The ukulele is possibly one of the most interesting musical instruments in existence. For its small stature and adorable sound, it holds a lot of surprises. Its history alone is enthralling. From being an exotic and well-respected instrument with a notable legacy to a snubbed item considered as a toy into something fun, whimsical, and entertaining music-maker.
The uke craze may have mellowed down in recent years, it’s still very much a great instrument to pick up if you want to learn something new. If you’re wondering how hard is it to play the ukulele, allow this quick guide to help you find the answers you need.
How Hard is it to Play the Ukulele?
So let’s get straight to the point: how hard is it to play the ukulele? Experts and enthusiasts alike will agree that ukes are pretty easy to learn. Even without prior knowledge in instrument playing or music theory, it’s possible to learn the uke without a hitch.
Many attribute its easy learning curve to a few things: its small size and fewer number of strings. The small size makes this instrument easy to manage. You don’t have to strain your fingers to produce the notes the song requires. And since there are only four strings, remembering and executing the chords are simpler to do.
In addition to this, the strings of ukes are often made of nylon. This material is way softer than what you’ll deal with when learning other string instruments, so you don’t even have to worry about hurting your fingers when playing the uke.
Some also believe that ukes are easy to learn because they offer instant gratification. You can start playing a song in minutes, especially if you have prior experience in playing a string instrument. This can be more motivating for some folks, making them more determined to improve.
Is it hard to learn ukulele by yourself? No, it’s also very easy to learn on your own. In fact, it’s also one of the best instruments for self-learners as the process is quite simple. Again, with just four strings, the chords are easier to do and remember.
Even toddlers can learn how to play this instrument, as thousands of YouTube videos will show you, so it should be pretty clear that it’s rather easy to learn.
However, there can still be some folks who’ll find this instrument difficult to manage. These are the folks with larger hands as the smaller neck and spaces between the strings can prove to be challenging for their hand size and dexterity.
8 Reasons Why You Should Play the Ukulele
For most folks, finding out that ukuleles are easy to learn is enough reason to give it a shot. However, if you need a bit more coaxing to give it a shot, here are eight other reasons to take it into consideration.
It’s a Fun and Friendly Instrument
When you ask uke players - seasoned and amateurs alike - what they like the most about the small instrument, they’ll tell you that it’s fun to play. Dubbed as the ‘happy instrument’, it’s hard not to enjoy playing the uke and smiling while strumming and listening to its sounds.
There’s something about this instrument that gives it a very lighthearted vibe so it’s always fun to play. Even when you’re just learning, you will hardly find yourself getting frustrated over things.
The uke is also deemed as one of the friendliest instruments for beginners of any age on the planet. As mentioned above, learning how to play the ukulele is easy so you don’t have to stress over mastering its pieces. It wouldn’t put a pressure on you to run scales in no time.
The friendliness also transcends to real life as uke communities are often very welcoming. In ukulele festivals, learners and newbies are embraced and received gladly. You can’t say anything remotely the same for gatherings for other instruments, especially the piano and violin.
They Sound Great
There’s no denying that ukuleles sound great. They have a rich and warm tone that’s very charming and enjoyable to hear. Even cheap ukuleles can produce great sounds, especially in the hands of a skilled player.
Songs are Easy to Adapt
Another reason that makes the uke fun to learn is the wide range of songs you can play with it. Most songs can be translated to ukulele chords without too much fuss so there’s practically no limit to what you can play on the ukulele.
What’s even better is that the ukulele gives a different vibe and feel to the songs that are not written for it. It offers a whole new way to enjoy a melody, allowing you to put your own spin to your favorite hits.
Ukes are Portable
Unlike lots of other musical instruments, especially string ones, ukuleles are very portable. Their small size makes them easy to take with you wherever you go. You can stash it in your car’s trunk on road trips so you can strum a song during the drive or in your destination without too much difficulty.
They’re Relatively Inexpensive - Even Some of the Best Ones
Another major charm of ukes is it's affordability. Ukulele prices can start very low, especially the plastic ones, so it doesn’t require an investment to start learning this instrument. This has always been true and has always contributed to its popularity, especially during periods of economic crises.
This doesn’t mean that there are no expensive ukes because there are lots of them. There are some seriously beautifully and wonderfully crafted ukuleles that can cost thousands of dollars, so there certainly are some luxury options for these items.
However, it’s also very easy to find excellent ukes that won’t break the bank. There are lots of highly recommended picks deemed as some of the best ukuleles for beginners that are budget friendly.
Ukes are Great Starting Points for Other String Instruments
If you wish to learn how to play string instruments, the uke is said to be a good kick off point. The basic skills necessary to play this tiny musical instrument is similar to what is required in playing the guitars, mandolins, and many others so starting with it will help lay a good foundation in your playing techniques.
By mastering the uke, you might find yourself having an easier time when trying to learn how to play other string instruments since you already have some idea of how such items produce a sound. Some guitarists can seamlessly switch from their guitars to a uke.
Ukulele Chords are Relatively Easy to Memorize and Play
One reason why those who are wondering how hard is it to play the ukulele are easily convinced that this instrument is not very complicated is the fact that ukulele chords are quite simple. Since there are only four strings to contend with, the instrument will not require your fingers to do some minor acrobatics just to make the right sound.
The simplicity of the chords also make them easier to remember and play. Even as a beginner, you’ll be able to make the sound you want to make as long as you hit the right spots. As a result, learning the ukulele can be very gratifying and enjoyable.
They’re Unique Instruments
While ukes look like smaller guitars and are very reminiscent of other lutes and string instruments, it’s still pretty unique once you think about it. In itself, this instrument has a lot of personality and charm. It can also stand out and stand alone because of its different tone and vibe.
Is it possible to learn the ukulele as an adult?
Yes, it’s possible to learn the uke as an adult - or any musical instrument, to be honest. There are actually lots of advantages in learning how to play the ukulele as an adult and lots of them are backed by research and experience. So don’t worry about your age if you want to learn this fun instrument.
How hard is it to learn to play the ukulele decently?
It’s one thing to know how to play the ukulele but it’s another to learn to play it decently. Both are relatively easy to achieve but if you want to be good at it, you have to be willing to put in the work. The basics of this musical instrument may not be too fussy but like others, it requires practice if you want to achieve great things with it.
So, technically, it’s not hard to learn how to play ukuleles decently but it’s also not simple.
How hard is it to learn how to play the ukulele if you have no musical experience at all?
With how simple ukuleles can be, even those without prior knowledge and experience in playing any musical instruments will not struggle in learning the basics of this instrument.
Is it better to learn guitar or ukulele first?
Lots of experts recommend trying the ukulele first if you are just about to learn playing string instruments. The basics of this lute is a lot easier than a guitar’s, so if you want to get better and faster results, the uke promises more instant gratification. Once you’ve learned the groundwork from the ukulele, transitioning to a guitar may be easier for you.
On average, how long does it take to learn a song on the ukulele?
It depends on your skills and the difficulty level of the song. Some can learn to play simple songs in minutes after picking up the uke, especially if they have some prior knowledge in playing a string instrument. Total newbies might take a bit longer but a very simple song with a basic and short chord pattern shouldn’t take hours to learn.
What ukuleles are highly recommended?
There are lots of great ukuleles that you can get for yourself as a beginner or skilled uke player. However, since they come in different varieties, certain models might suit some players more than others. To find the right pick for you, it’s best to learn the most suitable type and variety for your needs. Concert ukuleles would be a good choice for all kinds of players, so they’re good options to start your search with.
The Final Word
With how friendly and unassuming ukuleles can be, you shouldn’t really fret about how hard it is to play the ukulele. For starters, it’s not necessarily hard for most people to learn and master, so throw your worries out the window and give this lute instrument a shot.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.