Is It Easy to Transition From Ukulele to Guitar?

Ukeleles are rather popular among young musicians. 

A good number of people, in fact, prefer starting with the ukelele instead of the guitar. 

Eventually, one finds himself or herself wanting to learn more, so they decide to move to yet another instrument. 

Changing the ukelele for a guitar sounds like a great idea, but is it really that great? 

Would it be easy to transition from one to the other?  Or would it be challenging and frustrating? 

For the majority of musicians, transitioning from ukelele to guitar is rather easy. After getting used to the other two strings, and translating the chord shapes properly, one can play without difficulty in just a couple of days. 

Before changing your instrument, I encourage you to read the whole article. 

It will provide a clearer and wider view of how to do it. 

Things that would be easier for a ukelele player picking up a guitar

Starting to play the guitar will be easier for ukelele players because of the following reasons: 

  • Finger dexterity: this is a skill that consists in placing and picking up small objects. Playing string instruments develops such ability, including both guitar and ukelele. 
  • Chord shapes: on both instruments, chords are the same, but only in the higher 3 strings of the guitar. They differ in tuning solely. 
  • Strumming techniques: some claim that playing the ukelele first provides better strumming and picking techniques for the guitar. In other words, playing the ukelele first gets you further than many beginner guitarists starting from scratch.  

Things that would be challenging for a ukelele player picking up a guitar

If you want to change from ukelele to guitar, I would be lying if I told you everything comes with flying colors.  

Sure enough, one will find certain difficulties when transitioning from one instrument to the other. 

Here are some of them: 

  • String tension: the string tension of the ukelele is lower than the one of guitars. If one is already used to fret notes on the ukelele, then the guitar will result slightly harder and even a bit painful. 
  • More strings: since the ukelele has only four strings, it makes it more difficult to manage a six-string instrument. 
  • Size: there’s a considerable difference regarding the size of both instruments. It’s not exactly a problem, but it will take some days to get used to such differentiation. 
  • Tunning: although the string relationship is not that different, the string tuning differs. For ukeleles, it is G, C, E, A. For guitars, it is E, A, D, G, B, E. Once again, familiarization will not be immediate. 

Is the ukelele easier than the guitar?

Most often than not, musicians will find it easier to learn to play the ukelele instead of the guitar. 

The reasons are plenty. 

First of all, strings tend to be gentler on the ukelele. Sometimes, this is an issue for guitar learners because many hurt their fingertips while getting used to fretting notes. 

Sounds silly, but some even find it discouraging to continue practicing with their fingers in pain. 

Second, the size of a ukelele is smaller than the one of a guitar. This makes it easier both to handle it and to avoid or reduce wrist tension. 

Such a thing happens because the notes are reachable without stretching. 

Lastly, chords are easier to perform on ukeleles. 

The reason is that, on those instruments, one finds fewer strings. 

This is similar to the size advantage mentioned previously since fewer strings make chords easier to produce.  

How long would it take to learn the guitar as a ukulele player?

This question has no real answer. 

In the end, it all depends on the proficiency level of the musician. 

Some may be more skilled than others, which means that they may pick it up quicker. 

Experienced ukelele players will get the hang out of the guitar in just a couple of days. 

All it takes is getting used to its size, the extra strings, and the tuning. 

It is worth mentioning, though, that barre chords could be harder to familiarize with. 

The problem is not the barre chords themselves, since they apply to ukeleles as well. 

The real issue is adjusting them to guitars. 

For this, it is a must to develop the muscle on the fingers. 

Once it is accomplished, then it won’t take more than a few weeks to start playing songs properly. 

Should you take guitar lessons as a ukulele player?

It is wise to take private lessons for any instrument.

Of course, a lot of people have learned to play guitar on their own or by taking lessons on Youtube. 

If you want, you can give it a try. However, results won’t be the same as the ones acquired with private lessons. 

After all, it is the fastest way to learn about an instrument and to avoid frustrations simultaneously. A teacher will guide you and prevent you from common mistakes beginners tend to do. 

Plus, he or she will also share his or her experience on how to practice smart. 

For many, private lessons are something that cannot be acquired. It is understandable because a lack of money is a real issue. 

Now, if you are financially stable, then, by all means, take lessons. 

You won’t regret it.

Can you play the same songs on ukelele and guitar?

If you fear you might miss playing your favorite songs when switching instruments, then I’ve got good news for you. 

You can play the same songs either on guitar or ukelele

Sure, the chord shapes need to be transposed, because they work differently on both instruments. 

However, that doesn’t mean that they cannot be played. 

All you have to do is translate the chords from guitar to ukelele, or the other way around. 

In order to do this, you can check a YouTube tutorial, or ask a teacher or friend for guidance.   

Are ukelele and guitar notes the same?

Ukelele and guitars share the same musical notes. 

In fact, every western instrument uses the same 12 musical notes.

The difference relies on the tuning. 

Guitar and ukelele use dissimilar standard tunings. 

Thus, chords tend to sound different when done on each instrument. 

What’s also similar is the relationship between the pitches in which strings are tuned. They are tuned in fourths. 

This makes it easier for musicians who depend a lot on intuition. 

Figuring out how the instrument works shouldn’t take long thanks to this logic.   

Are ukelele and guitar chords the same?

Once again, chords are the same for every musical instrument. 

Now, focusing solely on ukelele and guitar, it is fair to mention that chord shapes are rather similar. 

What changes are the exact notes that are played on the chord. 

Let’s clarify this with an example. 

If you play an open G chord shape from a tenor ukelele, it will be an open D shape for guitar.

You can think of the guitar as being transposed a 5th up from the ukelele, or a 4th up (not considering the octave difference), although not all open chord shapes will translate due to the extra strings.

When in doubt, always ask a teacher (or any ukelele player you know) so he or she can advise you.