As both a guitar and ukulele player, many people have asked me if ukulele skills transfer to guitar. After all, they are both stringed instruments that you fret and are similar in shape. Below, I will outline the ways that ukulele skills do in fact transfer to guitar and some things to keep in mind if you play both instruments. Let’s check it out!
The Similarities of Guitar and Ukulele
First, the guitar and ukulele are both stringed instruments. Guitars have six strings tuned EADGBE and ukuleles have four strings tuned GCEA. They have the same general shape, with the ukulele being much smaller. You can play chords and melodies on both instruments. Both have necks with frets, which is where you place your fingers. They both sound very good when strummed or fingerpicked.
For the main differences between guitar and ukulele like size, strings, scale length, sound, and difficulty level, check out this video by Terry Carter on the Uke Like the Pros YouTube channel. (Be sure to subscribe to the channel for more great content!)
Read more: Basic Ukulele Chords Everyone Should Know!
Picking up the Guitar
If you decide to pick up a guitar and start playing, welcome to the guitar world! It’s a fun place, full of great sounds. You will quickly notice the sound difference. Guitars have a much fuller sound than ukuleles. This is because of their size. Electric guitars can produce even more sounds if you use an amp and effects pedals. You can really have a lot of fun with it.
If you know some ukulele chords, you will be ready to play guitar chords. The same technique is used to play the chords by pressing the frets on the neck of the guitar. You will hold down the strings by applying pressure. (More on that below.)
Pressure and Position
You will have to use more pressure to fret the strings on a guitar since they have steel strings (unless you are playing a Classical guitar with nylon strings). This can be difficult for some people at first. But with practice, I’m sure you’ll get it!
Be sure to use proper ergonomics and posture, and never have your wrist bent in weird positions. Stretching before you play can help warm up your hands, too. Terry Carter has a great video on stretches for guitar players on the Rock Like the Pros channel which you can find here. This is good for pain and arthritis and it will help loosen your muscles and tendons up. As Terry says in the video, you want to get the blood flowing and the body moving before you play. I have learned to never play when I’m cold because my body is too tight and has so much tension. You need to be warm to play, or at least not cold!
Strumming and Fingerpicking
If you’ve had plenty of practice and playing time strumming or fingerpicking your ukulele, your skills should transfer over. You will have to get used to plucking and strumming more strings, and you will have to get used to the space between the strings.
The sound on a guitar will be very different from the ukulele but by strumming and fingerpicking in the same style, you will be able to focus more on the music and not have to worry too much about your technique. You will be a relaxed player!
Guitars at the Terry Carter Music Store
If you’re ready to take the leap from ukulele to guitar, the Terry Carter Music Store has a great selection of guitars made by Guild, Martin, Enya, Ohana, and Romero. This Enya Nova guitar would be a great option for a beginner. It has a slim body and is made of carbon fiber making it ready for any weather and travel adventures. You can check out Terry’s review of this guitar here.
Playing the guitar is a great step for a ukulele player. This will increase your musicianship and you will learn so much about both instruments and your style of playing. If you’d like to be around some like-minded ukulele lovers, check out the Community Forum on ukelikethepros.com. If you want to learn more about the guitar and take lessons, check out rocklikethepros.com You can join and pick a membership level so you get many courses! Have fun!