UKULELE BUYERS GUIDE
All Shapes and Sizes
The world of ukuleles is easy to get sucked into, with a signature sound that has defined generations of music. However, there is no singular choice in shape for ukuleles, as they come in a variety of sizes and types. We'll focus on four of the most common types of ukuleles that most players will be interested in.
The soprano ukulele is the smallest of the common sizes at 13-14" in scale length and 20-21" in length. Typically tuned in G-C-E-A, these short scale ukuleles are perfect for beginners or those with smaller fingers. A benefit to soprano ukuleles is often the lower price for the quality of tonewood, as there is simply less material in the body. Although there is a comparative tonal lack of projection, these ukuleles are ultra compact.
The concert ukulele is one of the most common sizes at around 23" long and with a scale length of 15-16". With a slightly taller neck and body, these ukuleles offer a warmer sound with more body than the soprano, while still retaining that compact feel. These are typically tuned at G-C-E-A, and offer playability that leans on the compact and smaller side, while offering some additional tonal projection.
At a length of 26", with a scale length of 17-18", the tenor ukulele is made for players who desire strong projection and warm tone. With wider frets and a longer scale, more tuning possibilities are opened up, and adult players will find it more comfortable to do more complicated fret work. While still significantly smaller than an acoustic guitar, tenor ukuleles offer more body than their concert counterparts.
The baritone ukulele is the largest common ukulele type at 29-30" in length and a scale length of 19-20". At a significantly larger size than a tenor ukulele, the baritone ukulele uses a tuning of D-G-B-E, and is suited towards a lower register and often different songs or song arrangements than typical ukulele songs. While still smaller than an acoustic guitar, the overall heft and size of a baritone ukulele may sit in a familiar way.
But Wait, There's More
These are four of the most common ukulele sizes, but there are actually more sizes to choose from. The smallest Sopranissimo can be as little as 17" in length and is known as a "pocket" ukulele, along with the slightly larger Sopranino. On the larger end, Bass and Contrabass ukuleles function similarly to bass guitars.
Whatever you decide, the world of ukuleles can be as diverse as your tonal palette. Experiment with each type and see what works for you.