Ukulele Sound Comparisons

     All parameters were held as constant as possible for these comparisons.  The same chord shapes and progression were played on each ukulele in the same manner; however, because of the different tunings, they are not all being played in the same key.

    The chords are for "Ridin' Down The Canyon" (1939, Autry & Burnette). File sizes are adjusted for the best sound reproduction.   Note: Flukes are ukuleles.

To listen to ukulele type, click on uke name.

wpe8.jpg (3380 bytes)1. Baritone Uke  -- Cheap, all wood, with 19-1/4" scale.  Arthur Godfrey (1903-1983) is  credited for the baritone uke.  He had been playing ukes since he was a teen, and in the late 1940s, he asked Eddie Connors of Vega Company to design a larger uke to go with his baritone voice. 

     The one heard here is tuned in the common DGBE, as are the four highest pitched strings on the guitar.  It has geared tuners.



wpeB.jpg (4076 bytes)2. Tenor Fluke    -- Scale is 17".  Flukes have many attributes.  They are well-built with woody voices and are louder than many of the fully-wooden uke equivalents -- unless much more is paid for the fully wooden one.  The one heard here is tuned DGBE but with D an octave high.  This gives the uke sound of the   "My-Dog-Has-Fleas" tuning.

     Has zero fret and peg tuners.



wpe10.jpg (4011 bytes)3. Concert Fluke   -- Scale is 15-1/2".   Tuned to the common uke GCEA with the G an octave high.  This tuning is the source of the uke's "chirpy," happy voice.

     This tuning still uses guitar chord shapes, but the uke tuning makes the guitar shape "A", a "D" on the uke; the guitar shape "D" is a "G", etc. 

     Zero fret and  peg tuners.



wpeE.jpg (3900 bytes)4. Fluke Flea -- Scale is 14".  This  soprano Fluke is tuned GCEA with the octave high G.

     Zero fret and peg tuners.





wpe11.jpg (4315 bytes)5. Soprano Uke -- Scale is 13-1/2".  Cheap, all wood.  Sold with "Travis" on label and is tuned GCEA with octave high G.  No zero fret, but has geared tuners.

     This is the most recognizable uke size.  Cliff Edwards, "Ukulele Ike," did as much as any one to inspire others to play them.  However, many performers played ukes in 1920s and 1930s...some through the 1940s.

     The Beetles have a long history with ukes.  When they were young lads, they saw and heard the popular George Formby play his banjo uke.


wpe19D.jpg (4011 bytes)6. Soprano Uke With Horn Attached -- Same uke as above but with the sound deflector (home-made) attached.   I think it sounds better with the horn.

     All my soprano ukes will snap into this deflector,  but only the wooden ones have their voices improved; the plastic lslander gains too much treble.  The Styron back of that instrument needs to be muffled by having it against the player's body.

     The Maccaferri G-40 guitar is the same way; I had an attachment for the back of that guitar and subsequently removed it. 


wpe12.jpg (4830 bytes)7. Soprano Uke  -- Scale is 12-3/4".  Cheap, all wood.  Sold with "Hilo" on label.   Tuned GCEA with octave high G.

     Has zero fret and geared tuners.




wpe13.jpg (3835 bytes)8. Soprano Uke  -- Scale is 13-3/4".  1950 Maccaferri Islander.  All Styron. It was dimensioned from the Martin "0" of 1920s.  Those Martins sold then for $10 -- average income for factory worker was $1400/year.

     I prefer the voice of these Maccaferri ukes to that of the above wooden sopranos.

     The Islander is tuned GCEA with octave high G.  Has zero fret and peg tuners.



wpe15.jpg (4368 bytes)9. Banjo Uke  --   Scale is 13-1/4".  Dixie brand from 1950.  Frame is all aluminum.   Tuned GCEA with octave high G.  No zero fret but has peg tuners.

     The most popular early uke player in Great Britain was George Formby, who learned to play uke from sheet music and listening to Cliff Edwards records.

     George's tradition was in British Music Halls and he needed something louder than a standard he played the banjo uke.


Suggested ukulele web sites --

Ian Whitcomb / Bungalow Boys  --

Janet Klein / Parlor Boys   --

Roy Cone / Ukulele World  --

Jim Beloff / Flea Market Music, Inc --

Catfish's Closet --


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