3 Best Ways to Play the E Major Chord on Ukulele
There comes a point in a ukulele player’s journey where one must face head on, with courage and bravery, that dreaded and difficult-to-play E major chord on ukulele.
By learning the E chord on ukulele, you unlock a whole new world of playing songs on the ukulele with the most notable song using the E chord being Hey Soul Sister by Train.
Don’t worry because together in this lesson we look at three of the best ways to play the E major chord on ukulele. I provide you with three variations of E major and give you the pros and cons of each, so you can learn how to play the E chord and determine which one is easiest for you.
Watch the video and learn how to play E major on ukulele.
How to Play the E Major Chord on Ukulele: Variation #1
To play the E major chord on ukulele in this first variation, place the middle finger at the 4th fret of the top g-string, ring finger at the 4th fret of the C-string, and index finger at the 2nd fret of the bottom A-string. Let the E-string ring open.
How to Play the E Major Chord on Ukulele: Variation #2
To play the E major chord on ukulele in this second variation, perform a barre by pressing your index finger on the top g-string, C-string, and E-string on the 4th fret and place the little finger on the 7th fret of the bottom A-string.
How to Play the E Major Chord on Ukulele: Variation #3
To play the E major chord on ukulele in this third and most popular variation, perform a barre by pressing your index finger on all four strings on the 2nd fret and perform a barre by pressing your ring finger on the top g-string, C-string, and E-string on the 4th fret.
Be sure to watch the video to get tips for playing this tricky position.
How to Play the E Major Chord on Ukulele: Variation #4
This fourth variation of the E major chord is the same chord as Variation #3 but uses a different fretting hand position.
To play the E major chord on ukulele in this fourth variation, place the middle finger at the 4th fret of the top g-string, ring finger at the 4th fret of the C-string, little finger at the 4th fret of the E-string, and index finger at the 2nd fret of the bottom A-string.
I recommend using this Variation #4 if you have small hands and fingers, but for those of us with larger hands and fingers (like myself), learning Variation #3 is better.
Was This Chord Too Hard to Learn?
The E major chord on ukulele is infamous for being the hardest chord to play on ukulele.
If you’re a beginner and this was too difficult, don’t be discouraged. I recommend starting in the free Learn to Play Ukulele Today video lesson course where I teach you easy ukulele chords and how to apply those to strum and play actual songs.
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The e chord is every beginner ukulele player’s nemesis. Players will go to great lengths to avoid playing an E chord on ukulele. It’s not uncommon for people to play an E7 in it’s place or just to transpose a song completely. Check out my guide to helping you get to grips with the e chord…
Can’t I just permanently avoid playing an E chord?
In a word, no. Well technically you could but you shouldn’t. Why place that restriction on yourself? That’s like saying you’re only ever going to play down strums because up strums are a little bit tricky. It’s hugely limiting to you and your ukulele playing. Get to grips with the E chord and you’ll never need to transpose songs or drop in an E7 that might not work anyway.
The good news…
Here comes the good news, just like every chord there are multiple ways to play an E (otherwise known as chord inversions) and some are easier to fret than others. It’s a case of selecting the one that fits into what you’re playing and which chord you’re transitioning from. Here’s 3 of them (there are more though)…
Looking at the chord boxes above, it’s the first E chord that usually strikes fear into a players heart. Essentially this version of an E is a D chord shifted up 2 frets. I personally almost never play this version of the e chord they way I’ve shown it in the diagram. More often than not I will play this chord with 2 fingers using my third finger to bar strings 2,3 and 4 of fret 4. It takes a little getting used to, and again I would recommend using the 60 second chord changes method daily to get this version down.
The second version of the E chord shown above is quite different and there’s no barring involved (phew). I’m more likely to call on this shape when I’m coming from a chord that shares similar fretting positions. A G chord is a good example, you get to leave your second finger where it was.
Finally, and in my opinion the easiest way to play an E – simply bar all the strings at fret 4 with your first finger and then use your pinky to hold down fret 7 of the A string (help playing barre chords here). If you’re coming from a bar chord then it makes sense to stay with another bar chord and the transition should be relatively easy. The only real issue with this version is that it can sound a little strange if you’ve been playing open chords before it (but try it and see) and it can also be a bit of a jump moving 4 frets higher.
More options to master the E chord
There are more ways to play an E on ukulele but we’ll stick with those for now. I’d highly recommend getting to grips with each one. Over time you’ll start to find that you develop a feel for which one you should be using in the context of the song that you’re playing. Take a minute every day to work on your e chords – maybe even throw it into your practice routine, you’ll have them mastered in no time!
Extra – the really easy way to play an e chord
If you’ve read this far then congratulations, your reward for reading on is this rather easy way to play an e chord.
Notice it’s the same as the rather difficult way to play an e chord but this time we’re either muting or just not strumming the bottom (A) string. That’s because it’s not necessary.
This is where a bit of chord construction knowledge comes in handy. Fear not though, I’ll save the lesson on chord construction for another day. All you need to know is, a major chord consists of only 3 notes. So that’s all we need.
Ordinarily we fret the A string at fret 2 giving us a B but as we already have a B note fretted on the G string we don’t need to have another in. You can simply leave it out and you’ve still got an E.
How to Play the E Major Chord on Ukulele
Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LddAGXAZH48
The E major chord (sometimes just known as an E chord) is an easy chord for beginners learning to play the ukulele. Learn more about the notes that make up an E major ukulele chord, several different ways to play it, and songs that feature the E major chord.
Lesson: How to Play an E Chord
There are several ways to play an E major chord on the ukulele. We’ll walk you through where to place your fingers on the fretboard of your ukulele and which of the four strings you’ll strum to play different versions of the E chord. We’ll also use ukulele chord charts to help you get a visual representation of where to place your fingers.
- G = The fourth string
- C = The third string (lowest tone)
- E = The second string
- A = The first string (and highest-tone string)
Unlike the guitar, where strings are in a descending order, the lowest-toned string on a ukulele is actually the third string.
In our chord charts, we’ll also show you where to place your fingers on the frets. Here’s a key to better understand notations to play the e chord on a ukulele chart. The diagrams represent your ukulele fret board and the numbers or icons used show you your finger positions on each fret, or how to play a specific string in a version of a chord:
- O - A circle above the string means to play that string in an open position
- X - An “x” above the strings means you won’t play that string or mute it when playing
- 1 = Index finger
- 2 = Middle finger
- 3 = Ring finger
- 4 = Pinky finger
E Chord on Ukulele: E 2nd Position (v1)
One of the easiest ways for beginners to play the E chord on ukulele is the 2nd position. In order to play this version of the chord, you’ll start by placing your index finger on the 2nd fret of the A string. Your middle finger will rest on the 4th fret of the G string, while your ring and pinky fingers will be on the 4th fret of the C and E strings, respectively.
- Index finger: 2nd fret of the A (1st) string
- Middle finger: 4th fret of the G (4th) string
- Ring finger: 4th fret of the C (3rd) string
- Pinky finger: 4th fret of the E (2nd) string
You’ll strum all four strings to play the E major chord in this second position version.
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E Ukulele Chord
Played '1402' on the soprano - Standard Tuning (GCEA). Alternative name: Emajor.
View this chord in: G-Tuning (DGBE)D-Tuning (ADF#B)Slack-Key Tuning (GCEG)
Don't know how to read a chord? Read this first.
For the dreaded E major, we will need to use our pinky, and for many this is simply not easy to do! Take your index finger and place it on the first fret of the G string, and then put your middle finger on the second fret of the A string. Then we need to stretch our pinky up to the fourth fret of the C string. The hand will be in a claw shape at the end and the stretch will feel a little awkward. Here muting strings isn’t as much an issue as the distance of the stretch. Some players will have better luck with the 4442 version of E major below. Both will require plenty of patience and practice.
- Type : triad (major)
- Intervals :E (T), Ab (3M), B (5J),
- Formula : 1 3 5
- Alternative notation : 1 4 0 2
- Tuning : Standard Tuning (GCEA)
Alternative E positions
We have 4 other positions for this uke chord.
Scales related to this chord
Selection of famous scales you can play on a E chord to improvise great solos on your Uke.
- Scales that fit:A Major, B Major, E Major, A Melodic minor, B Melodic minor, A Harmonic minor, Ab Harmonic minor, Db Natural minor, Gb Natural minor, Ab Natural minor, Db Blues, E Major pentatonic, Db Minor pentatonic, D Overtone, E Overtone, Bb Altered, Ab Altered, G Altered bb7, Ab Altered bb7, Bb Super locrian, Ab Super locrian, G Ultralocrian, Ab Ultralocrian, A Hawaiian, B Hawaiian,
Create your own E ukulele chord pattern using the notes of the E arpeggio / intervals on the fretboard :
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Chord uke e
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