To the untrained eye, these two instruments look very similar.
They’re both stringed instruments that you pick or pluck with your fingers.
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!
- All four types of ukulele are smaller than the guitar – harder to play for those with large hands
- bigger, easier for people with larger hands
Number of Strings
- Typically 4 strings
- Typically 6 strings
- Thinner and shorter (though varies depending on the type of uke).
- Fewer frets
- Wider and long fretboard
- More frets and longer scale length
- Just acoustic.
- Higher, cheerful tones.
- Acoustic and electric, hence a far wider range of tones
- Standard (GCEA)
- The Baritone uke is tuned to DGBE (same as the top four guitar strings)
- Standard tuning (string order: EADGBE)
- Entry-level models are very cheap.
- Generally more expensive, even budget models (guitar’s cost more to make…there’s more wood that is used, for a start)
- Super portable
- Slip in a backpack
- More cumbersome
- You’ll need a large backpack
Easy to Learn
- 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.
- Steeper learning curve.
- Steel strings are harder on the fingers and take a while for calluses to form.
- More complex chords.
- Absolutely tons of online learning resources.
- Pretty hip to be able to play, you will win many friends
- 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.