The Ultimate Guide to Buying the Best Ukulele for Beginners [2020]

Looking for a ukulele? I bet you are and this is why you stumbled upon this article! Well, I have observed that ukuleles have been an overgrowing passion in the music industry for quite a few years now and if you want to blame anything, just put it on the adorable design and shape of this instrument. Who wouldn’t want to just strum through the strings of this cute little version of a guitar?

I have been looking for the best ukulele for beginners myself and this is what made me research a bit on the options available out there. Let’s get deeper into this detailed piece of information that I have gathered over days to help you pick the best ukulele to buy! Whether it is to gift someone or to buy for your newfound passion, I have covered all the information you need to make the best purchase. Let’s get started:

TOP RATED UKULELES FOR BEGINNERS

1. Kala Learn To Play Ukulele Soprano Starter Kit

Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Soprano Starter Kit

Kala is a known brand of ukuleles and manufactures one of the most simple and easy-to-learn ukulele designs. This first option in the list is a starter kit for beginners and is claimed to be the ‘best possible instrument for your money’. The company has kept it very simple with this one, avoiding all the fancy accessories to keep the instrument apt for easy and hassle-free learning.


The ukulele can easily be learned, tuned, and played along using the Kala app, available for both iOS and Android. The website of the manufacturer also provided online lessons on their website to promote easy and fast learning and you can also use their booklet and other sources to learn. The ukulele in the kit is about 22 inches long and is made of high-quality mahogany wood and comes with Aquila strings made of nylon. This one is a soprano ukulele and you can tune the instrument using open-gear tuners with the Kala app. The kit also has a bag in which you can carry your ukulele. At this price, this is the best soprano ukulele for beginners.

ADVANTAGES


  • High-quality material and manufacturing
  • Good sound
  • Makes tuning easy for beginners
  • Best bang for the buck

SHORTCOMINGS


  • The app and lessons are paid after a short free trial
  • Extremely lightweight and small
  • Cheaply made case

2. Kmise Soprano Ukulele Starter Kit

Kmise Soprano Ukulele Starter Kit

Another soprano ukulele, this one is from Kmise and is also made of high-quality mahogany wood. The strings are made of cupronickel and are high-quality built too. This starter kit includes a gig bag, a strap, a tuner, a start guide, and extra strings. So, it is an all-inclusive beginner package that you can get at such a great price!


Besides the high-quality instrument and kit, the manufacturer also promises fast and responsive solutions and services in case of any problem with the product. The ukulele includes an 18:1 ratio tuning machine that helps the beginners tune the instrument without much hassle and promotes easy learning and playing. The frets are carefully sanded and make this ukulele extremely comfortable to play. The length of this ukulele is 21 inches and is a suitable instrument for beginners as well as professionals.

ADVANTAGES


  • Amazing finish
  • High-quality built
  • Handy tuners
  • Value for the price
  • Good customer support

SHORTCOMINGS


  • Easily gets un-tuned
  • The ukulele doesn’t fit in the case
  • Sharp fret ends
  • Neck is narrow

3. Donner Concert Ukulele

Donner Concert Ukulele

This is another starter kit including a ukulele, its bag, nylon stings, DT-2 tuner, strap, and picks. The body of this 23-inch ukulele is made of high-quality mahogany and it has Aquila Strings made of nylon. The kit has a high-quality tuning machine and the strings are quite soft and easy to play, making this instrument a great pick for the beginners.


The strong and high-quality built of this ukulele makes it sound great and eases the process of learning by the beginners. Patented by Donner, the chrome-plated tuners are like that of a guitar and makes tuning pretty easy and smooth. The hand feel of this instrument has been made perfect by the manufacture by the implementation of high-quality manufacturing methods and engineered designs. The quality of material and craftsmanship make the design and sound of this ukulele perfect!

ADVANTAGES


  • Perfect tuner
  • Guide for finger placement and chords makes playing easy
  • Bang for the buck
  • Well-built and great design
  • Great material selection

SHORTCOMINGS


  • Strings might seem lousy
  • Doesn’t stay tuned
  • Neck bends

4. Hola! Music HM-21BU Soprano Ukulele Bundle

Hola! Music HM-21BU Soprano Ukulele Bundle

Another 21-inch variant, this ukulele is made of maple wood. However, that is not all! Different parts of this ukulele are manufactured from different suitable materials. For instance, the bridge and the fingerboard are made of walnut and the neck is made of the Nato wood.


The entire bundle consists of the ukulele, a ukulele tote bag, picks, and strap. The best part about this variant on the list is that it is available in a great variety of colors. The strings are made of nylon and the tuners are geared with silver.


The sound of this instrument is amazing and it is specially crafted to create some great Hawaiian music

ADVANTAGES


  • Affordable
  • High-quality material used
  • Amazing warm sound
  • Availability of color options
  • Value for money

SHORTCOMINGS


  • Difficult to tune
  • Not for professionals

5. Fender Venice Soprano Ukulele

Fender Venice Soprano Ukulele

When Fender comes into play, we know that something good is up for the takes. This soprano ukulele is specially created by Fender out of their inspiration for Venice in LA, a neighborhood known for its bohemian spirits. According to Fender, this ukulele captures the vibe of Venice.


This is a lightweight and compact ukulele, best for the musicians who love to travel. The classic light sound makes it the perfect pick for a soprano ukulele. Playing this ukulele is easy and comfortable because of the c-shaped slim neck and the no-tie bridge keeps sting changing hassle-free. The headstock is styled as a telecaster, making it the unique Fender design that you wouldn’t easily find in other ukuleles. This is a 30 inches long ukulele and comes with the brand satisfaction of Fender.

ADVANTAGES


  • Value for money
  • Great option for beginners and travelers
  • Amazing aesthetics and build quality
  • Great sound and plays great

SHORTCOMINGS


  • Makes a rattling sound sometimes
  • Doesn’t stay in tune
  • Doesn’t pitch for long

6. Vizcaya UK23C-MA Concert Ukulele

Vizcaya UK23C-MA Concert Ukulele

Yet another 23-inch option, this one is a concert ukulele made of Mahogany wood. The whole starter kit has the ukulele, electric tuner, accessories, nylon strings, gig bag, and picks. The body of this ukulele is of mahogany while the fingerboard and bridge are made of rosewood. The tuning pegs are enclosed in silver and the strings are made of nylon.


In all, high-quality material has been used by the manufacturer for its manufacturing, resulting in a durable and great sounding ukulele. The design is a winner too as the ukulele is handcrafted with a smooth surface and an amazing finish. At such a low price, this is actually bang for the buck and is the best concert ukulele for beginners at this price.

ADVANTAGES


  • A great option for beginners
  • Beautiful sound
  • Great design
  • Top-quality fretboards
  • Easy to tune

SHORTCOMINGS


  • Tuners get sloppy with time
  • Not suitable for professionals

7. Diamond Head  Educator Soprano Ukulele

Diamond Head New DU-151 Educator Soprano Ukulele

This ukulele starter kit is an affordable option for those who are looking for a traditional shape and warm sound in a ukulele. The kit includes a soprano ukulele, a gig bag, pocket instruction guide, picks, and online lesson. This model of the ukulele is the one where Diamond took its traditional ukulele and added high-quality NEW NYLGUT Aquila strings to it, making it a perfect and aesthetic option for beginners. The strings are colorful and added with a vision of making it easy for beginners to locate and practice notes while learning to play. The strings also make it easier to play the ukulele and allow fast learning.


The ukulele is made of high-quality material and comes with easy tuning options and the starter kit helps beginners learn how to tune and play very easily.

ADVANTAGES


  • Colored strings for better learning and aesthetics
  • Value for money
  • High-quality material
  • Amazing shape and design
  • Perfect for beginners

SHORTCOMINGS


  • Can’t hold the tuning
  • The thin and flimsy case
  • Plastic strings

8. DiLan Beginner Ukulele

DiLan Ukulele

If you’re bored with the good old traditional shape of a ukulele, this one is the perfect pick for you at a super affordable price. This is a 17-inch ukulele with 4 strings and is the best if you’re buying it for your kids. The small size makes it easy for kids and children to hold and play the instrument and learn it with ease. It is designed to be safe, handy, and aesthetic at the same time. The material used for the manufacturing of this product is high-quality ABS plastic that makes it environment-friendly just like the other wood-based counterparts.


The ukulele is lightweight and compact, making it easy for the kids to carry it around for practice. To top all the benefits, the manufacturer also offers 12 months warranty.

ADVANTAGES


  • Makes a great gift for kids
  • Apt for young beginners
  • Perfect for teaching music to children

SHORTCOMINGS


  • Sounds and feels like a toy
  • Low-quality strings

9. Mahalo Ukulele MR1LBU Rainbow Series

Mahalo Ukulele MR1LBU Rainbow Series

Available in different colors, this one is again a great option for beginners from the Rainbow series. It is a high-quality 21-inched ukulele that comes with a downloadable beginner lesson. The attention to details and aesthetics make this option special that can be seen from the dolphin-shaped tuners.


The high-quality body material and Aquila strings make it a durable instrument and with the learning lessons, it becomes easy to learn for the beginners. An affordable option, this is a smart purchase for anyone looking for a decent and high-quality ukulele.

ADVANTAGES


  • Great for kids
  • Wonderful construction
  • Amazing design and finish
  • Available in colors

SHORTCOMINGS


  • Gets out of tune pretty easily
  • Doesn’t sound great
  • Low-quality case material

10. Kala KA-MK-P Makala Pineapple Style Soprano Ukulele

Kala KA-MK-P Makala Pineapple Style Soprano Ukulele

A different shape but higher quality and price. Another non-traditional shape but this one is a better option than number 8. One of the best entry-level ukuleles, this one is again from Kala and has its name shining among the customer reviews. The body and neck of this instrument are made of mahogany and the fingerboard is made of walnut.


The different shape gives it a quirky look and is a great option for a collector or for someone who has several ukuleles already. So, if you’re looking for something different this time, this is your best pick.

ADVANTAGES


  • High-quality Aquila strings
  • Great for beginners
  • Sounds good
  • Affordable
  • Perfect for traveling
  • Great feel

SHORTCOMINGS


  • Goes out of tune constantly
  • Seems flimsy and thin

What are the Best Ukulele Brands?

Just like any other music instrument, there are so many options of brands available for ukuleles as well. So, it might get tough to pick the best ones out of the crowd. However, with the help of customer reviews and the reviews of private bloggers and expert musicians, I happened to give rest to my research and came up with a list of the top 5 brands of the ukulele. Let’s dive into this information:

  • Donner

If you’re a guitarist, you must be very aware of this brand. Donner has been in business since 2012 and is famously known for its high-quality ukuleles. Aside from the small and beginner-level ukuleles, Donner has also manufactured some interesting models of ukuleles including electric ukuleles. With a wide range of options available at very affordable prices, this is one of the most popular ukulele brands.

  • Kala

This one is a giant and we cannot deny the fact that Kala is one of the best ukulele brands. Based in California, this brand never fails on releasing new models and as a result, they have to offer something to everyone. So, no matter what your experience level as a musician is, you will find a suitable ukulele from this manufacturer.

They have beginner models, affordable models, professional models, and expensive models. You name it and Kala has got it!

  • Fender

You know we don’t have to doubt the quality of Fender. The most famous guitar brand, Fender is there manufacturing Ukuleles as well and is doing a pretty neat job. The models offered by Fender are usually inspired by different elements, places, and cultures. With the name and trust of Fender, one is quite less likely to go wrong!

  • Mahalo

When we talk about the best beginner ukulele, Mahalo is the name that rings a bell for every veteran ukulele player. This is because back in the day, Mahalo was one of the most dominant ukulele brands available for the players, especially for beginners.

Mahalo is said to be a Hawaiian phrase that translates to gratitude or ‘thanks’. The manufacturers promote the passion of ukulele players and have also been a sponsor of the biggest Ukulele Ensemble Gatherings in July 2014. This gathering had a total of 2,370 ukulele players. The brand creates some great-quality ukuleles and promotes the Hawaiian culture with its colorful series.

  • Hola!

​A new name among the brands of ukulele, this one is recently one of the most appreciated brands by ukulele players. With the best quality in the markets, this brand is earning its repute as its instruments are getting more and more popular among players.

So, this is another brand to count on if you’re looking for the best starter ukulele.

This was all about the top 5 brands of ukuleles that I came across during my research. Now, let’s dive deeper and look into the size and types of the ukulele. How to decide which one you’re looking for:

What are the size and types of ukulele?

When choosing a ukulele, you must know that there are 5 major types of ukuleles available. These are explained below:

  • Soprano Ukulele

Most of the beginner-level ukuleles are soprano ukes. This is because these are the smallest, easy-to-handle, and entry-level ukuleles promoting a bit of fun and games as you play. These ukuleles are generally in the traditional acoustic guitar shape and are about 21-23 inches long.

They have a short, sharp, and metallic sound and can be easily learned through guides and lessons. These are the most commonly found ukuleles in the world.

  • Baritone Ukulele

This one differs from all the other types because it has a special sound quality. The sound of this ukulele is quite similar to a traditional guitar and sometimes this doesn’t sound anything like a ukulele. The sound quality is a result of the order of strings on this instrument. The strings are placed in an order from lowest pitch strings to highest pitch ones.

A baritone ukulele has its unique sound. But it is not the right thing for those looking for an actual ukulele sound.

  • Pineapple Ukulele

This one has quite a different and fun shape, resembling a pineapple. These ukuleles are quite similar to the soprano ukes. However, what sets them apart is the richness of sound, along with the shape that allows richer tones because of the more resonating surface.

If you’re buying ukuleles for kids, this one might be the best option!

  • Tenor Ukulele

Something that is richer in sound, Tenor ukulele is the most versatile piece you can have. If you’re a finger-picker, you would love to play this thing with the harmonic and rich sound that it produces. These ukuleles have more scale lengths and are the best for professional players.

  • Concert Ukulele

The mid-ground between a soprano and a tenor ukulele, this one has a sweet tone and a delicate sound along with the depth. So, it is a great combination of both the best kinds of ukuleles. Tuning them is also quite easy, just the same as soprano ukes.

What to look for in a good ukulele for beginners?

When you’re buying a ukulele, a number of things must be considered beforehand for you to make an informed decision. I have created a list of factors to consider before buying ukuleles for beginners:

  • The Purpose

What is your purpose behind buying a ukulele? Are you a beginner? Are you gifting it? Are you a teacher?

You must be clear about the purpose of buying a ukulele. Once you know that, it is easy to pick a ukulele. For instance, if you’re a beginner or gifting it to a beginner, you can go for a soprano or pineapple ukulele. However, if you’re buying it for a professional, you can go for something more sophisticated like a tenor or a concert ukulele. So, keep your purpose in mind.

  • The Type, Size, and Sound

Another thing is the type and size of the ukulele. As mentioned above, the purpose is one of the biggest factors deciding the type and size of uke you will buy. Aside from this, you must also consider the convenience of handling and the sound you’re looking for.

To explain it, I can say that if you’re buying it for a kid, go for a small and handy uke. As for sound, different types of ukuleles are known for their different sounds. The tone quality, richness, depth, and texture of sound differs for each type. So, pick wisely.

  • Tuning

Most options that I have listed above come with a common problem – the strings un-tune very easily. Now, this is a problem, especially for beginners. You are still learning to play and tune your ukulele and if you pick an option that un-tunes easily, it is just added hassle.

So, while picking a ukulele, make sure you check if it is easy to tune it and if the strings cooperate with you or not.

  • Budget

Ukuleles are usually a low-budget instrument and this is why you can experiment with different brands and options as they don’t cost a lot of money.

However, you must still look for value for the buck. In the options, I listed above, certain starter kits offer a lot of things at the price of one ukulele. So, whatever your budget is, make sure you invest it in the right thing!

  • Material

Always pick the highest quality material with a good finish. Out of all the options, mahogany and maple wood are one of the top choices of players. They give a good finish to the body. However, for the fingerboard, walnut is the most common choice.

FAQs

1. Can the strings be replaced with any strings?

​Most ukuleles come with Aquila strings. However, once these strings wear out or break, you must be able to replace them with another best option. So, this is one of the most frequently asked questions by the buyers. The answer to this question is that Aquila strings are the most standard option for all kinds of ukuleles and are easily available. If you’re still looking forward to replacing them with something else, you can easily do that, in most options.

2. Can this ukulele hold tune?

This is another FAQ by people and is a brilliant question to ask before you put your money into an instrument. You don’t want to spend a lot of time tuning and re-tuning a ukulele because it cannot hold the tune. So, ask in advance and look for the customer reviews whether the option you’re looking for is able to hold the tune.

If there is a problem, it can easily be solved with a change of strings and some alterations with the tuners.

3. Can you connect it with an amp?

​Beginner-level ukuleles don’t come with this option. They are just the normal small acoustic instrument. However, if you go for more expensive options, you can find the professional series of ukuleles that can easily be connected with amplifiers or speakers.

So, this was all about the good quality ukulele brands, types, and options for beginners. For someone who is looking for the best option, this entire piece of information will help you get the best bang for your buck! Let me know if I have missed any of the good options in the list and any important piece of information. Cheers!

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