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Home UkuleleCare & Tips Can You Play Any Style of Music on the Ukulele?

Can You Play Any Style of Music on the Ukulele?

Yes, there's more than the typical island strum!

by Susan Montgomery

Whether you like to play fingerstyle or you like to strum your heart out, there are many styles of music that can be played on the ukulele. Many people think of the ukulele as being associated with Hawaiian tunes only, but there are many genres that can be played. Let’s check some of them out so you can find your favorite style of music to play on your ukulele!

Rock Your Socks Off

Who doesn’t love a good Rock & Roll song? Although you’ll find many songs for the guitar, any of them can be tailored to the ukulele. Rock music originated in the 1940’s and includes many elements like loud electric guitars, distortion, bass, and drums. But we can play any song on the ukulele, with some changes. Most of the songs will use the same chords as the guitar version and you can even use the same strumming pattern as a guitar rock song.

Here are a few songs you can check out: “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens, “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac, and “Bad Moon Rising” by CCR.

Get Your Blues On

Playing blues songs or even a 12-bar blues song can be a lot of fun, especially if you create your own 12-bar blues. Only three chords are involved (I, IV, V chords for those into music theory). A few blues songs to try out include Joe Bonamassa’s “Drive” and “St. James Infirmary” by Louis Armstrong.

Country and Folk Fun

Country and folk songs sound great on the ukulele, just like they do on guitar. If this is a style of music you like, you’ll be happy to find many beginner-friendly songs with simple chords. A few country songs to get you started include “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, “This Land is Your Land” by Woodie Guthrie, and “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks.

Reggae and Latin

Bob Marley, the famous Jamaican musician, made reggae popular. It is a blend of different styles including blues, Caribbean music, Jazz, and calypso music. There are many different types of strum patterns to learn, making this perfect for beginners looking to step up their strum game a little. A few songs include “Santeria” by Subline, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, and “Ride” by 21 Pilots. Latin music can be played on the ukulele as well. “Remember Me” from Coco and “Havanna” by Camila Cabello are some popular songs to start with.

Pop, too!

Last but not least, the pop style of music is one that you are likely to start with because of so many popular songs in this genre that are great for beginners. “Riptide” by Vance Joy, “All of Me” by John Legend, and “Hallelujah” by Rufus Wainright are great songs to start with.


There are even more styles of music to play on the ukulele that weren’t included in this article, like traditional songs, classical, and hawaiian songs. Explore the different styles and you will be a very well-rounded ukulele player! You can have so much fun with this small instrument when you’re able to play your favorite styles.

The Rhythms Workshop available on Uke Like the Pros will teach you five different strum patterns that you can apply to any of these styles of music. It’s a great way to get out of the traditional island strum! You can also become a member of Uke Like the Pros and be part of a great community of ukulele players and have access to many courses and LIVE Q&As. See you there!

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