Difference Between Soprano and Concert Ukulele (With Table)

Soprano and concert are two of the four different types of ukulele, soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. These ukuleles differ mostly in their size and hence other elements that are associated with the size, such as the frets (metal strips which are visible along with the metal board of a ukulele), tunes, and the sound quality.

Soprano vs. Concert Ukulele

The difference between soprano and concert ukulele is that while soprano is the smallest of all the kinds of ukulele, concert falls in the size category right above the soprano ukulele. This difference in their size creates differences in the way the instruments are structured. This includes a difference in the neck size and the toning preferred by users.

The soprano ukulele is the most commonly preferred size by users, especially beginners. It creates the classical, traditional ukulele sound. These are the lightest kind of ukulele. This is ideal for younger players, such as kids with smaller hands and fingers owing to the size of the instrument. Even though it is called the beginner ukulele, it could be used by players of all skill levels and ages.

The concert ukulele, though at first sight might not hold much difference from the soprano, the size factor plays a major role. Being bigger, the neck of the concert ukulele is wider and the scale length greater, thus making it a bit heavier than the soprano. This size is more comfortable for players with a bit larger hands and fingers.

Comparison Table Between Soprano and Concert Ukulele

Parameters of ComparisonSoprano UkuleleConcert Ukulele
Length21”23”
TuningGCEA, ADF#BGCEA (re-entrant), GCEA (linear)
Number of Frets12-1515-20
Tension on StringsLesserMore
SoundShallow, plinky tone.A tonal character between shallow and deep, fuller sound.

What is Soprano Ukulele?

The soprano ukulele is the most commonly purchased type of ukulele. The major reason why it is the most common is its size.

The small size makes it useful and travel-friendly. These are also the cheapest available ukuleles.

Soprano ukulele has the smallest scale and also the least number of frets, giving it tight fret spacing, hence urging it to be used by users with smaller fingers.

Owing to its smaller size, the soprano ukulele has a brighter and softer tone while having lesser projection and resonance in comparison to the other larger ukuleles.

The soprano ukulele is better used for strumming than it is suited for fingerpicking as the fretboard size is very small when compared to other ukuleles.

Due to the lack of a large resonating surface, the soprano ukulele will not have the volume or depth of tone that is common in other larger instruments.

As the strings in a soprano ukulele have less tension, the user might find it too easy to even accidentally bend a string out of tune, creating a missing chord in the chord sequence of the music being played.

Learning to play a soprano ukulele is easy, making it one of the really popular instrument choices for people worldwide.

The learning curve of a soprano is short, allowing even a beginner to play chords perfectly for the first time.

What is Concert Ukulele?

As the concert ukulele is bigger than the soprano, it has a longer scale length.

This extra length provides more spacing for the frets, also allowing it to have a greater number of frets with wide spacing between them.

Owing to the larger size of the concert ukulele, it has a fuller sound with a warmer tone that is more mid-range than the soprano.

The concert ukulele also projects better than the soprano, making the eventual chord sounds and the volume a bit louder.

The tune commonly used in the concert ukulele is standard like the sopranos, GCEA.

But some people prefer their concerts to be tuned in such a way that their G-strings are turned down an octave to lower the G tuning, called the linear tuning.

In concert ukulele, since the tension on the strings are more. This is more beneficial when a user finds themselves bending strings out of tune as they press their fingers down.

As a concert ukulele has a greater number of frets, this helps players to navigate the tunes to higher notes.

This, even though isn’t beneficial in strumming, helps greatly with finger styles. A concert ukulele is also called an alto.

Main Differences Between Soprano and Concert Ukulele

  1. By even a small difference in size, the concert ukulele possesses a greater number of frets, helping gather more tunes unlike that in the soprano, where a lower fret number limits the tunes produced. 
  2. Due to a low resonating surface, the sound produced by a soprano comes out shallow and plinky while in the concert soprano, there is a larger resonating surface resulting in fuller and deeper tunes being produced. 
  3. While considering the physical appearance, the soprano has a more linear and less wide look, appearing stunt, while the concert ukulele is longer with a wide fretboard, making it appear linear.
  4. Soprano ukulele might be preferred by musicians with smaller hands and fingers while a concert would be preferred by someone with slightly bigger hands. 
  5. The concert ukulele has a longer scale with a long and wider neck while the soprano has a shorter neck.

Conclusion

Considering that the soprano is cheaper than the concert, this pocket-friendly ukulele seems more approachable than the concert ukulele.

Not just the money factor, the soprano being the size that it is, is easier to carry around on short notice unlike the concert which being larger in size might show hindrance while in motion.

For those people whose hands might be a bit bigger, it would be better to get the concert, for it has a wider spacing pattern between the strings and would be easier to handle.

While playing around a small audience without a mic system, a soprano might be better to use as it has a shallower sound.

Whereas, with a larger audience, a concert might prove better, given its deeper sound-generating factor.

Both the soprano and the concert ukulele have their pros and cons.

Depending on the experience and skill levels of the musician, they can use the instrument that suits them best.

References

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1048371315625294
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=N3eYQGnrY1cC&oi=fnd&pg=PA8&dq=soprano+ukulele&ots=ohY-v0b-9V&sig=2Gd8Al8UPqHvYsXS-yH-YvKnLMg
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