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July 11, 2011

PLEASE NOTE:  My “UKULELE BASICS” DVD is currently  available for purchase. . . For more information email me at


I’ve had this question asked of me hundreds of times and honestly I can’t come up with a perfect answer.  As many of us know there are several sizes of ukuleles. . . The smallest and most traditional size would, of course, be what we call the SOPRANO.  Nowadays it is tuned GCEA with G being the 4th string or the nearest one to your chin. . . Now in past years it had several tunings. . . If you’ve ever browsed thru old sheet music collections in antique stores you may come across a tune from the 20s or 30s that says UKULELE CHORDS . . . You open it up and begin to play and you discover it doesnt sound in the same key as the piano accompaniment only to find that they dont have the uke tuned to GCEA but to some other tuning. . . Well nevertheless that tuning was intially intended for the soprano uke.   THEN. . . along came a slightly bigger uke. . . the CONCERT . . . not a whole lot bigger but still bigger. . . Bigger sound, bigger body, somewhat deeper tone then the SOPRANO, perhaps longer neck . . . but. . . tuned the same as the SOPRANO. . . So, not to be outdone the manufacturers came out with a slightly larger model . . . the TENOR  . . . Same tuning as the CONCERT and SOPRANO but oh SO much bigger and deeper and in fact most professional concert artists like Jake Shimabukuro and Lyle Ritz play the TENOR model. . . So there you have it . . . if you don’t mention the BARITONE!!!! Oh my . . . MUCH MUCH bigger and in fact almost feels and sounds like a small guitar. . . Different tuning though so we will keep the BARITONE for a later article.  So. . . going back to that question. . . Which one to start one. . . Doesn’t really matter . . . but just be sure if you purchase any of them please dont settle for a $20 instrument.  You will be sadly disappointed and truthfully it will NEVER really represent the skills you will be developing in just a very short period of time.  I’ve had SO many students who have become frustrated with their inexpensive instruments. . . thinking it is THEY that are doing something wrong and not the instrument.  I’ve seen so many delighted students who FINALLY advance to a higher quality instrument.  It makes all the difference in the world. . . For me, I prefer the TENOR mostly because of my hand size, but I trully do play all of the size and enjoy them for what they are. . . . “HAPPY STRUMMING”

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