There isn’t a whole lot of difference between soprano and concert ukuleles – only a couple of inches. But those two inches do change how the ukulele feels and how you play it.
Advantages of a Concert Ukulele
The biggest advantage of the concert ukulele, as far as I’m concerned, is the extra bit of room you get to move your fingers. When I play, I like to be able to switch between finger picking and strumming. But I sometimes find that when I’m playing a soprano my fingers trip over each other. I find the extra space on the concert – even though there isn’t much extra – does make a difference and I can play more comfortably.
There is, in theory, a margin gain in the volume and tone of a concert ukulele. In practice, the little difference there is pales in comparison to other factors such as wood and quality of construction.
Advantages of a Soprano Ukulele
There’s nothing quite like strumming away on a soprano. It feels like the most natural instrument in the world for that purpose.
Sopranos are also more widely available and are often cheaper than concert ukuleles. This is particularly true at the budget end of the spectrum. If you’re looking to buy a ukulele for under $50, then you’ll have much more choice with sopranos than you will with concerts.
Which is Better for a Beginner?
I think the answer to this question depends on the beginner’s intentions and preferences.
If you feel like you aren’t looking to get serious about the ukulele and will primarily just be strumming, the soprano ukulele is likely the best choice.
If you feel like you might want to get more serious and leave yourself open to more complex playing, the concert size is probably best.
It would probably be a good idea to try out multiple soprano and concert ukuleles (at a uke shop or friend’s ukuleles) to really get a feel for each. This is generally good advice for picking a specific brand/model too.
Which Is My Favorite?
It depends on the situation, but generally I prefer concert ukuleles. That’s more to do with my playing style than anything else.
Whichever you decide on, have fun playing your soprano/concert ukulele. And remember there is only one real solution: buy one of each!