Learn to play ukulele : My 3 Step Philosophy to Tabbing Most Pop Songs

My 3 Step Philosophy to Tabbing Most Pop Songs

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Learn how to play with simple and easy to understand Ukulele Lessons for beginners.
Level: Intermediate
Type: Lesson

Personalize the song that you want to tab by picking a key that is easy to switch chords in or that fits your voice.  When tabbing a song it's easy to get bogged down tabbing it in its or

Beginning by learning all the primary, relative minors, alternative chords, major, minor, harmonic minor and melodic minor, as well as all the modes for this one key. 

For example, I listen to a song and transpose into the key of C, because it is easy for beginners, as well as singing and chord switching. 

Here is the skinny on the chords to know:


C, F, G (G7)

Relative Minors

Am, Dm, Em or E7 (remember g# from the harmonic and melodic scales)


C6, C dim, C aug, F6, Am6, Dm6 (these chords will give a song an extra flare that are not always necessary, but they provide great build ups, as well as turn-a-rounds – these are thinks that will make a song unique to your playing style and also, make singing fun)

Breaking it down, all you really need to know to tab out most popular songs, regardless of genre, are three primary chords and three relative minor of the key that you want to tab the song. 

Perhaps, one of my favorites is from the late and humble Israel "Iz" Ka'ano'i Kamakawiwo'Ole interpretation of "Over the Rainbow."  This is completely different from the original Harold Arlen music, as well as the mix of lyrics of the original sheet by E.Y. Harburg.  Iz captures a different emotion than the version Judy Garland sings by focus on basic chords. 

Basic steps:

1.  Mess around with primary and relative minor chords in the key of C. 

2.  When you have those down, start playing G7 instead of the G chord, and for nice flare, substitute E7 for the Em chord. 

3.  Finally, add a flare to the song, by adding alternative chords to work your way to the next primary chord (e.g. C to G, C, C aug to G7)


Main thing is have fun and always hang loose. 


Peace out and happy tabbing

Roland Frye

Lesson by , 16 Jul 2014

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