Does Learning Ukulele Help With Guitar? (In-Depth)

Learning ukulele can make it easier to learn guitar later on, but don’t do it just to help with learning guitar.

If learning guitar is your main goal, then just start learning guitar. Spending weeks or months learning ukulele in

But if you plan to learn the ukulele for its own sake, and are wondering whether it will make the guitar easier to learn in the future, then yes there are some translatable skills and knowledge.

Throughout this article, we look at those skills and knowledge that are learned on the ukulele that would make learning guitar easier at a later date, as well as knowledge and skills that will not transfer between the two instruments.

Skills And Knowledge From Learning Ukulele That DO Transfer to Guitar

Given they are both stringed instruments, there is a range of practical and theoretical things they have in common.

Chord Shapes and Pitch Intervals

Though the chords may have different names, there are multiple chords that can be played in the same shape on the Ukulele as they can be on the guitar.

In addition to chord shapes, the pitch intervals between the string on the ukulele are the same as for the top four strings on the guitar.

Finger Dexterity

The ability to make the finger on your hand go in all different directions and stretch certain ways, and then rapidly change directions to a different formation is a key skill that will translate from ukulele to guitar.

Though the formation may be different, the skill of getting in to different formations is a skill in itself and will enable you to pick up guitar chord shapes quicker than if you had not done it before.

Also learning to do barre chords in a ukulele will help you learn how to do barre chords on a guitar.

Left/Right Co-Ordination

With both guitar and ukulele there is a strong degree of coordination required between your hands to make the picking and strumming hand, be impacting the same strings as the chord/playing hand.

If you get this coordination nailed on the ukulele, it will rapidly speed up your ability to pick up the guitar.

Tuning

If you develop the skills to tune your ukulele effectively, this skill will transfer to the guitar. Though it will of course require extra strings, the process is the same.

Skills and Knowledge From Learning Ukulele That DONT Transfer to Guitar

Though there are a huge number of things the ukulele helps you with, if you were to transition to guitar, there are some downsides and things that would require a significant adjustment to get used to.

Chord Shapes

Though I mentioned above there are some chords shapes that carry across both instruments there are also chords shapes that do not. So, many of the chords you learn for the ukulele do not translate to guitar and will not be useful.

Size/Ergonomics

Given the obvious size difference from a common ukulele to a guitar you will be used to holding a much smaller body, in a very different way, and your finger will be used to holding and positioning very differently on the very small and narrow neck.

It will take some adjustment to get used to the bigger body, heavier weight, and larger neck.

Light Action

The ukulele has a very light action, meaning it is very easy to press down the strings onto the fretboard.

Playing the guitar, especially a full-size steel-string guitar will take a whole lot more effort to push the strings down, and it will take your fingers some time to adjust to this extra pressure and develop the callouses and stronger skin required to do this consistently.

General Benefits Gained From Learning One Instrument That Help With A Second Instrument

There is a whole range of benefits that you gain from learning one instrument, that benefits you when applying yourself to an additional instrument.

Tonation and Music Theory

When you learn a particular instrument, you develop an ear for how things should sound. What kind of notes together sounds good, and what kind of notes together sound bad.

As you train your ‘ear’ further you develop rapid feedback mechanisms for yourself to quickly and easily correct yourself as you practice making your practice time much more effective.

Depending on the type of lessons you had you might have also been exposed to music theory and learned how chords are constructed.

This enables you to make chords on any instrument, once you know where the notes are, and can really speed up adaptation on a new instrument.

Rythm and Timing

Learning to play on time, and stay on time is a key skill for anyone wanting to take music seriously, and want to play with other people.

If you develop this ability to send the timing of a song and keep the timing of a song at a certain tempo, then the skills will go with you to any instrument you choose.

How To Apply Yourself

The dominant success factor in acquiring any skill, especially a musical instrument, is putting in the work.

If you develop the ability to apply yourself to one instrument, that strength and willpower will set you up for success on any instrument, and in fact, anything you want to accomplish.

Once you have a proven experience of the benefits of delayed gratification, it is so much easier to hang in there and do the work to achieve success in another endeavor.

How To Make Your Guitar Sound Like a Ukulele

It is actually possible to ‘reproduce’ the tonal aspects of a ukulele on a six-string guitar,

By placing a capo on the 5th fret, and only strumming strings 1-4, you have a situation that is tonally equivalent to the ukulele.

Follow Your Passion

The most important factor when deciding whether to choose Ukulele or Guitar as your instrument to learn first is your level of passion.

If you are madly passionate about guitars, then learn guitar and forget about the ukulele.

Likewise, if Ukulele gets you the most excited, then follow that passion.

The passion you have will have a far greater impact on how quickly and effectively you learn a new instrument, and get you over those initial learning hurdles, than trying to strategically decide which instrument might lead you into another instrument more smoothly.

FAQs

Is It Better to Learn Guitar or Ukulele First?

It does not matter whether you learn the ukulele or guitar first. Learning either will give you some skills and musical knowledge that will help you if and when you decide to learn to play the other instrument.

I would recommend choosing which one you are most interested in and passionate about as this will have the biggest influence on how hard and how long you practice, which will make the biggest difference to your progress with either instrument.

Is Ukulele Good for Learning Guitar?

If you have even basic ukulele skills, this will reduce your learning curve if you decide to learn the guitar. However, if the guitar is your priority then go straight to that.

There are insanely productive benefits of learning ukulele first, instead of guitar, that justify the time you will lose learning ukulele instead of guitar.

Do Ukulele Skills Transfer to Guitar?

Yes, there are many skills that you learn playing the ukulele that transfer to guitar.

Specifically, the ability to stretch and contort your fingers into weird shapes to play chords, ability to play in rhythm, and have trained your ears to know what notes sound good together and which ones do not.

Is Guitar Easy If You Know Ukulele?

The ability to play will still require considerable effort and determination, regardless of previous experience with the ukulele, but experience with the ukulele will come with some benefits.

If you have already had experience with the ukulele then your hands have more experience trying to stretch fingers in weird positions, your left and right hands have had experience trying to do different actions in co-ordination with each other, you should have developed a sense of tone and rhythm that will be assets to your guitar adventures and shorten the learning curve considerably.

Is Ukulele Easier Than Guitar?

Some people have found the ukulele easier to play than the guitar, but it is not a definitive fact.

The ukulele is a lot smaller, with smaller neck and frets, and while for some this makes it much easier to handle and learn to play, other bigger-bodied people have actually found ukuleles quite hard to play.

But body size aside, some people just naturally find ukulele easier, and others find guitar easier. It is a very subjective choice.

Can I Learn Ukulele Before Guitar?

Yes, you can learn the ukulele before you learn the guitar. Doing one or the other first will not make it harder to learn the other one at a later date. However, this should not be done ‘strategically’ to try and make the guitar learning experience easier.

Choose whichever instrument you are more passionate about and start learning that one first.

The passion you have for the instrument will be more influential on your learning experience and success with the instrument, than whether you chose to play the guitar or ukulele first.

Is Playing a Ukulele Similar to Guitar?

There are many similarities between playing the ukulele, compared to the guitar.

Of course, they are both string instruments, so one had has to get used to playing chords or notes, that you then pluck with your other strumming/picking hand.

in addition, many of the strumming styles, and techniques you learn, will be applicable to both instruments.

More practically the process of tuning and maintaining your instrument is similar, though of course, the guitar is at a larger scale.

Further Reading

https://www.stringvibe.com/from-ukulele-to-guitar/

https://passingchords.com/ukulele-vs-guitar

https://proaudioland.com/news/ukulele-can-make-better-guitarist/