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The 10 ukulele sizes and subtypes: Which is best for you?

In this article, I will go over the importance of understanding the different ukulele sizes available and how to distinguish between them.

I will help you learn how to choose the right size for your needs and musical style preferences.

There are four main ukulele sizes and six subtypes that I will cover to make the beginner’s life easier, so let’s get started!

About me

Marye Lobb, writer at Higher Hz

I’m an independent singer-songwriter, teaching artist, and multi-instrumentalist. As an artist, I’ve released three original albums and currently producing my fourth. My third album, Top of the Trees, was written, recorded, and toured exclusively on ukulele.

When I knew I was going to bring my uke into the recording studio, I wanted to be sure that the sound that the instrument created was the one I wanted on my record.

I visited every ukulele storefront in the five boroughs of New York City and played every size and type to discover what ukulele sound fits just right for my ears.

I hope to help you discover your perfect ukulele sound as well.


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A brief history of the evolution of ukulele sizes

The soprano ukulele is often referred to as the “standard ukulele size” because it is most similar to the cavaquinho, machete de braga, braguinha, or rajāo – the instruments that the Portuguese immigrants brought to Hawaii in the 1880s.

ukuleles of different sizes
Ukuleles of different sizes | Image: Leung Cho Pan

In the 1920s, big-band sound was popular, and so the tenor, concert, and even banjo ukuleles were created to compete with big-band instruments.

The soprano ukulele is the most popular of all the ukuleles we will discuss in this article.

Here are the 10 ukulele sizes and subtypes, from the most common (standard) to the rarest:

Soprano ukulele

  • Size: 21 in (53 cm)
  • Frets: 12-15
  • Strings: 4
  • Tuning: G-C-E-A

The wonderful soprano ukulele is the smallest of the four main sizes, and the average dimensions are 21 inches (53 cm) long – from the top of the headstock to the base of the body.

The soprano ukulele has 12 to 15 frets and is generally just under two octaves in range.

This ukulele is shorter and has a shallow body, so the sound gets less of a chance to resonate, creating a bright, higher-pitched, and classic tone that is thought of when people hear the word “ukulele.”

You may often hear the sound the soprano ukulele makes referred to as “thin,” “jangly,” or “plinky.”

The soprano ukulele has the standard tunings of G, C, E, and A and is well suited for child beginners because it is petite, and the frets are small – perfect for wee fingers and hands.

You can find soprano ukuleles somewhere between $50 – $100, so you don’t have to make a big investment upfront until you know you or your child is serious about playing.

Concert ukulele

  • Size: 23 in (58 cm)
  • Frets: 15-20
  • Strings: 4
  • Tuning: G-C-E-A

The marvelous concert ukulele averages to be 23 inches (58 cm) long and has an average of 15 to 20 frets.

The concert ukulele can project more due to its deeper body, enabling the overall volume to be louder.

Like its soprano sister, the concert ukulele has the standard G, C, E, and A tuning, yet has a more resonant and fuller sound and, at times, can sound like a classical acoustic guitar.

The concert neck is slightly longer than the soprano ukulele, therefore the width of each fret is slightly wider.

This allows for extra spacing between each fret, making it a great fit for beginner adults and children with larger fingers.

Tenor ukulele

  • Size: 26 in (66 cm)
  • Frets: 15 or more
  • Strings: 4
  • Tuning: G-C-E-A

The exquisite tenor ukulele is often found to be about 26 inches (66 cm) long and usually has 15 frets or more.

Just like its brother, the concert ukulele, the frets are bigger and easier to play than the soprano if you have bigger hands.

Tenor ukuleles are larger than the concert ukuleles and, therefore, have a deeper sound, landing somewhere between the classical guitar and the ukulele.

The tenor ukulele has the standard G, C, E, and A tuning and has a similar sound to the concert but is even deeper, fuller, and louder still due to its larger body and the fact that its strings are longer.

Baritone ukulele

  • Size: 30 in (76 cm)
  • Frets: 19 or more
  • Strings: 4
  • Tuning: D-G-B-E

The beautiful baritone ukulele is the longest, measuring 30 inches (76 cm) in height, and has 19 frets or more.

The frets are wider and longer, so this ukulele makes an easy transition for a guitar player.

The baritone ukulele most resembles a nylon-string classical guitar with a resonant sound and a deep tone. It has a tuning of D, G, B, and E, which are equivalent to the bottom four strings of the guitar.

For those guitar players learning to play the ukulele for the first time, I recommend a baritone ukulele. It is a seamless transition – you will feel like you are flying!

There are some lesser common ukulele sizes as well:

Sopranissimo ukulele

  • Size: 17 in (43 cm)
  • Frets: 12
  • Strings: 4
  • Tuning: D-G-B-E

The sopranissimo (or pocket) ukulele is to the soprano ukulele what the piccolo is to the flute – it is the ultimate highest-pitched ukulele.

It is often pineapple-shaped, and because of this, you may hear it referred to as the “pineapple ukulele.”

standard and pineapple ukuleles
Standard and pineapple-shaped ukulele | Image: George Pakpong Pongatichat

The sopranissimo ukulele is wonderful for travel as it is easy on the arms and shoulders for long trips and walks from one gate of the airport to another, but not as easy on the ears: it is not the richest in tone as it is super high-pitched and can easily go out of tune for this reason.

From the top of the headstock to the bottom of the body, this ukulele measures 17 inches (43 cm) in size on average.

The sopranissimo ukulele is often called the “mini ukulele” or “tiny ukulele.”

Sopranino ukulele

  • Size: 19 in (48 cm)
  • Frets: 12
  • Strings: 4
  • Tuning: G-C-E-A

The sopranino ukulele is a little bit bigger than the sopranissmo ukulele but smaller than the soprano ukulele. It is usually around 19 inches (48 cm) in size.


  • Size: 30 in (76 cm)
  • Frets: 18+
  • Strings: 6
  • Tuning: A-D-G-C-E-A

The guitalele (also called guitarlele or ukitar) is similar in size and scale to the baritone ukulele and has six strings.

The guitalele measures between 28-30 inches (71-76 cm) in size and is essentially a teeny tiny guitar.

Banjo ukulele

  • Frets: 16-18
  • Strings: 4
  • Tuning: G-C-E-A
playing a banjo ukulele
Playing a banjo ukulele | Image: Alex Douglas

The banjo ukulele (or banjolele) is a four-stringed instrument with a banjo body and a fretted ukulele neck. The common tuning is G, C, E, A, and sometimes A, D, F#, and B.

Bass ukulele

  • Size: 30 in (76 cm)
  • Frets: 18-21
  • Strings: 4
  • Tuning: E-A-D-G

The bass ukulele is a baby ukulele-shaped bass! The tuning is that of a bass guitar: E, A, D, G.

The majority of bass ukuleles will sound an octave higher than a bass guitar. This is still much lower than the standard-tuned ukuleles.

Contrabass ukulele

  • Size: 32 in (81 cm)
  • Frets: 16
  • Strings: 4
  • Tuning: E-A-D-G

The contrabass ukulele is the same as the bass ukulele but one octave lower. The contrabass ukulele has the same tuning as the standard bass.

How to choose the right size ukulele?

I regret to inform you that there is no one-size-fits-all ukulele, as all of our body and hand sizes and shapes are unique, and the sounds that are pleasing to one may not be as pleasant to another.

That being said, here are a few important aspects to consider when choosing your uke:

  1. Consider the playability
  2. Consider the portability
  3. Consider the sound and tone
  4. Consider your experience level

Step 1: Consider the playability

I recommend going to your local independent music store and asking if you can try playing some of the models they have for sale.

Put the ukulele on your lap, give it a hug, pluck the strings, and if you can imagine this instrument being in your hands and heart for a long time – then it is likely the uke for you.

Step 2: Consider the portability

Will you be playing this ukulele on weekend getaway trips at the beach with your friends or in your bedroom with the door closed?

The lighter and more compact the instrument, the more enjoyable your travels will be.

Step 3: Consider the sound and tone

Sound and tone are a personal preference, and only you can decide how low or high you want your new instrument to caress your eardrums.

Step 4: Consider your experience level

If you are coming from the guitar, I recommend the baritone ukulele so you do not have to relearn all the chord shapes – the transition will be seamless.

A soprano is a great starter ukulele for complete beginners, especially kids.

When you have the ukulele in your hands, and you hear and feel the sounds it makes, then you will know which one is the right fit for you.

Acoustic or electric? Which is better?

Pure acoustic ukuleles generate sound solely through string vibration, lacking built-in electronics for amplification. They offer traditional acoustic resonance and are ideal for intimate family room-like settings.

Electric ukuleles feature pickups and preamps, allowing them to be plugged into amplifiers for louder sound projection. They offer versatility and are suited for various music genres, especially in amplified performances.

Acoustic-electric ukuleles combine acoustic resonance with built-in electronics, providing the option to play acoustically or amplify the sound when needed.

They offer flexibility for both unplugged and amplified playing situations, catering to diverse musical preferences and performance needs.

So, just to sum up:

Pure acoustic ukuleles offer traditional resonance and simplicity. Electric ukuleles provide versatility across genres and amplified performances. Acoustic-electric ukuleles combine acoustic warmth with amplification options, catering to diverse playing environments and musical styles with flexibility in sound projection.

ukulele and amplifier
Acoustic-electric uke plugged into an amp | Image: Kala

Acoustic-electric ukuleles offer dual functionality, allowing players to enjoy acoustic resonance or connect to amplifiers or PA systems for larger venues.

This versatility makes them ideal for intimate settings where unplugged performance is desired, as well as for larger stages where amplified sound projection is necessary, catering to a wide range of musical environments.

Starting with an acoustic ukulele is often recommended for beginners to develop foundational skills and appreciate the instrument’s acoustic sound.

However, beginning with an acoustic-electric model offers additional flexibility as skills progress.

It allows beginners to experiment with amplified sound earlier, preparing them for diverse performance scenarios and expanding their musical horizons.

Ultimately, the choice depends on individual preferences and goals.

Go and find your uke!

I hope reading this article helped you learn more about different ukulele sizes, the dimensions of each, the tunings, the sound difference, and more.

I hope that I have also answered your many questions about the different sizes and types of ukuleles.

Now that you have this knowledge, go to your local ukulele shop and play, play, play. Try out all the ukuleles in the store and see what fits you best.

Have fun and happy ukulele playing! I can’t wait to hear about what uke you decide on and how your ukulele jam session goes!