How to choose the right soprano, concert, tenor or baritone ukulele?

How to choose the right soprano, concert, tenor or baritone ukulele?

Ukuleles sopranos, concerts, tenors, baritones: how to choose your ukulele?

The sound of the ukulele is a real bliss for the soul and the senses. We are immediately transported to the sun of Papeete et Tahiti, riding a French Polynesia. But the choice of instrument is very important. Soprano ukulele, concert ukulele, tenor or baritone, what to choose ? How do you know which ukulele is right for you? What choice for a beginner and what instrument for the experienced musician? What price to put in his instrument? So many questions that you are probably asking yourself.

In this article, Upa Upa Tahiti presents the different ukuleles to help you make your choice. We also explain the differences between ukulele and guitar, ukulele and banjo. And finally, we offer you an overview of the different wood species used for the manufacture of ukuleles. Let's go!

Tenor Ukulele Mangareva Upa Upa

What you need to know to choose the right ukulele

Before telling you about different ukuleles in more detail, here is some information to know for choose your instrument well. Indeed, certain parameters must be taken into account in the choosing your ukulele.

  • In the first place, it is necessary choose your ukulele according to his level. If you are a beginner, an entry-level instrument is sufficient. On the other hand, if you are an experienced ukulele player, a fine wood instrument will probably be more appropriate. For children or adult beginners, opt for a soprano ukulele is a good idea. Indeed, it is easy to hold in hand thanks to its small size. A concert ukulele can also be suitable for learning the instrument. In addition, it is ideal for people with large hands. Musicians with experience can turn to the tenor or baritone.
  • Before making your choice, we recommend that you compare the models carefully. You can if you want to use a comparison of ukuleles on line. In particular, check that it is indeed a solid wood ukulele. Why ? It's simple, instruments made of solid wood produce better quality sound. They are also more resistant, which should not exempt you from taking care of them. Indeed, a ukulele like any other instrument, it talks. 
  • If you plan to do ukulele gigs or recordings, opt for an electro-acoustic ukulele that includes a built-in pickup system.
  • Don't be afraid to ask the store clerk or someone from customer service before deciding on a model. Choose a ukulele with a good quality / price ratio, and yes, it is possible! Even better, go for a homemade ukulele. If you buy your ukulele online, listen to the sound of the instrument before confirming the purchase. Normally, a good ukulele sales site offers to listen to a recording of the instruments. 

Discover all traditional tahitian ukuleles made in Upa Upa Tahiti :)

All ukulele sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, baritone

Whether in terms oftuning, length or number of frets, soprano, concert, tenor and baritone ukuleles have their differences. For example, soprano, concert, and tenor all tune to the same scale, while baritone has its own tuning range. Next, the soprano is the smallest of the ukuleles in size and the largest baritone. Finally, even if a ukulele generally has a fingerboard of 12 frets, some models have 14. Presentation! 

Soprano Ukulele

It is the smallest of the ukuleles with an average length of 53 cm. It is particularly suitable for beginners, but also for all those who love the original sound of the ukulele. There are many soprano models, designed with different woods in particular. Everyone has their own style too! So everyone can find the one that makes it vibrate. L'soprano ukulele tuning is done on the line GCEA, therefore on the notes sol, do, mi and la.

To give you an idea, here is a soprano ukulele model to discover now :)

The range of GCEA agreements, good to know:

The G represents the 4th string of the ukulele at the top level. It corresponds to the sol note. The C represents the 3rd string, or the note do. The E is the 2nd string. It corresponds to the mid note. Finally, the A represents the 1st string, therefore at the lower level. Its note is A.

concert ukulele

A little more imposing than the soprano, the concert ukulele measures on average 58 cm. It is well suited for beginners, but also for people who have large hands or like the sound of this instrument. There too, the choice is vast for models of concert ukuleles

To tune a concert ukulele, we do it on the basis of the GCEA scale (like the soprano). The sound is deeper and voluminous than with the soprano ukulele. 

The concert ukulele models to discover: the Raivavae concert with its solid mahogany neck, and the Motukawanui concert with a design inspired by Maori motifs. 

Tenor Ukulele

En size , tenor ukulele is still a notch above compared to the concert. Indeed, it measures 66 cm on average. It is rather recommended for people who already master the ukulele well. For those who are looking for a quality, handcrafted instrument, the models of tenor ukuleles Upa Upa Tahiti are ideal. Tuning level, we are also on chords based on the GCEA range.

Partez discovering the tenor model Hiva Oa without further ado!

Baritone Ukulele

Smaller than a classical guitar, but more imposing than the tenor ukulele, the baritone measures on average 74 cm. As the name suggests, it offers more bass tones. the baritone ukulele suitable for skilled musicians. His tuning is different from sopranos, concertos and tenors. Indeed, he agrees on the line THEN, so on the notes D, G, B and E. The D corresponds to the 4th string of the ukulele at the top level and the note D. The G corresponds to the 3rd string and the note G. The B is the 2nd string, which is attached to the note B. Finally, the E is the 1st string and corresponds to the E note.

Good to know:

To tune your ukulele, there are several methods. Manually by turning the tuning keys, or with the help of a round chromatic tuner, a ukulele whistle, an electronic tuner or even a tuning fork.

You now have all the information to choose your ukulele well. But let us now take a look at the side of the guitar and Banjo. Thus, you will be able to understand the differences between these 3 instruments and be comforted in your choice.

What to play with soprano, concert, tenor and baritone ukuleles?

If the ukulele is an instrument that we do not know at all, we could be tempted to think that with this instrument we only play the Polynesian traditional music. But the ukulele is not limited to this musical style. In reality, many universes can be visited and revisited with the ukulele. You can play rock, jazz, blues, soul, funk, pop, ballads or country. All this according to your desires and your moods.

What are the differences between the ukulele and the guitar?

La major difference between a ukulele and a guitar lies in the number of strings. For the classical guitar it is 6. For the traditional ukulele 4. In Hawaii in particular, the traditional ukulele consists of 4 strings. But note that the tahitian ukulele has 4 doubled strings. Back to our guitar now. Generally, its strings are made of nylon or steel. For the ukulele it is nylon strings. Another important difference between ukulele and guitar is the size. The guitar is bigger, its neck has a longer length, the pitch is longer and the frets are more numerous. In terms of learning, it is also deemed more difficult than the ukulele. The last difference between these two instruments is at the level of the price. The ukulele is more affordable than the guitar.

À hold back :

  • Le ukulele is smaller and more easily transportable than guitar
  • Learning this instrument is easier than learning the guitar
  • The price is more affordable for a ukulele
  • And this instrument is perfect for beginners or children

Now, on to the Banjo!

Banjo and ukulele, how are they different?

You ask yourself what is the difference between a ukulele and a banjo? We explain to you. These two musical instruments differ essentially in sound. The tuning is not the same on a ukulele and a banjo, and therefore, the sound produced is also different. For the 4-string tenor banjo for example, the tuning is close to the tuning of a violin, although the octave is lower. For the 5-string banjo, the tuning is done on the gDGBd scale, ie the notes G, D, G, B D. between the two instruments, the size is also different. The banjo is larger than the ukulele. 

Now that you know the differences between all these instruments, let's take a look at the woods used to make ukuleles. In effect, the choice of ukulele must also take into account the type of wood. And the reason is simple, the wood used influences the sound of the instrument.

Mahogany ukuleles, composite wood, solid walnut: which wood to choose for your ukulele?

The basic rule to observe is to avoid instruments exclusively made of laminated wood. the composite wood, on the other hand, can be used in the design of some parts of the instruments. Otherwise, the solid wood is ideal for a ukulele. Quality instruments are made largely of solid wood, but you have to know how to maintain it. Today, there are ukuleles made with different types of wood. So what to choose? How does wood influence sound?

The wood of the ukulele influences the sound, what is it really?

To help you in your choice, we explain how the type of wood influence the sound. Initially, ukuleles were made in acacia koa wood. But now, we find mahogany wood, composite wood ou solid walnut notably. Often, several species of wood are used to make the same instrument. A type of wood corresponding to a specific part of the instrument. 

Acacia koa wood ukulele

Le Koa acacia wood is the wood traditionally used to make ukuleles. But this wood is rare, which is why other solid woods are also used today. Koa wood is found on the island of Hawaii. As solid wood, acacia koa delivers better sound, more power and more enjoyable vibration. The depth and clarity of sound of this wood is ideal for the ukulele. Very often you will have ukuleles sopranos, concertos, tenors and baritones with an laminated koa body.

Solid mahogany wood ukulele

Widely used in homemade ukuleles, solid mahogany wood produces clear sounds. It is found most of the time on the part of the neck of the ukulele. It is a wood that must be maintained with care, like all solid woods.

Ukulele with composite wood

Le composite wood is an assemblage of several wood species fibers. It is a durable and solid material, which can be used to make the fingerboard of the ukulele. Whether you are buying a soprano, concert, tenor or baritone ukulele, it is very likely that the fingerboard is made of composite wood. 

Solid Walnut Ukulele

Le solid walnut is regularly chosen for making the bridge of the ukulele. It is a solid wood which restores rather warm sounds. 

Choosing the ukulele: what price to put in your instrument? 

If we are beginner, we can search for a ukulele offering a good value for money. For example, a soprano ukulele between 150 and 200 euros will do the trick to start learning the instrument. You will also find quality concert ukuleles between 200 and 250 euros. If you are a seasoned musician, the quality tenor ukuleles are sold on average 250 euros. Of course, you will find ukuleles at all prices, but for playing this instrument to remain an unparalleled pleasure, opt for quality. Upa Upa Tahiti ukuleles offer you quality at good prices. So don't hesitate to take a look at the shop :) and dlearn the ukulele thanks to our ukulele tutorials for beginners

As you can see, there are many parameters to look at before choosing your ukulele. The level of the player, the build quality of the instrument, the type of wood, the price, and more. But don't forget to follow your heart too :)

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