When you start out looking for a beginner ukulele, you might feel a little confused. There are a wide variety of entry-level ukes, manufactured by a range of different companies. But what you’ll want to know is this:
- What companies are best at producing quality at low prices?
- What is the least amount of money I need to spend to get a decent beginner uke?
- What should I avoid when shopping?
Let’s try to answer these points briefly.
The Basic Options For Beginners
At a simplified level, from cheapest to more expensive, your options are:
- An unbranded, uber-cheap ukulele. Basically a ‘toy’. Avoid! Because for very little extra you can get a…
- Mahalo U-30, a great little beginner ukulele, available in a range of colors. Currently sells for just over 20 bucks! Ideal for novices, casual music player and kids. See it here on amazon.
- Next up are models such as the Makala MK-S Soprano and Lanikai LU-21 Soprano. These currently come in at around 40 and 60 dollars respectively. These models are up there as the most recommended models for a beginner. Why? Most importantly, the quality is great for the price. There are a lot of reviews from satisfied buyers to testify to the consistent quality from these brands.
Lanikai and Kala are famous for producing clean and playable instruments. As they are companies that make more expensive, higher quality ukuleles, they do not want to risk their reputations selling junk, even with their budget models. These models are ideal for beginners, easy to play and they feel nice and solid.
What Size of Ukulele to Begin With?
A note on the sizes of ukuleles. There are four basic sizes: baritone, tenor, concert and soprano. The original ukulele was the soprano, followed closely by the concert-sized unit. The concert-sized features a larger body and a 15-inch scale length that helps to deliver more volume and a deeper tone, while still being able to maintain that distinguishable ukulele sound.
Most beginners are advised to choose the soprano size or concert size. We recommend the soprano size for most younger beginners and kids. But if you are an adult or have big hands, maybe go for concert sized, e.g. the Lanikai LU-21 Concert, as the soprano may be too ‘fiddly’ to handle.
Details on Strings
Lanikai and Kala ukes feature an Aquila Nylgut string set. These brand of strings are very popular due tho their premium quality and affordability. Aquila Nylguts produce a deep and mellow tone, much superior to the budget strings on basic models. so Having good strings is a major plus point, but even if you get the most basic (Mahalo) uke, you can cheaply upgrade the strings later to really enhance the sound.
No matter what strings you get, they will need regular tuning, especially when new…
The Importance of Tuning
Most beginners have the tendency to ignore the importance of tuning their instruments. Even the best beginner ukuleles can go out of tune quickly, as uke strings are very stretchy. If not regularly re-tuned, the lack of quality sound can put the beginner off playing. So when you buy a new instrument (or new strings) expect to spend a fair amount of time at the start re-tuning.
The tuning machines or tuners are one of the most important elements of any uke.
Lanikai and Kala feature high quality die cast tuners. What does this mean for you? Well, they are durable and offer a smooth tuning action. Beware of cheap beginner ukuleles as their tuning machines can be frustratingly poor.
When deciding on a beginner ukulele it is best to stick to one of the known and well-reviewed brands. Think Kala (or Makala) and Lanikai.
If you want to purchase the best beginner ukulele you should consider buying a well renowned brand. One that has a great reputation and good reviews. You could start out really cheaply (around $20) for a mahalo. This is fine for kids or if you just want a very basic uke.
Look through our reviews (links on the right) for much more info.
Why are these models gerat for newbies? These are among the best products on the market. They are likely to make your introduction to playing the ukulele a great learning experience. And more importantly an enjoyable hobby that you’ll stick at!
Further reading: Have a look at our list of the top ten selling ukueles on Amazon for more options. Most of these models come highly recommended for a beginner ukulele.