Comparing Ukulele vs Guitar: What’s the Difference?

Ukulele and guitar are two of the most popular string music instruments used by music lovers worldwide. While the guitar was said to have originated in Spain back in the 15th century, the ukulele originated in Hawaii in 1879. Considering ukulele vs guitar both look identical. However, ukulele vs guitar differs from each other to quite an extent. Ukulele is most preferred among beginners who have just started playing string instruments, the reason being ukulele is relatively easy to learn and play compared to a guitar. Nonetheless, a ukulele and guitar demand time and patience from someone who wishes to become a master of either one or both. This article contains all the information about ukulele vs guitar.

ukulele vs guitar

Ukulele Vs Guitar

Although Ukulele looks similar to everyone, the one who has in-depth knowledge of string musical instruments can quickly point out the differences. Ukulele vs guitar Here is a comparison of both devices, considering certain factors to learn more about how they vary with each other:

  • Size

A ukulele is comparatively smaller than a guitar, which is apparent and understandable for anyone without much understanding of string instruments. The smaller the size, the sound quality and the tone also would be minimal.

  • Number of strings

A ukulele has 4 strings on the fretboard that sound like G-C-E-A, while a guitar has 6 columns on the fretboard that brings out the tone  E-A-D-G-B-E.

  • String material

A ukulele is usually made of nylon strings, which gives a softer feeling while playing and can be easily played with fingertips. On the other hand, an acoustic guitar is made of metal strings, which provide grip to the picks, making them firm while you play.

  • Scale-length

The measurement taken from the nut to the saddle of a string instrument is often referred to as scale length. The scale length of both the ukulele and guitar differs based on the models; the longer the fretboard, the higher the scale length. ukulele vs guitar While the ukulele has a scale length ranging between 13 inches to 17 inches, the guitar has a scale length between 23 inches and 26 inches.

  • Convenience and comfort

Due to its smaller body size and lesser number of strings, a ukulele is more loved and travel-friendly. On the other hand, the guitar is more beneficial for concerts and shows and is mainly loved by professional guitarists worldwide.

ukulele vs guitar

  • Price

The price of both ukulele vs guitar varies according to their models and features. However, if someone needs to have a rough idea, a ukulele costs not more than $80 if you consider buying a somewhat good quality one, whereas the basic guitar models could cost you around $200.

  • Tuning

The tuning style of a ukulele is entirely different from a guitar. The former shares its tuning similarities with another stringed instrument banjo. You can tune a ukulele from the 4th string in the order G-C-E-A. However, following the same for a guitar would mimic it instead of tuning. A guitar is generally tuned in the order E-A-G-D-B-E.

  • Range

Guitars are larger when compared to ukulele. So, the playing range of a guitar is quite extensive. A classical guitar can play from E2 to E4 notes. Premium electric guitars also go up to C5 generally, and some of them can go higher too. Ukulele, on the other hand, can only play from C4 to A5.

  • Sound

Ukulele is known for light, gentle, and mellower music with its focus on the treble. This is because of its small body, low string tension, and soft strings. Guitar music has richness, and its sounds have higher ranges. These instruments can produce loud and full sounds as a result of their acoustics. Electric guitars can further amplify these sounds.

These are the possible differences between the ukulele vs guitar. Being stringed instruments, these two share the following similarities.

  • Body Shape

Acoustic guitars and ukuleles share a similar shape. This shape helps amplify sound in lightweight bodies. Some ukuleles, especially the bass variants have this similarity with acoustic guitars.

  • Styles of Playing

Generally, a guitar is more resonant and can project greater distances. So, it is more likely for playing melodies amid the large gathering. When it comes to the ukulele, some musicians use it for playing melodies too. Moreover, both the ukulele and guitar can also play chords as harmonic instruments.

  • Frets

Another similarity between a ukulele and a guitar is that both of them are fretted instruments. Both the instruments have a wooden neck and horizontal metal frets. Ukulele players and guitarists generally use these frets to adjust the pitch.

  • Music Styles

ukulele vs guitar

Ukulele is known for classical Hawaiian music, along with some styles of jazz, pop, and folk. Guitars, on the other hand, cover almost all music genres. So, the music styles are known for the ukulele and also feature the guitars.

  • Chord Shapes

Though the tuning of a ukulele is different from a guitar, there are some similarities here too. Classical guitars with nylon strings deliver tunes similar to a ukulele. The tuning similarities are a result of the chords’ similarity. As in, some specific guitar chords can work for a ukulele too. A guitar’s D chord can become a G chord for the ukulele. Similarly, the C chord of a guitar can become the F chord of the ukulele.


When choosing a ukulele or a guitar purchase, the decision purely depends on who is playing them and the extensive uses that could arise. Ukulele can be learned by kids or adults with minimum guidance or supervision, and they are easy to carry wherever you go, and fits into your backpack easily. However, a guitar needs a unique bag and would be helpful to people who want to start learning seriously or those guitarists who host music concerts and are well-trained.

As mentioned above, both ukulele and guitar have baggage of pros and cons of their own. However, the ukulele is considered comfortable because of its softer strings and light body. Guitar, on the other hand, has 6 strings and needs a little extra effort to master. If warm and delicate sounds are your thing, the ukulele is a better choice. Otherwise, the guitar can take its place.

William Larson
William Larson

Hi, I am William. I am a music enthusiast. I play the guitar and ukulele. I like to try out all instruments and review them, to help others make an informed decision. You must choose the right instrument to get that sweet sound you desire. When I am not on my instruments I will be found reading or cooking.

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