Ukulele vs acoustic guitar – main differences and benefits of each instrument

Let’s face it – there are people who can’t even tell a difference between a guitar and a ukulele, even though there are plenty of them. We’re here to see exactly how they are different, all in order to help you decide which one suits you better. You can learn more on Soundchime.com

Main differences

The main differences between a ukulele and an acoustic guitar are in appearance, in the learning curve, weight, sound, and price.

Appearance

Although there are plenty of ukulele and guitar types, an average guitar is, by default, larger than an average ukulele.

The sheer size is not so important, however the scale length, the number of strings, and the size of the frets (and the fretboard) is.

Everything on a guitar is bigger when compared to ukulele – the frets are wider, there are six strings onboard as opposed to ukulele’s four, and the same can be said about the neck as well.

Weight

Even though it’s obvious that guitars are heavier than ukuleles simply because they’re bigger, there’s another thing that’s worth mentioning. Namely, traditional Hawaiian ukulele was intended to be played without a strap.

In order to make this possible, ukulele makers aim to make them as light as possible without interfering with the acoustics and sound quality.

Sound

The sound is, perhaps, one of the most obvious differences between a ukulele and a guitar. While the bulk of the sound signature depends solely on the size, it’s safe to say that guitars are a bit more versatile in this aspect.

Namely, guitars are made from all sorts of woods while most ukuleles are (traditionally) made from Koa materials. That means that ukuleles sound unique and exquisite, and most people attribute their sound as ‘Hawaiian’.

Guitars offer a huge range of tonal possibilities not just due to the fact that they’re made from a plethora of different materials – their scale length is larger and there’s more strings onboard. That means that you’ll be able to play extended chords and play higher octaves.

Although ukuleles are somewhat modest when it comes to the variety of sounds they provide, that actually comes in handy for beginners.

Price factor

The price tag is the only not-so-material difference between a guitar and a ukulele. Namely, ukuleles require less materials and usually don’t undergo such rigorous performance tests as guitars, so it’s only natural that they don’t cost as much.

The ‘learning curve’

Knowing that ukulele’s are generally smaller than guitars, it’s kind of obvious that they’re also a bit easier to learn since you’ll be able to grip the neck more easily and pull off chords without any significant difficulties.

Some people even go as far as to say that ukulele’s are ‘guitars for kids’. A fewer number of strings also means that there’s less room for error while practicing.

What’s more, ukuleles are lighter than guitars. That specifically comes to mind when you decide to play your instrument upright – the weight of your instrument will yield a certain amount of fatigue, which later impedes upon your other functions (muscle memory and concentration in general).

Overview

Now that we’ve dabbled with the issue of differences between acoustic guitars and ukuleles, let’s have a quick rundown.

Ukulele pros

  • Small in size – ukuleles portability make them travel-friendly even without a travel bag
  • Easy to learn – this instrument is practically ideal for beginners, and allows for a smooth transition to a guitar at later stages
  • Decently cheap – most ukuleles that are regarded as ‘expensive’ can’t even begin to compare to the expensiveness of a regular guitar
  • Perfect for people with small hands – people who are finding it hard to fret chords on a regular guitar will find no problems doing so on a ukulele

Ukulele cons

  • Low range of tones – ukuleles have only four strings, hence you’ll be ‘cut short’ for several octaves in comparison to a guitar.
  • Rough start – finding ‘beginner tutorials’ online or an actual teacher is significantly harder when it comes to ukulele then it is for a guitar

Guitar pros

  • Suitable for all music genres – guitar is by far the most versatile instrument ever invented
  • Wide tonal range – bright, deep, chirpy, rough, warm, you name it
  • Finding a teacher is extremely easy – even YouTube is filled with numerous online lessons you can get for free

Guitar cons

  • Harder to learn to play – playing a guitar requires a decent amount of time and effort
  • Lower portability – you’ll need a carry bag if you want to move it from place to place