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A guitar or a ukulele? People frequently ask which is simpler to learn or which should be learned first. Some are even more interested in knowing whether learning the ukulele first can facilitate learning the guitar more quickly.

Those who are extremely knowledgeable about the guitar, want to know if a ukulele can be played on the same chord as a guitar, and if not, how it can be changed.

Let me begin by stating the obvious. Since the ukulele only has four strings as opposed to the guitar’s six, you cannot directly use guitar tabs for ukulele. This implies that you would need to make a few mental calculations to acquire a chord on your guitar to match a chord you play on your ukulele.

In addition to providing answers to some often-asked questions regarding the guitar and ukulele, I will share some conversion advice with you in this piece. Stay with me!

Also Read: Learning Ukulele Vs Guitar First: Which Is Easier For Beginner

Can You Use Guitar Tabs for Ukulele?

Ukulele had 4 strings that are tuned differently and you can also use guitar tabs for ukulele

You can use guitar tabs for ukulele but not directly. The reason you can’t play guitar tabs on a ukulele is because Ukulele has only 4 strings and those strings are tuned differently than a guitar. 

The tuning of a guitar is EBGDAE for the highest to lowest strings. The tuning for ukulele strings is AECG from highest to lowest.

However, a working knowledge of music theory is necessary to be able to transpose the bottom three strings of a guitar tab into something that can be played on a ukulele.

How To Convert (Transcribe) Guitar Tabs to Ukulele?

You can transcribe the guitar tab if the tab contains the notes

You have to transcribe the entire guitar tab only if the tab contains notes that don’t exist on the ukulele (Ukulele have 5 frets and 2 strings less). 

If the tab only contains ukulele-compatible notes, simply imagine the “rest of the guitar”—five lower frets and two low strings—and play that. 

The highest three strings have the same intervals (the distance between notes in tone), so you can play the top three strings of a guitar tab on a ukulele and the melody will sound correct, though in a different key than it would on a guitar. A, E, C has the same interval as E, B, G.

Moving up seven frets would put you in the same key as a guitar, which is normally uncomfortable for ukulele players to attempt, but it is possible. Alternatively, larger baritone ukuleles are typically tuned to EBGD by default.

Can You Use Guitar Chords for Ukulele?

The guitar chords you learned can be used on the ukulele but not directly

Guitar chords cannot be 1-to-1 mapped into ukulele chords – so you cannot directly use them. Similar to how the first four strings of a guitar are connected, the ukulele’s strings are connected in the same way. 

This means that all of the guitar chords you learned can be used on the ukelele, but they will sound 5 semitones higher.

You must keep in mind, though, that the same chord shape does not result in the same chord sound, thus you cannot use it straight on a ukulele.

For instance, a fourth higher chord sound results from playing a guitar chord pattern on a ukulele. As a result, the ukulele produces the sound of a G chord when a D chord pattern from a guitar is played. An A chord sound is produced by an E chord form.

Although there are differences between guitar and ukulele chords, there are similarities as well! G, C, E, and A are the first four strings in conventional tuning. Similar to how a banjo has a thin string before the first bass string, the G string is thinner than the C string.

The four thin strings on a guitar have the same set of intervals as the ukulele’s string order (GCEA), just one-fourth higher! A fourth simply denotes a spacing of four letters between notes. From A to D (A, B, C, and D = four), you count each letter while taking into account your starting note.

This means that if you just transpose a guitar chord up a fourth, you can use the same chord pattern to produce bar chords on a ukulele.

However, it’s crucial to keep in mind the distinction between ukulele and guitar to convert chords. The ukulele lends itself to fingerpicking since its top string (the G) is thinner than its lower strings. 

You’ll have no trouble fingerpicking on a ukulele if you’re accustomed to playing the claw-hammer style of guitar, in which your thumb plays the three bass strings (E, A, and D) and your index, middle, and ring fingers play the three top strings (G, B, and E).

Just alternate your thumb between the uke’s G and C strings while your index and middle fingers play the remaining E and A strings. You don’t need to use your ring finger at all – unless you want to!

Also Read: Learning Guitar Without Chords & Theory: Is It Possible?

Is Ukulele Sheet Music the Same as Guitar?

As ukulele and guitar have the same sheet so you can learn guitar also on ukulele

Ukulele and guitar have the same sheet music, so the knowledge you learn on guitar can also be used on Ukulele.

Generally, the open notes between ukulele and guitar are the same: A-E-C-G. The only difference is that the 4th string on the ukulele is tuned one octave higher than the 4th string on the guitar.


Q: Can I Play the Ukulele if I Play the Guitar?

Players of the guitar can easily switch between the ukulele and the guitar. The transition from guitar to ukulele is rather simple.

It only requires a little mental gymnastics to get there, but with some practice, you can effortlessly switch between the two.

All scales and chords that you learn on the guitar are transferable to ukulele, they are just called differently.

For instance, the ukulele produces a G chord sound when a D chord pattern from the guitar is played. An A chord sound is produced by an E chord form.

The only significant challenge in switching from guitar to ukulele is needing to constantly transpose the chord forms to account for the guitar capo on the fifth fret. As a result, all of the ukulele’s chords and scale patterns will be labeled one-fifth lower than they are on the guitar.

Q: Can I Put Guitar Strings on a Ukulele?

You typically cannot put guitar strings on Ukulele – especially if they are  steel acoustic guitar strings or electric guitar strings. However, classical guitar strings could potentially be shared between ukulele and guitar.

95% of ukuleles are built to take either nylon or fluorocarbon strings and do not have the strength to take the tension required by steel strings. Simply said, if your ukulele was designed for nylon strings, using steel guitar strings on it will probably cause the bridge to come off.

For classical guitar strings, I use the word “potentially” because, with the correct gauges, they can be just like ukulele strings.

In reality, a few years ago, a well-known string company called D’addario advertised a set of ukulele strings that Jake Shimabukuro had personally chosen and preferred. Just disguised as ukulele strings, they WERE guitar strings.

However, they were made of fluorocarbon or nylon, and the gauges they selected were appropriate for the particular ukulele scale.

In conclusion, you can use nylon classical guitar strings if you can get them and they fit the gauges. The obvious question is, “Why would you?” In terms of cost, they are essentially comparable to ukulele strings.

Regarding steel strings, there are a few electric ukuleles on the market that have been designed to withstand tension and use steel strings. Since they employ the thinnest gauge steel electric guitar strings, as far as I know, no one is making special ukulele steel strings for these instruments.

I can’t stress this enough, though: DO NOT insert steel strings if your ukulele was designed for nylon ones.

Q: Is It Better to Learn Guitar or Ukulele First?

If you are older, have some musical training, or just really love the instrument, take on those extra strings by learning the guitar first.

However, for children, it is better to start with an easier instrument, like a ukulele, since children’s bodies and hands tend to be smaller, and then progress to a more complex one, like a guitar.

Some people think that mastering one instrument will make it easier to learn the next, just like most people say that having learned the guitar first due to its complexity, learning the ukulele seemed easier.

In my opinion, learning the ukulele before the guitar won’t be any more beneficial than studying any other instrument first. Similarly, it doesn’t matter if you learn the guitar before the ukulele.

But since a guitar is more complicated or has more strings, if scientists were seeking to make the world’s easiest instrument for youngsters and beginning musicians to play, they probably would come up with something similar to the ukulele.

Ukulele students never go through the excruciating month-long period of developing calluses on their fingers that usual new students suffer with before progressing to being able to play the guitar. They are enjoyable to play with and simple to learn. 

Additionally, there is greater accessibility than ever to online tools that can be used by students of all ages to learn how to play their favorite songs.

Ifandi S.

About Ifandi S.

Ifandi started Strumming Bars to answer all the questions of a guitarist. As a self-learned guitarist, he remembered how frustrating it was to not find answers to his many questions in the journey. With Strumming Bars, that's no longer the case!

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