Wondering the difference between the different sizes of ukulele? Let’s take a look…
The soprano is the smallest form of ukulele and is usually between 20”-21” long, the body, therefore, produces the highest pitch tone, with fewer bass frequencies. It’s one of the most desired sizes among musicians, as it produces a classic bright tone. Thanks to its small size, it’s also the most popular for beginners. Just remember that this small size means people with large handspans will find it hard to play comfortably, but it’s a great option for kids. Most will have 12 frets that are spaced ¾ inch apart, again helping for those that don’t have the finger width.
The concert ukulele is a slightly larger design, usually 23” long, with a larger neck than soprano models. A longer neck makes it easier to play scales and melodies along the fretboard and the larger body will feel a little more comfortable to medium builds of player. In regards to tone, the concert size gives it a little more depth, but still sounds pretty bright. They typically have between 15-20 frets, making it easier to play up the fretboard.
Tenors are larger still and usually come at a standard length of 26”. These instruments are popular with solo artists for their ability to get up the neck and still keep a rich low end. Tenors aren’t the most popular choice for beginners, as they are a little beefy to get your hands around, however, but are great if you’re already an experienced player and need a fuller sounding instrument.
The baritone uke is the largest of the lot, usually coming in around 30” in length. Just be aware they are often tuned differently, which makes it tricky to move onto ukes of standard tuning. Due to their larger size, these instruments sound and play more like a classical guitar and also often suits guitarists.
Standard bodied ukes have a figure of eight or hourglass body shape, more similar to a classical guitar, but quite a bit smaller. The design here is more about comfort than projection, although standard bodied ukuleles still amplify their sound really well. The bottom curve is designed to give your thigh a nook to rest in, whilst the top nook gives the musician’s arm more maneuverability.
These pineapple shaped Ukes are slightly tapered at one end and wider at the other to produce a louder, mellower sound, as there is a larger body of air inside the instrument, meaning there is more resonation.
Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.