What Size is my Ukulele?
Craig 'Lumpy' Lemke BSEd, MA
Ukulele, Ukelele, Uke...
All common spellings for the same instrument.
Yet really there are at least FOUR different sizes of ukes.
When buying or selling a uke, or when purchasing strings,
it's important to know exactly which size uke you're dealing with.
The four common sizes are -
Soprano - Concert - Tenor - Baritone
If your uke's overall length is 21" then it's likely a soprano,
the most common size. But a better way to verify size
is to measure the scale length. That's the length
of the free, vibrating portion of the strings. Measure
from bridge (where the anchor near the bottom) to
nut (where they leave the fingerboard near the tuners).
A soprano uke has a 13" scale length
and is usually about 21" total length.
A concert uke has a 15" scale length
and is usually about 23" total length.
A tenor uke has a 17" scale length
and is usually about 26" total length.
A baritone uke has a 19" scale length
and is usually about 30" total length.
It's the Ukulele Law - Not
Like most things musical, there are exceptions. You
may certainly find a soprano uke with a 14" scale length.
And to some degree, uke strings are interchangable.
You can put soprano strings on a concert or even
a tenor or bari. The timbre of the instrument may change,
but generally it's safe. You may not be able to achieve the
tuning you like using strings from another size uke. Or you
may discover a timbre and tuning that you like even better than
the more conventional tuning. I personally am fond of playing
Rolling Stones and Steve Winwood tunes on my soprano. That's
about as far away from traditional as you can probably get.
If you DO like to experiment, I suggest starting with the more
conventional strings (soprano strings on a soprano or bari strings
on a bari). Try your experimental tunings there first. Then change
a little at a time to see what results you achieve.
Most importantly, play the little pineapple..:-)
Craig 'Lumpy' Lemke - eBay songthief