Don't buy before you read this! This article will provide you with everything you need to know about an Ukulele before you purchase one.
One of the most instantly identifiable instruments is the sound of a ukulele. With just one strum, most listeners are instantly transported to a beach in Hawaii.
Whether you're a seasoned musician looking to mix things up or picking up an instrument for the very first time, the ukulele is a perfect choice.
With the right ukulele and some practice, you will be performing for friends and family before you know it! Read on to learn everything you need to know before purchasing your first ukulele.
The History of the Ukulele
If you are in the market for a ukulele, you probably have a general idea of what it is. But before reading on to find the perfect ukulele for you, here is some important information about ukuleles and their history so that you have some fun facts to share with your admiring audience.
Ukuleles are ubiquitous in Hawaiian music and culture, but they actually have origins in Portugal. They evolved from the small Portuguese stringed instrument, the braguinha. When Portuguese immigrants arrived in Hawaii to work in sugar plantations in the 1850s, they brought the branguinha with them.
Three Portuguese craftsmen who immigrated to Hawaii at this time are responsible for the evolution of the instrument to the ukulele we know today. Their names are Manuel Nunes, Augusto Dias, and Jose do Espirito Santo.
Hawaiian royalty popularized the ukulele in Hawaiian music and culture. King David Kalakaua and his sister Lili'uokalani had songwriting contests on the ukulele. They also incorporated the ukulele into traditional music and dances.
Why the Ukulele Should Be Your Next Instrument
The charm of ukuleles is evident to anyone who has ever listened to one. With just one strum, they transport you to tropical environs. But there are several other reasons why you might decide to pick up a ukulele.
If you already play the guitar, you will find that the ukulele is easy to pick up and you can easily translate your skills to the ukulele. Most songs translate to ukulele and you can simplify complex cords so that they work on the instrument.
If you are a new musician, the four strings make scales and chords easier to learn than other stringed instruments like the guitar or mandolin. The soft nylon strings are also easier on the fingers.
Regardless of your skill level, the small size of the ukulele is appealing to many. It's perfect for traveling, camping, beach days, or bringing along to a friend's house.
Common Sizes of Ukuleles
As a novice ukulele player, you may be surprised to hear that there are a variety of different sizes of ukuleles available. The size and type that is right for you will vary depending on your needs.
Here are the different sizes of ukuleles and what you need to know about them.
The soprano ukulele is the smallest of the four and most likely what first comes to mind when you picture a ukulele. Originally, all ukuleles were sopranos, so they are a popular and very common pick.
For the most traditional-sounding ukulele that you can easily bring along with you, this is a great choice. It's beginner-friendly and classic.
The concert ukulele is slightly larger than the soprano ukulele and has a deeper and more robust sound. The larger size makes it more comfortable for many players.
If you are looking for something with a rounder, louder sound and find the size of the soprano ukulele is uncomfortable to play, this could be the best choice for you.
The tenor ukulele has a larger body and longer neck that allows for more intricate playing. The larger size also lends itself to a louder and deeper sound.
The tenor ukulele is a good choice for more experienced musicians who are interested in the flexibility in the tuning of the tenor ukulele. The standard tuning for this size is G-C-E-A, but it can also be played in the tuning setting of D-G-B-E, which is like the first four strings of the guitar.
Unlike the soprano, concert, and tenor ukuleles, the baritone ukulele is tuned differently and is larger. The result is a lower tone and deeper sound.
Guitar players might prefer this ukulele might since the tuning is the same as the higher notes of a guitar. There's no need to translate the guitar cords to play songs on this ukulele!
Deciding Which Ukulele Is Right for You
Deciding which ukulele is right for you can feel overwhelming with so many options available.
In addition to the four different sizes of ukuleles described above, there are a few other variations of ukuleles that you might be interested in depending on how you are planning to use your new instrument.
The bass ukulele has the body of a baritone ukulele but is tuned like a bass guitar (E-A-D-G). Banjoleles, or banjo ukuleles, sound and look like a banjo but have the size and playing style of a ukulele.
More experienced players might even consider 6-string ukuleles. These ukuleles are sometimes called guitarless. For an even more complex sound that sounds similar to the mandolin, try 8-string ukuleles.
If you have specific features in mind, you might consider a custom ukulele, but bear in mind that these will come at a higher price tag.
Once you have decided on the size and style of the ukulele that works best for you, you have to decide which price and brand to choose.
Ukuleles range in price from under $50 to over $1,000. Once you have determined what your budget is, look for a well-respected brand. Some of the most popular and high-quality brands are Kala, Ohana, and Kanilea.
The best way to ensure that you are getting a quality instrument is to buy from a respected ukulele or instrument shop.
Purchase the Perfect Ukulele With Confidence
With the weather getting warmer and the days getting longer, summer is right on the horizon. The one thing missing is some light and fun ukulele music to transport you to a tropical locale!
At Island Bazaar Ukuleles, we have a unique collection of ukuleles made by craftsmen in Hawaii. We refresh our inventory every week, so there is always something new to try. Our experts are passionate about helping you to find the best ukulele for you.
If you've been thinking about getting a ukulele, there's no need to wait! Contact us today to get a one-of-a-kind ukulele that's perfect for you.