I'm trying to decide whether it's a good idea to learn playing the guitar while I am also learning the ukulele.

I've been playing ukulele since about six months and I'm making really good progress. On the one hand, I'd like to add a guitar to the mix because it simply sounds in a way the ukulele can't and also it's a longtime dream of mine. On the other hand, at least in the beginning, the guitar is considered quite a bit harder than the ukulele and might keep me from becoming more proficient in playing the latter.

My main reason for the guitar would be the steel-strings, as I just love the sound of it, especially for strumming chords along to singing. I would then use the guitar mostly for this, and the uke for fingerpicking and more instrumental versions of songs, where I find this instrument to particularly excel.

Do you have any experience on this topic, any pro's and con's you would like to throw in? Maybe you have yourself attempted to learn both instruments, or maybe you've had reasons to rather go for a second ukulele (or guitar) instead of adding a somewhat different instrument. I'm really looking forward to your answers. Thank your very much for your time!

P.S. Going for a 2nd ukulele would actually be my alternative choice. However, this would be merely in order to have one with a low G string as well. Which at least some say is mandatory anyways if you wanna be all serious about the instrument (with Jake being the prominent exception).

3 Answers 3


I have absolutely no experience with guitar and ukulele at the exact same time, though I have played both at different times. But I have learned multiple instruments at the same time. Just don't have the expectation that doing one will make you better at the other. Even for instruments in the same family the skills are different. And if the tuning is different you muscle memory for chords and scale patterns will be different. So split your practice time equitably on both. There is no reason why you can't progress, even excel, on both. Why not mandolin or banjo? Or could those be next.

  • True. I am a guitar player and drummer but oddly enough I am learning piano and harmonica at the same time and it's fine. The tough part is giving equal time and dedication to each one because you tend to pick one you like better and practice that one. Jul 4, 2018 at 1:09
  • I fear that many guitarists will think uke, banjo, mandolin, are all trivial in comparison and don't require additional effort. It should be "easier" in theory to pick up instruments in the same class but it isn't automatic.
    – user50691
    Jul 4, 2018 at 1:15
  • I agree: 15 minutes a day, every day, on each instrument is a good recipe. Add more to taste. The important part is really to play a little each day.
    – ghellquist
    Jul 4, 2018 at 4:23
  • Why wouldn't being experienced in a [very!] similar instrument make you be able to learn to play another quickly? Are you saying professional guitarists would not be able to much more quickly learn how to play a ukulele as compared to a random person off the street (like a flutist)? Jul 4, 2018 at 4:45
  • When was that ever said?
    – user50691
    Jul 4, 2018 at 10:47

The guitar is a beautiful instrument that would certaintly be a great skill to learn. It does have disadvantages, of course, but it also has advantages.

Pros of learning Guitar:

  • As you mentioned, metal strings are cool
  • Covers a lower frequency range than ukulele
  • With more strings comes more notes, and more chord options
  • Lots of genres use guitar
  • People will stop asking "Have you ever considered learning guitar?" as if an ukulele is a guitar with training wheels (I hate this).
  • More strings means more interesting patterns for fingerpicking
  • Larger Range than an ukulele
  • Since guitar is more popular, plenty of people know lots about it; therefore, learning is more accessible
  • If you ever need to borrow one, many people have one lying around somewhere.
  • Generally, it would make one a multi-instrumentalist, which is cool and useful.
  • Knowing both instruments could allow you to collaborate with yourself, and the combination of guitar and ukulele is pretty sweet.
  • As I'm sure you know, the ukulele's strings are a transposition of the highest four guitar strings, so vocabulary on one generally transfers to the other
  • Guitars are bigger, and consequently playing harmonics are easier.
  • OP seems to wish to learn the basics of guitar playing, which from what I understand shouldn't be too difficult if OP is dedicated and willing.

Cons of learning Guitar:

  • Guitar has (usually) metal strings, which not only will hurt at first, they take a while to get used to.
  • The lower frequencies of the guitar cause it to be written an octave above where it sounds, a slight obstacle in reading sheet music
  • More strings means that it requires one to learn how to mute strings, something one never has to learn on ukulele. Additionally, using more fingers more often is typical for chords on guitar.
  • The larger range of the guitar means that one must be more aware or what part of the range one is playing in.
  • Hate to say this, but with more playing guitar, there will be a lot of people that are just demoralizingly better than one, which will sting a little. Still, that shouldn't matter.
  • If one bills oneself as a guitarist and an ukulele player, the assumption is that one is just a guitarist playing on an ukulele, That said, it'd be interesting to see OP going from the other direction, which to my understanding is somewhat rare in comparison.
  • Because the ukulele strings are transposed from the guitar's strings, it can be confusing to see that your ukulele G chord, for example, is a guitarist's D chord. Especially if one has perfect pitch.
  • The size of the guitar is prohibitive for traveling, and in general more awkward if one is used to an ukulele.
  • Guitars and ukuleles are both expensive, especially of high quality, but guitars tend to be more expensive than ukuleles.
  • Learning any new instrument, no matter how similar, will be a challenge, no doubt, but not an unmanageable one.

A few concluding thoughts: The ukulele and the guitar are both great instruments. There certaintly is a beauty in the sound of a strummed guitar, and metal strings are cool. OP does mention that the main reason was for the metal string sound. I actually have an ukulele that has a metal C-string, and I know that companies make metal low G strings as well, so consider that guitar is not the only way to get the metal string sound. However, it sounds like playing guitar is something of a childhood dream that can be realized, and for that alone (plus numerous others) I would agree with OP choosing to learn the guitar. I do hope that this helps OP in his/her musical endeavors, whether they be inclusive of guitar playing or not.

  • Thanks for your really extensive answer. There are a lot of thoughts in there that should play a huge role in the decision making process. And btw, people will never stop making fun of the ukulele. But actually this instrument isn't any easier than the guitar in the long run (just at first). And people are much more astonished to see what this "little" instrument is capable of, while they're already expecting everything from the guitar. In my mind, the ukulele is capable of a much bigger surprise. Yet both instruments complement each other, so there's actually no reason to make fun of any.
    – ALE
    Jul 4, 2018 at 17:16

As long as you approach this learning process from a broad, open-minded point of view, YES. You should most definitely learn the guitar along-side the uke.

Both are stringed instruments. They are (potentially, usually) tuned differently, yes. And there is the size difference.

But from the perspective of a person learning instruments with the goal of performing live in front of people? You can't go wrong here.

You may as well throw in the mandolin also. Different groove, different set-up, different tuning. But a commonality of purpose and physical dynamic.

There is a potential for a symbiotic, growing, learning goodness here. And in that, an intuitive absorption of music theory, without the proper classes on music theory.

I say GO FOR IT.

  • Thanks for your answer! I believe in the synergy as well. Even though not everything is the same, there are similarities that might become useful. If it at least gives me a little head start, I'd be glad. Because the first time I tried guitar I thought like: My hands will never ever be able to do anything like that. Ever. Same with the ukulele, but I sticked longer with it and now at least the basics seem so easy in retrospect. Though because of the wider frets and 2 more strings it'll probably take much longer to get to your first song than on ukulele. Also it seems you need more bar chords.
    – ALE
    Jul 4, 2018 at 17:10

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