First, let's look at the 7th chords as they are typically shown in a chord chart.
Now take a closer look at the C#7, D7, and Eb7 chords. You can see that they are really the same pattern, just shifted up the fretboard, one fret at a time. This is a pretty simple concept, but it's a really key piece of information, so make sure you've got it.
There is one more chord that's using the same pattern. Do you see it? It's the C7 chord. What makes it look different is that you don't really need to place your fingers on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th strings – the nut on the ukulele (the nut is that slotted piece near the end of the neck that guides the strings onto the fretboard) does that for you! Here's another way of looking at the C7 chord that makes the pattern a little more obvious:
Now take a look at the Bb7 and B7 chords. It's a different pattern than the one in Figure 2, but you can see the same principle at work: a pattern shifted up the fretboard to form a series of chords. The A7 chord is played using this same pattern.
Let's keep going. The G7 and Ab7 chords show us yet another pattern.
Finally, look at the E7, F7, and F#7 chords. Another pattern! The E7 chord doesn't need a finger on the second string because the nut takes care of that. The F7 chord's first string (remember, the "first" string is the one on the right in the diagram) is unfretted for a different reason: you can play the F7 chord with the first string either unfretted or on the third fret. If the first string is left unfretted, the note you're playing is an "A", which is one of the notes in an F7 chord. If the first string is fingered at the third fret, you're playing a "C" which is another of the notes in an F7 chord. Either way works. Here, we'll fret the first string.
If you can memorize those four patterns, and remember where they go, then you can play all twelve of the 7th chords. Remembering where they go isn't hard – we'll show you some easy and practical ways to do that in a few minutes. But for now, let's continue looking at these patterns.
Remember we said earlier that there are 72 different 7th chords.
So far, we've got 12 of the 72 chords taken care of. What about the
other 60? No problem.
And you can keep going: move that pattern up one more fret and you'll have an F7 chord, then an F#7 chord, then a G7 chord, and on and on until you eventually run out of frets on your ukulele. So you see that you can play a 7th chord in any key using this pattern, if you place the pattern at the correct fret.
Just as you can create a 7th chord in any key using the pattern from
Figure 2, you can also create a 7th chord in any key using any of the other
patterns. For example, if you continue to move the pattern from Figure
3 up one more fret past the B7 chord, you'll create a C7 chord.
Now, watch this: take this same pattern (the pattern from Figure 3) and keep going. Move it up four more frets: C#7, D7, Eb7, E7. We've now found a third way to play an E7 chord!
Okay, now grab the pattern from Figure 4, and move it up to the ninth fret. We now have a fourth position for our E7 chord.
Well, we've used all four patterns, so do you think we've formed all the E7 chords? No way! If your fretboard is long enough (if you have a tenor uke or a baritone uke), move the first pattern in the series up 12 frets (exactly one octave) and you've got a fifth position for the E7 chord. Move the second pattern in the series up 12 frets and you've got a sixth position.
If you had an infinitely long fretboard, we could keep doing this forever, with the set of four patterns repeating every twelve frets (every octave).
So when you see an E7 chord on your sheet music, you can play any of the chords from Figure 10, or you can even move up and down the fretboard, playing all the different positions while everyone else is strumming the same old dull first position, staring in amazement at the virtuoso that you've become.
An easy way to visualize how to move among the different positions for
the chord is to consolidate everything from Figure 10 onto one fretboard.
To make it clear which pattern is which, let's connect the dots for each
What you can see from the fretboard on the right in Figure 11 is how these patterns fit together – how far you need to move from the first position to get to the second position, etc. Note that, with the exception of the pattern from Figure 2, there is no space (and also no overlap) between patterns. That is, the Figure 2 pattern has one blank fret above and below it, and all the other patterns are exactly adjacent to each other. This sort of observation can help you place your fingers as you move among the different positions.
Recall that as you move any pattern up the fretboard, you move the chord up the scale. Same thing with the whole series of patterns. Watch:
It's the same set of patterns, in the same sequence, just one fret higher up. And you can keep on going:
In Figure 13, you can see that, as the pattern sequence moves higher up the fretboard, space opens up at the end for another pattern from the sequence. You can see this happening as you move from the F#7 chord to the G7 chord, and again as you move from the Ab7 chord to the A7 chord. But the sequence of patterns is the same, it just starts from a different point within the sequence.
Now if you've got sharp eyes, you may have noticed that at least one of the dots in each pattern is highlighted with a white center. The dot that's highlighted is the root note of the chord. (The "root note" is the first note of the scale in any key. So for an E7 chord – or an E major chord, or an E minor chord, etc. – the root note is an E. For a C7 chord the root note would be a C.) You already know, for example, that the second string played open (unfretted) is an "E". Looking at the E7 chord, you see from the first pattern that the second string open fret is highlighted, indicating that this is the root note of the E7 chord. Same thing with the second pattern: the third string, fret 4 is an "E". This will be useful later when we start talking about where to find any chord on the fretboard. But for now, let's talk some more about patterns.