Ukulele vs Guitar – The Main Differences and Which You Should Learn

ukulele versus guitar

To the untrained eye, these two instruments look very similar.

They’re both stringed instruments that you pick or pluck with your fingers.

Similar right? 

NOOOOOO.

They’re worlds apart.

If you’re trying to figure out which to learn, you might be torn between the two.

Sometimes it’s obvious. If you’re a lifelong Jimi Hendrix fan, learning the guitar might be a no-brainer.

Or perhaps you’re crazy about Jake Shimabukuro (one of the best ukulele players out there) – then the uke might be for you.

But sometimes you need a little convincing either way. Or maybe you’re just curious to know the main differences.

In either case, in this post, we’re going to spell out the main differences.

Let battle commence!

Size

Ukulele:

  • All four types of ukulele are smaller than the guitar – harder to play for those with large hands

Guitar:

  • bigger, easier for people with larger hands

Number of Strings

Ukulele:

  • Typically 4 strings

Guitar:

  • Typically 6 strings

Fretboard Size

Ukulele:

  • Thinner and shorter (though varies depending on the type of uke).
  • Fewer frets

Guitar:

  • Wider and long fretboard
  • More frets and longer scale length

Sound

Uke:

  • Just acoustic.
  • Higher, cheerful tones. 

Guitar:

  • Acoustic and electric, hence a far wider range of tones

Tuning

Ukulele:

  • Standard (GCEA)
  • The Baritone uke is tuned to DGBE (same as the top four guitar strings)

Guitar:

Price

Ukulele:

  • Entry-level models are very cheap.

Guitar:

  • Generally more expensive, even budget models (guitar’s cost more to make…there’s more wood that is used, for a start)

Portable

Ukulele:

  • Super portable
  • Slip in a backpack

Guitar:

  • More cumbersome
  • You’ll need a large backpack

Easy to Learn

Ukulele:

  • Fast learning curve for beginners.
  • Plenty of easy uke songs to get started, even two-chord songs.
  • Many chords are ridiculously easy to play (one finger).
  • Nylon strings are easy on the fingers.

Guitar:

Coolness Factor

Ukulele

  • Pretty hip to be able to play, you will win many friends

Guitar

  • If you’re an accomplished guitarist, the world is your oyster

So, Which One is Right for You?

What is your gut telling you? It depends on the style of music you’re in to and your budget.

If you still don’t know, maybe neither instrument is for you.

In which case, check out our guide to finding which instrument to learn.

Good luck!