Is it Easier to Play a Ukulele or Guitar?

The ukulele has become quite popular recently after many emerging artists chose it as their preferred instrument. It may appear confusing or intimidating, but the uke is actually a friendly instrument perfect for beginners. You may find a guitar tougher to learn than a uke, so you should consider why you want to play one before buying it.

A ukulele is easier to play compared to guitars. It has fewer strings and doesn’t require intensive practice like the guitar. A uke is also more comfortable to play because the nylon strings don’t cut into your fingers, and you’ll experience fewer hand cramps from over-extension. It simplifies the experience of playing the guitar.

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Image by catandway from Pixabay

Most new guitarists face a steep learning curve and too many hand injuries to count. If you’ve been thinking about switching to the uke, that may be a great decision. You should think about whether you’re passionate about being a guitarist or if you want a fun hobby. This article explains how ukes differ from guitars and why they may be a better fit for you!

What Separates Ukuleles From Guitars?

On first impression, a ukulele appears to be a miniature guitar. On closer inspection, you can tell the distinct variations between the two types of stringed instruments. 

Keep in mind that a guitar and ukulele don’t produce the same sounds nor need the same level of skills. They are not substitutes. 

The key aspects that are unique to ukuleles are:

Physical Attributes

Unlike travel-sized guitars, a ukulele is a drastically smaller instrument. It has a shorter neck and a more petite body, which makes it perfect for small and average-sized hands. 

The frets are closer and limited in number, which causes players with larger hands to struggle. It also has only 4 strings made of nylon instead of metal, so the risk of getting cut is lower.

The uke is compact and lightweight enough to play for hours and easily travel with. They also have different styles nowadays, not only the original Hawaiian models. 

Although they appear to be basic, ukuleles can play pretty much any tune with their 4 strings. The melodies get simplified, thus becoming easier to play as you substitute the strings and chords.

Chords and Sound 

For learning purposes, you can think of a uke as a simplified guitar. The primary method to play is the same: plucking and strumming the strings to make music, but the tone is entirely different. The sustain of the sound is also much less than guitars. This difference is credited to the size of the body, the shorter and thinner strings, and a few other components.

Since there are 4 strings tuned differently, your chord shapes also change. For e.g., the C chord uses one finger on the ukulele, not three. 

Since the strings are closer, players choose barre chords rather than crowding their fingers. The order of strings also places the lowest pitch second last, which is unique to the uke. Keep in mind with all these differences; the pitches are opposites too.

Skill and Technique

The learning curve is the biggest menace when trying anything new. However, ukuleles have a much smoother learning period than guitars. You can pick up on the most played chords within a week and begin to find your style by the next. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t take effort, but it isn’t as much as what a guitar demands. It’s a lot less gruesome.

If you’re a seasoned guitarist, it’ll be pretty simple to transfer your skill from the guitar to the uke. However, it’s not that easy to play the guitar if you’ve been playing the ukulele. 

Guitar techniques take years to master, and your progress depends from person to person. However, the uke has limited aspects of learning, so you run out of new tricks to try at one point. The ukulele is restricted in this way.

Does a Ukulele Suit You Better?

You should choose which instrument to play based on your personal preferences. There are many differences between a ukulele and a guitar, about how you play them and how they sound. 

The table below compares the advantages and disadvantages of a ukulele to help you decide:

AdvantagesDisadvantages
The small size makes it light and portable.Four strings limit sound variety.
Nylon strings hurt less and don’t cause injuries.Tutorials and teachers aren’t easily accessible.
Simple to learn and master.Limited sounds and chords to try.
You can familiarize yourself with stringed instruments without much effort.Fewer effects available 
Low cost of purchase and maintenance.Not suitable for large hands.
Uniquely rich and mellow sound.Low sustain of sound.

FAQs

Q.How Many Strings do Ukuleles Have?

A standard ukulele has 4 strings, whereas a normal guitar has 6 strings. The number and type of strings determine what sounds the instrument can produce. Ukuleles have thinner strings, which is why they don’t sound as deep as the thicker guitar strings. 

Q. How Much Does a New Ukulele Cost?

Ukuleles are cheaper than most guitar and string instruments. You can buy a new Ukulele for about $60-$80, while a standard guitar could cost between $150-$200.

Q. Can You Play the Guitar if You Play the Ukulele?

A guitar requires more practice and skill than a ukulele. If you play ukulele, it will take you time to adjust to a guitar. On the other hand, if you play the guitar and try out the uke, you’ll get comfortable in no time.

Final Thoughts

It is much easier to play the ukulele than a standard guitar. The lighter weight doesn’t tire out players, while the simple four strings allow you to simplify chords. New players don’t take as long to learn and don’t face many problems that new guitarists do, such as string injuries, hand cramps, etc. You can always try out a uke if the guitar isn’t your type!

Sources

https://www.fender.com/articles/play/7-reasons-to-play-ukulele#:~:text=The%20ukulele%20is%20easier%20to,notes%20are%20reachable%20without%20stretching.
https://soundadventurer.com/is-ukulele-easier-than-guitar/
https://www.quora.com/Is-the-ukulele-or-guitar-easier-for-a-beginner
https://www.voicesinc.org/ukulele-vs-guitar/

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