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Home Articles Is Ukulele Easier Than Guitar?

Is Ukulele Easier Than Guitar?

Read that title again!

by Marialejandra Araujo

Is ukulele easier than guitar? It sounds like an easy question, so it should have a straightforward answer, right? Just like you can’t judge a book from its cover, it’s hard to come up with a definite answer to this question. On the surface, it might seem that playing ukulele is easier than performing with a guitar. After all, it has fewer strings, and it’s lighter than traditional guitars, but is that true? 

To give you a sense of how complex this question is, ask yourself this: Does pizza taste better when topped with pineapple? Why is so difficult to answer these types of questions? Because they are based on judgments. Easy or hard depends on the player’s tastes, build, experience as a musician, and personal goals, among other factors.

For beginners who only want to play songs at family and friends’ gatherings, the ukulele seems to be the right choice as you can learn two or three easy songs. However, someone who is passionate about guitars will get used to them pretty quickly.

If you are asking yourself this question, chances are you are looking for the right string instrument for you. Luckily, certain hints will ease this process for you.

Ukulele vs Guitar

Most people will tell you ukuleles are easier to learn than guitars. They would base their comments on these criteria:

Ukulele has fewer strings

Pick any standard type of ukulele (soprano, concert, tenor, or baritone) and you will notice all of them have only 4 strings while guitars have 6. Does that mean playing the violin is even easier? Violin players will argue that. (haha)

Despite this, it’s true that some chords are simpler on a ukulele than they can be on a guitar. Take the open C chord as an example. While you only have to push down one string to play this chord on a ukelele, a guitar player will hold down 3 strings at a time.

However, ukuleles can be tricky as the strings are not arranged from the lowest-pitch string to the highest like they are on guitars. In other words, guitars can be more intuitive than ukes.

Ukulele uses nylon strings

Ukuleles indeed use nylon or nylon-like strings which are softer to play for someone who just started their journey as a musician. This makes it easier to play songs on a ukulele.

And yet some classical guitars also use nylon strings. So, it’s not quite clear that the material strings are made out of is a key factor to choose between one instrument or another. 

In any case, you won’t save yourself the pain of pushing down strings for the first time. Truth is it will take some time until you get used to them.

Ukulele’s neck and frets are thinner

This makes a huge difference when choosing between a ukulele and a guitar. People with short fingers will find it difficult to play songs on a guitar. That’s because they have to stretch them across the fretboard to get the chords they are aiming at.

It is easier to do this on a ukulele, though. But again, someone passionate about guitars can pick quarter-sized or medium-sized ones to accommodate better to their body build.

Ukuleles are easier to handle

Full-sized guitars are bulkier and heavier than ukes. That’s the reason why most people would tell you ukeleles are more comfortable to hold. However, that depends on your body’s constitution.

For a child, holding a soprano uke is easier than playing songs on a standard guitar. On the other hand, a tall heavy man would rather play the guitar. It also depends on your objectives and preferences. 

For example, a traveler musician might choose a uke over a guitar or pay the burden of carrying a heavy instrument on their back for the sake of playing those notes they can only get with a guitar.

What’s the final answer then?

Choose what you like! We, humans, are amazing beings. We can face any challenge placed ahead when we are committed to doing something and when passion drives our actions. Listen to both skilled guitar and ukelele players. Which one do you like the most? Is there any guitar or ukulele player you can admire? That’s all you need to set the fire within you.

Do you still hold some doubts? Reach us with your questions as we would be glad to assist you in your musician journey. Conversely, you can join our ukulele community at ukelikethepros to ask all the questions you like.

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Dawn Collins May 28, 2022 - 6:37 pm

I am a petite woman who plays both acoustic guitar (classical and steel string) and ukulele. I prefer tenor size ukulele and I own a 6 string Pono guilele as well as 8 string Luna tenor, my favorite is a mango tenor bought from Terry at Uke Like a Pro. Even though I have small hands, I prefer tenor size because the spacing allows me to shift around and have more space for stacked strings. Something very important – practice/play scales and chords that challenge you and build skill gradually. Devote a block of time to a specific challenge. I used to practice one barre chord (eg. C chord to F chord on guitar) an Hour alone. On ukulele, it might be Em or Bb – more barre chords.

Richard Richards May 29, 2022 - 1:04 am

Theirs another choice in between a uke with six strings, its played like a guitar and smaller in size. Try it

Donna Lynn May 30, 2022 - 7:49 am

Both have their challenges. For me, ukulele was a springboard to guitar. Not because it was easier, but because ukulele helped me develop calluses, and the nylon strings were easier to play than the steel ones.

Brian May 30, 2022 - 1:45 pm

On a uke, there is one string for each of the four fingers of the fretting hand! Simple… For casual strummers, IMO, the uke’s shorter scale length, narrower nut and generally lower string tension make is a much easier instrument to learn compared to the guitar. However, since most ukes are reentrant tuned, and it has only four strings, chord voicings, as well as harmonically sophisticated melody lines can be rather restrictive compared to the guitar. As one becomes more proficient on the uke, these factors can become a detriment rather than an asset. That is why I now prefer a low G tuned setup that extends it’s fretboard to cover a 2 1/2 octave range (things a beginner probably doesn’t care about) and thus makes it possible to play more non-inverted and four unique note chord voicings. The violin and mandolin were mentioned in the article as short scale instruments. But they are tuned in 5ths with higher string tension which make them very different animals to learn – plus the violin bow is a unique and difficult technique, in itself, to master. 🙂


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