More than anything else, one question that I get asked more than any other is, ‘What ukulele should I choose’? This blog will help you with your choice of ukulele, plus some useful links to where you can buy a good quality and value ukulele, to suit your standard. Choosing any instrument can be rather daunting. Especially if you’re a complete novice and may have never tried your hand at playing an instrument before in your life. So, to help you find the right ukulele for you here are few hints and tips.
THE FOUR UKULELE SIZES
1. SOPRANO 2. CONCERT 3. TENOR 4. BARITONE
The Soprano (aka Standard) is the smallest sized ukulele. It has 12-15 frets and is 20 inches in complete length. It tends to be the most commonly played and has a traditional bright and soft ukulele sound. A soprano size is particularly useful for beginners, young children and people with smaller hands and fingers. They’re light in weight, easy to hold but are best for playing simple chords at the bottom of the neck near the headstock as you tend to lose the intonation (accuracy in pitch) the further up the fretboard you play.
Mid-Range Soprano Ukulele
High End Soprano Ukulele
The full length of a Concert sized ukulele is 23 inches and contains between 15-20 frets, varying from model to model. Again, as with the Soprano, the Concert has still got a trebly, high and bright tone you’d associate with a Sporano, although the bigger body gives the Concert a slightly richer and deeper tone. The neck is also longer and wider so you can stretch your fingers out more and play chords further up the fretboard without losing intonation.
Budget Concert Ukulele
Mid-Range Concert Ukulele
High End Concert Ukulele
Tenor ukuleles are bigger still at 26 inches in length and have also between 15-20 frets. The fret size is wider than a concert and many male players in groups that I’ve taught tend to prefer this size, especially those with big hands and fingers. The tenor also has a larger body which gives it a much deeper sound with more volume. Unlike the Soprano and Concert ukuleles you can swap the high G string for a low G string (you can by sets of strings containing a low G string, or a low G string separately). This will give you an even richer and deeper tone to your playing. It also allows you more range for playing solo notes.
Budget Tenor Ukulele
Mid Range Tenor Ukulele
High End Tenor Ukulele
The Baritone is the Grandaddy of them all! It is 30 inches in length and contains 19 frets or more. The Baritone has much deeper tone than the previous 3 sizes. It has a wider body, bigger neck and fretboard and is the same size as a tenor guitar. Another difference between the Baritone and the other 3 previous sizes is the string tuning. The Soprano, Concert and Tenor Ukuleles are all tuned to G, C, E and A. The Baritone however, is tuned to D, G, B and E which are the same tunings as the top 4 strings of a guitar. Playing a Baritone is like playing a guitar without the bottom bass strings. This is why you need to make sure that you find Baritone chord sheets and music to the other 3 sizes. I wouldn’t recommend the Baritone to a complete beginner for these reasons, although guitar players find them really easy to play as you’re using exactly the same chord shapes as you would on a guitar. If you play in a ukulele band a Baritone player is great to have to give a bit of depth and richness to your overall sound.
Budget Baritone Ukulele
Mid-Range Baritone Ukulele
High End Baritone Ukulele
Other sizes of Ukuleles
There are indeed other shapes and sizes of ukuleles such as Pocket, Sopranino , Pineapple and Bass. All of which I will cover in depth later on. The 4 main sizes of Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone are the sizes to be found most commonly in retailers and I would really recommend either a soprano or concert for beginners.