Ukulele is one of my most favorite musical instruments. It’s very easy to learn than any other musical stringed instrument. Also, it is really easy to use, small (similar to a mini-classical guitar), has an affordable price range, and you can play almost every music on the ukulele.
A few days ago, a guitarist friend of mine who was interested in learning ukulele asked me, “Can a ukulele have 6 strings like a guitar?” Regarding that, I decided to answer the question of whether a ukulele can have 6 strings or not.
Well, a ukulele can have 6 strings. Ukuleles tend to have 4 strings but ukuleles with 6 strings are a unique class of their own. The extras 2 strings increase the range of the instrument and it offers more complex playstyles so that the ukulele player can experience fuller and rich sound.
If you want to get a 6 string ukulele, you have to know everything about it first. So, we will try to cover up everything you might need to know and answer all the questions you might have about a ukulele with 6 strings. Let’s get started.
Why the Ukulele Has A 6 String Variant in The First Place
When someone asks you to think of a ukulele, what comes first to mind? Obviously, it is a smaller version of the guitar that has 4 strings. Right? Well, there are actually 5-string ukuleles, 6-string ukuleles, and even 8-string ukuleles. However, we’re going to discuss the 6-string ukulele.
So, other than the number of strings, what distinguishes the 6 string ukulele from the standard 4 string version? The reason for adding more strings to the bass is to increase the range of the instrument.
Being able to play lower and/or higher-pitched notes signifies having a wider range. Moreover, the more strings you have under your fingers, the more notes you have.
This generally inexpensive instrument creates a louder, more full-sounding instrument while keeping the ukulele’s tone and aesthetic. If you have 6 strings than 4 strings on a small instrument, you can perform more advanced playstyles.
How to Play a 6 String Ukulele
Six-stringed ukuleles can be played the same way you play a normal ukulele. You can efficiently hold down both strings with a single finger because the two “C” strings and two “A” strings are so close together. So, on any 6-string ukulele, you may use all of the chord fingerings that you use on a regular ukulele. If you use the extra two strings correctly, your sound and playing will be on a whole new level.
However, you can’t really play a 6 string ukulele like a guitar. Although, you can use all the chords you learned on the guitar. But you have to remember that chord shapes don’t create the same sound.
Tuning a 6 String Ukulele
The majority of six-stringed ukuleles are tuned to the same notes as their more traditional 4 string siblings (GCEA) except the baritone ukulele. The difference between a 4-string ukulele and a 6-string ukulele is the C string and the A string are doubled up in pairs on six-string ukuleles. The second C string is normally an octave higher than the first and the second A string is either identical or an octave lower.
Without the two bass strings, standard ukuleles or four-string ukuleles are tuned up two and a half steps. The song is basically the same when played with a guitar tab but in a higher key. A six-string ukulele is tuned in GCCEAA, while a ukulele’s common tuning is GCEA.
4 String VS 6 String – Which is Better?
A ukulele is a short-necked guitar and is usually played on 4 strings. But the 6 string variation comes up with a unique taste. Sopranos are four-stringed ukuleles with a small tone. The alto or concert ukulele features a fretboard that is 2-inches longer than normal and produces a fuller sound. Meanwhile, the six-stringed tenor ukulele provides a rich tone.
Fingerpicking on a 6-String ukulele is no more difficult than on a regular 4-String ukulele, yet it becomes instantly varied and tonally intriguing. The ukulele’s lower octave A string offers a nice amount of bass that really fattens out the tone while strumming.
I have both 4 string and 6 string variations. But on a small instrument, 6 string ukuleles provide the user a lot greater range, allowing them to dole out more advanced playstyles, resulting in a richer and fuller sound experience. So, I prefer the 6 string variation.
However, the extra strings can be a bit difficult for beginners to work with. It is advised for beginners to stick with generic ukuleles when playing for the first time.
The Pros and Cons of a 6 String
While ukuleles with 6 string provide us more playstyles, it also has some disadvantages. In order to know everything about 6 string ukulele, you should weigh the advantages and disadvantages. They are as follows-
- Offers more complex playstyles
- Gives a fuller and a warmer sound experience
- A bit hard to learn than 4 string ukulele
- Beginners may find the 6 string slightly complicated
If you have read all the information before, you will have a clear idea about a 6-string uke. Even though, make sure you know all the answers to some frequently asked questions by the fellow people.
Why 6 String Ukulele is Easier to Learn than the Guitar?
The ukulele is recommended for complete beginners who want to get started making music right away. The neck and the frets of the ukulele are much thinner than the guitar and that’s why it’s easier to learn the basic chords.
On the other hand, there are several reasons why learning the guitar may be easier for you. As I previously mentioned, the frets on the ukulele are relatively small. As a result, people with larger hands and guitar players will find it more difficult to play chords on the ukulele.
Why Nylon Strings are The Most Common String on Ukulele?
Most people use the ukulele for strumming gentle Hawaiian music. And unlike any other string, nylon string will allow you to create this beautiful sound. The nylon core of these strings is covered with a thin polymer thread. They are most commonly used on baritone or tenor ukuleles and have a somewhat fuller sound than regular strings. Also, nylon strings are very affordable.
Nylon ukulele strings are softer and kinder on your fingertips than guitar strings and do not cause finger pain. Because the notes are reachable without stretching, the compact size decreases wrist tension. Strumming on nylon ukulele strings is very comfortable as well.
Not every uke strings are good though. Because they have a tendency to stretch out over time. This makes it harder to keep them in tune. I have one expensive ukulele which has D’Addario’s titanium ukulele strings. Cheaper ukuleles can also have strings other than nylon.
What are The Differences between a 6 string Ukulele and a Guitalele?
The six-string ukulele can be played in the same way as a normal ukulele, but with a richer tone. On the other hand, a guitalele can be played like an acoustic guitar.
A six-string ukulele’s standard tuning is GCCEAA, while guitaleles are tuned similarly to a standard guitar (capoed on the 5th fret) but begin on an A rather than an E.
Ukuleles are a very simple musical instrument that produces a bright tone. It has a small body and a thin fretboard. It makes the ukulele a very comfortable instrument. You can learn this instrument really easily by yourself. Moreover, you can get this awesome instrument at a budget-friendly range.
The 6-string ukulele variant is very unique. And it certainly can be a better option for some people. The extras strings significantly increase the tonal range and playability. You can play almost every music on a 6 string ukulele.
To sum it up, the 6 string variant of the ukulele is definitely worth getting if you know your way around ukuleles. But if you are a beginner then you should start with learning the generic 4 string version first.