For musicians considering the baritone uke, here are the baritone basics.
The baritone ukulele is the largest and lowest sounding ukulele (apart from ubass). This makes it the ideal gateway between guitar and uke as the notes of the baritone uke strings are D G B and E — the ‘top’ four strings of the guitar (those closest to the ground). Because the baritone standard tuning is different from soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles it has different chord diagrams.
Decide whether you want to play baritone by considering:
- the sound — more mellow than soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles
- the size — more comfortable than smaller ukuleles for taller people with bigger hands; more comfortable than a guitar for smaller people
- the note range — longer neck with extra frets, there’s no need for a low G string.
- the timbre — a different ‘musical voice’ in your ukulele ensemble.
Baritone at BUMS
Several BUMS Inc members play baritone at jams and in ukulele bands or ensembles.
Each year, Life Member and Performing BUM, Garry Collins offers baritone ukulele workshops. Garry’s began playing baritone ukulele over ten years ago when he established the instrumental ukulele ensemble, The Brisbane Uketet. Then in 2018 and 2019, Garry ran BUMS Inc workshops for baritone ukulele players.
Garry’s notes: Baritone Ukulele Basics Thanks Garry! :)
If you bring your baritone to BUMS Inc jams, remember to bring a baritone chord chart with you. The chord diagrams on the jam songsheets won’t match the baritone fingering.
Online lessons by the late Mike Lynch are a great way to get started.
Baritone chord shapes are the same chord shapes used for soprano, concert and tenor ukulele. They just have different names.
- Standard ukulele D chord shapes become the baritone A chords.
- E chord shape on the ukulele becomes B major.
- F major shape on the ukulele becomes C major.
- G shapes on the ukulele become D chords.
- A chord shapes on the ukulele become E chords.
- B major chord shape becomes F major.
- C chord shapes on the ukulele becomes the G chords.
First 4 Chords
While many beginners songs for standard tuning ukulele are in the key of C, baritone players might find the key of G easiest.
Play many of your favourite songs in the key of G with just four chords.
Incidentally, you can use your usual ukulele songsheets, and just replace the chord diagrams.
Now, get out your standard uke songsheets, and try some of these popular songs.
- Bad Moon Rising
- Blowin’ in the Wind
- Blue Suede Shoes
- Chasing Cars
- Cold, Cold Heart
- Folsom Prison Blues
- Free Fallin’
- The Gambler
- King of the Road
- Leaving on a Jet Plane
- Old Time Rock & Roll
- Twist and Shout
- You Are My Sunshine
After you’ve mastered your first four chords, move on to:
Finally, for still more chords, download a chord chart.
Fun for Fingerpickers
Enthusiastic fingerpickers, here’s a colour-coded baritone fretboard to help you find the notes.
Now, download some TABS, and pick a tune or two.
- Baritone Ukulele Pdfs
‘Graded’ tabs for fingerpickers.
- Baritone Ukulele Self Instructor
A simplified illustrated online ukulele tutorial with songsheets and sheet music.
- Baritone Ukulele Tab
A selection of Celtic, Christmas and folk music, hymns and children’s songs with baritone ukulele chords.
- Best Baritone Ukulele Resources
A compendium of links to baritone resources.