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Baritone Ukulele – The Big Brother Uke

Baritone Ukulele – The Big Brother Uke

In our final article on the sizes of ukes, we look at the biggest and most unique, the Baritone ukulele. This is often labelled the “bridge” between guitars and ukuleles. It shares a lot of characteristics with ukes and guitars. It is, in fact, often used as a transition instrument when someone wants to move from guitar to ukulele.

Let’s look at how the baritone differs from the other three sizes (ie. soprano, concert and tenor):


Baritone Ukulele vs the Rest

Here are the main differences listed:"Image showing the different sizes of ukulele"

  • Tuning: A ‘regular’ uke is tuned G-C-E-A. The baritone stands alone in being different to the other three. It would have to be tuned D-G-B-E. If you also play a guitar, you’d know that it is the same tune as the top four strings of a regular guitar.
  • Bass Sound: The baritone is largest of all ukuleles. The scale length measures a full 48.26 centimeters (19 inches) and the total length is 76 centimeters (30 inches). The large body gives it a bigger sound and when I say bigger, I don’t mean louder. It gives a strong and deep sound. It is also loud but we all know that the volume may be affected by other things.
  • Chords: The baritone chords are easier for many to play. Most of the chords use one or two fingers. It’s also easier to do barre chords with it since it is smaller than a guitar. You don’t need to stretch your fingers too much.
  • Scale: The deep and big sound that baritone ukuleles give also detaches it from other ukuleles. The smaller versions are favoured for their sharp and fine tune. It’s closer to a guitar but not close enough to take the place of a guitar. Yes, it’s neither here nor there in terms of sound.
  • Pieces: Since the this is bigger than other ukuleles, it will not sound the same when playing pieces. Pieces are tailor made for baritones. Some people choose to replace the strings as those used for regular ukuleles. This will make the sound closer to the sound produced by regular sizes.


When to Use Baritone Ukulele?

Image of a lanikai baritone ukulele

A Lanikai baritone, very popular and affordable.

Like other ukuleles, baritones are usually used for musical pieces from American swing, jazz music from the 20′ through 40′s. It is only recently that rock bands and other contemporary artists are coming up with acoustic versions of their songs using ukuleles as an alternative to the guitar. Some of the famous songs that use ukuleles in their released or acoustic versions are “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train, “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, “Hey Jude” by The Beatles, “Fireflies” by Owl City, and “Someone Like You” by Adelle.

Fancy the look of this but want 6 strings? Have a look at the Yamaha gl-1 guitalele – a hybrid with a guitar.


Final Notes

Baritone ukuleles are a recommended choice when you are used to playing guitars and are just getting started with the ukulele. They make it much easier to get into the uke as you don’t need to learn new chords.

The beautiful Koloa Baritone Uke – Click image for our review

There are ‘transitional’ tricks which will essentially allow you to ‘think guitar’ chords while playing the baritone. It’s just a matter of removing certain fingers. Once you get used to it, it will be easier to memorize the chords. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun. Learning the baritone ukulele is no different from learning other instruments, it can get frustrating sometimes but the sound will be more than worth it.

Amazon has a wide range of baritone ukes to suit all budgets. Search for them here.


Here are some of our individual model reviews:

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