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A Complete Guide to Types and Sizes of Ukulele

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Ukuleles come in different sizes and shapes, each with distinct sound and quality. These Hawaiian stringed instruments are just perfect for newbies to embark on their musical journey.

If you are a beginner, it can be overwhelming to pick the right model suitable for you.

Here we are with this article that explains everything about the different types and sizes of ukuleles. 

Let us dive into the discussion.

What Are The Different Types Of Ukuleles?

Ukulele comes in different sizes and shapes. Below are the most common ones used:

  • Soprano Ukulele
  • Concert Ukulele
  • Tenor Ukulele
  • Baritone Ukulele

The ukuleles mentioned above are in the ascending order of their sizes. However, there are a few more sizes available of which, the Pineapple ukulele is the smallest of all. The next type of ukulele is the Super Soprano, whose size lies between the soprano and concert. The last one is the Guitalele. As the name goes by, it is tiny guitar. Although there are several types of ukuleles, the ones discussed above are the top four common sizes that you mostly come across. 

What Are The Different Sizes Of Ukuleles In Cm/Inches?

Let us have a look at the sizes of the various types of ukuleles:

Ukulele Type

Length in Cm

Length in Inches

Number of Frets

Soprano Ukulele

53 cm

20 inches

12 to 15

Concert Ukulele

58 cm

22 or 23 inches

14 to 17

Tenor Ukulele

66 cm

26 inches

15 to 19 and above

Baritone Ukulele

76 cm

30 inches

19 to 21

We shall discuss in detail about each type and try to learn the upsides and downsides to it.

1. Soprano Ukulele

Soprano Ukulele

Length: 20 inches 

Number of Frets: 12-15 

Tuning – G-C-E-A

A soprano ukulele is the most common size found in these stringed instruments. 

Construction

A soprano ukulele has a smaller body size. Because of this size, it has the shortest scale and comes with tight spacing between the frets.

Type of sound produced

A soprano ukulele makes classic and traditional ukulele sounds. Because of its smaller body size, this instrument has a brighter and softer tone. Moreover, it has less projection and resonance when compared to the larger sizes of the ukuleles.

Weight

It is the smallest and lightweight stringed instrument of all types of ukuleles.

Ideal For

A soprano ukulele is ideal for younger children or people having small hands and fingers. That said, this is the best learning instrument for kids. Beginners can undoubtedly opt for this to start their musical journey. However, the soprano is suitable for players of all sizes and skill levels.

The only downside to the soprano ukulele is that it has less tension in the strings when compared to the other sizes. Because of this, there are chances of strings bending. As a result, the tune may slip out. Despite this, the soprano is very fun to play.

Price

The soprano ukuleles are very affordable.

2. Concert Ukulele

Concert Ukulele

Length: 22 or 23 inches

Number of Frets: 14-17 

Tuning – G-C-E-A

A concert ukulele is yet another type that has the same tuning as a soprano, i.e., G-E-C-A. 

Construction

If we look at its construction, a concert ukulele is a little bigger in size than the soprano. It is one inch long and has a wider neck than the latter.

Type of sound produced

Because of its construction and the slightly bigger frame, a concert plays a more round sound. It produces a fuller sound and warmer tone in comparison to the soprano ukulele. 

Weight

A concert ukulele is heavier when compared to the soprano model.

Ideal For

Unlike soprano, a concert size has more spacing between the frets. Hence, it is most suitable for players with larger fingers and hands. Moreover, even guitarists prefer concerts because of their better projection, louder volume, and more tension on the strings. People who bend strings when playing find a concert size more comfortable, as it will not produce out of tune. 

Concert size is suitable for players of any experience level or skill. Since it has about 20 frets on the fretboard, players can easily steer to higher notes.

Price

Because of their size, the concert ukuleles are relatively inexpensive. They cost less when compared to the tenor and baritone sizes. 

3. Tenor Ukulele

Length: 26 inches

Number of Frets: 15-19 and above 

Tuning – G-C-E-A 

A tenor ukulele is the most popular type of ukulele among professional players. It is next to the concert ukulele in size.

Construction

The size of a tenor ukulele is a little bigger than the concert. It is two inches longer and has a wider neck than the concert. This additional length allows the wider fret spacing, making it a most suitable option for fingerpicking.

Type of sound produced

Because of its construction and the bigger body size, a tenor ukulele plays a deeper and fuller sound. It has a resonant that sounds almost like a bassy tone. It produces a fuller sound and warmer tone in comparison to the soprano ukulele. A tenor has a better projection and louder volume than the concert.

Coming to the tuning, you can tune a tenor to the standard G-C-E-A tuning. Sometimes, you can even tune it lower like the baritone, i.e., D-G-B-E.

Weight

A tenor ukulele is a little heavier than the concert uke.

Ideal For

A tenor size is most comfortable for players with larger fingers and hands than the concert uke. It is a great option for players of any experience level or skill. It is the most popular uke among the professional players.

Price

A tenor ukulele is slightly expensive than the concert size.

4. Baritone Ukulele

Length: Above 30 inches 

Number of Frets: 19-21 

Tuning – D-G-B-E

The baritone ukulele is the next in size to the tenor.

Construction

A baritone ukulele is a little bigger than the tenor size. It is three inches long and has a wider neck than the tenor. It has the widest spacing of frets of all the uke sizes available. This wider spacing between the frets makes baritone also a most suitable option for fingerpicking.

Type of sound produced

Because of its construction and the bigger body size, a baritone ukulele plays the deepest and fullest sound. It has the most low end and sounds similar to the acoustic guitar. This added depth may do not give you the bright and snappy tone qualities that you find in a soprano. 

Weight

The baritone uke is heavier than the tenor ukulele. 

Ideal For

A baritone has more similarities to the guitar. It has the same tuning as that of guitar, i.e., D-G-B-E, the four highest strings. This makes the transition to the ukulele easier for the guitarist, as they are familiar with the big frets on the guitar. A baritone is ideal for those guitarists looking to convert to a bigger ukulele.

Price

The baritone ukuleles are more expensive than the other models.

Other Variants Of Ukuleles

Let us explore the other types and variations of ukuleles. Here is everything you need to know about them.

5. Pineapple Ukulele

As the name says, the body of these ukes comes in the shape of a half pineapple. Talking about the size, these ukuleles are just 16 inches long.

This half pineapple shape has significance. It helps in producing a sound that is stronger and more resonant than the normal ukes of traditional shape. This kind is more popular among soprano and concert ukes and not among the tenor and baritone models.

6. Electric Ukulele

The electric ukulele usually comes in two types – a fully electric and an electro-acoustic. The full-electric ukulele is similar to the electric guitar. That said, it comes with a non-resonant body. Since it does not have a hole, it requires a pickup to collect the vibration signals and sends them to an amplifier. 

The electro-acoustic, also called semi-acoustic ukulele, comes with an acoustic body just like the traditional ukulele. It has a pickup to collect the string vibrations and sends them to an amplifier using a jack output. This electric uke model is so flexible as it allows you to play both acoustically and electrically. The fully electric ukulele is less popular when compared to the semi-acoustic uke. Price and the lack of flexibility are some of the reasons behind this.

7. Cutaway Ukulele

A cutaway ukulele is the most popular version found easily among the top four uke types. As the name suggests, these models feature the right-hand shoulder of the instrument being cut away to make playing the higher frets easier. 

8. Hybrid Ukulele

These ukes are different from the standard ones and are the hybrid versions of the regular instruments. These variants are nothing but cross-breed of various instruments with the ukulele.

With the advancements in technology, these hybrid ukes have become very popular over recent years. They are constructed with different synthetic materials to produce a different sound or style to music that did not exist formally. Because of this, they are earning increasing popularity across the music.

9. Guitalele / Guitarlele

The next variation of the ukulele is the guitalele or guitarlele. You should have got to know by the name that it is a cross between guitar and ukulele. Yes, you guessed it right. It is a cross between the classical guitar and a tenor uke. This combination includes the six strings of guitar coupled with the portability of a uke. 

However, they have a different tuning than a guitar, i.e., A-D-G-C-E-A. You usually find it as a travel guitar or a child’s guitar in the market. 

10. Banjolele / Banjo Ukulele

Again, this variation of the ukulele is also a cross between a banjo and a ukulele. Although this instrument came into existence in 1917, it became popular only in the 1920s and 1930s. This combination includes the unique sound of the banjo coupled with the ukulele’s tone, tuning, small scale, and playing style.

Because of their quirky looks, there is an increasing demand for these instruments. They have a standard tuning of G-C-E-A similar to the soprano version, and their strings are made of nylon material. The size of a banjolele is the same as that of the concert uke, having around 16 frets.

11. Bass Ukulele

The Bass ukulele is another variation specifically adopted from the baritone version that looks like a small acoustic bass guitar. Its strings are made of polyurethane material that helps you to tune the instrument to the exact octave you find on a bass guitar – E3, A3, D4, G4. These polyurethane strings produce a similar sound to that of an upright bass. And because of this, they have become quite popular among the bassists. This version is smaller than the baritone model.  

You can tune the bass ukuleles to the standard tuning of normal ukes. However, they have a deeper tone than the baritone models. The size of the bass ukuleles is around 30-32 inches, and they are a great option for those having larger hands and fingers. 

12. Harp Ukulele

The last variation of the ukulele is the harp ukulele. This is also a cross of the harp and the uke. It comes with an attached bridge extension that has unfretted strings like that of a harp. Although it first appeared in the early 20th century, it faded after reaching popularity. However, some Luthiers have started experimenting with the harp ukulele again. You never know, they may become popular again in the future.

Check out our Buying Guide for Ukulele to get more information on how to purchase the right Ukulele.

What Is The Best Ukulele For Beginners?

If you are a beginner who wants to get started with your musical journey, a soprano is the best ukulele to start with. However, this is for small kids and those having a smaller frame. For younger adults who want to learn a ukulele, tenor or concert version is the best for you. Besides being the most comfortable for those with larger hands, they are still small in scale and larger than soprano. Choosing the right uke for a beginner is majorly dependent on the size of your hands. We recommend starting with a soprano first, then move to a concert, and finally tenor. 

Have a look at some of the reviews of Best Ukuleles in India for Beginners & Professionals.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How to tune a ukulele?

Turn the tuners of the ukuleles, which is present on the headstock of the instrument. This will either tighten or loosen the strings, as per your requirement. Also, one has to unwind the tuner slightly before tuning it to get the right note. This will prevent the strings breakage and let you tune a ukulele properly.

2. How to hold a ukulele properly?

If you’re a beginner then it is quite essential to understand how to hold a ukulele before learning to play it. One has to hold it against their chest while cradling the body with their right arm at 90°. Readjust the position to make yourself comfortable. Strum the strings with your thumb or index finger by keeping the wrist straight with fingers cupping the bottom.

3. How to know which size of ukulele is suitable for me?

To determine the right size of a ukulele, you have to check whether the arm of playing hand will rest comfortably on the side of your uke or not. Also, it is essential to check the hand fingers won’t get stuck in between the strings while playing the uke. In case, if you feel comfortable then that uke is the perfect sized one for you to play.

Conclusion:

To wrap up, ukuleles are available in different sizes and shapes. It is up to the player to choose one that best suits his musical requirements. If you are a beginner who wants to get started with music, it is always a wise option to start with a soprano ukulele.

I hope this article explained everything about the type of ukes. Now that you are aware of these stringed instruments, you can now make an informed decision. Let us know what would you prefer and why in the comments below.

Write to us if you find this information is helpful. If you have any questions or doubts, do not hesitate to write to us. We would revert with the answers at the earliest. If you have any inputs to add to this article, feel free to share them in the below comments section. We would

love to hear from you.

Stay healthy and stay safe!!!

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