The acoustic guitar and ukulele are perhaps the most popular stringed instruments especially among aspiring musicians. The compact size of both instruments make them quite easy to bring along anywhere you wish to go. Each instrument would require you a bit of financial and time investment, so it would be wise to learn one instrument at a time.
If you’re struggling to choose between the two, this short guide will help you decide. We will look at the main differences of both instruments so you can determine which is the better choice.
The most obvious difference between a uke and an acoustic guitar is their physical appearance. First of all, guitars have six strings while ukulele only have four. Then, they also differ in size. Guitars are classified into four sizes namely:
- Dreadnought – This is perhaps the most popular size. It measures 41 inches and provides you with the richest sound and volume.
- Orchestra – Roughly one inch smaller than the full-sized dreadnought, the orchestra model creates a thinner volume and tune.
- Parlor size – It measures 38 inches long and has a box length of at most 19 inches. It also has a shorter neck, so it works quite well for kids or adults with short arms.
- Travel size – This type of guitar is 25 percent smaller than the dreadnought. It’s the perfect choice for young learners or for folks who simply want a second guitar.
On one hand, ukuleles are classified into four main types namely baritone, tenor, concert and soprano. Baritone is the largest among the four and measures around 30 inches. The smallest, soprano, only measures 20 inches.
The Quality of Sound Produced
Ukes and acoustic guitars produce very distinct sounds. Ukuleles tend to produce happier melody compared to the brassy tunes produced by an acoustic guitar. This stark difference can be attributed to the varying lengths of the fret boards of each instrument.
The longer neck of the guitar allows it to produce lower tunes, while the shorter neck of the uke allows it to produce high pitch sounds.
This is why ukuleles are preferably used to play quick, playful, and cheery songs such as I’m Yours by Jason Mraz. Acoustic guitars, on the other hand, are perfect for soulful and slow songs like Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door and Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven.
Both of these instrument has a rich and colorful background. And have been one of the top choice of musicians of different cultures around the world. The ukulele with it’s Hawaiian History and acoustic guitar with it’s Spanish roots.
A lot of newbie musicians wonder which of the two popular instruments has a steeper learning curve. The uke is perfect for players who never tried using a stringed instrument before. The compact size of the ukulele makes it very portable and easy to handle. There are also other features that you should consider such has:
- Softer strings – Unlike guitars which makes use of metal, uke strings are made of nylon. Hence, these strings are easier on the fingers of a newbie musician, especially kids.
- Lesser number of strings – As mentioned earlier, a ukulele only has four strings, so it’s less intimidating to learn a song. The chord patterns are also easier to play.
- Smaller spaces in between the fret – A lot of non-experienced players complain about the large spaces between the fret board of a guitar. Even if you have short and stubby fingers, you won’t have problems shifting through one fret to another with a good quality uke.
- Lower string tension – The string tension measures roughly 24 to 35 lbs. on each guitar string. Uke string tension, on one hand, measures 7 to 13 lbs. Instruments with lower string tension are easier to play compared to other options.
When learning how to play either of these instruments, it’s highly recommended to do the following:
- Take your time – Don’t feel too pressured by other experienced musicians. You’ll get there! Just keep on practicing.
- Dedicate time – If you truly want to master the guitar, you need to schedule regular practice sessions. And by regular, you don’t even need to play countless hours every day. Just set a time of your day to sit down and just mellow out with some tunes. You’ll get used to it in no time, and it is very therapeutic.
- Spend time learning the theories as well – Analyzing fretboard diagrams and how notes and strings work will help you become a better player.
- Take inspiration from established guitarists – Check out the techniques that use and determine if you can also use these when you play. Learn from their tips and stories.
So, which is the better option?
Do you want a smaller instrument you can carry around with you when you go to the beach? Are you looking for something that fits your budget? Do you prefer playing happy or mellow music?
Don’t forget to consider the learning curve. Make sure you have enough time to understand how to play the instrument properly.
Once you decide which instrument to buy, your next priority should be finding a teacher who can help you learn the ropes. If you’re not to keen on receiving instructions from a pro, you can always read books and watch tutorial videos online or you can browse around our site, Ukulele.PH where you can learn how to play your favorite songs on the ukulele.
I would like to congratulate you in taking the step into living a more colorful and exciting life by learning how to play an instrument. It’s gonna change your life.
Thanks for reading, friend 🙂