Differences between a Ukulele and a Cuatro

Ukulele and cuatros are basically sibling instruments. They are similar, so people who are not from Latin American countries, like Venezuela or Colombia, tend to be confused with both. If you’re just getting started, don’t worry, you didn’t miss the boat.

Here we will explain the differences between both musical instruments, and you’ll find out whether you can play cuatro songs with a ukulele and vice versa.

About the Cuatro and the Ukulele

No matter where you are, a cuatro will always represent a part of the Venezuelan culture. It belongs to the guitar family, and it is used in most Latin American countries, especially Colombia and Venezuela, as it is part of its folklore. Its name, “cuatro,” comes from the fact that it has four strings.

The ukulele, on the other hand, is part of Hawaii’s folklore. It has four strings, too, although there are different ukulele types that have up to six strings. Ukuleles evolved throughout the XX century, and now more types of instruments that belong to this family, such as the banjolele, exist. 

The most famous ukulele has the standard tunning: G, C, E, A. You can tune a ukulele very similar as you would so for a guitar.

Both of these music instruments have a lot of things in common, including being a significant part of each culture.

But you’re not here to learn history! These music instruments are interesting, so you’re probably wondering whether you can play cuatro songs in a ukulele and vice versa. Lucky for you, it is possible!

Playing Cuatro songs in a Ukulele and vice versa.

Although both instruments share some differences, you similarly press the chords. However, doing the same techniques in both musical instruments will result in two different chords. It’s important to consider when you’re trying to learn how to position your fingers correctly.

Main differences between a Cuatro and a Ukulele

  • Ukuleles and cuatros have different sizes and sounds. However, the tunning for each one is different. A ukulele’s external strings are high, while those same notes belong to the cuatro’s interior strings.
  • There are four types of ukulele, including Soprano, Tenor, Concert, and Baritone. On the other hand, there is only one type and size for all cuatros.

How to play Cuatro songs in a Ukulele

You’ll need to practice your Spanish a bit if you want to learn how to play cuatro songs. Although it’s not challenging to follow instructions by identifying sounds, you’ll have difficulty finding good cuatro tutorials in English. But don’t worry! Latin American musicians are excellent teachers.

You can find excellent cuatro song tutorials on websites like tucuatro. If you’re a visual learner – we’re sorry to inform you that, due to search engine issues, it’s a bit difficult to find “cuatro” and “ukulele” tutorials together without millions of results 4-chord songs. And before you ask, no, a 4-chord song is not necessarily from a cuatro.

However, you can start by learning how to tune your ukulele like a cuatro by watching this video!