If you’re like most people just starting out on the ukulele, you probably are eager to start learning to play fun ukulele songs. And while it can take a significant amount of time to master more challenging pieces, there’s a whole world of ukulele songs for beginners out there. After all, few things are more motivating to a new player than being able to proficiently play a song or two. In this list, we’ve compiled some of the best easy ukulele songs to start with.
The Top Easy Ukulele Songs to Learn
1. “Octopus’s Garden” — The Beatles
Many Beatles chords for guitar have been successfully adapted for the ukulele. This fun song, written by the band’s drummer, Ringo Starr. He was inspired to write it after he learned about the way octopuses create underwater gardens while he was on a boating vacation with his family. You can check out the song here (below left).
This video tutorial (above right) gives you a very thorough walkthrough of how to play the song. The first chord progression in the song is made up of very simple chords that you will likely learn in your first few weeks of playing the uke. You will just need four chords: C, Am, F, and G7. The song’s B-section progression includes Dm, Bb, and C.
The only potential challenge here is the Bb chord — Bb is notoriously tough for the beginner ukulele player to master. That’s because you need to use your index finger to bar the first two strings. If you’re very new, you can skip the B section altogether and focus on the C/Am/F/G7 progression. Alternatively, you can play the portion of the Bb chord that doesn’t include the barred first and second strings. You won’t get the exact sound of the full chord, but you’ll get a fairly close approximation.
2. “Stir It Up” — Bob Marley
Reggae songs often make great beginner ukulele songs — they often rely on the same strumming pattern throughout the whole song, and they also tend to repeat the same chords. Getting into a rhythm tends to be a little easier, especially if you’re still developing your sense of timing.
Bob Marley chords tend to be fairly easy to play, and this song’s major chord progression is made of just three chords — A major, E major, and a D major chord. This video tutorial (below left) takes you through the easier, open chord shape version of this simple chord progression.
It also takes you through a version with all barre chords if you’re looking for a challenge. Once you can proficiently play using barre chords, you may find that reggae rhythms become easier — having a finger barred across the fretboard makes it easy to quickly mute and unmute the strings as needed.
The easy ukulele chords in “Stir It Up” aren’t the hardest part — the syncopated strumming pattern can be a little hard to get at first. “Syncopated rhythm” just means that you’re strumming on the off beats. So if you’re playing along with a drumbeat, your strums would effectively happen in between beats.
This is one of the most important strumming patterns in reggae music, so it’s great to learn if you intend to play more reggae ukulele songs for beginners. If you’re unfamiliar with “Stir It Up,” you can check out a live version here (above right).
3. “I’m Yours” — Jason Mraz
The somewhat percussive strumming in this song really lends itself to the ukulele. If you look up the Jason Mraz chords for “I’m Yours,” you’ll probably find that they can be pretty easily adapted into ukulele tabs. If you haven’t heard the original version of the song, check out the music video here (below left).
The song primarily revolves around the same four chords — the C major chord, the G major chord, the A minor chord, and the F major chord. Periodically, you’ll need to throw in a D7 chord (video below center), too. This useful video tutorial (below right) demonstrates the song and takes you through the strumming pattern.
Interestingly enough, while “I’m Yours” eventually became a #1 song, Jason Mraz said he just thought of it as a “novelty song” after he wrote it. He only started taking it seriously and decided to put it on an album once he saw how positively audiences were responding to it.
4. “Riptide” — Vance Joy
If you’ve been searching Vance Joy chords to find an easy ukulele song to learn, “Riptide” just might be your answer. This immensely popular song (video below-left) is also a great example of how the ukulele can add unique character to pop songs.
As you can see in this video tutorial (above right), “Riptide” is actually relatively easy to play, and it only involves four chords. Most of the song relies on the progression of three easy chords: Am, C, and G. You’ll just need to add an F in the bridge.
Although the tutorial shows you a recommended strumming pattern, you might find it easier to first master the chord progression of this easy ukulele song. Try playing it with single-note strums. You’ll likely develop your own strategy for learning ukulele songs in time. Especially in the beginning, remember to be patient with yourself!
5. “Hey Soul Sister” — Train
“Hey Soul Sister” (video below left) may well be one of the more notable instances of a ukulele being used in pop music. As a ukulele player, you may find yourself needing to find guitar chords for a given song and then effectively creating a ukulele version.
But in the case of this great song, the uke features prominently throughout the entire song. Train’s lead singer, Pat Monahan, said himself that he believed the ukulele was a major part of the song’s appeal and ultimate success.
This is also a song that centers around just four simple chords — the C/G/Am/F progression. These are all relatively easy chords to fret, but the strumming pattern might seem more intricate than that of many ukulele songs for beginners at first.
This no-talking video tutorial (above right) gives you a slowed-down demonstration. For almost the whole song, the strumming pattern is down/down/up/down/ up/down/up. Just like with all chord progressions and rhythm patterns, make sure to practice slowly until you can play through the pattern correctly. From there, you can gradually increase the tempo to that of the song.
6. “Blowin’ In The Wind” — Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is one of the world’s most renowned songwriters, and this easy song is arguably one of his best-known hits. “Blowin’ In the Wind” (video below left) is one of the better ukulele songs for beginners, as you will only need to play A, D, E7, and F#m.
With just these four chords, you can create an impressive soundscape. The song is also one of remarkable historical significance — Bob Dylan said himself that the song has its roots in an old spiritual called “No More Auction Block.” It deals with themes of freedom and civil rights.
The song works well when strummed, and its relatively mellow tempo makes it a great piece to start with if you want to try playing and singing at the same time. This video tutorial (above right) also takes you through a few different fingerpicking patterns to try. Once you feel fairly confident in your strumming, it’s a good idea to try out fingerpicking on some beginner ukulele songs you’re already familiar with.
7. “Hallelujah” — Leonard Cohen
If you want to be able to play a song almost everyone will recognize, you’ll want to look up the Leonard Cohen chords for his iconic song “Hallelujah.” And whether you’re more familiar with the Cohen version or the Jeff Buckley version (video below left), you probably won’t have too hard of a time mastering this one.
The uke chords you’ll need to play “Hallelujah” are similar to the ones you’ll need for many of the other songs on the list — this one also includes C/G/Am/F. It also incorporates an E7. And though the chords in “Hallelujah” are deceptively simple, the song carries devastating emotional weight.
This very thorough video tutorial (above center) takes you through playing the song. If you’re still perfecting your ukulele chords, the video does well with offering pointers on fingering each one. And like some other tutorials included on our list, this one shows you both a strumming version and a fingerpicked version (above right).
8. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” — John Denver
If you’re in search of John Denver chords for ukulele, the classic “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is a great choice. In this stirring homage to a rural hometown, Denver creates a relatable song that has stood the test of time.
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” is a departure from all the songs on the list that center around the C/Am/F/G progression (or a variant of it). As you’ll see in this useful video tutorial, the intro and verses use G, Em, C, and D. The intro is just strumming G chords several times over, and it’s a great way to get settled into the down/down/up strum pattern before you start switching chords again. The chorus of the song uses the same chords, although the order is changed.
9. “Just The Way You Are” — Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars is a great example of a contemporary artist whose songs really lend themselves to being played on the ukulele. And of all Bruno Mars songs, “Just the Way You Are” seems to work the best when played on the uke. If you haven’t heard the song, you can check out the entertaining music video here (below left).
However, while “Just the Way You Are” still falls into the realm of easy ukulele arrangements, the frequent use of the Bb chord probably means you shouldn’t make this one the very first song you learn. As you’ll see in this video tutorial (above right), you’ll only need F, Dm, and Bb. If you haven’t yet learned to play the Bb chord or want some more guidance, this useful how-to guide may be helpful.
10. “Sweet Home Alabama” — Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Sweet Home Alabama” may well be one of the most recognizable rock songs in history. And while you might associate it with electric guitars and a catchy piano riff, the song actually lends itself to being played on the ukulele. Because the rhythm pattern only requires three chords, it’s one of the most suitable songs for beginner ukulele players on the list.
As this video tutorial (below left) shows, you just need G, C, and D. The chords are simple, but “Sweet Home Alabama” offers a great exercise in playing with feeling. As you can likely tell just from listening to the song, certain strums are more pronounced than others. As you develop as a uke player, adding these nuances will help you to play every piece in a memorable way (video below center).
Especially if you’re a guitarist or already play another instrument, you might be looking for ways to integrate some of the song’s signature riffs into the easy ukulele version. Once you get more comfortable with playing the lead, you might want to give this play-along video (above right) a shot. It includes an animated fretboard to help you accurately time each note.
11. “He Aloha Mele” — Peter Moon Band
Though the ukulele has been adopted into mainstream music, players who appreciate its Hawaiian origins will likely want to learn at least a few Hawaiian songs. The name of this song means “A Love Song,” and its delicate melody makes it a beautiful song to learn on the ukulele. Though it’s written as a love song to a woman, it’s often interpreted as also being a tribute to Hawaii itself.
This video tutorial takes you through how to play the song. It asks you to use a couple of different voicings of the D chord and G chord. But if you’re very new to the uke, you can still get an approximation of the song with just two chords — the open forms of D major and G major. As time goes on and you develop as a player, you can try the more complex version if you wish
Want to Continue the Journey?
While you can certainly make progress looking up and learning popular ukulele songs (and adapting famous songs for the acoustic guitar to make them more uke-friendly), learning an instrument without guidance can cause trouble in the long run. Namely, after learning simple chords, many ukulele players get stuck in a rut — they learn and play songs with the same easy chords and strumming patterns.
That’s where taking an online uke course (or several) can help you. Online courses cost a small fraction of what in-person lessons do, but they can help you develop a learning plan that will provide a roadmap for your learning. Plus, most offer an option to monitor your progress so you’ll be able to make sure you stay on track.
We hope that now you’re excited to learn a ukulele song or two from our list. Many use common ukulele chords, so once you learn one song, you’ll be able to play a few more. Remember to be patient with yourself — it’s good to challenge yourself during the learning process, but not so much that playing the uke becomes a chore and not a fun pastime. What do you think? Is there a great song for new uke players that we left out? Let us know in the comments, and please don’t forget to like and share if you found it useful!