Best Beginner’s Ukulele Review – Top Rated Models in 2019 with Buying Guide
If you are looking for the best beginner ukulele and want to find the best product available but don’t have the time to go through each option, the following short paragraph should give you a helping hand. After a careful analysis of the quality and value that each critically acclaimed products in this line offer, we have come to the conclusion that the Luna Guitars UKETCMAH is the one you should consider. What’s great about this option is the fact that it can be used as a starting point for beginners and due to the high quality that it offers, you will be able to continue using this product even after you’ve gained some skills. It uses some of the most durable and good looking materials allowing you to stand out when you’re using it. Most importantly, it will provide you with clear and resonate sounds. If the Luna Guitars UKETCMAH is unavailable, we recommend you bear the Hape E0317 in mind.
Our Top Choice
Beginners need an instrument that offers clear sounds and can be played with ease. This model was designed with such needs in mind. Ideal for beginners mainly but good enough to try even if your skills are more advanced, the unit features a mahogany neck that boasts a Hawaiian laser tattoo design. This means you will get the performance a novice needs as well as cool visuals.
This model is a good option for beginners or people with less experience.
Start your ukulele journey with this model and you will enjoy a clear sound and a design that will add to your performance.
Specifically designed for junior players, this model will not only entice your kid into playing through its fun and colorful design but will also allow your little one to do so easily. The sound it creates is impressive and will help kids learn basic musical techniques such as strumming and rhythm. Plus, the unit features a non-toxic finish and materials that are child safe.
A few customers say the build is not that sturdy and pieces may break.
Encourage your kid to explore the sonic capabilities of this instrument with a model that is both visually and sonically enchanting.
Completely manufactured by hand, this acoustic tenor ukulele is committed to delivering both durability and sonic quality. The mahogany top, back, and sides will make sure the item is ready to keep up with extended sessions and the player enjoys a quality sound. The item comes with various accessories so you can start playing right away.
The product had no negative reviews at the time of our research.
Ideal for beginners and advanced players alike, this uke is made to perform and last. Consider it to up your experience.
5 Best Ukulele for Beginners (Reviews) in 2019
To help you find the best ukulele for beginners that will allow you to perform your favorite ukulele songs, we have showcased some of the most popular options below. These options have garnered some of the best reviews and stand out due to their quality, ease of use and affordability.
Best beginner’s ukulele
- 1. Luna Concert Ukulele with Tattoo Lazer Etched Design
- 2. Hape HAP-E0317 Guitar Blue
- 3. Cordoba 20TM Tenor Ukulele Guitar Vault Package
- 4. Lanikai LU-21 Soprano Ukulele Bundle with Gig Bag
- 5. Mahalo Ukulele MK1 TBR
- Yearly Guide & Report
- Things you should know about ukuleles
- Ukulele vs. Guitar – Which one should you learn to play?
- Best ukulele brands
- How Much Do Ukuleles Cost?
1. Luna Concert Ukulele with Tattoo Lazer Etched Design
If you are looking to start playing this amazing instrument for the very first time you need to make sure that you get the best product for the job. The Luna Guitars UKETCMAH is just that, an option that offers some of the best quality available without you having to spend a lot to get it. You will of course also get a product that can boast clear sounds, and that is easy to tune.
What’s even better is the fact that since this is an option that is suitable for beginners but that can also adapt easily to your newly learned skills. This means that even when you become a more advanced player, you will still be able to use this product. This is great because you will not only save money but also time as you won’t need to reacquaint yourself to another product.
Because looks play a part in any purchase, you will love the mahogany neck that features a Hawaiian laser tattoo design.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($99)
Best ukulele for kids
2. Hape HAP-E0317 Guitar Blue
There’s no better way to convince your kid to give playing an instrument a chance than by purchasing one that is purposely designed to keep them interested. The Hape E0317 is the perfect tool that your kid needs to get his or her first taste of the uke. It features a fun and colorful design that will instantly captivate their attention.
The sounds that the Hape E0317 creates are also impressive, and they will encourage your kids to be more creative and explore the richness of sounds that this option has to offer. Your children will be able to learn the basic musical techniques such as rhythm and strumming, allowing you to see if playing the uke is something that they would want to pursue without having to spend a fortune on an instrument.
Because the primary thing to consider when buying anything for your kids is safety, the Hape E0317 uses a non-toxic finish and only materials that are child safe. Rest assured that your child will have fun without you having to fear for their safety.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($29.22)
Best ukulele under $200
3. Cordoba 20TM Tenor Ukulele Guitar Vault Package
Finding an instrument that boasts both quality sound and build is not the easiest task, but Corboda seems to have found the perfect formula with the Corboda 20TM. This acoustic tenor ukulele is manufactured completely by hand which means that each product has been carefully built so that you only get the best technology money can buy.
The solid mahogany top, back, and sides are not only beautiful to look at but also gives the Corboda 20TM improved durability. The handcrafted nature of the device means that finding imperfections is out of the questions, each part of the body is carefully put together so that you end up with an instrument that is sturdy and only offers the best sounds.
To make things even better, you also get an assortment of accessories that are a must-have for both beginner and advanced players. The tuner will allow you to tune your instrument fast and easy. The polishing cloth will keep your product looking good, and the Cordoba Gig Bag will help in storing and transporting your uke.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($209.99)
Best ukulele under $100
4. Lanikai LU-21 Soprano Ukulele Bundle with Gig Bag
If you’re looking for a quality option that will not cost you a lot, then the Lanikai LU21S-COMBO-STD is the perfect choice for beginners especially since aside from its quality, it also features a plethora of accessories meant to help beginners. This Soprano size alternative can boast an impressive range of sounds that are both clear and loud but that are never unpleasant to the ear.
For beginners, the Lanikai LU21S-COMBO-STD is the go-to product as it includes an Austin Bazaar instructional DVD that will help you learn the basics as well as some new tips that will help you learn to play your new instrument. You also get a clip-on-tuner that will help keep your instrument in tune and sounding better than ever.
That’s not all; this alternative will save you even more money as you also get a polishing cloth and a gig bag included in your purchase. The gig bag, in particular, is extremely useful and will save you some time since you’ll no longer need to find a bag that fits the size of your purchase.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($79.99)
Best ukulele under $50
5. Mahalo Ukulele MK1 TBR
What is great about the Mahalo Ukuleles MK1TBR is that you get one of the most affordable product on the market without having to worry that you’ll trade quality for a lower price. It is a great purchase for people that want to try playing this instrument for the first time but are not yet ready to commit fully by picking expensive instruments.
The sound that the Mahalo Ukuleles MK1TBR produces is clear and beautiful; it never sounds unpleasant. The gear tuners will allow you to tune your instrument quickly and easily, though for a beginner you might need to ask a bit of help in this regard.
The design is simple but in no way bad looking as the semi-gloss finish gives it a classic and quality feel and look. The fingerboard and the bridge use mahogany. You don’t normally see manufacturers offering free accessories with affordable products, but the Mahalo Ukuleles MK1TBR includes a carrying bag that will undoubtedly come in handy.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($29.95)
When playing any instrument, there comes a time when you need certain accessories to improve your experience or just maintain your product in pristine condition. Below we have a list of some accessories that can come in handy.
Best ukulele strings
Aquila Super Nylgut
Whether you want to improve the sound of your instrument or just replace some old strings that have lost some of their edge, the Aquila Super Nylgut AQ-100 is the perfect choice for you.
This set of 4 strings features the latest and most advanced synthetic gut that allows for improved playability and an incredibly smooth playing surface.
They are also less stretchy than the previous generation, and this allows for an improved tuning stability. You will no longer need to tune your product as frequently as you did before as these strings will stay in position for longer.
The Nylgut strings were in fact invented by Aquila, and ever since they have become the standard in the industry, this means that by choosing this option you are guaranteed the highest-quality product available. As far as color goes, this option comes in a beautiful natural pearl color that is as soft to the touch as it looks.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($11.95)
Best ukulele case
For when you need to store and transport your newly bought ukulele, the Stagg GCX-UKS GD Deluxe a stylish and high-quality alternative that is worth considering. It is built to accommodate instruments that come in soprano sizes, and as long as you don’t have a product that has unusual shapes, you shouldn’t have any problems using this case.
The hard-shell cover is not only durable, but it is also sturdy enough to keep your ukulele in one piece. Say goodbye to the constant fear of damaging your favorite and expensive instrument as this case will keep it firmly in place. The durable build will also keep the case from getting damaged so that it can look like new even after many long journeys.
Speaking of looks, this one is quite a joy to look at. It features a gold tweed covering that together with the leather lining make this product quite a stylish alternative. As a plus, the inside compartment allows you also to store additional accessories.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($44.95)
Best ukulele strap
Playing and holding your favorite instrument will never be as comfortable as it is when using the Neotech 8001002. This neoprene strap is built with a weight reduction system which means that the weight of the instrument will be evenly distributed so that your body can support that weight in a more efficient way that is less straining for you and thus more comfortable.
The Neotech 8001002 is also extremely easy to use as it uses a straightforward design that is not needlessly complicated. You can attach it to your instrument easily, and you can disconnect it just as easily due to the use of a quick-release leather tab combined with a strap pin.
The soft nylon webbing makes the strap feel more comfortable especially in the neck area that needs additional protection. You can also adjust the length of the strap until you find the most comfortable setup. You get an adjustable range that ranges between 36’’ to 46’’.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($21.43)
Best ukulele cover
Cordoba Deluxe Tenor
Keeping your ukulele safe when traveling is now easier than ever with the help of the Cordoba Deluxe Tenor. This heavy-duty cover is built to last and is ready to face everything you put ahead of it, all while also keeping your instrument protected. Be ready to travel more than ever without having to fear the weather as the nylon denier makes this alternative water resistant.
This product is built to house tenor ukuleles, and it can work with numerous brands as long as the instruments follow the classic design and come in a tenor size. You also get a large zipper pocket that you can use to store accessories or anything that you desire.
You can hold the cover by hand or use the shoulder strap system if you want to wear it in a backpack style. Whichever style you use, you are guaranteed to get a comfortable experience, the weight of the product will be evenly distributed so that you don’t get winded when you have to carry the bag over long distances.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($29.99)
Best ukulele learning books
Hal Leonard Ukulele Method Book 1 by Lil’ Rev
If you’re looking for a good book to help you understand the basics of playing the ukulele, Hal Leonard Ukulele Method Book 1 by Lil’ Rev is the perfect place to start. This comprehensive book contains all the useful information you need in a short and easy to understand format that seeks to make even the absolute beginner get the hang of what it takes to play this amazing instrument.
Looking to provide quality over quantity, this book features short guides that are rich in information. It also uses detailed images to help explain how to finger the chords for each note so that you can end up learning to play full songs as quickly as possible.
Whether you use it alone or with a tutor, this book is fun enough to allow you to easily grasp the basic techniques in no time, suitable even for the very young or inexperienced students. Each chapter progresses naturally so that you are never frustrated by the amount of information that is presented.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($6.35)
Other types of ukes you should check out
Best bass ukulele
Luna UKE BASS TAT
If you’re looking for a good bass ukulele that can offer a great sound that is rich and beautiful, the Luna UKE BASS TAT is the option that you should consider. When plugged into an amplifier the instrument will sound just as good, if not better, and there are no hums or buzzes for you to worry about. You get a clear sound that does not have any sorts of distortions.
The body is made out of quality mahogany that does not only look good, but that will also add further durability to your purchase. You also get a beautiful tattoo design with a stunning gloss black model. This model comes equipped with Luna preamps, and unlike other bass alternatives, this option will sound great even without amplification.
This 21’’ short scale instrument also features flat wound strings that are tuned to E-A-D-G just like a traditional bass guitar but with one octave up so that you get only the best sound.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($199)
Best concert ukulele
If you’re on the lookout for a good concert sized instrument, the Alvarez AU70C is guaranteed to provide you with a good experience due to its high-quality build and the clear and beautiful sounds that it boasts. This option is extremely responsive and can provide good projection and a great tone and volume.
What makes Alvarez products stand out is the way in which they are constructed. Only the best materials are used, and this shows when considering just how durable each model is. They use a dovetail neck joint for optimal strength and a better transfer of energy between the neck and body.
The appearance is also a good selling point for this option as it offers a stylish design that does not use fancy graphics but that looks good, and that gives an impression of professionalism. The Alvarez AU70C also features a mahogany neck, premium closed back tuners and a real bone nut and saddle.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best Baritone ukulele
The Cordoba 24B is a premium product that offers great quality at a price that is hard to beat, especially after you consider its many features. The sound that this option boasts is very resonant and deep that features its own particular tones so that you can make every song feel unique.
The solid cedar top is paired with a spalted maple back and sides that makes this option one that is durable and light. Carrying this ukulele is easy and comfortable as the whole weight is evenly distributed so that even when you’re playing, you won’t feel bothered by it in any way.
The spalted maple bright and clear tone is combined nicely with the qualities of the solid cedar top that makes this product stand out with the help of the beautiful and warm design. The design is also helped by the satin finish that makes the product not only look better but also feel soft and pleasant to the touch.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($229)
Alternative design ukulele
Jameson Guitars 5-String Banjo
Are you looking for a unique instrument to really stir your appetite for music? The Jameson Guitars 5-String Banjo is a product that customers love, and once you’ve seen the quality and features that it poses, you’re going to love it too. If you’re an amateur or a working pro, this alternative is a perfect choice, and it can also be bought as a gift for any musician.
The one thing that makes this model stand out from the other alternatives out there is the fact that it comes with features that you’d expect to see only on much more expensive products. It features a 5th string tuner that will help you, both in tuning and playability.
The Jameson Guitars 5-String Banjo does not only sound good, but it also looks good too. The looks are not there just to make the product pleasant to the eye, they also play an important part in the performance and quality of this option. The mahogany resonator and neck will add further durability to your purchase.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($154.95)
The Yamaha GL1BL is a unique mini 6-string nylon guitar that comes in a similar size to that of a baritone ukulele, but that plays like a standard tune guitar. This product is a great way to spice up your collection of instruments by adding this great looking alternative that also sounds great.
You are guaranteed to be the center of attention with this stylish product that does not only impress due to its looks. You will be able to tune the strings easily with the help of the gear tuners that makes tuning possible with just a pull of a finger. The nuts that hold the strings are also of great quality so that you don’t risk the chance of the strings getting loose.
To make storing and transporting the Yamaha GL1BL possible without you having to make an additional purchase, you get a gig bag included with your purchase. This accessory is even more useful if you tend to travel often.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($141.73)
Yearly Guide & Report
Finding a good ukulele can be a difficult task especially if you are short on time and going through all the options available is simply not possible. In order to help simplify things for you and to allow you to identify what are some good ukulele brands, we have compiled this useful buyer’s guide for you.
When creating this guide, we have looked carefully at what experience players and customers had to say about the process of finding and buying the perfect uke. By gathering all this essential information in one place, you will be able to find the best instrument in no time, saving you some time and leaving more for you to play your favorite uke songs.
Consider quality and brand when making your first purchase
It is normal when looking to buy any product for our eyes to fall on the cheapest alternatives. The thing that we often don’t consider is that price means nothing if what we get is a product that can’t function in the way we want it to work. In order to make sure that you get only the best products, you need to be careful and try to settle only for the best.
Of course, this does not mean that you can’t go for a cheap alternative as they can have their own purpose as well. If you are not yet sure if playing the ukulele is something that you are likely to pursue but still want to test your hand at playing this amazing instrument, a cheap alternative is the best way to go about it.
Starting with an affordable alternative can be ideal when you’re also trying to get your kid to learn to play. This way you won’t regret if he or she loses interest as you didn’t make a big investment. If on the other hand, you plan on sticking with this instrument and want only the best quality, there are a few things to consider.
Since most purchases nowadays are made online and because when buying online you don’t have the advantage of testing the item before purchasing, you need to make sure that you only go for reputable brands. The reason for this is simple, going for brands that are established in the industry means that there are fewer chances for you to get something that won’t be to your liking.
You should also try and not make the mistake of caring about looks more than about performance. Yes, looks matter but what’s crucial is for the instrument to sound good. Looks can be used as a deciding factor when choosing between two or more products that have similar features. The bottom line is that you should consider looks but never put them first as you can end up with a product that looks good but that performs poorly.
The build of your instrument
When buying a ukulele, you need to inspect it carefully to make sure that you made a good decision. This also includes online purchases as you can easily return it if you are not pleased with the build quality. First, you need to check the integrity of the instrument, make sure that no part of it is loose. Carefully analyze the binding so that there are no gaps that could affect the integrity.
The place where the neck meets the body should be flat without air gaps that could affect durability. The top of the instrument should be flat on both sides without the presence of any bulging. Remember that some models come with a back that is curved and that is not a flaw unless the curving is not even, in which case it can really affect performance, making holding the instrument an uncomfortable experience.
You should also check for cracks and splinters. This is an important step because even if they are subtle and they don’t seem to be problematic now, they can end up getting worse over time. You don’t want to risk the chance of having to repair your product, which is why we recommend you avoid options that feature these defects.
Getting the option that has a quality build can end up saving you both time and money in the long run. Time because you will be less likely to have to spend time tweaking and fixing your product and money because it will last you for a longer period of time. With a durable and sturdy option, you will be able to keep playing fun ukulele songs for longer.
Features to consider
There are a few technical specifications that you need to pay close attention to as they can ease up a bit of the burden of buying your first instrument. If you consider them you will be less likely to encounter problems in the future, problems that can end up discouraging you and even ruin the fun of playing your uke.
First, the height of the uke strings should be an eighth of an inch above the 12th fret. This is not a rule set in stone as it tends to differ according to personal preferences but if you are a beginner, going higher than that can lead to tuning issues.
The edges of the strum should be soft to the touch because otherwise they can affect your performance as well as hurt your fingers, especially if the edge is sharp. This factor is important because it can really impact the amount of time that you can play on your instrument, and it can even lead up to injuries.
If you’re a novice, you need to make sure that your ukulele meets these technical requirements because fixing these problems is not something that you’ll be able to do alone. You will have to go to an expert in order to have it fixed or tuned. This means more money that needs to be spent and can end up giving you an overall unpleasant experience.
There are some guides online that can teach you about how to string a ukulele or about how to tune them but for a first-time player it is better for you to learn from an expert. If you don’t choose a good option, you can end up visiting your local music shop more often than you wanted, which can end up costing you both time and money.
Other things to keep in mind
Another sign of a good ukulele is an inside that looks clean and tidy. If you see spots of paint or glue, you should question the quality of your purchase. These manufacturing signs can be quite telling, and they can mean that the manufacturer did not put a lot of care into the product and that can show in time.
You are going to need to tune your instrument and to make sure that the operation is not harder than it needs to be, we recommend that you avoid friction tuners. These tuners are harder to operate since they need a screwdriver, and for a beginner, this can be a bit discouraging.
The alternative that we recommend is the gear tuner since it can be tuned easily with just your hands. You should also check that the nuts that hold the strings are strong and properly set because otherwise, you will have to tune your instrument more often, leaving you with less time to play those good ukulele songs.
Whether you intend to purchase your first instrument because you want to play the famous la vie en rose ukulele chords or want to become an advanced player, the most important thing is that you trust your ear.
Things you should know about ukuleles
What’s the difference between concert and soprano ukuleles?
The difference between a concert and a soprano ukulele has primarily to do with the size of the product. The soprano is the smallest, and it lends itself well to persons that travel a lot, and that need an instrument that is light. Similarly, it is also the perfect model to be used by a child.
Concert ukes are quite similar to the soprano in size and weight. The main difference is given by the length and width of the neck which is a lot wider. If you need a product that is able to accommodate bigger hands as well as a wider range of notes, we recommend the concert alternative.
What are ukulele sizes?
There are four main types of ukulele sizes available on the market. Soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. Recently, a new size is starting to slowly become popular, the sopranissimo which is even smaller than the soprano, measuring at just 16 inches.
Out of the five sizes, the tenor is the most popular alternative, this one measure 26 inches. The reason why this option is gaining so much popularity has to do with the sound that it creates. The sound is a bit different from what you would expect from a uke and sounds more like a classical guitar.
What is a good ukulele price?
The price of a good product comes down to personal preferences and the purpose that you’ve bought the instrument for. You can find models that range from under 50 to well above 200, and beyond. If you are a beginner and this is your first instrument, going for a more affordable option is advisable.
If you are certain that playing the uke is something that you want to pursue, then we believe that going for more expensive and higher-quality models is a good choice. Whatever you choose, always trust your ear to make sure that you enjoy the sound of the instrument.
How to string your ukulele?
There comes a time when your uke will need new strings and learning how to string your ukulele can be a difficult process but certainly not impossible. If you are a beginner or you just don’t enjoy handwork, we recommend you seek the help of specialists.
You can go to your local music store and ask for help there, they are likely to help you for a small fee, and you can even learn how to string from them. Similarly, you can find plenty of tutorials online, and we recommend going on YouTube since learning by seeing is a lot easier than by reading a huge block of text.
Ukulele vs. Guitar – Which one should you learn to play?
This is a tricky question because it is impossible to find a definitive answer since it mostly has to do with personal preferences. Some people enjoy playing the ukulele more while others think that playing the guitar is the best thing ever.
None of the two groups are wrong, and for you to decide on what you enjoy more, you will have to experiment a bit. You can try playing both instruments and see which one sounds best to you and which one is easier to play on. Only by trying both will you be able to decide which one gives the most enjoyment.
Is ukulele easier than guitar learning?
This can differ from person to person, but the consensus is that learning to play the ukulele is generally easier than the guitar. What makes the uke such a tempting choice for beginners is the fact that this instrument has a much easier learning curve.
With just a few days of practice, you will be able to make your music and sing famous songs quite easily. If you want to be able to play those famous creep ukulele chords in no time, then we believe that the uke allows for faster learning. Of course, bear in mind that each person is different and it could well turn out that learning the guitar is easier for you.
Where can I buy a ukulele?
Pretty much anywhere. You can buy it from your local music shops which have the advantage of letting you test and feel the product before buying it. If you don’t have such a shop near you or if you don’t have the time to go shopping in a physical shop, you can find ukes on Amazon.
The advantage of buying your instrument online is the fact that you will have a wider variety of models to choose from. You will also be much easier to compare prices, and with the guaranteed return policy you will be able to return the product if it doesn’t sound the way you wanted to.
Who is the best ukulele player?
This is a question that has fans in a frenzy and finding an answer to it is quite tricky. The reason for this is that there are a lot of famous ukulele players that have their own songs and who are extraordinarily talented. Saying which one is the best is not as easy as it may seem since it is all subjective.
One of the most popular and well-known uke player is Israel Kamakawiwo’ole followed closely by Jake Shimabukuro. As for which of the two or any other player is the best, that is a question that has as many answers as there are fans in the world.
What ukulele does Dodie use?
Dodie Clark is one of the most popular YouTuber and uke players. Fans have always wondered what kind of instrument she uses in her videos and songs. After doing some research, we found that the instrument that Dodie uses is a Java Tanglewood concert.
This is a top quality instrument that boasts a beautiful sound that is clear and loud. It also features a mahogany back, sides and neck which makes it stand out without sacrificing any durability. It’s the perfect choice for more advanced players but can still be used by novices as well.
What ukulele does Tyler Joseph use?
Tyler Joseph, the lead singer and ukulele player for the Twenty-One Pilots, uses a lot of different models, but what they all have in common is that they are often Kala brands. The one uke fans have seen him play most often is the Kala KA-KTGE-C Tenor. The tenor size has more volume as well as a bit more bass which makes it ideal for when he performs for a live audience.
Since he is a big start, Tyler also uses some custom instruments made by Kala, but that are not available for sale to the wide public. Apart from Kala models, Tyler also uses a Luna High Tide Series Koa Concert.
Where did the ukulele originate?
The ukulele has first originated in traditional Hawaiian culture and music in the 19th century as a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese machete which is a small guitar-like instrument. The Portuguese machete was popular in Hawaii because it got introduced and was played by the Portuguese immigrants.
By improving the Portuguese machete, the ukulele gained popularity during the 20th century when it began to be widely used in the United States. From there, the uke has spread through all over the world becoming one of the most loved instruments both by players and listeners alike.
Are ukulele strings plastic or metal?
Ukuleles typically use plastic nylon strings because these strings are what makes the uke have that plinking sound that people associate with this instrument. That being said, it is not unusual for some of the strings on a uke to be metal, but most people use only plastic strings.
The reason why people don’t use metal string is that metal is what you would find on a guitar and having all the four strings made of metal can make your instrument sound more like a guitar. What some players do is use a metal string on the C string which can make their uke sound better, but that depends on what the players want to achieve with their instrument.
Best ukulele brands
With a history that dates back to 1946, Fender is a musical instruments brand that is one of the leading guitar manufacturer, as well as other numerous instruments. You can find a Fender product to fit all your needs and genre from rock ‘n’ roll, country and western to jazz, rhythm, blues and many others.
From beginners and hobbyists to advanced players, and even the most acclaimed artists and performers, Fender has an option for everyone. It is the brand vision to continue to champion the spirit of rock-n-roll throughout the world and to exceed the expectations of their customers.
Kala is a well-known brand for everything that has to do with music, from guitars to ukes, to sponsoring local and famous artists. If you love music, you are probably used to seeing a lot of this brand and for a good reason, for they offer a mix of quality and affordability that is hard to beat.
Among their most popular products, you can find the Kala Ka-15S which is one incredibly affordable ukulele that still manages to offer one of the best experience on the market. Is there so any wonder why customers and artists alike seem to be in love with this brand?
Founded in 1997, Cordoba might be a relatively new brand, but over time it has cemented itself as one worthy alternative for customers that seek to get affordable products. Cordoba focuses on nylon string guitars and ukulele that blend traditional craftsmanship of early master luthiers with modern and cutting-edge technology.
What makes a Cordoba ukelele stand out from the crowd is the focus that the company puts on providing a lightweight and responsive product that will not have you break the bank. Cordoba seeks to continue and challenge what it means to manufacture musical instruments without sacrificing any of the authenticity of its heritage.
Luna is a company that was first co-funded by the artist Yvonne de Villiers who did not only want to make instruments that were merely pieces of wood and metal, but something that had a soul and that could resonate with the player. Her intent when founding the company was to create products that would mean something to the customers.
If you’re looking for a Luna ukulele, you will have a wide range of colorful and vibrant options to choose from. You will find models that are elegant but also models that are more striking because what’s important is that you get a piece of equipment that can resonate with who you really are.
Lanikai is a name that means a lot in the music industry. This brand is backed by Hohner, which is a company well known for producing some of the highest quality harmonicas and accordions. Over the years, Lanikai has cemented itself as one of the go-to choices when looking for quality and affordability.
When buying a Lanikai ukulele, especially if you are a novice, you have the guarantee of a product that is well built and that can help you grow into a more experienced player in no time. They are well known for their wide selection of beginner and intermediate models.
Why choose a Mahalo ukulele? The answer is pretty simple and the thing that the company is most proud of. The key reason why Mahalo stands out as a brand is that they pride themselves in the fact that they put just as much effort and care into their entry level ukes as they do into their high-end models.
This care and devotion to providing their customer a similar experience no matter how much they are willing to pay makes Mahalo a brand worth considering. The materials are also carefully considered so that you get a uke that is well constructed and great sounding.
The instant you look at a Magic Fluke uke you would be forgiven to believe that you are seeing a cheap Chinese knock-off, but you would be mistaken. Starting from 1999, Magic Fluke took a unique and original take on what a ukulele design should look like.
Most of their products are made with a plastic thermoformed body and a laminated wood top. These are not quite what people expect to see in a good instrument, but Magic Fluke has demonstrated over and over that they can provide quality products. This combination of materials enables the instruments to produce an authentic and full sound.
While Martin is a brand that is best known for their quality guitars, you shouldn’t be surprised that they also make ukuleles and that they are just as good as their guitars. Starting in 1919, Martin put their over 175 years of experience in manufacturing guitars to good use, and that shows in the quality of their products.
They also offer a great variety of ukes that you can choose from. You can not only find affordable and mid-range instruments but also high-end options that are ideal for more advanced players that want to show off their skill.
Founded by Hartley Peavey in 1965, as a one-man shop, Peavey Electronics Corporation is today one of the largest suppliers and makers of musical instruments, professional audio systems, and amplifiers in the world. Around 2,000 products are distributed to more than 130 countries.
Hartley is famous for saying that “In order to be better, by definition, you must be different”. His saying is reflected in the way in which his company operates; they seek to approach the market with a unique vision. This quest has led to more than 180 patents as well as innovations in the way music is being played and listened to.
Harley Benton is a house brand that manufactures original equipment and music instruments for Musikhaus Thomann which is a large multinational retailer that is based in Bavaria, Germany. The company is mainly known for their quality guitars, basses, and amplifiers but lately, their ukuleles have also gained popularity.
Harley Benton offers great products for beginners and novices as they will not have you spend a lot of money for a quality product that can get the job done. If you’re looking for the best of the best, other brands might give you a better variety of options, but for people that want a cheap and good product, Harley Benton won’t disappoint.
How Much Do Ukuleles Cost?
Ukuleles have different price ranges depending on many factors including the material they are made of, the manufacturer or their purpose. An electric ukulele may cost you more but it does offer many more features. The same can be said about top-end acoustic ukuleles. To find out how much you have to pay for the uke you want, let’s see some details.
Really cheap models
There are some ukuleles that won’t cost you more than $30 or so, but their quality, as you might expect, isn’t that good. Most of the time these instruments are made of really cheap wood, laminated wood or plastic. Their build quality is poor as well and they are made for those children that want them as toys.
Because they’re made as toys, these ukes are nearly unplayable right out of the box. Their tuners are low grade, they have a very rough finish, the strings are cheap and couldn’t be considered strings and the tone is weak and inconsistent.
Furthermore, although they are made for small children, their necks are too wide for the kids to play them. However, they look decent, and most of the times have some nice paintings of funny, cute characters, from the most popular animated series or movies.
Parents are tempted to buy these ukuleles for their children when trying to test the water, but that isn’t a smart choice. And that is because of the poor tone and quality. Even if your child may be interested in playing such an instrument, if the sound is bad, the results will be bad too. Your kid might get discouraged and frustrated.
The $50 threshold
Most ukes that are under this price should be classified as toys. When going over $50 however, you can find ukuleles that can be played and some of them sound good. Choosing between the junk and the precious instruments is a tough job in this category.
As a rule of thumb, the higher the price, the better the uke, but sometimes there are exceptions. There are ukes that are mass-produced in this price range and they can deliver good sounds and a consistent tone. But sometimes even mass-producers get poor ukes on the market, so before purchasing one, test it. Or at least be sure that you can send it back.
These ukes are good as a stepping stone and if you’re just starting, they’re a good investment. But you have to ask yourself if you’re going to be playing such a uke intensely, and if that’s the case, if you progress fast, you’ll need to buy a better uke fast. So instead of buying 2 ukes in 6 months or so, you can just buy the better one from the beginning.
Getting a cheap ukulele around $50 is worth it if you’re on a tight budget and you don’t know whether you’re going to play the instrument too much, or, of course, if you’re giving it as a gift. But if you’re serious and dedicated to learning the instrument, and you have enough money to spend on a good model, don’t waste your time with a cheap uke.
Where beginners thrive on
Between $50 and $150, you can find some ukes that are of good quality and are excellent for those beginners that really want to play the instrument. They’re affordable enough, yet they offer what a player needs when she or he starts. Some intermediate players are happy with what they can find in this range as well.
Most of the ukuleles you see are in this category and choosing one specific model is a hard task. That’s why you will need to search the market really well. You should know that most ukuleles above $50 offer a decent sound, but as the price rises, you also get some added features.
These added benefits are in the form of a more pleasant design, fancier inlays, better tonewoods, but you can also get some ukes with great electronics for higher prices. As you see, these improvements don’t necessarily make the tone better, and they don’t affect the playability of the instrument either, but they make the instrument more appealing to the player.
Although you can find many models in this group of ukuleles, most of them share some common features. They have a nice finish and you can see the quality of the craftsmanship, they offer good playability, the tone is better and the materials are of great quality. If you choose to buy online, you can safely get a good uke in this category.
Here you can find some really fancy models, with some great designs, or some ukuleles that shine in terms of sound or electronics. You can still find some beginner ukuleles that offer a decent tone and good craftsmanship, but they are really just upgraded models in terms of looks.
They’re a great choice for those beginners that like to impress, but they should keep in mind that although the uke looks better, the sound that comes out of it is still similar to the one produced by a cheaper model. The wood is the same, only the looks change.
Up until this threshold in terms of price, ukes are mainly made of plywood. Things change when going over $150 and you will see that you can find ukes made entirely out of solid wood. Of course, their tone and volume are a lot better, because solid wood resonates freely and the wood helps amplify the sound.
Due to that you also get a warmer, mellower sound with more bass. But you shouldn’t be deceived – a solid-wood ukulele can sound the same as a plywood one, and the only thing that sets them apart is the quality of the craftsmanship put into them.
When going over $150 you also find ukes that use electronic components that transform them into electro-acoustic instruments. These are great to have if you want to record yourself playing on a computer, or if you will be taking part in live shows and you need some amplification.
Also, in terms of shape, things can get interesting. Cutaway models start to appear in this price range, and more experienced players can make use of cutaway bodies to reach the higher frets with ease. Beginners might not need that at first, but at least it looks cool for them.
These are the high-end models, where you can find quality and reliable instruments. Prices may reach $900 for great-quality builds and awesome finishes. What sets these instruments apart from the cheaper ones is the wood used, the ornamentation, the attention to detail and of course, the sound.
For prices of $2000 or so, you can get your own custom-made uke, from a specialized maker. The difference in terms of sound isn’t great comparing such a uke with a cheaper one, but the fact that you can make it look exactly as you wish is a big plus.
Many professionals have their own custom-made models. Furthermore, some even have more of them, each for a certain occasion. So if you’re on your way to becoming a professional, you should be spending at least $500 on a high-end model that can make you sound great time and time again.