Before purchasing your first ukulele, it’s a good idea to understand the 5 main ukulele sizes. Each size of ukulele provides a different playing experience and sound.
We will walk you through each of the five main sizes of ukuleles to help you pick out your very first ukulele!
The 5 Main Ukulele Sizes
The five sizes of ukulele are, from smallest to largest, soprano, concert, tenor, baritone, and base.
While there can be minor differences between manufacturers, measurements for the length of ukuleles in each size category are as follows:
- Soprano Ukulele: 21 inches or 53 centimeters
- Concert Ukulele: 23 inches or 58 centimeters
- Tenor Ukulele: 26 inches or 66 centimeters
- Baritone Ukulele: 29 inches or 74 centimeters
- Bass Ukulele: 30 inches or 76 centimeters
Every ukulele has a slightly different sound, while still being complimentary to one another. It’s also easy to transition from one size to another, if the tuning remains the same.
Let’s breakdown the details of each ukulele size from smallest to largest. This will help you determine the best size for your specific needs and wants.
The soprano ukulele is the smallest and most popular size of ukulele. When you think of a ukulele, it is likely a soprano size that you picture. The soprano ukulele creates the classic and traditional ukulele sound.
The smaller body and neck of the soprano ukulele gives the instrument a bright, soft sound. With the smaller body, the soprano ukulele does not produce as much volume as some of the larger counterparts.
The smaller size of the soprano ukulele makes it a fantastic beginner instrument. This is particularly true of younger players that have smaller hands. Adults with smaller hands may find the smaller neck and body size of the ukulele more comfortable to play as well.
If you have dabbled in playing guitar, but found it too frustrating. Because you felt your hands were too small. In this case a soprano ukulele (or any ukulele) could be a great fit for you.
The neck of the soprano ukulele has approximately 12 to 15 frets. Standard tuning is GCEA.
The next ukulele in order of size is the concert ukulele. The total length of a concert ukulele is approximately 23 inches. The larger size provides a few differences from the soprano ukulele. A bigger body means a fuller and louder sound. The longer neck, with more frets, allows for a wider range of notes and chords. This is especially true for lower tones.
If you find the strings and frets of the soprano ukulele is too small for your fingers, moving up to a concert ukulele could help. The size of the concert ukulele is quite versatile for a wide range of hand shapes.
Generally, the concert ukulele will have around 14 to 17 frets. The concert ukulele has the same standard tuning of the soprano ukulele of GCEA.
Next up in size is the tenor ukulele. A tenor ukulele averages around 26 inches in total length. The larger size makes the tenor one of the louder sounding instruments of the family. The bigger body provides a fuller sound, compared to the bright and pingy sound of a soprano ukulele.
Players with larger hands often find the tenor ukulele to be more comfortable to play. There’s more space in-between frets and strings that allow larger fingertips more movement. Seasoned guitar players could find comfort in the size. A tenor ukulele is similar in size to a standard guitar, while still being smaller.
Users with smaller hands might find the larger neck of the tenor ukulele to be difficult to manage. The chords and notes are further stretched out on the neck and could be harder for smaller hands to make the shapes.
The tenor is tuned the same as the soprano and concert at GCEA and has 17 to 19 frets.
The baritone ukulele is the second largest ukulele available. The broad body of a baritone ukulele, gives it a deeper, fuller tone. In an ensemble of ukuleles, the baritone can round out the sound. In some instances it can be a substitute for a bass line.
Average size of a baritone ukulele from tip to tip is around 30 inches. Often the body of a baritone ukulele will be thicker or wider than ukuleles in the soprano, concert, or tenor size range.
The larger size and spacing between strings on a baritone ukulele can be appealing to players with larger than average hands.
Unlike the others, the baritone ukulele is tuned DGBE, just like four strings on a guitar. The baritone ukulele will have around 18 to 21 frets.
Newbies may be quite surprised to find out that a bass ukulele exists. The image of a traditional soprano ukulele is significantly different in sound and visual than a bass ukulele. However, this instrument is an important and valid member of the ukulele family.
The bass ukulele averages 32 inches in length and is the largest of the 5 ukuleles. It is also the deepest or lowest sounding ukulele. What might surprise you most about the bass ukulele is that it is also the youngest member of the ukulele family.
The first mainstream ukulele bass was introduced to the market in 2009 by popular ukulele brand Kala. In contrast, the ukulele is believed to have originated in mid-1880s.
Fun history fact, the ukulele does not originate in Hawaii as many believe, but on the small island of Madeira near Portugal. After economic collapse in Maderia, residents migrated to the Polynesian islands. Bringing their instruments with them.
Soon after Kala’s U-Bass, many other brands started producing similar instruments. While still less known, the bass ukulele is gaining popularity among players.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of the introduction of the bass ukulele is its role in a ukulele ensemble. Low notes and bass lines are nearly impossible to pull off on other traditional ukuleles.
The bass ukulele adds dimension and a rhythm section to a ukulele ensemble. Some may say the bass ukulele helps an all-ukulele ensemble to “sound like a real band.” It can wildly expand the song repertoire and musical creativity of ukulele bands.
The bass ukulele has a span of 15 to 18 frets and is tuned EADG, the same as a bass guitar.
Picking Your First Ukulele
By now you should have a better understanding of the different types of ukuleles. You can make an educated decision on which one will suit you best. Take some time to think about your hand size, portability, and the sound you would like to pursue.
The one thing that spans across ukuleles is just how fun they are to play! Excitement awaits you in the next step of your journey.
When you’re ready to play some music, then check out our 63 strong list of easy ukulele songs.