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.

Size Soprano Concert Tenor Baritone
Length 20” 24” 27” 30”+
Scale 13.5” 15” 17” 19”+

*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 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.

Shoots,
-UU

This is the article for Uke Minute 3 - Ukulele Sizes.

Comments

  1. The phrase “These models usually describe a traditionally-sized ukulele body, with the scale (fretboard) length of a larger model” is confusing. Scale length and fretboard length are different things.

    1. Hey Nick!

      Woah, very nice catch! This article was written a very long time ago and you’re the first person to notice this. Just edited it so everything should be good now. A huge MAHALO & keep strummin’!

      Aloha,
      -Aaron (& the UU Staff)

  2. Hey guys, I'm new to the Ukulele world and I must say that I'm impressed. I've been playing guitar for the last 17 years and mandolin for the last 2 years, but I've never found sounds so joyfull and smooth as those we can get with a uke. That's it… I'm in love! But there is a problem. I live in Quebec, Canada and there is no ukulele stores in all the province!!! I know, It's a shame! So I had to buy the cheapest ukulele possible in the nearest music store. I have fun with it, but the sound is not as good as it should be… So, is buying online's a good option? If it is, what and where should I buy? I'm looking for a tenor ukulele, and I would like to pay around 300 to 350$ . Can I have someting good with 350$ or should I pay more? oh and last thing…. What about the strings? Ist true Aquila is the best there is?

  3. I have larger hands. I have a standard uke and am having a lot of trouble with clean chords Are there ukulele’s with wider fretboards?

  4. I’ve been looking around for a good amount of time now trying to decide what type of Ukulele I should get, I would just be starting out. I’ve heard that it’s usually best to start on a Soprano Uke, but all the music I’d be trying to imitate, and learn from, is done on on a Tenor. Is there a specific size I should be getting as a beginner?

  5. I recently got a Ukulele from my grandfather, he says it’s 60 years old AND it’s in really good condition considering it was in a paper bag. The local music store says it’s a soprano but it only has 12 frets. Is it still a soprano?

  6. Thanks for catching that, Dominator! Sorry about that guys, I’ve got 13.5″ in my notes too, but must have typed it out wrong when I made the post – Sorry, we’ll change that!

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