Looking for an ukulele?
-Yes! What kind should I get? What is the difference between the sizes? Do they sound that much different? Which is the best for me? Ahhh! I have so many questions!
Relax. In time, we’ll break down everything for you … but first, SIZES:
Standard / Soprano – As far as size, the soprano is probably the most popular and widely owned size of ukulele. Extremely light and portable, this is the official “go anywhere” instrument, and it is usually priced the cheapest, so if you ding it up, simply get another. It is also the smallest, producing the ‘tinny’ sound most recognizably associated with ukuleles.
Concert – Concert sized ukuleles are slightly larger than sopranos and usually have anywhere between 15 and 20 frets (compared to the soprano which usually have around 15 frets). This size has a slightly fuller and louder sound than the soprano, making it perfect for backyard jams or small gigs.
Tenor – Slightly larger than the concert size, the tenor typically displays greater volume and tone than smaller ukulele sizes, making it the choice instrument size for most performing soloists. Tenor ukuleles usually have 15 or more frets and the larger size allows for instrument makers to incorporate cutaway designs to make it easer for players to reach the higher frets.
Baritone – The largest of the ukulele sizes, baritone ukuleles carry a much deeper sound than other ukulele sizes. Tuning on this size is often the same as the bottom four strings of the guitar (DGBE) instead of the traditional GCEA. As with tenor ukuleles, you will also find more 6-string and 8-string models of baritone, where specific strings are doubled up, usually in octaves.
*Approx. values; overall length may vary by maker.
“Super” Models – A few ukulele manufacturers (notably KoAloha, Kanile’a, and Kau Wela) offer the lovingly dubbed, “super” ukulele sizes. These models usually describe a traditionally-sized ukulele body, with the scale (fretboard) length of a larger model. For instance a “super concert” would be an ukulele with a concert-sized body and a tenor-sized neck. The advantage to this would be having the range and playability of a tenor, coupled with the milder concert-sized ukulele sound.
So that’s the lowdown on sizes. But as always, the very best way to find the perfect ukulele for you is to check out ukuleles for yourself. How it sounds and feels to you is the most important thing. And if you absolutely can’t find a store near you that stocks them, listen to clips online and ask around in the uke boards. We’re always willing to lend a helping hand. Oh yeah, and when you do get your new uke, remember to post a pic and/or video for all of us to see.
This is the article for Uke Minute 3 – Ukulele Sizes.