When you want to learn to play the ukulele, it is first important to do some research on the instrument, including its sizes, designs, and materials. Ukuleles come in both standard and hybrid sizes, but the standard sizes are what most people use, especially in the beginning.
If you are interested to learn more, here is a brief article on how much does a ukulele cost.
There are four basic ukulele sizes, ranging from the smallest to the largest, and each of them comes with its own unique advantages and tones. Here is a list of those sizes, which can familiarize you with what you need to know before you purchase your first ukulele.
1) Ukulele Size: Soprano Ukulele
Among the various types of ukuleles, the soprano is the smallest one. Measuring roughly 20 to 21 inches in length from end to end, the soprano ukulele is the one most people think of when they hear the term “ukulele.” In fact, it is what most famous uke players use, including Tiny Tim and others.
The soprano ukulele has a distinct plinking sound when played. Because its resonating surface isn’t as large as other types of ukuleles, the soprano uke’s tone isn’t as deep or as full as the larger instruments; however, its sound is what most people associate with a typical ukulele sound.
This is one of many reasons why the soprano ukulele is one of the most popular ukulele sizes for today’s musicians. The soprano ukulele’s four strings are generally tuned to A4, D4, F#4, and B4, although many musicians tune each of them down one whole step.
It is also one of the easiest ukuleles to learn on, which is why so many beginners choose this size. There is also a ukulele called the pineapple ukulele, which is very similar to the soprano uke except that its body is shaped similarly to a pineapple.
The main difference is that because its resonating surface is a bit larger than the soprano uke, its sound is a bit deeper and fuller; otherwise, its characteristics are very similar to those of the soprano ukulele.
2) Ukulele Size: Concert Ukulele
The second-largest of the types of ukuleles is the concert ukulele, which normally measures 23 inches from one end to the other. Compared to the soprano ukulele, the concert uke has a longer neck, a bigger body, and frets that have a bit more room in between them, which makes this type of uke a little easier to handle.
It still has a classical ukulele sound that is a bit louder than the soprano ukulele, and its tone is sweet and delicate. You also tune the strings just as you do on the soprano ukulele so when it comes to ukulele sizes, the soprano and concert ukes are similar in many ways.
If you want a full, round tone comparable to that of the soprano ukulele but the depth of sound of a tenor ukulele, the concert ukulele is the one you need.
3) Ukulele Size: Tenor Ukulele
The tenor ukulele is the third-largest size of uke, and when it comes to different types of ukuleles, it is definitely one of the most versatile. It measures roughly 26 inches from end to end, and its strings are tuned to G-C-E-A.
It has a less-traditional sound than other ukulele sizes, but its tight strings are perfect if you want to pick your way through a tune. It is gaining in popularity because of its versatility, and it is becoming a very popular performance instrument as well.
Famous ukulele players who use the tenor uke include Brittni Paiva, Jake Shimabukuro, James Hill, and David Kamakahi, among others. The scale length -- or distance between the nut and the neck - on the tenor ukulele is a bit longer than other ukes, which is another reason why the instrument is perfect for finger-picking.
They can also be tuned to either a high G or a low G, with the latter offering a few more possibilities than the former.
4) Ukulele Size: Baritone Ukulele
Of all the types of ukuleles available today, the baritone is the largest one and has the deepest tone. In fact, its sound is very similar to that of the guitar, so it doesn’t have a “typical” ukulele sound.
In addition, this type of ukulele is tuned one-fourth lower than the other three ukulele sizes, and it is usually tuned to D-G-B-E. Sounding very similar to a guitar that is missing its top two strings, the baritone ukulele is roughly 30 inches in length.
Because of its guitar-like sound and its large size, it is not usually chosen by people who want to play the ukulele because most players want a ukulele that looks and sounds like a ukulele!
5) Ukulele Size: Bass Ukulele
Bass ukuleles are very large ukuleles, even larger than the baritone ukes, and have a thumpy but fun tone.
3 Uncommon Ukulele Sizes
There are other less-common, less-known sizes of ukuleles and these include the following.
- 1) Pocket (Sopranissimo) ukulele: an extremely small ukulele with a scale length of only around 11 inches, this ukulele is great for travelers but can be difficult to play for some musicians because of its tiny size.
- 2) Sopranino ukulele: this one is an extra-small soprano version of the ukulele that has a scale length of roughly 13 inches.
- 3) Longneck (Super) ukulele: these are made by manufacturers that are trying to combine the great sound of a smaller ukulele and the benefits of those with a larger scale. In other words, these ukes have mismatched neck and body sizes and come in a variety of designs.
Final thoughts on the types of ukuleles
Researching the various types of ukuleles is the best way to decide which one is best for you in the end. In addition to the four standard sizes, ukuleles are also made with different types of strings and different materials for the body, sides, and neck.
This includes mahogany, which is among the most popular materials because of its excellent tone quality, and high-quality Aquila strings that are easy to tune and provide a great sound.
Studying these characteristics, not to mention playing the ukulele for yourself, is the best way to make the right decision. Because these instruments are available in many price ranges, you are always guaranteed to find one that you can afford.