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Ukulele Sizes

Ukuleles come in four common sizes which can occasionally be a little confusing for those new to the instrument.

Although the three main types of ukulele (Soprano, Concert, Tenor) are all tuned the same way – G, C, E, A – each size variation has its own character, sound and playing application. Baritone and Bass ukes vary in that they use D, G, B, E tuning and E, A, D, G respectively. 

So, let’s dive into this guide to help you understand what each ukulele shape and size is, so you know exactly which one is right for you.

Soprano Ukulele Sizes

Soprano ukuleles are the smallest of the common ukulele family with a scale length between 33 - 35cm and an overall length of around 54cm. They are also the most commonly played size.

Like all acoustic instruments, body size relates to sound and tone production. Larger bodied instruments have more tonewood that is physically moving which naturally produces a louder, more resonant sound with more bass frequency delivery. In the case of the soprano ukulele, its small body means there is less tonewood to resonate, giving them their recognisable and charming bright ‘Hawaiian’ vibe.

Although many beginners start out playing a soprano uke, the slightly larger fret spacing of concert and tenor models allow a little more room to manoeuvre your fingers. So, although it’s a completely personal choice and there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the best size to learn on, it’s something worth considering if you’re new to the ukulele.

Of course, the compact size of soprano ukuleles mean they are easy to transport – making them excellent musical companions on your next holiday or around the beach campfire.

Concert Ukulele Sizes

Concert ukuleles are the next size up from soprano models. They have a scale length between 38 - 40.5cm and an overall length between 58 - 63.5cm. Their size offers a good compromise between smaller soprano and larger tenor ukuleles.

They feature a larger fret spacing and slightly wider neck than their soprano brethren – meaning they’re easy to play as they there’s more space on the fingerboard to master the chord shapes. The concert size is a great choice for players of any experience or skill level.

Their larger body means they naturally produce a full sound and warm tone with more mid-range emphasis than the soprano. They’re therefore excellent accompaniment ukuleles that blend well alongside other instruments. For this reason, we have a collection of electro concert ukuleles featuring onboard electronics here at Barnes & Mullins - so you can turn up, plug-in and be heard alongside your musician friends.

Tenor Ukulele Sizes

Tenor ukuleles are the next size up from concert models. They have a scale length between 43 – 45.5 cm and an overall length between 66 – 68.5cm. Their extra length allows for a wider fret spacing, making them easy to play and a great choice for fingerpicking. They’re also a good choice for players with larger hands.

Tenor ukuleles are often the go-to for professional players and their larger size and inherent playability offer an excellent choice for players wanting to experiment with different playing styles. They perform particularly well in a ukulele duo or trio – occupying the lower frequencies wonderfully.

Their larger size means they deliver a deep, resonant and bass-y tone with excellent volume and can be tuned to high-G (the same as soprano and concert ukes) or low-G where the G string is tuned down one whole octave for a mellower tone.

Baritone Size Ukuleles

Baritone ukuleles are the next size up from tenor models. They have the longest scale length – between 48 – 51cm - and an overall length of 76 – 78.5cm.

They are unique in that they are tuned differently to the other soprano, concert and tenor models that make up the common ukulele family. Their D, G, B, E tuning is the same as the four highest strings of a guitar, making them a great choice for guitarists who want to transition to the ukulele.

The similarities to the guitar don’t stop there. The larger body size of baritone ukuleles mean they deliver the deepest, richest sound with lots of low-end, and sound a lot like a classical or small concert guitar.

Given their size, longer scale length and wider neck, baritone ukuleles make excellent models for fingerpicking styles and are suitable for players of all skill levels.

Bass Ukulele Sizes

A relatively new type of ukulele on the scene is the Bass ukulele. They have a scale length of around 52cm and an overall length between 76 – 81cm.

Although the bass ukulele scale length is only marginally longer than that of a baritone uke, the bass ukulele uses specially designed strings which are thicker in order for lower bass frequency notes to be achieved.

The bass ukulele is tuned the same way as a bass guitar – E, A, D, G – and is therefore a great instrument for bassists to pick up and immediately transfer their skills to. It is played in the same style as bass guitar, with strings that are plucked rather than strummed. Its low and warm tone offers an excellent option for ukulele ensembles to support the low-end of their overall sound.

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SCALE LENGTH EXPLAINED: Scale length is the distance between a ukulele’s nut and bridge. It plays a part in the tone of the strings and overall character of your ukulele. The longer the scale length, the more the top of the instrument resonates which in turn increases volume.

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