Ukuleles are less loud than guitars, and their sound is more limited. The guitar’s tone projects clearly, and deeper, whereas the ukulele’s sound is softer and higher. The Ukulele has only 4 strings to press down (in contrast with 6 on a guitar), making it easier for beginners to learn simple chords.
In this article, I’ll go over the main differences between the guitar and ukulele, how to play both and which instrument is better for beginners.
So without further ado, let’s begin.
How They Are Different
When it comes to the difference between the ukulele and guitar, there are a lot of differences.
The obvious difference between a guitar and a ukulele is the number of strings.
The ukulele has only 4 strings to press down (in contrast with 6 on a guitar), making it easier for beginners to learn simple chords.
Another difference is the size.
The ukulele is much smaller than the guitar and comes in 5 different sizes:
- Soprano ukulele 21 inches (53 cm)
- Concert ukulele 23 inches (58 cm)
- Tenor ukulele 26 inches (66 cm)
- Baritone ukulele 29 inches (74 cm)
- Bass ukulele 30 inches (76 cm)
The soprano ukulele is the most popular and traditional ukulele size. It produces the tone and sound that you probably think of when you hear the word “ukulele.”
A great choice for novices or people looking to give it a try, the soprano ukulele is also one of the smallest, which can make it a travel favorite.
The concert ukulele has a slightly larger body and a slightly deeper tone than the soprano.
A concert ukulele has a wider spacing between the frets. It’s an ideal alternative for ukulele players with big hands and those who have trouble reaching across the soprano due to its size.
Due to the greater resonance of the instrument’s body, the sound of a concert ukulele is somewhat higher.
Tenor ukuleles are larger and have a deeper sound, making the sound somewhat of a cross between classical guitar and ukulele.
The pioneer Jesse Kaleihia Andre Kalima is one of the most famous ukulele players who plays this sort of instrument.
Because the tenor size is bigger, it’s easier to hit the upper frets on a tenor ukulele than it is on a soprano or concert.
This is why, over other sizes, many renowned ukulele players choose the tenor ukulele.
If you want to play something more complex and demanding than basic strumming and chords, give the tenor ukulele a try.
A baritone ukulele has a deep sound and resembles that of a nylon guitar.
If you have big hands, the extra space between the strings on a baritone ukulele might be useful, making it easier to play.
It’s the most popular size for advanced players.
The bass ukulele is larger than all other ukuleles.
Bass ukuleles are tuned similarly to standard ukes, but they have a significantly lower range and deeper tone than even the baritone ukulele.
Bass ukuleles are generally around 30-32 inches long, making them suitable for players with bigger hands.
Why Are There Multiple Ukulele Sizes?
Soprano ukuleles were the first to be produced, and thus they are also known as “standard” size since this was the standard.
However, instruments develop over time, such as the acoustic guitar becoming electric and more conventional alternatives.
Similarly, the concert and tenor ukuleles emerged from a desire for louder, distinct-toned instruments.
These ukes have a deeper sound that distinguishes them from other models.
The baritone ukulele has lately appeared on the scene, following in the footsteps of the soprano and concert ukuleles.
Some users believe this is a substitute for the guitar since it is tuned similarly.
Furthermore, you can now buy electric ukuleles that may be plugged into an amplifier and play just like an electric guitar.
What About The Difference In Sound Quality?
One of the most apparent distinctions between these instruments is the sound they make.
When played side by side, the guitar and ukulele produce distinct sounds.
Ukuleles are a much quieter instrument than guitars, and their sound is considerably narrower in projection and fuller in tone than that of guitars.
All of these features can be attributed to the main difference between the two instruments: notedly, the body, and strings.
The guitar produces a considerably loud, broad, and bright tone, while the ukulele has a softer, warmer sound.
The distinct sound of the guitar and uke is due in part to the string tension, which is another element you’ll want to consider when determining which instruments are similar.
Tension Of The Strings
As briefly mentioned above, a factor that’s a determining factor in both sound and playability is the string tension.
The higher the string tension, the more force it’ll take to press down on a chord or fret, while lower string tension will make pressing down on chords and frets much easier.
Guitars have high string tension, while ukulele strings have low string tension.
If you’re looking for an instrument that’s easy to play, the ukulele will be easier to learn than the guitar.
The biggest difference in how these instruments are played is that guitars often use a pick, while ukuleles usually do not.
All of these elements contribute to the differences between playing guitar and playing the ukulele.
The tuning is very different between the two instruments.
The guitar is tuned in fourths, with the exception of the third string which is tuned to a third.
The first string is E, then A, D, G, B, and E.
Guitars are typically tuned to standard pitch (A=440 Hz).
The strings of a ukulele are most often tuned to G, C, E, and A. This is known as Standard Tuning.
Some individuals like to string their ukulele with a low G rather than a high G in order to give it more depth and roundness.
Despite the fact that their tuning is varied, their method of tuning is comparable.
The chord forms are similar for both, but they each play different notes. For example, the D chord on a guitar uses the same finger pattern as the G chord on a ukulele.
The top four strings of a bass ukulele are tuned to the same pitch as a standard guitar on D-G-B-E, allowing you to change the tuning depending on your uke type.
Like a uke, bass guitars have lower tension, which is another string instrument you could experiment with.
The Price Difference Between Ukuleles And Guitars
Ukuleles are typically less expensive than guitars.
For example, you can buy a standard ukulele starter kit for around $50 to $100, while purchasing a guitar of equal quality will often cost several hundred dollars more.
Generally speaking, when it comes to price, the ukulele is less expensive than the guitar.
However, what you get for your money can vary greatly depending on where you make your purchase.
While it’s true that most beginners’ ukuleles are inexpensive, some of them are still rather pricey.
Once again, this all depends on where you shop.
It’s also worth noting that there are several higher-end ukuleles on the market, where the same cannot be said for guitars of comparable quality.
The major difference between buying a ukulele and buying a guitar is that you can purchase a used ukulele fairly easily if your budget is very limited.
Their availability is a major point in favor of ukuleles as beginners’ instruments.
Both ukuleles and guitars are great soundings, fun-to-play options for those looking to learn an instrument that’s portable, relatively inexpensive, and easy to handle from a physical standpoint.
Q: How much harder is guitar than ukulele?
A: The ukulele is easier to play than the guitar; it has nylon strings that are much easier on your fingertips than steel-stringed guitars and has fewer strings (4 strings). The ukulele is also smaller and very light in weight, which makes it easier to hold and play for long periods of time compared with a full-sized classical or acoustic guitar.
Q: Is playing the ukulele like playing the guitar?
A: The ukulele is more like a guitar than it is to any other instrument. Guitars have six strings by default, whereas ukuleles usually only have four. Steel or nylon strings are used on guitars, while nylon strings are utilized on ukuleles. The body of a guitar is much larger and sturdier than that of a ukulele.
Q: Does the ukulele sound like a guitar?
A: No, the ukulele rarely sounds like a guitar. Ukes have a very distinct and unique sound that’s much lighter than that of an acoustic or electric guitar. The tone is also different: guitars tend to be deeper and warmer compared with ukes that produce a higher, brighter sound.
Q: Is the ukulele a serious instrument?
A: The ukulele is a difficult instrument to master, and it requires a lot of practice and talent. Despite the fact that some ukuleles are inexpensive, many are costly and should not be treated as a toy. It creates wonderful music and is played by some of the world’s greatest musicians, making it a serious instrument.
Q: Does the ukulele translate to a guitar?
A: The relationship between a ukulele’s strings and those on a guitar is similar. This means that all of the chord forms you learned on the guitar are applicable to the ukulele.