Top 10 Best Ukuleles for Beginners 2019 Reviews

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The ukulele has been around since the 19th century and it has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the last few years. Whether you are a guitar player who wants a smaller-scaled instrument with similar capabilities to carry around or a newbie who just wants to learn to play the ukulele, it is recommended that you find an instrument that is not only reliable but capable of producing a good sound as well. Good habits start early but so do bad ones, which means you need a good musical instrument to ensure that you apply good playing practices right from the start.

To help you get started, choose from any of the following options we recommend. Here are the top 10 best ukuleles for beginners.

1. Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Soprano Starter Kit

Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Soprano Starter Kit

As a beginner ukulele, this is one instrument that will help you build your skills and match it long after you've breezed through the basics. This is a classic style ukulele from Kala, a brand famous for excellent quality musical instruments and trusted by a number of renowned players. This model is a soprano ukulele that features full, rich sound and easy play-ability. It also features a Polynesia Shark Teeth laser-etched rosette and NuBone nut and saddle for wonderful resonance. This is a starter kit that includes a gig bag and other freebies such as an instruction booklet, online lessons, and an app that can be used as a tuner as well.

Pros
-Body and neck are made of rich mahogany and walnut fingerboard; capable of producing rich, crisp tones for more enjoyable practice sessions.
-The instrument uses sturdy Aquila Nylguts strings from Italy and open gear tuners
-The rich tone and sustain comes from the Nubone nut and saddle made by GraphTech.
-Comes with an app that helps beginners in learning the basics such as tuning
-This is a kit that includes the ukulele, a tote bag with the company's logo, a Quick Start guide, and tips for care and use.
-Kala Ukulele offers print and online lessons through their website for free on a limited time basis.

Cons
-The tuners need room for improvement.
-The kit includes an app but for a trial period of only four (4) days. Investing in a clip-on digital tuner will help ensure that your instrument stays in tune.
-Does not come with accessories.

2. ADM Soprano Ukulele for Kids Beginners 21 inch

ADM Soprano Ukulele for Kids Beginners 21 inch

The ADM soprano ukulele is a great option for young children interested in learning to play the instrument. At just $33, this is an affordable choice for a child or even a beginner adult to practice on. A budget ukulele for sure but the materials and design are quite up to standards.

Pros
-Basswood body, neck, bridge, and fingerboard.
-High quality tuner and soft nylon strings for improved playability.
-Lightweight yet capable of good sound quality.
-Affordable option for young learners.
-Available in different colors.
-Comes in a gift box, ready for gifting; with carrying case and a cleaning cloth.
-100% money-back guarantee on manufacturer's defects.

Cons
-Yes, you do pay for quality, which means the materials are not the best in the market.
-Strings are not the best quality and prone to stretching but you could always have them replaced.

3. Soprano Ukulele Beginner Pack – 21 Inch w/Gig Bag

Soprano Ukulele Beginner Pack - 21 Inch w/Gig Bag

If you want a budget-friendly ukulele kit, this is a beginner pack you might consider buying. This soprano ukulele has a basswood body, blackwood fingerboard, and solid wood neck, all designed to ensure durability and sturdiness. The frets are made with nickel silver. The built and design allows this ukulele to produce a rich and warm tone.

Pros
-Good sound quality and lovely resonance.
-Affordable at just $40.
-Set also includes a digital tuner, spare strings, spare picks, strap, polishing cloth, bag, and song book.
-Lightweight and easy to carry; excellent option for travel.

Cons
-Intonation could do some improvement as the sound could be richer and fuller.
-The design is a bit on the basic side. While the simplicity may be appealing to some, it may not be considered a good option for those looking for added aesthetic value.

4. Ukulele Soprano Beginner Mahogany 21 Inch

Ukulele Soprano Beginner Mahogany 21 Inch

The Kmise ukulele soprano is a handsome ukulele option for beginners. Affordable, lightweight, and packing a few great features, this is one of the top ukuleles for newbie players to consider if you're looking at learning to play a small string instrument. It is an easy-to-tune instrument that features carbon nylon strings on a 15-fret fingerboard.

Pros
-Produces a pleasant warm tone and is easy to play.
-Mahogany body, walnut wood bridge and fretboard.
-D'Addario carbon nylon strings for great sound and durability; cupronickel frets.
-Comes with a gig bag, digital tuner, string pack, strap, and instruction booklet.
-Free online lessons from Kmise.
-Still on the affordable side at just $50.
-Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Cons
-The free strings are not topnotch quality but you could buy a preferred brand as replacement.
-Some users have complained about tuners slipping which affects the tune.

5. AKLOT Concert Ukulele Solid Mahogany

AKLOT Concert Ukulele Solid Mahogany

Aklot's concert ukulele starter kit is slightly longer than other beginner ukuleles but if you are looking for good sound at a good price, this is the option to go for. The solid mahogany body assures you of a rich, pure, clean tone. Over time, the wood ages, improving the tone even more. As long as you take care of this ukulele, you will be assured of great sound for years to come. This is an excellent value beginner's ukulele for its price.

Pros
-Solid mahogany body produces excellent sound and assures longer sustain.
-18:1 tuner machine that allows the ukulele to stay in tune longer.
-Copper gears and pre-tuned Aquila strings.
-Smoothed-out rounded edges let you play scratch-free.
-Comes with a gig bag, picks, strap, tuner, extra strings, polishing cloth, and an instruction book.
-Free online course and 45-day money back guarantee.

Cons
-May not be as resonant and loud as other models.



6. Makanu Soprano Ukulele Maho 21 Inch

Makanu Soprano Ukulele Maho 21 Inch

This standard ukulele is an excellent choice for both young and older players. The nut and saddle are made of bone, which allows better string vibrations. Made of carefully selected AAA rosewood fingerboard and a solid body, it is capable of producing bright, crisp tones - perfect for solo play or sing-alongs.

Pros
-An excellent option as a basic ukelele, capable of producing a rich tones; wonderful playability and well-made.
-Good, solid construction and lightweight.
-Rosewood fingerboard, 12-fret position; bone nut and saddle.
-Easy to tune.
-Comes with a bag for storage and travel.
-At just $50, still an affordable option .

Cons
-String quality could be better.
-May require frequent tuning and re-tuning; to fix the issue, consider replacing with better quality strings such as an Aquila set.
-At $50, you'd expect a few refinements in the finishing but the fret bars are a bit rough and sharp, and may need sanding.

7. Mahalo Rainbow Series Soprano Ukulele Starter Pack

Mahalo Rainbow Series Soprano Ukelele Starter Pack

The Mahalo Rainbow Series ukelele is a budget-friendly buy that comes in a complete starter kit. Made strong and sturdy to withstand even the most clumsy beginner hands. This ukulele is playable by learners of most ages, especially very young beginners. It has beautiful craftsmanship and a lovely finish that would please picky players.

Pros
-Capable of producing full, rich sound.
-Uses Aquila Nylgut strings from Italy and sengon softwood body and neck.
-The saddle is made from Canadian NuBone XB for improved resonance and great-sounding low frequency bass tones.
-Gold-plated dolphin-shaped tuning machine heads.
-Smooth edges for scratch-proof play.
-Lightweight, easy to carry for trips and easy storage.
-Affordable and budget-friendly instrument at under $40.
-Comes with a bag and a digital lesson download taught by Bartt Warburton.

Cons
-It can be played by beginners of all age levels but is best for young children. Teens and adults may need to find a different option.
-Strings need to be allowed to stretch before they can stay in tune for sustained playing. Otherwise, you will have to tune frequently to play. This component of this ukulele needs some improvement.

8. POMAIKAI Soprano Wood Ukulele

POMAIKAI Soprano Wood Ukulele

This is the cheapest option in this list but it is by no means the least desirable. The Pomaikai soprano rainbow starter ukulele was designed for beginner players who want a good quality instrument at a tight budget. At under $24, this is a good value ukulele that features a real basswood body smoothed out by a high gloss exterior finish. The design and materials help produce a crisp, clear sound that will help train the ear of even the most inexperienced newbies. Although often marketed as a child ukulele, it can actually accommodate adult hands just as well.

Pros
-Real basswood body and 12-fret hardwood fingerboard for excellent tone and a solid grip.
-Many buyers have called this a "pretty" instrument, thanks to its simple design and colors.
-Sturdy nylon strings for full-bodied sound; nylon strings are soft enough even for very young fingers.
-Comfortable grip, comes with a handy bag for portability; stores easily.
-Comes in a number of lovely colors, pink and turquoise included.
-Very affordable.
-12-month warranty.

Cons
-Strings could use a little improvement.
-Will require repeated tuning, especially in the beginning. If you want less hassle, you might have to get a proper setup to keep it in tune.
-Gig bag has a thin padding and may not offer enough buffer protection.

9. Honsing Soprano Ukulele Beginner Hawaii

Honsing Soprano Ukulele Beginner Hawaii

The Honsing beginner ukulele is an affordable instrument designed with the traditional Hawaiian body shape in mind. It features a basswood body and ABS bone nut. It uses nylon strings that are soft enough for young, budding musicians. It is portable and lightweight, sold with a free gig bag.

Pros
-Crisp, wonderful tone and good resonance will ensure many hours of enjoyable practice.
-May be considered a "toy" ukulele but it is actually a very sturdy instrument; will last for many years of play with good care and maintenance.
-Comfortable to hold once you understand the proper positioning of the fingers, wrist, and arms.
-Lots of choices when it comes to colors, from solid monochromatics to swirls, multicolored gradients, and rainbow stripes. The colors alone make this a very desirable buy.

Cons
-The main issue for this ukulele is the set of strings that tend to go out of tune frequently and which requires repeated tunings. This may be remedied by replacing the factory strings with a new set.
-A bit bulky but this is a minor concern.

10. Apelia 21 Inch Soprano Ukulele

Apelia 21 Inch Soprano Ukulele

The last in our list of the top ukuleles for beginners is no slouch in the performance and looks department. At just $26, it offers enough bang to impress you and make it worth your money. This is a very light instrument that even a young child can carry without any problems.

Pros
-Basswood body and nylon strings.
-Basswood fingerboard and nickel-plated tuning keys.
-Sturdy and well-made but lightweight at just 0.4kg.
-Beautiful resonance and bright, smooth tone.
-Comes as a starter kit which includes strings, picks, and bag.
-Available in different vibrant colors.
-Comes with a 30-day unconditional money-back guarantee.

Cons
-The strings are not pre-tuned, so a good initial tuning is necessary. This ukulele does go out of tune and will require periodic re-tuning.

Ukuleles for Beginners Selection Tips

Whenever an individual is starting off on a particular musical instrument, they will have to deal with the difficult task of choosing that first instrument that will feel exactly right for their requirements.

The same goes for ukuleles. With all the plethora of models available in different sizes, wood combinations, finishes and embellishments, it may appear at first sight somewhat of a daunting task to zero in on the instrument that will prove ideal for you. So, here are a few selection tips (meant especially for entry-level uke players) that we hope will make the task somewhat easier.

1. Size

Ukuleles come in four different sizes—soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. The soprano is the smallest and baritone, sitting on the other end of the spectrum, is the largest.

Generally speaking, if you are spank new to the world of stringed instruments and the playability of the instrument (rather than tone, range, etc.) is your primary concern, we highly recommend that you settle either for a soprano or a concert ukulele.

Being smaller instruments, they naturally come with smaller fretboards (and hence smaller scales). This means two things. First, a smaller fretboard makes for easy playability since the fret distances are less compared to bigger-sized ukuleles and this means that you won’t have to stretch your fingers too much when playing the instrument. Secondly, a smaller scale means lesser octaves, so you can play many basic chords easily often using only one or two fingers. This way, you catch up first with the playing and can start to make music very fast (often within a week or two) and this is always inspiring for entry-level players and will help boost their confidence.

Now, as to whether you should settle for a soprano or a concert is something that will depend primarily on your physical size, and particularly the size of your hands. As a rule of thumb, soprano is the ideal choice for kids whereas the concert variety may suit the adults better on their initial ukulele journey.

That said, it still all boils down to individual preferences. In many cases, larger adults (even those with bigger hands) find little problem with a soprano ukulele and if they feel more comfortable starting out on a soprano than on a concert, by all means they are welcome to it!

Tenor ukes, on the other hand, are normally preferred by intermediate to professional level players (for whom the sound, tone and a wider range hold more importance than the playability of the instrument), so we’ll skip the tenors for the time being.

Baritone ukuleles

The baritone ukes, on the other hand, is more of a cross between a guitar and a ukulele. The sound is fuller and heavier and is normally a far cry from a traditional ukulele sound. The string arrangements are different as well and accordingly, the tabs you’ll get for ukulele songs and the string and chord arrangements therein will not correspond if you try to play them on a baritone.

However, as a beginner, you may start out with a baritone uke only if your aim is to shift to guitar once you’ve packed in some experience and skill by playing the uke. For a situation such as this, the baritone uke is actually an ideal choice since its strings, DGBE, correspond exactly to the four high strings of the guitar. This makes the transition easier since you won’t have to learn new chord positions once you’ve made the shift to the guitar.

2. Playability

Of course, easy and smooth playability should be of utmost concern when selecting a ukulele for beginners. So, always look for a uke with lower action so that your fingers will not get unduly stressed while playing. Also, pay attention to the strings and see if they are soft enough for your fingers. You may either go for gut strings or fluorocarbon strings or any other variety as long as they go soft on your fingers.

3. Make, Wood & Sound

Different woods and wood combinations make for differences in tone and sound. However, as an entry-level player, you needn’t worry too much about these factors. You’ll have time to become fussy once you have attained a degree of mastery over the instrument!
However, the ‘make’ factor is important. The top soundboard should be entirely flat; the neck should be joined flush with the main body of the instrument and there should be no gap for air to intrude; the back of the body will have a little curved shape, but see to it that there are no uneven bulges and so on.
Normally, if you are buying from a reputable brand or a popular uke model, the make would be alright. All the same, make sure to check on these factors (for you never know!). A ukulele with an improper make can seriously interfere with your playing (buzz, uneven tone, etc.) and surely you don’t want that to happen!

Tuners

Also, as a novice, you would be better off settling for a uke with geared tuners rather than friction pegs. As tuning machines, the former allow for more precise and accurate tuning whereas tuning through friction pegs is somewhat more challenging.

4. Price

Now, as to the price, you certainly don’t need (or want) to spend a fortune on your first ukulele. However, do resist the temptation to go for the extremely cheap versions available for $30-$40. For one thing, the build quality is often extremely poor for these ukes and this can compromise the playability as well as the intonation of the instrument. Usually, as a beginner, it is best to settle for models falling in the price bracket of $60-$120.

Types of Ukuleles

As mentioned above, the four basic types in ukulele are soprano, concert, tenor and baritone ukuleles. The first two have a sweeter and higher voice that correspond more to the classical ukulele sound. A tenor uke, on the other hand, comes with a lower voice but with a fuller sound with better projection and resonance.

As for the wood types, the most basic combination is a Spruce top with Mahogany for the sides and back. However, there are many other models that use Cedar or Mahogany for the top soundboard. Generally speaking, cedar and spruce top ukes normally come with a bright and loud sound whereas a uke with a mahogany top soundboard tends to give a warmer and mellow sound.

Top Ukulele Brands

Although there are many quality manufacturers of ukuleles, here’s our own curated list of top ten ukulele brands.

1. Kala
2. Luna
3. Mahalo
4. Lanikai (for real Hawaiian ukuleles)
5. Cordoba
6. Fender (especially good for electric ukuleles)
7. Kanilea
8. Martin
9. Oscar Schmidt
10. Sawtooth

Average Ukulele Pricing

Here’s a small and simple list of average ukulele pricing that will help you get a general idea of ukulele prices.

• Budget: Around $60
• Beginner/ Entry-level: $60 to $150
• Mid-Level/ Intermediate: $150 to $500
• High-End/ Professional: $500 and Up (with the solid wood tops easily running up to thousands)

Questions & Answers

What brand ukulele is the best?

As mentioned above, there are plenty of manufacturers that regularly come out with superior quality ukuleles and basically, it boils down to personal preferences more than anything else. However, we would say (without meaning to stick our necks out) that when it comes to the quality-to-price ratio, it is perhaps best for a beginner to settle for any of the various popular and affordable models from Kala.

What is the best type of ukulele to buy?

We’ve discussed this in detail in our Tips section. As a beginner, go for a soprano or a concert and you can later try out the tenor once you’ve gained some mastery. Or, if you are learning ukulele to eventually shift to guitar, you may start out with a baritone.
In fact, hardly any ukulele player, once he has attained a degree of skill, plays with one instrument alone. Different types of ukes suit better to different songs and styles of playing.

Is ukulele hard to play?

Well, not at all! Ukulele is easy to learn and fun to play. Smaller scales and lesser octaves mean less complicated arrangements for chords and arpeggios and many people find it easy to make music on a uke after only 2-4 weeks since the beginning of their training.

What size ukulele is easiest?

The smallest ones, the soprano and the concert, are also the easiest to play.

Is ukulele easier than guitar?

This is a common question among many and the answer is, YES, especially if you want to play uke for purposes of relaxation or diversion. The guitar is a 6-string, 3-octave instrument which means that the instrument offers more variety and complexity in terms of chord arrangements, playing scales and so on. Of course, you have the option to play the chords on a guitar as simply as in a uke, but then it won’t quite sound like you are playing a guitar! And neither will that have the sweet and traditional sound of a ukulele.

In addition, the lower action, softer strings and the smaller frets of a uke mean playing the instrument is physically much less s
trenuous when compared to playing a guitar.

How much is a ukulele?

Ukuleles are fairly affordable instruments which makes upgrading with a ukulele pretty easy compared to most other string instruments. As you develop your skills, you can easily invest in three or four ukes without putting too much pressure on your purse (that is, unless you’re going for solid wood tops every time!).

For a beginner, we think it is best to settle for an instrument that costs anywhere between $60 and $120.

 

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