Something that can be confusing when you’re buying a beginner ukulele is the fact that there are four ukulele sizes. In this article, I’ll provide a comparison of the different sizes and explain the different sizes and which ones I think are best for beginners.
The Four Ukulele Sizes
From left to right, the sizes are soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.
This table shows the measurements of each size. These measurements may vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer.
|Size||Scale Length||Total Length|
The scale length is the distance from the nut to the saddle. Basically, this is the segment of the strings you interact with when you play the uke.
The soprano is the original ukulele size, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as the “standard size.”
Soprano ukes are pretty tiny, so players with large hands (like me) may have a tougher time maneuvering around the fretboard. I’m still able to play a soprano without major problems, but my fingers tend to feel like they’re “tripping” over each other.
Due to their small body, sopranos are quieter and generally have a thinner, less powerful sound than their larger counterparts. However, many people find the diminutive size and “tinkly” tone endearing–it’s really just a matter of personal preference.
Soprano ukuleles are typically the most affordable instruments in the ukulele family, which makes them a good choice for players on a budget.
Concert and Tenor Ukuleles
The larger concert and tenor body sizes were introduced in the 1920s to meet players’ demands for bigger, fuller-sounding ukes.
Concerts and tenors are the ukulele sizes I usually recommend to most beginners. They’re big enough to be comfortable for a majority of players, and their larger size means they produce a warm, well rounded tone that makes them ideal for soloing, accompanying vocals, or playing in a band.
Concerts and tenors ukes are very close in size, so choosing between the two largely comes down to personal choice. A few factors to consider:
- The shorter scale of a concert can make some chords slightly easier to play
- A tenor uke is going to have a slightly fuller sound than an equivilant
- Concert ukuleles are usually 10% to 15% cheaper than equivalent tenors
At the end of the day there’s not a huge difference between the two sizes, so don’t obsess over which size to buy. Just strum a little on each size and go with whatever feels best!
Due to their size,baritone ukuleles produce a big, rich sound. They’re are tuned the same as the top four (highest in pitch) strings of a guitar (DGBE), they’re popular with guitarists looking for a smaller instrument.
However, the unique tuning of a baritone uke which means you can’t easily use them with traditional ukulele chord sheets and song books. For this reason, I don’t usually recommend them to beginners.