Guitar vs. Ukulele: Is Ukulele Easier and Good for Learning Guitar?

Can’t decide between a guitar and a ukulele? We’re here to clear your confusion, and answer questions like- “Is ukulele good for learning guitar?” Have a look!

Is Ukulele Good for Learning Guitar?

The ukulele is a small, four-stringed instrument that kicks out mellow tones. On the other hand, a guitar looks majestic, sounds deeper, and supports a wide range of chords.

If you’re wondering- is ukulele good for learning guitar,

Ukulele is good for learning guitar because it’s a simple instrument with four nylon strings. From a learner’s perspective, ukulele chords are straightforward and they adapt to different songs quite easily. Ukuleles are more affordable, beginner-friendly, and easier to play than guitars.

First, you can easily replicate ukulele chords on your guitar. You’ll get the hang of finger-picking your first dreadnought if you know how to play the Ukulele.

Keep reading to find out the rest!

We’ve added a bonus section on transferring your ukulele skills to a full-size guitar. So, keep an eye out for that!

5 Ways How Playing the Ukulele Will Make You a Better Guitarist!

A lot of people wonder if playing the ukulele can make them better finger-style players.

The truth is- playing the ukulele sets the foundation for many basic guitar chords.

A ukulele player definitely has a head-start in the world of stringed instruments. Let’s look at five ways the ukulele will help with your guitar-playing!

Simple Chords

It’s true that ukulele chord shapes are much simpler than those of the guitar. There are major, minor, and seventh chords comprising 12 variations of each.

You can branch out to more advanced categories such as dominant, suspended, Hawaiian Vamp, and Jazz. But they’re just extras!

As a whole, ukulele chords sound great; they’re very easy to perform and memorize.

Easy on the Fingers

Beginners find the soft nylon strings on their ukuleles easy to strum.

Unless your ukulele is tuned at low-G, you’ll be practicing with nylon strings most of the time.

What’s six metal strings when you’ve practiced on nylon, right?

Similar Strumming Patterns for the New Guitarists!

If you’re already a guitar student, you might sometimes find it hard to strum your guitar to familiar songs.

Can you blame yourself?

Even after acing the chord shapes, acoustic guitars can buzz from out-of-line strumming.

With a ukulele, you only got four strings to manage. Strings that are loosely tensioned and feel much softer to touch.

In fact, if you’re set on fingerstyle playing, rehearsing your moves on a soprano-sized ukulele will be very helpful!

You Can Transpose Guitar Chords More Quickly

Transposing chords is shifting a song’s original key to a different key.

It’s not necessary to transpose your chords. But you’ll probably want to hear how a part of a song sounds in a lower or higher key, won’t you? It’s fun!

How your ukulele-playing can make you better at this is simple. You get to practice a lot of strumming and chord-forming.

There are a couple of ways to transpose guitar chords with acoustic guitars.

If you want to do it without a capo for major scales, that’s totally fine.

You just have to follow the basic chords in progressions, trace their root notes using the bottom three strings and move them up to your desired pitch sound.

Of course, it’s a multi-step process. It’s a 6-string guitar we’re talking about!

It’s Easy to Play Ukulele Chords on Guitar

Ukulele chords are much simpler compared to guitar chords in general. This is why it’s also possible to make your guitar sound like a uke.

Have a look at the Gmaj chord shape on the ukulele. Do the exact shape with the first four strings of your guitar. What do you get? The basic D major!

Since we’ve covered this topic in an elaborate section, we’ll just paint a quick picture for you.

You have a brand-new guitar in front of you with nothing other than your ukulele-playing knowledge. Instead of making a fool of yourself, you can actually sit down and try a bunch of chords.

Now, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

What type of Ukulele is Good for Learning Guitar?

If you really want to be a pro-guitarist, you should start with a simple uke. One that sounds relatively closer to a guitar- don’t you think?

But there are several types of ukuleles, and finding the right instrument can be tricky.

Have a look at the three ukulele categories below. We’re listing them down as the most likely to the least likely to sound like a guitar!

Tenor

A tenor ukulele has the second widest fretboard and is the second-largest ukulele. Did we mention that it’s fairly easy to finger-pick a tenor uke?

What’s unique about this instrument is that its G string is in the same octave as the other three strings.

It offers more tuning variations. After all, your tenor ukulele will be tuned exactly like a guitar- in a linear style.

Moving forward, baritone ukuleles are naturally low-pitched. But tenor ukuleles kick out a much fuller and louder sound. Any beginner guitarist will dig a tenor uke for their music.

Baritone

Did you know that a lot of popular bands play their favorite songs on the ukulele?

A baritone uke, to be more specific?

Off the top of our heads, we have the Beach Boys, Bruno Mars, Twenty One Pilots, and House of Gold.

A baritone ukulele is the largest ukulele you can get your hands on. It has a much longer neck and tuned to B-E-A-D-F#-B or A-D-G-C-E-A.

In any case, a baritone is usually a fifth lower than what’s considered a standard tuning.

No wonder why baritone ukuleles sound like bass guitars, to begin with! Even the chord shapes are the same!

Concert

This specific type is present in both ukulele and guitar models. It’s a bigger version of a soprano ukulele.

Any uke player equally loves a soprano and a concert for their mellow sound. These two are, in fact, tuned in the same pattern.

However, its bright Hawaiian tones make it a bit hard to sound like a classical guitar.

Top 3 Ukuleles to Try Before Playing Acoustic Guitars

An acoustic guitar is not a difficult instrument to learn. But you can learn the ukulele in a much shorter time!

Who knows? Maybe you can be the next John Lennon and have an outstanding track like Stand by Me of your own!

For now, let’s find you a good quality ukulele, shall we?

Cordoba 20BM Baritone Ukulele

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Cordoba 20BM Mahogany Baritone Ukulele
284 Reviews
Cordoba 20BM Mahogany Baritone Ukulele
  • Solid mahogany top
  • Mahogany back and sides
  • Rosewood bridge and fingerboard
  • Natural satin finish
  • Aquila Nylgut Baritone strings (DGBE)

This is an outstanding mahogany baritone by Cordoba. It has 18 well-spaced frets on its rosewood fingerboard. We like this large-size ukulele because of how closely it sounds to a guitar.

Moving on, there’s an amp hook-up for when you’re recording songs or performing on a stage. We also like how balanced it feels from the neck to the body.

The nylon strings are soft, and they’re easy to pick with your fingers. Not to mention, these Aquila strings are extremely resistant to daily wear from careless strumming.

It’s easy to follow sheet music and chord worksheets with this handy four-string instrument.

Overall, Cordoba 20BM is an ideal baritone ukulele for not only beginners but also professional guitar players.

Pros

  • Solid mahogany top and back
  • Rosewood fingerboard with 18 frets
  • Original Aquila Nylgut baritone strings
  • Features the standard DGBE ukulele tuning

Cons

  • The strings might buzz a little

Makala Baritone Ukulele MK-B

Makala Baritone Mahogany Ukulele by Kala (MK-B)
522 Reviews
Makala Baritone Mahogany Ukulele by Kala (MK-B)
  • The Makala Classic line by Kala is simply the best entry-level ukulele on the market
  • Kala focuses on the essentials - quality at an affordable price - making any Makala the perfect ukulele to begin with
  • Modeled after mahogany ukuleles made over 100 years ago, the Makala line is a truly traditional, vintage ukulele that emits a soft, warm, full-bodied, balanced tone and ages beautifully.
  • The Makala Series is built using the same construction standards as all our Kala Ukuleles. Comes complete with a beautiful Walnut fingerboard and bridge, Mahogany neck, brass frets, and Aquila Super Nylgut strings from Italy
  • Kala ukuleles are played by some of the most renowned players around the world including: twenty one pilots, Vance Joy, dodie, EatMyUke, The Ukulele Teacher, and Zac Brown.

It’s a cool entry-level instrument for beginners with little knowledge of music. From a mahogany neck to a walnut fingerboard, this baritone flaunts the standard body size for cheap ukuleles. The Italian Aquila Super Nylgut strings were a big help!

At first glance, the Makala MK-B is a neat instrument with a classic look. It kicks out full-bodied ukulele tones that we like. The fact that it’s a baritone makes it look and feel like a parlor guitar.

Unlike an average baritone, its output hits the high notes beautifully. So, if you’re learning the ukulele for the first time, you’ll like the MK-B for its beautiful music.

And even if it does buzz every once in a while, you get a truss rod in the bag. You can fix it up and tune the DGBE strings right away.

Pros

  • Traditional walnut fingerboard and mahogany neck
  • It’s the perfect ukulele for large people
  • Comes strung with 4 Italian Aquila Super soft strings
  • Includes an adjustable truss rod

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a case

Donner Tenor Ukulele DUT-1

Donner Tenor Ukulele Mahogany Professional 26 inch Ukelele Starter Bundle Kit with Free Online Lesson Gig Bag Strap Nylon String Tuner Picks Cloth DUT-1 Ukalalee Set
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Donner Tenor Ukulele Mahogany Professional 26 inch Ukelele Starter Bundle Kit with Free Online Lesson Gig Bag Strap Nylon String Tuner Picks Cloth DUT-1 Ukalalee Set
  • ♫Well Made Mahogany Craftsmanship: Smooth Mahogany body produces a crisp and pleasant sound. Highly polished smooth Aquila ukulele strings with elevated resistance to wear under tension. Well polished smooth rosewood fingerboard and bridge provides a comfortable playability. Sami-Open finish with 9-cycle grinding and polishing process
  • ♫Warme Rich Sound: Ukulele Mahogany top body and neck bring you much richer, brighter and warmer sound; High density bone nut and saddle combine with 4 advanced Aquila carbon nylon strings to gain clear and nice resonance and more sustain from Mahogany body
  • ♫Come with Everything You Need: Tenor ukulele bundle pack includes tenor ukulele, gig bag, strap, tuner, 4 extra Aquila nylon strings, 4 picks and cleaning cloth. Meet all needs of both beginners and professionals. Padded gig bag features backpack style with 2 padded shoulder straps and exterior pocket for easy comfortable carry and well protection for ukelele. A decent gift for birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Children’s Day, etc
  • ♫Easy to Play with Free Video Lesson: Get started with Donner 26 inch ukulele and professional free ONLINE VIDEO uku lessons for beginners. Easy to understand and get started. Donner ukulele bundle kit is great ukelele set for children, adults, beginners or professionals to play for fun or interest
  • ♫Easy to Tune: Donner patented chrome-plated guitar style tuners increase accuracy and keep ukulele always in tune. Digital clip-on tuner is easy to tune and play. 18 brass frets with fret position marks at 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th frets on neck and top of fingerboard. Classic and Unique Soundhole Ring.

If you’re looking for an all-in-one beginner ukulele, have a look at the DUT-1 by Donner. Personally, we love tenor ukuleles for their body sizes. And the fact that they’re tuned the same as a standard guitar.

You can tune your Donner tenor in any parallel octave to a regular concert ukulele or a soprano.

We’re a big fan of how warm and cheerful it sounds, if not its versatility as an instrument. The dovetail joint and shiny finish look exquisite on this 26-inch tenor.

We think this Donner ukulele is a great instrument for the price. For one, it comes with a gig bag, a tuner, four extra Aquila Nylgut strings, four picks, and two shoulder straps.

It’s a complete package, and it’s all you’ll ever need in your beginner days.

Pros

  • 18 brass frets and a classic soundhole ring
  • Rich, bright, and guitar-like sounds
  • Easy-to-use tuning pegs and durable Aquila strings
  • Comes with a handy gig bag, a tuner, straps, and picks

Cons

  • The glossy finish might not be that durable

Converting Ukulele Chords to Guitar Chords

These chords make that seamless guitar to ukulele transformation happen. Not to mention, these are some of the easiest beginner-friendly chords you can play.

So, if you don’t want your introduction to guitar to be all full of anxiety, follow our tips below!

A Ukulele G Major is a Guitar D Major!

The G chord is a fourth higher on a ukulele than the standard D chord on a guitar.

Yes, as you might have guessed already, the chord shapes are still the same.

To form a ukulele G major chord, press your middle finger on the second fret of the A (first) string. Keep this position and move your index finger to the same fret of the C (third) string.

Hold this shape and get your ring finger (the fourth finger) on the third fret of the E (second) string. And that’s your ukulele G major!

A Ukulele A Minor is a Guitar E Minor

This is an easy, one-finger chord. All you have to do is lightly grab the neck of your ukulele.

Now, put your index finger on the second fret of the G (fourth) string and keep strumming!

It’s better to keep your fingers in an angled position so as to not mute or barre the strings.

A point to note- we’re following the standard ukulele G-C-E-A tuning with the first string as A, the second as E, and so on. When you hold the ukulele from the player’s position, the A string should be the bottom string (the first thin string).

F Chord is a Guitar C Chord

Depending on your fretting skills, you can play the ukulele F major scales in two ways. It’s a straightforward, two-finger chord.

The simpler way to play an effortless F major is to put your middle finger on the second fret of the G string. Press the E string with your index finger on the first fret.

Now, that’s your ukulele F chord!

If you want to convert this F chord to a guitar C chord, do the exact shape.

To make it happen, you need to press the fifth string on the third fret as well. And, voila! That’s a guitar C major well-done!

C Major is a Guitar G Major

The C major is probably the most popular chord beginners start learning. It lets you focus more on your finger-picking than forming the chord.

Press your middle finger on the third fret of the ukulele A (first) string. Keep your thumb from barring the G and C strings.

But, it’s not as simple on a guitar as it had been on the ukulele.

You’ll need to maintain this chord shape, and add your index and middle finger to the picture.

Let’s break it down for you.

First, press the fifth string on the second fret and the sixth string on the third fret.

Repeat the ukulele C major by pressing your ring finger on the third fret of the first string. Easy, right?

A Ukulele Barre Major Can Be a Complete Barre Guitar Chord

This part involves root note transpositions for both instruments and a painful amount of music theory. A barre major is an advanced category in its own right.

As guitar students, you’ll learn more about transpositions in your introduction to guitar class than you’d do on the Internet.

What we love about a good ukulele barre major is the fact that you can create barre chords on every fret of a ukulele.

You can strum a minor, a sus4, or a 7th chord with this shape. It’s that versatile!

There are more interchangeable chord shapes that work on both instruments. As a self-taught uke player, you’ll be able to piece them together in the shortest time. No worries!

Ukulele Vs. Guitar: What are the Differences?

The difference between ukulele and guitar goes beyond their simple size difference.

For one, the chord progression, the distance between frets, and the natural pitch set these two amazing instruments apart.

Before we get to that, let’s take a quick look at their obvious differences!

FeaturesUkuleleGuitar
Scale Length13 to 17 inches23 to 26 inches
Number of Frets12 to 1518 to 24
Number of StringsFour to sixSix to eight
String Material & TensionHigh-tension metal stringsLow-tension nylon strings
Basic Tuning DifferenceG-C-E-AE-A-D-G-B-E
Sound QualitySoft and warm tonesBright, loud tones
Ease of UseEasy to tune and playTuning and playing are relatively more complex

Comparing Ukulele to Guitar: 9 Things You Should Know

It’s not a problem for a skilled player to cover advanced songs on a steel-string guitar. Especially when he’s past the stage of strumming open chords on cheap ukuleles.

However, a true beginner needs to consider the guitar pros and cons before learning this portable instrument.

Find out more below!

Depth of Sound

We all know an acoustic guitar to be a flexible instrument. Although we like talking about guitar, we must tell you- ukuleles aren’t that bad themselves!

In fact, a decent ukulele can produce a good range of tones for covering popular songs. Take the ukulele C major for example.

You’re plucking the A string on the third fret with your ring finger. The output is a bright, open tone.

And if we move on to the C#, or Db Major as a chord-playing guitarist would like to call it, you get a popular uke chord for rock music.

Then there are Eb Minor, Gb major, G#, F minor, and Bb major- a few guitar-like ukulele chords that step out from the Hawaiian influence.

In short, ukuleles put forward a nice depth of sound. They do struggle in some bass notes and fast-paced pop music. But they round it out with mellow acoustics and bright chords.

Chord Shapes

We like the fact that ukuleles have a bunch of two-finger chords and fewer frets. Beginners also prefer playing the ukulele for its shorter scale length and easier chord shapes.

Sure, strumming the lowest strings on an acoustic guitar makes it sound like a tenor with natural pitch. But there are just so many different chords to try on a loud steel-string guitar that can keep you hooked for a long time.

As a chord-playing guitarist, there will be minor setbacks in your journey. But you can make recognizable music on both instruments with a little bit of practice.

Number of Strings

If you want to cover a bunch of songs quickly, you might like a ukulele more.

First, the four strings on a ukulele produce an even, warm tone. They’re not as tightly tensioned or sharp as guitar strings.

So, the mistakes in actual songs sound less obvious; they get covered pretty well under soft ukulele chords.

An acoustic guitar is a much larger instrument.

But, it will have no fewer than six strings. They are loud and tightly tensioned for a simple song.

As far as forming difficult chords is concerned, the first high-pitched four strings do deliver.

Guitar strings can either buzz or sound muted if you’re not pressing them to the fret board all the way down.

Fretboard Design

Since guitars have a longer fretboard, you have plenty of room to get creative with the pitch voice and tone.

It means you can pluck the same string on different frets up and down the neck and get new tones.

There’s ample space on each fret to position your fingers. And it’s something we adore in a beginner-friendly instrument.

But, the scale of a ukulele can be twice as short as a guitar’s. So, the frets sit more closely on your uke’s fretboard than they do on an average guitar.

Ukulele players do get used to the shorter fretboard, though.

After all, there aren’t that many frets on a ukulele, to begin with. Twelve, maybe? Find more about frets below!

Frets

Any ukulele with the standard G-C-E-A tuning will have twelve to fifteen frets.

However, tenor ukuleles run about 24 to 26 inches long. These cheap instruments can have up to 25 frets- almost as many as an electric guitar.

It’s important to consider how many frets you can actually manage on your new guitar.

Fender Stratocasters have twenty-two frets on a 25.5-inch scale.

But, wait. You can get an 18-fret parlor guitar or a baritone ukulele for taking guitar lessons from an experienced teacher.

Lastly, maple and rosewood make amazing fingerboards for ukuleles and acoustic-electric guitars.

Keys

Call them whatever you want, but guitar tuning keys aren’t the easiest to work around.

If you’re not familiar with this part of music theory, we can explain!

Each tuning key is responsible for each string on your instrument. When guitar players turn the keys, they increase or decrease the tension on those specific strings.

It’s common for guitar strings to slip out of tune. Amateur guitar tuning can botch the tonality of your guitar.

The good news is- there are only two tuning keys on either side of your ukulele’s headstock.

In fact, tuning the ukulele is a fun bit for the learners! You can turn its C and the G keys upwards. It tightens the bottom two strings.

Or, you can move the A and E keys down, loosen the first two strings or tighten them by rotating the keys upwards.

Tuning

Honestly, there are both similarities and differences in how these instruments are tuned.

It’s very common for guitar and ukulele chords to overlap in song books and in real life.

But the main issue a beginner guitarist might face is the linear relationship among the strings.

The thing is- a uke’s G string is tuned an octave higher than its other three. It’s called re-entrant tuning.

On the other hand, the strings on a guitar will rhythmically increase in pitch from the sixth to the first. It’s all very linear and sounds sharper when you fret the chords.

Music Styles

You can play everything from pop to classical music, rock to folk, country, jazz, and metal on your small-size ukulele.

So, the fact that many people perceive it as a beach music instrument makes us a tad unhappy.

Yes, it’s small, has softer strings, mellower sound, and fewer chords. But when Paul McCartney played Something on his uke remembering George Harrison, that was something else.

What we’re trying to say is, the musical textures your ukulele can nail depend on your skills with the real instrument.

Limitations

In many ways, a medium-size ukulele is similar to a standard guitar, and you can cover a wide range of songs on a ukulele.

But you can’t pluck uke strings and get low-pitched bass notes. Not unless it’s a well-made baritone like the Cordoba 20BM.

You also miss out on that solid-bodied music from electric guitars.

It’s because ukuleles are bright, mellow instruments. So, it’s hard for a soprano or a concert ukulele to kick out solid or semi-hollow music.

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the ukulele and guitar are two separate instruments with different qualities. But the compact size, four gentle strings, and straightforward chords make the ukulele easier to learn.

So, playing the ukulele can prepare you for difficult guitar chord shapes and transpositions, if not improve your strumming!

We hope we answered your question- is ukulele good for learning guitar, and helped you find the right instrument in one place. Thanks for reading!

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Last update on 2021-06-19 at 15:39 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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