Is Ukulele Easier Than Guitar? How Are They Different?

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When choosing an instrument to learn, it’s common to ask, “Is ukulele easier than guitar?

As a smaller version of a guitar, it’s often believed that the ukulele is a more beginner-friendly instrument for popular songs.

That said, both instruments have their benefits and disadvantages to consider.

Interestingly, most classical guitar players also become ukulele players and vice versa.

We’ll explore what makes each instrument unique. However, it’s a great idea to try your hands at both to determine which is best for you.

Should I Play a Ukulele or Guitar? The Main Differences

It’s important to note the differences to help you better understand whether a ukulele or guitar is in your near future.

They look different, but the two instruments also have unique sounds. Let’s look at some of the features that make them considerably distinctive.


When you look at a ukulele beside a guitar, the most noticeable difference is their size.

You’ll also see that a ukulele has fewer strings and a smaller body. Instead of six strings like a standard guitar, the ukulele only has four.

Another noticeable difference is the width of the fretboard, which is where your fingers are placed to achieve different notes.

On the ukulele, the fretboard is considerably thinner as well as shorter.

If you have smaller hands, this can be one of the top reasons a ukulele could be a better choice.

Playing Style

Another aspect where these two instruments differ is in your preferred play style and the range of songs you want to learn.

If you are somewhat of a punk rock fan, an electric guitar can often be the better option.

If you prefer indie or soul or pop songs, an acoustic guitar is what you’ve been looking for with its melodic tunes.

As you would guess, the ukulele has its iconic sound, often attributed to Hawaiian and tropical tones.

With this unique personality, it’s a fantastic instrument to learn. It offers a unique play style that any type of guitar wouldn’t be able to achieve.


There isn’t a more noticeable feature between a guitar and ukulele than the sound they produce.

Guitar strings are also known to offer a considerably wider range, offering a wider variety of sounds you can achieve.

6-string guitar players often find they can create ground-shaking rock tones while mastering cheerful acoustics.

Although the ukulele offers less variety, its sound is one of the more recognizable of all instruments.

It is a fantastic background instrument that can create different tones, depending on the types of ukulele you choose.

Also, the pieces of music you play are all up to your creativity!

There are a few standard options when you begin searching for your new ukulele. The types include:

  • Soprano ukuleles
  • Concert ukuleles
  • Baritone ukuleles
  • Tenor ukuleles
is ukulele easier than guitar playing


Cost is the last major difference to consider when deciding on ukuleles for beginners.

If you’re working on a tight budget, opting for a ukulele can often be preferred because they’re usually less expensive.

It’s important to remember that the instrument is smaller and most often acoustic, reducing their manufacturing costs.

Guitars, especially electric guitars, can span up into the thousands, depending on the make and model.

Their high-tech concert-ready features are traditionally seen as the more luxurious purchase.

However, there are also more luxurious ukuleles you can get your hands on.

In most instances, a good uke can cost up to $200, while big-bodied guitars can cost you at least $300.

Buying both types of instruments secondhand is the best way to get great deals while learning a new skill.

However, buying secondhand guitars will be simpler than finding a previously loved ukulele.

Is Ukulele Easier Than Guitar? Which is Best for Beginners?

At this point, it’s easy to see there are a ton of noticeable differences between guitars and ukuleles.

Once you’ve decided on the type of music you want to play and the range you want to achieve, skill is the next factor.

This point is also one of the highest debated aspects, as some people suggest a ukulele is more beginner-friendly.

There are a few key features that could make a ukulele easier to start with, including:

String Tension

One of the more challenging aspects of playing guitar is dealing with string tension.

Guitars often have a higher level of tension, making it harder to push down on the strings to achieve different notes.

Ukuleles have less string tension, so moving up and down the fretboard is considerably easier.

Many people find that they can play an assortment of easy songs within a few days of picking up the ukulele.

Thanks to the looser strings, you will also find that your hands are less prone to cramping and discomfort.

Fretboard Size

As mentioned, the fretboard on a ukulele is considerably smaller than a guitar. It is thinner (making it easier to grasp) but also shorter.

Your hands will have to travel considerably shorter distances to switch from one chord to another.

If you’re a ukulele player with small hands, this is a massive advantage that makes a ukulele easier to learn.

Also, finding the most comfortable hand positioning will be significantly simpler.

However, this benefit can also be worse for players with larger hands.

The smaller the fretboard, the harder it will be for large-handed players to achieve the right notes.

You might find that it will take a little bit of refinement to play specific chords at first.

Fewer Strings

No matter how you look at it, the fewer strings on an instrument, the easier it is to master (violins excluded) in shorter periods of time.

The three main ukuleles (soprano, tenor, and baritone) all have four strings. This means achieving basic chords and notes will be easier for ukulele players.

You can use less finger coordination while optimizing your hand placement much quicker than with full-sized guitars.

The open major chord shapes or finger patterns on a ukulele are where you’ll see the most differences, as many only require one finger rather than three on a guitar.

You’ll undoubtedly find the smaller instrument is the easiest, with less complexity and less finger pain.


The smaller size of a ukulele can often be preferred, especially for small-bodied players, instead of full-sized acoustic guitars.

Furthermore, the instrument is considerably more lightweight, making it ideal for travel.

Even the larger ukulele models, such as a tenor, are considerably smaller than your average guitar.

It will be much easier to maintain control over the musical instrument, whether standing or sitting, even for guitar masters.

Also, instrument players note they experience far less arm fatigue as they strum across a much smaller body size.

You’ll find that a uke easily nestles into your right arm’s crook, letting you play comfortably for hours.

One typical problem with any string instrument is tender fingers from playing too long. The more you play; the faster calluses will develop to ease the tenderness.

However, this issue tends to be much worse on a guitar than on a ukulele due to metal strings and a higher level of action. Action is the distance of the strings to the frets which increases the force you have to press down on the strings.

Another comfort issue I have had in particular with ukuleles is irritation on your strumming arm from your arm resting on the edge of the ukulele or because of an interaction with the wood or stain.

Remaining aware of your arm position and not resting your arm on the uke can help. Some players recommend playing with long sleeves or a sunsleeve.

More ukuleles are coming out with an arm guard or cutaway, like this Deviser Concert Ukulele:

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Ukulele vs. Guitar

If you’re wondering, “Is ukulele easier than guitar?” there are plenty of reasons why the former is more beginner-friendly.

From softer strings to a smaller body, it is one of the better options for novice guitarists.

However, it’s important to try both to determine which is best for your specific playing style.

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