This post was originally going to be a link to two my favorite online ukulele gadgets. After finding a number of good chord finders and namers (and there is a difference), it’s grown to be a bit more.
For those days when you just can’t find your headstock tuner, Get-Tuned.com is great. Offering a simple interface that gives you a choice of string and sine wave sounds, it’s a pretty cool app. For those of you multi-instrumentalists, Get-Tuned also has tuning pages for balalaika, banjo, bass guitar, cello, dulcimer, guitar, mandolin, ukulele, violin and viola.
Once you’re in tune, of course, you need to play some chords (ah, they don’t call me the king of the cheesy transitions for nothing). One chord finder you are most likely already aware of already is the one from Sheep-Entertainment. I like this one. Very graphic. Just pick the root in the top row of buttons and then click on either the major variation or minor variation in the second or third rows or find augmented, diminished or suspended forms in the fourth. Once you have the chord, you can click on its root to find the variations up and down the neck, as well.
This site also has a cool play-along feature to which you can upload, as well. Lots of fun. One note of caution—when you open the page, it defaults to a soprano D tuning; since most of us use gCEA, you need to switch it or you’ll get the wrong chord forms.
While this finder tells you where to put your fingers for known chords, others help you name chords you’ve “discovered” on your own. The WS64 Chordfinder reverse function, for example, lets you plug in the fret numbers into boxes corresponding to the ukulele’s four strings and then magically “names” your chord. The results are delivered in a little pop up box that looks a lot like an error message, but it works, provided you’ve entered all of its components. For example, muting the G string (by placing an x in the reverse chord finder’s 4th string box) and only leaving the two Cs and the E in the first position C chord returns no chord name as those notes comprise only two of the chord’s three components (in this case, the C-major triad).
Another of my favorite chord namers on the web is at JGuitar.com. Featuring an easy to use graphic representation of the fretboard, you literally plug your notes onto the proper sting and fret position to build your chord. There is one drawback, however; it is for six-string guitar, not four-string ukulele. But have no fear. All you have to do is mute the fifth and sixth strings (the lowest two) and plug your notes on the remaining four, which, while tuned to a different pitch, are identical to the four stings of the ukulele (save for that hi-G thing).
Just remember that the ukulele is tuned a fourth up from the guitar (which, in practical terms, means it is five frets higher). In other words, pressing on the fifth fret of the guitar and playing its four highest strings will give you the open C6 chord of the ukulele. Said even more simply, the fifth fret of the guitar is equivalent to the nut of the ukulele. Thus, when using the JGuitar.com namer, act as thought the fifth fret is the nut. Don’t forget that open ukulele stings need to be placed on the fifth fret of the namer’s fretboard as opposed to the open sting of the guitar, or it will return the wrong chord name.
The JGuitar.com namer is pretty darn exhaustive. It will give you every possible name for the chord, including some really long ones full of flatted 5ths, sus 4s and raised sevenths. Still, it is one of the easiest to use and really helps explain that wonderful chord you just “invented.”
The ukulele chord finder available at Gootar.com is also easy to use, with extensive directions and explanations that help you navigate its pull down menus for setting root, chord type and positions. The Gootar.com tuner has tons of tuning options and there is an advanced version for sale that includes a chord namer, too.
Okay, no fancy conclusion here, nor any witty, literate tie-in. Just some very nice online help that works quite well.