Ukulele Buying Guide 101

If you are confused about how to buy the right ukulele then you must read this ukulele buying guide till the end.

Ukulele has become more and more popular in the past decade among musicians and listeners. Its sweet and cheerful tone, compact size, and ease of learning make it a popular choice for beginners as well as experienced players.

However, there are so many types and sizes of Ukuleles available in the market, and choosing the right one can be difficult, especially for beginners.

Whether it’s a classic soprano or a baritone ukulele, they all have their own characteristics such as tone, size, tuning, etc.

In this guide, I will walk you through the different types of Ukuleles with all the details about them so that you may choose the right one for your needs and style.

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Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned player, this article will equally help you with that.

Choosing the Right Ukulele

Choosing the Right Ukulele

During the 250 years of its journey, the Ukulele has evolved a lot according to the needs, playing style, and sound.

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So, when you are buying a new Ukulele for you, you must keep some key factors in your mind that I have pointed out below.

  • Your skill level: Different types of Ukuleles may be suitable for players of different skill levels. Such as, if you are a complete beginner, you should start with a concert or Soprano size Ukulele. Whereas, if you are an experienced guitar player then you may choose a Baritone or Tenor Ukulele to match the length of its frets with the guitar. Experienced Ukulele players generally like the larger and deeper sound of tenor and baritone ukulele.
  • Size: There are multiple sizes of ukuleles available in the market such as Sopranino, Soprano, Concert, Baritone, Tenor, U-Bass, etc. But the Soprano, Concert, Baritone, and Tenor are more popular among them. Each size has its unique sound, playing style, and tuning. So, it’s important to choose the one that fits your playing preferences and needs
  • Sound: Any Ukulele’s sound depends on several things such as the shape of the body, size, type of strings, type, and quality of tonewood, etc. Such as a Soprano Mahogany body Ukulele produces a mild tone whereas a tenor or baritone ukulele with the same wood used produces a bright and mid-tone sound.
  • Budget: Budget is very important for choosing any musical instrument. Like others, ukuleles come in a range of prices from affordable to high-end professional models. First set your budget and then look for the best Ukulele that fits in your price range.
  • Brand: Like guitars, ukuleles have different brands from classic reputable brands to modern ones. I recommend you always look for a reputable brand that is manufacturing the instrument for at least 50 years. Always read reviews and recordations of other players before purchasing your ukulele.

Do your own research based on the above factors and you will get the best ukulele.

Above I have mentioned the 4 main ukulele sizes popular among the players. Let’s discuss all of them in detail so that you may get some more insights to choose the right one for you.

Along with these 4 types, we will also discuss acoustic-electric ukulele and travel ukulele.

So, keep reading this guide till the end.

Soprano Ukuleles: The Classic Ukulele Sound and Feel

Soprano ukulele is the smallest, oldest, and most classic type of ukulele, as it’s the oldest ukulele type made by the Portuguese and migrated to Hawaii.

That’s why its sound is often associated with the original(official) tone of the ukulele.

Soprano ukulele is around 21 inches long and produces a mild pleasant sound.


Soprano ukulele is the best ukulele type for beginners.

Here are some key characteristics of soprano ukuleles that make them a popular choice for beginners as well as professionals.

  • Size: Soprano ukulele is the smallest size (21 inches) ukulele, which make them lightweight and easy to carry around. They have a scale length(neck) of around 13 inches and typically have 12 to 15 frets.
  • Authentic Official Sound (tone): Soprano ukulele produces a mild and pleasant sound, that is often associated with the instrument. It is ideal for playing traditional Hawaiian music, as well as popular songs and folk tunes. And, it is also ideal for beginners.
  • Easy to play: Soprano ukuleles are easy to play. A shorter scale length and a narrow fretboard make it easier to hold chords and play complex melodies on the fretboard. If you have a smaller hand then I would especially recommend this type to you.
  • Affordable: Soprano ukuleles are the most affordable type of ukulele. Because of the less need for wood. This makes them a popular choice for beginners who don’t want to start with a higher budget.
  • Classic look and feel: From the beginning, the design of soprano ukulele didn’t change which harkens back to the instrument’s roots in Hawaii. The design of soprano ukulele is a traditional wooden construction with a simple, elegant look. Which fits people having any personality and age.

If you are looking for the classic ukulele sound and feel the soprano ukulele is a great choice for you. It is easy to play, affordable, and produces an “AUTHENTIC UKULELE SOUND” that is sure to put a smile on your face.

Concert Ukuleles: A Slightly Larger Size for a Fuller Sound

A concert ukulele produces a warmer, richer sound than a soprano ukulele. It is around 23 inches long with a scale length of around 15 inches and typically has 15 to 20 frets.

If you want a fuller sound compared to a soprano ukulele without compromising the characteristics of the soprano size then a concert ukulele is a great option to consider.

As it is slightly larger in size and longer scale length, it produces a fuller sound that is perfect for a wide range of musical genres.

Concert ukulele is a versatile instrument that can be used for solo performances, ensemble playing, and even recording in professional projects.

The rich and warm sound of concert ukuleles makes them a popular choice for musicians in a variety of musical styles, including jazz, blues, and folk.

Concert Ukuleles

For a beginner, a concert ukulele is the best option to start (if you can afford it). You will get a wider fretboard that allows for more room to move around.

When it comes to price, concert ukuleles are a bit more expensive than soprano ukuleles. Obviously, they need more resources to build, the price is always higher than soprano ukuleles.

If you’re looking for a ukulele that produces a fuller, richer sound with some mid-range boost, a concert ukulele is definitely worth considering.

With their versatility and ease of playing, they are a great choice for musicians of all levels.

  • Size: Around 23 inches long with a scale length of around 15 inches and typically has 15 to 20 frets.
  • Sound profile: warmer, richer, and fuller sound compared to soprano size.
  • Easy to play: Easy to play and slightly bigger room to move fingers on the fretboard.
  • Versatile: Can be used in a wide range of music genres, from solo performances to ensemble playing.
  • Price: More expensive than the soprano ukulele.

Tenor Ukuleles: A Versatile Size for Different Playing Styles

A tenor ukulele is around 26 inches long and it produces a deeper, rich, and fuller sound than concert and soprano ukuleles which is compatible with a wider range of playing styles.

It is one of the best ukulele types for solo performances or playing with a group as a lead artist.

Its larger size and longer fretboard make it easier to play different chords and fingerpicking techniques used in different types of musical styles and genres.


Along with GCEA standard ukulele tuning, it can be tuned as in DGBE, the same as the higher 4 strings of the guitar.

This makes it easy to play the tenor ukulele for existing guitar players. That’s why guitarists love this ukulele size.

Here are some key features of tenor ukuleles:

  • Size: Tenor ukulele is slightly larger in size than the concert ukulele. It is around 26 inches long having 17 inches fretboard with 17-19 frets. Due to its larger size, it produces an even fuller, richer sound than concert ukuleles, which makes it ideal for solo performances.
  • Tuning: Tenor ukulele is tuned is standard ukulele tuning ie; GCEA. However, it can be changed to DGBE, which is the same as the highest four strings of a guitar. Obviously, a guitar player feels comfortable playing a tenor ukulele tuned in DGBE.
  • Versatile: Due to its fuller sound tenor ukulele can be used in solo performances along with a complementary musical instrument. It fits different music genres and playing styles.
  • Price: Tenor ukulele comes in a range from affordable to expensive, depending on the materials used and the quality of the instrument. As you go higher, the sound quality of the ukulele gets better and better. So, first, think of your budget and then start searching for a tenor ukulele for you.

If you’re an experienced existing guitar player looking to expand to a new instrument, a tenor ukulele is a great investment that will allow you to explore different genres and techniques. However, beginners can also give it a try but I don’t recommend it to beginners.

Baritone Ukuleles: A Unique Sound and Tuning

A Baritone ukulele is built to produce a rich and deep sound that is different from other ukuleles. If you are a guitar fan and looking for an instrument that can produce a more guitar-like sound, a baritone ukulele may be just what you need.

Its size and unique tuning is its key feature. It is around 29 inches long with a scale length of around 19 inches and typically has 18 to 21 frets.

Its larger size helps it to produce a deeper, richer sound than other ukuleles and is close to the guitar. The unique sound of a Baritone ukulele just is perfect for playing a range of genres, such as folk, blues, and country.

Baritone Ukulele

Baritone ukulele is tuned in DGBE which is the same as the highest four strings of a guitar. That’s why I called it a “SMALL GUITAR”.

The bigger size and guitar tuning (DGBE) make it easier to play different chord progressions and blend in with other stringed instruments, such as guitars or banjos.

The unique deeper and richer sound with its larger size and guitar tuning (DGBE) makes it the ideal choice for the guitarist.

Here is the key feature of baritone ukulele:

  • Size: Around 29 inches long with a scale length of around 19 inches and typically has 18 to 21 frets.
  • Tuning: It is tuned in DGBE, the same as the highest four strings of a guitar.
  • Sound: Fuller, Deeper guitar-like tone.
  • Price: Comes in different price ranges from affordable to expansive. So, anyone from a beginner to an experienced player can buy as per his needs.

Acoustic-Electric Ukuleles: Bringing the Ukulele to the Stage

Acoustic-electric ukuleles are nothing but ukuleles with magnetic pickups. These pickups are used to amplify the sound with help of the amplifier.

So, If you’re a performing musician looking to take your ukulele playing to the stage, an acoustic-electric ukulele is an excellent option.


On the stage, you need more volume and add effects. An acoustic-electric ukulele makes it possible to plug it into an amplifier or sound system and amplify the sound as well as add external effects.

Along with the amplification, the acoustic-electric ukuleles often have some other unique features such as built-in tuners and tone controls, useful in live performances, where you may need to adjust your sound on the fly.

Acoustic-electric ukuleles come in a range of sizes and styles, from soprano to baritone.

So, if you are a seasoned musician who wants to play ukulele on the stage then an acoustic-electric ukulele is essential for you.

Travel Ukuleles: Lightweight and Compact for On-the-Go Musicians

Basically, any soprano and concert-size ukulele fits the definition of a travel ukulele.

They are compact in size, which you can take with you on the go, whether it’s on vacation or just to jam with friends, this might be the perfect option for you.

Travel Ukulele

But if we talk about the ideal travel ukuleles then they are often made from durable materials, such as carbon fiber or high-pressure laminate.

This means they can are safe to carry on travel better than a traditional wooden ukulele, which can be more fragile.

They are portable and smaller and lighter than other sizes and types of ukuleles which makes them easier to pack in a suitcase or carry around in a backpack.

Buying Tips: What to Consider When Choosing Your Ukulele

Above, we have discussed all the major types of ukuleles. Now let us discuss how to choose the right ukulele for you.

Choosing the right ukulele can be a daunting task. There are so many options on the market. So it’s important to consider a few key factors to ensure that you find the best ukulele for you.


Here are some buying tips that you should keep in mind when choosing your ukulele:

  • Consider the size: Size is an important factor to consider before buying a ukulele. Different sizes of ukuleles produce different sounds and tones. You should choose a size that suits your playing style, experience, and musical preferences.
  • Think about the materials: Do you want to play your ukulele at home or take it on a trip? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself regarding the materials used in the ukulele. Ukuleles are made from a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, and carbon fiber. Each material has its own unique sound, feel, advantages and disadvantages so choose one according to your needs.
  • Check the action: The action of the ukulele means the height of the strings above the fretboard. A high action makes it difficult to play, while a low action can make it easier but the sound can be buzzy. Play the ukulele before buying and feel the action. If the strings are easy to press then you may buy that ukulele.
  • Consider the brand: Look for a reputable brand that has a history of making high-quality instruments. This ensures that you’re getting a ukulele that will last. Don’t go with local brands.
  • Try before you buy: Always try before buying it. If you are ordering online then always check for the return policy.

Conclusion: Finding Your Perfect Ukulele

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced musician, choosing the right ukulele is not an easy task.

However, if you follow the above guide, you can be able to choose the right one for you.

By considering the size, materials, action, brand, and trying before you buy, you can find the perfect ukulele that suits your style and genre, and preferences.

So I would suggest you take your time, and do your own research with a little patience and persistence. You’ll find the right ukulele for you that will bring you joy and help you create beautiful music for years to come.

Gautam Roy is a recording engineer and a blogger from India. He loves listening music, playing Guitar and Ukulele, writing, and travelling. He is also an active investor and a successful entrepreneur.

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