your A-string, in order, starting on the open A note, you would be playing the above line of letters.
This is true of all the strings. The open strings of an ukulele are: G-C-E-A. What are the note on the 12th fret of the ukulele? G-C-E-A one octave above!
Takeaway: You only really need to learn the notes of the ukulele up to the 11th fret.
Out of the chromatic scale we can find 7 natural notes:A - B - C - D - E - F - G
They are considered “natural” because they are not altered with sharps or flats.
A sharp (#) raises the pitch of the note a half step. A flat (b) lowers the pitch of the note a half step. A half step is one fret on the ukulele.
These flat or sharped notes are called “enharmonics”and each has two names. There are 5 enharmonics:A#/Bb - C#/Db - D#/Eb - F#/Gb - G#/Ab
Because of the way the 12 notes are spaced on the ukulele fretboard, there’s an enharmonic between every natural note and the next except:
As long as you can remember that B/C and E/F are always next-door neighbors, you can always figure out the chromatic scale.
Here’s a diagram of where they happen to fall on the fretboard of an ukulele.
Offsetting the Chromatic Scale for Each String:
Since the chromatic letter line repeats from G#/Ab back to A again, you can start on any note and get the same order, every time. This is exactly what happens with the other three strings.
The E-string is simply:E - F - F#/Gb - G - G#/Ab - A - A#/Bb - B - C - C#/Db - D - D#/Eb
The C-string:C - C#/Db - D - D#/Eb - E - F - F#/Gb - G - G#/Ab - A - A#/Bb - B
The G-string:G - G#/Ab - A - A#/Bb - B - C - C#/Db - D - D#/Eb - E - F - F#/Gb
Put it all together and you get your first rough note map of the ukulele fingerboard:A - A#/Bb - B - C - C#/Db - D - D#/Eb - E - F - F#/Gb - G - G#/Ab E - F - F#/Gb - G - G#/Ab - A - A#/Bb - B - C - C#/Db - D - D#/Eb C - C#/Db - D - D#/Eb - E - F - F#/Gb - G - G#/Ab - A - A#/Bb - B G - G#/Ab - A - A#/Bb - B - C - C#/Db - D - D#/Eb - E - F - F#/Gb
Enter the Matrix
Understanding the notes on a piano keyboard is easy compared to an ukulele fretboard. This is because there is only one place for each note – middle C only exists in a single spot.
On ukulele however (with a few exceptions), each note exists in several places. I like to think of this as the fingerboard “matrix.” Because of how the chromatic scale lands on each string, the picture gets much more challenging to understand. Finding the “right” note becomes a hefty chore. Not only do you have to locate options, but you must decide which to use to play the song!
Now that you have an idea why things are the way they are, let’s get down to business and rock that fretboard chart for your uke!
Charts for GCEA Ukulele Fretboard Notes
There’s not much to a fingerboard chart. One set of lines run horizontal and represent the strings. The others are vertical and represent the frets. The notes are shown in each finger space. Simple.
Here are several ukulele fretboard note charts in different formats for reference.
In some circumstances a .jpg file might be useful. Click on the image to get the full-size version:
If you want a fancy version with highlighted natural notes, here’s a colored fingerboard chart:
Finally, I put together a high-res PDF with several fretboards to a page that you can use to practice memorizing the fretboard.
Ukulele Fretboard Chart PDF
Ukulele Fretboard Chart PDF: Left Handed
Blank Fretboard Chart (Notes Not Shown)
Most people who land on this page will be looking for the above info. But for the sake of covering all bases, here are charts for the other main tunings. If you’ll notice, everything is the same, only the start location changes. The chromatic scale in action again!
Memorizing the Notes of the Fretboard
One of the first battles you face on the way to being a more competent ukulele player is learning the notes and where they are located on the fingerboard. Not just: [pause] “…there’s F!”, but more like:
You want to be able to instantly find the nearest location of that one note you are looking for. It takes time and you can always be faster, but familiarity with your ukulele will take you a long ways.
I suggest starting by learning the natural notes up to the 3rd fret. Since the C major scale is made up of only natural notes, it is a great place to begin.
I could explain it here, but Brett over at Ukulele Tricks does a great job demonstrating the basic first position C major scale.
That basic shape covers the bottom three strings, so all you have to add is the open G-string and A on the 2nd fret, G-string:
Next, work on studying all the natural notes up to the 5th fret. That step just adds all the notes on the 5th fret and two on the 4th fret, G and C strings to what we already have from the previous step.
Work your way up the fretboard (by frets or by string if you like) and learn the rest of the natural notes. It’s all just a big C scale.
Instead of trying to do it all at once, I’d proceed studying from the 5th fret by adding two frets worth of natural notes at a time. This is more manageable and will teach you to see “zones” that exist between note patterns.
From there, you just need to fill in the blanks with enharmonics.
Because the name of an enharmonic is pretty much a road map right to the location of the note, it’s pretty easy to find them. For example: what’s in between C and D? Hmm… C#/Db. Pretty simple. C#/Db is in between ALL Cs and Ds. Any enharmonic is surrounded by it’s two namesakes.
As you’re studying each portion of the fretboard and pushing back the darkness that surrounds the notes on your ukulele, you’ll need some ideas for drills and exercises.
Scales probably make the most sense for learning the fingerboard because you are learning notes anyways. Just like the C scale familiarizes most people with the natural notes inside the first 3 frets, any other scale can teach you the notes that live in between and higher up the neck. Here is a tab of major scales and a page of video lessons with tab:
Just play and think about the notes. Simple, but once you learn a song, do you really think about the notes or just where your fingers go? If you run through the names of the notes as you play them you can kill two birds with one stone. This is especially important if you learn just from tabs as there is nothing forcing you to even care about the notes.
Find a note in all locations. If you have metronome, put it going slowly, if not, just practice this evenly (and slowly) by counting in your head or tapping your foot. Choose a note and locate it on any string. Once you find the note, play it on a click (metronome or virtual – “1 2 3 4…”). Find the note on the next string and play it on the next click (I said go slowly right?). And the next and the next until your cover all the strings.
There are some strings (depending on how many frets you have to work with) that will have two note locations. I suggest you practice playing those too. Then pick another note to find the locations of. Try doing this with all the different notes (enharmonics too!). For example, to do this exercise with the G note it would look like this:
- Open G string – “click/pick”
- 12th fret, G string – “click/pick”
- 7th fret, C string – “click/pick”
- 3rd fret, E string – “click/pick”
- 15th fret, E string – “click/pick”
- 10th fret, A string – “click/pick”
Write it out. Print out some copies of a blank fingerboard chart and fill in the blanks using whatever order you like (natural notes first, string by string, fret by fret, etc…). Study the location of those notes!
Top 13 Ukulele Chords(A Beginner's Guide To Ukulele Chords)
If you’re new to ukulele and are wondering where to start, then you can begin with these easy chords! On this page we’ve chosen to break down the top 13 ukulele chords. By learning these basic chords you’ll be able to play many awesome songs on your ukulele in no time.
TIP: Try to play on the fingertips as much as possible to avoid muting the other strings, to get a clear sound.
A Quick Guide To Uke Chord Charts
Before you get started learning the chords, you’ll need to understand how a ukulele chord chart works. Here are the four things you need to know to read a chord chart:
1. A chord chart is designed to illustrate the first five frets of a ukulele, with the vertical lines being the strings and the horizontal lines being the frets. You can see these labeled on a real ukulele in the image above.
2. The four strings, from left to right, are G, C, E, and A, also shown above.
3. The solid circles you'll see in the images below represent where you position your fingers on the strings.
4. Also below, if you see an open circle at the top of the chart, then this represents an open string, so you don’t put any fingers on this string.
And that’s it! Now, onto the chords...
C Major Ukulele Chord
The C major chord is super simple as it only requires one finger. Remember, that the open circles represent open strings, so no fingers are needed on the G, C, or E string. Place your third (ring) finger on the A string at the 3rd fret. Your hand should look similar to the photo below.
A Major Ukulele Chord
Once you’ve mastered the C major chord, give the A major chord a go, which uses two fingers. Place your first (index) finger on the 1st fret of the C string and your second (middle) finger on the 2nd fret of the G string. And that’s your A major chord!
A Minor Ukulele Chord
Now let’s try out the A minor chord, which is pretty similar to the A major chord, just one finger less. Place your first finger on the 2nd fret of the G string.
G Major Ukulele Chord
Next, we’ll take a look at the G major chord, which is a little trickier because it uses three fingers. Place your first finger on the 2nd fret of the C string, your second finger on the 2nd fret of the A string, and your third finger on the 3rd fret of the E string. This finger positioning might feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but the more you play, the more you’ll get used to it.
F Major Ukulele Chord
Let’s try out the F major chord. Place your first finger on the 1st fret of the E string, and your second finger on the 2nd fret of the G string. Done!
D Major Ukulele Chord
The D major chord uses three fingers all positioned on the 2nd fret. Place your first finger on the G string, your second finger on the C string, and your third finger on the E string.
This chord can feel crowded with 3 fingers on the same fret, especially for those playing a concert or soprano sized Ukulele. Feel free to experiment with different options, like a barre, which you will learn about below. As long as the G, C, and E strings are being pressed, and the A string is left open, do what feels best for you.
D Minor Ukulele Chord
The D minor chord is similar to the F major chord with an additional finger. Place your first finger on the 1st fret of the E string, your second finger on the 2nd fret of the G string, and your third finger on the 2nd fret of the C string.
E Minor Ukulele Chord
If you’ve mastered all the chords so far, E minor won’t be tricky at all. Place your first finger on the 2nd fret of the A string, your second finger on the 3rd fret of the E string, and your third finger on the 4th fret of the C string.
Tip: Remember to keep your fingers arched high to avoid fretting other strings.
B Major Ukulele Chord
Now, we’re going to move onto some more challenging chords, starting with B major. A B major chord uses what’s called a barre chord. A barre chord is where you use one finger to hold down two or more strings at the same time. To play a B major chord, take your index finger and hold down the 2nd fret on both the E and A strings. Then place your second finger on the 3rd fret of the C string, and your third finger on the 4th fret of the G string.
Tip: When playing a barre chord, place your thumb on the back of the ukulele neck to help you apply more pressure.
This might take a bit of practice, but mastering the barre chord will help you with lots of different chords in the future!
Bb/A# (B flat/A sharp) Ukulele Chord
Once you’ve got the B major chord down, have a go at the B flat chord. Take your first finger and barre the E and A strings at the 1st fret, then place your second finger on the 2nd fret of the C string, and your third finger on the 3rd fret of the G string.
D7 Ukulele Chord
D7 is a 7th chord. Not sure what a 7th chord is? Well, 7th chords are a combo of a triad with the addition of another note. Let’s start with learning D7, which also uses a barre chord. Use your first finger to barre the G, C and E strings at the 2nd fret, then place your second finger on the 3rd fret of the A string. Again, this chord might take a bit of practice, but remember to take your time!
Alternative D7 Chord: Place your first finger on the 2nd fret of the G string. Your second (middle) finger also goes on the 2nd fret, but on the E string. The C and A strings should be left open.
G7 Ukulele Chord
G7 is bit simpler than D7. To play a G7 chord, place your first finger on the 1st fret of the E string, your second finger on the 2nd fret of the C string, and your third finger on the 2nd fret of the A string. And you’ve got it!
E7 Ukulele Chord
Finally, we’re going to end with an E7 chord. Place your first finger on the 1st fret of the G string, your second finger on the 2nd fret of the C string, and your third finger on the 2nd fret of the A string.
Tip: Remember to play with the tips of your fingers. Arching your fingers more can help avoid muting the E string.
TIP: Notice the similarities between chords like F and A and try to switch between chords with as little movement as possible.
By practicing these basic chords, you’ll be well equipped to start learning more complex chords and chord progressions, as well as using them to jam along to your favorite songs.
Remember to take your time and have fun!
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Chart ukulele fret
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