When deciding which string instrument to learn, many people agonize over the decision of whether to learn the mandolin vs ukulele.
Both instruments have their pros and cons, but which one is the best fit for you?
Here’s a look at some of the key differences between these two popular instruments.
What is Mandolin?
Mandolin is a stringed musical instrument in the lute family. It is descended from the mandore, a soprano member of the lute family.
The mandolin soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections. A mandolin may have f-holes, or none.
Most modern mandolins have eight strings in four courses of two, this configuration is called an octave mandolin. Mandolins are played with a plectrum or pick.
The name “mandolin” derives from the Italian word mandolino, meaning “small mandola”.
The earliest known mandolin-like instrument, dating back to 1730, was a small, four-stringed, guitar-shaped body with a pear-shaped soundbox and pegbox positioned in the middle of the instrument like a violin.
These instruments, called mandolino or mandola in Italian, have six to eight strings in four courses, reentrant tuning (in which the two highest-pitched strings are not adjacent in pitch), and no frets.
By 1800 5 course instruments with some 6 single stringed cousins of the mandolin had appeared in Italy. These were called mandoloni. Around this time 4 course instruments began to be built in France also.
By mid-century Mandoloni were being produced with 8 courses as well as 5 and 6 course versions by companies such as Vincenzo Lavigna and Giuseppe Vinaccia in Naples, Italy and by luthiers such as Gaetano Vinaccia in Taranto.
These mandoloni had a rounded back similar to that seen on the modern mandolin, rather than the flat back of the earlier mandolins.
What is Ukulele?
The ukulele is a four-stringed Hawaiian musical instrument. It typically has a wooden body and is played with the fingers or a pick.
The ukulele originated in Hawaii in the late 19th century, and became popular in the United States during the early 20th century.
Today, it is generally considered a symbol of Hawaiian culture.
The word “ukulele” means “jumping flea” in Hawaiian, and was originally used to refer to a small stringed instrument brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants.
The instrument gained popularity among locals, and eventually became known as the “ukulele.” Ukuleles are now produced in a variety of sizes and styles, and are used in both traditional Hawaiian music and contemporary pop music.
Mandolin vs Ukulele: 5 Things To Know
When it comes to choosing between a mandolin and ukulele, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Here are five things to consider when making your decision:
1. Sound. The mandolin has a brighter, sharper sound while the ukulele has a softer, sweeter sound.
2. Size. The mandolin is larger than the ukulele, so if space is an issue, the ukulele may be the better choice.
3. Price. Mandolins can be quite expensive, so if you’re on a budget, the ukulele may be a better option.
4. Maintenance. The mandolin requires more maintenance than the ukulele, so if you’re not comfortable with upkeep, the ukulele may be a better choice.
5. Skill level. The mandolin is more difficult to play than the ukulele, so if you’re a beginner, the ukulele may be a better option.
Mandolin vs Ukulele: 5 Differences
1. String instruments in the lute family, mandolins and ukuleles both have four strings.
2. The mandolin is played with a pick, while the ukulele is strummed with the fingers.
3. Mandolins are tuned in fifths (like the violin), while ukuleles are tuned in fourths (like the guitar).
4. The mandolin has a much sharper, twangier sound than the ukulele.
5. The ukulele is a much smaller and more portable instrument than the mandolin.
Get more information on Guitar Vs Ukulele
If you are looking for a new instrument to learn, or want to know the difference between mandolins and ukuleles, read on.
We’ve outlined five key points that will help you decide if a mandolin or ukulele is right for you.
And don’t forget, we can always help with all your musical needs – from instruments to lessons!