View Full Version : How long does it take to get accustomed to a smaller uke?

10-22-2012, 03:00 AM
I have been a guitar player for about 38 years (though not a very good one) and have recently taken up the ukulele. I started out with a tenor uke. It really didn't take but a few minutes of playing for me to adjust to smaller size from the guitar. However, about a month ago I bought a concert ukulele. No matter how much I play it, I just can't seem to get comfortable with it. The frets are too close together. The instrument is even hard to hold because it is so small. I can't imagine trying to play a soprano!

So my questions is have any of you had similar experience trying to adapt to the smaller instruments? I'm wondering if I should give up on the concert size and settle on the tenor. I really love the size of the tenor, but like the idea of having a couple of different size ukes for their different sounds.

10-22-2012, 04:37 AM
I went from 47 years+ of 12 string jumbo guitar
straight to soprano ukulele with no problems!
I later got a tenor and concert (still own one of
each as it goes!) but soprano is,was and always
will be,my main and first choice!

Patrick Madsen
10-22-2012, 05:07 AM
I've been playing guitar for 53 years and a uke for 18 months. I went with a tenor, linear low G, and never looked back. Just purchased a vintage martin baritone that hasn't arrived yet.

I have a soprano and don't play it mainly for the same reason you stated. I can hit the notes, just don't like the cramped fingering.

10-22-2012, 05:08 AM
I play guitar. The first uke I purchased was a concert, and had no problems adapting to it. I also have a soprano that seems slightly smaller than the average soprano, and I still play it fine. I guess just make sure you are treating it like a totally different instrument, and I would think it wouldn't be a problem.


10-22-2012, 05:10 AM
UKulele is the only instrument I have really ever played.. I am not a huge fan of the soprano size. Although I have one I play occasionally, I like the concert best... and have a tenor I play too. I say play what's comfortable and you enjoy... and don't worry. Happy Strummings!

10-22-2012, 05:21 AM
Just stick with the tenor.
Whatever suits you best.

10-22-2012, 08:48 AM
It took me a while to get used to a soprano. Played guitar and tried a soprano, just couldn't see how I could play one, bought a baritone, played that for six months or so, bought a concert played that for a few months and picked up a soprano one day and wow, I could sort of play it. Now I play a soprano on some of the songs we do. I like a soprano with a wide nut. I still have problems above the 5th fret on a soprano but not the concert. I think it just takes time. It is kind of weird going from a 12 string dread to a soprano when we play, but I try and keep switching to a minimum. Start off with a concert/soprano set. Play a baritone set and then do a guitar set. The first song and each set is for "warming" up to the size.

King David
10-22-2012, 08:59 AM
To answer your question depending on what stage you're at in your playing experience you may never feel "comfortable" on a smaller scale. In my experience I found initially smaller scale ukes could be easier to play & learn on as jumping to chords is usually faster/takes less effort.....BUTTT after that stage, once muscle memory has kicked in and you're comfortable with chord forms, it hampers you and a longer scale will result in cleaner/smoother play. I played concert for the longest time but now chords are a breeze I'm stuck wanting to play tenor scales because on concert I'm just too cramped and I don't hit every note as clear.

PS: Unlike you I am more turned on to holding the size of a concert body vs your likening to larger tenor body(I also prefer the smaller body sound opposed to big). This leaves me with a super-concert aka longneck concert as my ukulele size of choice.

10-22-2012, 09:08 AM
It's good to know that I'm not the only one who have ever struggled with this. I guess I'll just keep on working with the concert and see if I can get used to it. I'm sure a lot of the problem is in my technique. Guitar, and to a lesser extent, the tenor ukulele allow you to be a little bit sloppy with fingering. What I mean by that is that fingering doesn't have to be dead on precise. Because that frets on the concert are more closely spaced and the fingers have to fit into a smaller area, fingering must be much more precise. I hope that makes sense.

10-22-2012, 09:17 AM
I have played soprano and tenor comfortably. However, I am only buying tenors now. If the fret board length is one you like. You can still get tenor necks on soprano bodies.

10-22-2012, 09:29 AM
I went from classical guitar to tenor uke to long neck soprano to eventually soprano sized ukes. There are some songs I just need the longer neck, while others benefit from a short scale. So, I change sizes depending on the song. The biggest problem happens on frets 5 and higher on the soprano. If I am playing below the 5th fret, I can play any size with comfort.


10-22-2012, 09:43 AM
I don't play guitar - I find it too big/awkward to hold. But I also find that holding a concert or soprano uke is awkward too. I bet it's the way I choose to hold them, which either masks too much sound for my liking, or as I said, is awkward. So I've settled on a tenor size Flea. Small body, but I generally sit to play and balance part of the bottom/side on my right thigh. I do use a uke leash and I find that, coupled with the longer neck, balances the uke well, doesn't mask any sound, and feels good to hold and play for long periods. In the end you need to do what works for you personally; hope you discover it soon and have fun with the uke whatever you choose!

10-22-2012, 11:04 AM
I've been playing recorder for many years and I also play harmonica and concertina.

I tried guitar a few times. I couldn't get on with it and looking back, I think it was the reach. I have fairly small hands and I struggled with the chords. I remember trying a friend's solid body electric and that was so much easier, narrower neck so I could reach the strings but nevertheless, I realised guitar was simply not for me.

I took up uke because I wanted to accompany myself singing. I didn't have great expectations as I felt I was essentially a wind player and I was surprised when I took to it. My first decent uke was a concert but I then got a soprano and have found the soprano suits me very nicely. I have tried a tenor a couple of times but I've not really taken to it. It's soprano for me.

I suppose my point is that we all find a size that suits us best. For you it may well be tenor. On the other hand, you may take to soprano over time but don't feel you have to have a soprano if you really don't feel comfortable. If tenor is the size you are comfortable with, then stick with it and enjoy it.

10-22-2012, 12:01 PM
I started with a soprano uke and thought it was too small for me coz i have quite big hands, so i bought a tenor neck Fluke and this was really good but a bit of a stretch, it became my 'go to' uke for many months and i still enjoy playing it, for playing in my band i prefer using a concert uke simply because it is comfortable for prolonged playing, i have gone full circle now though for 'go to' ukes and i am back playing a soprano, and i am having great fun with it as well, funny old world eh!!

10-22-2012, 03:24 PM
I've been playing tenor because of shoulder issues.....but a soprano really has the tone I think of when I think Uke....I've also played guitar for years like you, and I did not find Sopranos that difficult to get used to...although I will say, that playing a tenor will allow you (me anyway) to really use guitar style chops...but you do loose that sweet and plunky tone to a degree....just thinking out loud...

10-22-2012, 04:58 PM
I've been playing tenor because of shoulder issues.....but a soprano really has the tone I think of when I think Uke....I've also played guitar for years like you, and I did not find Sopranos that difficult to get used to...although I will say, that playing a tenor will allow you (me anyway) to really use guitar style chops...but you do loose that sweet and plunky tone to a degree....just thinking out loud...

I had a tenor-necked soprano Koaloha. All the advantages of a tenor, with the soprano sound. Just an idea.


10-22-2012, 09:31 PM
I usually play a soprano. My sopranino (11.6" scale) makes my fingers feel fat, I do not play complex songs on it. But I enjoy playing easier songs on the sopranino. You may just need some time to adjust.