10 Reason It’s Easier to Learn the Guitar than the Ukulele

It’s a good job no one pays any attention to a word I say. If they did, they’d realise how often I contradict myself. I change my mind more often than I change my underpants (i.e. about once a week).

I’ve stated a few times that it’s easier for a beginner to play the ukulele rather than the guitar. But is it easier to learn the ukulele than the guitar? I thought I might run with the hypothesis that on this subject, and many others, I’m talking a whole load of fanny-rot.

It’s easier to learn the guitar than the ukulele because…

1) It’s easier to tune: The shorter scale length of the ukulele makes it decidedly tricky to get in tune. A slight tweak of tuner can send it wildly out of tune. Add to that the fact that strings take a couple of weeks to bed down and you’ve got a big problem. If even professional musicians like Amanda Palmer and Stephin Merritt can’t get their ukuleles in tune, what chance has a beginner got?

2) It’s possible to find a teacher: Google results for “guitar teacher” = 316,000. Google results for “ukulele teacher” = 1,480. The best way to learn a new instrument is sitting face to face with someone who is already an expert. It’s much easier to find those people with the guitar.

3) It’s easier to make it sound OK: Guitars naturally have a big sound which is generous to less careful playing. It takes a bit more experience to tease a good sound out of a ukulele. It’s all to easy to smother all the tone out of the poor thing.

4) You don’t have to worry about holding it: Sometimes ukeing standing up is a little like playing whilst juggling a sack of potatoes. And using a strap feels like giving in.

5) They don’t have friction tuners: The friction tuners on beginner level ukuleles are universally awful. I wonder how many people have given up on the ukulele because they couldn’t get the tuners to stick and didn’t realise you could tighten them.

6) It’s easier to find tabs and lessons online: There’s a whole lot more than there used to be. But the uke stuff still doesn’t come close to the amount (and, dare I say, quality) of guitar stuff.

7) You can buy a decent guitar in a shop: Imagine that. Walking into a shop and being able to try a wide range of instruments of playable quality and decide which one you like best. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a shop with more than one ukulele for sale. And I’ve never been in one with more than zero good ukuleles for sale.

8) No one cares what strumming pattern you use on the guitar: In my many years on the dark side, I don’t ever remember anyone discussing any strumming patterns.

9) The strings are in the right order: What the hell kind of sense does re-entrant tuning make anyway?

10) It’s physically possible to play and E chord on the guitar.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments.

(And, no, this isn’t an April Fools joke).

View Comments


  1. Howlin' Hobbit April 1st, 2009 7:21 pm

    #1: Pure piffle. Tuning any stringed instrument takes practice. If practice scares you, you need to take up some other hobby. I suggest philately since the post office nearly world-wide is doomed and those little sticky bits of paper are going to soar in value.

    #2: Bits of truth in there but lots of good players of both guitar and ukulele never had the benefit of a teacher.

    #3: Rubbish. You can sound wretched on either instrument. Believe me on that one, I’ve spent a lot of time at open mikes. Ouch!

    #4: Further piffle and for about the same reason as #1. Practice, kids!

    #5: A lot of truth in that one.

    #6: Since great swathes of the tunes that ukers are playing are from songs posted by guitar players I don’t see a lot of difference here. And the quality level is spotty throughout.

    #7: All too true.

    #8: Not only true but a major source of LOL for me.

    #9: Many early instruments were in re-entrant tuning, including early iterations of guitars. The close voicing one gets with only four strings and tuned that way makes for some easy fingerings for some pretty fancy stuff.

    And the E chord? Hmmm… seems somewhere I said something about practice.

    There. I took you at your word that this wasn’t an April Fool’s prank. So if it actually is one, all that above pedantry serves you right. :-)

  2. Armelle April 1st, 2009 7:25 pm

    I hope you’re not suggesting we beginners should switch to the guitar because it’s too hard for us to find a teacher who can explain strumming patterns and that therefore we will never sound right :-)

    We’re not that hopeless for tabs and chords with your site !

    Sorry but I’ll stick to the ukulele anyway :-þ for Fluke’s sake !

  3. Donnie Bubbles April 1st, 2009 7:29 pm

    I went with the uke over the guitar for two reasons:

    1. I have a busted flipper and have to play lefty – the low cost and string count on the uke made me feel I could take a chance on restringing one to see how it worked out.

    2. If you play the guitar, you have to be great. No one wants to hear your plucking version of Stairway on a guitar, but butcher it on a uke and everyone is smiling.

    PS – The E might be hard, but all the other chords are much easier than the guitar versions.

  4. Ryan Hartkopf April 1st, 2009 7:38 pm

    7. I was recently in a music shop with three ukuleles! And they weren’t junk either, which surprised me. They had a nice Lanikai soprano and a low-level acoustic-electric concert. I was inexplicably excited that I’m not the only ukulele player in the area.

  5. HaileISela April 1st, 2009 7:41 pm

    “And using a strap feels like giving in” HAHAHAHA! you got me with that, too funny!

    well, seriously, I had so many nice (but obvious) april fools today, even if this is not meant to be one (at least it’s not untrue), it’s just funny^^

  6. cardboardfrog April 1st, 2009 8:09 pm

    two things, i love the E chord, i have big doube jointed fingers itsmy favouorite chord haha,
    also you should come to liverpool we have two shops within a few meters of one another with 2 or 3 nice ukes in each mainly ohana’s kalas and oscar schmits.
    i think learning uke is good because the skills transfer so nicely, mute the E andd A string on a guitar and just transpose all chords down 5 semitones and shred that axe right up, makes people think you’re some kind of super musical prodigy

  7. Marlon April 1st, 2009 8:16 pm

    7. You’ve clearly not been to London recently, old chap! There’s an awesome shop in Spitalfields called the Duke of Uke. It sells more ukes than it does guitars.

  8. lalala April 1st, 2009 8:16 pm

    Try the Hobgoblin Music shops- there is a fantastic one in Birmingham from which I got my Ashbury Tenor Electro-Acoustic (with Aquilas!), and that was just one of many!!

  9. Emily April 1st, 2009 8:42 pm

    Being a white kid from the suburbs, playing the guitar was my destiny…and yet here I am playing the uke. Not that I didn’t give guitar a go, I just couldn’t stick with it. Particularly not when I found out every douchebag in my high school played one. Then I was WAY not interested.

  10. Anna April 1st, 2009 9:11 pm

    I bar the g, c, and e strings with my thumb and play on the a with my index finger for the e chord.

  11. KatieBrain April 1st, 2009 9:19 pm

    Hmmmm…I moved from guitar to uke and have to say, uke’s easier.

    Also, if you’re small like me you don’t look quite so ridiculous playing a uke, compared to a guitar so big that you can’t be seen behind it…

    Ukes are good.

  12. Rennie April 1st, 2009 9:23 pm

    I have A LOT of trouble playing the guitar because I have really small hands, so the uke is awesome for me!

  13. Jon Nelson April 1st, 2009 9:38 pm

    Playing guitar feels like wrestling a piece of furniture while trying to play music. I’m a big guy and guitars feel, and have always felt, bulky and unwieldy. It’s all well and good to say that we should practice, but it is easier to carry around a uke than it is to drag along something the size of a coffee table and practice when I get a chance.

  14. Woodshed April 1st, 2009 9:48 pm

    Hobbit: The point is beginners don’t have any practice behind them. I still say those things take less practice on guitar than ukulele.

    Armelle: Definitely stick with uke!

    Donnie: *Tries to think of another chord that’s easier on guitar* Maybe D is easier. But, yeah, that’s about it.

    Ryan: Three ukuleles :O

    HailelSela: Honestly, it isn’t an April Fool.

    cbf: Must be the Beatles influence.

    Marlon: I allow most swear words on this blog. But the L-word is pushing it.

    lalala: I bought my Ashbury from them. Online though.

    Emily: I’m trying to decide if I’m a bigger douchebag when playing guitar or ukulele. I’m a pretty big douchbag either way. But guitar probably wins out.

    Anna: That’s one way of doing it. But it makes change to and from it quite tricky.

    KatieBrain: It’s looks even more strange when tiny girls play the bass. Ginger Reyes for instance.

    Rennie: I have the hands of a six year old girl and, yes, it is an advantage on the ukulele.

  15. Woodshed April 1st, 2009 9:50 pm

    Jon: I know what you mean. I always felt my back aching after playing electric guitar for too long. Probably to do with my bad posture.

  16. ronhale April 1st, 2009 10:26 pm

    Ah, the tyranny of the strumming pattern. Agreed, is not something I ever encountered with guitarists, except once, just after the Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man album came out. A friend asked me just exactly how I was strumming Feel a Whole Lot Better, & darned if I could tell him (I gave him some up down mumbo jumbo, but that’s all it was, of course). How do you slow down what comes naturally to break it into a series of ups & downs? And any pattern is, of course, just a starting point, not to be rigidly adhered to, since sooner or later the pattern breaks down & nature takes its course, anyway. At a beginning stage, however, learning patterns is helpful, akin to learning scales, & once learned & embedded into a players DNA, can then come out naturally in one’s playing. And there’s absolutely no reason a song cannot be strummed many different ways.

  17. J-Hob April 1st, 2009 10:55 pm

    I don’t think the wife would let me get away with owning 9 guitars!

  18. Tamster April 2nd, 2009 2:10 am

    4 – I agree the guitar is easier as it can rest in your lap without the neck sliding downward. If I play with a soprano uke resting on my leg I find I’m a little bit twisted to one side, so I tend to hold it higher.
    I use a strap ( I gave in) and it frees up your fretting hand and the uke doesn’t slide downward. Without one, if you have boobs, it’s hard to hold a uke flat against your chest when your chest isn’t flat !
    I have noticed that some men with big stomachs appear to rest the body of the uke on the tops of their stomach while playing.

  19. chris April 2nd, 2009 4:56 am


  20. Woodshed April 2nd, 2009 6:34 am

    ron: Definitely. I’m trying to write a beginner’s guide to strumming and I’m having really trouble trying to explain it. I’ve never really thought about, just did it naturally.

    John: That’s a point. I don’t think I’d be able to fit so many guitars under my bed.

    Tamster: The boob issue is one I give a great deal of thought to. But I wouldn’t advise having the uke flat against your chest. No matter what shape it is.

    chris: No argument there.

  21. RadioHead April 2nd, 2009 6:51 am

    Anyone can play guitar

  22. J-Hob April 2nd, 2009 7:54 am

    All hail the beer belly!

  23. original bear April 2nd, 2009 8:44 am

    Judas! :)

  24. amber April 2nd, 2009 9:11 am

    I too, love the E chord. Mostly because I feel like a true genius being able to play it after it was such a pain in the beginning.

  25. J-Hob April 2nd, 2009 9:14 am

    Maybe we could have an E-chord week on uke hunt? Lots of tabs and chords of songs containing the E chord and other articles about the various ways of fingering to de-mystify it?

  26. Mark April 2nd, 2009 9:14 am

    I actually laughed at the strum patterns for guitar.

  27. Alice April 2nd, 2009 10:00 am

    The E chord is a b*tch :@

  28. zymeck April 2nd, 2009 11:51 am

    Brilliant. About time someone exploded the myth of the ukulele.

    The way its reported, you only have to look at a ukulele and they magically play themselves. Clearly this is rubbish, and like all other instruments, it takes lots time & lots of practice.

    I would say that if can play the guitar, then making the transition is a lot easier, but this is more to do with the fact that your brain has already learned how to get your hands to do two very differernt things at the same time.

    So when will guitarhunt.com be online?

  29. QAsRevenge April 2nd, 2009 12:53 pm

    I feel ya on strumming patterns. I’ve worked my butt off for two months and finally just got the strumming down for Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
    Never had that problem with Freebird. ;)
    Overall though, I just love the little bastards!

  30. mictoboy April 2nd, 2009 1:02 pm

    CBF: ‘mute the E andd A string on a guitar and just transpose all chords down 5 semitones’

    and open a piano and hit the strings with a pair of pliers and it’ll sound like a harpsichord!


  31. cardboardfrog April 2nd, 2009 1:30 pm

    micto i’m so going into my local music shop with some pliers now ^^,

  32. melissa April 2nd, 2009 2:54 pm

    Found a rockabilly song that uses the dreaded e chord. What a joy to play!!!

    Wanda Jackson’s Fujiymama Mama. It uses only A A7 D E

  33. Allison April 2nd, 2009 3:21 pm

    I’m definitely flea bitten, but have only started jamming with others (other musicians, not other ukulists :( ) in the past few months. I always wondered why I received the weirdest stares when I brought up strum patterns…now I know it’s not just me!

  34. Rukuleleth April 2nd, 2009 3:33 pm

    as someone with abnormally tiny hands, i love the uke because i can physically play it!

  35. todd April 2nd, 2009 4:16 pm


    you’ve opened up a can of worms……

    c chord -one finger

    a minor- one finger

    F variation (index finger fretting only second string first fret) one finger….

    you had some good points about tuning, strumming etc., but there’s something magical about seeing someone for the first time make a decent sound on the uke and strum these aformentioned chords…….i’ve never yet seen the same thing on the guitar…..it usually makes that ‘thunking’ ‘chunking’ noise for the first several months of playing eh?

    I know where your loyalties lie…..as with all the other ‘posters’ ;)

  36. Tony April 2nd, 2009 4:56 pm

    I’ve learned both instruments fairly recently and I think the points you make are fairly valid.

    The main advantage I found of ukulele over guitar was the less strings, this simplifies almost all aspects of playing, makes finger picking more logical, makes chords easier to remember, and requires less left hand training.

    A close second advantage of learning the uke that should not be overlooked is the community around it. Uke players tend to be much more welcoming to beginners, whereas guitar players tend to be more show-offy than anything. I find most people don’t get their first exposure to an instrument through instructors, they see someone else playing it and want to give it a go.

    One thing I haven’t found in the guitar community is a guitarhunt blog :D

    This site has done wonders for my uke playing – a single place for a wide variety of tabs/chords, a good balance of background context and exposure, it makes playing more interesting, and you don’t have to spend hours finding out about the quality of tabs, or picking out tabs for the electric vs acoustic vs classical because there’s a trusted tab author posting! If you know of a similar guitar site, point me to it please.

  37. Terry Truhart April 2nd, 2009 6:01 pm

    OK, Al

    You got my attention. I do read your newsletter at least 3 to 4 times a week and
    I enjoy every one I read. And I love UKE HUNT just like every other uke player I know. I love you man, but your pushing my buttons now. This last newsletter 10 REASONS IT’S EASIER TO LEARN the GUITAR THAN the UKULELE. It’s the truth, but so skewed you make me think you’ve went nuts.

    1) It’s easier to tune: The shorter scale length of the ukulele makes it decidedly tricky to get in tune. A slight tweak of tuner can send it wildly out of tune. Add to that the fact that strings take a couple of weeks to bed down and you’ve got a big problem. If even professional musicians like Amanda Palmer and Stephin Merritt can’t get their ukuleles in tune, what chance has a beginner got?

    The uke is easier to tune. Two less strings Duh. I hate one-to-one tuners, but a guitar is
    not easier. Yes, Kamaka strings and other tough strings take a while to “break in”, but you can do it in a couple of hours. The process takes 4 or 5 tuning cylcles, but its worth it. The sound is brighter and happier. You don’t tear up your fingers on uke like a guitar. You should have a electronic clip-on tuner for ANY string instrument.

    2) It’s possible to find a teacher: Google results for “guitar teacher” = 316,000. Google results for “ukulele teacher” = 1,480. The best way to learn a new instrument is sitting face to face with someone who is already an expert. It’s much easier to find those people with the guitar.

    Yes, this is a problem for the ukulele. But you don’t have to be an expert to teach someone
    ukulele chords, and some strumming, and a little phrasing. By comparison, you don’t have to be a linguist to teach basic reading and writing.

    3) It’s easier to make it sound OK: Guitars naturally have a big sound which is generous to less careful playing. It takes a bit more experience to tease a good sound out of a ukulele. It’s all to easy to smother all the tone out of the poor thing.

    But, the uke is brighter, plus the chords are harder to make on a guitar. Try playing a song on a guitar with just two fingers for most of the chords. Also, you have to be physically bigger to play the guitar. A three-year old can play a uke.

    4) You don’t have to worry about holding it: Sometimes ukeing standing up is a little like playing whilst juggling a sack of potatoes. And using a strap feels like giving in.

    Who wants to lug around a huge guitar everywhere? You want a strap digging into your neck every time you want to play a little ditty. I never heard anyone complaining about a sore back from holding a uke.

    5) They don’t have friction tuners: The friction tuners on beginner level ukuleles are universally awful. I wonder how many people have given up on the ukulele because they couldn’t get the tuners to stick and didn’t realise you could tighten them.

    Sucky tuners are problem no matter what your string instrument. Older violins have friction tuners too, and the world has managed to survive.

    6) It’s easier to find tabs and lessons online: There’s a whole lot more than there used to be. But the uke stuff still doesn’t come close to the amount (and, dare I say, quality) of guitar stuff.

    Yes, but in the last 5 years the uke sites have exploded. chordie, dominator’s site, and others.
    and dare I say Uke Hunt. Give it some time. The love for uke is just really starting.
    The uke is very very popular on youtube.com.

    7) You can buy a decent guitar in a shop: Imagine that. Walking into a shop and being able to try a wide range of instruments of playable quality and decide which one you like best. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a shop with more than one ukulele for sale. And I’ve never been in one with more than zero good ukuleles for sale.

    Yes, this is true, but a good guitar cost about $400 dollars american. A good uke can be had for under $200 dollars american. I take the extra two hundred in my pocket thank you. BTW, Guitar Center is starting to carry more ukuleles, and the quality is going up in general. Finding a good uke is not as hard as it used to be.

    8) No one cares what strumming pattern you use on the guitar: In my many years on the dark side, I don’t ever remember anyone discussing any strumming patterns.

    No, one cares about the strumming pattern on a guitar because the sounds is all over the place.
    The classical guitarist are really the only true melody players for guitar.

    9) The strings are in the right order: What the hell kind of sense does re-entrant tuning make anyway?

    Ok, I will give that one. But there is such a thing as low-G uke no chord adjustment neccessary.
    But the uke was designed to be a harmony instrument first, now it has evolved and it the best instrument on the planet.

    10) It’s physically possible to play and E chord on the guitar.
    Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments.
    (And, no, this isn’t an April Fools joke).

    Al, Now your really playing dirty. If you really got to play in the key of B or E. You have alternate tunings you can use. YOUR web site is one of the few that can show a uke player how to do that.

    Still love ya AL. I know your playing the “Simon Cowell” part of the antagonist.

    Keep Strumming, Singing, and Smiling,

    Terry Truhart
    co-organizer of the http://www.WindyCityUkeFest.com
    “The Best Ukulele Experience in the Midwest”

  38. deemikay April 2nd, 2009 7:30 pm

    I play the two finger E with a half barre (4442)… all those years of playing DADGAD on the guitar! I also play it as 4447 when needed, which is much, much simpler.

    I don’t know how things would have been if I’d started uke first. But since I got mine last year I’ve played guitar, ooooh, about twice?

    PS I love this site.

  39. Jon April 2nd, 2009 8:42 pm

    Melissa, I play a little rockabilly on the uke. It does sound best in A but E7 sounds better than E and is EZ to play. Someday I will learn to play the E chord but I am struggling with other things just now.

  40. zym April 3rd, 2009 12:25 am

    I would agree with Tony re: ukulele players

    they’re lovely :D

  41. erly April 3rd, 2009 5:51 am

    I love guitar. I bought an ukulele because I can’t afford a Martin ( I also have a pretty cheap acoustic I play sometimes). But I also just moved into a camper so I could afford to go to school, and the guitar would take up too much precious space. Besides, how could I ever be sad with a Kala pineapple-screened pineapple uke?

  42. Plink Freud April 3rd, 2009 6:20 am

    Great thread.

    As a fingerstyle guitarist I became a ukuleliac after seeing Joe Brown’s solo on the George Harrison DVD (like many) and got a huge buzz when I realised I could manage the fingering for 99,876 of the 100,000 possible chords immediately (as opposed to about 37 on the guitar).

    Then I realised if I tuned low G I could transpose lots of guitar arrangements easily to uke.

    Then I realised I hated the droning ‘wannabe guitar’ sound of the low G.

    Then I realised that re-entrant tuning is one of mankinds greatest inventions, and arranging for the uke could be my reason for being on this planet.

    Then I wasted the best months of my life trying to find a better uke than my trusty Mahalo tenor – still haven’t.

    Now I spend half my time trying to play better, and the other (definitely not better) half still trying to find a better uke than my trusty Mahalo tenor.

    So, back to the point:
    uke is both easier and harder than guitar, but infinitely more interesting.

    Al, you are wonderful.

  43. Woodshed April 3rd, 2009 7:34 am

    RadioHead: Them were the days. Back when Radiohead wrote songs. I miss them.

    J-Hob: It does have its uses. A whole week of E chords… it’s a possibility.

    amber: I still find it a pain. Unless there’s a good reason not to, I usually go with the three string version.

    original bear: I don’t believe you. You’re a liar.

    Mark: I’m not sure why guitar strums are never discussed.

    Alice: Agreed!

    zym and Tony: I think the guitar world is too big for a blog like this to work (the dip is too big). And there are a few good guitar blogs around. Although there’s one less since IG Blog disappeared.

    QAsR: Another advantage of the ukulele: it does tend to prevent long, rambling Freebird-like solos. Or is that a disadvantage?

    melissa: Wanda Jackson is the shiznit. No argument there.

    mictoboy: I’ve often wanted to go at a piano with a hammer.

    Allison: Don’t worry, they’re in the wrong.

    Rukuleleth: We should start a small handed ukers club. With a very small secret handshake.

    todd: Yes, loyalties very much with the ukulele. I thought I was sticking up for it here. Like zym says, I don’t think the reputation of the ukulele being easy to play is an entirely good thing.

    zym and Tony again: There are some asshole ukulele players out there. I’ve fallen out with plenty. So either they’re assholes or, more likely, I am.

    deemikay: The 4447 is one I go for regularly too.

    Jon: True! If you’re playing in A, always check if E7 works.

    erly: The storage issue is definitely another advantage of the uke.

    Plink: I do think there are huge advantages to re-entrant tuning – even if it is inside out. But that might just be because my brain is inside out too.

  44. Howlin' Hobbit April 3rd, 2009 7:47 am

    Woodshed sez: “There are some asshole ukulele players out there. I’ve fallen out with plenty. So either they’re assholes or, more likely, I am.”

    Having a recent run-in or two with some, I’m pretty sure it’s not you.

    And I have to ring in on the subject of the ukulele’s reputation being easy to play. I think it’s easy to pick up enough to amuse yourself, and maybe some of your friends, but to learn how to *play* it takes a while.

    The problem with the EZ rep is that it leads to all sorts of questions from new folk who’re all tense because they’ve had their uke for a WHOLE MONTH and can’t play like [insert some great player name here]. And some of them get right pissy when you tell them the secret of getting to Carnegie Hall.

    I do have hope that I’ll learn to play really well one of these days, but I’m willing to *ahem* woodshed until I do.

  45. J-Hob April 3rd, 2009 8:32 am

    I think the uke being easy to pick up and start playing is one of its best qualities. I don’t think I ever would have picked up the uke had that not been case as I had previously written myself off as being non-musical and I have since proved that isn’t the case and now derive so much pleasure from making and playing music.

    I have also seen at the Monday ukearist nights how well some players have progressed from a total standing start and how much they enjoy playing and learn, it’s a real democratisation of music – the uke has the potential to draw more people into playing their own music than any other instrument ever – there’s no cost barrier to getting a playable uke and length of time need for a rank beginner with no previous musical background to be able to play something that is recognisable as a song is minimal.

    Of course this isn’t to say that uke is a simple instrument, the possibilities for what you can do on a uke are almost limitless. I have little doubt there is a lifetime of learning within those four strings and 12 frets.

  46. Armelle April 3rd, 2009 12:40 pm

    Woodshed, if you think you’re an asshole then the definition of an asshole has now changed to “someone who dedicates a lot of his time sharing his knowledge to help other people”.
    In which case I wish there were plenty more out there :-)

  47. phi April 7th, 2009 1:45 am

    While cheap friction tuners are a problem with continuously slipping out of tune, the main problem i had when i got my first ukulele was with the very small angle between too flat and too sharp. The way to solve this is to hold the peg still and turn the ukulele, using the body as a lever and making the small angle is much easier to achieve.

    I found this technique on the Ukulele Cosmos forums.

  48. Woodshed April 7th, 2009 3:53 pm

    Hobbit: The most annoying question I sometimes get is, “Why doesn’t my ukulele sound like that?”

    John: Thanks. I think that’s the best defence of the ‘ukulele is easy’ idea.

    Armelle: Believe me, I can be an asshole.

    phi: Thanks for the tip.

  49. Earl Ledden July 12th, 2009 11:09 am

    Ukulele,,,the thinking man’s violin (and we don’t need no stinkin bow).

  50. Jim Abbott April 9th, 2010 3:54 pm

    Hi Woodie,
    Regarding your comment #7: Just another reason why my ancestors headed for North America ;-) (Ukes turned out to be impossible to find in 17th Century America as well.) If an acoustic guitar shop doesn’t have an interesting selection of quality ukuleles ranging from modern imported instruments through vintage Martins, don’t buy a guitar there because they have their heads up their wazoos. Pioneer Music here in Portland, Oregon maintains a selection of tempting ukulele gems. Most recently a new Collings UC-1 won my heart.

  51. fibby April 13th, 2010 12:11 pm

    Alistair’s Music in Wellington, supplier to the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, has many many beautiful ukuleles at any one time. When I’ve saved up enough cash I’m going to go in there and let one of them choose me!

  52. Adrian April 16th, 2010 3:50 pm

    Well when I play an E chord I just use one finger. I lay it across the bottom three strings. It’s actually really easy, it is impossible doing it with three fingers though.

  53. kurtuke April 22nd, 2010 12:23 am

    With my abnormally long thin fingers i find Uke awesome. But bass guitar will allways be my love

  54. megan June 19th, 2010 12:10 am

    I just started playing ukelele 2 days ago. After playing guitar for 2 years it was honestly a piece of cake to pick it up. I may not be a master but I have been able to figure out every tab I looked up within 10 minutes.
    It was a bit of a challenge to keep it in tune the first day since the strings hadn’t settled, but after a couple hours they started staying in tune..
    By the way, I can play E three different ways and none of them are hard.
    (14×2, 4442, & 4447)
    Conclusion: Uke is definitely easier to pick up than guitar. But the reason, for me, that makes it better than guitar is that its unique. Guitar is overplayed, but ukeleles can get a lot of attention. I don’t know why more people don’t try it.

  55. Newton September 23rd, 2010 3:59 pm

    Just discovered this site. Great stuff!

    I’ve been playing guitar for 10 years and bought a Uke as a “mini/portable” guitar.
    But the re-entrant tuning continue to prove me I am wrong.

    To me, THAT is the beauty of Ukes, with all those close voicings, ringing melodies, ultra-fast chord rolls, etc…

    Thanks for your site! And this post is really good to me. Some people seem to be defending their instrument with no ground. But most of your points do convice me.

    p.s. E chord on Uke is OK for my Asian hand.
    But I think it could always be substituted with one of:
    Emaj7 : 1302
    E7: 1202
    Eadd9: 1422

  56. Woodshed September 24th, 2010 2:59 pm

    Newton: Thanks very much!

  57. Natalia December 15th, 2010 2:14 am

    To be honest, I’ve tried picking up guitar multiple times and can’t play it to save my life. I bought myself a Mahalo beginner soprano uke this September and it’s been SO much easier teaching myself. I definitely picked up the ukulele much faster than anything I learned on guitar.
    So personally, I wouldn’t say that the guitar is easier. I’m glad it isn’t, otherwise I would have never thought about buying this little thing. It’s so fun to play :)

  58. sailboats December 30th, 2010 3:23 pm

    To play basic chords on the ukulele is easier than the guitar. There is no point trying to deny that.

    Does that make the uke easier? heck no. (unless you are only interested in chords)

    Picking, soloing, or anything fun is challenging, maybe even more so than the guitar. I say this because with the guitar you have two extra strings which gives you many additional notes with out even forcing your fingers to jump too far.

    I play both guitar and ukulele. I can’t honestly say which one is easier to learn. I enjoy my uke way more than my guitar so i find it easier to learn….same as my guitar friend finds the guitar easier than the uke.

    Its a never ending debate! I just don’t like hearing people who comment “he must not be good enough to play guitar”

  59. Woodshed January 1st, 2011 11:52 am

    sailboats: Good points. Thanks for that.

  60. Amber January 12th, 2011 5:16 am

    yes :) an ongoing debate with my sister. she insists that because its tiny and has 4 strings, its obviously easier. i beg to disagree!

  61. Woodshed January 16th, 2011 10:57 am

    Amber: Your sister is wrong, you’re right.

  62. DanDeej January 23rd, 2011 6:02 am

    With regards to point No7, here in sunny Manchester we are blessed with a couple of excellent music shops that have a huge range of ukes. Johnny Roadhouse has a good collection and Forsyths on Deansgate has a particularly exciting range: anything from cheap beginners models to antique Martins from the 20s.
    If you are in striking distance it’s well worth the trip.

  63. Bossarocker January 23rd, 2011 12:44 pm

    Speaking as another Manchester bod, I personally wouldn’t buy another uke from Hobgoblin (the upstairs bit of Johnny Roadhouse where all the ukes are). It’s worth a trip though just to ogle at all the other beautiful instruments they sell. I rarely dare to step foot into Forsyth’s, I don’t have a first born child or an arm & a leg to spare! Just up the road is Purple Turtle Music (based in Bredbury, just outside Stockport). Their uke stock seems a bit thin on the ground at the moment but I’ve always had good service there (unlike Hobgoblin).

  64. Woodshed January 28th, 2011 10:28 am

    DanDeej and Bossa: Things have changed quite a bit in the two years since I wrote this post. Yesterday I walked past the shop where I bought my first ukulele. Back then they had one terrible ukulele for sale. Now they’re prominently displaying a bunch of them in the window.

  65. Josh Ward January 29th, 2011 11:40 am

    I started learning Ukulele in September last year from here. Loved it. I’ve always been musical but never played a musical instrument. After Christmas this year, however, I decided I wanted to learn the guitar (shock horror). I’ve started, the tabs are everywhere, if you want to play a song, you google it as opposed to suggesting it to Woodshed. There are a bazillion video tutorials and everything out there. And on the topic of tuning. A cheapo £40 guitar I have lying around in my house from ages ago stays in tune and plays recognizable songs easily. Took a month or too before I got that on a Ukulele.

    In conclusion, I think it’s easier to learn to play the Ukulele, by far. However, it is a lot harder to be GOOD at the Ukulele. If you’ve learnt to play the guitar, then you’re in the guitar crew. If you’ve learnt to play the Ukulele, you’ve spent a couple of hours sat staring at this website. The resources are much more scarce for Ukulele’s and this is annoying, but (don’t shout at me for saying this) you couldn’t play a Ukulele in a band all the time. Well, I wouldn’t want to. It works nicely as a skill to have for festivaling and the like, but as a serious instrument, it’s a very narrow area of music, where a guitar can be used to cover pretty much any song at an OK level.

  66. Woodshed January 30th, 2011 3:25 pm

    Josh: Well some people play ukulele in a band all the time but I take your point.

  67. nika February 9th, 2011 9:47 pm

    you can like what you like and play what u play.
    in my opinion i play both. and i lovelovelove the uke. its adorable and tiny. and has a cool sound.
    yes, you can do a lot with guitar, but still…

  68. kuke February 14th, 2011 6:53 pm

    2 words: Jake. Shimabukuro.

  69. Emily February 26th, 2011 11:40 am

    Actually i have just brought a Kala ukulele from a ukulele store in london.. its called the Duke of Uke there loads of good quality ukuleles there..
    Just to let you know i brought a Kala SC

  70. Jason March 23rd, 2011 1:34 am

    One word: Kamakawiwo’ole.

  71. blair June 15th, 2011 11:33 pm

    i live in hawaii and ive seen many ukuleles in shops. i could name three ukulele shops right off the top of my head

  72. Woodshed June 16th, 2011 8:49 am

    blair: The important part of that sentence: “i live in hawaii”.

  73. Brittany June 28th, 2011 10:32 pm

    Woodshed: I live in the midwest and there’s a local music shop that sells ukuleles. I went there just this afternoon and saw about ten different ukuleles.

  74. end33thousand September 18th, 2011 11:18 pm

    I play guitar, uke and piano (I’m still a beginner on all of them). My hands are a tad too small to play some of the trickier chords on the piano and guitar and my fingers aren’t always long enough to do barre chords on the guitar. My uke (i don’t know what one it is but it was cheap and makes a fairly decent sound) is so easy to play in comparison. I’ve only had it for 4 months and am already at the same level as I am on guitar and piano (I’ve been playing them longer).
    You don’t need a teacher to teach you an instrument, I learn everything online and this site is the one I use for uke stuff (because it’s amazing).
    I got my uke from a shop that sells loads of them, and it’s not even a uke specialist shop. I live in a teeny tiny town with only 3 music shops, and ALL of them sell more than 1 type of uke.
    Uke is loads easier than guitar, even my dad could tell you that and he doesn’t even play uke. He just steals mine and plays stuff on it.

  75. Jon October 5th, 2011 4:43 pm

    I totally agree with the generosity of guitars. It’s easier to get a good sounding chord progression on a guitar because of that big sound you’re talking about :).

  76. Salty November 6th, 2011 11:16 pm

    1: I haven’t tuned many guitars but I find it pretty much the same.

    2: I agree, good teachers are easier to find for guitar.

    3: Yes, guitars have that “room shaky” ability which is impressive.

    4: I have no trouble holding my uke standing up, I find it much easier to hold a ukulele than a guitar.

    5: Oh dear god I hate friction tuners more than anything.

    6: Absolutely true.

    7: Well true, it is debatable. There are two “Long & McQuade’s” Here in Winnipeg, both have great selection of ukes. I think combined they have 20 on display.

    8: So true, strumming patterns make things sound so much better.

    9: I don’t think it really makes a difference. Chords are chords, tabs are tabs. It doesn’t really matter what order the strings are in.

    10: I think E is quite simple, bar the second fret with your index finger and bar G C E with your ring finger.

  77. Dan November 14th, 2011 5:58 pm

    I’ve been playing ukulele for about a year, just teaching myself things and trying to learn new songs.

    I don’t find the E chord hard at all. It can be a change to switch to in some situations but it’s not on my list of problem-chords.

  78. jeh November 17th, 2011 8:30 am

    i am learning to play the guitar(recently), and it is quite difficult because I teach myself and I also use videos, now I am thinking about buying a uke coz i think it is easier to play since it has only four chords plus my thumb hurts coz i don’t know how to place it at the back of the neck, even though I believe i can also learn guitar through practice…once have the money i will buy a uke.sometimes it’s more expensive than a guitar.

  79. Jess December 24th, 2011 9:07 pm

    the amount of instruments (of any kind) avaliable reflects more on the store than the instrument. Just because I cant pick up a piano or accordion and a regular music store doesn’t mean they’re awful, it means theyre a more niche group of instruments that only the more dedicated would track down.
    The music store I went to had an entire wall of ukuleles ranging from the begginners to the most advanced electric ones.

    I own two guitars and one ukulele, I admit the guitar is better for my large fingers and theres a wider range of sounds on the guitars in one tuning (far more frets, chords and string length to mess around with.

    But everyone and their dog would be carrying around giant guitar cases, public transport next to anyone with a guitar, even the most mindful person, would be awkwardly trying to balance their instrument.
    Guitars were so mainstream (lol) and so many people would be playing TNT by ACDC.

    Ukuleles are handy by been small and sweet. There are deffinately difficult things to play on the Ukulele. Easy to learn and hard to master.

    I’m a novice at both instruments (only a few years of guitar but a few days on Ukulele already sounds nicer).

    I guess for me the Ukulele is something different that can cheer anyone up.

    Also sitting down playing guitar is rather difficult for the more…ahem…well endowed woman, having one boob squished and the other sitting ontop like a lazy cat is rather unappealing.
    Hawaiian girls with grass skirts and coconut bras are sexy though.

  80. Alf January 7th, 2012 11:43 am

    I agree with you on this. The E chord is very hard on the Ukulele, but on the guitar I find its quite simple to play.

  81. Ben February 8th, 2012 6:13 pm

    I learned the uke instead of the guitar because I thought it would be easier. Ukes, by virtue of being so small, are generally easier to hold. Guitars that are just the right size for your body are good, but they can be hard to find.
    Overall, this article is really good to have out there. I thought I was alone in thinking these things. I think that the size and string quantity of ukes is ultimately conducive to them actually getting picked up once they’ve been bought, but that doesn’t make them easier to play.
    People have talked a lot about how ukes used to be more popular than guitars and “whatever happened?” I think that what happened is, when ukes were more popular, it wasn’t because they were easy- it was because their sound fit with the popular music of the day.
    These days, guitars fit more with what’s popular, so they’re inevitably going to be more popular.

  82. MikeE February 22nd, 2012 4:19 am

    Love the site, and the discussion. My take:

    1. Guitars can be a bitch to tune sometimes, too. As far as friction tuners go, anyone who owns a screwdrier can install geared tuners.

    3. It can be much harder to get a good sound out of a guitar, particularly for a beginner, and for anyone using a guitar that hasn’t been professionally set up (most people). Beginners have a hard time fretting the strings, and there are a lot of chords that require muting a string – if you don’t you get “dischord.”

    4. You think it’s easy to hold a dreadnought standing up? Get a strap and stop complaining about having to hold your uke!

    6. True, but I use guitar tab for my uke. I started as a guitar player, then learned uke (and mandolin, and banjo, and bass, and…) so it’s fairly easy for me to transpose notation in my head.

    7. I was in a guitar store just this week that had a whole range of ukes, soprano, concert, tenor, and bari, and at varying levels of quality. And it’s a small store in a small town.. Things are getting better for uke players!

    8. Strumming pattern is just as important with guitar, but yeah, not a lot of passionate discussion about it among guitar players.

    9. The strings are in the right order on the uke, too. One of them is just an octave off.

    10. Yeah, on a guitar it’s called a “B” chord. And there are two more strings to worry about.

  83. leeuwen February 24th, 2012 7:32 am

    The uke is just a hype at the moment, but funny to play. If you find a normal guitar too big just try a 1/2 or 1/4 size they are big fun and give much more than a uke.

  84. Todd March 14th, 2012 6:16 pm

    #7 is pure crap. tons of shops sell uke’s and really nice ones at that. I just bought one an hour ago. walked in picked up a beauty fender uke. all koa wood. sounds sweet. walked in and out within ten minutes.

    also leeuwen it’s not about the size of the uke its about the tone and the sound. i dont think it compares to a guitar cause its a uke. i’ve played guitar for 15 years but have way more fun playing a uke.

    it’s also not a “hype” or fad. the uke has been around for a very long time.

  85. Terry Truhart March 14th, 2012 9:58 pm

    Hi, Todd

    The original article was written in 05/2009, almost 3 years ago. Fender ukes did not even exist then. Over 655,000 Chinese ukes have been sold last year. So, there is more in stores/uke maker/uke types to meet the rising demand over the last three years.

    Keep Strumming, Singing, and Smiling, Todd
    Welcome to the community of uke lovers.

    Terry Truhart

  86. Woodshed March 15th, 2012 12:04 pm

    Terry: Thanks. It’s amazing how things have changed over the last few years.

  87. raj March 27th, 2012 9:02 am

    Sunny? mancs? more like wet miserable mancs….

  88. Andy April 21st, 2012 3:09 pm

    I cant agree with point #7 as here on the south coast of the UK we have an excellent music shop with a huge range of ukes for sale (southern ukulele center) but i must agree with your final point, I’ve played 6 string for 20 years but the E on a uke certainly takes some getting round! Songs that start in E and then never go back to it are fine though! :)

  89. UkePuke June 17th, 2012 9:59 pm

    The only rule in music is that “there are no rules.” – with that in mind, who says you need to play all four strings when sounding an E triad?
    Help! I am being oppressed by a strap! – lol. (I can dig this one!)

  90. Ukalulu July 8th, 2012 8:45 pm

    How things have changed since April Fool’s Day 2009. I walked into a music shop (in Liverpool, already mentioned) and spent best part of an hour trying more ukes than I could shake a stick at, or indeed afford. I plumped for a mid range one while I learn, promising myself a beaut for Christmas.

    Since then I have hardly put it down and my 30 odd years of musical frustration have turned into hours of fun. Perhaps more importantly, it has also caused the penny to finally drop with regard to a lot of musical theory and ‘making sense’ of music. I know that this has been more achievable on a small, portable, affordable, fun instrument.

    I just love this blog and I think you have made a lot of your own arguments redundant, by making a wealth of uke material available for novices and more skillful players alike.

    Yes the uke is undergoing a slightly faddy revival at the moment, but if it introduces more people to a wonderful and under-appreciated instrument, so what?

    Thanks for all your work on this site and I hope that (most of the time) you don’t agree with your own comments from April 09.

    Long live the uke and all who sail in her! xxx

  91. Woodshed July 9th, 2012 10:24 pm

    Ukalulu: Thanks very much for the kind words!

  92. Lisa Pham July 17th, 2012 4:47 am

    Ukulele is the way to go! 4 strings easy to play and it’s small! It’s an advantage for girls like me because we can’t wrap our arms around a guitar. Don’t be cheap and get a tuner for your uke, i got mine for only 15 dollars. I love my ukulele and it’s really easy to play it once you learn how to strum and chuck. I still find guitar very difficult. But one day i’ll try it.

  93. Woodshed July 17th, 2012 8:20 am

    Lisa: Glad to hear you’re enjoying your uke!

  94. Cajungal September 6th, 2012 3:51 am

    Not to be too graphic, but I don’t mind “giving in” to using a strap. I find that my breasts get in the way. I’m either holding it far too high or far too low, and I don’t have that secure feeling you’re supposed to have. Plus, since I’m not having to press as hard to keep it steady, I find I get a better sound.

    I’m self-taught. Wish I had time for lessons (if there were someone available here), but I play for my own enjoyment first. I sound good enough for me, at least. It doesn’t have to be a competition. Guitars will probably always be more popular, and ukes might fall out of vogue soon. But who cares? Do what you like, like what you do, etc…

  95. David M October 11th, 2012 3:04 pm

    Ok im a Sophmore in high school and i have to say i tried to learn guitar and spent hours trying and couldnt, i got a ukulele for my birthday and i havnt put it down. I carry it around on my back and play it at school. I learned my first song in 10 minutes. I have to side with the ukulele.

  96. Bughunter4hire October 23rd, 2012 5:43 am

    Started playing mid July 2012, I play keyboard so the uke is my first string instrument. What I have is basically a $25 toy. I installed Aquila strings and that made a big difference. Here’s my observations.
    1. Once you pull out a uke, the expectations are already very low. No one will be thinking “boy this guy will blow us away with his uke. ” so you can only impress them at this point.
    2. You pull out a guitar and people will be asking “can you do Jimmy Page?” You pull out a uke, “can you do Tiny Tim?
    3. You always hear about “guitar wizards”, “ukulele wizards? I think not.
    4. The portability of the uke let’s you practice more. I test software for a living and I quietly pluck and strum during reboots and sleep/hibernate tests. I practice while sitting in traffic or sitting on the couch during commercial breaks.
    5. The uke forces you to recreate most songs into something new. You know how Randy Jackson would complement contestants when they turn something old into something new? Well, the uke forces you to think outside the box, because for the most part, you are already out of the box. Instead of sounding “Karaoke-ish”, you’ll take that song and “make it you own dawg!” Simply because you don’t have any choice – with the uke, it will never sound like the original – ever, and that’s good.
    6. Lastly, ukes are just plain fun, forces creative people to be creative and no matter how bad the economy gets, you can always save up $25 for your very own acoustic-karaoke-machine. Oh btw, on the downside, groupies are hard to come by.

  97. Panda December 3rd, 2012 7:39 pm

    I am looking forward to getting my first ever uke at christmas, and i am getting a kahala soprano-what do other people think of it?

  98. theycallmestan December 28th, 2012 7:56 am

    there are multiple shops where i live that have a great selection of ukes. They had a beautiful acoustic electric Kala ukulele that unfortunately is out of my price range. However, i bought a nice tenor Kala and i love it just as much.

  99. Susi January 5th, 2013 12:40 pm

    I bought a Uke just recently in a local music shop and it is a gorgeous all mahogany baritone made by Koloa. The shop had a whole wall of ukes and the owner said he is always ordering more. I have been learning guitar for 2 years and really enjoy it, but I do hate the big size of my guitar. Actually was going to buy a parlor guitar and my daughter expressed an interest in learning the Uke , which led me to the guitar shop. These instruments are so inexpensive compared to the guitar that I have also ordered an Oscar Scmidt mango tenor and a kala soprano and all together they are less than the parlor guitar I had planned to buy. I’m excited about learning Uke with my daughter and sharing the peace and love !

  100. Arlo James Barnes January 28th, 2013 7:23 am

    Because I have only skimmed the comments I am not sure if someone has talked about this – but what is the point of discussing which one is easier? Certainly easy instruments are not better, otherwise the triangle would be the pinnacle of music. Neither is harder better, that is just an excuse to feel elite. What is best is what is fun and sounds good.

    But as an illustrating example let us take an instrument that most people agree is hard – theremin (or sitar, if you want to stick to acoustics). When played well those instruments are awesome. There are relatively few players though. Not sure what point I was trying to make with this paragraph, actually.

    Anyway, all that is required is passion for the instrument and dedication follows. That passion comes from hearing/seeing it done justice and the satisfaction when one works towards that state.

  101. Michael February 15th, 2013 10:27 am

    I had to laugh at this discussion cos its exactly how I felt with the E chord at the time..E is one of the first and easiest guitar chords but a bit harder on Uke.

    I too flip-flop between guitar and uke..the funny thing is when I pick up my beautiful Cole Clark Ac2 Guitar now it feels like I am playing a mexican guitar. ;-)

    However, I think they are both great instruments…and lots of those comments above are spot on…e.g if you pull out a guitar expectations are high..pull out a uke and immediately people think of Tiny Tim or George Formby (my dads era).

  102. toomuchmusic... February 20th, 2013 10:39 pm

    On a slightly unrelated note, composing is a little easier on uke, because although you have limitations in range, you have less to worry about (I.e two less strings)

    Loving both though anyway, but I think I would say uke is slightly easier
    But hey each to their own :)

  103. toomuchmusic... February 21st, 2013 9:03 am

    Hey there,
    On a slightly unrelated note, I think uke is easier to compose on as although you have a limited range, you have less to worry about (I.e. 2 less strings)

    I’m loving playing both though, but I think uke is slightly easier
    But hey each to their own right?

  104. Pedro March 19th, 2013 10:43 am

    I tried guitar 1 month and i couldn´t play it, I´ve been playing ukulele for 1 week and I can play some songs.

  105. Woodshed March 19th, 2013 7:26 pm

    Pedro: Glad to hear it!

  106. I love ukulele May 13th, 2013 12:22 am

    I still prefer the ukulele! It’s easier to learn and it’s more fun to play. Guitars are too big for my taste.

  107. Conor Brown May 24th, 2013 1:43 am

    I went into a music shop, and it was great! Along with a wall full of guitars, There was a whole (smaller) wall of ukuleles! They had all the sizes, and even one with a built-in pickup. They had a bunch of Lanakaii and even a couple Flukes and Fleas. It was the best music shop ever. I think that the odds of me having that within walking distance of my house, there must be more of those. Or I just won the lottery.

    Even though it may be harder (*cough not really cough*), the ukulele is way more appealing than guitar. I brought it camping, and pulled out my “Thrift Shop” riff (not a very good song, just a cool riff to play on the ukulele) (thanks to Woodshed for the arrangement), and everyone was bamboozled and amazed. If you play it on the guitar, people would just give you funny looks.

    I also found out that to all Japanese enthusiasts the word “uke” means something obscene.

  108. Yamos June 3rd, 2013 6:00 pm

    My back went out last May as a result of playing acoustic and electric guitars and the basic dis figuration around holding the instrument. I’ve had a very intense year or chiropractic work done, and I am still very cautious about playing guitar as my back can tweak out very easily. Moreover, I’ve found that players such as Jimi Page have suffered from back problems resulting from playing guitar. When you love music, not being able to play is heart breaking.
    However, I’m a singer/strummer kinda guy.
    Enter the Ululele. I can play again. For hours!!! I have a Cordoba Tenor, and I carry it with me everywhere. I played a gig a couple of nights ago and it was great. Best of all, I did not have to give up music for the sake of walking.

  109. Woodshed June 4th, 2013 7:18 am

    Yamos: That’s fantastic! I’m glad you’re still able to play.

  110. Helene June 22nd, 2013 4:42 am

    I play guitar and my daughter plays the ukulele. Both are beautiful instruments. The sounds of guitar are NOT the same as the uke. There are some songs that go really well on the uke and not so on the guitar..vice versa. The Ukulele is a an upbeat..happy go lucky thing.. The guitar can whine, moan, and sound like a crisp tinsel. How can you really compare? I mean just because their body shapes are similar..does not mean they are the same instrument.

    I love playing the guitar… and it’s fun playing the ukulele too, but they are not the same to me at all.

  111. Susi June 22nd, 2013 6:16 am

    People who say its easier to play a Uke because it has 4 strings is like saying its easier to ride a unicycle because it has one wheel ! I’ve been playing my new Uke since jan and loving it. I also play guitar, (befinner at both ) but when I’m tired and just want to relax I always sit back with the Uke as it is just so easy to hold and get creative with. There are actually a lot of good songs that sound great on the Uke. Bob Dylan, Malanie Safka, to name a few , and if you use Clawhammer , there are some great old time tunes that you can play such as ‘Shady Grove ‘ and ‘ Wayfaring Stranger ‘ I use a capo a lot on my guitar , but I find the Uke fits my voice easier on many tunes. What I love the most is that it is just fun and so easy on the fingers that I can play a long time .. I do wish I knew others in my area who played but people seem to still think of it as a novelty or toy here . But I do think that is changing . My Guitar teacher just bought one ! ( ok it’s a baritone , but it counts I guess :) I play a Big Island Tenor and really happy with the sound ! PEACE . LOVE . UKE !!’

  112. Natalie July 23rd, 2013 10:27 pm

    This is a website that’s meant to promote the uke, not dis it. Confusing much?

  113. Jacque July 25th, 2013 5:30 am

    Lol true,the E chord is the pain in the ass to switch to, but when I do hit it in time it makes me feel like a boss! I reckon the only reason I play the uke over the guitar is because the uke actually fits on my sofa and doesn’t take up my whole room.

    I reckon the learning curve for the uke is a lot flatter that other instruments at first though, as everyone can learn a couple of chords. However the curve picks up and the real challenge begins when you try to play more elaborate and complex pieces, as you only have four freaking strings to work with. Which limits you to very simple melodies and the nonexistant pitch range doesnt help either.

    Since writing intermediate and expert level music is so hard, tabs are no where to be found, and beginners struggle to progress. This lack of tabs sucks! I almost exclusively play only your music and I’m forced to actually learn how music works and start writing my own instrumentals (which are still shit.).

  114. Chinney October 12th, 2013 8:11 am

    Wow! So earlier I’ve read one of your posts about the tips before buying a ukulele for beginners and then I bought the ukulele after, and now I’ve read this and I feel awful. Lol -_-

  115. ngik October 22nd, 2013 6:52 am

    Guitar and Uke are just the same…It depends on which instrument captures your interest….

    I started to play guitar…make the best out of it..

    practiced bass guitar…not to say..became an excellent player…

    so does piano and drums… and now starting ukuleles…..all are just the same..it’s not easy at the start, but as long as you have the heart of learning things then everything is easy….

  116. Arlo James Barnes October 22nd, 2013 8:07 pm

    @Chinney – the ukulele and the ukulele culture are not intended to make anyone feel awful!

    Really what matters is that you enjoy playing it, and the more proficient you get the more you can enjoy it. I think the article is just saying that assuming something about the ukulele (“It looks simpler in design, therefore it must be trivial to learn or master, therefore there is not much to the instrument”) will lead you to wrong conclusions.

    This is true about the guitar or any instrument (although definitely people’s experiences with a given instrument will have common threads) but since this site is about the ukulele (Note, @Natalie, that does not mean it includes only vapid praise) Woodshed focusses on that.

    @Jacque: Interestingly enough, the “learning curve” is not a graph of the difficulty someone experiences learning something over time, but how much they have learned over time – most people have it backwards. So something with a steep learning curve is not difficult, it means you learn a lot initially in a short time! Which I think is true of the uke [in my experience]; I think you are right that then a good amount of effort needs to be put in not to plateau.

    I think I have somewhat contradicted my previous comment in this thread, but no matter.

  117. Israel Martinez October 27th, 2013 6:56 pm

    I was making very little progress on the guitar, but I find my progress on the ukulele is much greater–at least as far as strumming and singing is concerned. I’m not giving up on the guitar or the uke. I think they’ll complement each other.

  118. bill August 10th, 2014 12:21 pm

    I’ve been playing acoustic guitar for years and for sheer versatility and tones a good guitar produces I would say it beats a ukelele hands down. I also play bluegrass banjo which is unbelievably good fun, once you’ve mastered the various rolls.

  119. Page August 23rd, 2014 1:59 am

    This has a lot of comments but let me pipe in from this experience of having grown up playing guitar b/c my dad wanted me to play. It never really stuck and I dropped it at about age 12. Since I’ve picked up the ukulele many years later, I cannot put it down and have found it so easy to play. If I can’t find uke music I use piano sheet music over guitar.

    I also have tried playing mandolin since picking up ukulele and uke is easier and more enjoyable for em. I like to play solo arrangements.

  120. Felicia November 21st, 2014 7:56 am

    I’ve got really small hands so uke is perfect – having fun transcribing and playing lots of songs – but even a 3/4 size guitar is causing cramps in my fretting hand. So I’m swapping to a 1/2 size because it’s closer to a tenor uke, just with two more strings! I’m getting better at working out guitar and uke chords from looking at standard notation chords, and there are many similarities in chord shapes. I’m finding the swapping adventure very interesting! 1/2 size is the way to go.

  121. Dave December 7th, 2014 11:16 am

    The 3rd reason is the very reason I almost gave up on the ukulele. Having played guitar for years I thought it would be an easy transition, and it mostly was. The chords took no time to learn, same with the strumming method. I couldn’t get it to sound good though, and with an acoustic guitar within easy reach that I knew I could get a much better sound from I almost gave up completely. I’m still working on getting a better sound, it will come.

  122. Dani December 30th, 2014 10:09 pm

    I’ll stick to my ukulele, thanks. I found it quite easy with a lot of practice, and I didn’t need a teacher, I taught myself! I actually learned how to play the ukulele first. Now I know how to play guitar and ukulele, though I prefer my ukulele.

  123. Elene May 3rd, 2015 11:32 am

    I see I’m coming to this conversation very late… It’s great to see that your incredibly useful site has been around so long and is still going strong. It’s been such a help to have it available.

    Using a strap isn’t giving in! The soprano ukulele is not at all easy to hold without it, especially when changing to chords like the infamous E, when the left hand isn’t supporting the neck for a moment. I have some issues with my right arm and my wrist was killing me, trying to hang on to the thing. You want to sound good and feel good, right? Give your body the chance to relax with the instrument. Even WITH a strap the uke balances a bit strangely– at least for those of us without a beer belly.

    I had to chuckle when I saw the recommendation for Aquila strings. I’m glad to hear they make decent ukulele strings. I made the unfortunate decision to go with them for my 10-course lute when I was having trouble finding Pyramid strings. They are practically inaudible and pretty much worthless. Pyramid forever in the future.

    Since my bachelor’s degree is in classical guitar, I suppose I have a little different perspective from most people here. (I mostly play classical piano these days.) The ukulele has provided a pleasant break for me. I don’t spend enough time at it to really develop with it, at least not as yet, but it’s easy for me to read tab so I can get nearly instant gratification. It’s nice to play an instrument for which I have no obligations or expectations– just to literally play.

    And I’m getting gradually less freaked out by re-entrant tuning.

  124. Peter Forrest June 23rd, 2015 11:39 pm

    Great article! Too bad it’s all true. hehe

  125. Claire July 3rd, 2015 11:10 am

    About #7 — I don’t know where you all are from, but where I live in Taiwan, there are a BUNCH of ukulele shops! You can’t walk a few blocks without spotting one. Usually they’re guitar-uke shops, and there’d be a few guitars on window display along with many brightly colored ukes. They usually offer teaching as well, which addresses another item on the list.

    To be fair, I have no idea about the quality, but I did get a decent wood one here. Common to see guitar-uke stores in China when I lived there too.

  126. Woodshed July 3rd, 2015 4:28 pm

    Claire: The article was written in 2009. It was much more true then than it is now.

  127. Claire July 4th, 2015 3:13 am

    Oh yeah, I guess that’s true. Is availability there no longer a concern now?

  128. Woodshed July 4th, 2015 1:36 pm

    Claire: I wouldn’t include it if I was writing the post today.

  129. Preston July 8th, 2015 7:25 am

    First off are you trying to guitar players are chimps with stump hands. Let me just say I’m sure if you even bother learning more than marry had a little lamb on guitar you would know that here are strum patterns. Not only that but tuning on any string instrument is hard, ukulele being amongst the easier of the bunch. And if you are dedicated you should be able to hold your ukulele standing. And you can’t just strum whatever and people go wild if you get too close to the frett you are a dead man and if you hit the wrong note people will know. I’m not saying the ukulele is easy either, but the guitar is no picnic either and when they are played together they slam it. Just saying think before you speak and unless you have played guitar do years don’t say it’s easy try and tell me the b chord is easy on your first week.

  130. Dorian June 26th, 2016 3:07 am

    Kinda neat how 7 years later almost none of these hold true anymore. Ukulele instruction is universal. Anyone can jump online and learn for free.

    Nylgut strings sound great with wonderful tone. Even a beginners instrument is of fantastic construction. Just look at a makai uke with a solid cedar top. It’s like $100 bucks. Not bad compared to a Seagul guitar with a cedar top.
    That’s what, $450?

    Even beginner instruments have geared tuners now.

    Not only can I stand and play the uke, I can walk and play. Can’t walk and play my guitar. Well, unless I want to run into something.

    Tabs… Are… EVERYWHERE

    Not only can I play an E I can play an F. Neither of them took my entire hand.

    How do strum patterns not matter on guitar? If your playing country there’s TONS of strumming patterns. Patently you are going to use a different type of strumming pattern for reggae than you do for folk. It’s no different for uke.

    You used the wrong reggae strum for that reggae song said no one ever.

    Anyway. I have a concert and soprano uke hanging next to my five string jo and dreadnought guitar. I won’t try to talk anyone into one or another instrument because it’s whatever tool for the job. I play them all. I can’t imagine making excuses to learn one over another. It’s like arguing the virtues of a hammer over a screwdriver.

    Pro tip. Snark tuner. Nine bucks. Tuning isn’t hard nor expensive.

  131. Barry Carpenter December 13th, 2016 8:00 pm

    I agree. I’ve played guitar most of my life and got into ukuleles a couple months ago. I find the skinny neck and small fret spacing tricky. Holding is more difficult. I’m going to put straps on mine. This whole high low G is odd.I’m a detIailest and my idol is Tiamane. She uses a strap, a pick, and plays 5 string. What was interesting is, and she told me, her double G’strings are both low.I’m buying my 3rd ukulele tomorrow a 5 string. I think everyone should start with a 5 string. You can just use 4 high or low g but have somewhere to grow to all in one ukulele.

  132. JimmyD January 13th, 2017 1:11 pm

    I too have played guitar most of my life but now I solely or soulfully play uke. I love the sound, the easy and even tricky chords but most of all I love slapping and chunking and it is so portable and lightweight that I pick it up all the time and noodle around. With the guitar I seemed so serious but with the uke I just want to chunk and move. I have 6 guitars that are all loaned out or in the closet but just one poor Kala that actually has a few frets that need to be filed down or pounded in but I don’t care – I’m happy!

  133. DZ February 10th, 2017 6:45 pm

    My ukulele makes me smile every time I pick it up

  134. Woodshed February 11th, 2017 10:02 pm

    DZ: That doesn’t happen to me at all!

  135. Scott Gifford May 13th, 2017 3:41 pm

    I, too, am an expat guitarist; received my first uke 7 years ago this Christmas and have almost never looked back. Great to see that most of these “10 reasons” are no longer an issue. Laughed when I saw your comment about using a strap being “giving in”. I teach uke in school, private and library settings, and STRONGLY recommend straps to all my students. The point of teaching an instrument is to help people play it successfully; forming and switching between chords is already an unnatural motion (not unlike swinging a golf club or a tennis racquet, I like to say) — why then should we compound the challenge by requiring the left hand to hold the damn thing UP at the same time? Brings to mind Alice playing croquet with a flamingo… Not mentioned here, but to my mind, just as silly as traditional players (you know — Hawaiian-shirted seniors who call it an “oo-koo-lay-lay”) who cross themselves & spit on the ground when they see me play with a Jim Dunlop gray nylon “Max-Grip” .06mm pick. “You can’t DO that!” they thunder; I smile & reply “I’m paid to do so, 25-30 hours a month, thank you very much.” My uke mantra: “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong!” Straps & picks make it easier = more fun. Uke Hunt is one of two websites I always recommend to my students (Dr. Uke is the other.) Best wishes!

  136. Woodshed May 15th, 2017 8:24 pm

    Scott: Thanks very much for spreading the word!

  137. Steph August 29th, 2017 3:25 am

    TEAM UKE! So many tutorials on Youtube that with a couple weeks of practice, you can be really good! Just learned to play/pick “Can’t Help Falling in Love..” beautiful <3

Got something to say?