The choice for the right ukulele might not be an easy one. There’s lots of different models, having different shapes, different wood, type etc. Albeit, if we find that on right instrument for us, it’s surely going to bring us a lot of fun and satisfaction.
We distinguish four common types of ukulele: soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. The soprano one is the most common version of the instrument, it’s size is around 51cm (20 inches). It produces the most basic and popular sound within the ukulele family.
The concert ukulele is a bit bigger, it can measure up to 58cm (23 inches). Both its body and its neck are longer, thus, it has got wider spaces between frets. That’s usually considered to be an advantage, as it sits well in the hand, still maintaining the classic tone of it, but being a little louder at the same time.
The tenor ukulele is currently the most favored size of the instrument. It measures 66cm (26 inches). Its sound differs from the original tone, it’s deeper, much closer to a classical guitar. Vast majority of professional musicians would play that type of it (for example James Hill).
The biggest type of the whole family measure 76cm (30 inches) and is called baritone ukulele. It obviously ranges within the deepest tone, also similar to a classical guitar with nylon strings. It’s the least popular type, seeing as musician usually experiment with ukulele for different tone possibilities and mobility advantages due to its smaller size, whereas a baritone ukulele sounds pretty close to a classical guitar and is not as small anymore.
Ukuleles are made of different types of wood. The most popular are mahogany and koa. Koa is a type of wood of Hawaiian origin, that’s why most of the instruments made in the region of Hawaii are made of it. It’s rather used for the production of more expensive models, but it’s characterized with a nice and warm sound. The middle range instruments are usually made of mahogany, with a kind of softer sound, but still of really good quality (along being cheaper, too). Outside of the aforementioned types we can find ukuleles made of spruce, which characterizes lower quality products.
Mandolin is another small stringed instrument in the lute family, though characterized by its short neck. Mandolin should be tuned same as violin, though it’s equipped with four pairs of strings. Most commonly it’s strummed with a flat pick. The instrument itself has been known for many centuries, the name however, was derived by Italians.
Mandolin eventually found its place in rock music as well, although its occurrence is rather sparse and rare, we can hear its sound in sentimental songs by Rod Stewart, it was used by musicians like Ian Anderson, Martin Barre and David Pegg of the group Jethro Tull, Eric Bazilian of The Hooters. Sporadically used by John Paul of Led Zeppelin, Steve Howe of Yes, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Peter Buck of R.E.M.