What is the difference between a ukulele and a guitar?

What is the difference between a ukulele and a guitar?

The ukulele and the guitar are both plucked string instruments. Seen from a distance, one seems to look exactly like the other. Their operation is, moreover, based on the same principle: the sound is produced thanks to the vibration of the strings and is then amplified in the resonance box.

The resemblance is quite logical when you know that the ukulele is, in fact, the little brother of the guitar. However, despite their fairly similar appearance, the two instruments each have their specificities. If you've always asked yourself the big question: what differentiates the guitar from the ukulele (and vice versa)?, this article should interest you.

On the shape: the aspect, the size and the strings

The guitar and the ukulele look almost the same. However, upon close examination, one can easily see that they are quite different when it comes to size. The ukulele is much smaller than the guitar (for information, the scale lengths of guitars are around 24 to 25,5 inches while they are 13 inches for standard soprano ukuleles). As a result, it is much lighter and easier to transport. At the level of the neck, that of the guitar is longer and has more frets than that of a ukulele. This characteristic makes it often easier to play basic chords on the traditional Polynesian plucked string instrument than on its big sister.

As for the strings, they are generally 4 in number on a ukulele while there are 6 on a standard guitar (or even more on other versions). Since their number is reduced on the ukulele, memorizing chord shapes is much easier. Also, barre chords are easier to play.

It can happen that we observe 6 or 8 strings on a Tahitian ukulele. However, it is important to remember that the instrument is, in reality, equipped with 4 strings, these are doubled to have the 8 elements.

Finally, it should be noted that the two instruments differ widely in terms of the types of strings used. Guitar strings can be either nylon or steel while ukulele strings are usually mostly made of nylon.

On the substance: chords, tuning and sound

Ukuleles are tuned GCEA (Sol-Do-Mi-La) while guitars are tuned EAGDBE (Mi-La-Sol-Re-Si-Mi). The G string should generally be tuned an octave higher with the traditional Hawaiian plucked string instrument.

Of course, despite these differences, there is a certain relationship between ukulele chords and guitar chords. It is also for this reason that certain guitar chords, once played, give ukulele notes.

When it comes to tone, the guitar tends to produce a denser, louder, and brighter tone than the ukulele. On the other hand, the sound quality is much softer, quieter and more acute with the latter.

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