Pō Mahina 'Ukulele & Guitars - 'Ukulele Sizes & Tunings

'Ukulele Sizes

Most of you are familiar with this, but I'll go over it to make sure we're all on the same page.

These are general measurements common to most makers, my own will vary slightly depending on , among other things, the sound I am trying to achieve.

Scale length is the distance from the nut to the saddle at the bridge - the vibrating length of string.

Lower bout width is the measurement of the widest part of the body.

custom ukulele, bout scale
Size Lower Bout Scale Length
Standard or Soprano +/- 7" +/- 13 7/8"
Concert +/- 8" +/- 15"
Tenor +/- 9" +/- 17"
Baritone +/- 10" +/- 20"
Guitalele +/- 10" +/- 20"

These are the basic sizes, but many things are possible. I have made many Concert bodied instruments with a 16" scale. It is not unusual to make a Standard sized Pineapple `Ukulele with a Concert scale neck.

On the usual instrument I make, the neck joins the fingerboard at the 14th fret.

It is also possible to have the neck join at the 12th fret, which is the way most of the very old `ukulele were made. This does not change the scale length or body size. It does, however, change the position of the bridge and would be done for a certain playing style, a sound we were trying to achieve, or if perhaps the player had a problem reaching on the longer neck.

'Ukulele Tunings

The usual tuning for Standard, Concert and Tenor `ukulele is the same - from high to low A E C G, with the G being traditionally tuned 2 frets lower than A on the first string.

It is not uncommon here in the Islands for the G to be tuned an octave lower. This is called Low G Tuning. This is neither better or worse. Which tuning you use is purely personal preference.

The Baritone is usually tuned E B G D, the same as the highest 4 strings on the guitar.

Less Common Tunings

5 String Tenor: basically a regular 4 string, with one of the stings doubled, often the 3rd string with the extra an octave higher.

6 String Tenor: again a 4 string with the 1st and 3rd strings being doubled, usually the 1st an octave lower, 3rd an octave higher although there are several variants to this.

8 String Tenor: A 4 string with all the strings doubled in the fashion of a 12 string guitar, added unison 1st and 2nd, octave higher 3rd, and both high and low G

Guitalele: This is the common term for an 'ukulele tuned as a higher pitched 6 string guitar. I make my version with a Baritone size body and tuned high to low A E C G D A

These are by far the most common tunings, but there are many variations. For instance, if you play Tenor, but with a lower tuning, I can make an 'ukulele to suit your needs. Please inquire.