Small to big

DownUpDave

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When I wanted to explore a steel string instrument I started with a tenor guitar. I figured the smaller size and 4 strings would help the transition from uke. It did but it still felt uncomfortable and a stretch, pun intended. I persisted through some hand pain and even back pain but I loved the sound so it was worth it.

Eventually I moved up to a Taylor GS mini, which is a six string. This was another jump that took time to get accustomed to. Then I started exploring larger guitars and after a couple years I am now comfortable playing large bodied full size dreadnaughts.

The point of this post is persistence pays off and this goes for ukulele players in particular. I have read so many times people play a concert size but won’t try tenor because it is too big and difficult. Give it a serious go, heck give baritone a go, it’s worth it if you want that sound. Sure it will be awkward at first. You probably sucked the first time you tried to form a C chord on a soprano........at least I did.
 
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tm3

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That is interesting. I recently handled a guitar, which I would love to be able to play, and holy cow fretting seemed impossible.

Based on your experience, and knowing what you know now, do you think that your stepwise progression going up in size was the way to do it or if starting to transition to guitar now would you just go with a full size (knowing that it eventually will work)?
 

DownUpDave

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That is interesting. I recently handled a guitar, which I would love to be able to play, and holy cow fretting seemed impossible.

Based on your experience, and knowing what you know now, do you think that your stepwise progression going up in size was the way to do it or if starting to transition to guitar now would you just go with a full size (knowing that it eventually will work)?

I had a degenerative left hand issue which made fretting, even a ukulele difficult. I had an operation in April 2019 (entailed 60 stitches) and 4 months of rehab had me starting on a ukulele then a month later to guitar.

I only say this because I had special circumstances that made a small guitar necessary/helpful. Many people start out on a big guitar but those people aren’t coming from ukulele. Because we are accustomed to a small instrument the full size guitar can seem daunting. I think a parlour size six string or Taylor GS mini size is a great starting point. One can always move up to a bigger size if they want a bigger more resonant sound.
 

VintageGibson

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In 1968 I bought a uke and after about 12-18 months was "reasonably" competent, but since ukes weren't cool in '68, (had to wait another 40-50 years for that) I hankered after a guitar.
I came across a Classical guitar kit which suited my cash flow. As far as I recall, the parts had been taken from the production lines of a Japanese manufacturer and assembled into a package with fret wire, tuners, cellulose finish etc. My father helped build it and it turned out to be a reasonable instrument which I still have.
My knowledge of uke chords gave me a good start when learning guitar, but for 6-12 months played only on the first four strings, gradually forcing myself to use the bass strings. The rest, as they say, is history:)

Vintage
 
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DownUpDave

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In 1968 I bought a uke and after about 12-18 months was "reasonably" competent, but since ukes weren't cool in '68, (had to wait another 40-50 years for that) I hankered after a guitar.
I came across a Classical guitar kit which suited my cash flow. As far as I recall, the parts had been taken from the production lines of a Japanese manufacturer and assembled into a package with fret wire, tuners, cellulose finish etc. My father helped build it and it turned out to be a reasonable instrument which I still have.
My knowledge of uke chords gave me a good start when learning guitar, but for 6-12 months played only on the first four strings, gradually forcing myself to use the bass strings. The rest, as they say, is history:)

Vintage

Very cool story, thanks for sharing. George Harrison hadn’t made the uke cool yet back then. Lots of people started on classical or “nylon” string guitars in the 60’s and 70’s. The folk music scene had a big influence and nylon was a little more gentle on the fingers then steel
 

tm3

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I think a parlour size six string or Taylor GS mini size is a great starting point. One can always move up to a bigger size if they want a bigger more resonant sound.

Thank you! One more question -- would you view a baritone uke as a stepping stone to guitar?
 

DownUpDave

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Thank you! One more question -- would you view a baritone uke as a stepping stone to guitar?


Absolutely, some famous Canadian musicians started on a baritone ukulele. Neil Young and Joannie Mitchel to name two.

The baritone is DGBE so tuned the same as a guitar without the 5th and 6th string. That was my progression, from tenor ukulele to baritone ukulele to tenor steel string guitar.
 

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I don't think that ukulele players should be intimidated by guitars. If you want to learn to play guitar go ahead and learn to play guitar. Also I think that ukulele players should realize that they don't have to give up the ukulele for guitar, one can play both.
 

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Like Dave, I think that the Taylor GS Mini is an excellent choice of a guitar to step up to from ukulele.
 

bunnyf

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I also started on baritone uke and then went on to guitar (GS mini also). I now play primarily mandolin but still mix it up with soprano uke, tenor guitar and have played various larger guitars. I like the scale of the GS mini and I think it is a good size to start on, if you are interested in adding guitar to your skill set. With regard to size, I think it’s a little like making the generalized recommendation of a concert size uke to beginners. It’s the smallest stretch without being too cramped up. The shorter scale of smaller “parlor” guitars can make it easier going in the beginning. But, long term, you will adjust to whatever size you like (barring physical limitations) if you persist.
 

tm3

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Absolutely, some famous Canadian musicians started on a baritone ukulele. Neil Young and Joannie Mitchel to name two.

The baritone is DGBE so tuned the same as a guitar without the 5th and 6th string. That was my progression, from tenor ukulele to baritone ukulele to tenor steel string guitar.

Thanks! Cool about Neil Young -- those would be some big footprints to follow in! I'm guessing that given the tuning the baritone could benefit from the plethora of guitar tabs out there, also.

I don't think that ukulele players should be intimidated by guitars. If you want to learn to play guitar go ahead and learn to play guitar. Also I think that ukulele players should realize that they don't have to give up the ukulele for guitar, one can play both.

Good point, but holding that guitar and attempting to stretch into an open chord, much less imagining a barre chord, was pretty intimidating.

I also started on baritone uke and then went on to guitar (GS mini also). But, long term, you will adjust to whatever size you like (barring physical limitations) if you persist.

That is a good perspective. Thanks for commenting!
 

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"Comfort" is such a personal thing, I think it's hard to advise in a general sense if people should gradually work their way up or just jump to what they want. When my son expressed an interest in bass, we got him set up with both a medium scale (32 inch) electric bass and a uke bass (21 inch scale), and he didn't bat an eye at switching despite the huge difference. Whereas I have a friend who has played ukulele for two decades, and claims they'd love to learn guitar, but they shrink back in fear when offered a chance to even hold a guitar (any guitar! electric, acoustic, tenor, full size, short scale...), much less try to play one.
 

tm3

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Whereas I have a friend who has played ukulele for two decades, and claims they'd love to learn guitar, but they shrink back in fear when offered a chance to even hold a guitar (any guitar! electric, acoustic, tenor, full size, short scale...), much less try to play one.

I can sympathize. Holding the guitar I could not imagine how to make the stretch for an open G, and without hitting the other strings. Barre chords? Ha!

I'm reminded of a friend who said that it took him about 3 months to learn the open D chord on guitar (he was about 10 at the time). The day he got it he was so excited that he had to run downstairs and show off to his mother. The rest is history as he became quite a good player!
 

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Well there are kids that play guitar, and indeed some small ones that play pretty well! I started off with a guitar as a 13 year old, a classical. As an adult, I preferred the sound of full-sized steel string dreadnoughts. Male instructors would sometimes ask if I wouldn't be more comfortable with a smaller bodied guitar. Though I have some parlors, I still preferred the sound of dreadnoughts. I do admit, though, the 6 strings of guitars were always tricky for me to try to barre or fingerpick. So I mostly strummed. When I decided to take up the uke, the tenor seemed quite small and comfortable to me. Sopranos are something I have to work on playing. It all depends on what you get used to. We can all learn and adapt, with time and practice.
 

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Well I recently started the transition to guitar, in large part due to following your many threads over the last couple of years on your progression from Uke to small guitar to bigger guitars. I started on a Tenor Uke after i retired, but quickly found that the 1 3/8" neck was not to my liking as I am a big guy ... so I bought a tenor uke with a 1.5" nut width. That was nice, so from there I eventually branched into playing a baritone, as it was a bit bigger.... and I loved it!.

After a year or so I started trying to play Spanish guitar songs (fingerpicking) on my Uke and my instructor recommended I try a Classical guitar. I bought one and it took me about a month of futzing around with it (I can't actually call it practice, as just getting use to the size difference took all my concentration), until I felt comfortable trying to practice on it. I almost sent it back, but I finally transitioned from "man that thing is BIG!" to "boy is my uke SMALL!). That's when I knew I would be able to keep the guitar. I am now contemplating selling my multiple Tenors, and keeping the Baritones and the Guitar. I mention all of this just to add to the discussion that one can transition to a guitar from an Uke. Just give yourself some time to get used to it and don't give up!

PS. DownUpDave - thanks for all your posts on your progression over the years. It's posts like these that give others hope and options on how to progress with playing instruments.

Cheers!
Bobj.
 

Swamp Yankee

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My odyssey has been the other way around, starting with guitar in my teens and making my way to ukulele in my 50s. I bought a Taylor GS-Mini some years back.... bought another GSM in mahogany, then koa... then went through a spell of buying several killer guitars, a Martin 00-17SM, a Waterloo WL-S, a Taylor 500 series 12 string 12 fret.... but I’ve sold them all off for ukes, with the exception of the first GS-Mini. But I found a second hand Yamaha CG-150SA classical guitar a few weeks back for $170 and it’s blown me away. The sound of that Yammie is astounding. I’m probably going to sell off the GSM soon. That Yamaha is all the guitar I need.
 

DownUpDave

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My odyssey has been the other way around, starting with guitar in my teens and making my way to ukulele in my 50s. I bought a Taylor GS-Mini some years back.... bought another GSM in mahogany, then koa... then went through a spell of buying several killer guitars, a Martin 00-17SM, a Waterloo WL-S, a Taylor 500 series 12 string 12 fret.... but I’ve sold them all off for ukes, with the exception of the first GS-Mini. But I found a second hand Yamaha CG-150SA classical guitar a few weeks back for $170 and it’s blown me away. The sound of that Yammie is astounding. I’m probably going to sell off the GSM soon. That Yamaha is all the guitar I need.

Congratulations on the Yamaha. I did a YouTube search and there was a nice playing demo, it sounded wonderful. As much as I like steel string a nylon string seems a more natural move from ukulele and it has that sweet soothing sound. I have two nylon stringers and love them. Enjoy your Yamaha.
 
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tm3

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Well this thread motivated me to do some looking around and I've come upon a Baby Taylor to play with. The fret spacing, the neck width, and the extra strings seem impossible to deal with but interestingly the most difficult thing so far is the string spacing -- I'm having trouble for example with the E7 chord having my pinky on the B string not mute the adjacent G or E strings. The metal strings are not nearly as big a deal as I had imagined; maybe my uke made me tougher than I realized!

Lots of challenges but I can say that, just like the uke, the positive feedback of seeing some incremental progress in one week, no matter how small, is inspiring.

I'm not sure where this will end up going but I want to thank you Dave (and others) for creating the thread, answering my questions, and thus being the springboard to my opportunity!
 

DownUpDave

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Well I recently started the transition to guitar, in large part due to following your many threads over the last couple of years on your progression from Uke to small guitar to bigger guitars. I started on a Tenor Uke after i retired, but quickly found that the 1 3/8" neck was not to my liking as I am a big guy ... so I bought a tenor uke with a 1.5" nut width. That was nice, so from there I eventually branched into playing a baritone, as it was a bit bigger.... and I loved it!.

After a year or so I started trying to play Spanish guitar songs (fingerpicking) on my Uke and my instructor recommended I try a Classical guitar. I bought one and it took me about a month of futzing around with it (I can't actually call it practice, as just getting use to the size difference took all my concentration), until I felt comfortable trying to practice on it. I almost sent it back, but I finally transitioned from "man that thing is BIG!" to "boy is my uke SMALL!). That's when I knew I would be able to keep the guitar. I am now contemplating selling my multiple Tenors, and keeping the Baritones and the Guitar. I mention all of this just to add to the discussion that one can transition to a guitar from an Uke. Just give yourself some time to get used to it and don't give up!

PS. DownUpDave - thanks for all your posts on your progression over the years. It's posts like these that give others hope and options on how to progress with playing instruments.

Cheers!
Bobj.

I am sorry I did not see your post earlier. Thanks for the kind works and I am so glad the classical guitar is working out for you. I love that you said “just give yourself time and don’t give up”. This is truly the secret to success.......in anything.
 

DownUpDave

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Hey there tm3 I’m sorry for having missed your post, congratulations on the Baby Taylor, they are a great guitar. The steep learning curve can be frustrating at first but as you say the small incremental improvements make it all worthwhile.
 
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