Ukuleles come in a bunch of different sizes, shapes, materials, and colors. When you’re a beginner and going through all these choices, it can be pretty daunting to make the pick. Thankfully, a lot of this decision will depend on personal preference, so you can rule out the excess technicality on this part.
When it comes to a ukulele, there isn’t a “wrong size” – once you have something you are comfortable with, you’re good to go. And that’s where we come in!
Soprano vs Concert Ukulele – Which One Should You Choose?
Ukuleles can be differentiated into four sections when it comes to sizing: Baritone, Tenor, Concert, and Soprano, from largest to smallest.
Think of it like this: The larger ukuleles give a richer, deeper sound that sounds similar to that of a guitar, while the smaller ones emit a lighter, brighter, almost springy sound. The Soprano and Concert are the most common sizes.
There are a handful of variations among the Soprano and Concert ukulele, but when it comes to being played and tuned, they’re the exact same.
For instance, they are tuned to the same notes (g-C-E-A). As these notes are one and the same, the scales and chords are the same too. Thus, it’s quite easy to switch back and forth between these two.
If you’ve tried your hand at one and succeeded, you can repeat the success with the other! We have to say that one of our personal favorite things about this instrument is how wonderfully versatile it is!
When majority of people imagine a ukulele, they think of the soprano size. It’s the most common size and you’ll get the traditional, classic ukulele sound from it.
The soprano is also the lightest and smallest of the ukes with the tightest fret spacing and shortest scale. Regardless of whether they are a beginner or a pro, the soprano is an ideal choice for musicians of all levels.
If you are cursed with slightly smaller and stubbier hands and fingers, this one will fit the bill. Thanks to its size, the sound is also softer and brighter with reduced resonance and projection in comparison to the larger sized ones like Concert or Baritone.
You can find sopranos with additional elongated necks if you really care about the frets and fret spacing. Samuel Kamaka designed the Pineapple shape – a type of soprano size in the 1920s.
The design eliminates the waist of the body to raise the surface area of the soundboard, giving it a fuller sound. The soprano size can be tuned with the standard ukulele tuning of g-C-E-A.
The Concert is a step up from the soprano when it comes to size. The scale is almost an inch long; a wider neck and overall a bit of extra bulk define the Concert over the Soprano.
This extra length allows it to have more frets plus bigger spacing between them. You can be a beginner or a professional and find this size easy to play on, but the ones with bigger hands and fingers might find this much more inside their comfort zone.
A Concert ukulele falls in the mid-range category and emits a warmer tone and fuller sound. It also projects better than its smaller counterpart, giving the volume some boost. This ukulele was aptly named Concert as it was built for performances. Like the Soprano, the standard ukulele tuning (g-C-E-A) applies to this size.
Soprano vs Concert Ukulele: Summarized Differences
Now that it comes to comparing the two options side by side, let’s look at what these look like:
Size: The Concert is the larger of the bunch, but only by a few inches. Someone with longer arms and hands will likely prefer this more.
Sound & Tone: If sound is concerned in the ukulele, the larger the body, the more bass, volume, and “warmth”. We’ve already mentioned how the Concert uke has a fuller sound, sometimes louder even. In contrast, the smaller Soprano has a more sprakly tone.
Fret Spacing: When choosing the perfect ukulele, the spacing between the frets can be a determining factor. It’s going to have an impact on how easily your fingers can glide across to make chords. You may like the Soprano uke if you have shorter hands.
Scale Length: This is the spacing between the saddle and the nut. A concert ukulele features a neck three inches longer than the Soprano, which decided fret spacing.
Price: Generally speaking, Soprano ukuleles can be found at a much cheaper price in comparison to Concert ukuleles. This happens as the Soprano is much more widespread and popular. The price also makes this a great choice for beginners, as you won’t have to make too big of an investment to start learning and playing the instrument.
Usage: Anyone can use either of the two ukes. With the Soprano, you should be able to pick up a simple 3-chord tune if you practiced for an hour or so. Younger players, school-going children, or ones in any other education will love the Soprano.
The Concert ukulele is loved by the people who have a bit more experience. Apart from the live performances, varying tonal attributes of a Concert makes it the optimum choice for artists in Ukulele groups.
All aside, the best part of these two is; Although there’s a difference in sound when played together, the tones compliment each other instead of clashing.
Advantages of a Soprano Ukulele
The feeling of a nice jam session on a soprano is truly unparalleled. There’s a reason that instrument feels like the most natural one in the world.
If you’re looking to not spend more than $50 on a ukulele, don’t fret! You can easily pick up a decent Soprano for that price. There’s actually a wider range of picks for Soprano at this level than a Concert.
Advantages of a Concert Ukulele
As far as we are concerned, the biggest benefit of a Concert ukulele is the little bit of extra room you get to spread your fingers. You should be able to have the liberty to freely switch between finger picking and strumming.
Users have often commented that when on a Soprano, they find their fingers tripping over each other. Sure, the bit of extra space does make a difference but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to play comfortably on a Soprano.
In theory, there’s a margin gain with the concert ukulele in tone and volume. However, in practice, these bit of variation kind of fade in comparison to other factors like quality of build and wood.
If we had to be completely honest, we wouldn’t say one takes preference over the other. A lot of the people aren’t even bothered by the less space on the Soprano as the profile of the neck and nut width plays a bigger role than scale length when strumming is concerned.
The primary factor you should keep in mind while shopping for a ukulele is how much resonant you want the sound to be. You could opt for a larger one, or the Concert ukulele if you want a louder sound. Remember that the sounds won’t get deeper with size.
So, to sum it up, a Soprano has more staccato to the tone while the Concert is much more resonant. However, a ukulele will sound very good or subpar depending on the quality of the build. A well-built Soprano will definitely sound more resonant than a poorly built one.
On many occasions, Concerts will feature more frets than Sopranos, but you can just as easily find ones that have the same amount of frets as any other Concert.
A ton of the selection will depend on situation and individual style. At the end of the day, the Soprano is the traditional choice – something that people have always been more or less satisfied with, regardless of training level.
If you’re having to make a decision, it’s best to play both your options, the Concert and Soprano side by side and decide which goes with your personal preference.
People tend to like sounds with varying tones, pitches, and what may sound melodious to someone else might be a bit too sharp or cacophonous for you. Only you can answer which would win for you in a Soprano vs Concert Ukulele battle.
My Final Thoughts
If you’re willing to devote a bit of time to the research and try your fingers on some ukuleles, you’ll most certainly find the one meant for you. We hope this piece was helpful and you’re now aware of the basic differences between the two ukuleles.
Since music is a big medium to express yourself, we personally think you should enjoy playing the instrument, and that’s what matters the most.