Let’s be honest, you didn’t start learning the ukulele to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain.” But too often that’s what you’re stuck doing as a beginning ukulele player. It’s boring, and it’s a little bit discouraging.
Here at Acoustic Bridge, we believe that learning instruments should be fun, and none more so than the ukulele. After all, the ukulele is one of the easiest instruments to learn. And some of the coolest songs out there are also easy songs to play on the ukulele, even if you’re a complete beginner.
With just a few simple chords and basic strumming patterns, you can be playing popular tunes and fun songs on the ukulele in no time. In fact, you can play many awesome ukulele songs with only four easy chords.
These Four Chords Will Help You Play a Ton of Fun and Easy Songs on the Ukulele
The four chords you should start off with are C, A minor, F, and G. Here’s how to play them:
They look easy, right? C and A minor only use one finger, F uses just two fingers, and the G chord is a simple shape that many uke players find easy to make. If you’re a guitar player, you may notice that it’s the same shape as the D chord on your guitar.
With these easy chords, you can play a long list of 2, 3, and 4 chord ukulele songs. And we’re talking about popular, well known songs that you’ll actually want to play.
What About Strumming Patterns?
Many of the video tutorials for these songs below include tips on strumming patterns. But you can make your ukulele strumming as simple or as complex as you’re able to.
If you’re just starting out, try simply strumming one downstroke for each downbeat (when you tap out the rhythm of the song with your foot, a downbeat is when your foot hits the ground).
If you’re a little more experienced, you can try this syncopated strumming pattern that includes some upstrokes and strums on the upbeat (the numbers represent the downbeat and the ‘&’ symbols represent the upbeat):
1 & 2 & 3 & 4
D – D U – U D
That should be enough to get you started playing these songs, but check out this great guide over at Ukulele Hunt for more strumming patterns and advice on strumming the ukulele.
24 Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners (Using Only C, Am, F, and G)
These popular songs for ukulele use only the C, Am, F, and G chords. We’ve included a video tutorial and links to the easy ukulele tab for each song to help you get started playing them today.
1. Let it Be – The Beatles (C, Am, F, G)
2. I’m Yours – Jason Mraz (C, G, Am, F)
3. All Along the Watchtower – Bob Dylan/Jimi Hendrix (Am, G, F)
4. Counting Stars – One Republic (Am, C, G, F)
5. Riptide – Vance Joy (Am, C, G, F)
6. Down on the Corner – Creedence Clearwater Revival (C, F, G)
7. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2 (C, F, G)
8. Whistle – Flo Rida (Am, F, C, G)
9. Soul Sister – Train (C, G, Am, F)
10. Someone Like You – Adele (C, G, Am, F)
11. Cane Fire – Peter Moon Band (Am, G, F)
12. Heartache – One Ok Rock (C, F, G, Am)
13. One Love – Bob Marley (C, F, G, Am)
14. Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars (C, Am, F)
15. Four Five Seconds – Rihanna (C, F, Am, G)
16. All of the Stars – Ed Sheeran (F, C, Am, G)
17. Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men (Am, F, C, G)
18. Stay With Me – Sam Smith (Am, F, C, G)
19. Red Red Wine – UB40 (C, F, G)
20. Octopus’s Garden – The Beatles (C, Am, F, G)
21. Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan (C, F, G)
22. One Day – Matisyahu (C, G, Am, F)
23. Have You Ever Seen the Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Am, F, C, G)
24. Stand By My – Ben E. King (C, Am, F, G -OR- G7)
This song throws in G7, another easy chord that’s good to know. It’s a simple variation on the G chord shape:
7th chords add a jazzy feel to any tune. But, you can always play a normal G chord instead.
11 More Ukulele Songs for Beginners (Using a Few More Easy Chords)
These next songs are also easy to play, but they throw a few new chords into the mix. Learn these chords, and you’ll be able to play some of the best songs to play on the ukulele.
Those chords are E minor, D, D7, and A. Here’s how to play them:
The D7 chord uses a barre, which means that you lay your first finger straight across the strings. This might take a little practice, so if you’re having trouble playing it you can always play a regular D chord instead.
And now for the songs!
1. I Will Wait – Mumford and Sons (Am, G, C, F, Em)
2. Love Me Do – The Beatles (G, C, D)
3. Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley (Am, C, Em, F, G)
4. Otherside – Red Hot Chili Peppers (Am, F, C, G, Em)
5. Let it Go – Frozen (Em, C, D, Am, A)
6. Sweet Home Alabama (D, C, G)
7. Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffet (A, D, D7, G)
8. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison (G, C, D, Em)
9. I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty (Em, G, D, C)
10. Hakuna Matata – The Lion King (C, F, G, D, G7, Am)
11. Leaving on a Jet Plane – John Denver (G, C, D)
2 Bonus (Slightly More Complicated but Still Easy) Songs for the Ukulele
These last two songs are a little more complicated to play, but they’re also some of the most fun songs to play on the ukulele.
1. Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show/Darius Rucker (G, D, Em, C -OR- A, E7, F#m, D)
Most tutorials will tell you to play Wagon Wheel using G, D, Em, and C like you would on a guitar. And that’s perfectly fine to do, but it’s actually much easier to play on the ukulele using the chords A, E7, F# minor, and D.
We’ve already gone over most of those chords, but here’s how to play E7 and F# minor:
However you decide to play it, Wagon Wheel is a great song that’s a lot of fun to play!
2. Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (Am, C, D, Dm7, E7, Em, F, G)
This is one of the most famous songs for ukulele out there, and it’s the song that starts a lot of people out on their ukulele journey.
And it’s actually not that difficult to play. Over the Rainbow uses all the chords we’ve gone over so far, with the addition of D minor 7. Here’s how to play this chord:
This is a great song to tie everything together and reinforce all the new chords you’ve learned. And get ready to have a blast playing all the easy ukulele songs on this list!