There are many different types of ukuleles. Ukuleles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, even some weird ones, to choose from. Here we are going to break down your choices to help find your next uke.
If you'd like to skip to the good stuff, check out our Ukulele Buying Table below!
Best Ukulele Type
What size ukulele should I look for?
Below, we have covered the four most popular ukulele sizes. We have compared not only the size, but the level of playability and sound. Weights will vary by manufacturer and the materials used, such as wood, tuners, electronic components, etc.
- Length: 21"
- Number of frets: 12-15
- Weight: 8-14 oz
To the right is a picture of the Lanikai LUTU-21S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele.
The soprano is the most popular size in the industry and deemed the "original" ukulele. It's also the smallest, which makes it incredibly portable and easy to travel with. The compact size creates a bright, crisp sound. The soprano uke is typically the cheapest option.
A downside to the small size of the soprano, is it is more difficult for players with large fingers. The frets are closer together and the shorter length of the instrument creates less tension in the strings. Less tension can make it easier to bend a string out of tune.
Note: An even SMALLER ukulele has come out called the sopranissimo at only 16"!
- Length: 23"
- Number of frets: 15-20
- Weight: 15-22 oz
To the right is a picture of the Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele.
The concert ukulele is also referred to as an alto. The reason is because the size is bigger than the soprano, therefore the concert uke creates a fuller sound. The bigger size creates more tension and larger frets. This is great for those with larger hands and arms who still want the plunky sound you'd get from a soprano ukulele.
- Length: 26"
- Number of frets: 15+
- Weight: 23-27 oz
To the right is a picture of the Hola! Music Deluxe Tenor Ukulele
The tenor ukulele has a bigger, fuller sound compared to the concert and soprano guitar. The tenor is great for performers. The longer neck gives you more frets to reach those high notes! The length of the uke gives you enough tension and you also get the wide frets.
I prefer the tenor and find it a nice middle ground between the soprano and the baritone ukuleles. It's easy to transition between the plunky sounds when you strum (like you'd get with a concert or soprano) and the fuller deeper notes you get on a baritone ukulele.
- Length: 30"
- Number of frets: 19+
- Weight: 24-29 oz
To the right is a picture of Kala KAA-15B Baritone Ukulele.
If you're looking for the big daddy of ukuleles, look no further. This uke is often called a mini 4-string guitar due to the size and DGBE tuning.
The baritone is the biggest ukulele size, which creates deep sounds. If you're into blues or fingerpicking, the baritone is your ideal ukulele. I like the baritone, because the lower pitch matches my singing range.
What ukulele shape is right for me?
We just covered the different ukulele sizes available, Now, let's talk about the different shapes. Not all ukes come in the traditional guitar form. For the most part, the shapes of ukuleles are purely cosmetic and don't change the tone or sound of your music.
The standard ukulele is the basic guitar or figure 8 shape. Depending on the type, you'll find some shapes are wider on the bottom, where others are more symmetrical.
If you want to experience the traditional Hawaiian ukulele, go for the pineapple shaped uke. The body is shaped like (you guessed it) a pineapple and sometimes has the texture of pineapple skin on the top. You can find certain varieties with a spiky headstock to emulate the fruit.
The banjo uke, also called a banjolele, has a small banjo shaped body, but fretted with a ukulele neck. This was made popular by George Formby who would play along to his comedic acts.
There is a tight skin pulled over the top, just like a banjo. Originally, banjo ukuleles' skin were made of calf skin. Some players still prefer that natural feel, but it doesn't make a big difference when playing.
Probably the most unique shape of ukuleles is the armadillo, also known as charango in South America. Traditionally, the armadillo shape was actually made from the shell of an armadillo. Today it is more common for it to be made of wood.
I was completely taken aback the first time I saw a charango. I thought it was a joke! Armadillo ukes that are made from original armadillo shells can actually be quite valuable.
This photo by Flickr user, New River Head, shows how the body of the ukulele is made from the back of an armadillo. Personally, these kind of freak me out! I couldn't imagine touching the hairs of a dead armadillo every time I want to pick up my ukulele. YIKES!
Note: Coustii does not support or tolerate animal cruelty. This content is purely informational.
What else should I know?
We've covered what sounds and level of playability comes with the different types of ukuleles. We also talked about different shapes to the ukulele. Even though they don't affect the sound, you may have a style preference.