Ukuleles were first invented in Hawaii during the 19th century, but these whimsical instruments now boast players from around the world. They come in several different sizes, each creating distinct musical sounds. From beginner players to experts, there are ukuleles to suit every skill level.
What are the four ukulele sizes?
- Soprano: The soprano ukulele is the style most commonly associated with the instrument. Soprano ukuleles have a small body that measures about 20 inches. They also have a short fretboard that has between 12 and 15 frets.
- Concert: The concert ukulele, which usually has 15 to 20 frets, is slightly larger than the soprano. They measure 23 inches. The larger scale puts more tension on the strings, which in turn creates a fuller, richer musical sound.
- Tenor: The tenor ukulele is a common choice for professionals. Tenors are 26 inches long, and they have 15 to 25 frets. They produce a deep, rich sound comparable to a classical guitar.
- Baritone: The baritone ukulele is the most similar to a traditional guitar. These styles are 30 inches long, and they have at least 18 frets. They also have a different tuning apparatus than smaller options. As baritones are not as portable as other ukuleles, they aren't used as frequently and are not recommended for beginners.
What are ukuleles made of?
Traditionally, they are constructed out of wood. There are also a few other material options; however, that might be well-suited to beginner level players. The choices include:
- Koa: Professional-caliber options are made out of koa, a type of wood native to Hawaii. It's known for its distinctive grain and the warm sound it creates.
- Mahogany: Mahogany is the most commonly used wood type. High-end instruments are crafted out of solid mahogany. Mahogany ukuleles of all quality levels can achieve a lovely, soft sound.
- Spruce: Spruce is not as prevalent as other wood types, but these options are a popular choice for beginners.
- Laminated: Laminated styles use inexpensive wood to craft the inside of the body, and higher quality wood on the outside of the body. Many beginner ukuleles are laminated.
- Plastic: Plastic models don't produce the rich, warm sounds of solid wood options, but they're a great choice for playing music around the campfire or on the beach. They can't be beaten for portability.
What are some of the most notable brands of ukuleles?
There are many companies producing high-quality styles, ranging from beginner ukuleles to professional quality tenor ukuleles. They include: