Choosing which instrument you’re going to learn is never easy.
It’s an investment of both your time and money, and you want to make sure the instrument you pick is right for you.
So if you’re stuck in your decision of ukulele vs guitar, how can you decide?
Here’s the bottom line:
I’m not here to tell you which instrument you should play. Personally, I have one of each!
However, knowing more about both instruments will make it easier for YOU to decide between the two.
In this post I want to tell you exactly what kind of differences you can expect to see between these two instruments in terms of price, sound, style, etc.
We’ll also talk about how easy (or hard) it is to learn each of these instruments, as well as some ways you can take your learning to the next level.
Ready to see which of these instruments fits you the best?
Main Differences in Appearance and Style
Let’s get the obvious out of the way:
Guitars are bigger than ukuleles.
Also, the standard guitar has 6 strings, while the ukulele has 4.
The fretboard of the ukulele is significantly thinner than the guitar, as well as being much shorter. This makes it a lot easier to manage for people like me with smaller hands! You can review all the different types and sizes of ukuleles here.
While playing the guitar, people with small hands will have to learn to stretch their fingers a bit. However, people with larger hands will obviously be more comfortable on the guitar.
Both acoustic and electric guitars offer their own unique style. Neither is technically better for beginners.
If you are a punk rocker, you can find plenty of guitars that fit your personality. If you want to play melodic acoustic tones, there are many options for you too.
The style of the ukulele is typically rather Hawaiian, since that is the origin of the instrument. However, there are some truly lovely ukuleles that I’ve seen for sale, with a variety of colors and personalities.
You can check out 3 recommended ukuleles for beginners here.
How Sound Differs Between the Ukulele and the Guitar
Whether you want a cheerful, acoustic tone or a window-shattering rock concert in your basement, the guitar gives you what you need.
When purchasing a guitar, you have the option to buy an electric or an acoustic guitar, which both give you unique and beautiful sounds.
Also, as far as range and tone, the guitar offers a much wider variety. It can reach much lower tones than the ukulele can, since its fretboard is significantly longer.
The sound of the ukulele, while not leaving room for much variety, is very unique. That typical Hawaiian tone offers the perfect background for hanging out at the beach. However, different tones are available, depending on what size ukulele you purchase.
While its range is smaller, you can still play a variety of music on it. I’ve even seen people playing heavy metal songs on the ukulele (although I’m not sure I’d personally recommend it)!
If you plan on singing while playing an instrument, you may want to consider which instrument fits into your most comfortable vocal range.
For example, a lower range would be more fitted to the guitar.
Check out our guide on how to sing and player guitar if you're interested.
The Price of Ukuleles vs Guitars: A Deciding Factor?
If price is an especially important point for you, a ukulele will be the obvious choice.
They’re much cheaper to purchase new.
A low-quality ukulele may cost you around $20, but even a good quality uke won’t cost more than $60-$80.
On the other hand, buying a new, quality guitar will definitely cost you at least $150-$200.
Buying secondhand is easier with guitars than with ukuleles. However, the price will probably still be higher for a secondhand guitar than for a new ukulele. (I bought a used Fender Stratocaster on eBay for about $150, compared to my new ukulele which cost $60.)
Here are some buying guide articles:
Ukulele vs Guitar: Which is Easier to Learn?
So, the moment of truth:
If you’re a beginner, will the guitar or the ukulele be easier for you to learn?
This is a point that is highly debated. While many people will tell you that the ukulele is easier to learn, that is not always the case.
It is absolutely true that the learning curve for the ukulele is much easier than that of the guitar. Within a few days of practice, you can start making music and playing songs.
The tension of the strings is lower on the ukulele, and there are fewer strings to manage, making it easier for beginners to play.
For absolute beginners who want to start making music quickly, the ukulele is recommended.
However, there are some reasons that the guitar may be easier for you personally to learn.
As we mentioned before, the ukulele’s frets are quite small. This makes it more difficult for people with larger hands to play chords.
Also, in regards to guitar lessons, there are quite a few more options.
Finding excellent guitar teachers both in-person and online is very easy, as it is one of the most common instruments to play.
Taking lessons is one of the best ways to improve your skills on any instrument. Lessons provide you with professional insight and guidance, as well as helping you to hear and duplicate the correct sound.
If you’re still leaning towards the ukulele, don’t give up hope!
While it’s true that this is a less common instrument, you’ll still find some fantastic resources and online lessons for the ukulele that will get you playing quickly and effectively in no time!
The Main Differences Between the Ukulele and the Guitar Summarized
- Smaller, more portable
- Fast learning curve for beginners
- Higher, cheerful tones
- Cheaper to purchase new
- Harder to play for those with large hands
- Smaller range of tone
- Less options for lessons
- Wide variety of music styles
- Easier for people with larger hands
- Wider range of tones
- Large variety for online and in-person lessons
- Significantly more expensive
- Steeper learning curve
- Not as portable
Ukulele vs Guitar: Which is For You?
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of which instrument is for best you.
The choice depends greatly on your personal style, the type of music you like to play, and where you want to play it.
I’d like to conclude with some bonus advice that I mentioned at the outset.
Once you’ve decided between the guitar and the ukulele, how can you take your playing to the next level?
Before, we talked about how important lessons are for you to increase your skills on either instrument.
This is the ultimate way to get a head start on learning, as well as keeping your motivation up.
What is one of the best places to find guitar and ukulele lessons?
Yes, that means you don’t even need to leave your house to learn an instrument!
So here’s my advice: check out some of these recommendations for both online guitar lessons and online ukulele lessons:
Whichever instrument you choose to purchase and learn, you’ll be able to make music and explore your own personal creativity.
The music world is open to you!