Ukulele vs. Guitar

Ukulele vs. Guitar is a common debate among many musicians. They have a lot of differences. But one thing is common; they both belong to the stringed family. In this article, we will give you an idea about their dissimilarities. However, we won’t give you any recommendation of which one you should be playing.

Which One Should I Learn First? 

It depends on your music style. So-

  • If you want a Hawaiian kind of music, then you best pick the ukulele.
  • If you want to play rock, jazz, or metal, then you should pick the guitar.

However, we would suggest that you learn the ukulele first. It will build up your rhythm sense. Then you can proceed to the guitar.

The Basic difference between Ukulele and the guitar

Ukulele and guitar are two of the most famous instruments used in modern music. Though their build is similar, they have a lot of differences. We will discuss them now-

1. Origin 

Both of them come from different origins. Like-

  •  Famous for being a Hawaiian instrument, the ukulele was brought there by an Italian musician. Joao Fernandez, a Portuguese immigrant, put on a show in 1879 by jumping off the boat playing a small instrument. Hawaiian people liked that show very much. They later named the instrument Ukulele, which means the gift that came here.
  • Many think that the origin of the guitar is in the United States. But it has come from Spain. Probably around the 16th century. However,r the guitar we see now was also invented in Italy. It was built by Gaetano Vinaccia in 1779. Yet, most modern guitar’s development was done in the United States.

2. Body

In normal eyes, the uke looks like a small guitar. But on close inspection, you will notice some mechanical differences.

  • Guitar generally has six strings. On the other hand, the strings on the ukulele are only four.
  • For its small size, the uke has a small and thin fretboard. You won’t have to stretch your fingers that much, which is a plus point for many short-handed people. But it annoys people with large hands. That is why many large hand people prefer guitar over the ukulele.
  • Then comes the most apparent significant difference: the size. A uke usually is 11 to 12 inches in height. That is 35% to 50% of A regular guitar. For its small size, you can carry it anywhere. An average guitar size is 40 to 41 inches.

3. Strings

The number is not the only difference in strings.

Ukulele Strings

  • The strings of the ukulele are mostly made out of nylon.
  • As they have little to no tension, they are easy to press down.
  • It produces a soft, pleasant sound.

Guitar Strings

  • Most guitars have nickel-plated strings.
  • Strings have high tension, so they are harder to press down.
  • The strings produce a loud, vibrant tone.

Now let’s talk about string tension. What is string tightness? Well, it is the assessment of how tight or loose are the strings of the instrument.

The ukulele strings have three times less tension than the strings of a guitar.

  • Per the ukulele, the string has around 7IBS to 12 IBS tension.
  • Per guitar, the string has around 24 IBS to 34IBs tension.

4. Tone

The small size and fewer strings make a whole world of difference in tune.

Ukulele Sound

  • The ukulele produces a warm and comforting sound because its’s strings are soft and don’t have tension.
  • Due to having less tension, the strings can’t produce a loud sound.
  • The sound it produces is typically Hawaiian.
  • The High E string is placed at the top. It is in the same place where the Low E string of the guitar is situated.

Guitar Sound

  • Because of high string tension and larger fretboard a guitar can produce both high pitch or a low pitch sound.
  • Guitar offers a variety of tunes, be it soft and worm or loud and shattering. That is why it is suitable for any type of music like pop, rock, jazz, metal.

5. Easiness 

Let us talk about playability.

  • Because of light strings, uke can be taught to a child too. But guitar strings are hard, especially Low E springs. It can be pretty rough for a child.
  • Uke can be learned in a few days. But the guitar is hard to learn. You would need a few months to learn it and a few years to master it.
  • Scales are harder to learn on the uke. It has a small fretboard, so alternating fingers is tough there. But the guitar has a big fretboard. Besides, you get the flexibility to move around easily here.
  • Then again, the guitar has more strings and notes. So it is harder to memorize all of it. Uke has an advantage here.

6. Cost

Price is a deciding factor for many. Cost doesn’t come up in most conversations. But it is an essential factor.

  • With a small body and fewer strings, a ukulele comes at a low cost. A new one would mostly cost you $60 to $70. At the price of the second-hand guitar, you can easily purchase a new ukulele.
  • Buying a guitar is a costly matter. Even a second-hand guitar would cost you at least $50. And a new one (even a moderate guitar) would cost you around $150 to $ 200.

Can Ukulele be Self Taught? 

Ukulele has gained much popularity in recent years because it can be self-taught. Learning Uke is one of the easiest out there. Follow these step by step guide –

  • Just go to youtube,
  • Play some tutorials
  • Learn the basics.
  • After getting the hang of the basics, try a few songs.

Ukulele is one of the best self-taught instruments. A guitar is, however, hard to learn. It has many notes, scales, and combinations. For a specific genre of music, you have to learn different patterns. That is why learning the ukulele first and then move to the guitar if you feel like it.


We hope after reading till now you have got the basic idea about the difference between ukulele and guitar. Choose the one that suits you the best and learn it with proper dedication. In time you’ll see that you have mastered one or two of those instruments.