Ukuleles, also called ukes, are string instruments made up of four strings over a hollow soundboard. They are basically smaller versions of the guitar, with the same hourglass-shaped body and fingerboard neck. Their strings may be nylon or stainless steel, and are tuned to the notes G, C, E, and A in descending order. Most ukuleles are made of wood, although some cheaper versions are made of plastic.
Types of Ukuleles
Kinds of Ukuleles include the following:
Soprano ukuleles are about 21 inches long and have the highest pitch.
They have limited resonance and amplification, and are mostly used in small venues.
They are ideal for children because of their low weight and short necks.
Concert ukuleles are 23 inches long and have the same pitch as soprano ukuleles.
They have a wider, more resonant soundboard that produces a louder, fuller sound.
They are commonly used in ensemble and solo performances.
Tenor and baritone ukuleles
These ukuleles are 26 to 30 inches long closely resemble guitars.
They come in four-string, six-string, and eight-string versions. The extra strings are usually an octave above the G and C strings.
Banjo ukuleles, also called banjoleles, have round banjo-like bodies covered with a taut skin.
They are tuned like standard ukuleles, but are played at very high volumes.
Pineapple ukuleles are box-shaped with relatively straight sides and wide bottoms.
Their body shape giver them a louder sound with a sweet, full tone.
Armadillo ukuleles are made from the backplates of armadillos, a bony animal.
The rounded back gives them excellent resonance and sound quality.
They are considered exotic instruments and are usually very valuable.
Choosing Ukuleles (Buying tips)
Body: Choose a ukulele with a moderately curved back for better resonance and volume. Flat bodies have lower sound quality, but may be more comfortable to use for small children. Material: Choose a ukulele with a koa wood or mahogany body. These provide a warm, mellow sound that improves as the wood ages. The best ukuleles are typically those made from a single piece of wood. For the strings, stainless steel is ideal for performance and professional use, while nylon is safer for children.