Ukulele: How to choose the best Hawaiian guitar in 2021
What a pleasure to have you here. We hope you enjoy good music, very smoothly and swing, because today we are going to talk about ukulele.
Much a viola, reminiscent of a cavaquinho, its playing brings soft melodies through the nylon strings, and usually in “island” rhythms. This is the ukulele, an instrument derived from Hawaii.
Pleasant to play, with a softness of its own, it can be addictive to listen to. Several bands use this instrument. If you want to know more about it, its features, prices, where to find and how to play, just continue reading!
First, the most important
- Ukulele is a musical instrument related to the cavaquinho, brought to Hawaii by the Portuguese and adapted there. Usually in nylon and acoustic strings.
- Its size and ease of production meant that for a long time, in the USA, it was made of plastic. And it had a great use until the 50’s, when electric guitars started to appear.
- With an extremely soft and melodious sound, the ukulele ended up gaining its own space in the music scene. Artists, or even bands, use it in performances, or continuously.
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Best ukuleles: our favorites
Ukuleles exist in some models and types, an internet search will bring you many options. We will show you here some of the best rated models available on the market. Check the list below:
- The ideal soprano for beginners
- The ideal Tenor style model
- Option with cover, reed and tuner
So, are you interested in knowing more about ukuleles? Light and compact, they can accompany you wherever you go. Rest assured that your friends will love the sound of the instrument.
Now, let’s present what we consider essential to know about this instrument. We want you to know how to buy your instrument like a professional musician.
What is a ukulele and where did this instrument come from?
You have already seen a little about the appearance of the small instrument, very similar to our ukulele. But his sonority is totally different, which allows him to smoothly dub current songs.
Several videos available on the internet teach you how to play pop, rock, country music with this instrument. Giving another take on the rhythm, they transform each verse into richer and softer melodies, a summer in music.
The instrument appeared in Hawaii. And the biggest curiosity is that the name ukulele, in the Hawaiian dialect, means “jumping flea”. It was given by one of the ancient monarchs who, seeing the movement of the instrumentalist’s hands, assimilated it with the bug.
It has little more than a century of history, with ups and downs in its use. Currently, many bands use it as an alternative instrument to others with string.
How is a ukulele formed?
Before delving into the subject, you need to know the structure of the instrument. Like any instrument, the Ukulele is divided into parts. It is basically composed of body, arm, house and strings. Look:
- Body : This is the largest part of the instrument, also called the box. The strings are stuck in this part, and their vibration creates the sound we hear.
- Arm : It is usually fused with the head, where the dies are (gears that tighten the strings). It is a straight piece of wood with a slope at the end (head), where the strings pass and you tighten them to create the chords.
- House : it is the space on the ukulele arm, determined by parallel lines of metal (frets). That’s where you press the strings with your fingers for the chords.
- Strings : in the ukulele, they are usually four. They are usually made of Nylon, in different thicknesses, which change the sound produced.
And the rule applies to most stringed instruments. You will no longer be lost when the topic of conversation occurs.
Smaller than a guitar, this instrument has been gaining space on the stage, with a simple proposal to play and very rhythmic. Just search for the artists they use and you will be surprised.
What is the difference between the ukelele and the ukulele?
As already mentioned, the ukulele is a cousin
, but of course it has its differences, and we will make that very clear. You will not produce the sounds of a ukulele on a ukulele, and the reverse also applies.
Basically, a ukelele can have different sizes, the strings are nylon. The cavaquinho follows a standard measurement, has steel strings and is not an instrument that varies in pitch, like the ukulele. Compare:
These are the basic differences between one instrument and another, making the similarity only in appearance clear. They are quite different when you look closely.
What to pay attention to: Acoustic or electroacoustic ukulele?
Although generally found in the acoustic model, the ukuleles manufactured today also have electroacoustic versions. This feature maintains the possibility of acoustic use, but also allows electrical use.
That is, the ability to transport the sound made by the instrument by a cable to an electric amplifier, which will increase the volume of the instrument. It is especially necessary for concerts and larger events.
Traditionally, for performances with this instrument, the instrumentalist usually sits. With a microphone in front of the equipment. But this is not a rule, especially according to the music played.
How many strings does a ukulele have?
Strings are the accessories that produce the audible sound of this instrument. They are wires of different thickness, attached to the body of the ukulele and its head, tensioned in a specific pattern. When played, they produce different sounds.
And when pressed by the fingers, in different places, they produce different sounds, generally called chords. Although there are two types of string on most instruments that use them, ukuleles use only nylon strings.
These strings do not have the “metallic” sound produced by the other type. They provide a calmer and velvety tone to the ears, much desired when using the ukulele.
They are also less rigid and easier to tighten, not requiring as much of the player’s fingers. You already noticed that ukulele is synonymous with lightness, right? Nylon strings go very well with this.
In addition, they have 4 strings by default, but that does not mean that it is the only model on the market. You can find the instrument with up to 8 strings!
The system for ukuleles with 6 strings is usually called “guitalelê”. The 8 string simply doubles the original number. That is, the strings become double (one very close to the other, enough to tighten with the same finger).
When considering the sound effect, a ukulele with more strings will bring an even richer sound in melody and timbre. Bringing the impression of more instruments played together.
Watch Jô Pires video to learn 10 instrument chords:
Soprano, concert, tenor or baritone ukulele?
When you see a ukulele, you cannot imagine that there are different types of this instrument available on the market. In addition to the variation in the number of strings, they are found in 4 different types: soprano, concert, tenor and baritone.
And the changes between them are quite distinct. The size, timbre of the sound and even the pitch are changed. In addition to use, recommended for different situations.
This is the smallest among the 4 (we will follow an increasing scale of size), and practically what everyone imagines when they think of the instrument. Its tone is very traditional, and the most acute. It usually has only 12 accessible houses.
Due to the smaller box, its volume is also lower compared to the others. Usually up to 40cm.
The standard pitch is gCEA, which means that the lyrics reflect the musical notes. Being small, the space between houses can also cause some difficulty to play, especially for those with larger hands.
But the smaller space facilitates the performance of the chords, and favors the use by people with smaller hands, including children there.
Its size is slightly larger than the soprano, usually with a larger number of accessible houses, being at least 15. It has a similarity of sound very close to that of the Soprano and usually you find in sizes up to 58cm.
The difference in size also opens up the width of the houses a bit, being considered an instrument of intermediate or advanced level for users.
It has a fuller sound than the others, achieving greater projection due to the size of the box.
Its tuning is the same as for Soprano and Concert, but can vary with special strings. It is the most popular size today, deviating from the classic sound to something a little deeper. Its length is in the range of 66cm.
It is the largest type of Ukulele, generating a deeper tone as well as tone. It is much less portable than the others, one of the reasons why it is not so popular compared to the brothers.
It has a sound very similar to that of the guitar, even its tuning is similar to the last 4 strings of the larger instrument.
The string is the same used by the guitar, so even the chords will be differentiated from this model to the others.
Ukuleles, as you have noticed, vary in types, number of strings, material of manufacture. This has a direct impact on sales prices. Due to the different types, if you don’t pay attention, you can buy something you don’t like.
With the popularization of the instrument, again, from the 2000s, many companies started to manufacture the instrument. Some with zeal and care, to ensure maximum loyalty, others with a more commercial focus.
Overall, they are cheap. You will have a good choice from R $ 200. An instrument good enough for you to continue with it for life.
If you already know the instrument and want one for professional use, or already want to buy a better model, the options can go over R $ 2,000.
Where to buy?
Ukuleles, although popular, are still not exactly the people’s taste. You will find a few models in large department stores. Even in musical instrument stores you can find less than you think.
The solution, if you want to touch them, feel the wood and how the footprint looks, are specialized stores. Some instrument stores end up having a varied collection of these little ones, but it shouldn’t be something that easy to find.
And it is at these times that we have the internet. The online world will offer brands, accessories, terms and prices. Stores Amazon options, with a wide variety of instruments and ease of purchase.
Purchasing criteria: Factors to compare the different types of ukulele
You are already in tune about what a ukulele is and how it works, but now we will give you the most essential. What you should pay attention to before buying one, or to guide an enthusiastic friend. To buy without regrets, pay attention to:
This is a delicate subject, and even difficult to identify. But, as you already read, the popularization brought several products, some of them of quality, and others not.
Knowing if a ukulele is of quality is not a simple task. You can start by investigating the woods used in manufacturing whether it is solid or laminated. There are even plastic instruments. And everything affects the sound.
The recommendation is always the path of solid wood. It is with it that most of the instruments were created and perfected.
Other materials are also quality, but then you need to have a little more affinity with the ukulele to know this, playing. One tip is to compare prices. Sites like Amazon have a vast amount of them.
Such an important topic, of course, could not be missing from the selection criteria. Have you seen that there are at least 4 types of ukulele, with different characteristics as:
Sound: Which is the volume according to body size;
Timbre: Usually more dense according to body size;
House width: used to make chords.
Of course, the different sizes will also change the sound of the instrument. And the biggest one has a sound similar to that of a guitar, although it is easier to play.
If you want a classic, choose the smallest one. It is basically the most used and identified as ukulele, when you are showing it around or playing. Now, if you have thick fingers or large hands, perhaps the second largest is a more pleasant option.
If you have not checked, above you will find all the details about the 4 types of ukulele and demonstration videos.
We have already explained that for a ukulele, the nylon rope is the best option, being lighter to press and with a more natural sound. It is the preferred option on this instrument, although other strings can be used.
But there are also several rope manufacturers, in addition to having different thicknesses. It is important that you identify on the ukulele what voltage capacity it can withstand.
Likewise, find out about the brand of strings that you are purchasing, as there are some of the highest quality that will help you project the sound of your instrument.
However, it is not just that. You know that it is possible to find the instrument with 4, 6 or 8 strings. And this directly affects the difficulty in mastering the instrument.
It is an important aspect for the purchase of any instrument. Before defining other factors, determine a price range that you can invest to purchase the instrument.
If you are a beginner, you may need classes, which will also come at a cost. Put everything in your budget. Every musical instrument has the purpose of music, which serves as relaxation and therapy.