There is a certain amount of crossover with all stringed instruments. Some more than others. So, can guitar players play the Ukulele?
Luckily, the Ukulele and the Guitar have a lot of similarities. Which stretch further than the Ukulele looking like a small Guitar! Both have frets and the strings aren’t doubled, so you only have to worry about the size and the tuning.
Does Ukulele Size Matter?
Some people worry about the size of a ukulele, as they are very small. I have found that in most cases, the size doesn’t impede your performance. Even those with big hands can be comfortable playing the ukulele. The chord shapes are all very natural and feel quite comfortable.
If you do find yourself struggling with the size of the “standard” Soprano size, there are other size available. The Concert Ukulele is a slightly bigger option, with a longer scale length which means the distance between the frets is a bit bigger. These also have a fuller sound. There are also Tenor models which often have a low G rather than a high G as the first string. These are bigger still. And for those who want something much bigger, the Baritone Ukulele is available. These are tuned to DGBE, which means the chord shapes are different compared to the other models.
Most shops, including our own, will have at least a Soprano model on display. So if you are worried about the size, you can try one out before making a decision.
Different tuning and strings
The strings of a Ukulele can seem daunting to a guitarist at first. Having a thin string first, going to the thickest and then back to thin can be confusing! Luckily, the tuning uses the exact same intervals as the top four strings of a guitar. So, while some shapes are not ones that you would use on a guitar, you can picture the fretboard in the same way as the D, G, B and E strings, just tuned up a fifth.
As a guitar player, knowing this made the Ukulele “click” and make a lot more sense for me.
If you did opt for a Baritone Ukulele, it’s even better! Baritone models are tuned to the same pitch as the top strings on a guitar. Including a low D string rather than having a high first string. So, you can play exactly as you would the top strings as a guitar here.