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Ukulele Buying Guide | Different Ukulele Sizes

Ukulele Buying Guide | Different Ukulele Sizes

Posted by Austin Bazaar on 11th Dec 2014

So you're ready to buy your first ukulele. Should you get a Soprano or Concert? Mahogany or Koa? Buying your first ukulele can be intimidating, so we’ve prepared this guide along with some videos to help you decide which ukulele is best for you.


Different Ukulele Sizes

One of the first things to consider is what size of ukulele you would like to play. 

The Soprano ukulele is probably the most popular size of ukulele. It is the smallest of the four standard sizes, known for the bright, jangly sound it produces that people commonly associate with ukuleles. These typically have 12-15 frets and have a standard tuning of GCEA.

Concert ukuleles have 15-20 frets and a larger body, giving you a larger range of notes and fuller sound than the soprano. Concert (and tenor) ukuleles are also typically tuned to the standard GCEA tuning.

Tenor ukuleles are larger than concert and soprano ukuleles, which means they tend to have a fuller, louder sound. Some performers prefer tenor ukuleles since they have more frets and can produce a wider range of notes.

Baritone ukuleles are the largest of the different ukulele models, and produce a warm, full sound that is similar to that of a guitar. These ukuleles are also tuned similarly to a guitar (DGBE). Although you can strum a baritone just like any other ukulele, they are especially great for fingerpicking, or playing more “blues style” music.

Check out the video below to see (and hear) the difference between soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone ukuleles.


Budget, Goals & Quality

Many factors beyond body size affect the quality, sound, and price of your ukulele. One of the most important factors is the materials your ukulele is constructed out of.

Solid wood vs. Laminate

As with guitars, ukuleles can be made out of a variety of materials - and the type wood your ukulele is made out of can effect both the look and sound of the instrument.

Find out more about the differences between solid and laminate ukuleles in this video:


Ukulele Strings & Action

The strings on your ukulele can also affect how it sounds. Many players swear by Aquila Nylgut strings, which are now included with all Kala and Lanikai ukuleles. These strings are made of a synthetic material called Nylgut that couples the playability and consistency of nylon guitar strings with the warm tone of traditional gut-stringed instruments. 

Check out the video below to find out more about Aquila Nylgut strings:


TIP: You can always change out the strings on your ukulele so don't feel committed to a certain type of strings just because that's what your ukulele came with. 


Recommended Beginner Ukuleles

Here are some of our favorite beginner ukuleles - these are well-built but affordable instruments that will provide you with the perfect foundation for your ukulele journey!

Lanikai LU-21 Ukuleles

KALA MK-SS-YLW MAKALA SHARK SOPRANO UKULELE - YELLOW CORAL

Kala Makala Ukuleles

OSCAR SCHMIDT OU2 MAHOGANY CONCERT UKULELE

Oscar Schmidt OU2 Ukuleles


Unique Ukuleles

It is important to find a ukulele that is a good “fit” for you. This refers not only to the size of the instrument, but how it complements your individual style and tastes. We’ll leave you with a few truly unique ukuleles which are perfect if you're looking for something a bit more unconventional.

Waterproof Waterman Ukuleles

KALA KA-SWG-BL WATERMAN SOPRANO UKULELE - GLOW-IN-THE-DARK BLUE MATTE

For the outdoorsy type, a Kala Waterman ukulele makes a great gift. Whether they plan on taking it along to outdoor gigs or just playing at the pool, these ukuleles are made of a durable polycarbonate that will hold up against the elements, and they sound great too! 

Luna Tattoo Pineapple Ukulele

Luna Pineapple Ukulele - Tattoo Design

The Luna Tattoo Ukulele features a cool pineapple body shape and "tattoo" design which integrate shapes and symbols that represent the natural island world, including waves and shark teeth.


Kala KA-TE Mahogany Tenor Electric Ukulele

The Kala KA-TE Mahogany Tenor Electric Ukulele comes in a beautiful satin finish and white binding that gives it a traditional look to go along with a great sound. This super portable electric ukulele has a truly unique sound and include a pickup system with active EQ and built in tuner.


Still need help choosing a ukulele? Call our team of experts at 800-511-1322 or email customerservice@austinbazaar.com