What Size Ukulele Should I Get? If you’re looking to unwind in a low-pressure, affordable, enjoyable, and fast way, then the ukulele is perfect for you. After spending just a short amount of time memorizing chords and getting acquainted with the instrument, you might be able to learn how to play your favorite songs or try writing your own music.
Anyone who wants to buy their first ukulele is quickly informed about the fact ukuleles come in all shapes and sizes. However, there is no reason to be intimidated by that. There is a perfect ukulele for every music lover.
Types of Ukulele:
- Concert (Alto)
The Sopranino Ukulele:
The smallest of the ukulele family is the sopranino ukulele. It is also referred to as the piccolo. The total length of this instrument is approximately 41 centimeters and is usually tuned to D-G-B-E. On a guitar, it matches the top four strings. This means that on a sopranino ukulele, you can play the same chords as you can on a normal guitar, except without the two bottom strings.
As this type of ukulele has a relatively narrow fretboard, it is ideal for people with smaller hands and children. Bear in mind that the tuning varies from other commonly used ukuleles. Note that the chords laid out stick to a G-C-E-A tuning, especially if you’re trying to learn new songs using the internet. While it is perfectly possible to tune your G-C-E-A sopranino, you will first need to replace the strings with soprano/concert strings.
The Soprano Ukulele:
The soprano ukulele is, along with the concert, the most common variant of this plucky little instrument. It is about 53 cm long. While it has a bit more fretboard space than the sopranino, it is still not suitable for everyone. It is mostly used by children and grown-ups with smaller hands, much like the sopranino ukulele. The tuning of this instrument is G-C-E-A. 99 out of 100 songs online will match this. However, some individuals tend to tune it a little higher (A-D-F#-B).
The Concert Ukulele
The most common size is the concert or alto ukulele. It remains more than compact with its 58-cm length, and since it has more frets and expanded range, there is enough room on the fretboard for most grown-up hands. It’s tuned in G-C-E-A much like the soprano, with the difference being that because of its larger resonance chamber, the concert creates a fuller tone.
You can also tune it like a tenor to get a different tone, but this comes down to G-C-E-A, but instead of a high G, with a low G. However, a special pack of tenor strings, including a low G, will be required for you. It is worth understanding that most of the songs and tabs that you will find online use G-C-E-A tuning, which explains why it’s best to get to grips with the soprano, concert, and tenor ukuleles.
The Tenor Ukulele
If your hands are too large for a concert model, or if you just want to do your thing with more fretboard space, the tenor ukulele is there for you. Usually, this one is 66 cm long and takes up a little more room while you’re on the lane. Again, it has a wider body, so the sound is richer, while the strings are tuned to the familiar G-C-E-A.
The distinction is that the G is normally tuned down an octave to give different tonal color to your chords. Compared to the previously mentioned versions, chords are played the same way, but you will again be asked to slap on special tenor strings with a low G. You’ll want to look for matching strings or get tenor strings with a high G if you prefer a soprano/concert ukulele tone.
The Baritone Ukulele
The baritone ukulele is the largest of the bunch and, measuring about 74 cm in length, lies somewhere between a tenor and a small travel guitar. It has enough space for the largest of hands and the longest of fingers on the fretboard and forms the greatest sound of all ukuleles. It’s tuned in D-G-B-E just like the sopranino; something that would be enjoyed by guitarists looking to learn the ukulele!
The Bass Ukulele
Alternatively, a totally different path can be taken and you can pick up a bass ukulele. It probably doesn’t need any further clarification for its name and its tuning is the same as that of a bass guitar (or a regular guitar’s lowest four strings): E-A-D-G. Usually, these models are electro-acoustic, but you can also find fully acoustic variants. They’re a little bigger than baritones, but they have shorter necks, making them the perfect travel tool for bassists.
If you are someone who is into the unique and lesser-known musical instruments, we have two more variants up your sleeve. They are the Guitalele and the Banjolele.
A guitalele is a hybrid guitar-ukulele. It’s a cross between the classical guitar and the tenor or baritone ukulele. Due to its compact size, the guitalele gives you the portability of a ukulele with the six single strings and the resulting chord possibilities of a classical guitar. It makes the simplest transition from a guitar to a ukulele of all because it is tuned exactly like a guitar (E-A-D-G-B-E), and has an almost full-size, 47mm string nut.
The Banjolele, with its narrow banjo-type body and fretted ukulele neck, is a rare four-stringed instrument.
It is the perfect travel tool for banjo players and is G-C-E-A tuned. For veteran ukulele players looking for a similar feel but an entirely different sound, it’s perfect!
Purchasing a new musical instrument can be very daunting. We understand your excitement but choosing the right instrument is essential. We hope this article helped you learn about the plenty of options of ukuleles available to you. Now go out there, and get your hands on that ukulele.