Ukuleles come in various shapes and sizes. Unlike the acoustic guitar, whose shape has largely remained the same, the ukulele has morphed into a variety of shapes! Its four strings can rest on any number of body shapes, including the pineapple, paddleboard, lute, and cigar box.
A standard way to differentiate and identify your ukulele is by its size. The most common sizes, from small to large, are soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. It’s the “scale” rather than the total length of the instrument that determines the size. The “scale” is the distance between the nut and the saddle.
The parts of the ukulele corresponds to the parts of a human body: the head, neck, and body. The nut stops the strings on one end, while the saddle cuts off the other end, above the bridge.
The three smallest sizes (soprano, concert, and tenor) have the same tuning GCEA, which is also called C-tuning. The baritone ukulele, often viewed as a collision between the ukulele and the guitar, is tuned to DGBE, equivalently the highest pitched strings of the guitar. If you already play the guitar, you will find it quite easy to pick up the ukulele and recognize similar chord shapes.
A good posture makes it easy to hold and play the ukulele without tension or pain. Notice that professional ukulele players not only look relaxed but also seem to play effortlessly. First, get comfortable holding your ukulele. Here are a few photos of the different positions you can play in.
Standing: The ukulele is just below the chest and cradled in the crook of your arm, holding most of the instrument’s weight. This allows you to finger chords freely and without great effort.
Seated: Rest the wide base of your ukulele in between your legs. This provides stability and mobility as you can raise the neck to any height that’s comfortable for you to finger chords.
Seated: Resting the indent of the ukulele’s shape on your leg, this is similar to a classic guitar position.