Em Ukulele Chord

One of the keys to writing great music is having a sense of contrast or balance in your composition. Not all of us enjoy the sounds of minor chords on their own, since they sound sombre and often dark. However, incorporating minor chords into music is crucial to make the major chords and lighter elements of the music shine through.

If you’re just starting out on the ukulele and want to learn to play one of the most foundational minor chords in Western music, then you can’t really go wrong with E minor. It’s been used in countless pieces of music and has an especially strong role in heavier genres like punk and metal, thanks to the role of the low E string on the guitar. 

The chord of E minor on the ukulele is also widely utilized in other genres like jazz, folk, and rock. So, it makes an excellent starting point for anybody wanting to familiarize themselves with minor chords on the ukulele. This guide explains the structure of the E minor chord, as well as outlining some voicings you might like to try and well-known songs that feature the E minor chord.  

Looking for more chords? Check out our guide >>> Easy Ukulele Chords for Beginners to Learn First


Chords are based around major or minor triads. A triad is a group of three notes or tones; a root note, third, and perfect fifth. If the given triad is a major triad, then the third will be a major third, and if it is a minor triad, then it will be a minor third. Other, more complex chords feature other notes in addition to the triad that gives them their foundation.

The notes that make up the E minor triad are E, G, and B. In the E minor triad, G is the minor third, and this is the note that gives the chord its sombre, ‘sad’ sound. Changing this note to any other would completely change the nature of the entire chord. 

How to Play

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In addition to being a crucial part of many songs, the E minor ukulele chord is fairly easy to play. This is a large part of why we encourage beginners to explore learning the chord early on when starting out with the uke. To play the standard voicing of E minor, fret the fourth fret of the C string with your third finger and the second fret of the A string with your first finger. Leave the other strings open. 

While this is a fairly simple chord to play, some beginners to the ukulele may find it somewhat difficult to get used to keeping the non-fretting fingers clear of the fretboard while strumming. Make sure to be mindful of the shape that of your fretting hand at all times. 

Variation #2 – Barre Shape 

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This is another simple way to play an E minor chord on the ukulele. Some barre chords are challenging to hold for extended periods, but this one shouldn’t give you too much trouble. All you need to do is fret the C, E, and A strings with your first finger at the seventh fret. Leave the G string open.

Barre chords are useful, because we can move them around the fretboard to play different chords without changing their shape. They also tend to have a deeper, more powerful sound because they forego the use of open strings completely. This is why learning them is an important part of learning to play many string instruments. 

Variation #3 – High Voicing 

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This voicing is a great choice if you’d like to offset some of the darkness or darker qualities that the E minor ukulele chord naturally possesses. Fret the G string at the 12th fret with your third finger, the C string at the 11th fret with your second finger, and the A string at the 10th fret with your first finger. 

By playing so high up the neck of your uke, you can get a completely different sound out of the instrument, despite the fact that you are playing the same chord. We encourage you to experiment with using different voicings and seeing which one you like best. 

More Em Chord Variations

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Songs that Use E minor  

There’s an enormous range of ukulele-friendly songs that heavily feature the E minor chord. Here is a list of just a few of them:

  • Simon and Garfunkel – Scarborough Fair: This mysterious tune by Simon and Garfunkel is a veritable folk classic. The iconic melody and close harmony shared by Simon and Garfunkel are based heavily around the E minor chord. 
  • Tears for Fears – Mad World: Tears for Fears’ pensive classic Mad World has a distinctive, melancholic character that owes a lot to the E minor chord. 
  • The White Strips – Seven Nation Army: Featuring perhaps one of the most famous riffs in recorded history, Seven Nation Army is completely based on the chord of E minor.