There is no doubt that the ukulele has become a far more popular instrument over the past few years. Indeed, an increasing number of instrument enthusiasts today are choosing to learn the ukulele. However, this also means that more and more people are becoming more curious about this fascinating instrument.
One of the more common questions we get is ‘how many strings does a ukulele have?‘. Well, if you’re considering learning the ukulele, it’s understandable that you’d want an answer to this. Good news, we’ve got you! In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the string system on a ukulele.
If you’ve ever seen a ukulele before, the first thing you may have noticed is its resemblance. That’s perfectly normal, but don’t let it fool you. The physical likeness is about the only similarity between the ukulele and the guitar. They don’t have the same number of strings, and they certainly do not share musical theories.
What, then, is the number of strings on a ukulele? Well, we’ll get to that in a few moments.
The Number of Strings On An Ukulele
Traditionally, the ukulele only has a set of four strings. However, over time, music enthusiasts and ukulele pros have added some variations to spice up the instrument’s sounds. However, this is not to say that these variations will beat a 4-string ukulele in terms of music quality. Indeed, many people will argue that a ukulele with four strings remains the best version.
Nevertheless, it is tough to argue with the fact that ukuleles with more than four strings can make playing very interesting. Bear in mind that four strings or not, the ukulele never has more than four rows of strings on its neck. Instead, it combines multiple strings on one row to achieve the increasing numbers. If you’re wondering ‘how many strings does an ukulele have,’ you should pay attention to the following paragraphs.
That said, when it comes to the number of strings on a ukulele, there are three popular numbers. Here is a listing of how many strings a ukulele can have:
- The standard four-string ukulele
- The six-string ukulele
- The eighth-string ukulele
Understandably, you’re probably wondering how manufacturers arrived at these string combinations and what they imply. Today’s your lucky day. In a few moments, we’ll share some insight into the implications of the different number of strings a ukulele possesses.
The Standard Four-string Ukulele
First off, the ukulele is not a smaller guitar. It is a separate instrument that shares a close likeness to the guitar. As such, the ukulele has its own unique string system and arrangement.
A standard has a set of four strings on four rows. Of course, there are now a few variations to this. But, as a beginner ukuleleist, it is usually best to start with the instrument’s four-stringed version. This way, you can develop an in-depth understanding of the instrument.
Unlike guitars, the keys on ukulele strings have G-C-E-A labeling from up to down. Typically, the thickest string stays on top while the thinnest one occupies the bottom. In other words, string thickness on the ukulele decreases from top to bottom.
This means that while tuning the ukulele, you tune the first and thickest string to the key G. Then, the next string takes the key C, the following string owns the key E, while the last and thinnest tunes to the key A. Moreover, the strings have a note range of one octave plus the major sixth (from middle C).
There is no doubt that the standard four-string ukulele produces one of the most beautiful sounds out there. However, if you’re looking for a higher strumming volume, perhaps you should look into ukuleles with more strings. They can also help if you’re looking to experiment with the sounds you create with a ukulele.
The Six-string Ukulele
Another interesting option for the ukuleleist trying to explore the instrument’s tone range is the six-string ukulele. Yes, this version of the ukulele has a total of six strings on four rows.
To make up its six-string count, this ukulele has double strings on two of its rows. It has a double octave on both its A and C strings. The unique additions of extra strings on these two rows really give the six-string ukulele a sound boost. Indeed, it produces a unique, appealing tone, not to mention a louder volume of play.
Besides, the double strings on the A string with a lower octave also add a richer bass to your instrument. In other words, when you strum a six-string ukulele, you’re likely to enjoy the lower tones better than on a regular model.
In case you’re worried about whether a six-string ukulele is more technical to play, there is no need to be. While it does take some time to get used to the double strings, the entire mechanics remains the same. In others, you play like you normally will on a regular ukulele while producing a more intriguing tone.
All in all, a ukulele with six strings is ideal for players looking to explore their range of music and melody. But, we don’t recommend it for beginners who are only just climbing up the ukulele ladder.
The Eight-string Ukulele
Here is another exciting variation of the standard ukulele. Like its six-stringed counterpart, this model also has double strings.
In the case of the eight-string ukulele, it has double strings on all its rows of greater playing volume. But, there is a twist — its G and C strings have double octaves. On the other hand, the strings in the E and A positions have the same pitch.
This variation of the strings on an eight-string ukulele gives a much fuller but jangly sound. If you’re trying to imagine what this sounds like, think about music from a mandolin. Many ukulele enthusiasts admit the sounds from an eight-string ukulele adds a unique spice to the music.
If you’re looking to try this model of the ukulele, here is some insight for you. On an eight-string baritone ukulele, strumming downwards will produce sounds closely resembling a DGBE-tuned guitar. On the flip side, if you strum upwards, you will utilize the double octave strings better and produce sounds more similar to a regular ukulele.
Playing the eight-string ukulele is relatively straightforward, especially since the chords are similar to the basic four-string version. However, if you master its strumming techniques, you will increase the range of tones you can produce. Indeed, the eight-string ukulele can help you add a blend of traditional folk to the sounds you produce.
Now that you know the number of strings a ukulele can have, the next question is ‘which one will you choose?’. If you’re still on the beginner level, the wise choice for you may be the standard four-string ukulele. This way, you can master the dynamics and mechanics of playing the ukulele on a traditional level.
However, if you’ve attained an in-depth understanding of the regular ukulele, then you may look to diversify your sounds. In this case, both the six-string and eight-string ukuleles are excellent options. So, you can make your choice depending on the range of tone you want to achieve.
Do you have further questions about the strings on a ukulele? Please let us know. We’d love to help.