Playing Guitar ‘Slash Chords’ On The Ukulele

Despite the increasing amount of tab and chords for ukulele on the internet, we still have to rely on guitar chords for most songs. If you’ve done this a lot, you’ll have come across – and possibly confused by – chords that look like this: D/F#. These are known as ‘slash chords’.

On the guitar, it’s almost always the case that the lowest note played is the root note (the note the chord is named after). Slash chords are used to indicate where the lowest note is not the root of the chord. The first part of the slash chord is the chord played and the second part is the lowest note. In the example D/F#, the chord is D and the lowest note is F#. So it could be played like this on guitar:

slashchords.jpg

It’s often not the case on the ukulele that the lowest note is the root. As there are only four strings, we have to take the notes wherever we can find them. So, what do you do on the uke when you come across slash chords?

That depends on what the bass note is. If the bass note is part of the chord, you can ignore it and play the usual chord shape. If it isn’t part of the chord, you’ll have to add it in somewhere.

Here’s a typical guitar chord progression with a few slash chords:

C – C/B – C/A – C/G – G – C

The first slash chord in this sequence is C/B. B is not part of the C chord so you have to add it in (A string second fret).

c-b.jpg

The same is true with C/A – there is no A in a C chord so add the open A string.

There is, however, a G in the C chord. So at that point you can play the usual C chord. Giving us this progression:

slash ukulele chords

If you’re not sure how chords are made up and what notes they contain, check out How To Play Ukulele Chord Progressions – it’ll give you a real understanding of how chords work and what you can do with them.

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51 Comments

  1. Chris Double November 13th, 2007 9:27 pm

    Thanks for that, I’d seen guitar chords with the slash and wondered how they would be transfered to the ukulele.

    BTW, your ‘How to play ukulele chord progressions’ is excellent. It cleared up a number of things for me. I’m just getting into music theory and having something that relates directly to the ukulele was very useful.

  2. Mike Dickison November 13th, 2007 10:08 pm

    Thank you thank you thank you. I’ve been looking for ages for a simple explanation of slash chords. All the other sites and books just say “not generally relevant to the ukulele”.

    I’ll second the plug for your chord progressions book by the way.

  3. Jeff West November 14th, 2007 5:19 am

    I also had this question. You find this on http://www.chordie.com quite frequently. You’re the best!

  4. weelie November 14th, 2007 9:38 am

    Good stuff.

    Basic chord theory is not that difficult, but it seems people want it in small chunks like this. So great that you offer that, among all other things uke!

    I posted my ponderings about chord theory in this thread just now: http://ukulelenurkka.arkku.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=1254
    (I’ve posted this and more in Finnish before, not that many people read Finnish fluently, I’ve come to realize… ;) )

  5. Woodshed November 14th, 2007 8:48 pm

    Thanks for the comments guys. It’s great to see people find it useful.

  6. Uke Hunt » Christmas Ukulele: Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody December 10th, 2007 7:07 pm

    […] out with a series of ’slash chords’ which need a little reworking on the uke (you can read about how to do it here) and is a little fiddly to play. But, other than that, it’s fairly plain sailing through the […]

  7. Minamin June 9th, 2008 2:51 am

    I just found the chords for a Fiery Furnaces song that’s loaded with slash chords, and this post saved my life. Thanks a lot Al!

  8. gary July 31st, 2008 6:44 pm

    does anyone know the chords Dminsus2 and Fminsus2

    its from bright eyes, first day of my life

  9. Woodshed July 31st, 2008 7:58 pm

    I’m not surprised you couldn’t find those chords, neither of them exist. Sus chords can’t be major or minor. What they might mean is Dmadd9 (7557) and Fmadd9 (0543)

  10. Derek August 26th, 2008 8:46 am

    I’m not looking to delve into music theory just yet, but a guitar song I’m trying to learn on my new uke uses very basic chords, except for one slash chord. Luckily for me, it happened to be one of the ones in the example picture (C/B). Thanks for that, man.

  11. Woodshed August 26th, 2008 8:47 pm

    Glad to help, Derek.

  12. James October 15th, 2008 5:14 am

    Going back to Gary’s question, what exactly is a Dminsus2, Fminsus2, etc. chord on the ukulele? Came across it in Bright Eyes too.

  13. Woodshed October 16th, 2008 10:03 pm

    James: Like I said, those chords don’t exist. I think the person writing the meant Dmadd9 and Fmadd9. There are uke chords for First Day of My Life here.

  14. Josh January 6th, 2009 7:08 pm

    thanks so much for this.

    I was getting so confused by them and my friend told me they were called slash chords

    so i typed in ‘slash chords ukulele’ on google and of course it comes up with Uke Hunt

  15. Woodshed January 14th, 2009 9:23 pm

    Glad you found it useful, Josh.

  16. Jill Cobb June 12th, 2009 7:09 pm

    I googled “C/B ukulele chord” to keep from having to bug you by email and look where it led me…

  17. Woodshed June 13th, 2009 9:11 pm

    Jill: Yep, there’s no escaping me.

  18. Tim! June 18th, 2009 3:34 am

    Wow…
    I’d always just assumed the / in guitar tabs was a slide, like sliding from one power chord to another…
    Goddamn I’m stupid.

  19. Woodshed June 18th, 2009 6:21 pm

    Tim!: Your interpretation makes a lot of sense, since that’s what it means in tab.

  20. April July 9th, 2009 11:46 am

    I’ve been trying to figure out the B/F chord but can’t.
    I’ve looked on all websites and tried to figure it out using this article.
    I may need to accept that I am musikulelically-retarded.

    If someone could help me out, that would be great.
    It’s for The Dø’s song “At Last!”

  21. Woodshed July 11th, 2009 4:06 pm

    April: I’ve had a look at that chord chart and they mean Bb/F (at least that’s the chord shape they show). So just play Bb.

  22. Paul Jewell April 8th, 2010 12:12 am

    I found a version of the Monty Python ‘Lumberjack’ song for the re-entrant tuned uke, which includes G(2nd) and G(2nd) chords, at this url: http://www.alligatorboogaloo.com/uke/tabs/050906.html
    Can anyone explain what a (2nd) chord means and how they are constructed? I ask because I want to transpose them to a DGBE tuned Baritone uke. Thanks for any help.

  23. Woodshed April 8th, 2010 6:14 pm

    Paul: I think the second refers to the position that the chords are played in. So C and C(2nd) are the same chord but played in different ways. So if you’re playing on the baritone, you could just use the usual C or G chord for those.

  24. oaky September 30th, 2010 1:27 am

    How would you play a C/E?

  25. Woodshed October 2nd, 2010 10:51 pm

    oaky: Just a C chord (there’s already an E in it).

  26. liggsies November 24th, 2010 3:54 pm

    I haven’t fully explored the blog archives, I suppose, so I don’t know if you discuss this more later, but I’m a little iffy on this lesson material.

    Slash chords in guitar really are meant for the bass note. I suppose you can get a very similar effect when playing uke chords in a song by just adding the note, but, for example, the C/B you have a chart for up there, in which the B is a high rather than a bass note, is really more of a Cmaj7, no?

    I’m not saying the way you presented slash chords for the uke is “wrong,” per say, but it might be fair to mark the distinction somewhere.

    Other things to note: C/A as charted is a C6. (Also, C/A on guitar is also an Am7, which you could get in a different way on the uke, 4th string 2nd fret, 2nd string 3rd fret).

    Chord theory/construction is a really amazing thing, and I think it might be handy to have a lesson just on that, perhaps?

  27. Woodshed November 27th, 2010 2:00 pm

    liggsies: Yes, on guitar they are bass notes. But the uke doesn’t have bass notes. You need to include the note on the uke to maintain the harmony but it’s not always possible to have it as the lowest note.

    C/B is technically a Cmaj7 on guitar as well.

  28. liggsies November 29th, 2010 1:51 pm

    Is it really necessary for the harmony? Most often when I see slash chords, they’re used to denote some kind of little bass run/riff/thingy for guitar or piano. For a simple example, Bob Dylan’s, “Blowing in the Wind.” G, C, C/B, D/A. Listening to the song, you can hear that in the boom-chucky style guitar bass rhythm walking down.

    Personally, if I’m playing that on guitar, I don’t find that it really helps with the harmony if I try to play a Cmaj7 (that is, with the high B instead of the bass note). Neither do I on uke, I’ll just go through G, C, and D (or rather C, F, and G if I want to use the same chord shapes and play it in key. Er, or is D, G, and A in key? Never really did find out what the real key of that song on the album is). Or, if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll try to make something similar to that bass part happen on the third string, right notes or no.

    Using the high notes, to me, offers an entirely different effect. Still, to each their own, and excellent work with this site. I probably wouldn’t play uke at all if I hadn’t found this awesome resource.

    Er, am I going to get in trouble for also playing guitar and piano around here? I promise I don’t just play uke as a novelty, I love the little thing!

  29. Woodshed December 3rd, 2010 10:41 pm

    liggsies: If you’re playing with a bassist or guitarist, sure, let them handle it. But if it’s just uke it’s going to sound like there’s something missing if you don’t have the movement in there somewhere.

    When it is a bass run, I do like to have the notes follow one another (so they’re in the same octave and, preferably on the same string) but I’d avoid changing the notes too much. Even if you’re using the lowest notes on the uke, it’s never going to sound like a bass run.

  30. robert mugabe December 6th, 2010 9:54 pm

    Jolly helpful, thank you. I was looking for D/F#, but it seems that this is just D on the ukulele.
    Your post is particularly useful because it’s impossible to search for the “/” symbol in Google.

  31. Woodshed December 7th, 2010 7:17 pm

    robert: Glad I could help.

  32. JP Whitehead July 4th, 2011 5:19 pm

    Chords for Wilco’s “hummingbird” call for two slash chords, Dm/F and E/D, which I have been unable to find anywhere.

    I know the Dm/F is just Dm, but I can’t figure out the E/D.

    This post is pretty old, but hopefully someone can help me out! Thanks.

  33. Will July 12th, 2011 1:10 am

    Well E/D would just be E played with a D in it, so 4242? Idk I may be wrong.

  34. Woodshed July 14th, 2011 7:26 am

    JP: Yep, what Will said would work. Or any version of E7. I’d go with 1202.

  35. Bern August 25th, 2011 6:25 pm

    Hi there, I can’t figure out how to play a D/F# chord on the uke, any help there? (Blood Bank by Bon Iver)Thanks!!

  36. Woodshed August 26th, 2011 6:46 am

    Bern: It’s just a standard D chord.

  37. jon April 2nd, 2012 6:53 pm

    So is there an existing chart of all the slash chords with corresponding uke fingering or the actual chord to play?? It would make things easier and convenient. No?
    Thanks.

  38. Woodshed April 6th, 2012 8:38 am

    jon: There are a hell of a lot of possible combinations. It’s best to learn the theory.

  39. genna June 6th, 2012 3:32 pm

    you wouldnt happen to know the c/b chord for baritone uke would youu? thanks!

  40. Woodshed June 6th, 2012 11:01 pm

    genna: 5453 would probably be easiest. But 9988 would be more technically correct.

  41. Mark August 24th, 2012 6:40 pm

    Do you know how to play D/C# on uke? I’ve been trying to figure it out for so long.

  42. Woodshed August 24th, 2012 10:41 pm

    Mark: Either 2120 or 2224 should do it.

  43. littletheophilus November 11th, 2012 2:58 am

    Thanks for being here. You are a blessing. At the ripe old age of 63 learning new instruments takes a wee bit longer than it did when I was young. Your site is now bookmarked in the “instrumental” folder.

    Still crazy after all these years, and still learnin!

    Peace and love,
    Charlie

  44. Woodshed November 12th, 2012 2:18 pm

    littletheophilus: Thanks so much!

  45. elvis December 3rd, 2012 2:32 am

    i am trying to learn on the way home by neil young, and the chord D/C# is coming up, does anyone know what this chord would be on the ukulele?

    heres a link to the song

    http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/n/neil_young/on_the_way_home_crd.htm

  46. elvis December 3rd, 2012 3:23 am

    sorry reading up i saw you had already answered this question thank you very helpful!

  47. Woodshed December 3rd, 2012 10:48 am

    elvis: Glad you found your answer!

  48. Mark B March 16th, 2013 4:40 pm

    Sorry, but I am still a bit confused. I am looking for Am/G. As there is no G in the Am chord, I have to add it. Would that then be 2030 (adding the G on E string and keeping my Am on the 2nd fret of the G string), or would it be 0000, effectively over-ruling the Am with the open G? They sound quite similar to my ears when strummed, but miles apart when picked.

    I have been a quiet regular on your site since I took up uke just over a year ago, and even without the much-missed podcasts I get so much out of it every week. Thanks for everything.

  49. Woodshed March 17th, 2013 11:09 pm

    Mark B: Both are good. I’d tend to go with 0000 since it includes the E. But use whichever you like the sound of most in the context.

  50. anon April 9th, 2013 6:05 pm

    idly googled ukulele slash chords, as if e/b was playable below the 11th fret…

    hey woodshed, thanks for your work. your tips were very helpful for me early on.

  51. Woodshed April 10th, 2013 12:43 pm

    anon: Thanks very much!

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