When you’re deciding on which ukulele you want, you really need to know what size you should be playing. Here’s a guide to the four main sizes of ukulele including some of our favourite options.
Finding the right ukulele for your needs can be a little daunting, which is why we’ve put this Ukulele size guide together to help you make the right choice. Different tonewoods aside, you need to understand the main 4 different types of ukuleles including the differences in size and what that can do to the sound and how they’re tuned.
What are the four types of ukulele?
There are 4 main types of ukulele namely (in size ascending order):
- Soprano Ukulele
- Concert Ukulele
- Tenor Ukulele
- Baritone Ukulele
1. Soprano Ukulele
The Soprano ukulele is probably the most common ukulele and probably the instrument you think of when you picture a ukulele in your mind. A soprano ukulele makes that traditional ‘plinky’ sound as it is a shorter scale and has a shallower body so the sound has less chance to resonate. The soprano ukulele is perfect for beginners as it is the ‘normal’ type of ukulele that most players start out with. The soprano ukulele has a bright yet soft tone and is the best beginner ukulele for those who want that classic uke sound.
- The Soprano has a standard tuning of G/C/E/A
- The average size of a soprano ukulele is 53cm long.
2. Concert Ukulele
The Concert ukulele is the next size up from a soprano in terms of size and projection of sound. A concert ukulele is somewhere in the middle between a soprano and tenor as it provides the soft yet bright tones of a soprano but offers a little more depth akin to the likes of a tenor. The scale is slightly longer which therefore allows for extra frets and extra spacing between them – ideal for adults and those with larger fingers. Thanks to the deeper body, the concert ukulele projects your sound more and makes the overall volume louder.
- The Concert has a standard tuning of G/C/E/A
- The average size of a concert ukulele is 58cm long.
3. Tenor Ukulele
The Tenor ukulele is bigger again at around 26 inches and offers a louder, more resonant sound overall. In fact, thanks to its size and projection, it provides a sound more akin to the likes of a classical acoustic guitar. Of course, it still sounds like a ukulele rather than a guitar, but this versatile sound and larger scale is why they are more appealing to players who finger-pick as they’re somewhat easier to play chords with. They do tend to be used by professional players, however they’re still entirely suitable for beginners and players of all levels as well as those who just want more space on the neck.
- The Tenor has a standard tuning of G/C/E/A
- The average size of a tenor ukulele is 66cm long.
4. Baritone Ukulele
The Baritone ukulele is the largest ukulele in the family, clocking in at around 3” (10cm) longer than a tenor and has wider frets with wider fret spacing. This is like playing a small, classical guitar thanks to the fact the strings are tuned to D/G/B/E – just like the last four strings on a guitar and the size of the instrument. The body is deeper so the sound is more resonant, providing a deeper, fuller sound with plenty of bass. You’ll find a baritone ukulele allows for an easier transition to the world of ukulele if you’re a guitar player.
- The baritone has a tuning of D/G/B/E
- The average size of a Baritone ukulele is 76cm.
There are a few more sizes of ukulele out there with the smallest being the Pineapple ukulele, the Super Soprano which is somewhere between a soprano and concert, and a Guitalele which is essentially a tiny guitar. However, these are the top four are the most common sizes you will come across.
What are the different sizes in cm/inches?
The average sizes of ukuleles are as follows:
- Soprano : 53cm long / 20 inches
- Concert : 58cm long / 22 or 23 inches
- Tenor : 66cm long / 26 inches
- Baritone : 76cm long / 30 inches
What is the best ukulele for beginners?
In short, if you want that classic ‘plinky’ sound, if you’re of a smaller frame or you need a beginner ukulele for a child, start with a soprano. If you’re an adult with larger hands, maybe try the tenor or concert as they are still small in scale and utilise the ukulele tuning, but are a little larger than a soprano.
The size of your hands will dictate which option would be best for you but overall, we’d recommend starting out with a soprano ukulele first and trying out the concert and then moving on the tenor.
*prices correct as of 20/3/19