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Every ukulele player should have a few cool ukulele riffs in their back pocket. In this article, you’ll learn 10 of the best riffs to impress your friends and add some variety to your repertoire.

When you first start playing the ukulele, you’ll most likely learn the four basic chords – C, G, Am, and F. Once you have a handle on these four chords, you’ll be able to play tons of songs. But after you get comfortable playing songs, you’ll want to spice up your repertoire.

One easy way to do that is to include ukulele riffs in your playing. A ukulele riff is a series of notes played within a song that creates a catchy melody. A riff can be played as a pattern of single string notes, or as a series of chords. Often the riff is repeated several times throughout the song and is easily recognizable.

10 Cool Ukulele Riffs to Learn Today

Eventually, you’ll be able to pick out riffs by ear, but when you’re just getting started it helps to have the notes tabbed out for you. Ukulele tabs are an easy way to learn the notes of a melody, even if you can’t read music.

Keep in mind that tabs don’t usually include the timing for how long to play each note. (It will help if you’ve heard these riffs at some point in your life, so you’ll know the rhythm).

Tabs also won’t tell you what fingers to use to play each note. As you advance in your skills, you’ll be able to choose an effective fingering quickly. So without further ado, here are 10 cool ukulele riffs with tabs below.

10 Cool Ukulele Riffs - YouTube

1. “Shave and a Haircut”

This quick riff was made popular by the late 80s, semi-animated movie, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

2. “Weak” by SWV

This fun riff is repeated over and over throughout the song. Like many ukulele riffs, this one has been transposed to a key that fits the ukulele, while still maintaining the integrity of the melody line.

3. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones

This opening riff is played by the guitar on the original recording. Because of the tuning of the ukulele, the tab below is written so that the melody is played higher than the original key.

4. “No Woman No Cry” by Bob Marley

This song simply requires a knowledge of the four essential ukulele chords (C, G, Am, and F). The turn around riff follows the chords.

5. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

One of the most popular, cool ukulele riffs is the opening of “Eye of the Tiger.” It’s a sure way to turn your ordinary ukulele into a rock and roll machine. Below are two different versions of the opening riff.

Or…

6. “Charlie Brown” Theme Song

A classic riff that has been played on piano, guitar, and now the ukulele. All the notes are on the one string (above the 5th fret) which makes this an easy riff you can learn to play today.

7. “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens

This opening riff is the longest riff on this list. It’s also a bit more challenging than all the rest because of the frequent changing of strings within the melody. It’s a fun challenge for beginning ukulele players that will help with finger coordination and speed!

8. “Friends” Theme Music

If you’re a Friends enthusiast, this is the ukulele riff you’ve been waiting for. Within the popular TV series, there are reprises of the original theme music that are used to help transition between scenes. This is one of those transitions that is used often.

9. “Simpsons” Theme Song

There are two tabbed versions of this popular riff below. The first is in the original key. Because of note limitations on the ukulele, the last four notes of the riff have to go up instead of down.

The second version is a transposed version of the riff. It has the same intervals as the original melody where the last four notes go down. Like most music, it is up to the individual artist to decide which version they prefer best.

10. “Beverly Hills Cop” Theme Song

This catchy ukulele riff has a great rhythm and you can learn to play it in a day. Plus, most of your friends have heard this riff, and even hummed it a time (or 10).

We hope you enjoyed this list of cool ukulele riffs to wow your friends and family. Be sure to check out Takelessons Live to learn more ukulele skills. You can also work with a local ukulele teacher to improve your technique.

Post Author: Reina M. Reina M. is a vocal coach and ukulele teacher at TakeLessons. She has a B.A. in music from Seattle University and is a full time singer/songwriter and actress. Learn more about Reina here!

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An excellent starting point for all beginners is to learn their notes on the ukulele. As you learn to navigate the notes on the fretboard, you’ll build an understanding of the basics – so you can start playing tunes in no time!

Once you’ve mastered the individual notes, you can use them to build chords, and chords quickly turn into songs. These individual ukulele notes are also necessary for learning how to play licks or riffs.

In this article, we’ll discuss different ways to tune your ukulele, and the chromatic scale as it applies to learning ukulele notes. Then we’ll list a ukulele note chart for each of the most common tunings on the ukulele.

A Comprehensive Guide to Ukulele Notes How Tuning Affects Notes

There are multiple ways to tune a ukulele. We’ll start by explaining ukulele notes for standard tuning – the most common way to tune a ukulele that most beginners start with. It’s important to understand that other tunings will alter the notes on the fretboard.

Standard tuning for the ukulele is G-C-E-A. The G is the “top” string, (the one that is closest to your face while holding the ukulele), and then you have C, E, A in descending order.

These are the notes the strings will play when you play them “open,” in other words, when you play the string without any fingers on the fretboard. For example, strumming the G string alone will make a G note.

Frets on the Ukulele

You should also understand some of the basic parts of the ukulele before playing notes. A fret on the ukulele (also found on guitars) is a raised line that goes across the neck of the instrument.

Frets are markers that help you find the notes on the fretboard, AKA the “neck” of the instrument. The fretboard is typically played with the left hand. When playing a note, you’ll want to place your finger as close the fret as possible, without being directly on the fret.

Check out the diagram below to get more familiar with the different parts of the ukulele –

Understanding the Chromatic Scale

Each note that you’ll learn to play on the ukulele will be a part of what is known as the chromatic scale. This scale consists of the 12 notes standard in Western style music.

You may have heard the chromatic scale explained in the “do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do” song, from the movie The Sound of Music. It’s also commonly used as a teaching tool in elementary music classes.

This 12 note set starts with seven “pure notes.” The pure notes of the scale are: A – B – C – D – E – F – G

In between most of these notes there is a sharp and flat. Together, they complete the 12 note set that is described as an “octave.” Once you complete the 12 notes, you’ll start over with the same notes, just an octave higher or lower.

On the ukulele, each fret is only “half a step,” or half a note, apart. The in-between notes are named with sharps (#) and flats (b). A sharp is half a step up, and a flat is half a step down.

For example, a “Bb” (or “B flat”) is half a step down from the B note, but not yet an A. An “F#” (or “F sharp”) is half a step up from F, but not get a G.

With sharps and flats added in, the scale looks like this: A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab

Although the half steps are described as either “sharp” or “flat,” they are essentially the same note. In other words, A# and Bb are the same note.

Most of these notes tend to be described more often by one name than the other; Bb is more common than A# for example. However, both names are technically correct.

You’ll notice that there are no enharmonic notes (flats or sharps) between notes B and C, or E and F. This can be confusing, but one easy way to remember the difference is is that B/C and E/F are always “neighbors.”

Ukulele Note Chart for Standard Tuning

Now that you understand some ukulele basics, let’s get started with the specific notes on the fretboard. Below, we’ll explain all the ukulele notes (on the chromatic scale) on each string of the instrument.

Keep in mind that each string loops through the chromatic scale, just starting at a different spot. Below are the notes for each fret, on each string. The order starts with the first fret, nearest to the head of the ukulele, and then moves toward the body.

The G String

G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb

The C String

C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B

The E String

E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb

The A String

Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A

Ukulele Notes for Alternate Tunings

While the standard and most common tuning for the ukulele is G-C-E-A, there are alternate tunings you can use as you advance in your playing. Remember that if the ukulele is tuned differently, the notes on the fretboard will change.

Below are the notes for two common alternate ukulele tunings. These tunings are also on the chromatic scale, but each string will start in a different place along the loop.

D-G-B-E Tuning D String

D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D

G String

G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G

B String

C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B

E String

F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E

A-D-F#-B Tuning A String

A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A

D String

D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D

F# String

G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B – C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb

B String

C – C#/Db – D – D#/Eb – E – F – F#/Gb – G – G#/Ab – A – A#/Bb – B

More Ukulele Note Charts

If you would like to learn more about ukulele notes or download a ukulele note chart, check out the following resources:

Want to take your playing skills a step further? Try the free online ukulele classes at TakeLessons Live, or look for a local ukulele teacher near you for private lessons.

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Guest Author: Wendy Parish has played ukulele and performed as part of the group Britches & Hose since 2012, also the year she started working as a freelance writer. 

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The warm and bright tone of the ukulele instantly transports you to a tropical island. The instrument had its beginnings on the island of Madeira off the coast of Portugal.

In the 1800s, the ukulele made its way to Hawaii by way of immigrants. The word “ukulele” literally means “jumping flea,” due to the fact that the Hawaiians played all over the strings, jumping around as it were.

Today, dozens of YouTube vloggers transpose popular songs for the ukulele, giving classic tunes a fresh, new sound. Almost any song can be played on the ukulele – including Disney music!

Disney ukulele songs are incredibly popular, so we’ve rounded up 10 of the best pieces, complete with tutorials and tabs so you can start playing the soundtrack of your favorite movie. 

10 Easy Disney Ukulele Songs 1. How Far I’ll Go – Moana

How Far I'll Go- Ukulele Tutorial - YouTube

We can’t discuss Disney ukulele songs without including Moana – the first Hawaiian, Disney princess. This fun song is about a young girl being drawn to the ocean and her true calling in life. It’s very upbeat and relatively easy to play, so it’s a great option for beginners. Get the ukulele tabs here

2. When you Wish Upon a Star – Pinocchio

WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR for Ukulele - UKULELE LESSON / TUTORIAL by "UKULELE MIKE" - YouTube

A slow and soothing song, this Pinocchio classic is the perfect lullaby, and playing it on the ukulele gives it a very unique island feel. The strumming pattern for this tune is slower, making it much easier to master the transitions between chords. Get the ukulele tabs here

3. At Last I See the Light – Tangled

Disney Tangled At Last I See the Light // Ukulele Tutorial //The Sandy Uke - YouTube

Originally played on the guitar, this song is also an excellent choice for ukulele players. It can be a little more challenging due to the fingerpicking and quick transitions, but it’s definitely worth taking the time to learn. Bonus: this is a duet, so have a friend sing along with you! Get the ukulele tabs here

4. Hakuna Matata – The Lion King

Hakuna Matata - Lion King (Ukulele Tutorial) - YouTube

This well-known tune will make you want to learn even more Disney ukulele songs! “Hakuna Matata” is fun and laid back, so it pairs very well with the bright tone of the ukulele. The notes and strum pattern repeat, so with a little practice you can play the whole song very easily. Get the ukulele tabs here

5. Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride – Lilo and Stitch

HAWAIIAN ROLLER COASTER RIDE - LILO & STITCH (EASY UKULELE TUTORIAL!) - YouTube

This Disney ukulele song is perfect for those looking for a more traditional sound. Don’t be scared by how fast it is – this tutorial really helps break the song down. The only hard part will be learning the Hawaiian lyrics! Get the ukulele tabs here

6. A Whole New World – Aladdin

A Whole New World Uke Tutorial EASY - YouTube

This song is perfect for beginners. The ukulele chords are easy to learn and they repeat throughout the song. “A Whole New World” is also a Disney favorite and the ukulele gives it a sweet melancholy feel. Get the ukulele tabs here

7. Kiss the Girl – The Little Mermaid

Kiss the Girl // Beginner Ukulele Jam // Disney Little Mermaid - YouTube

Beginners will love this song since it only uses four chords and has a slower tempo than most. The original version already has an island feel, so it works very well with the ukulele. It’s a great starting point when learning Disney ukulele songs! Get the ukulele tabs here

8. Under the Sea – The Little Mermaid

UNDER THE SEA for UKULELE - UKULELE LESSON / TUTORIAL by "UKULELE MIKE" - YouTube

Another Little Mermaid song, “Under the Sea” is fast and fun – especially on the ukulele. It is very tropical-sounding and will make you want to head straight to the ocean! The strumming pattern can be tricky, but once you get the hang of it you’ll have lots of fun playing. Get the ukulele tabs here

9. Let it Go – Frozen

"Let it go" FROZEN Ukulele Tutorial! - YouTube

When Frozen came out, everyone wanted to “let things go” and build a snowman. Although the movie takes place in a very cold setting, the ukulele gives this song a warm and tropical feel. The chords are fairly simple, so beginners will be able to easily play it. Get the ukulele tabs here.

10. The Bare Necessities – The Jungle Book

The Bare Necessities - The Jungle Book // EASY UKULELE TUTORIAL! - YouTube

“The Bare Necessities” will make you want to sing and dance while playing it. The ukulele chords and strum patterns are easy enough to make it a good option for all levels of ukulele players. Its catchy tune will also get stuck in your head for days! Get the ukulele tabs here.

Whether you’re interested in the classics like Pinocchio, or love the energy of Tangled, there is something for every generation of Disney lover on this list. These easy Disney ukulele songs are a great way to get some extra practice on the ukulele while having lots of fun.

To learn more intermediate to advanced songs, ukulele lessons with a private teacher are a guaranteed way to help you improve.

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If you’re looking to find out how to string a ukulele, you’ve come to the right place. This article will provide five easy steps that will help you restring a uke in no time.

Whenever your strings start to sound dull, you will want to restring your ukulele. This will vary depending on your environment and how often you play, but a good rule of thumb is if you’re performing publicly you should change your strings every one to three months.

If you play less frequently as a hobby, you should change them every three to six months. Also, if you break a string you will want to restring your whole set. You don’t want to have one new string mixed in with the old strings, because the new string will sound brighter than the others!

Here’s How to String A Ukulele in 5 Steps Step 1 – Unwind and Remove Old Strings

The first step in how to restring a ukulele is very simple, unless your uke is old and the strings have begun to solidify due to grime and oxidation from the tuning pegs.

(If you find yourself in this situation it’s best to just clip them off with nail clippers or a pair of wire cutters. But be careful not to harm the wood of the ukulele when doing so).

When unwinding the strings on the side of the ukulele that faces the ceiling when you play, you will unwind in a clockwise manner. Whereas, the strings that are on the side facing the floor as you play will need to be unwound in a counter-clockwise manner.

In the photo below you’ll see two different ukuleles. One ukulele uses a knot and slot method of holding the string in place at the bridge. The other uses a traditional, classical guitar style knot to hold the string in place. We’ll go over both in this article.

These are the two different types of bridges you may encounter on a ukulele. Check out your bridge once you have the strings off to make sure it doesn’t need to be cleaned or repaired.

Step 2 – Secure New Strings to the Bridge

For this step, you will want to have your new strings handy. A few good brands for ukulele strings are Martin, Aquila, and GHS.  

It’s easier to change strings that have a bit of texture to them, rather than strings that have a super smooth finish. Better quality strings will hold the knot that you tie in them. However, with lower quality strings the knot tends to slip apart when you begin to tighten up the string.

Depending on the type of bridge that you have, you will need to use a different method to secure the strings. As you can see in the photograph below, the first style of bridge is relatively easy to work with.

All you have to do is tie a knot in the end of the string and fit it into the slot of the bridge.

This style of bridge has a slot, and a knot in the string rests under the slot in the small opening at the base of the bridge.  

Here is a close-up of the simple knot you can use to secure the bridge end of the string. If you feel like your knot will come apart when you begin to tighten it up, then you might want to double knot it.

The second style of bridge has a series of four holes drilled through it. The string inserts into the hole from the body side of the bridge, then comes over the top of the bridge and is tied in a double or triple-loop knot along the top surface of the bridge.

So when the knot rests against the saddle (the bone part of the bridge) it gets pulled tight against the saddle when the string is tightened, and the loops cinch down – locking the entire knot in place.

The loop is not very difficult to make. You simply feed the free end of the string three times into the knot that you are making. Just remember to leave a little bit of the string out to secure it by tucking it under the next string.

Once you have all the strings secured to the ukulele, tuck the ends of the string underneath the knots to the left and right of the string you are tying. This way, the string ends won’t poke you while you play. This also helps prevent the string from coming unknotted.

After you get all the strings situated the way you want, pull them tight and go onto the next step. Just be sure that none of your knots are actually laying on the saddle itself. You want the string to knot up just behind the saddle.

Step 3 – Feed the Strings Through Tuning Peg Holes

The next step in how to string a ukulele is to insert each string into its corresponding tuning peg hole. You’ll start this step once each string is secured at the bridge. Make sure to keep one hand on the knots at the bridge just to make sure they don’t unravel.

After the string is through its tuning peg hole, you can begin to wind up the string. Remember, if you are stringing the side that will face the ceiling as you play, you will wind it counter clockwise. Wind it clockwise for the side that will face the floor.

Here is a close-up of the string after the first turn. Notice how the string goes over the end of the tip of the string that is sticking out of the hole. The next turn will go under the string so that it locks the string into place.

Sometimes when using this method the strings will want to slide out of the tuning peg hole. In this case you can always tie a knot in the string at the tuning peg hole, and then tighten the string from there.

Step 4 – Tighten the Strings

When you get the strings in place, you will need to tighten them up. Do not be concerned at this point about tightening them up to pitch. Just tighten them up until they feel slightly secured and then proceed to the next step.

There are string winders that help make this job a little easier. If you’d like, you can use hand winding tools, or a battery powered one. Just be careful not to over-tighten the strings to the point that they snap.

While you’re tightening up the strings, you should also keep your eye on the bridge knots and tuning pegs to make sure the ends do not slip out.

Step 5 – Stretch the Strings and Tune to Pitch

The final step for how to restring a ukulele is to stretch the strings to pull out any slack. Once all the strings are on, simply lay the ukulele flat on a table and gently pull each string up a few inches.

Many nylon strings take a long time to stretch into position when you first put them on, and this step makes the tuning process go a lot faster. Just be careful not to pull too much or you can snap the string.

Once you have the tension out of the string, you can re-tighten it. This time, tighten it up to the actual pitch of the string. Then you will have a freshly tuned ukulele with new strings!

Every beginning musician finds re-stringing their instrument a challenge at the start, especially ukulele players because of the material the strings are made of. But these five steps for how to string a ukulele should make the process much easier.

If you want to learn more about playing the ukulele, or are looking for a good teacher to help you get started, be sure to check out the online and local ukulele lessons offered at TakeLessons!

Post Author: Willy M.
Willy M. teaches banjo, mandolin, and more in Winston Salem, NC. Willy has been teaching for over 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to adults in their 80s. Learn more about Willy here!

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The D, D7, and Dm ukulele chords are essential chords all beginners should learn how to play.

For many beginners, the D chord will be one of the first ukulele chords you learn how to play. However, you may not learn at first that the D chord can be played in several different positions, and in variations such as D minor (notated as Dm) and D seventh (notated as D7).

Choosing the best position to use for a particular chord during a song depends on its proximity to the other chords in the song, and the sound you want to achieve.

When you’re making chord changes, it always helps to choose the fingerings that are nearest each other to reduce the time switching from one chord to the next. Keep reading for several suggestions on how to play D, Dm, and D7 ukulele chord.

How to Play the D, D7, and Dm Ukulele Chords

Here are five positions you can use to play the D chord on the ukulele, as well as three positions for D minor and D7. Below, we’ll go into more details about how to play these common chords. Tip: Save this image on your cell phone to use during practice sessions!

SEE ALSO: How to Tune a Ukulele for Beginners

Playing the D major (D) Chord on Ukulele

The D chord ukulele players generally learn first is the major D chord in first position, played on the second fret from the nut.

Place your first finger, which is the index finger, on the fourth string at the second fret. Your second finger (the middle finger) goes on the third string, and your third finger (the ring finger) on the second string, all at the second fret. Leave the first string open and strum.

Congrats: you just played the D chord! Here are four more ways to play the same chord:

  • Lay your first finger flat across all the strings on the second fret and place your pinky on the third string on the fifth fret away from the nut.
  • You also can place your first finger across the first two strings at the fifth fret, place your second finger on the third string on the sixth fret, and your third finger on the fourth string on the seventh fret.
  • Another option is to place your first finger on the second string at the fifth fret, your second finger on the third string at the sixth fret, your third finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret, and stretch your pinky to the first string at the ninth fret.
  • Lastly, you can put your first finger on the fourth string of the seventh fret, your second finger on the third string, your pinky on the first string of the eighth fret, and your ring finger on the second string of the ninth fret.
Playing the D minor (Dm) Ukulele Chord

Once you have the basic D chord down, you can move on to the Dm ukulele chord.

The simplest way to play the D minor chord is to leave the first string open, place your first finger on the second string at the first fret, and your second finger and third fingers on the third and fourth strings at the second fret.

Here are a couple more ways to play the Dm ukulele chord:

  • Lay your first finger across the first three strings at the fifth fret and place your third finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret. You can also use the same fingering and place your pinky on the first string at the eighth fret for an additional high note.
  • A slightly more complex version requires you to place your first finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret, your second finger on the first string at the eighth fret, your third finger on the third string at the ninth fret, and your pinky on the second string at the tenth fret.
Playing the D7 Ukulele Chord

The D7 ukulele position adds a seventh note to the D chord and gives the chord a twangy sound.

The simplest way to play a D7 chord is to lay your first finger across all strings at the second fret and place your second finger on the first string at the third fret.

Here are three more ways to play the D7 ukulele chord:

  • Lay your first finger across all strings at the fifth fret and place your second finger on the third string at the sixth fret.
  • Another version requires you to put your first finger on the third string at the sixth fret, your second finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret, and your ring finger on the second string at the eighth fret.
  • You also can play the D7 chord with your first finger on the fourth string at the seventh fret, your second finger on the second string at the eighth fret, with your third finger on the third string and your pinky on the first string at the ninth fret.

The best way to learn ukulele chords is to practice playing songs for beginners. Working with a ukulele teacher is a great way to find songs that are appropriate for your skill level and will help you advance quicker. Search for a ukulele teacher today to get started!

If ukulele lessons are too expensive an option for you, you can also try taking online ukulele classes, which are a much more affordable option. Good luck learning the D chords and remember to have fun!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Photo by Ffion Atkinson

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