Lute vs. Ukulele

Music has been around for as far back as we can remember. It’s something people can choose to partake in for enjoyment, past time, or if they have a passion for music which they want to follow to find success in. If you always have wanted to learn to play an instrument but don’t want to start with the basic guitar then you could choose to learn to play the lute or a ukulele which is a smaller but similar instrument to a guitar.

Although each instrument may have its advantages it still depends on the person playing the instrument or whether they have a talent to grasp their instruments that defines how fast they learn. So, to find out which one is the best, check out the following.

What Are They?


Ukulele is identical in shape to a guitar but they are smaller and much easier to learn so if you are a beginner then you won’t have much trouble. As there are only about four strings to manage it makes it much easier for your fingers to get across and this also means fewer chords to learn though you are allowed to try something new if you find your way to playing the ukulele.

Also, most ukuleles have strings that are made out of nylon or plastic so they are much softer to the touch and require less tension for you to apply to play them, although people with larger hands may have difficulty fitting their fingers on the fretboard.


If you want to learn something that is a bit old school and has a bit of a fantasy feel then you may be inclined to try your hand at the lute. Most lutes are usually handcrafted one at a time and can be quite expensive but if you can get your hands on one then you will instantly fall in love with how beautiful of a sound it can create. It was once used by a variety of renowned musicians back in the day but has since then fallen out of hand with most so if you are interested in learning how to play then you will be one of the few who know how to play the lute. It requires a basic technique to play so for beginners who are struggling with an instrument then this may be your best choice.

Differences You Should Know

The most standard features between these two instruments that stand out at first notice are the number of strings that you have to manage. A ukulele only has 4 strings to manage while a lute usually has 5 strings. So the instrument with the most strings may be harder to play as there is more which you have to focus on that being the let’s extra one string. Although you should not take this as a measure of learning difficulty to how fast a person learns to play is defined by their passion for learning.

The other thing that stands out is the meaning behind the music that each instrument makes along with its origins.

Ukuleles are mostly used to create Hawaiian music so they have a history of being centered around Samoan music and its culture while also being famous amongst sailors of old. 

Let’s are the opposite as they have a history that originated on the mainland and has been known for creating history in the music of the Renaissance era. Most medieval festivals you visit may show lutes being played as a source of entertainment. Over time the number of strings on a lute has decreased from fifteen to eight but the many strings you have to play don’t mean that you won’t have fun playing the instrument.

The Fretboard

As the lute and ukulele are rather dissimilar in size and shape their fretboards may also vary in size. The number of frets on a board can be seen as a double-edged sword as although fewer frets mean there is less to focus on if the fretboard is on the smaller size then your fingers may overlap with the wrong strong as your fingers won’t fit on the board and this is especially true for people who have larger hands.

A ukulele has between 12-15 frets on the board but they feature a board that is narrower and shorter than a guitar meaning you may encounter problems when fitting your fingers on the board. Any kind of ukulele that you encounter from a standard to a concert ukulele will usually have a basic strong tuning of GCEA.

Although the lute has a body that is longer than a ukulele its fretboard is much smaller with there being only seven frets that your fingers have to glide on and grasp to create the sound you want.

The narrow shape of the board may hinder your learning speed if you let it get to you so take your own time. Most strings on a lute are tuned GCF a d g and as they are tuned towards a medical sound it may sound weird at first to your ears. What makes this such a versatile playing style is that you can take this tuning and apply it to a guitar to replicate the sound of a lute if you don’t have one in your possession.

Also Read: Concert VS Tenor Ukulele: What’s The Difference?

Final Thoughts

Your ability to learn an instrument may vary depending on your time with the instrument all though you are more likely to be better at the instrument that you feel more in tune with. Depending on the type of sound you like and your playing style you may enjoy one or the other as music is a type of universal language. 

You may fall in love with the lute or a ukulele but you won’t know as long as you don’t give them a try. They both have features that stand out but the sounds that each instrument makes are nothing short of magical.

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