Tag Archives: beginner

Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran

A smooth love song from the star of the early 21st century singer/songwriter world, Ed Sheeran (and co-written by Amy Wadge), Thinking Out Loud is a romantic pop tune, played on electric guitar originally.

Actually, it’s perhaps not written entirely by Ed or Amy, as he was sued by the owners of Marvin Gaye’s classic – Let’s Get It On – which has an undoubtedly familiar bass line and groove to it – but what the heck – you can’t copyright a chord sequence! (can you?)

I’ve moved it down to our favourite key of C (from the original in D), and even tabbed out the solo for you – aren’t I nice? There aren’t too many challenges technically in this piece, although the last line of the chorus might give you a wobble when suddenly you get all 7 chords of the song in quick succession!

The key thing here is to get the 1 (and 2 ) AND (3 and 4 and) groove right, and to not over play it. The twiddle at the end of each line of the verse is optional but a good exercise in hammer-ons for the more adventurous.

Summer of 69 – Bryan Adams

It’s the feel-good hit of the previous century this time folks. It might seem easy peasy, with just four chords making up the bulk of the song – but there are a few subtleties in this one. That riff for a start… I’ve finally found a way to play it on the uke that I’m happy with. And then you have the bridge – whatever key you play this song in, either the verse or the bridge will use chords that you don’t like…

However, it’s a lot of fun to play!

All of Me – John Legend

One of the latest songs to be called ‘All of Me’ (there are many) I think happens to be an unusually well-written sentimental ballad written by John Legend for his wife-to-be, which took the charts by storm in 2014. Unusually for top-ten hits, it’s a very sparse arrangement consisting solely of Mr Legend’s (nice stage name) voice and piano, and some lyrics broadcasting his love for his fiancee. I didn’t really want to like it, but its simplicity, strong melody, and unusually faithful / monogamous lyrics sucked me in in the end, so here it is for the ukulele.

It starts off with a chord progression that forms the backbone of at least 40+ massive super hits, good start – (vi, IV, I V) in this key Em, C, G, D but then actually does change chord sequence and pattern twice more. The pre-chorus uses Am, G, D then the chorus uses G, Em, Am, C, D – it’s a pleasant run around the chords of G major (in the original it’s actually a semi-tone higher in Ab major) without once straying to any borrowed chords from another key – proof that you don’t have to be a master of music theory, or even ‘know all the chords’, to write or play a hit.

I’ve tried to borrow as much as I can from the piano part for this arrangement, although of course you can get by simply playing the chords. The interlude finger-picking pattern has some difficult rhythms in, to try to match the tasteful sparse piano notes in the original – not sure if I’ve quite succeeded…

Here’s the livestream tutorial
Here’s a performance of the arrangement

I’m A Believer – The Monkees / Smash mouth

It’s a four chord fun package that was featured in Shrek – what more could you want?

You can add some nice embellishments as well, so there’s plenty of scope for more adventurous players.

This song will really sort out your G major chords, and particularly changing to and from a C major chord.

Livestreamed Tutorial 20/6/20
Just the performance of the song if you’d rather teach yourself

Mamma Mia – Abba

If you’re like me then the words ‘Mamma Mia’ conjure up images of Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody, rather than musical theatre and Scandi-Pop – but I can dip my toes in the world of well-crafted pop music that is Abba. I taught myself this song just to include in fireside sing-a-longs – but then realised that it’s really an excellently written slice of pop music.

To play the verse you’ll only really need three chords, (C, F and G in this case) – but then the chorus goes through all the minor chords in our key as well (Am, Em, and Dm) along with some brief snippets of Bb, borrowed from the subdominant key – add to this the augmented chords in the intro, and the tasty lead guitar licks scattered around, and you’ve got an interesting song for players of all levels.

Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen

Such a beautiful song. And pleasingly simple on the uke. This is a great piece to practice your fingerpicking on, but you can also simply strum the chords. Remember you’re counting in 6/8 not 4/4. All you need is C, G Am, and F, and a sneaky E7 or Em depending what mood you’re in.

This Little Light Of Mine – Traditional

We’re breaking away from C major with this arrangement of the traditional gospel song, This Little Light Of Mine, in G major. This will stretch your chord knowledge a bit if you’re a beginner – but don’t panic, the chords are actually fairly easy!

If you can play G and C, then this song should be relatively straightforward to learn. We’ve got a B7, and Em7 and a D7 in there as well, but we can play all of those chords using shapes we can already play. B7 is just a G, but moved over a string. Em7 is a G with a finger missing. D7 is a B7 with a finger missing.

Stay With Me – Sam Smith

Guess it’s true, I’m not good at a three chord song. So I added in some optional chords to this otherwise really beautifully simple gospel tinged pop song. But, they’re optional, so you could be playing this song in 30 mins after picking up a Ukulele for the very first time – seriously.

All you need is Am, F and C (with an optional G, and a really optional Caug).

And folks, I’d avoid the one-night stands as far as possible…

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) – Simon and Garfunkel

Well, this song is significantly older than me – but that ain’t a bad thing…

It’s all about the feel of this one – it’s only got three chords, and they repeat in the same way throughout the song, but the strumming really needs to feel – well – groovy, for want of a better word. It’s got a really strong swing to it.

All you need are F, C and a weird G (G7sus4 if you must know) and a good groove.