So, you want to learn how to play ukulele, but you’re not sure what uke to buy.
I’ve had a lot of questions from friends of mine and those of you who are looking to buy a ukulele. I wanted to look at a few things that are helpful to think about before buying your first ukulele. I also wanted to go over some recommendations for good beginner ukuleles.
I’d even love to get your insight in the comments. What tips would you give someone who is buying their first uke?
Here is some buying advice I’ve been giving my friends.
Borrow a Friend’s Ukulele
If you are just starting to learn ukulele, you might want to consider finding a friend, family member, or coworker who has a ukulele that you can borrow. Borrow it for a week or two, download my free ukulele lesson book, and see if you like playing the ukulele.
If you find out you hate it (which I highly doubt), then you’ve not spent a bunch of money, and you can continue about your life.
Consider Your Budget
I will say this. Those who put a financial investment into playing ukulele tend to be a bit more motivated to learn how to play. You want to get your money’s worth.
The great thing about learning how to play ukulele is that it’s not an expensive instrument to learn. You don’t have to break the bank. For around $50, you can get a decent and playable ukulele.
When you start looking at ukuleles, you’ll notice that the sky really is the limit in terms of price. This is why it’s important to set a budget for yourself so you don’t get lost in all your options. Most beginners can expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $200 for a good ukulele. For the most part, I can’t recommend buying anything cheaper.
So you might ask, “If you can get a good ukulele for $50, why would someone want to pay any more?” Good question.
As you go up in price range, you’ll be getting into ukuleles that are built with solid wood rather than laminate wood or plastic. As you go up in price, you might pay more for different types of woods. Different woods have different tonal characteristics. Some woods are rarer than others which also affects the price. More expensive ukuleles might be handmade or have finer detailing (e.g. pearl inlays). Some people pay more to have better tuners on their ukulele. All of these different things factor into the price of a ukulele.
Generally, you’ll pay more for better quality and craftsmanship. I say generally though because even though you go up in price, it doesn’t always mean the ukulele will be better made than one that’s cheaper. This is why it’s always important to play a lot of different ukuleles or at least read as many reviews online as you can.
As a beginner or newer player, you don’t need to break the bank. Because of how cheap you can get a good uke, you have no excuse not to get one! So let’s take a look at some good beginner ukes.
5 Best Ukuleles to Buy for Beginners
First off, I’m going to make a little disclaimer. I have not played all the ukuleles mentioned below. However, I can recommend them full heartedly based on feedback I’ve received from friends and from those of you who have emailed me or interacted in the comments area of Ukulele Tricks.
I also do a lot research and reading about ukuleles online in my free time, so these are some ukes that come up quite a bit. If I’m missing any really good suggestions, please say something in the comments below!
1.) Makala Dolphin Soprano Ukulele ($40)
This ukulele is the only exception to buying one under $50. Don’t let the price of this ukulele fool you. People everywhere online rave about these. While they are made out of plastic, they are said to have great tone and playability. You’ll definitely want to get some better strings, but once you do, it’ll sound great. This is a perfect ukulele for beginners on a budget or those who want a good “throw-it-in-your-backpack” ukulele.
2.) Lanikai LU-21 Soprano Ukulele ($79)
For those who don’t like the idea of having a plastic ukulele, this might be a better choice for you. It’ll still be a laminate wood ukulele, but it’ll have the “look” of the real thing. Depending on how hard you play, you might have to tune the strings often. You also might find that the intonation is not perfect higher up on the fretboard. For a beginner’s ukulele, these get great reviews and you can’t go wrong. Click here to learn more and buy the Lanikai LU-21 ukulele.
3.) Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele ($99)
I’ve had to include the Cordoba 15CM concert ukulele because of its outstanding reviews from everyone in the comments at the bottom of this post. This ukulele sports a mahogany top, back, and sides. In addition to a concert size, the Cordoba also comes in a smaller soprano size and a larger tenor size. Click here to learn more and buy the Cordoba 15CM concert ukulele.
4.) Kala KA-T Mahogany Tenor Ukulele ($120)
There have been quite a few comments below from people raving about these Kala ukuleles.
For those with bigger fingers or larger hands, you might find soprano ukuleles a bit hard to play. You might want to look at a tenor sized ukulele. I have a tenor ukulele and it feels really comfortable to play and hold with my bigger hands. This Kala tenor ukulele is a good choice. Kala is a world renowned ukulele maker. Click here to learn more and buy the Kala KA-T tenor ukulele.
5.) Lanikai S-T Solid Spruce Tenor Ukulele ($169)
This is a solid ukulele with a spruce top and mahogany back and sides. Rather than being a laminate, a solid wood ukulele will sound better with time and age. Spruce is a very stiff and lightweight wood which makes it have a very high velocity of sound. This means that at loud volumes it is very clear and full. The Lanikai S-T is great if you want a solid ukulele but are still on a budget. Click here to learn more and buy the Lanikai Solid Spruce Tenor ukulele.
What Ukuleles Do You Recommend?
There are many ukuleles out there that would suit a beginning player. I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg, and I know I’ve missed some other really great entry-level ukuleles out there. So, let’s hear your recommendations! Please post a comment below!