The Different Ukulele Sizes Explained

Ukulele Sizes to Scale
Ukulele Sizes to Scale

Unlike some other instruments, ukulele sizes aren’t named like separate instruments (violin vs. viola, and mandolin vs. mandola). This has led to confusion, and because the different body types sound and feel different to play many musicians aren’t sure which body style will be right for them - this guide will help you understand what each shape and size is.

Note that there are small variations between different brands and models, and as a result the measurements provided below are approximate.

Soprano Ukulele

A soprano ukulele is the smallest commonly found ukulele. The soprano size has that trademark plinky ukulele sound, though because it doesn’t have a very large resonating surface it doesn't have the volume or depth of tone you’d find in a larger instrument.

The traditional tuning of the soprano ukulele is A4, D4, F#4, and B4, though most musicians tune them down one whole step G4, C4, E4, A4.

Scale Length: 13-14 inches
Overall Length: 21 inches

Pineapple Ukulele

Pineapple ukuleles (which as you might have guessed are shaped like a pineapple) have a similar response to that of a soprano ukulele but offer a more harmonically rich tone because of their larger resonating surface.

Scale Length: 13-14 inches
Overall Length: 21 inches

Concert Ukulele

The concert ukulele is the middle ground between a tenor and soprano ukulele. It has the delicate and sweet tone of a soprano ukulele while having some of the depth of a tenor. Concert ukuleles are tuned the same as sopranos.

Scale Length: 15-16 inches
Overall Length: 24-25 inches

Tenor Ukulele

Tenor ukes are becoming more and more popular due to their versatility. They’re more appealing to finger-pickers due to their longer scale length (see the section below for a definition of scale length). Tenor ukuleles can be tuned to either high-G (the same as a soprano or concert) or low-G. Low-G tuning offers more possibilities, though it’s not as traditional sounding as high-G tuning.

Scale Length: 17-18 inches
Overall Length: 26-27 inches

Here’s an example of the difference between high and low-G:

Baritone Ukulele

The baritone ukulele is unique in that it doesn’t use a reentrant tuning. What this means is that the strings are ordered from those lowest in pitch to those highest, as opposed to other ukuleles which are not.

This body style, while retaining some of the sound the ukulele is known for, has a response similar to that of a classical guitar. This means that it wouldn’t be the best fit for someone looking for a traditional ukulele tone, but at the same time it does have a pretty unique sound.

The baritone ukulele is also tuned a fourth lower than other body styles, so playing music intended for tenor-style or smaller ukuleles will require some transposing.

Scale Length: 19-20 inches
Overall Length: 30-31 inches

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance between the nut and the neck. It impacts both the tone of the strings and the force required to play them. The longer the scale length the more the top resonates (which increases volume), though a longer scale length can somewhat reduce warmth.

Overall Length

Note that a ukulele's overall length is longer than the scale length - a rough rule of thumb is that the overall length will be about 1.5 to 1.6 times longer than the scale length for most ukuleles.

Questions?

If you have any questions about the different sizes of ukuleles then post them below for further help.

Comments

I went to local music store.

I went to a local music store. I want a ukulele that is similar to guitar chords so I can convert to guitar later. They sold me what they said is a baritone Krime Uku it is 30” long.
Is this a baritone? Does it relate to guitar chords? Your site says baritones are 19”-20”. Please help
Stephanie

Hi Stephanie,

Hi Stephanie,

Stringed instruments such as Ukuleles and Guitars have two separate lengths that are used to measure different things.

Scale length essentially measures the vibrating length of the strings which is an indicator of string tension.

Overall length of the instrument tells you how long a box or case needs to be to hold it.

30" is a correct overall length for a baritone ukulele which will typically also have a scale length of 19-20".

Based on what you said the store has given you a baritone ukulele which has 4 strings tuned to the same D G B E of the 4 highest pitched guitar strings in standard tuning.

So it sounds like the store has given you exactly what you wanted which will make it easier to start playing guitar later.

Jason.

PS: I've changed the article above to reduce confusion over the two lengths.

Hello! Can I please use your

Hello! Can I please use your ukulele size comparison chart for a college project I'm working on, please?

Thank you very much!

I'm new to this I really want

I'm new to this I really want a ukulele, i know i want the larger one, i want to learn with good sound,
Does anyone play country with these, country rock .
Thank you for any info that may help me .

I was told my ukulele was a

I was told my ukulele was a concert size but when I ordered a case it was much too short. Can you tell me how many inches a tenor is from top to bottom?

I’m a beginner and I already

I’m a beginner and I already have a Makala concert uku, but I would like to get a new uku that’s not a concert. Which uku size should I get?

That all depends on the type

That all depends on the type of sound you want.

If you want that classic 'plinky' sound then get a Soprano Ukulele, otherwise you could try a Tenor Ukulele which gives you the option of trying new types of tuning as well as sticking to what you're used to.

Post a Comment or Question

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Comments

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <b> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.