Not everyone grows up around music or instruments, so if you are new to this music scene, you may be wondering if the ukulele and guitar are the same. After all, they both have strings and can make music. They even have a similar shape and both have frets on the neck.
They can play all sorts of styles of music from jazz to rock, and you can either fingerpick melodies or play chords and strum your heart out. There are some key differences though which I will break down below.
Ukulele and Guitar Sizes: Big and Small
The first big difference between the guitar and ukulele is the size. A guitar is quite a bit larger than a ukulele. The exception to this is a bass ukulele which is nearly the size of an acoustic guitar. Ukuleles come in a range of sizes including soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. There are also a few more like the sopranissimo ukulele, which is the smallest, and the super tenor, which is slightly larger than a regular tenor.
Check out this cute, little Ohana sopranissimo at terrycartermusicstore.com. There are some differences between electric and acoustic guitars. Both are still larger than the ukulele which can look like a little toy when sitting next to a guitar, especially when comparing a guitar and sopranissimo.
Strings and Sound
A ukulele has four strings while a guitar has six strings. This means a guitar has a much fuller sound. Strings for a ukulele are usually a nice, soft nylon string and most guitar strings are made of steel. The sound of a ukulele can be somewhat bright and high while a guitar tends to be deep and full. Of course, this varies widely among different guitar and ukulele brands. Electric guitars and ukuleles sound different than their acoustic counterparts and they also need amps.
Read more: Woods Used To Craft Ukuleles
Notes and Tuning
Since guitars are larger than ukuleles, they naturally have more notes. They will also be tuned differently. The range of a guitar is nearly four octaves and is tuned E-A-D-G-B-E. A ukulele with twelve frets goes from the C4 note to the A5. The standard tuning for a ukulele is G-C-E-A.
If you place a capo on the fifth fret of the guitar, it will even sound like a ukulele because this raises the pitch.
Prices and Playing
There is a difference in price for ukuleles and guitars. A beginner guitar tends to be more expensive than a beginner ukulele. Of course, this is also something that varies between models, brands, and manufacturers. A laminate wood ukulele is much less expensive than a solid wood ukulele, for example. And a high-end Fender guitar will be much more expensive than a basic Ibanez guitar.
Speaking from experience, playing the ukulele is much different than playing the guitar. My fingers tend to be less sore when I play the ukulele compared to the guitar. The initial pain that one can experience when first learning the guitar generally doesn’t happen as much with the ukulele. Bar chords are also easier to play on the ukulele because you don’t need to stretch your fingers so far. The ukulele is more portable, too.
I love taking my ukulele with me when I go places. I can fit my outdoor ukulele in a tote bag while hauling a guitar around is much more noticeable and cumbersome. If you want to connect with other guitar or ukulele players, you can do that through the Community Forum at Uke Like the Pros. Check out the memberships to find an option that works for you. This is a great place to ask questions!
Guitar vs. Ukulele FAQ’s
Which is bigger, the ukulele or guitar?
The guitar is bigger than the ukulele.
How many strings does each instrument have?
A guitar has six strings while a ukulele has four strings.
How do I tune each instrument?
The standard tuning for a ukulele is G-C-E-A and the standard tuning for a guitar is E-A-D-G-B-E.
Which is more expensive, a guitar or a ukulele?
A beginner guitar is generally more expensive than a beginner ukulele.
Which instrument is easier to play?
Most people think a ukulele is easier to play because it is smaller and has only four strings instead of six.
While there are many similarities between guitar and ukulele, there are also some key differences as I outlined above. As I mentioned, I play both guitar and ukulele and love both of them. I find the sounds of each instrument to be amazing, just in their own ways. You can find high-quality guitars and ukuleles at terrycartermusicstore.com along with all sorts of awesome accessories. Whether you choose guitar or ukulele, or both…happy playing!