Ukulele Buying Guide
Ukuleles make the perfect gift for anyone interested in music. But how do you buy a ukulele? Which one is the right one for you? How much do they cost? We’ll answer all these questions and more to help you get from simply dreaming about these fun island instruments to being a full-on player.
What is a ukulele?
Adapted from the Portuguese machete or “braginho” the ukulele is a small four-string instrument brought to Hawaii in the late 19th century by immigrant cabinet makers. The ukulele has since evolved into the beloved nylon-stringed instrument we know today.
The ukulele, which roughly translates from Hawaiian to “jumping flea”—possibly due to the energetic playing style of the Portuguese players who first introduced the instrument to Hawaii—has become synonymous with island culture, and its sweet and lively tones instantly conjure up images of tropical paradise.
Over the past century, the ukulele has found its way into the hands of millions of players, with its shape and materials varying greatly to accommodate different playing styles and a wide range of musical genres.
Ukulele Body Size
Ukuleles typically come in four sizes:
The smallest in the uke family, soprano ukuleles are known for their shimmering high, bright tones. They’re generally quieter than their larger counterparts and are roughly 21 inches in length, making them a perfect choice for young beginners with small hands.
Measuring in at 23 inches in length, the concert ukulele is a little warmer tone-wise and a little larger than a soprano. Once you’ve started on a soprano, you may want to move up to a concert.
Larger than a concert, but smaller than a baritone, tenors still retain the desired brightness of their smaller siblings but have a little more warmth. Their size makes them perfect for not-so-tiny players or guitar players looking to add another instrument to their bag.
The largest of the ukulele bunch, baritone ukuleles are about 30 inches long and tuned differently than the other three. As the name suggests, they’re known for their rich, mid-lower registers and act as a bridge between the ukulele family and classical nylon-string guitars.
Ukulele Body Shapes
The most common uke shape is the figure eight. Patterned after the symmetrical contours of the guitar, the traditional figure 8 shape has a balanced and more focused tone.
Another option are the pineapple-shaped ukuleles, which tend to be a little larger than the standard figure eight and therefore push a little more volume.
For those who want to veer away from the typical uke tone, banjo ukes are another option. Shaped like a banjo, they tend to be louder than standard ukuleles and have a distinctive tonal quality similar to their namesake.
At Bountiful Music, we carry Kala, Makala, Lanikai, Eddy Finn, and Diamond Head Ukuleles. They range from $39.99 on up. Come on by the store and try one out for yourself!
365 N. Main Street Bountiful, Utah 84010 (801) 292-1804 [email protected]