Every beginner ukulele player must face the dreaded E major chord in their journey. You stumble and the chord will overpower you, slowly taking away all interest you had in learning the instrument. If you’re brave, you will be able to conquer this difficult-to-play chord with no problem.
You will unlock a brand new world of playing tunes and songs on your ukulele once you learn the E chord. One of the most prominent songs of the early 2000s, “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train is a song completely revolving around the E chord. As you can see, you can make some pretty amazing tunes with this simple yet terrifying chord.
If you wanted to learn how to play E string on ukulele to perfection, you’ve arrived at the right place. We also provide tips on how to improve your playing on one of the hardest to master chords out there.
How Long Can I Avoid Playing the E Chord?
Technically, you can avoid playing the E chord for the entire time your play a ukulele, but you shouldn’t. Not learning this chord puts you a step behind everyone else, limiting your potential. That’s synonymous to saying you will only play down strums as up strums are slightly harder to do. You can stall playing the E chord for the longest time but it only will end up restricting your uke playing. Learn the ropes of the E chord and you’ll never have to drop in one E7 that may not work or transpose songs.
After terrorizing you for so long (well, we didn’t really have to do as much when the E chord was concerned), it’s time for some good news. Much like all other chords, there are quite a few ways to play an E chord, otherwise termed as chord inversions. And similar to the others, some are easier to fret. In this case, it’s all about choosing the one that suits your style when you’re playing and which chord you’re making the transition from.
Lesson: How to Play E String on Ukulele
We will walk you through where your fingers must be placed on the fretboard of the uke as well as the four strings that need to be strummed to play various versions of the E string. We’ll also refer to ukulele chord charts so you can get a visual representation of finger placement.
G = The 4th string
C = The 3rd string (lowest tone)
E = The 2nd string
A = The 1st string (highest-tone string)
In contrast to a guitar where the strings are arranged in a descending order, the third string is actually the lowest-toned string on a uke.
E Chord on Ukulele: Position 1
Playing the E chord on the 2nd position is definitely one of the easier ways for a beginner to pick up. To begin, place your index finger on the second fret of the 1st string (A string). Now, the middle finger has to rest on the fourth fret of the 4th string (G string), while the ring and pinky fingers will be on the fourth fret of the 3rd and 2nd strings (C and E), respectively.
Index finger: Second fret of the 1st string (A)
Middle finger: Fourth fret of the 4th string (G)
Ring finger: Fourth fret of the 3rd string (C)
Pinky finger: Fourth fret of the 2nd string (E)
All four strings must be strum to play the E major chord in this 2nd place.
E Chord on Ukulele: Position 2
To play an E major chord on your uke following the second variation, rest the middle finger on the fourth fret of the top g-string alongside placing the ring finger at the fourth fret of the 3rd string (C) and the index finger at the second fret of the 1st string (A). Allow the E-string to ring open.
E Chord on Ukulele: Position 3
For the final variation, you have to perform a barre. Press down on the top g-string. C string, and E string with your index string on the fourth fret. Place your pinky on the seventh fret of the bottom A string.
Tips on Mastering the E String
Surprisingly, there are more ways to play the scary E string on ukulele, but we’ll stick to these techniques for now. We highly recommend getting used to each one. With practice and time, you will start to realize which one you should for best results in the context of the song or tune you’re playing. Take some time off your routine every day to work on those E chords – preferably add it to your practice routine. This way you’ll have it mastered in no time!
Start with one shape and practice that for a few minutes every day. Try switching to another chord after a few days and then revert to E. If you are truly struggling (and we mean hard time struggling), you can shift out the E chord for E7 or Em. Be warned that this can change the tone of the song, so we don’t recommend it. Nevertheless, it can be useful if you’re trying to play a particular song in the beginning stage.
The E chord is infamous for being the most difficult chord to pick up on a ukulele. Fortunately, we have covered everything a practitioner would need to learn how to play E string on ukulele. Now you won’t have to stick to songs with minimum chords. The ukulele is a truly versatile stringed instrument capable of opening you up to a new world of unique, bright tones. And you can’t get the most out of your uke if you’re leaving a whole chord out. Practice makes perfect – so stop procrastinating and start rehearsing!