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Selecting a `Ukulele

Buying and supplying your UAS ( `Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome ).

PUBLISHED: Jan 2, 2005 UPDATED: Dec 3, 2017 • VIEWS: 29 • LESSON CODE: UL128

Instruments: ukulele Subjects: beginnerintermediateadvancedinstruments

Selecting a `Ukulele

The 'Ukulele (pronounced oo-koo-lele) comes in four standard sizes: Soprano (sometimes called Standard), Concert, Tenor and Baritone. The Baritone is tuned just like the four thin strings of a standard tuned guitar and called "G" tuning (D G B E). The Soprano, Concert and Tenor is typically tuning in a "C" Tuning (G C E A) or "D" tuning (A D F# B). The Tenor can also be tuned like the Baritone ukulele with a high or low string four.

A `Ukulele is:

  • Light Weight and Portable
  • Easy on the Fingers with Four Strings and Four Fingers - a perfect match
  • Less Need for Strumming Accuracy
  • There isn't a lot expected from a ukulele player

The music you play can be as simple or complex as you want. The Ukulele is a powerful musical instrument for communication in its own right.

And, did I mention it’s a lot of fun to play and explore.

And a side note - the ukulele community is one the most welcoming and helpful communities among musicians. Open to helping and sharing with any level of player.

Step One - Get A Ukulele

Of the four standard sizes: Soprano (sometimes called Standard), Concert , Tenor , and Baritone . The concert followed by the tenor seem to be the most popular (based on sales).

I would actually recommend to NOT get your ukulele without trying it out. There is a lot a variety in the number of manufactures making instruments, types of wood, solid tops vs. laminated tops, different string material, high "G", low "G", which tuning to use, the various sizes and shapes, etc… You need to get your hands on one and - more importantly find a reputable shop that, just doesn't have a few ukuleles and actually has a wide selection of instruments and knows what they are talking about. A lot of "guitar" stores think they are little guitars - they're ukuleles not guitars - same string family but a different personality and their own why of doing thinks. Only the chord shapes look the same, albeit different names. More importantly I've found the ukulele community to be very generous, accepting and open to new players.

So that leaves out the Amazons, WalMarts, Guitar Centers and Sam Ashes of the World. With more and more stores popping up that cater to the ukulele crowd and ukulele festivals with vendors as well as Meetup `Ukulele Groups ( here are the groups within 50 miles from Funky Frets in Boyertown, PA USA ) you can find a good source of ukuleles and somewhat knowledgeable people.

What to Learn

What you'll typically do the most as a beginner ukulele player is strummin and play chords. The below books and chord charts are a great place to start.

Here are a couple of Lesson Series for chords and getting started with strums:

End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!

Related Lessons

Related Lessons for Selecting a `Ukulele at this time.

Tuning Your `Ukulele • Updated: Sep 22, 2014

From tuning by ear to using an electronic tuner. The below lesson goes over the various tuning methods for tuning your ukulele. You ALWAYS need to play in tune.

Banjo `Ukuleles • Updated: Apr 12, 2019

The banjolele (brand name; sometimes banjo ukulele or banjo uke) is a four-stringed musical instrument with a small banjo-type body and a fretted ukulele neck. 'Banjolele', sometimes also spelled 'banjelele' or 'banjulele' is a generic nickname given to the instrument, which was derived from the 'banjulele-banjo' introduced by Alvin D. Keech in 1917.

Baritone `Ukuleles • Updated: Apr 12, 2019

The Baritone ukulele is the largest of the standard, most common sized ukuleles. It is tuned just like the thin, higher four strings of a standard tuned guitar (D G B A). This makes it a great starting instrument for little tikes wanting to play guitar but can't handle the steel strings and larger body size of the most acoustic guitars.

Bass `Ukuleles • Updated: Jan 4, 2016

Four sizes of ukuleles are common: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. There's also the less common sopranino and the bass ukulele at the extreme ends of the size spectrum.

Concert `Ukulele • Updated: Apr 12, 2019

The Concert ukulele sized in between the smaller Soprano ukulele and the tenor ukulele.

A concert ukulele typically has 14 to 17 frets.

The tuning for the Concert is most commonly G C E A, or “C” Tuning. The same as the Soprano and Tenor ukulele.

Solidbody Electric `Ukuleles • Updated: Apr 12, 2019

Most acoustic ukuleles can be plugged in with the addition of a internal pickup or stick-on pickup. This page focuses on purely Electric Ukuleles. These are typically solid body instruments with pickups. Either magnetic pickups in the same vein as solid body guitar electric pickups or a piezo under the saddle pickups.

Guitar `Ukuleles (Guitarele, Guilele) • Updated: Apr 12, 2019

The **guitarele, **guilele is a tenor body sized ukulele with additional stow strings, five and size. Tuned A D G C E A. This is the same tuning as the top four strings of C tuning with a low G with an added A and D.. Also the same tuning as a standard tuned guitar an a capo at the fifth fret (A D G C E A).

Novelty `Ukuleles • Updated: Oct 19, 2014

Ukuleles can come all manner of shapes and sizes. From smaller than soprano ukuleles, triangle shaped, plastic, etc. They will most likely be a standard sized soprano, concert, tenor or baritone ukulele - just a crazy shape.

Resonator `Ukuleles • Updated: Oct 19, 2014

A resonator ukulele or resophonic ukulele is a ukulele whose sound is produced by one or more spun aluminum cones (resonators) instead of the wooden soundboard (ukulele top/face). These instruments are sometimes referred to as Dobro ukuleles, however the term Dobro is currently trademarked by the Gibson Guitar Corporation.

Here is a page of manufactures and builders for resonator ukuleles.

The resonator ukulele is a descendant of the resonator guitar. The resonator guitar was originally designed to be louder than conventional acoustic guitars, which were overwhelmed by horns and percussion instruments in dance orchestras. A resonator ukulele is generally somewhat louder than a standard wooden ukulele, and has a different tone quality and distinctive appearance.

Though resonator guitars are often played flat in the lap steel guitar style, resonator ukuleles are almost exclusively played in the conventional manner.

Soprano `Ukuleles • Updated: Oct 18, 2014

The Soprano ukulele is the smallest ukulele. This is the size ukulele that most people associate as being a ukulele. It is the size that most people will remember Tiny Tim playing. A soprano ukulele typically has 12 to 14 frets.

Tenor `Ukuleles • Updated: Apr 12, 2019

Next size up from the Concert ukulele is the Tenor ukulele.

A tenor ukulele typically has 17 to 19 frets.

The most common tuning for a tent ukulele is G C E A, or 'C' Tuning. The same as the Soprano and Concert ukulele.

Related Books

Related Books for Selecting a `Ukulele at this time.

A Guide to Ukulele Chords for Lefties
Updated: Jan 10, 2020

Covers the basic ukulele chords that ALL ukulele players SHOULD know - for Lefties.

A Guide to Ukulele Chords, 2nd Edition
Updated: Jan 10, 2020

Covering the basic ukulele chords that ALL ukulele players SHOULD know.

Ukulele Chords - C Tuning
Updated: Aug 31, 2019

The ukulele chord book for every ukulele gig bag or case. New Updated 2 Printing.

Related Songs

Related Songs for Selecting a `Ukulele at this time.

Any Song Will Do
Updated: Dec 7, 2015

When any song here can be used for the concepts in the lessons.

Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets

Related Assets for Selecting a `Ukulele at this time.

Basic Ukulele Chord Chart
Updated: May 11, 2019

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