Each of the chords that you’ll come across on the ukulele has its pros and cons, as well as characteristics that make it noteworthy or worth learning to play. The chord of E Major is somewhat renowned on the ukulele for being particularly difficult to play, as the chord has quite an awkward shape.
While there is some truth to this, especially for beginners to the instrument, the E Major chord is used incredibly widely in popular music. This may be since it is such a natural chord to play on the guitar and is much easier to play on the guitar than the ukulele. So, learning to play the chord is important, as doing so will open you up to a much wider range of repertoire to play.
Plus, there’s more than one way to play the E Major chord on ukulele. If you’ve just started learning to play the chord or want to learn more about the theory behind it, then this may be the perfect guide for you. We discuss the theory behind the chord of E Major, as well as some of the different voicings you can use to play the chord. Finally, we cover some classic songs that use the chord of E Major.
Looking for more chords? Check out our guide >>> Easy Ukulele Chords for Beginners to Learn First
Like the name suggests, the E Major chord is a major chord. Major chords are based around major triads, with chords being groups of notes played simultaneously and triads being groups of three notes played simultaneously. A major triad is made up of a root note, major third, and perfect fifth; this combination of notes is what gives the major triad and major chord their bright, ‘major’ sound.
By contrast, minor chords are made up of a root note, minor third, and perfect fifth. It’s interesting to note that there is only a semitone between a minor and major third, and yet the difference between these two notes is enough to change the whole sound of a chord!
The notes in the E Major triad are E, G#, and B. On the ukulele, the fourth note in the standard E Major chord would simply be E repeated. Now that we know a bit more about how chords work, we can discuss some of the different ways in which you can play the ukulele E Major chord.
How to Play the E Major Ukulele Chord
You may have noticed that we mentioned there being multiple ways to play a chord. If you’re newer to music, you may have assumed that there was only one right or wrong way to play a given chord. In actual fact, one chord can have many different ‘voicings’ or chord shapes.
Standard Ukulele E Major Chord
This is the first E Major chord we’ll be tackling, and it has a reputation for being difficult to play, especially for beginners to the instrument. While this chord does have something of an awkward shape, it’s simply a matter of practice to be able to play it cleanly and consistently. We feel that the main thing that trips most people up with this chord is keeping the fingers fretting the C and A strings clear enough of the E string that it can be played open.
To play this chord, fret the G and C strings at the fourth fret with your second and third fingers respectively. Then, leaving the E string open, fret the A string at the second fret with your first finger. Make sure that each of your fingers has plenty of space and try to ensure that your third and first fingers are properly upright and not leaning towards the E string at all. This should help you play the chord cleanly and without accidentally touching the A string.
Ukulele E Major Chord – Barre Chord
This version of the E Major chord may look simpler to play, and for many it just might be. Barre chords are often challenging for beginners to the ukulele due to the somewhat awkward shape that you’ll need to put your hand into in order to play the chord properly. However, playing this barre chord only requires two fingers, so it’s one of the more straightforward ones to master.
Fret all of the strings at the fourth fret with your first finger. Then, fret the A string at the 7th fret with your fourth finger. Make sure the pressure in your hand is distributed evenly across the fretboard in order to get a clean sound and to be able to fret all of the notes properly.
Ukulele E Major Chord – Variation
Here’s another variation on the E Major chord that you can essentially play two different ways. You can use the fingering that we’ve provided, where you fret the G, C, and E strings at the fourth fret with your second, third, and fourth fingers respectively. Then, fret the A string at the second fret with your first finger.
Or, you can treat this like a barre chord, and fret the G, C, and E strings all with your third finger instead. If you have larger hands, then you might find this shape easier to play. Conversely, if you have smaller hands, you may prefer the first fingering pattern. We’d encourage you to try both and see which feels most natural to you.
More E Chord Variations
Songs that Use the E Major Chord
- Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under the Bridge: The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ guitar showcase is built almost entirely around the E Major chord, at least until the outro.
- Neil Diamond – Sweet Caroline: Neil Diamond’s charming pop smash hit owes a great deal to the chord of E Major.
- ABBA – I Have a Dream: This breezy, clean pop classic by Swedish icons ABBA is based around three simple chords, one of which is E Major.