How to Choose Your Favorite from the Different Types of Ukuleles

Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between the four types of ukuleles? Or even a ukulele vs. guitar? The most common difference is the tone and size. They are easy to separate, being differentiated by their sizes. The soprano ukulele, aka the keiki (Hawaiian for child) ukulele, is the most common model. It is also the smallest ukulele. The three remaining types of ukuleles include the concert, tenor, and the baritone.

Like other stringed instruments, these versions of ukuleles have more in common than they have in contrast. The fret boards are essentially identical, except when the ukulele size increases. The difference you will notice is the width of the frets and length of the fret board. Let’s look at the four sizes and you can use the information to help you guide your choice.

How to Choose from the Four Types of Ukuleles

  • Soprano - This is actually the most common model and is the one that people likely think of when they think of a basic ukulele. It is very small and has the range that will be familiar to most anyone who has ever heard a ukulele played. The small fretboard makes this an ideal choice for children and beginners.

  • Concert - The concert, or alto ukulele, is a bit richer in tone than the soprano and a bit larger. The fretboard is about 2 inches longer in most cases. This is a great choice for a person who wants a deeper tone than a soprano, slightly wider frets, and longer fretboard.

  • Tenor - The second largest of the four ukuleles, the tenor is defined by having a very rich tone and an option to have four, six or eight strings. This is a great choice for people with larger hands. Majority of ukulele musicians use a tenor due to its versatility, longer fretboard (especially if you like to solo), and tone.

  • Baritone - The baritone ukulele is tuned to the same open string pitches as a guitar, DGBE. It is very similar to a guitar in size and voice, though it is smaller. Think of it as a mini guitar. This is a great instrument for people with large hands and wants to provide a deeper sound for a song. The tone is also very rich and full. Getting used to playing baritone ukulele music can be confusing for those who don't have a guitar background. Don't fear, just follow a baritone ukulele chord chart!

But there's more! Aside from these four classic types, there are other variations that might tickle your fancy like the Cutaway Concert Ukulele and the Bass Ukulele. If you want to kick it up a notch and plug your ukulele into a amplifier, you can learn more about ukulele pickups.

There are some variations on these designs. Some models come with cutaways to allow easier access to the highest frets and others are actually bass ukuleles, a bit lower in tone than a baritone. Some ukuleles also have different body designs, such as the pineapple ukulele and the fluke ukulele. These have, as you may have expected, a pineapple shape in the former case and a triangular shape in the latter.

Ukuleles can be picked up for affordable prices, so experimenting with the different models is definitely encouraged for enthusiastic players.

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