Which Size Ukulele?

There are four main sizes of ukulele. From smallest to largest, they are:

Soprano
Concert
Tenor
Baritone

What's the best size ukulele?

It depends what you want to do with it. If you like to play a lot of solo pieces, a tenor ukulele will give you more room to play and more volume.

If you're buying your first ukulele, the soprano is the best place to start. Before too long, you'll probably have one of each.

How is the size determined?

The size of the ukulele is not determined by how big it is, as such. It depends on the length of the vibrating part of the string - between the bridge and the net - also known as the scale length.

Soprano - 14 inches (and under)

Concert - 14 1/2 to 16 inches

Tenor - 16 to 18 inches

Baritone - 18 inches (and over)

These aren't set in stone. Some companies, just to confuse things further, classify their ukes differently.

There are also some other, much less common sizes:

Sopranino
Super-Soprano
Super-Concert
Super-Tenor

26 Comments

  1. Rhiannon May 30th, 2010 6:24 pm

    My son is 8. I’ve been self teaching myself Mandolin for a year now and he’s started picking it up himself. He can pluck out a few tunes on his own now with not much help from me. I’d like to get him is own stringed instrument to start learning on. I thought he Ukulele would be a great place to start. I was told that if it would be best to start him on a baritone Uke because that would easily translate to the guitar later on. What are you’re thoughts on this. I was thinking of just getting him a Kala Concert or Tenor. What might the differences be and should I even be wondering about his now? Maybe the best place to start is the beginning and get him a Soprano? Any insight you have would be great. I’ll be learning right along with him so something easy would be nice! Oh, and just for more clarification, I do read music, but am better at just playing by ear. I figured out the tab system and it’s how I’ve learned the Mandolin and it’s worked fairly well. (I’ve also had over 10+ years of piano/clarinet and have always been musically inclined.)

  2. Matt July 29th, 2010 12:25 am

    I’m thinking of buying a uke too, my friend got one the other week, and we’re going to try and learn to play it together, so I wanted to get one of my own.

    Originally I was just going to get a soprano, but now I’m tempted by a tenor or concert, just because they’re bigger in size, and might be easier for me to play, as I’m roughly 6’3” and found it a bit tricky on the soprano at times. The thing is tenors are a lot more expensive than sopranos. What would you recommend? I kind of think that I should just save my money and buy a soprano for now whilst I’m still learning, then move onto a tenor when I’m a bit better, but at the same time I’m also thinking that learning might be easier if I start on a bigger instrument…

  3. Pollux777 October 24th, 2010 6:12 pm

    Hey you forget to talk about the bass ukulele. I have heard “Stand by me” playing by a bass and a tenor (I think it was a tenor but I am not sure). Of course, it’s still a bass and it is made to play bass part (so maybe not an instrument to play while singing) but it was looking fun anyway.
    I have now a fender tenor uke and I am very satisfied of it. I also have a soprano but it is a very cheap instrument and since I have my tenor I forget it. I plan to buy a concert and maybe later a baryton. As you said I will probably end by having a copy of every size cause I really like ukulele…

  4. Scott October 25th, 2010 10:40 am

    for thous of you who are buying your first uku; I’d suggest using a tenor. it has good round sound to it(not to high not to low, but can hit the notes most songs need fairly easy.) my opinion is that it has a really nice sound even if you are just playing around and not trying to make music. for younger/ smaller players you might want a soprano because your size matters just a little.(for instance if you cant handle it right because of the size you should buy for best comfort of holding an playing.)

    Make sure to buy them in the 35-90 dollar range, and test them out before you buy them! nothing is more irritating then having a poorly built Uku. i had a friend buy one for 20 bucks, it looked ok but it could never be tuned for more then 5 minutes at a time… it was very appalling. if you buy them online make sure to go to a place that has many brands and has review section for each product. buyers beware, its important to look at brands.

    i hope this helped some

  5. Tantal November 28th, 2010 1:58 pm

    I am also looking to buy either a Concert or Tenor when I get better at playing. I bought a Soprano (cheap one at 30$) to learn and I find it a bit too small. Being 6’2”, and having large hands, it makes certain chords hard to do. Keep in mind I am an extreme novice and a lot of this discomfort might have to do with me not being used to it. I am still at the “OMG my fingers hurt” phase. But I find myself constantly trying to reposition the instrument. Overall I am a huge fan of the Uke and I love it’s sound. :)

  6. Abby January 3rd, 2011 5:32 pm

    I have been playing guitar and several other stringed instruments for about 10 years now. I am a soprano singer and was interested in getting a ukulele that would work well with my voice. I was thinking of a concert because it seems to be the loudest. I would technically be a beginner on the instrument. Any thoughts as to the size/voice/brand of instrument I should get? My budget is around $50-100. Thanks!

  7. Bethany March 1st, 2011 1:47 am

    Okay, i play guitar but im no pro. But i do have a natural talent for it. And im looking to buy a uke. I’ve read that a Lanikai LU-21C is a good one and i’ve read some good reviews from random shoppers. Im wondering if a concert would be a good one for me? i have normal size hands but longer fingers. and what type of wood would be the best? And what are some trust worthy online stores to buy from?

  8. lucas March 4th, 2011 6:37 pm

    my name is lucas, i’m brazilian and a want to buy a ukulele. what size would be bether for me?it’s my first ukulele.

  9. antonio vet June 8th, 2011 10:48 pm

    Hi, I am an italian middle aged who used to play guitar, 5 strings banjo and bouzouki, and I’d like to try the ukelele, I am also a father of two boys of 7 and 11, so I wonder what kind of uke size would be the best, giving the fact the I would also introduce my sons to it?

  10. Kristov Sergey September 4th, 2011 2:59 pm

    Hey, Im getting my first (concerto) ukulele because I love the Billionare song and hope that I will be able to play it by my own with my ukulele. However, there are things that I’d like to know:

    1. the most useful strumming pattern
    2. chord chaging methods

    Im sincerely hoping for your help. thanks! :)

  11. Joe E October 19th, 2011 7:54 am

    What kind to buy? I’ve been struggling with that for a coupla month (still a novice player) but this is what my research seems to boil down to:

    Experienced guitar player? Buy a baritone. Tuned like 4 strings of the guitar, so your skill will transfer somewhat.

    Big guy? Tenor or concert. More space for your fingers on the frets. And bigger sound, if that matters to you.

    None of the above? Soprano. “Peanut” shape (mini-guitar) or pineapple (often more resonant due to the shape). Very popular size, sounds great, wide range of quality and price…

    Brand? The bulk of my reading suggested Lanikai for beginners. That was my first one and I love it. I still need a cheapo uke that I can take to the beach without worrying about it but 2 ukes in 2 months is enough for now.

  12. John Hubbard February 21st, 2012 5:47 pm

    After playing guitar for many years I thought I would try a ukulele.With no selection to try locally I dived in and bought a Mainland Mahogony soprano. I love it . I promised myself never to do this without a test drive. Could I have been missing a better brand as I notice Mainland is not too well covered in the well known Ukulele sites. I also fancied a Oscar B Schmidt OU 5. What do the more seasoned players feel
    John Hubbard

  13. Dorothyanne Brown April 11th, 2012 9:39 pm

    Such a great website and so much help to we new users. I’ve been playing on my son’s soprano from school and have just followed your advice to get a concert size one – thanks so much!

  14. Thao April 21st, 2012 6:59 pm

    Hello guys, so like I’m a teenager just trying to find an instrument that would be perfect for singing and such. So i find the uke is quite a very common instrument so i wanted to try so I’m like a beginner but I would like to get a uke that i will use for a future long time so that i don’t have to waste money on each step i am getting better so one is enough thats why i wanted a good one. So please help me choosing a good one that would last long. Email me at ThaoDuong98@me.com (:

  15. Jeff in NYC June 16th, 2012 4:50 pm

    I did a lot of research online for my first uke-I am an absolute beginner with no musical instrument background. The name I saw and read about with reverence and respect was MGM (Music Guy Mic). He used to have a well known Ukulele eBay store. I managed to find contact info for Mike and emailed him for advice. He responded immediately(he is feeling better these days), and he suggested a tenor, since I believe this will not be a casual thing for me, but a new dedicated hobby. I spoke with Mike over the phone, which besides being a real treat, I was able to learn a lot very quickly and efficiently. He said most pros and amateurs alike settle down with a tenor, and I could always get a soprano down the road if I wanted that plucky sound and/or portability. I didn’t want to go expensive for my 1st uke, and he suggested 2 models/brands and I ordered one from him with Mike’s famous set up. Can’t wait to get it!

  16. krashdragon June 27th, 2012 7:43 pm

    Aloha to all.
    Finding what size Uke to buy… in Hawaii (where I lived for over 20 years) the common size for adults is the concert. I’ve found here in Texas, that the sizes are not the same. I have run into stores here in Texas selling a soprano as a concert. Kids (elementary school size) like the soprano, it’s smaller.
    The soprano is a bit limited as far as the number of notes, the concert is easier to play (IMHO)and a bit bigger …mine is 24″ overall length and has 19 frets (16.5) inches.
    Mine ( I have several ) are all Sonny D’s ….
    bunch of stuff on facebook and ytube
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9pfzNYZkZc&feature=plcp
    also His address and phone # are listed in the yp’s

    http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2001/Jun/06/il/il01a.html
    I admit, I’m prejudiced, I love the sound of his ukes. I have 2 concerts, my son has a concert, tenor and a steel stringed tenor.
    They’re not cheap, but like any other good musical instrument, you get what you pay for.
    Most of the ukes under $100 simply won’t play as easily or stay in tune very long.
    If you can find a used Sonny D or a Kamaka (bigger manufacturer, but I don’t like the sound as much), grab it.
    There are other reasonably priced uke makers in Hawaii, I’m just not familiar with them (meaning, I haven’t seen them in person) except for the cheap flea-market ones..stay away from those, they’re just for decoration.
    Aloha~!
    Mary aka Krashdragon

  17. Reid August 2nd, 2012 10:05 pm

    I have a Makala Soprano uke and love it. I had played guitar for about 5 years prior to receiving the uke as a present from my wife. It took me six months to get around to picking it up, but now I play it as much as I play guitar.

    Find a chord sheet on the internet and you can translate any songbooks with guitar chords displayed to uke chords with ease. I love trying songs out on each instrument.

    Coming from playing guitar I initially found holding my soprano uke as a switched chords a bit difficult and the frets small, but once I overcame that the soprano works well for me.

    One aspect that I like about the soprano is it’s size for ease of traveling. Rather than hauling my guitar with me on trips and paying for an extra checked bag, my soprano actually fits INSIDE a carry on bag.

    I’ve taken it on business trips, road trips and camping trips. I even strapped it to the back of my bicycle along with my tent and sleeping bag and took it on a five day rails to trails bike ride between Pittsburgh and Washington DC!

    You can’t beat a soprano for travel convenience.

  18. Kawatapuarangi October 25th, 2012 10:54 am

    I have a Greg Bennett UK70 Concert, I first started with a soprano but found with my ‘large’ fingers impossible to play. But with the concert – I have a much deeper/richer sound, and save my fingers from ‘cramp’!! But to each their own

  19. Olivia February 26th, 2013 7:42 pm

    I have been considering getting a uke for a while now, but I need it soley for chord work/accompaniment, as i am going to use it for singing. The uke i have in mind is a Gretsch G9121 a/e tenor. doesanyone have any ideas on if i should go for this or a Lanakai Amara concert? thanks. :)

  20. Tim May 19th, 2013 1:25 am

    I settled on concert size when I first got a uke. Soprano is too small for most fingers, including mine, to note clearly. Tenor gets you into wound strings, which ends one thing I love about ukes, that they they will not wear out frets (at least not for a long time). Baritone is just an undersize guitar with two strings missing. The non-traditional uke tuning makes it sound less uke-y to me.

    I still have problems noting any sort of chord above about the seventh fret, but that is really not necessary, anyway. There are plenty of chord forms to use along the first six frets.

  21. Sam May 29th, 2013 5:29 am

    I’ve been playing ukulele for 2 years now and have had the same tenor ukulele the entire time. everything is still as i bought it. Its a brand-less ukulele made in the Philippines for around $60 (US Dollars). Im honestly tired of it. i was thinking of switching to a concert ukulele for a crisper sound, which is really all I’m looking for. So what is a good ukulele for me to move onto?

  22. Sara June 29th, 2013 10:25 pm

    Hi I’m Sara, I’m 13 and have been playing the ukulele for about 2 weeks. I still haven’t bought a uke. At my lessons they provide a uke for the day if you don’t have one. The one the instructor gave me was a concert and I love it! But I was wondering if that’s a little too big to start off from. I was wondering which one I should buy. The $40 soprano or the $100 concert? I love the concert but was wondering if I should start small with a soprano.

  23. Woodshed June 29th, 2013 11:21 pm

    Sara: It’s not necessary to start on a soprano. If you’ve tried out a concert and like that best I say go for it.

  24. Alistair C August 31st, 2013 2:10 pm

    Tim,

    Am I missing something? Surely the default for a Tenor is not wound strings? I have a Mainland mango tenor which works well with Ken Middleton’s Living Water Strings – at least to my ears.

  25. nina November 12th, 2013 9:46 am

    What are peoples thoughts on the aussie brand timberidge? for the uke in particular.

  26. Colin November 15th, 2013 3:12 am

    Abby, if you want one that sounds louder you may want to try out a banjo ukulele, they can sound tinny if you buy a cheap one.
    For those who want to play a uke for now and a guitar later you may look at getting a 6 string guitarukulele

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