Ukuleles are beautiful instruments made popular by humble folks of the Hawaii islands – it resembles a guitar in design, but it’s also much akin to different stringed instruments in various aspects.
For instance, ukuleles usually feature only four strings, much like basses, contra basses and bass guitars.
Now, what makes ukuleles different from other instruments in the same family is that they’re substantially easier to play – Soprano ukuleles in particular.
Namely, Soprano ukuleles are, by far, the smallest standard-size ukulele type out there.
There are some issues regarding whether a piccolo ukulele should be considered as a regular type, but most people agree that Sopranos are the smallest of ukes.
We’re going to discuss everything you need to know about what makes the best Soprano ukulele, so stay tuned.
- What Is A Soprano Ukulele?
- Is Soprano Ukulele Good For Beginners?
- How To Play Soprano Ukulele?
- Soprano Ukulele’s Size
- What Makes The Best Soprano Ukulele For Beginners?
- Top 6 Soprano Ukulele Reviews
What Is A Soprano Ukulele?
The most plain, straightforward answer to the question of “What is a Soprano ukulele” would be as following – “it is a four-string instrument which bears the Composite chordophone label by Hornboste-Sachs classification, and it was developed somewhere in the 19th century.”
However, there’s more to Soprano ukuleles than just that.
You might not have known this, but Soprano ukulele also goes by the name of a “Standard ukulele”.
It’s used as a starting point while determining the size of others (and further classification) which are later labelled as smaller or larger – for example the ukuleles we nowadays call “pocket” ukes are also called “Piccolo” or “Sopranino”, which basically means “smaller version of Soprano”.
Soprano Ukulele History
It’s quite peculiar that Soprano is the centre point in this musical family – only one ukulele type is smaller from it, whereas there’s a bunch of uke types that are larger, including Concert, Tenor, Baritone, Bass, and Contrabass ukulele.
We should consult with history on this one if we are to find a proper answer.
Namely, one of the first ukes that appeared in print can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments of All Nations – Year 1907.
You could easily see in this catalog that one of the two ukes bears much semblance to modern Soprano ukuleles.
It was made popular in Hawaii by the King Kalakaua whose support and invaluable promotion of this fine instrument earned ukulele’s place in the musical history books.
Other parts of the world have contributed too. For instance, Canada’s Chalmers Doane – a Canadian educator has brought ukuleles on the scene by using this instrument to teach musical literacy.
His main drive was ukulele’s affordability and practicality, meaning that people could take it up as a hobby easier than a guitar, per se.
Approximately 50,000 children and adults had learned to play ukulele by following Doane’s program.
Is Soprano Ukulele Good For Beginners?
Putting it bluntly, Soprano ukulele is indeed good for beginners.
Better yet, it’s practically ideal for beginners – there’s a plethora of reasons and facts that can back this claim, and we’re going to number just a few of the most notable ones.
Why Soprano ukulele is good for beginners:
- One of the most affordable stringed instruments, and one of the cheapest ukulele sub-category
- The smallest ukulele (disregarding pocket size ukulele) which is both the lightest and easiest to handle
- Outstanding playability due to low number of frets and weightless qualities
- Great as a travel companion, meaning that you can practice and play anywhere, anytime
- Can be played strapped or unstrapped without significant differences
How To Play Soprano Ukulele?
Ukuleles are supposed to be played just like any other stringed instruments – you can opt between playing with your bare hands, a (guitar) pick, or with thumb picks (a form of accessory), though ukes are traditionally played with hands alone.
Further on that note, while guitars are nearly exclusively played with a strap, Ukulele play offers two choices on that matter.
Most ukulele players play without a strap, but should you find it too hard to play without one, there’s a bunch of styles and types of ukulele straps at your disposal (one-button, uke leashes, and such).
A fretboard of the ukulele bears much semblance to the fingerboard of an acoustic guitar, only this time around there are only four strings, hence four rows of notes to fret (which reminds of a bass guitar’s fretboard, to be frank).
You should find a chord book if you’re a complete beginner, as it will provide the much-needed insight about finger positioning – ukuleles are fairly easy to play and master, so even if you wanted to go on as a self-teaching prodigy, you won’t face too many obstacles.
Soprano Ukulele’s Size
Next common question: “How big is a Soprano ukulele?”. We already mentioned that “Soprano” is the smallest of all ukuleles, but exactly how “small” is it?
The standard “length” of Soprano ukulele is 21”, Concert is measured at 23”, Tenor at 26”, and Baritone at 30”.
The length is measured from the very bottom all the way to the top (or vice versa, regardless).
Now, the “scale” of a ukulele regards its playable part, and a Soprano ukulele’s average scale is 13” – as opposed to Concert’s 15”, Tenor’s 17”, and Baritone’s 19”.
Soprano vs. Concert Ukulele
Tenor and Baritone ukuleles are often instruments of choice. Musicians who play them are usually professionals who are in search for a very specific set of tonal qualities, which is why other musicians often compare Soprano ukes and Concert ukuleles.
First, let’s talk about similarities between these two ukulele types.
The first one is their nearly indistinguishable size. Namely, Soprano ukulele is 21” long while Concert uke is just 2” longer.
On the other hand, Concert ukulele isn’t that much heavier, so the level of playability of both uke types is quite similar.
Finally, both ukulele types share the same standard tuning – G-C-E-A (in fact, only Baritone ukulele should be tuned differently).
Now, regarding the main difference between Soprano and Concert ukuleles, the first notable one is that Soprano ukes are ideal for beginners while Concert ukes are just good.
Why is that so?
When beginners start out to learn the ways of ukulele play, every small detail comes into the picture.
Concert ukuleles are bigger, and even though they’re just slightly heavier, they’re a bit harder to balance without a strap.
What Makes The Best Soprano Ukulele For Beginners?
In all fairness, beginners should be looking for a good ukulele bundle.
Even if you owned the best possible ukulele in the world, there are high chances that you would have some difficulties at the start.
If you’re wondering why that is so, the answer is simple – first is the issue of tuning, which is nearly impossible without a tuner.
Secondly, uke bundles feature straps, replacement strings, and picks. All of which you will need to advance as a beginner.
If you, somehow, managed to find these without external help, then you could take into consideration all the other aspects of a good ukulele:
First and foremost – you’ll need a durable ukulele.
A flimsy uke will break down on you before you even figured out which finger goes where.
You can look up online – there are numerous sources that could help you figure out which types of wood are best for ukuleles.
Secondly, once you get to understand how ukulele build materials work, you’d be able to determine the sound.
As a beginner, you won’t need the best sounding soprano ukulele, but it would be great if you found a good sounding model.
Thirdly – the price. Beginner ukuleles usually don’t cost above $20 – $50, so anything beyond that should not even be considered.
Now, let us continue to Soprano ukulele reviews and best soprano ukulele brands. Dig in!
Top 6 Soprano Ukulele Reviews
Soprano ukuleles are the most natural ukulele type. This uke sub-category was the first that was developed, and probably the one which is most widely used today.
Finding the best soprano ukulele to fit your needs shouldn’t be too hard – we provided a thorough list of things you should consider before you get to the buying part, but if you’re still out of ideas, check out our soprano ukulele reviews.
We wish you good luck in your search!