Which is easier to play, the ukulele or guitar? It’s a common question for people interested in learning a stringed instrument. In this short article, I’ll take a look at which instrument is easier for beginners to learn and play. This article summarizes many of the points from the in-depth article on the differences between the ukulele and guitar.
Which is easier to learn? The ukulele or guitar?
In a word: the ukulele! There’s no doubt about it!
I think the ukulele is easier to learn and play for a number of reasons, which I will get into below. Keep in mind that this article isn’t about which instrument is ‘better.’ It’s about whether the uke or guitar is easier to learn and play. I love both instruments, but I think the ukulele is easier for beginner musicians to learn. I’ll sum up why.
1. Fewer strings
The ukulele has two fewer strings than a guitar. This gives you less to think about when you are getting started, and it also means there are lots of simple one and two-finger chords on the ukulele. Ukulele or guitar? 1-0
2. Softer strings
Ukuleles have soft, flexible strings that are much gentler on the fingers than the steel strings of a guitar. A ukulele’s strings are easier to push down and don’t dig into the player’s fingertips as much as steel strings do.
While the discomfort of playing a guitar goes away as you build up calluses, the ukulele is always going to be an easier instrument to play. Ukulele or guitar? 2-0
3. Low-tension strings
The soft material and short scale of a ukulele mean that the strings have a lower tension than a guitar. “Low tension” just means that ukulele strings feel less tight and are easier to push down when playing. So what’s the score at half time? 3-0
4. Shorter scale
The shortened scale of a ukulele means that the frets on a ukulele are much closer together than on a guitar. A shorter scale requires less stretching to form certain chords, which is nice for beginners. The short scale is especially helpful for children and players with smaller hands. The score? 4-0
5. Small and lightweight
Ukuleles are around 35% to 50% smaller than a guitar. Their compact size and light weight mean that they’re easy to hold and play for just about anybody, including children.
I’ve also found that kids love having an instrument that’s “their size” instead of trying to play a guitar that feels way too big. There are smaller, child-size guitars available, but in my experience the quality of these instruments is usually pretty rough unless you get into the realm of high-quality mini guitars like the Baby Taylor or Little Martin. So which instrument is in the lead now, the ukulele or guitar? 5-0
6. More affordable
While this doesn’t really factor into being easier to learn or play, it’s still worth mentioning. You can get a really good beginner ukulele for $50 to $100. This might seem like a lot, but in the world of stringed instruments it’s actually very reasonable. Decent beginner guitars start at around $150, and they often need adjustments and setup work before they’ll play comfortably. Final score? 6-0!
Conclusion: ukulele or guitar?
The ukulele definitely wins at 6-0.
Need more input?
I hope this guide has helped you choose between learning to play a ukulele or a guitar. Looking for something in between? Check out the Guitalele.
Feel free to contact me whenever you need more information.
By the way, do you want to know why playing the ukulele is healthy for you?