I was able to attend the 2017 Midwest Uke and Harmonica Camp in Olivet, Michigan. As I got moved into my dorm room and walked over to the orientation meeting, I came up with a sort of ice breaker to use. Rather than asking people where they were from, I was going to ask them what their favorite ukulele chord was and why it was their favorite. Some people had an answer right away, others had to think about it for a while (or a day!). So here are some of the responses I got, along with a bit of introduction to the ‘celebrities’ I got an answer from.
Gerald Ross was the fastest one to answer, absolutely no hesitation. “The magical chord! C6 [5-7-5-7]. Whenever I pick up an ukulele that is the chord I play, and then slide two fingers up into the Cdim7 [5-6-5-6] or down to C#dim7 [6-7-6-7]. It has that Hawaiian sound that you want to hear on an ukulele.” Gerald is also in hot demand to accompany ukulele musicians on his lap steel. Gerald was the first instructor I ever took an ukulele workshop with and I hear some of his lessons in my head every I pickup my instrument. Learn more about Gerald at his web site, GeraldRoss.com
“Jumpin’ Jim” Beloff likes the Fm because it leaves the lowest note open and has heart break in the sound. He is fond of any chord that leaves the C string open. Jim is the author and editor of a large number of popular and very useful music books which can be found at Flea Market Music. I’d have to say my favorite is A Visual History of the Ukulele which I reviewed on this blog. His soulful voice and skill with the instrument have produced some wonderful music and some terrific CDs.
Dave Pasant – C7Major [0-0-0-2] – I first encountered Dave leading the Lansing Area Ukulele Group (L.A.U.G.H.) at the summer sessions. He teaches Hapa Hoala and you’ll always get a bit of history along with the instruction. He’s my “go to guy” whenever I have questions about vintage instruments and was the person who introduced me to Dave Talsma.
Steven Espaniola likes Am Add9 [2-0-0-2] mostly because a couple of his favorite songs have that in them. Steven is the 2006 Hawaiian Music Awards New Artist of the Year. He features a traditional Hawaiian sound in both his ukulele playing and his singing voice. Steven taught workshops on Hawaiian strums and Kani Ka Pila at this year’s camp.
Craig Chee Likes the Dm and Dm7 First minor and the similarities. Sarah Maisel is a big fan of the altered dominants as they create dischord. This dynamic duo joined forces when they married a couple years ago and can be found at CheeMaisel.
Chuck Deyo of Punch Drunk went with F#min and FMajor7th as it is used in one of their Two-chord songs and sounds really nice. The other guy in Punch Drunk, John French, went with the C7Major, one of my favorites as well. We agree that it sounds really nice when paired with a Dm and has a nice jazzy feel to it.
Ben Hassenger, the creator of Mighty Uke Day and one of the driving forces behind Midwest Uke & Harmonica Camp was quick to answer as well. “Zed Chord! It is so useful when teaching students rhythm and strums.”
Charlie Waltz likes the G chord because you can reach just about everything from that position.
There are many that simply don’t have a favorite. Marc ‘Li’l Rev’ Reverson’s response was “I like dischord. As in dis chord I’m playing right now.” The self proclaimed King of the Retirement Home Circuit, I’d seen his name on instruction books and festival announcements for several years before finally meeting him at Mighty Uke Day 2. Without a doubt one of the top instructors in the business, I’ve walked out of every workshop I’ve taken with him amazed at his ability to teach and communicate. Kimo Hussey, another of the great instructors, doesn’t have a specific favorite either.
Love to see your Comments below on what your favorite chord is and why you chose it!