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How to choose your Ukulele

5 min. read
Juraj Haruštiak
Ukulele is a small instrument with great sound, and that's why it's so popular. These small instruments are at the moment available in a huge number of models, sizes and designs and it can be easy to get lost in that. That is why we have prepared a small guide to help you master the basic terms and features of each model.
How to choose your Ukulele

Why did I decide to buy a ukulele and what do I want to play on it?

There are a few reasons to buy ukulele - it's a lightweight, small, easily transportable and very musical instrument. Needless to say, it just looks cool.

But did you think about how you want to use your ukulele? You may wish to use this instrument in a band, or maybe you just want to play at home for yourself and maybe you are a member of the ukulele orchestra and you have the role of a bass player, what then? When choosing the right instrument, we'll be thinking about the different scenarios with you, and we'll try to get you the best fit. In the case of ukulele, you have a choice of 5 types, which differ not only in size but also in tuning.

  • Soprano Ukuleles - the most versatile type of ukulele that boasts amazing storage and portability characteristics thanks to the smallest body. Typically, it has a range of 12-15 frets and GCEA tuning.
  • Concert Ukuleles - this type is just a bit bigger, but it gives it a higher volume and more robust sound. It usually has a range of 15-20 frets and GCEA tuning. Concert ukulele is one of the most popular models.
  • Tenor Ukuleles - again a little bigger body and again a more robust sound that is rich in bass frequencies. Typically, it has a range of 15 and more frets and GCEA tuning.
  • Baritone Ukuleles - a ukulele with a large body that excels in rich and robust sound. Usually, it has a range of 19 and more frets and DGBE tuning. You can expect a longer scale here.
  • Bass Ukuleles - this instrument can boast with the largest body, but it is still very versatile and convenient for travelling compared to other stringed instruments. You can expect a very deep sound that perfectly enhances the concert or tenor model's chord play perfectly. The range of this instrument is 19 and more frets. The bass ukulele is tuned in EADG tones.
  • Guitaleles - a hybrid of guitar and ukulele but unlike ukulele, this mini guitar has 6 strings. It sounds a little more vibrant than a regular guitar. An ideal start to the world of guitars with nylon strings. When playing this instrument, the same fingering is used as on a regular guitar. Most often, it tunes higher than a regular guitar, using the A-D-G-c-e-a tuning.
  • Other Ukuleles - these are the real eccentrics in the ukulele category. Instruments with eccentric shapes or non-traditional materials attract not only the eye but also the listener's hearing. Thanks to the full and inimitable sound, they will attract attention on stage and at every good party.

What to be u careful about when choosing an instrument?

In addition to size, there is another factor that could greatly influence your sound - material and manufacturing process. Instruments with a massive front panel carry vibrations from the strings much better than instruments with a glued, composite front panel. As a rule of thumb, however, such instruments are more expensive, so you will probably have to choose between affordability or premium sound. But you can be sure that whatever instruments you end up with, you are certainly not losing on the full experience and joy of playing it.

It needs a bit of a spark

The ukulele is a relatively quiet acoustic instrument, but there is also a variant with a built-in pickup. Electroacoustic ukuleles will find its use on a concert stage, in a music club or in a recording studio - simply wherever the quiet sound needs to be amplified. In addition, the electronics often include a built-in tuner, thanks to which the instrument can be tuned very quickly and efficiently even in demanding sound conditions. When buying a ukulele equipped with a pickup, it is also necessary to think about a suitable instrument cable and combo.

Is there a type of ukulele that is best for the beginner in general?

If you still do not what to choose, but you are looking for a versatile instrument, which is an absolute classic among all ukuleles, get a concert ukulele. Concert ukulele is small, compact, comfortable and tonally versatile. The last thing missing will be flower necklace around your neck and Hawaiian skirt.

Will the ukulele itself be enough or do I need something else?

It will, but there is a risk it could get wet on the road, or dirt getting into it. You may get wild and burst a string or you will simply be uncomfortable playing while standing. You know where we're going - it's always good to have a pouch that protects the tool, and makes it easier to transport it. Next, you will definitely need a spare set of strings or a clip tuner and a strap.Do not forget about the cable for the electroacoustic instrument - it will not work without it.

Also do not forget that you'll need somewhere to lean or hang your ukulele. If you are really serious about playing a ukulele, choose some interesting sheet music.

Buying a discounted set is a great solution so that you don't forget anything important and save some money as well.