How to Play 6-String Ukulele

By Lee Johnson
Six-string ukuleles are the same as standard soprano ukuleles, with an additional A and C string.

The four-string ukulele is a delicate-sounding and simple instrument, but the addition of two extra strings can baffle even an experienced ukulele player. A four-string soprano ukulele has the strings tuned to G, C, E and A. The six-string ukulele gives the original soprano ukulele a fuller sound by adding extra strings tuned to A and C, literally doubling up the sound produced by those strings. The extra C string is often tuned to a higher or lower octave than the original C string. The six-string instrument is tuned to G, C, C, E, A and A. You can enjoy learning chords and songs on a six-string ukulele after mastering the basics.

Learn to translate standard four-string ukulele music. This is easy to do, because the replicated notes are positioned next to each other. This means that on a standard ukulele chord chart, which features chords plotted onto a fret diagram, you can double up the notes on the C and A strings to translate the chart to a six-string. The strings are arranged G to A, from left to right, on chord charts. The notes on the second and fourth strings from the left are played on the two replicated strings.

Sit down with the ukulele. Hold the ukulele in any way you are comfortable, as long as your weaker hand (the left hand, if you’re right-handed) is holding the neck and your strong hand is near the sound hole, ready to strum. Rest the body of the ukulele on your lap for comfort.

Press down the two A strings on the third fret. The frets are numbered according to their position in relation to the nut, which is the bar separating the neck of the ukulele from the headstock. The fret closest to the nut is the first fret. The two A strings are the lowest two in position (not pitch) on the ukulele. Press both strings down at the same fret using the same finger, flat across both of them. Be sure not to touch any other strings. Strum all six strings on the ukulele. You have just played a C chord.

Press down the lowest five strings at the second fret. Use either your index or middle finger, flattened out, to press down the second fret on all of the strings apart from the top (G) string. Press the third fret on the E string. This is the third string from the bottom on the ukulele. Be sure you don’t catch any other strings with your finger as you hold the note down. Strum all six strings with your strong hand. You have just played a G chord.

Press down the second fret on the G string using your middle finger on your fretting hand. The G string is the closest string to you when you’re playing. Press down the first fret on the E string with your index finger. Make sure your fingers don’t touch other strings, as this could mute them and affect the overall sound of the chord. Strum all the strings. You have just played an F chord.

Play around with these three chords, playing C slightly more often than the other two, to play the ukulele in the key of C. Learn more chords by referring to a ukulele chord chart and translating the diagrams as described in Step 1. Then progress to playing songs (see Resources).

About the Author

Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005. His articles have appeared in "Sandman" magazine, the "Crewe Chronicle" and on the website Beyond Hollywood. He is primarily a music journalist but has written on many subjects. Johnson has a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from Manchester Metropolitan University.