Is Ukulele Easier Than Guitar? The Answer Is…

Published Categorized as Ukulele

Are you often left pondering is ukulele easier than guitar? Are you debating which to throw yourself into? Are you looking for a definitive answer on the subject, or at least some helpful information arrayed neatly so that you can better make up your mind?

Then you are in the right place, for today we will be discussing the various aspects of learning the ukulele that might make it easier for some to learn than the guitar, as well as the various aspects of learning the guitar that might make it easier to learn than the ukulele.

Is Ukulele Easier Than Guitar? The Answer Is…

Table of Contents

The Ukulele is Easier

First, we will be exploring the various reasons that a ukulele might be easier to learn than playing guitar, at least at first.

Size

The most immediate difference between an acoustic guitar and a tenor ukulele will be the difference in size and aesthetic. The ukulele is one of the smaller stringed instruments, and for a younger person wanting to pick up musical instruments for the first time, it might seem all the more welcoming for it.

The size is a deciding factor in a number of ways, especially for schools that choose between ukuleles and guitars as first instruments to instill upon their students.

Fewer Strings

The next difference that will be keenly spotted by the lay observer will be the fact that there are fewer ukulele strings than there are guitar strings.

This is hands down one of the most fundamental differences, and one that tends to make playing the ukulele easier than to play guitar, for there are simply less strings to worry about for a beginner instrumentalist’s chord shapes. In this way, the common currency of basic chords means that ukulele chords are easier and quicker to play and to pick up than guitar chords.

Softer Strings

Not only are there fewer strings like a bass guitar but these strings are also softer on the fingers. Ukuleles use nylon strings, like those on a classical guitar, which can be far easier on the fingers than the steel strings that guitar players are forced to bear on a standard guitar.

In turn, it is easier to press down on the strings of a ukulele as well as being less painful overall on the fingers over longer periods of time, something that anyone who has played guitar for a while can attest to.

These softer strings do not necessarily mean it has to be quieter, for you can easily install a ukulele pickup to amplify it to your heart’s desire.

The Guitar is Easier

Now, we look at the inverse argument, to provide a fair and balanced area for discourse.

Confusion

There are a number of areas that encourage confusion for a ukulelist, one seminal point being that the bottom string is not the lowest pitched string. With a ukulele in standard tuning, as with several other string instrument, it is tuned to G – C – E – A. The lower G, however, is higher pitched than the C.

This seemingly random introduction of a higher pitch when the rest of the strings have been descending in pitch has been known to throw a lot of would be ukulelists off the trail.

Barre Chords

Just when you thought you were rid of them on the guitar, they come to bite your butt on the ukulele.

A barre chord is a seminal chord shape that involves using your index finger to barre a whole fret, effectively acting like a capo so that you can move basic chord shapes up and down the fretboard.

And they are just as useful on ukulele as they are on guitar, especially seeing as the former has less strings to be playing with.

Size

Just as the smaller size of a ukulele might be appealing to some, it can also act as a strong deterrent to others.

Younger musicians who are more the size of the ukulele will naturally flock to it, whereas for an adult who might even struggle to hold the thing without breaking it, this is going to naturally make the instrument harder to play.

There are fixes to this problem in the form of the tenor ukulele which takes that familiar ukulele tone and timbre and fits it into an instrument better suited to a larger musician, though with an added specialist cost.

Final Tones

So, there you have it! Hopefully, this has been of some use to you in assessing which of these instruments you might find easiest to learn. If I might throw my own two cents into the discussion, I suggest that it is not necessarily about which is easiest or hardest, but rather it is about which you can see yourself being passionate enough about that the difficulty will not matter.

If you truly want something, then you will do it no matter how difficult it is, and if you are looking to learn an easy instrument to impress then you are in the wrong place.

FAQs Is Ukulele Easier than Guitar?

Should I start with ukulele or guitar?

Why not both? They do not have to be vying for mutual exclusivity in your arsenal, and in fact I would imagine that learning each would only bolster your knowledge and understanding of both, allowing you to think outside the constraints of the simple standard tuning, elevating you to a point where you are playing your own self inside out.

Is playing a ukulele like playing a guitar?

In some ways yes, especially in the way that strumming is such a big part of performing with one. However, some have said that playing a ukulele is also akin to playing a mandolin, especially as a mandolin will have 8 strings (4 different notes that are doubled). Ukuleles are often called upon to help those less willing to put in the effort to perform standard rock and pop songs for the amusement of their friends before quickly accruing dust in an attic or cupboard and then getting flogged at a yard sale for a fraction of the cost so that the whole dreaded cycle can repeat anew.

Is it difficult to play the ukulele?

Depends who you are asking. If you are asking a child with adept and ductile neuroplasticity whose brain is going to take to just about anything very quickly, then it should not be too difficult at all. If, however, you are asking someone who is ailed by conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and / or arthritis, for instance, then the answer is likely to be a little different, though this might not necessarily be to do with the specific nature of the ukulele.

How much harder is the guitar than the uke?

There are certain things that are a little harder about each instrument. A guitar is considered more difficult because of the increased number of strings, the density and thickness of these strings, as well as the fact that it is considerably larger in size. Inversely, some might consider a ukulele more difficult because of the size (they might be too big for the ukulele’s very small overall mass), and the fact that the pitches of the ukulele in standard tuning do nut go from lowest to highest sequentially might initially be quite confusing to some.

Is it good to learn ukulele before guitar?

Why not learn both? They do not have to be vying for mutual exclusivity in your arsenal, and in fact I would imagine that learning each would only bolster your knowledge and understanding of both, allowing you to think outside the constraints of the simple standard tuning, elevating you to a point where you are playing your own self inside out. There are certain tenets of the guitar that learning a ukulele will foster within a beginner musician, but in my opinion this is not enough for anyone to suggest that it is best to learn the ukulele before the guitar when you could either learn both or just throw yourself into the guitar. For example, learning Gm chord on a guitar will be responsible for formulating Bb and Gm ukulele chords, and vice versa. So, having knowledge on one instrument will make the other one easier to master.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

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