Are you ready to add some wonderful musical depth to your ukulele playing? Learning how to play the E7 chord on the ukulele is one of my favorite ways to make some rich chord progressions for playing and writing my own songs!
Another bonus: the E7 chord on the ukulele can also be used sometimes as a substitute for the (dreaded) E major chord. While it doesn’t necessarily work as a substitute in every single song that calls for the E major chord, learning how to play the E7 chord on the ukulele can open up a whole new world of songs for you to play and sing!
You can also play the E7 chord as a barre chord on the fourth fret – but don’t “fret”, we’ll get to that later!
What Notes Are In the E7 Chord?
Before we start to learn how to play the E7 chord on the ukulele, we need to make sure that our ukulele is in tune! To tune your GCEA ukulele, hold your ukulele as if you were playing it. The fourth string is the top string closest to the ceiling; the third string is right below that; the second string is below the third, and the first string (bottom string) is closest to the floor.
You can play the E7 chord if your ukulele is tuned to -re-entrant tuning with a high G or linear with a low G. Just make sure that your instrument is tuned to G – C – E – A and you’re good to go!
The E7 chord contains the notes of E, G#, B, and D. The notes of E, G#, and B are the basic triad notes of the E major chord – the D note is the addition of a 7th that makes this chord sound so incredibly rich!
How to Play the E7 Chord On the Ukulele
To play the E7 chord on your ukulele, press down on the first fret of the fourth string, the second fret of the third string, and the second fret of the first string. Leave the second string open to ring out.
A good way to practice this chord is to press down on the frets and then play each string individually to make sure you get a nice clear tone from each string. If any of the strings sound muted or if there is any buzzing, adjust your finger position and try again.
Once you get some nice clear sounds out of each string, try strumming this chord a few times. Get to know the wonderful sound of the E7 chord!
Playing the E7 Chord on the Ukulele As a Barre Chord
An alternative way to play this chord is to make the D7 chord shape on the fourth fret. D7 is most commonly played as a barre chord by pressing down on all the strings at the third fret and using your ring or pinky finger to play the fourth fret of the first string.
Once you can make and play that shape of the D7 chord, just slide it up one fret so that you’re barring all four strings at the fourth fret and using your ring or pinky finger to press down on the fifth fret of the first string. That’s your E7 chord, and you’re moving up the neck of your uke! In a way, you’re getting two chords for the price of one!
Tips For Practicing Barre Chords
If barre chords aren’t your jam (yet), you can use the E7 chord as a way to practice and refine your technique.
Use your index finger on your fretting hand to get as close to that fourth fret as possible, making sure to press down firmly. Practice playing just that fourth fret with all the strings barred until you can get a nice clear tone from each string! Just like you would when practicing the open string variation of this chord, make sure you can hear each string clearly before adding the pinky or ring finger on the fifth fret of the first string.
The thumb position is also important for practicing and perfecting your barre chords. Instead of having the thumb peeking over the top of the neck of your ukulele, press your thumb firmly against the back of the ukulele neck while you press your index finger across the fourth fret.
Check your hand for excess tension and take a few breaks to shake out your fingers between chords if you need to. Keep your wrist as relaxed as possible to take the pressure out of your hand and develop your finger strength while practicing the E7 as a barre chord on your ukulele!
Using the E7 As a Substitute for E Major
As I mentioned earlier, you can sometimes use this chord as a substitute for an E major chord in certain songs. It may not work in every single instance because the E7 chord has a very distinct unresolved sound to it. Play with it in some of your favorite songs as a replacement for the E major chord and find out what sounds good to you!
If you’re looking for some great courses about chord progressions for the ukulele, make sure you check out all the offerings from Uke Like the Pros! You’ll increase your chord library and have more fun playing ukulele!