Common Ukulele Sizes

The `ukulele (/juːkəˈleɪliː/ yoo-kə-LAY-lee, from Hawaiian: ʻukulele [ˈʔukuˈlɛlɛ] (oo-koo-leh-leh); variant: ukelele) is a member of the lute family of instruments. It generally employs four nylon or gut strings or four courses of strings. Some strings may be paired in courses, giving the instrument a total of six or eight strings.

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.

Common Sizes

Common types of ukuleles include Soprano ( standard ukulele ), Concert , Tenor , and Baritone . Less common are the sopranino (also called piccolo, bambino, or "pocket uke"), bass, and contrabass ukuleles. The soprano, often called "standard" in Hawaii, is the smallest and was the original size. The concert size was developed in the 1920s as an enhanced soprano, slightly larger and louder with a deeper tone. Shortly thereafter, the tenor was created, having more volume and deeper bass tone. The baritone (resembling a smaller tenor guitar) was created in the 1940s, and the contrabass and bass are recent innovations (2010 and 2014, respectively).

Soprano

Often called "standard" in Hawaii.

Standard - this is the size that most people not already familiar with the ukulele family of instruments.

Typical Length: 16 in (41 cm)
Scale Length: 11 in (28 cm)
No. Frets: 10 to 12
Common Tunings: G4 C4 E4 A4
Alternate Tunings: G3 C4 E4 A4 ("Low" G), A4 D4 F♯4 B4

Here is a lesson on selecting a Soprano ukulele .

Concert

Super soprano, Alto

This is the next size up from the standard soprano ukulele. The concert size was developed in the 1920s as an enhanced soprano, slightly larger and louder with a deeper tone. Actually created to be louded in un-amplified situations as was typical in the 1920s and 30s.

Typical Length: 23 in (58 cm)
Scale Length: 15 in (38 cm)
No. Frets: 15 to 18
Common Tunings: C Tuning: G4 C4 E4 A4, A4 D4 F♯4 B4
Alternate Tunings: C Tuning: G3 C4 E4 A4 ("Low" G), D Tuning: A3 D4 F♯4 B4("Low" A)

Here is a lesson on selecting a Concert ukulele .

Tenor

Taro patch, Liliʻu

Created shortly after the concert ukulele was introduced.

Typical Length: 26 in (66 cm)
Scale Length: 17 in (43 cm)
No. Frets: 17–20
Common Tunings: C Tuning: G4 C4 E4 A4 ("High" G), G3 C4 E4 A4 ("Low" G)
Alternate Tunings: D Tuning: A4 D4 F♯4 B4 ("High" A), A3 D4 F♯4 B4 ("Low" A)

Here is a lesson on selecting a Tenor ukulele .

Baritone

Resembling a smaller tenor guitar) was created in the 1940s. Author Godferys instrument of choice.

Typical Length: 29 in (74 cm)
Scale Length: 19 in (48 cm)
No. Frets: 18 to 22
Common Tunings: G Tuning: D3 G3 B3 E4
Alternate Tunings: C Tuning: G4 C4 E4 A4 ("High" G), G3 C4 E4 A4 ("Low" G)

Here is a lesson on selecting a Baritone ukulele .

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Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books!Peter Rhee

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