Ukulele 101: How To Read Ukulele Tab Part 7

Advanced Repeats

There are a vast array of Italian scribblings and scrawlings, and Heroes style symbols that can be used to indicate repeats. Here are the most common.

repeats ukulele tab

Whereas the other form of repeats is fairly intuitive, this type is pretty indecipherable (unless you happen to be fluent in Italian).

The first time round, you can breeze past the symbols until you reach D.S. al Coda (short for da signo al coda). It means you have to go back to the strange looking squiggle (at the beginning of bar two) then you play through until you reach Da Coda. At this point you go to the little target symbol.

In this example you’ll play bars:

1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 3, 6.

It is possible to get all sorts of double signos and double codas, but you’ll probably never see these in ukulele tab. The only variation you might find is D.C. al Coda rather than D.S. al Coda. This means you go back to the start rather than going back to the sign.

Don’t worry if you didn’t get all of that. I still have to double check when I come up against this sort of repeat.


You accent notes by giving them an extra little oomph. This might be strumming harder to accentuate a beat or picking a note harder to emphasise the melody.

Accents are shown in tab with an arrow above the note or chord.

ukulele accents

This snippet shows an exaggerated example:

Dead Notes

Dead notes are clicks produced by strumming the uke while damping all the strings with your fretting hand. Lay your fingers gently across the strings. You should touch the strings just enough to stop them ringing but not enough to fret the note.

ukulele dead notes


Trills are produced by repeatedly hammering-on and pulling-off the same two notes. They are shown by the letters tr followed by a wavy line.

ukulele tab trill

In this example, the A string is played at the fourth fret then you hammer-on and pull off at the fifth fret repeatedly.

This series was derived from my ebook Ukulele 101: 101 Things Every Ukulele Player Needs to Know.

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View Comments


  1. Michael Doland February 27th, 2008 7:30 pm

    You are going much, much faster than I am or can, but I save (and treasure) your lessons. My son and I try to practice 3 – 4 times a week. I have never played an instrument before.
    Thanks for the help.

  2. Jimmy February 27th, 2008 8:23 pm

    I thought it was Italian. It’s useless Italian, unless you want to run around Rome screaming “SPEED UP! SLOW DOWN! UH… GLISSANDI!”

  3. Woodshed February 27th, 2008 9:05 pm

    Michael: I’ve just extended the domain for a couple of years. So all the stuff will be here for a good while yet.

    Jimmy: You’re probably right. I did learn some Italian once upon a time. Waste of time really. Vorrei prenotare tre posti per dopo domain.

  4. Howlin' Hobbit February 28th, 2008 4:56 pm

    Bears are pretty large all by themselves. I don’t think they need accentuating. ;-)

  5. Woodshed February 28th, 2008 8:04 pm

    Ha, ha. Yeah, you got me.

    [ya cheeky bastard :P ]

  6. Howlin' Hobbit February 29th, 2008 2:36 am

    I almost didn’t point out the little typo because, let’s face it, the mental picture’s a treat and now that it’s corrected I spoiled it for everyone. :(

  7. pickyplucka March 22nd, 2008 2:58 am

    This is a little bit hard this stuff right? I can barely do a hammer-on. My trills hardly trill – maybe for half a second. I can’t imagine how the one in the example lasts so long.
    Maybe my uke is too crap? (asked hopefully) It’s a cheapy.

  8. Woodshed March 22nd, 2008 7:24 am

    Yeah, this stuff is tricky. Your uke and your strings will affect how difficult it is and how clearly it sounds.

    With the trills, rather than lifting your finger straight off, you get a clearer sound if you pull downwards. So you’re almost plucking the string with your fretting finger each time. Hope that helps.

  9. Jeff December 18th, 2008 3:21 pm

    I have come across a tab notation that I am unfamiliar with. It is a vertical wiggly line on the left side of a chord. It also has an arrow head either at the top or bottom. You can see it on page 6 of wwelti’s classical tabs.

    What does it mean?

  10. Woodshed December 18th, 2008 10:00 pm

    Jeff: It’s a slightly different way of indicating strum direction. It’s just the same as the straight arrow in my tabs.

  11. Aggie80 September 25th, 2011 4:38 pm

    Jeff, the squiggly line is an indication of a more deliberate strum, plucking each string separately so the notes really ring out. In musical notation it is an arpeggio, a musical technique where notes in a chord are played or sung in sequence, one after the other, rather than all at once.

  12. patty October 8th, 2012 3:49 am

    so i hope this is relevant to this.

    i came across a tab and in it it says 3h2.

    I have no idea what that means. Can someone please help!!!!

  13. Woodshed October 8th, 2012 10:31 pm

    patty: Usually an ‘h’ would mean a hammer-on. But since it’s going down a fret I would guess it means a pull-off. There’s more on both those here.

  14. Rani January 2nd, 2013 8:39 pm

    This is so much easier when you know how to play a different instrument. I’ve easily hammered through all of the different levels because I already know all of the stuff :3
    Ukulele is awesome

  15. Woodshed January 3rd, 2013 12:22 pm

    Rani: Well done!

  16. Kayla March 12th, 2013 11:06 pm

    I am well-versed in Latin and play several classical instruments. It’s Italian, not Latin.

  17. Woodshed March 15th, 2013 8:19 am

    Kayla: Thanks for the correction.

  18. Jenny October 17th, 2015 3:43 am

    I love finger plucking and have found your lessons and website very helpful. Please can you tell me, can you finger pick chords e.g. G, D7 etc or do you always have to strum these? Thank you!

  19. Woodshed October 17th, 2015 11:13 am

    Jenny: Thanks! No, picking chords is a great idea. Do that as much as you please!

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