UD#23 Chord Progressions in All Keys

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UD#23 An Experiment: Chord Progressions in All Keys
(Moving chords “up the neck”)
from Ukulele in the Dark
w/ Guido Heistek

I recently had a chance to sit down and talk about ukulele teaching with one of my favourite players, Kimo Hussey. He inspired me with his approach to teaching moveable chord shapes. So here is a little lesson on moveable chord shapes inspired by Kimo.


Let’s start with a simple chord progression like this:

| C | F | C | G7 |

Play the progression through a few times. You can use any strumming pattern that you like or just strum the chords once each.

Here are the steps for moving this chord progression up the neck.

1. Pretend that you only have three fingers on your left hand: the middle, ring and pinky. Play the chord progression using only these three fingers. In other words practice playing the progression without using your index finger on your left hand. See if you can figure out how to fret the chords in this new way.

How did it go?

Most people end up using their pinky to fret the C chord, middle and ring fingers for the F chord and middle, ring and pinky for the G7. The index just hangs around waiting to be given a job. Don’t worry we’ll use it later.

Practice the progression until you are pretty comfortable using the new fingering, then move on to step 2.

2. Now lay your index finger across the 5th fret like this:


and make the shapes for the progression with your remaining 3 fingers.

For the C chord shape you should end up with this:


For the F chord shape you should end up with this:


The G7 shape should look like this:


Enjoy playing the progression in this new position on the neck. Do you notice how the progression sounds the same only higher? We did this exercise in class once and a student said, “Oooh, my brain likes this!”

Many people find that they cannot play the chords clearly right away when they’ve moved them up the neck. They find that it’s hard to hold down all those strings with their index finger, especially for the C and F chord shapes. Don’t worry too much about this. Just practice listen and observe and clarity will come in time.

NOTE: For the G7 chord shape it is not necessary to “bar” the whole fifth fret. You can just fret the fifth fret on the G string if that is more comfortable.

3. You can move this chord progression anywhere you want to on the neck. Just lay your index finger across whichever fret you like and make the chord shapes with the remaining fingers. Have fun playing the progression in different places on the neck.

What chords are we playing now?

We are using the C, F and G7 chord shapes to play a chord progression up the neck. Once we have moved the progression up the neck we are no longer playing those chords. The chords have different names because we have changed the key that we are playing the progression in.

Kimo said that it is very important to simply enjoy and explore moving the shapes around the fretboard. He said that in the beginning it is too easy to get bogged down in technical understanding. I think I agree. So for now just enjoy moving chords up and down the neck. Theory can be discussed later when you get the chord shapes under your fingers.
Next newsletter I will talk about how to rename chords once you’ve moved them up the neck.

When you get a handle on today’s progression. Try these progressions and move them up the neck in the same manner.

1. A D A E7
2. D G D A7
3. C Am F G7
4. Am Dm Am E7

Have fun! See you next month!


p.s. Here’s a little video of me moving the C, F, C, G7 progression up the neck. Kimo also encouraged me not to make headless videos. Ah well, maybe next time.

Best Guido



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