There are a few things to consider when purchasing a ukulele. The size of the instrument is one factor, as they each offer unique tones and playing experiences. There are also various types of ukuleles available on the market. All from Sopranissimo to the much larger contrabass.
Not every player will be comfortable with some of the sizes available. Fret spacing then becomes either quite tight or too far apart. Availability is also an issue, as some sizes are much harder to come by.
This article will explore the different ukulele sizes. Plus their corresponding tones, and much more.
Ukulele Sizes Guide
There are 4 main ukulele sizes, soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. These are the most talked about ukuleles, as they are the easiest to come by and made by most manufacturers.
But there are a few other options out there that don’t normally get a mention but can be perfect for the right person. Let’s take a look at all the sizes from largest to smallest!
Once you know all the sizes, read our article on the different ukulele types here!
Contrabass Ukulele – 32″
The contrabass ukulele was invented in 2014. It’s the largest and deepest-sounding uke. It’s so big that some people have a hard time believing it’s even in the same family as the soprano ukulele. The deep and rich tones of the contrabass ukulele are what make it so special.
The contrabass is played like a normal bass guitar for the most part, and even shares the same tuning. They have rubbery strings that are much different from other instruments. This is to allow the strings to be tuned so low with such a short scale length.
There aren’t many manufacturers making contrabass ukuleles. So they can be quite hard to come by. And when you do find one, they are usually quite expensive. If you’re looking for a contrabass ukulele, we recommend checking out the U-Bass from Kala.
Bass Ukulele – 30″
The bass ukulele is a bit of a hybrid instrument and is older than the contrabass. It shares many features with the bass guitar, including 4 strings and a similar tuning. The main difference is that the bass ukulele is smaller, making it more portable. The bass ukulele is also an octave higher in pitch due to the strings and scale length.
Bass ukuleles are typically used in a rhythm role, providing the low-end sound in a band. They can be played solo, but because of their limited range, they are not as versatile as other ukulele sizes.
They use polyurethane strings. This gives them a more elastic feel and because of their size are easy to play with their larger frets.
Bass ukuleles come in solid and hollow body designs. Some with the addition of electronics and pickups in them. They can take the place of a bass guitar when size matters. So if you’re looking for a much easier-to-play bass guitar, consider this ukulele size.
Baritone Ukulele – 30″
Baritone ukuleles are considered to be one of the main common types, and of them, this is the largest. It’s tuned to the same notes as the bottom 4 strings on a guitar. This is D-G-B-E. It’s much different than the other standard ukuleles.
Baritones are usually 30″ in length. This is significantly larger than a soprano ukulele. The increased size gives the baritone ukulele a much louder and fuller sound. And with the lower tuning, the sound is also much more profound.
The extra length also provides more space between the frets. It makes it more comfortable for those with larger hands. Baritones are typically played much differently than a standard ukulele. If you are considering one, there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to the notes and chords.
Tenor Ukulele – 26″
The tenor ukulele is considered to be the standard size by most people. It’s not too big or small, which makes it the perfect size for most players. Tenor ukuleles are tuned to standard. This is G-C-E-A. The scale length is also longer than a soprano and concert. It gives the tenor ukulele more projection and volume.
Tenors typically have a more traditional ukulele sound and are used in a variety of genres. They are also the most popular size among professionals. This is a great option when you want a slightly warmer tone. Plus frets that are slightly bigger for easier finger placement.
It’s important to know that they are not as bright as a soprano. Which is considered to be the Hawaiian traditional uke. But they are not far off!
Concert Ukulele – 23″
The concert ukulele is a great middle ground between the small soprano and the larger tenor. It shares many features with the tenor. Including the same tuning and number of strings. It was considered to be a large ukulele when released in 1920. The main difference here is the size.
The concert ukulele also has a shorter scale length. This gives it a brighter tone. This also means that the fret spacing is slightly smaller as well. It also means that it’s not quite as easy to play, especially if you have wide fingers.
If you have no issues with playing a soprano and would like a slightly warmer tone. Then the concert size is worth trying. The extra bit of volume it will project over the soprano is something that many players prefer.
Find out who the best ukulele brands are here!
Soprano Ukulele – 21″
The soprano ukulele is the classic and most traditional size. It’s not the smallest, but it’s the size people think of when they consider a ukulele. Because of its size, many people consider it to be a toy, not realizing its popularity as an instrument.
The soprano is not as easy to play when compared to some of the others. It’s because the scale length is very small. The frets are also tight, and the strings are close together.
This does make it easy to press strings, however, as you don’t have to stretch your fingers. This makes it excellent for children and beginners. People who are just getting used to a stringed instrument.
Although it’s not the easiest to play, the soprano ukulele is portable and has a very distinct sound. If you want the classic ukulele experience, then this is the size for you.
Pineapple Ukulele – 21″
The pineapple ukulele is unique, and one of the most interesting ukes out there. It was created in the 1920s by Samuel Kamaka and is easily recognizable by its shape.
It shares the same scale length and tuning as the soprano. The pineapple ukulele has a much fuller sound because of its larger body. This is due to the fact that there is no waist. The internal bracing is also different, which allows the soundboard to vibrate more.
Anyone that would prefer to play a soprano should consider this shape. You will be a bolder sound and more volume.
Sopranino Ukulele – 19″
The sopranino ukulele is the second-smallest member of the uke family. It’s believed that the sopranino was the first ukulele design. It has other names like the piccolo and bambino. This one comes in a few different shapes, which include pineapple.
This is a small ukulele! But can still be tuned to standard while using soprano fluorocarbon strings. It’s a very playable instrument. It has similar fret spacing as a regular soprano, it’s just a bit smaller in body and overall length.
Sopranissimo Ukulele – 17″
The sopranissimo ukulele is the smallest member of the uke family. It’s currently only made by a few manufacturers. This ukulele is perfect for those who have small hands. Or those who want one that is very easy to travel with, as it’s known as a pocket uke.
It’s also a good choice for children who are just starting to learn how to play the instrument. Despite its small size, the sopranissimo ukulele still has a bright and fun sound. Some players have built their own with deeper bodies that create a richer sound. This is quite pleasing to the ear.
While most people only know of the soprano ukulele, there are in fact numerous sizes, as you can see. Each one offers players something unique in a range of different sounds. When you’re choosing a ukulele, be sure to consider what size will work best for you and your playing style.
You may find that you prefer the sound of a particular size, or that one is more comfortable for you to play. With so many great options available, there’s sure to be a ukulele size that’s perfect for you.