If you are thinking about buying a ukulele or are new to the ukulele, you may have noticed more than one size available. There are actually four main sizes, with a few other, somewhat uncommon sizes. I will review the different ukulele sizes available and hopefully, you will be able to make an informed choice on which ukulele size is best for you. Let’s dig in!
The soprano ukulele is the smallest of the common sizes of ukuleles. It’s probably what you imagine in your mind when you picture someone playing ukulele on a Hawaiian island. The advantage to their small size is that they are some of the least expensive ukuleles, so it may be a good choice for you if you are just starting out and are unsure if you will stick with playing.
They are 21 inches long, with a scale length of 13 inches, and have between 12 and 15 frets. They have a bright and high sound. They are tuned in the standard tuning of G-C-E-A. The fretboard is narrow so it would be a good choice for someone with smaller hands or even a child just starting out. Sam Kamaka, an influential ukulele and guitar maker who passed away earlier this year, actually patented a pineapple ukulele in 1928 and this is available in soprano models across a variety of brands. There are variations of the soprano as well. The sopranino and sopranissimo are like “mini ukuleles” and are smaller than the typical soprano. Check out this beautiful Ohana pineapple sopranino at the #1 ukulele store, terrycartermusicstore.com.
The concert ukulele is about 23 inches long, 15 inches in scale length, and has between 15 and 20 frets. It is tuned in the standard tuning of G-C-E-A. It has a bit wider of a fretboard than the soprano and some people find that more comfortable, especially if they have larger hands and fingers.
It has a warm sound and is louder than sopranos because of its larger size. This Cordoba Ukulele Pack at the Terry Carter Music Store is a perfect concert ukulele for a beginner. It even comes with a travel gig bag and other goodies!
The tenor ukulele is around 26 inches long with a scale length of 17 inches. It has between 15 and 20 frets and is also tuned in the standard tuning of G-C-E-A. It’s louder than the concert ukulele and even a little heavier and wider. The great thing about tenors is that they have ample space for your fingers on the fretboard. This is great for people with larger hands or who simply feel more comfortable with the extra space.
Tenors sound a little deeper than the other sizes of ukuleles, a departure from the typical bright and high sound that one may be used to hearing from a ukulele. But they are great fun! They are also an ideal size ukulele if you want to put a low G string on instead of the high G string. The low G strings work very well on tenors. This Kala tenor ukulele at the Terry Carter Music Store is a great buy!
The baritone ukulele is about 30 inches long with a scale length of 19 inches and has at least 19 frets. The spacing on the frets is quite wide. Some people with hand pain, such as myself, prefer a baritone ukulele because the additional space is very comfortable for the hand. Of course, that means you do have to stretch a little more for certain chords but overall, it’s very comfortable to play.
Baritones are tuned to D-G-B-E and have a low, deep sound. Some think it even sounds like a guitar because D-G-B-E is actually the tuning of the highest four strings of the guitar. While you will still play the same chords as you would on other ukuleles, the chord shapes are different (similar to guitar chords). Many people who play guitar love playing the baritone ukulele because of this. This Ohana baritone ukulele at the Terry Carter Music Store is great for beginners.
Now that you know the specifics of each ukulele and why they might or might not be a good fit for you, you should have a good idea of what would be best for you. You can connect with other ukulele players at UkeLikeThePros.com and ask questions on the Community Forum after selecting a membership level. It’s a great place to interact with others. There is always something fun to explore with the ukulele!