Beginner Ukulele Lessons

You’ve just got your hands on a ukulele (or are just thinking of buying one). Here are a few things to read and songs to play that’ll get you up to speed quickly.

Step One: Learn the basics

So You’ve Just Got Your First Ukulele – a free PDF I put together for beginners including essential links, first chords, tips and links to suggestions for the first songs to learn.
10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Ukuleles (Before I Bought One) – Don’t make the same mistakes I did.
10 Tips for Ukulele Beginners
How to read chord charts.

Extra Credit: Ukulele for Dummies – The (paper) book I wrote covering all the ukulele basics from buying your first uke, to strumming, chord shapes and far beyond.

Step 2: Get Your Strum On

Ukulele Strumming for Dummies
Strumming notation
13 Most Useful Strumming Patterns

Extra Credit: – How to Play Ukulele Strums – An ebook I wrote covering all the strumming and rhythm essentials for beginners.

Step 3: Play Some Songs

Check out the Songs with Chords You Know Post

Some popular ones:

Somewhere Over the Rainbow
I Wanna Be Like You
Hallelujah
5 Years Time
Sentimental Heart

Extra Credit: Joan Jett – Bad Reputation – Easy chords but you’ll need to have your chord changes down and a strong strumming-hand to play it up to speed.

Step 4: Spend Some Money

A ukulele tuner
– Some good strings like Aquila.

Extra Credit: Keep your ukulele upright with a stand. Get a capo to make playing in other keys easier.

Congratulations! You’re no longer a noob. You can now advance to the improver section.

If you think there’s a post that deserves a link here or have a topic you’d like me to cover in this section, leave a comment.

View Comments

89 Comments

  1. annie_sprinkles December 14th, 2011 11:44 pm

    I’m still having a difficult time trying to figure out which uke to purchase for myself. (total newbie) I played the clarinet in high school, but that was many yrs ago and I was never very good. I would like to stay under a $100.00 to start with incase I stink at this instrument too. Does anyone have any advise on what they would have purchased for their first one. thanks

  2. Monique Fournier January 21st, 2012 4:03 am

    Knowing tabs is great and I love learning how to play the uke but I also want to learn how to read music. What book can you suggest that would be helpful? My musical background is nil.

    I want to order your book “Ukulele for Dummies” but I can’t get through to the end of my order when I try to order at Amazon. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Is there a 1 800 number I could use to order?

    o get my order in with Amazon.

  3. Naomi K February 5th, 2012 1:11 am

    Has anyone pointed out that you have “10 Things I Wish I’d Known…” on here twice?

  4. Woodshed February 7th, 2012 10:44 am

    Naomi: Thanks. Fixed it.

  5. Ali February 7th, 2012 12:09 pm

    Hello. I am not sure how to position my thumb at the back of the uke:P It may seem obvious but I can’t work out if the thumb should be curled over top, pointing upwards or pressed on the middle of the neck of the uke! Or does it depend on the chord change you are working on?

  6. Woodshed February 8th, 2012 8:55 am

    Ali: Yeah, I’d general say go with what you find easiest. For most chords I prefer my thumb curled round. But for barre chords it’s much easier with the thumb on the back of the neck.

  7. karina March 6th, 2012 7:47 am

    i just had my first ukulele and been troubled about the strumming technique. now on my way to buy the “how to play ukulele strum” :) hopefully it can help my strumming technique…

    ps: i love your helpfull website…

    grettings from indonesia

  8. Woodshed March 8th, 2012 12:45 pm

    Karina: Thanks very much! Hope you enjoy he ebook.

  9. Jake April 4th, 2012 12:06 pm

    I love your site man, iv just bought my first uke ( makala dolphin )
    I also took some great advice and got myself some Aquila strings.
    I will certainly be returning to your site.

  10. Woodshed April 6th, 2012 8:24 am

    Jake: Thanks so much!

  11. alex August 12th, 2012 5:32 pm

    this is brilliant! well done! has helped me play ukulele…and now feel better than a begginer! thankyou sooo much! :D

  12. Woodshed August 12th, 2012 9:29 pm

    Alex: That’s excellent! Glad it helped.

  13. Jimmy August 17th, 2012 9:38 am

    I come from Taiwan, I think your lesson is very useful to me! Good job

  14. Woodshed August 17th, 2012 11:05 am

    Jimmy: Thanks very much. That’s great!

  15. mads August 26th, 2012 11:31 pm

    hi, your website has been informative and wonderful. i just got my first uke about a week ago and i love it to pieces. unfortunately i’m not gifted rhythm-wise and while i have no problems strumming or singing, i find it incredibly difficult to do both simultaneously. either my brain switches off and I start mumbling incoherently or my arm goes dumb and i start strumming randomly. what can i do to bone up on my rhythmic abilities and synchronize the two processes?

  16. BassistWithAnUke September 12th, 2012 3:27 pm

    I’m new to the Uke [ bought mine yesterday ] but your lessons and scores made everything much easier! I play bass and guitar for some time, and i instantly got along with my new Uke. Thanks for the website!
    PS: Do you ship your books to Brazil? I would be very happy if so.

  17. Woodshed September 14th, 2012 1:47 pm

    BassistWithAnUke: Thanks! They’re ebooks so they’re just delivered over the net.

  18. Liam October 7th, 2012 10:52 pm

    Can you use a guitar pick for a uke? And the site helped ALOT! THNX!

  19. Woodshed October 8th, 2012 10:32 pm

    Liam: You can do but I wouldn’t recommend it unless it’s a particular sound you’re trying for.

  20. Nichola December 14th, 2012 5:36 pm

    How long does it take before you can sing/hum along?
    Absolutely all of my concentration goes on strumming and playing the chords that I can’t figure out when to change
    for example when I’m playing noah and the whale 5 years time I literally just do C d u chunk u, F d u chunk u, G d u chunk u… etc etc. Over and over again. when I try to hum it to know when to change chords I get totally lost. I’ve been playing it constantly over the last week and its still just repetitive.

  21. WildcatGuitar(Uke) March 1st, 2013 11:27 pm

    Great site. Looks like lots of good info Thanks!

  22. Charlo May 11th, 2013 4:17 am

    You info are really helpful,thanks for what you’ve done!
    I’m a beginner,recently bought my first Ukulele,glad to see that there’re so many people loving Ukulele!

  23. Woodshed May 12th, 2013 1:53 pm

    Charlo: Thanks very much!

  24. Marie May 20th, 2013 1:54 am

    It’s my birthday today and my husband has bought me a uke, I never thought of having a uke and was surprised how many people are interested in them ,some great sites and I have just got ukulele for dummies ebook ,very impressed and very useful wont say how old I am but I have played guitar for nearly fifty years . They say its good to keep learning new things thanks for your site.
    Marie

  25. Woodshed May 21st, 2013 3:04 pm

    Marie: Thanks very much. And happy birthday!

  26. Matthew Short January 3rd, 2014 11:18 pm

    Fabulous site! The lessons are really well constructed. Just worked through I wanna be like you with my 8 yr old with 6 yr old singing, brilliant! Keep up the good work please!

  27. Woodshed January 4th, 2014 8:43 am

    Matthew: Thanks very much! That’s fantastic.

  28. Layne February 1st, 2014 1:04 am

    Omg,I have learnt so much off this site thanx heaps!!!!!

  29. Woodshed February 1st, 2014 8:10 am

    Layne: You’re welcome!

  30. April November 1st, 2014 2:48 pm

    This site is definitely an awesome find! I’m learning in China from a couple who own a music shop, but only one of them speaks English! This is a great help for when I’m needing help and I’m not at their shop. :D

  31. Woodshed November 2nd, 2014 11:51 am

    April: That’s great! I’m really glad it’s useful to you.

  32. RubySoho December 25th, 2014 11:50 pm

    Santa brought me my first uke today! I can’t wait to get started, and I’m so glad I found this site to get me started ????????

  33. Woodshed December 28th, 2014 10:14 pm

    RubySoho: Congratulations! I hope you enjoy playing.

  34. Pianukulele October 22nd, 2015 10:15 pm

    Thank you for this fabulous website!!! I’m new to ukulele but everything you have here is excellent information and I enjoyed it.
    I have a super cheap ukulele in my hand. And I know there is a suggestion to spend some money about excellent string. Do you think it’s worth to install those good string on $20 ukulele? I’m just curious and I want to be good at it and getting better everyday but C string doesn’t sound good within the harmony and trying to find some easy solution.

  35. Woodshed October 23rd, 2015 11:40 am

    Pianukulele: It’s hard to say. It might be the strings or something wrong with the uke. If you’re able to save up for a better uke I’d put your money there.

  36. Ashley November 30th, 2015 11:39 pm

    Hi I was wondering if you would be able to show how to play “Que Sera Sera” Carrie Hope Fletcher’s youtube video version of the song the way she plays it.

  37. Evie January 29th, 2016 11:47 am

    Im just wondering is your right arm ment to hurt after a wile of playing from leaning agaist the edge of the ukulele?

  38. Woodshed January 29th, 2016 3:08 pm

    Evie: Is the corner of the ukulele digging into your arm? That means you’re probably holding it too tightly.

  39. Don Crislip May 23rd, 2016 7:45 pm

    Re: Concert Ukulele
    I exchanged my Firebrand uke for a Cordoba 15CM which is supposed to be a much better uke and it has Aquila nylgut strings.

    Problem is I have two stings on the Cordoba which sound dead (thud) when playing a “D” on the C string, and when playing a “Bb, (A#)” on the A string. . Most of the other frets on the same string seem okay but a thud sound when I play notes D and Bb.

    No matter where or how I press down on the string, it sounds dead. I’ve tried everything.

    I read about fixing a buzzing sound in “Ukulele for Dummies” but this is not a buzzing sound but rather a “thud” sound.

    I’m learning to play notes as well as chords and don’t know what to do about the dead strings. The other notes on the same string sound okay.

    I think I might have to send the uke back for exchange?

    Maybe you have a suggestion. Anxious to hear from you.
    Don

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