So you’re thinking of buying a ukulele.

You’ve come to the right place, because I have a lot of experience buying ukuleles.

 These are just a few of the ukuleles I have purchased, so you know I know what I’m talking about!

These are just a few of the ukuleles I have purchased, so you know I know what I’m talking about!

What is a ukulele?

It’s a small four-stringed Hawaiian instrument in the lute family. It often has nylon or gut strings, and is tuned a lot like a guitar.

Where do ukuleles come from?

In the long view, they’re from Hawaii by way of Portuguese immigrants in the 19th century. In the longer(?) view, they tend to come from trees.

In our case, they often come from Guitar Center.

 
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Is there more than one kind of ukulele?

There are four sizes of ukulele, though really it’s more like 3½ sizes.

  • Soprano

    • tuned GCEA, with high-G

    • what picture when someone says “ukulele”

  • Concert

    • a Soprano with a longer neck

  • Tenor

    • tuned GCEA, sometimes low-G

    • larger overall, easier fretting for large hands

  • Baritone

    • tuned DGBE, it’s almost guitar!

    • the same chord shapes work but it’s a different key

Is playing ukulele hard?

Here’s the secret: No.

The strings are usually soft nylon, and the neck is small & easy for most hands to get around. Most of the time you don’t even need to strum with a pick, you can just use your fingernails.

And here’s the kicker: If you know how to play guitar, you probably can already play the ukulele!

Think of it this way:

Imagine a normal guitar.
Remove the two lowest strings.
Put a capo 5 steps up.
Ta-da! That’s a ukulele.

The note relationships between the tuned ukulele strings are the same as a guitar’s 4 higher strings, so the chord shapes are the same also.