Ukulele is a fun-to-play and easy-to-learn musical instrument. For a beginner, an excellent ukulele to start with should balance between price and tone.
We’ve come up with a few things to consider upon getting your new ukulele.
First, let take a look at the design of a ukulele.
Many people consider the ukulele as a simplified version of the guitar. Both instruments share the same design with a neck attached to the body with a hollow part. The use of string vibrations helps the ukulele create iconic sounds that possess the Hawaiian vibe.
With its size being smaller than almost any other musical instrument, the ukulele is quite friendly with starters and children. It’s also a suitable thing to jam in a group of friends.
Camping trips or beach visits would be incomplete without a ukulele in hand. Also, carrying one in public is a piece of cake, which is a significant advantage over a drum kit or a piano. Convenience is key.
The variety of ukulele choices
Types of ukuleles base on how big or little they are. Unlike other musical instruments, ukuleles with different sizes don’t have a specific name tied to it, like mandolin vs. mandola, violin vs. viola.
Instead, there’re four main types: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. Picking the right one for a start is necessary, as each size offers different aspects. Every kind of ukulele can affect your play style quite significantly.
1/ Soprano ukulele
It’s the uke with the smallest size and may come up instantly to anyone’s mind when they think of ukuleles.
It’s the most typical size and has the sound of the traditional uke. It’s also the lightest with the tightest spacing of frets and shortest scale.
The soprano ukulele fits perfectly for players of any experience level. Younger players and people with small hands and fingers may see it as the right choice. Thanks to its size, its sound is somewhat brighter and less resonant than more prominent models.
One alternative of the soprano is the pineapple-shaped ukulele. Samuel Kamaka designed it back in the 1920s, removing the cut on its body to increase resonating surface. The sound of the Pineapple is, therefore, more harmonically rich.
The default tuning for the Soprano is G/C/E/A.
2/ Concert ukulele
The concert ukulele offers a balance between the soprano tone and the depth of a tenor. Being slightly larger, it’s comfortable for people with bigger hands. You’ll feel more natural to go up and down on those frets.
The concert ukulele offers a warmer tone than its predecessor. Furthermore, with an increased surface, its volume is a bit louder. The G/C/E/A also applies to this size.
3/ Tenor ukulele
It’s a step up from the concert ukulele and is gaining popularity recently. With the longer scale and frets, you’ll have no problems playing if your hand is slightly bigger. The tenor is also suitable for fingerpicking. The larger size gives the tenor a deeper, fuller sound comparable to a bass.
It’s also a widely chosen model among professionals, but it’s great for people with any skills or starters. What is more, its size allows the attachment of an equalizer on its body. If you want to go loud, that’s perfect for you. Finally, the tuning G/C/E/A is also present on the tenor.
4/ Baritone ukulele
This ukulele size is a different case, though. Weight-wise, it’s the heaviest, and its size has the response to that of a classical guitar. It’s the biggest of the four and offers the fullest sound. It wouldn’t be the best fit for you if you’re looking for the traditional Hawaiian tone and look.
However, it’s not so unique of choice – the baritone is a simplified classical guitar, to be honest.
The most distinctive aspect of the baritone is the way it’s tuned. While other types of ukuleles are tuned G/C/E/A, its strings order from those lowest in pitch to the highest. The baritone is also one fourth lower than other body types, so some transposing may be necessary.
What should you choose as a beginner?
The term ‘best’ doesn’t apply here, though. Although baritone ukes are kind of unusual for a start, the soprano, concert, and tenor can get the job done for beginners.
If you have larger builds, then you may struggle with the soprano, especially on its tight frets. It’s maybe welcoming to young starters. In terms of sound depth, the Tenor and Concert are viable options, while offering extra room on the ukulele neck. Of course, if the size is the problem for you, please consider those three models.
As those three models have the same tuning, transferring between one wouldn’t take much time. If you’re a guitar guy and want to experience ukulele, you can opt for the baritone.
Anyway, no matter what size satisfies you, the vital thing to do is to get the techniques right. Proper hand positions is essential not only for just ukuleles.
It’s necessary to have some research before buying your first ukulele. As I mentioned before, it all depends on you to decide.
Anyway, if you like the easy way out, I’d recommend getting a concert ukulele. It’s been keeping its popularity for quite a time now.
A soprano may feel too small, while a tenor may seem too large. The concert ukulele, I’d say, is a safe choice, and you can be happy with one for many years to come.