Different Types of Ukuleles and Which One You Should Buy (2018)
Types of Ukeleles

Different Types of Ukuleles and Which One You Should Buy (2018)

Ukuleles are incredibly addictive and fun to play. Playing one feels the same way it looks and sounds—laidback and airy. Its light and dulcet tones can make a few chords sound incredible. It’s also a fairly easy to learn compared to other instruments.

The four strings offer mostly uncomplicated playing and, fortunately, you only need a few chords to play a good number of songs. So if you’re trying to decide whether or not you’re going to buy a ukulele...Just buy one!

​But you shouldn't buy just any cheap instrument.  You want to make sure you’re getting a good ukulele. Many people have walked into their local music store and bought the first ukulele they see, or jumped on the first one that shows up on their Google search. This only leads to regret in the end when they realize that there are far better ukuleles than the one they’re stuck with.

So it’s important to do your research, and Acoustic Bridge is here to help.

Different Types of Ukuleles

The most basic and probably most important question you have to ask yourself is, “What kind of ukulele should I buy?” There are a handful of different ukulele sizes, and each one offers its own benefits, drawbacks, and tonality.

Soprano Ukuleles

Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

The soprano ukulele (like the Kala KA-15S) is the most popular and well-known of all ukulele styles, and its sound is the one most associated with the ukulele. If you’ve got an image of a ukulele in your head, this is the type of ukelele you’re probably thinking of. It’s also known as the “standard” in Hawaii, because the soprano is closest to the original size.

This is the smallest-sized ukulele, and it typically features 12 to 15 frets that are narrower compared to the others. This may make playing different chords easier since you wouldn’t need to stretch your fingers as much, but it can be tougher for bigger hands to navigate.

If you want to play the most traditional ukulele possible, the soprano is the way to go. Soprano ukes are also generally cheaper than the larger styles, so if you’re a beginner or you’re on a budget, this is a good option.

Specs:

  • Scale Length: 13"
  • Overall length: 21"
  • Common Tuning: G-C-E-A (High G)

For more info, see our reviews of the best soprano ukuleles.

Concert Ukuleles

Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele

Concert ukuleles like the Cordoba 15CM are the next size up from sopranos. It also has that traditional-sounding tone, but the concert ukulele has a noticeably deeper and fuller sound, and it’s also louder. Because of the size difference, the frets are also wider and would be a better option for someone with bigger hands.

Concert ukuleles are another great option for beginners, and with their larger size and louder sound can be more versatile than soprano ukuleles.

Specs:​

  • Scale Length: 15"​
  • Overall Length: 23"
  • Common Tuning: G-C-E-A (High G)

For more info, see our reviews of the best concert ukuleles.

Tenor Ukuleles

Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Tenor Ukulele

Bigger than both soprano and concert ukes, tenor ukuleles like the Luna Tattoo Mahogany offer an even deeper and fuller sound. This is one of the reasons why the tenor is growing in popularity with professional musicians. The tenor can be fitted with a lower G string as well as a high G string, unlike the soprano and concert that use only the high G.

The tenor ukulele is great if you want a deeper tone or want to experiment with moving up the fretboard in your ukulele playing. However, if you’re looking for that classic ukulele sound, the soprano and concert may be a better fit.

Specs:​

  • Scale Length: 17"
  • Overall Length: 30"
  • Common Tuning: D-G-B-E

For more info, see our reviews of the best tenor ukuleles.

Baritone Ukuleles

Kala KA-B Mahogany Baritone Ukulele

The baritone ukulele (like the Kala KA-B) is closest to the standard guitar in size. In fact, baritone ukuleles are tuned the same way as the highest four strings on a guitar. Baritone ukuleles do retain some of the uke feel and sound, but they won’t sound nearly as light as the soprano or concert ukuleles and won’t have as much twang.

If you’re a beginner, the baritone ukulele is probably not for you. The tuning and chord shapes are completely different than other ukuleles, and it’s near-guitar size can make it harder to play than smaller ukulele types.

Specs:​

  • Scale Length: 19"
  • Overall Length: 30"
  • Common Tuning: D-G-B-E

For more info, see our reviews of the best baritone ukuleles.

Specialty Ukuleles

In addition to the standard sizes and types of ukuleles, you can also find specialty ukuleles that are essentially hybrids with other instruments. While we recommend sticking with a standard uke if you're just starting out, specialty models can be a lot of fun if you're looking for something different.

Banjoleles (like the Oscar Schmidt OUB-1) are small like ukuleles and are tuned the same, but they feature a banjo-style body that gives you that plunky banjo tone. These are some really cool and interesting instruments that we recommend checking out if you want to play around with something different!

Guitarleles (like the Yamaha GL1) are six-string ukuleles that are tuned like a guitar. These instruments are great for guitar players who want to get that ukulele sound without learning a new instrument. They're also great options for ukulele players wanting to tiptoe into learning guitar.

Which One Should You Buy?

The best type of ukulele for you depends on your level of playing, the sound that you want, and the type of music you want to play.

If you’re a beginner, you should stick to soprano or concert ukuleles. These ukes have that traditional sound that's probably stuck in your head, and they’re small enough to make forming chords easier. If you’re a more advanced player or you’re looking for a different sound, you may want to try branching out with a tenor or baritone ukulele.

Size is also something to think about. If you have smaller hands, a soprano or concert ukulele is going to be the most comfortable for you. If you have bigger hands, a soprano uke may end up being too small. But no matter what size you pick, you’re guaranteed to have fund with your new ukulele!

Check out this helpful video for a demonstration of the sound differences:​



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