Learn to Play G Major and the vi Chord on Ukulele | Chord by Chord Lesson 8


Welcome to Chord by Chord, a beginner’s guide for the ukulele. Last time, I showed you some common progressions in the key of D major, including the I, IV, and V chords. In this lesson I’ll do the same thing, but in G major, and also involving the vi chord.

The good news is that you can play in the key of G using chords you already know. But you’re also going to learn a new one—D7. The open chord shape is rootless, meaning it does not contain a D. But since it has three of the chord’s other notes (F#, A, and C), it sounds perfectly fine in the context of a song.

To play this chord, known as a Hawaiian D7, take your peace sign fingers (1 and 2) and place them on fret 2 of strings 4 and 2, leaving strings 3 and 1 open. Then, try strumming it for two bars, as shown in Example 1. As always, remember to play it slowly before speeding things up.

Now try the D7 in one of those sandwich progressions—a bar of G, followed by two of D7, and ending with one of G (Example 2). Keep the pace nice and easy, and make sure that you are switching between the two chords cleanly, and with good timing.


For Example 3, we’re going to bring in one of those chords that we saw earlier in the key of C, E minor, which is also found in the key of G. (In C, Em is the iii chord and in G it’s the vi.) If you have any trouble switching between G and Em, try a new fingering for the latter, using fingers 2, 3, and 4 (rather than 1, 2, and 3, as notated) on strings 1, 2, and 3, respectively. That way, you can keep your second and third fingers held down to efficiently move between the two chords.

Example 4 shows a common four-chord progression that you learned previously, but in the key of G. Play the I (G), then the V (D), followed by the vi (Em), and then the IV or sunshine chord (C). After you strum through the progression the second time, end nice and easy, with a held G chord. For Example 5, let’s go back to that old 1950s chord progression—I (G)–vi (Em)–IV (C)–V (D7)‚ for a total of four measures, plus an extra G chord measure after the repeat.

Now it’s time for our old friend “Home on the Range” (Example 6). You’ve already played it in the keys of C and D, and this time you’ll do it in G, in bars 10–11 placing a spicy dominant seventh chord (G7) before the sunshine chord (C). Like you did in the last lesson, try first strumming the chords on their own, remembering that each bar has three beats, and then adding the vocal line.

Continue working on these classic chord progressions in G major until next time, when we will explore the key of F.

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