Learn Baritone Ukulele Chords The Easy Way

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Baritone ukulele chords are completely different from the chord shapes you’ll find on other types of ukuleles. The baritone ukulele has a separate tuning system and completely different chord shapes that can make it seem inaccessible to ukulele beginners.

However, baritone ukes have a rich, warm sound that makes learning how to work with baritone chords and the baritone version of an easy ukulele song worthwhile. Also, if you’re a guitar player, you should find it easy to pick up a baritone ukulele, since the tuning and chords are similar to a guitar.

If you’ve been struggling to get to grips with baritone tuning and ukulele chords, then don’t fret! This article explains everything you need to know to understand baritone ukulele chords.

Baritone Ukulele Tuning (D-G-B-E)

Before you can read a baritone ukulele chord chart, you’ll need to learn how to tune your bari uke. Baritone ukuleles use a completely different tuning system than the soprano, concert, and tenor ukulele.

Baritone ukuleles are tuned to D-G-B-E. These are the same notes as the top four strings of a standard guitar, which is what makes the baritone ukulele especially popular among guitar players and traveling musicians.

Because baritone tuning is so similar to guitar, you can transfer most chords directly from the guitar to the baritone uke. So if you know the G major chord on a guitar, you can translate it to the baritone ukulele by leaving out the E and A strings.

Some musicians prefer tuning their baritone uke to standard tuning. This is possible, but you’ll need to buy strings for your baritone uke specially made to be tuned to standard tuning. Regular baritone strings are not designed to be used at such a high tuning.

Note: In standard baritone ukulele tuning, the strings are in pitch order. In contrast, standard ukulele tuning is a reentrant tuning, which means that the strings are not arranged by pitch. However, some ukulele players tune their ukes with a low G string, which brings the tuning into pitch order.

Translating Chord Shapes from Guitar to the Baritone Uke

If you play guitar, you can easily apply your chord knowledge to the baritone ukulele. Baritone ukulele chords are exactly the same as guitar chords, just without the bottom two strings.

Play a C major chord on your guitar. You’re fretting the B string with your index finger, the D string with your middle finger, and the A string with your ring finger.

C-guitar-chord

The C major chord shape on the baritone ukulele is exactly the same. However, the baritone uke doesn’t have a low E or an A string, so to play a C major chord you only need to use your index finger and middle finger.

Baritone - c ukulele chord

Translating Chords from a Standard Uke to a Baritone Ukulele

Baritone ukulele tuning actually uses the same intervals as standard ukulele tuning (G-C-E-A), but all the notes are down a fourth. This means that if you know your basic ukulele chords better than your guitar chords, you can convert ukulele chords to baritone chords by transposing them down a fourth.

Get out your standard ukulele and play a G chord. Transposing that chord down a fourth gets you a D chord on the baritone ukulele.

G ukulele chord
G chord in standard tuning
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Baritone - d ukulele chord
D chord in baritone tuning

As long as you know your intervals and your ukulele chord shapes, you’ll be able to transpose any chord to the baritone uke.

Reading Ukulele Chord Charts

Before we can learn some of the common baritone chords, we’ll need to cover how to read a chord chart. Don’t worry – it’s not nearly as complex as learning to read sheet music. Ukulele chord charts are designed to tell you what to play in a visual manner (if you’re already a seasoned musician, feel free to skip this section).

Reading chord diagrams is an essential skill. The more music you want to learn on the ukulele, the more often you’ll encounter ukulele chord charts and ukulele tabs. Once you can decipher these, you’ll quickly be able to pick up any music you want to play.

Let’s use a G major chord diagram as an example.

Baritone - g ukulele chord

The chord chart represents a segment of a baritone ukulele fretboard. Each horizontal line represents a fret, and each vertical line represents a string on the baritone uke. The leftmost line is the string closest to you (the D string) and the rightmost line is the string closest to the floor (the E string).

The solid circles on the chord diagram show where to place your fingers. The number inside each circle represents which finger to use. “1” refers to your index finger, “2” refers to your middle finger, “3” to your ring finger, and “4” to your pinky. So, this chord diagram shows you to use your third finger to fret the E string at the third fret. Simple, right?

The hollow circles above the chord shapes represent “open strings,” which are strings that you don’t press down with your fingers. Notice that three of the four strings should be left open when playing this G major shape on the baritone ukulele.

Some other symbols you might encounter when using ukulele chord diagrams

Numbers next to the chord chart. Some chord voicings begin at different positions on the neck. When you use a chord diagram that starts higher up the neck, a number to the left of the chord diagram will indicate which fret to start at. So, if you see a baritone ukulele chord diagram with the number 5 next to it, the chord shape begins at the fifth fret.

Baritone - cmaj7 ukulele chord

An “X” symbol on chord diagrams indicates that the string should be muted and not played with the others. The easiest way to achieve this is to rest your finger across that string without actually pressing down or fretting it, which deadens the note.

Baritone - bm ukulele chord_ver2

A solid bar across multiple frets tells you to place your finger across multiple strings, in what’s called a barre chord.

Baritone - f#m ukulele chord

Basic Baritone Ukulele Chords to Learn First

Below are some baritone ukulele chords that are easy to play. These are common chords used in a ton of songs you may want to learn. When you first begin playing the baritone ukulele, these are the basic chords you’ll want to learn first.

G Major

Baritone - g ukulele chord

We’ve just covered it above, but let’s go over it again. To play a G major chord on your baritone ukulele, fret the E string at the third fret with your third finger. Leave the D string, G string, and B string open when strumming the chord.

E Major

Baritone - e ukulele chord

Thanks to its simple shape, the E major chord is often the first chord that new baritone ukulele players learn. Fret the D string at the second fret with your second finger and the G string at the first fret with your first finger. Leave the other two strings open.

A Major

Baritone a ukulele chord

This is a trickier shape, but it’s definitely possible to learn with practice. If you already play guitar, you may find this shape somewhat familiar. To play an A major chord, fret the D, G, and B strings at the second fret with your first, second, and third fingers, respectively. Leave the E string open.

C Major

Baritone - c ukulele chord

The C major chord is one of the most widely-used chords in popular music, so it’s good to learn early. Fret the D string at the second fret with your second finger and the B string at the first fret with your first finger. Leave the other two strings open.

D Major

Baritone - d ukulele chord

To play a D major chord, fret the G string at the second fret with your first finger, the B string at the third fret with your third finger, and the E string at the second fret with your second finger.

A Minor

Baritone - am ukulele chord

To play an A minor chord, fret the D and G strings at the second fret with your second and third fingers, respectively. Then, fret the B string at the first fret with your first finger. Leave the E string open.

E Minor

Baritone - em ukulele chord

To play an E minor chord, fret the D string at the second fret with your second finger. Leave the other strings open and strum.

Major Chords on the Baritone Ukulele

Below are chord charts for all of the basic major chords on the baritone ukulele.

A Major

Baritone-a ukulele chord

To play an A major chord, fret the D, G, and B strings at the second fret with your first, second, and third fingers, respectively. Leave the E string open.

B Major

Baritone - b ukulele chord

Certain chords can have quite awkward shapes, and the B chord is one of them. Fret the D string at the first fret with your first finger, the G string at the fourth fret with your fourth finger, and the E string at the second fret with your second finger.

C Major

Baritone - c ukulele chord

To play a C major chord, fret the D string at the second fret with your second finger and the B string at the first fret with your first finger. Leave the other two strings open.

D Major

Baritone - d ukulele chord

Fret the G string at the second fret with your first finger, the B string at the third fret with your third finger, and the E string at the second fret with your second finger.

E Major

Baritone - e ukulele chord

Fret the D string at the second fret with your second finger and the G string at the first fret with your first finger. Leave the other two strings open.

F Major

Baritone - f ukulele chord

Use your first finger to bar the fretboard at the first fret. Then, fret the D string at the third fret with your third finger and the G string at the second fret with your second finger.

G Major

Baritone - g ukulele chord

Fret the E string at the third fret with your third finger. Then, leaving the D string, G string, and B string open, strum the chord.

Minor Chords on the Baritone Ukulele

Below are chord charts for the most common minor baritone ukulele chords.

A Minor

Baritone - am ukulele chord

Fret the D and G strings at the second fret with your second and third fingers, respectively. Then, fret the B string at the first fret with your first finger. Leave the E string open.

B Minor

Bm ukulele chord - baritone

To play a B minor baritone ukulele chord, leave the D string open, then fret the G string at the fourth fret with your third finger, the B string at the third fret with your second finger, and the E string at the second fret with your first finger.

C Minor

Baritone - cm ukulele chord

To play a C minor chord, fret the D and B strings at the first fret with your first and second fingers, respectively. Leave the G string open and fret the E string at the third fret with your fourth finger.

D Minor

Baritone - dm ukulele chord

Leaving the D string open, fret the G string at the second fret with your second finger, the B string at the third fret with your third finger, and the E string at the first fret with your first finger.

E Minor

Baritone - em ukulele chord

To play an E minor chord on the baritone ukulele, fret the D string at the second fret with your second finger. Then, leave the other strings open and strum.

F Minor

Baritone - fm ukulele chord

To play an F minor cord, bar the fretboard at the first fret with your first finger and fret the D string at the third fret with your third finger.

G Minor

Baritone - gm ukulele chord

To play a G minor baritone ukulele chord, use your first finger to bar the G, B, and E strings at the third fret while keeping the D string open.

7th Chords on the Baritone Ukulele

7th chords add a bit of a jazzy feel to any chord progression. Still, these are basic chords that are extremely common in ukulele music. Below are chord diagrams for the basic 7th chords on the baritone ukulele.

A7

Baritone - a7 ukulele chord

To play an A7, barre the fretboard at the second fret with your first finger and fret the E string at the third fret with your second finger.

B7

Baritone - b7 ukulele chord

Fret the D string at the first fret with your first finger. Then, leaving the B string open, fret the G and E strings at the second fret with your second and third fingers, respectively.

C7

Baritone - c7 ukulele chord

Fret the D string at the second fret with your second finger, the G string at the third fret with your third finger, the B string at the first fret with your first finger, and the E string at the third fret with your fourth finger.

D7

Baritone - d7 ukulele chord

Leaving the D string open, fret the G string at the second fret with your second finger, the B string at the first fret with your first finger, and the E string at the second fret with your third finger.

E7

Baritone - e7 ukulele chord

Fret the G string at the first fret with your first finger while leaving all the other strings open.

F7

Baritone - f7 ukulele chord

Bar the fretboard at the first fret with your first finger. Then, fret the G string at the second fret with your second finger.

G7

Baritone - g7 ukulele chord

Leaving all the other strings open, fret the E string at the first fret with your first finger.

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about the author
Jody Schwann
Jody has travelled all over the world with nothing but a backpack and her guitar, busking and playing gigs along the way. While guitar is her primary instrument, she also knocks around on banjo, mandolin, and harmonica.

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