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One of the reasons why so many people are drawn to the ukulele is the fact that it is so easy to start playing songs. Compared to other instruments, picking up a few ukulele chords and playing a recognizable tune is far more simple.
In this guide, we’re looking at some of our favorite songs to recommend to beginners to get started on their journey to learn ukulele.
No need to bore yourself with songs you don’t care about. Our list of 49 easy ukulele songs shows that you can pick popular songs by artists you enjoy and learn them in a few minutes.
Want to learn ukulele from the best? Check out Jake Shimabukuro Teaches ‘Ukulele on Masterclass.
Four Chords That Let You Play Hundreds of Songs
Some of the best ukulele songs to learn just have three or four easy chords. As you’ll see below, the same simple chords are used time and time again, and many songs share the same chord progressions.
C Major – this is often the first chord you will learn on the ukulele. To play a C major chord you simply have to place one finger on one string. Easy!
A Minor – this is another “one finger” chord that you can learn in seconds. Just press on the right fret in the right position and strum away.
F Major – this chord uses two fingers but it still isn’t too difficult to get to grips with.
G Major – we’re up to using three fingers now, but the G chord isn’t overly complex and allows you to play many more ukulele songs.
Strumming Patterns You Should Learn
Strumming patterns are what give rhythm to the songs. Strumming is simply the way you are playing the rhythm of the ukulele by strumming down (downstrokes) and up (upstrokes) on your uke.
Most commonly, songs will be in 4/4. An effective way to start out with a beginner ukulele strumming pattern is just to practice four downstrokes as you count 1, 2, 3, 4.
The video below teaches you most of what you need to know for strumming. The five patterns it shows can be used for most songs on this list. Some songs give you room to experiment, and they will still sound good even if you use a more basic strumming method.
How to Sing and Play Ukulele at the Same Time
If you are keen to sing and play ukulele at the same time then your process will involve a bit more practice. Here are the top 3 tips for singing and playing uke:
- Practice both parts separately. Play the song all the way through just playing the ukulele, then sing along with the original track. This way, you will embed the knowledge in your brain. You’re less likely to get lost along the way when you combine the two.
- Hum instead of singing. Remembering the specific words is another way beginner ukulele players stumble when they are trying to sing and play uke together. Get used to the melody and humming along and then gradually include the words.
- Understand the timing of the song. One area that can be easy to make mistakes is with timing. To help make sure your timing is good, count along to the tempo of the track.
25 Easy Ukulele Songs (Using C, Am, F, and G)
1. Vance Joy – Riptide
If you are looking to play along with the original then a capo will be needed. However, if you just want to play and sing along then this is a great option with just the C, Am, F and G chords. This is a modern song becoming really popular with ukulele beginners as it is so simple to play.
2. Train – Hey Soul Sister
Hey Soul Sister is a great song to learn for beginners. It is another song that has been transposed, so if you want to stay in the right key, a capo on the 4th fret is required.
3. Jason Mraz – I’m Yours
The tabs above include a very cool intro, and you can learn this too if you are feeling ambitious. How great is it to be able to learn a song that sounds 100% natural on the ukulele. We had to include this on our list of easy uke songs.
4. The Beatles – Let it Be
There aren’t many better places to start your ukulele journey than learning a song by the fab four. The Beatles may not be known for using ukuleles, but this incredibly iconic song sounds fantastic played on your uke.
5. Ben E. King / John Lennon – Stand By Me
Another song that you need to transpose to play in the most simple way possible, but this is a simple, timeless classic.
6. One Republic – Counting Stars
7. Bruno Mars – Just The Way You Are
Bruno Mars is one of the artists out there who loves to include a Hawaiian feel in their music by including some uke. Just The Way You Are is a simple song using just a few chords to great effect.
8. Adele – Someone Like You
Technically, playing this song using C, Am, F and G means you have transposed the song slightly, but this makes it far easier to play, and it doesn’t matter unless you are playing along with the original. A capo on fret 2 will keep you in the same key.
9. Justin Beiber – Love Yourself
10. Sam Smith – Stay With Me
While some people find that the strumming pattern can take some getting used to, you can strip this song down and play it in a more simplistic way, and it sounds very impressive. Plus, it can be learned in a matter of minutes.
11. Maroon 5 – She Will Be Loved
This is another song that you will need a capo for if you are going to use the four simple chords. It’s an incredibly easy song to play, as even the strumming pattern isn’t too challenging on this modern pop classic.
12. James Blunt – You’re Beautiful
13. Walk the Moon – Shut Up and Dance
14. Bob Dylan – Blowin’ in the Wind
This ukulele version sounds fantastic and most of it just uses three chords. A fine option for beginners.
15. Bob Dylan – All Along the Watchtower
The tab above is for the Dave Matthews version, and there is a Jimi Hendrix version, too. The majority of this song is just switching between two chords, so it is a fantastic option for beginners.
16. Bob Marley – One Love
Another iconic song that everyone knows the words to. This is a great song to advance your beginner knowledge a little, as it lets you experiment with how you strum. Some palm muting will sound fantastic with the reggae vibe.
17. UB40 – Red Red Wine
18. The Lumineers – Hey Ho
This song is one of those that you might not know by the name, but as soon as you hear the chorus you will know it. It sounds fantastic on a uke, too.
19. Billy Ray Cyrus – Achy Breaky Heart
A two-chord song that everyone knows! You can’t get much more simplistic than that in the world of ukulele, or any instrument.
20. U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
21. Jay and The Americans – This Magic Moment
22. Eagle Eye Cherry – Save Tonight
23. Elvis Presley – Can’t Help Falling in Love
24. He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
25. Bob Marley – Lively Up Yourself
5 Easy Ukulele Songs Using Only G, C, and D
D Major – three fingers again, but they are all held in the same fret which makes the D major one of the easiest ukulele chords to remember.
1. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama
This might just be the most impressive of all the tutorials! The song sounds incredible. You can use the ukulele tab in order to learn the iconic intro riff.
2. John Denver – Leaving on a Jet Plane
This is another song that could have a claim for being the easiest song for beginners. Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver is also known all over the world, so it is perfect for a singalong.
3. Lorde – Royals
4. The Beatles – Love Me Do
The early Beatles songs are a real goldmine for easy songs for beginners. In the early 60s, they were the kings of taking a few simple chords and making a beautiful song. Love Me Do is an iconic song that has been transcribed for ukulele, you can play it using just three chords. The tutorial above also shows you how to play the intro.
5. Taylor Swift – 22
7 Easy Ukulele Songs (Using G, C, D, and Em)
E minor – Em requires three fingers, used on three different frets. It isn’t a barre chord, which means it is relatively straightforward.
1. Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl
Another upbeat four-chord song that sounds awesome on the ukulele. If you can learn the intro then this becomes an even more impressive song for beginners to play.
2. John Legend – All of Me
3. Green Day – Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)
Who says that sad rock songs can’t be played on a bright-sounding soprano ukulele? This may be a moody track, but it sounds surprisingly good on uke.
4. Neil Young – Heart of Gold
5. The Cranberries – Zombie
6. Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down
7. The Beatles – Paperback Writer
This could have gone in any of our categories. The majority of the song is just strumming away on the G chord, so it is a nice and simple one. It’s also a good choice if you want to learn how to sing along.
12 Easy Ukulele Songs Using Other Chords
These are a couple of added extra popular songs that don’t strictly fall into the categories above. They’re still very simple to play, with chord diagrams included in the video tutorials.
1. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Somewhere Over The Rainbow
This song has just five chords. You don’t need a capo, and you don’t need to play any barre chords, it is made of exclusively easy ukulele chords. This is known as a ukulele classic. Elise Ecklund’s ukulele lesson is also very good and makes it simple to learn this tune.
2. Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah
This is the same version as the Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley/Alexandra Burke song. Hallelujah is known for sounding fantastic on the ukulele. It has a lot of the same chords as the songs mentioned in the first section, but an Em is added. Luckily, this doesn’t need you to play a barre chord, so it is still a great chord progression for beginners to learn.
3. Elton John – The Lion King – Hakuna Matata
Most of this song is very easy to play, with a few more challenging sections. We had to include it on our list of the easiest ukulele songs – it is so fun to learn!
4. Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
5. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
This is a great way to challenge yourself a bit more, as it uses more chords than most of the songs on this list. However, crucially, there are no barre chords involved so it is still pretty easy to play all the way through with no problems, even if you’re relatively new to ukulele.
6. James Ford Murphy – Pixar – Lava
7. Bruno Mars – The Lazy Song
This is a great opportunity to practice playing on the “off beat”. The strumming pattern is a little unorthodox in that respect. When you think of ukulele pop songs then this is probably right at the top of the list.
8. Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars
9. Outkast – Hey Ya
This is a really fun song to play. The hip-hop vibes translate surprisingly well when you play a stripped-down version on your uke.
10. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Otherside
11. The Beach Boys – Surfin’ USA
A simple three-chord song, this one definitely makes it to our list of easy ukulele songs, just make sure you nail the unusual “7th” chord.
12. Elvis Presley – Hound Dog
There is a variation on the F chord in this song, and though you can just play it as a standard F for ease, we think it sounds much better with the “bluesy” vibe from the extra chord.
You don’t have to stick to this list. As you can see, a few easy chords can open up a world of possibilities in terms of playing songs. However, it’s a good idea to have a starting point, and our list provides you with some of the most popular ukulele songs to get started.
We hope you find this list helpful, and start to enjoy your ukulele journey!
Anna teaches piano and guitar and also has extensive experience recording music. She’s well read in music psychology and love to share the benefits of learning to play music.