The Top 6 Beginner Ukuleles for 2016
I went to the pub with a couple of colleagues from work last week. Somehow the conversation managed to get onto playing the ukulele (it strange how often that happens), it turns out that one of my other colleagues plays the ukulele but the others don’t. A day or two passed and one of my colleagues who had been there came up to me and revealed she had been thinking of taking up the ukulele since our chat in the pub. The only issue was finding a good ukulele to start out on.
She didn’t want to buy a dud nor did she want to spend lots of money for something she might not really get into. It’s a common problem as there are so many ukulele makes out there, some of them great and other plain bad or over expensive. I offered to take her to a local music shop and help her find a good Ukulele.
However, I can’t do that for you. If you are thinking of starting to play the ukulele in 2016 then I’m going to do the next best thing. Take you to a virtual music shop and recommend a few Ukuleles that are great for beginners.
The following 6 beginner ukuleles (two for each of the main body types) are all worth purchasing and will make sure that you don’t pay over the odds or buying a poorly made budget ukulele. This is not to say that they are the only ukuleles worth buying for a beginner, but that you won’t go wrong by picking up one of these ones. If you have bought an alternative ukulele and would like to recomend it then leave a comment with its details below.
If you need help deciding between different size ukuleles then check out guide to the differences between different ukulele sizes. A quick summary is a Soprano is the smallest and therefor is going to be the cheapest starting ukulele.
Makala are the budget brand of Kala ukuleles (also a great choice). This is probably the cheapest ukulele I’d recommend without getting my hands on it first. They are made of plastic which might put you off straight away but the build quality is good and they can produce an okay sound. Obviously a more expensive solid wood ukulele will sound better but this is a beginners ukulele.
Unlike the Makala, the Lanika LU-21 is a ukulele made out of wood. So if plastic puts you off too much then you might want to check out the Lanika. [You can’t get it in the UK so here is a Mahogany Kala]
[Extra options to consider: Kala (slight more expensive than Makala) and Cordoba Ukulele (if you want to spend a decent ammount of money)
A concert ukulele is the “goldilocks” of the ukulele world. Not as small as the Soprano nor as big as the Tenor. This gives is a good range yet still stays small and portable.
I have a soft spot for Kala ukuleles. My first Ukulele was a Kala and it has lasted well. This concert size ukulele is made of solid wood, has a few more frets than the soprano offerings and comes with a nice bag, polish and other useful things. [US Link] [UK link]
Lanikai make great ukuleles and this concert ukulele is a larger size of the soprano version. This means it is pretty similar to the soprano only slightly bigger. That keeps the price down yet it is still very playable. [US Link][UK link]
Tenor ukuleles are the biggest common size ukuleles (yes there are Baritones but they are much rarer and more akin to a guitar). Tenors can be strung with a low g-string for a deeper sound if you prefer that. You can also still string them with a high g-string though. Tenors usually have more frets and are often more popular with taller people.
Another Lanikai, from the same ukulele series as the previous two. Don’t let that put you off, it is a good solid Ukulele made of Eastern Mahogony. Another nice feature is the electric pickup which is a big help if you want to gig with a ukulele. Lanikai do offer more expensive Tenor Ukulele’s but I wanted to show you a cheap tenor options, especially considering the next Ukulele I’m going to show you. [US Link] [UK link]
If you are planning on playing live then you will probably want to plugin your Ukulele and boost it’s volume. Luckily this Kala tenor Ukulele comes with a built in pickup so that you can play loud and live. It’s also made of Koa and has great build quality but it does come at a price. This is the most expensive Ukulele on my list and I’d only recommend it for someone who knows they are going to play and play a lot. I do own a Kala cutaway tenor with plugin and I can testify to it’s great quality. [UK link]
Try one in a store
Although any of these six would be a fine choice for a ukulele, it would probably be a good idea to try one in a store if you can. That will let you get a feel and find the right size for you as well as compare the different sounds of the ukuleles (the choice of wood makes a huge difference).
What Ukulele do you recommend for a beginner?