Tenor vs Baritone Ukulele
In this video we’ll take a look at the differences between tenor vs baritone ukulele.
To get started, let’s talk about some common elements that we should keep in mind when comparing instruments. When discussing tenor and baritone below, we’re always talking about low tuning. GCEA for tenor, and DGBE for baritone.
First, we should always consider the sustain of each instrument when we compare them. Sustain affects the character of the tone and how long notes last. A cheaply made instrument simply won’t have long sustain and the quality of the tone will sound brittle, lacking depth. To an extent this is true when comparing well-made tenor and baritone instruments. Baritones will in general have longer sustain with a more rich resonant tone. In Hawaii we call this “nahenahe” — laid back, sweet, and relaxed.
Are notes in tune the higher you play up the neck? For smaller bodied instruments like the tenor (and this is especially true of the soprano) notes don’t hold intonation as well higher up on the neck. The baritone, on the other hand, will keep tune better, even higher on the neck.
Because the strings are a bit looser on the baritone (due to the string or scale length) it is also easier to get vibrato on the baritone. This allows you to really get beautiful singing melodies on the instrument.
How to make your baritone sound like a tenor
But sometimes you may not want a deep, nahenahe sound. Sometimes you want the bright higher register of the tenor. But you can do this even if all you have is a baritone!
If you play a lot of tenor music but you only have access to the baritone, you can get the same sound by placing a capo on the 5th fret.
Which one should you get?
We recommend you invest in both. Even if you prefer one sound over the other, it can be great to have different instruments for different kinds of sounds. But let us know below: Which do you prefer?
We just launched a brand new course at Ukulele Corner Academy that features the baritone ukulele! This is a full course that teaches you to read notation on the baritone ukulele, with technique and musical exercises along the way as well. Want to learn more? Go here to find out much more about how you can become a member at Ukulele Corner Academy.