Frequently Asked Questions About the Ukulele
The ukulele is one of the most intriguing instruments around - and a lot of fun to play. From bluegrass duos to jam bands, professional musicians and amateurs alone love the ukulele.
Whether you are a brand new ukulele player, a long-time fan of ukulele music or just a curious outsider, it pays to know a bit more about this fascinating instrument. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the ukulele.
How Long Does it Take to Learn the Ukulele?
As with any musical instrument, the amount of time it takes to achieve mastery will vary greatly. If you are already an experienced musician, you should have a much easier time learning to play the ukulele, since you will already have the basics down. For experienced musicians, adding the ukulele to their repertoire could take as little as a week. True mastery, of course, will take much longer.
If you are new to playing a musical instrument, it could take weeks or months to become a proficient player. Even so, you should be able to pick up the basics of playing the ukulele and pick out a tune or two within a week or two.
What Kind of Ukulele Do I Have?
If you already have a ukulele of your own, you are a step ahead of the learning curve. You can simply pull your instrument out and start noodling away, but before you get started, you need to know what kind of instrument you own.
There are four different kinds of ukuleles - soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. The soprano ukulele is the smallest of the bunch, with a jangly sound that is very distinctive. The concert ukulele is larger, with a rich full sound and quality construction.
The tenor ukulele is a popular choice for working musicians, and it typically has a very rich sound. Tenor ukuleles are also louder than other types of instruments, making them well suited to bars, theaters and other noisy settings.
The baritone ukulele is the largest of the four types, with a warm sound that is quite similar to the guitar. If you love the guitar but want to add the ukulele to your repertoire, the baritone model may be the best choice.
Determining what kind of ukulele you have is as simple as checking its size against the four types of instrument. Once you know what kind of ukulele you own, you can start learning to play it well.
What is the Difference Between a Tenor and a Soprano Ukulele?
If you are in the market for a ukulele, you will need to decide which kind to buy. There are tenor ukuleles and soprano ukuleles, and each has their own unique features and benefits.
The most noticeable difference between the tenor and soprano ukulele is the size. A soprano ukulele is the smallest, and it produces the jangly sound many fans associate with the instrument. The soprano ukulele typically has 12 to 15 frets, and they use a standard tuning of GCEA.
The tenor ukulele is quite a bit larger, with a richer fuller sound than their soprano equivalents. Tenor ukuleles as popular with professional musicians, especially those who play in orchestras and many bands.
What Size Ukulele Should I Get?
There are four different sizes of ukulele - soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. The size you choose will be determined by a number of factors, including your style of play, what kind of music you want to play and your level of mastery with the ukulele and other instruments.
The baritone ukulele is the most similar to the guitar, so dedicated guitar players might want to choose that variety. If you love a crisp and jangly sound, the tiny soprano ukulele might be a good choice. If you need a louder and richer sound, the concert and tenor ukuleles are both good choices. Above all, it is important to choose a size you are comfortable with and an instrument you will not mind carting around.
How Big is a Soprano Ukulele?
The soprano ukulele is the smallest of the four varieties, and it is a good choice for beginning players and experienced musicians alike. Known for its bright and jangly sound, the ukulele has that distinctive tone that many casual fans know so well.
Although there all some smaller models available, the typical soprano ukulele measures 20 inches long. That is a good size for portability and play, and a good choice for musicians of all ages and abilities.
How Do I Restring a Ukulele?
When you buy a ukulele, it will probably come with a full set of strings, and perhaps an extra set or two. If you plan to play the instrument, you will need to learn how to properly restring it.
It is best to start at one side of the ukulele and work your way to the other side. It does not matter which side you start with, so choose a starting point that works for you.
In addition to the ukulele itself, you will need a clean cloth, a tuner, a wire cutter and a pencil. Once you have the old strings off, use the cloth to give your ukulele a good cleaning, getting into all the crevices to remove accumulated dirt and debris.
Use the pencil to notch each slot on the ukulele's not. This will allow the strings to slide easily through the slots. Once that is done, simply anchor the string to the ukulele's bridge, feeding one end of the strong into the back of the bridge. Wrap the string around itself, snug it up and wrap any excess under the string. This will keep the string from slipping as you play.
How Do I Tune My Ukulele?
Tuning your ukulele requires tuning all the strings, starting with the string closest to you - known as the G string. Put your finger on the second fret and check the tuning, then work your way through the remaining strings and perform the same procedure. When you are done, the ukulele should be tuned up and ready to go, with a beautiful, rich and resonant sound.
How Much Does a Good Ukulele Cost?
The ukulele is one of the most affordable instruments, making it a great choice for the beginning player. If you have always wanted to play a musical instrument but been afraid of the cost, the ukulele is a low-priced way to start.
You can pick up a starter ukulele for less than $50, so you can try the instrument and see how you like it. If you want to move up to a more professional ukulele, you can expect to spend a few hundred dollars. Even so, compared to many other instruments, that price point is quite low.
Now you know a bit more about the ukulele, and you can start playing it in earnest. Once you start playing, you may wonder why you waited so long to take up the ukulele.