Alternative C Chord

Designed for beginners to intermediate ukulele players.

Advanced players have probably already worked this out themselves.


You have a ukulele, it is in tune, you’ve probably tried using chord books or apps, but still have difficulty changing positions quickly and fluidly.

The Tuition:

In true Byron tradition we are going to try a different approach. Something that more accomplished ukulele players do without thinking, and if it works for you, will enhance your playing. There are sample exercises to practice and hone your new skills. Still doesn't make sense, why not pop along to one of our Ukulele Workshops.

You can download the pdf: Here
And at worst…

If this doesn’t work for you, at least you have tried something new for an hour or so.

The [C] major Chord

Most ukulele tuition books and chord charts start with the [C] chord. In many songbooks chords are represented by the letters in brackets [] (sometimes red or black and in bold for clarity).

Take a look at the diagram for a right-handed player showing left-hand fingering.

Important note for keyboard players:

Ukulele fretboard fingering is generally shown as above where (4) is your little finger (very rarely is the thumb used on the Ukulele). For keyboards the thumb is numbered as (1) and the little finger (5).. so now you know, so don’t get confused.

The [C] chord is very simple. It’s played on the third fret of the “A” string. Practice with your fingertip near the fret to avoid buzzing.

Now this is where we get radical and depart from the accepted third finger (3)and use your little pinky (4) instead.

Have a strum, not too difficult, is it? Keep the pressure light on both hands.

Our next chord is [F] major

The first (1) and second (2) finger on the “G” and “E” string are quite traditional. So, try changing from [C] to [F] using your third finger (3) for [C] and then your fourth finger (4).

You should find that your hand “swings” more easily between the chords using your little finger for the [C].

The chord [F] can also be played by leaving the little finger (4) on the third fret of the “A” string and adding the first (1) and second (2) fingers as for the standard [F]. We’ll call this [F1]. In a twist on the old comedy sketch, “The notes are all there but not necessarily in the same order”.

Here things get really neat. Try strumming along keeping your little finger (4) in the [C] chord but adding and removing the [F] fingers (1) and (2) on alternate strums.


Beginning to sound interesting?

Part: 1

[C] down/up [F1] down/up [C] down/up [F1] down/up [C] down/up [F1] down/up [C] down/up [F1] down/up

Let’s jazz it up a bit…

On the last [F1] keep that position but add in and remove your third finger (3) on the “C” string, third fret.

So, we’re going from [F1] to [F7] on alternate strums.

Part: 2

[F1] down/up [F7] down/up [F1] down/up [F7] down/up [F1] down/up [F7] down/up

[F1] down/up [F7] down/up

For no other reason apart from increasing to your delight, try adding in your little finger (4) to a [G7] chord on the “A” string, third fret. You can leave your 3rd finger in place.

So, we’re going from [G7] to [G7sus4] on alternate strums.

Part: 3

[G7]down/up[G7sus4]down/up[G7]down/up[G7sus4]down/up[G7]down/up[G7sus4]down/up [G7] down/up [G7sus4] down/up

Now try:

[Part: 1] x2, [Part: 2] x 1, [Part: 1] x 1 [Part: 3] x 1 [Part: 2] x1 [Part: 1] x1

…. and drive your family and friends nuts.

This just goes round in circles, but gets your little pinky going.

The purpose of this exercise is to show that there are often different ways to play the same chord. All chords are made up of a number of notes. On the ukulele there are many ways to play each chord called “inversions”.

If you look at [F] and [F1] they contain the same notes: F, A and C. Each inversion will have a slightly different “colour” but can essentially be interchanged.

More experienced players will look for different inversions which may either speed up or smooth transitions from one chord to another. Also, don’t be completely tied down by recommended fingering. You may find a better way.

See how George Harrison plays the C chord on his Ukulele.

If it sounds right, it is right…