Ukuleles are commonly categorised into various groups regarding size which also determines the sound voice, and they include concert, soprano, baritone, tenor, and bass.
In addition，one has a wide range of options such as electric ukulele, acoustic, or electro-acoustic. Consequently, the choice depends on personal taste.
Classification of Ukulele by Size
Soprano Uke ranges between 16 to 20 inches long. This dimension makes it the smallest instrument among the five types.
Although anyone can play the soprano ukulele, its lightweight size makes it the most suitable instrument for children since their hands are still pretty small.
Its smaller size gives it several advantages over other types. For instance, it enhances playing various chords as one does not have to stretch the fingers.
Soprano ukuleles are designed with perfect portable sizes and are the most preferred ukuleles. They have a standard tuning of G-C-E-A.
They are relatively cheap compared to other types. Also, their smaller sizes make them cost-effective compared to the larger sized ukuleles. The only disadvantage is the fact that they may present some navigation challenges for individuals with bigger hands because the frets are somehow closer together.
Concert Uke is approximately 23 inches long. It is the next in size after soprano. The elongated neck gives space between the frets. Besides, its body is also huge.
These characteristics give concert ukuleles advantage over soprano as they tend to produce deeper and louder sounds. The wider frets make them the most appropriate ukulele instrument for people with bigger hands.
Their sizes and improved sound volume also make concert ukuleles ideal for learners or beginners. Besides, they are fairly easy to play since they are designed with wider fretboards.
They have improved note range and easy to handle due to their big neck and body with large spaces between the frets. The elongated neck enables players to hit a broad range of notes.
Tenor Uke is about 26 inches and comes next after concert in size. They produce deeper and louder sound compared to concert ukulele. Its popularity is on the rise given its superiority of sound qualities.
It is one of the best options for individuals who are interested in a deeper tone. In terms of strings, tenor ukuleles are fitted with both high and lower G strings compared to concert or soprano which only have high G string.
Tenor ukuleles have improved range of notes and sufficient spaces to allow the players to stretch their fingers in case of difficult chords.
The most excellent property of tenor ukuleles is their deviation from normal ukulele sounds. They tend to have elevated deeper sounds that resemble a classical guitar. This explains why most of the professional ukulele players opt for this type. Casual players and beginners may find this type of ukulele fantastic mostly due to its lightweight and portability.
The baritone ukulele is around 30 inches long and larger than the tenor ukulele. The sound quality it produces matches the one produced by the last four strings of an acoustic guitar.
The baritone ukulele has unique chord shapes and tuning. Consequently, it is different from the rest. Its close resemblance to the acoustic guitar makes it hard for beginners to play. Generally, it is challenging to play baritone ukulele than any other type.
Baritone ukuleles are the perfect instruments for individuals who also play the guitar. They produce deeper and warmer tone. As for the tuning, this type of ukulele is designed with a standard guitar-like tuning with additional frets. Baritone ukuleles contain up to twenty-one frets. However, the number of strings remains four just like the other sizes.
The length of bass ukulele ranges from 30 to 32 inches. This length implies that it is comparable to a baritone ukulele. Despite its small size, this type of ukulele produces a loud sound. They are fitted with polyurethane strings with higher density and thickness.
The increased density compensates the shorter string length which gives it its deep bass sound. Majority of this type of ukuleles are sold and purchased with pre-installed pickups. Bass ukulele may have either solid or hollow body.
The tuning of bass ukuleles follows the same pattern as the bass guitars. This similarity makes the transition from playing bass ukuleles to bass guitars fairly easy. The pattern of tuning is E-A-D-G.
The main types include the solid and hollow body. The solid body bass ukuleles are not significantly different from the electric bass guitars while the hollow body bass ukuleles have a striking resemblance to acoustic guitar. With regards to frets, some of the bass ukuleles do not have frets on their fretboards. The advantage of fretless bass ukuleles includes the availability of a wide range of notes.
Some of the specific strings found on the bass ukuleles that cause low string tension to include short scale and fat strings. As a result, they cause a floppy feeling compared to the standard bass guitar. The low string tension causes low volume when played acoustically. This fact explains why acoustic bass ukuleles are not desirable. They are fantastic when plugged in.
Different options of Ukulele
There are more options when choosing the right type of ukulele. One may decide to select electric, acoustic, or electro-acoustic ukulele.
An acoustic ukulele refers to any type of the available ukulele that depends on its design to amplify the sound. This implies that it can be acoustic concert ukulele or acoustic soprano ukulele.
All the acoustic ukuleles have a soundhole as well as a hollow body that captures the sound waves emitted by the strings and project the sound outward. Its design means that it does not have to be plugged in to play.
This brand of ukulele functions as a basic electric guitar. Electric ukuleles are good sound projectors once connected. They produce a warmer tone with high action.
Such brands of ukulele are amplified for sound quality and volume. However, when not plugged in they still produce sound though significantly lower.
Acoustic Electric Ukulele
An acoustic-electric ukulele is designed with an electronic component that facilitates connection to an external amplifier for sound projection. One main advantage of the acoustic-electric ukulele is the fact that it can still play with excellent sound quality without the amplifier. Users may not experience any difference in terms of sound quality between electric and acoustic-electric ukuleles.
Besides the standard sizes of ukulele that consists of concert, soprano, baritone, and tenor, there are speciality ukuleles that are hybrids. Although it is advisable for the beginners to play the standard ukuleles as they master the art of playing these instruments, speciality ukuleles are also cool and fun to play. The following are some models.
Also merely called banjolele, it has a small drum head usually seven to eight inches and more. They are often designed with a resonator. The design of the body of this type of ukulele together with the resonator improves its volume significantly.
It is designed with nylon strings which enhance playing using fingers. Besides, the instrument can be carried around owing to its small size and lightweight.
The tuning of the four strings of a banjo ukulele is just the same as the standard ukulele. The main difference is the body. The neck of this type of ukulele usually has sixteen frets and has a scale length similar to soprano. Some of the banjoleles have resonators.
6 and 8-Stringed Ukulele
The 8-stringed ukulele is mostly used for its rhythm sound. It is fitted with the highest pitched strings. The lower pitched strings are normally tuned to octaves including unison A; unison E and A; higher octave C, C, E; lower octave G; and G. The combination of these notes results in chorus effect that gives 8-string ukulele its popularity.
The 6-string ukulele is fitted with doubled strings just like the 8-string ukulele. However, contrary to the design of the 8, the doubled strings in the 6-stringed ukulele are the 1st (A), and 3rd(C) strings only. The 6-string ukulele has a lower octave A compared to the unison A in 8-string. This difference in design gives the 6-stringed type a unique voice that is different from both 4 and 8 stringed ukuleles.
Ukuleles are designed in different shapes and sizes as seen in this article. With just a little research, one can obtain the most appropriate type of ukulele as per his or her taste. It is evident that the list is not exhaustive; however, there is no doubt that it contains the best ukuleles in the market. Hope you can find the most suitable Ukulele based on this article!