Baritone Ukulele Breakdown: Everything You Need to Know

Ukulele's come in all shapes, sizes and colors! Today we take a deep dive into largest of the lot - the Baritone Ukulele


Jace Snel

3/20/20234 min read

a person sitting on a beach
a person sitting on a beach

Baritone Ukulele Breakdown: Everything You Need to Know

The largest of the Ukulele family - the Baritone Ukulele is typically tuned DGBE, the same as the 4 lower strings of the guitar. The mixed-strung baritone produces a deeper, more rounded sound than a soprano or concert Ukulele. The baritone is usually around one-third larger than a soprano ukulele (coming in at around 76cm or 30" inch average total length). It's slightly more spaced out fretboard making it great for people with big hands.

If you're looking for a ukulele with a deeper, richer sound than the traditional soprano or concert ukulele, the baritone ukulele might be just what you need. In this article, we'll break down everything you need to know about the baritone ukulele, from tuning and chords to songs and accessories.

How is the Baritone Ukulele tuned?

The baritone ukulele is typically tuned to D-G-B-E, which is the same as the highest four strings of a guitar. This tuning gives the baritone ukulele its deep, rich sound and makes it a popular choice for guitar players who want to try out the ukulele. If you're new to the baritone ukulele, it's important to use a baritone ukulele tuner to ensure that you're in the right tuning.

Are Baritone Ukulele chords the same?

While chords are universal - for example a G chord will always contain the notes G, B, and D, the baritone ukulele has its own set of chord shapes. The chord shapes are actually more typical of the guitar, which is why a lot of guitarists tend to prefer the Baritone.

While the most common beginner baritone ukulele chords include G, C, D, and F. To get started with baritone ukulele chords, you can use a baritone ukulele chord chart (coming soon!) to help you learn the fingerings and positions, however, learning all the chord shapes by heart will become especially important for the Baritone.

Baritone Ukulele Strings

Baritone ukulele strings are typically made of nylon or a nylon-like material, often with two wound strings for the low D and G, similar to the Guitar. The strings are thicker than those of a soprano or concert ukulele, which helps to produce the deep, rich sound that the baritone ukulele is known for.

When choosing baritone ukulele strings, look for a set that is specifically designed for baritone ukuleles, strings designed for other types of ukuleles will be much too short!

Both the D'Addario and the Martin Baritone strings are great choices. I have heard that the Martin strings have a slight tendancy to come unwound, however, so I typically stick with the D'Addario.

How big is a Baritone Ukulele?

The baritone ukulele is the largest type of ukulele, with a scale length (the length of the fretboard) of around 50cm and 76cm total length (19 inches scale or 30 Inches in total). This larger size can make it more comfortable for guitar players to transition to the ukulele, but it may also be more difficult for smaller hands to play.

Can I play the same songs and tabs?

There are many popular songs that can be played on the baritone ukulele, from traditional Hawaiian tunes to contemporary pop hits. You can find baritone ukulele tabs for many of these songs online, subscribe to TheGalah or even create your own arrangements. The baritone ukulele offers a unique and versatile sound that is perfect for musicians who want to explore new genres and styles.

You can use basically any tab if you have already learned your baritone chords or have a strong knowledge of the guitar. Most tabs are written to focus on the more common instruments - the guitar and ukulele. So while much of the notation tablature will be difficult to follow (you're probably better off using the guitar tab - as it has the same 4 bottom strings as the guitar) once you have learned most of the common chords, following a lyric/chord chart will be no worries.

With good tuning, strings, a little bit of knowledge, and of course, practice, you can unlock the full potential of the baritone ukulele and create beautiful music that you'll love to play and share.

Should I buy a Baritone Ukulele?

This is going to depend on your musical history. If you have had some experience playing guitar or ukulele and would like an alternative option - then for sure, it's a great option. They're my favorite type of Uke to play. If you're a music lover and have a few different instruments and looking to add something interesting to your collection then I would absolutely look at picking up a Baritone Ukulele.

The Kala KA-BE (Acoustic Electric) Mahogany Baritone Ukulele for example is a great mid-priced option from a good brand - ideal for someone wanting something not too expensive but would handle anything you can throw at it. It also has a pick-up for playing through a PA or recording! If you plan to travel with your baritone ukulele, invest in a sturdy baritone ukulele case to protect it from damage.

In summary, the baritone ukulele is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a deeper, richer sound than a traditional soprano or concert ukulele. With its unique tuning, chords, and strings, this instrument offers a world of possibilities for players of all skill levels. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced musician, the baritone ukulele is a great addition to any collection.

silhouette photography of person holding guitar
silhouette photography of person holding guitar