I've been playing guitar for a long time now, going on 15 years. Anybody who has taken the time to learn can tell you that your fingers don't like it for the first several weeks. I played/pressed on my guitar for around 2 hours each day. My fingers were close to bleeding several times, and I became very used to putting ice on my finger tips.
I'm not that old, but that was before the wonders of modern streaming services. I would listen to CDs my family had, or the radio, and try to figure things out by ear. I started playing on giant acoustic guitars. The action was sky high, and the body was thicker than me. Now some might say that it made me a better player in the long run. That it gave me thick skin (literally) to play anything that I desired. I would say that those people are wrong. Learning on those (unfriendly) acoustic guitars hindered my ability to play much of anything in the early days. It wasn't until my dad got me my first electric guitar amp combo from a pawn shop that I really started playing much of anything but pain.
I have taught hundred of kids and adults over the years now. I can say with a good bit of certainty that the way I had to go about things really wasn't the best way. I send the vast majority of my older kids to electric guitar first, but so many of my younger students are into ukulele.
What's not to like about the ukulele? It's small and easy to hold with plastic (nylon) strings and only four of them on top of that. Those Hawaiians really knew what they were doing. Now I'm not going to go into the history of the Ukulele because that's not what this blog is for. I'm here to say that if you think the best way to get into amazing guitar playing is to murder your fingers at first, you're wrong.
It doesn't take a genius or a rocket scientist to see that the Ukulele (Uke) and guitar look almost identical. Apart from the obvious size and pitch gap the overall dexterity and knowledge required to play both instruments is constant. Both require a knowledge of frets and tuners. Both require a knowledge of tabs and chord charts, but the finger stress in the beginning is significantly reduced on the ukulele.
Most people that play guitar tend to look down on the Uke as a somewhat inferior instrument. Mainly this is because of the number of songs written for it versus the guitar for example. If you are comfortable with a slight octave change from time to time the number of songs you can play on the Ukulele is virtually the same as guitar. I've done everything from AC/DC to John Williams on the Uke, and although you may have to get creative with your four strings, it's definitely possible. Ukulele can definitely keep up, and it's far from inferior.
I get several little girls a month coming to me asking for guitar lessons. Some of these already have delightful little Baby Taylors to play on, and believe me I love those little guitars. Taylor could make toilet paper and it would still play wonderfully. An interesting thing happens, however, when I hand them a Uke instead. It's like you can't help but smile when you play one. Somehow it instantly transports you to a far off beach sipping Piña Coladas.
I'd say that 8 times out of 10 that students will switch to Uke for good portion of time. The guitar will always be there, and often it's an endgame instrument for those Uke players desperate for those Johnny Cash acoustic tones.
I'm not trashing electric guitar, and it's still one of my favorite instruments to play by far. Although often overlooked the Ukulele offers a plethora of knowledge and dexterity to players who want the callouses without the hassle. So pick up a Uke, take a sip, and enjoy the sweet sweet sound of the beach.