Ukulele Terminology for Beginners

BridgeA wooden ukulele on a sofa, waiting to be played.
The bridge is the part of the ukulele that’s attached to the body, near the soundhole, and holds the saddle (see below). It’s often made of a darker wood to the rest of the ukulele and holds the ends of the strings in place.
Fretboard or Fingerboard
The fretboard is the part of the neck (see below) where you place your fingers to make different notes. It’s divided into multiple frets from the body to the head of the ukulele and is made of a smooth wood, often rosewood, so your hands can move easily up and down it.
Frets
Frets are the lines, usually metal, across the fretboard (see above). Pressing between the frets effectively changes the length of the vibrating part of the string, to make higher and lower notes. Each fret represents a semitone, therefore an octave consists of twelve frets, and the frets get gradually closer together towards the ukulele body.
Koa
Koa is a tall tree native to Hawaii, and its wood is traditionally used to make ukuleles in Hawaii and elsewhere. Due to extensive logging it has become harder to obtain and more expensive. To address this problem there are reforestation programmes such as Reforest Hawaii, as well as ukulele manufacturers offering various other woods such as mahogany, spruce and mango.
Luthier
From Wikipedia, “a luthier is someone who builds or repairs string instruments generally consisting of a neck and a sound box”. Some luthiers who focus on guitars, for example, may also be comfortable working on ukuleles, but it’s recommended to look for a ukulele specialist if you can.
Neck
The neck is the long thin part of the ukulele from the body to the head, which has the fretboard (see above) on one side. Whereas the body is hollow so sound can reverberate, the neck is solid to provide strength for the tension of the strings.
Nut
The nut, similar to the saddle (see below) supports the strings so they’re lifted off the ukulele. It’s usually white and is situated at the top of the fingerboard before the strings connect to the tuners. Although they’re mostly made of plastic, on some expensive or vintage models they may be crafted from bone or a hardwood such as ebony. The height of the nut is important. If you’re finding the strings hard to press then it may be because the nut is too high. On the other hand, if the strings sometimes make a buzzing sound then it may be because the nut is too low.
Pick or Plectrum
A small flat tool used to pluck or strum the ukulele (or guitars, etc.). It’s usually made of plastic or wood, or sometimes leather or felt for a softer, more mellow sound. Regular picks are flat and held between the forefinger and thumb, but there are also thumb picks and finger picks which are placed over the finger tip. Note that using a pick is personal preference — there are players who always use a pick, players who never use a pick, and many players in-between!
Re-entrant tuning
There are various ways to tune a ukulele (see Ukulele String Notes for an explanation) but the most common worldwide is called “re-entrant” or standard “C” tuning. Re-entrant in this case means the top string (closest to the ceiling) is actually higher than the next string down, unlike other string instruments such as the guitar and violin.
Saddle
Similar to the nut (see above), the saddle lifts the strings away from the ukulele and is found on the body of the ukulele, near the sound hole. The saddle sits or slots on the bridge (see above) and is held in by the pressure of the strings pushing down on it. Like the nut, the saddle is usually made of plastic, although sometimes bone or hardwood, and can also be adjusted to change the overall height of the strings for better playability.