13 Top Ukulele Fingerpicking Songs

Strumming the ukulele is a magical, happy experience.

But if you want to become a more versatile player, capable of drawing different colors and textures out of your instrument, you should brush up on your fingerpicking skills too.

Fingerpicking doesn’t need to be hard. As with anything else, it’s all about taking it one note at a time. That’s my philosophy – anyone can learn anything one note at a time! Once that sinks in, even the biggest challenges won’t seem so big anymore.

So, let’s explore some excellent tunes to help you build your fingerpicking facility.

“Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin

Chords in this song: C, Fm7, E5, D, G, Am7, B7sus4, F

“Stairway To Heaven” is largely considered one of the best songs of all time, and it includes large stretches of fingerpicked sections, especially early in the song.

It was originally written for the guitar, of course, but it’s a fun song to adapt to the uke, and you can bet that most pros know how to play it.

Learning to play the entire song is like a project, and it may not be for the faint of heart, but if you take it in sections, it’s not so bad.

There are easier songs on this list, and you might want to tackle those first, but “Stairway To Heaven” should at least go on your “bucket list” of songs to learn.

Ukulele Tab: Tabs 4 Ukulele

“Let Her Go” by Passenger

Chords in this song: Bm, C, D, Em, G

Passenger’s “Let Her Go” features a cute if typical indie rock opening (with a riff that’s tailor made for fingerpicking), along with a typical and grating vocal style (sorry, I’m not a fan of the school of John Mayer and Adele “let’s not enunciate” style of singing, but it’s okay if you are).

And even if you’re like me and aren’t crazy about the tune, the riff in song is still worth learning. It features lots of hammer-ons and pull-offs, which can be difficult if you haven’t practiced them much. And that would be even more reason to!

Ukulele Tab: UkuTabs

“Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles

Chords in this song: A, Bm, B7, C, D, E7, G

The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” is a ukulele favorite. They say that happy songs are rare, because sad songs are easier to write, and that may be true, but it’s a rare person who can’t relate to the joy embodied in this classic number.

After a long and cold winter, the sun finally comes out, warming the planet and giving life. Take that literally or metaphorically, it’s still a happy song!

As for the technique, it can be achieved with a combination of strumming and picking. Basically, there are a few different ways to approach it, so don’t feel like you’re completely “locked in” to a certain way of performing it. Try different approaches!

Ukulele Tab: UkuTabs

“Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s

Chords in this song: A, Bm, D, Gbm, G

“Hey There Delilah” became an instant radio classic in 2006, when the pull towards nostalgic folk music was strong (and in some ways, it still is). This conventional singer-songwriter refrain features a lone acoustic guitar with a lazy, nasal male vocal. Eventually, additional layers of strings come to fill out the song. Standard stuff.

But if you’ve ever wanted to learn to play it, you’ll be glad to know that it’s not even half as difficult as it sounds. If anything, it’s a great place for beginners to start, so if you’re new to fingerpicking, give this one a try first.

Ukulele Tab: UkuTabs

“Tears In Heaven” by Eric Clapton

Chords in this song: A, E, D, C, G

Eric “Slowhand” Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven” is the saddest of all sad songs, but it is a true masterpiece, and an easy-listening favorite among many.

And that is in no small part due to Clapton’s masterful fingerpicking style. From the opening hammer-on, you can tell exactly what song it is, and that’s saying something.

Clapton wrote the original on an acoustic guitar, of course, which means that you’ll need to adapt the arrangement somewhat to the uke. But since Clapton played a nylon string acoustic on the recorded version, it features a similar sound to that of a ukulele. And in that sense, the uke makes for a great substitution here.

Ukulele Tab: Tabs 4 Ukulele

“Hotel California” by Eagles

Chords in this song: Am, E7, G, D, F, C, Dm

The story of “Hotel California,” in a way, is one of compromise. The riff wasn’t originally in B minor, as it is in the final version. It was in E minor, a key signature that tends to be a little more comfortable for a guitar player.

Well, the song didn’t suffer from it. And the truth is it may have even played a part in propelling this classic rock tune to masterpiece status.

The lyrics are a little cryptic and foreboding, but it would be hard to imagine this song in a major key. The twin guitar solo simply wouldn’t have the same impact.

And, while it might present a bit of a challenge on the guitar, on the ukulele, this one is relatively easy to play.

Ukulele Tab: Ultimate-Guitar.com

“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

Chords in this song: Am, C, Em, F, G

The late Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is testament to the fact that some of the best songs are those with a foundation rooted in simplicity.

Capturing the imagination of millions of listeners, and thousands of songwriters, this song continues to live on in the honoring hands of coffeehouse singer-songwriters everywhere. It’s been covered by many famous artists as well, including Jeff Buckley.

Adapting it to the uke doesn’t present too much of a challenge, and it’s a great fingerpicking song to add to your repertoire.

Ukulele Tab: UkuTabs

“The Sound Of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel

Fingerstyle ukulele tips

Chords in this song: Bb, C, Dm, Dsus2, F

When you think of 60s singer-songwriter / folk duos, it’s hard not to think of Simon & Garfunkel. And ask yourself honestly – can you really think of anyone else?

Their gentle harmonies, catchy melodic choruses, and mysterious openings (like the one heard on “The Sound Of Silence”) captured the imagination of many, leading to widespread popularity. And their work, individually, and collectively, continued to shine in the decades to follow.

As far as I’m concerned, this is still the definitive version of “The Sound Of Silence.” Some bands have since reimagined it, but none have topped the original.

You’ll love the Songsterr tab (in the link below) if you’ve ever wanted to play a more advanced version of “The Sound Of Silence.”

Ukulele Tab: Songsterr

“Dust In The Wind” by Kansas

Chords in this song: Am, C, D, Dm, G

Kansas’ “Dust In The Wind” has a decidedly melancholy vibe. But it will always be remembered fondly, and its success might have something to do with its fingerpicked riff.

If you were to just strum the chords, there wouldn’t be a whole lot to the song. But as you’ll see in the tab linked below, there’s quite a bit of embellishment you can add to a song like this, even if you don’t have six strings as you would on a guitar.

Another great tune to add to your repertoire, and a true classic.

Ukulele Tab: Tabs.vn

“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman

Chords in this song: C, Cmaj7, D, Em, Em7, G

Escapism was apparently in fashion in the carefree late 80s, because Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” became a surprise hit. In that sense, though, it seems like it was maybe a little bit before its time. I can more easily imagine it among mid-90s top 40 than in the waning days of party rock and hair metal.

Still, we’re left with an emotive song featuring a fun, beautiful, fingerpicked riff. If it seems difficult at first, just give it some time. It gets easier with each repetition.

Ukulele Tab: UkuTab

“Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica

Chords in this song: A, C, G, D, B7, Dsus2

Metal for the ukulele?! Yes, while it might seem a little crazy, at the foundation of this song are haunting, intricate fingerpicked riffs that are certainly worth learning on the ukulele.

In some ways, the ukulele version is harder than the guitar version, and in some ways, it’s easier. But it’s worth a try, either way, especially if you’re looking for a bit of a challenge.

Ukulele Tab: Tabs 4 Ukulele

“Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac

Chords in this song: C, G, G7, A,

Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again” has a bouncy, jovial feel to it. Yet, among guitarists, the fingerpicking featured in this song is often considered “advanced.” Funny how complex things sometimes seem simple, and simple things sometimes seem complex.

The ukulele adaptation of “Never Going Back Again” is perhaps a little easier than the original guitar, and if you practice slowly and gradually build it up, you should be able to get the hang of it! It’s a must-try for more advanced ukulele players because it’s good to challenge yourself.

Ukulele Tab: Ukulele Tabs And Chords

“House Of The Rising Sun” by The Animals

Chords in this song: Am, C, D, Em, F

The Animals’ “House Of The Rising Sun” is still a favorite among fans and jammers alike, and it’s a great song to riff on with friends. Let’s face it – it might even have one of the best riffs of all time. It’s simple, and maybe even obvious, sure, but it was there for the taking, and The Animals took it and made it their own!

It’s certainly not the same on the uke as it is on the guitar, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome. This a great tune for intermediate players to sink their teeth into.

Ukulele Tab: UkuTabs

Best Ukulele Fingerpicking Songs, Final Thoughts

And now you should have everything you need to get started, develop your skills, and even take your playing well beyond where you are right now.

Strumming is great, but here is just so much more expression in fingerpicking, and when you can blend the two, amazing things can happen!

We hope you enjoyed this guide and wish you all the best on your ukulele journey.