What is the difference between a soprano vs concert ukulele sizes, and which should beginners choose? We recommend concert ukuleles as the best ukulele size for beginners, because they are a bit more comfortable to play for most people. However, soprano ukuleles are a great choice for children and those with smaller hands.
While the two instruments may seem very similar – they’re both ukuleles, after all – there are some key differences that will make one or the other more suitable for you.
Your age, hand size, and musical preferences can help determine which to choose between a soprano or concert ukulele. Or you may decide that neither soprano or concert are right for you, and instead go with one of the other sizes.
So, which ukulele should you pick – soprano or concert? And what are the differences between the two?
Soprano vs Concert Ukulele: Differences and Similarities
Size is the most obvious distinction between the concert and soprano ukulele. Soprano ukuleles are generally around 21 inches in length. The scale length (distance from the saddle to the nut) is 13 inches. Also, the fingerboard is shorter, with only 12-15 frets spaced closely together.
Concert ukuleles have a larger body at about 23 inches, while the scale length is 15 inches. The fingerboard is longer, with 15 to 20 frets available, and spacing that’s wider.
Overall, concert ukes are wider, longer, and thicker than sopranos – although they are still small instruments. This size contrast between soprano and concert ukuleles affects the playability and sound. The choice between the two often comes down to which one feels most comfortable in your hands.
While both the soprano and concert size ukulele feature that classic mellow ukulele tone, the sound they produce differs due to the difference in the size.
Since the soprano ukulele is smaller, there is less of a resonating surface. So, the sound will be a bit quieter, with a weak bass end a greater emphasis on the higher overtones. The soprano ukulele sounds best when strumming ukulele chords, and is not as good for fingerstyle music. Cheaper soprano ukes may also have intonation issues, which make it sound out of tune when you play up the neck.
On the other hand, the concert uke has a larger body, with more depth and width, so the resonance is greater. Due to this difference in size, the concert has a louder, fuller sound, with more emphasis in the mid-range and bass. Because of the body size leading to a more balanced tone, these ukuleles sound great whether you’re hitting single notes or strumming chords. And the longer scale length helps it stay in tune all they up the neck.
The difference in sound is a major deciding factor on the right ukulele for you, but it’s ultimately personal preference.
The concert ukulele vs soprano ukulele also differ in playability, and when choosing between the two you must consider the size of your hands.
If you have bigger hands, we recommend going with a concert ukulele. These ukes have a longer, more spaced out neck, with more frets, that makes it far easier to play for people with fat fingers or bigger hands.
The soprano ukulele is better for children or for people with smaller hands, since you won’t have to stretch out your fingers as much to play chords. Whereas if you have bigger hands, you may feel that a soprano uke is too cramped.
But, neither ukulele is particularly difficult to play whatever your hand size, so if you have another reason for choosing a ukulele size then this does not need to be the deciding factor. Whatever ukulele you get, soprano or concert, your hands will adjust with practice.
Tuning is one major similarity between the two instruments. Both soprano and concert ukuleles feature strings tuned to G-C-E-A, which is the traditional standard tuning for a ukulele, and they both are typically tuned with high G strings.
Ukulele tuning is not arranged from lowest pitch to highest pitch. Instead, the G string (the string closest to your face when playing) is tuned to a high G, a higher pitch than most of the other strings. So, the tuning goes something like – high, low, high, and higher.
Due to the different number of frets, there is a difference in the note range of soprano vs concert ukulele. The soprano ukulele can play notes from C4 to A5, while the concert ukulele can go from C4 to C6.
Ukulele cost can vary widely in price between budget models and high end professional instruments. While there is no need to pay hundreds of dollars for a uke – especially your first one – at the lower end you do get what you pay for.
We recommend avoiding all super low cost ukuleles, particularly those made of plastic. Cheaping out too much on a beginner instrument may hinder you to that point where you stop playing. However, the ukulele is among the cheapest of all string instruments, and a quality beginner ukulele can be had for a mere $80-$120 in price.
Because of the smaller size, your typical soprano ukulele will be the cheaper instrument, but usually not by much.
Frequently Asked Questions on Ukuleles
Is the ukulele easy to learn?
Yes, the ukulele is very easy to learn. Playing the ukulele is much easier than guitar, and a beginner can get started with the instrument very quickly. Chord shapes are very simple, the strings are easy to fret, and barring is much easier on your fingers. Ukulele songs generally only use light, fun strumming patterns as well.
While we typically recommend the concert ukulele to those just starting out, if you’re already a guitar player you should be able to pick up a baritone ukulele in no time, since it is tuned like the top four strings of a guitar.
Can I upgrade my ukulele?
Yes, if you have some gear lust you can upgrade your ukes. The great thing about playing the ukulele is that it’s far cheaper than an instrument like a guitar – so upgrading is far more affordable.
Already have a soprano? Get a concert ukulele! Or vice versa! Or a tenor! Or a different concert ukulele! You can try a different tone wood, or ukulele brands, or aesthetics – you name it
Another reason to upgrade is to get an acoustic/electric that allows you to connect to an amplifier. But, ultimately, you should upgrade only because you need it — especially if you’re a beginner.
What size ukulele is best for beginners?
Although ukes are available in a range of different sizes, we recommend that new players stick with soprano, concert, or tenor ukuleles as the best ukuleles for beginners (baritone ukes are tuned differently, making them unsuitable for general players).
That said, we generally recommend a concert ukulele for most beginners. They are a bit more comfortable to play vs sopranos for most people, and they still have that iconic ukulele sound. However, soprano ukes are an excellent choice for those with smaller hands, such as children. Tenor ukes are also a good instrument option for people with large hands.