There are a number of reasons to buy a ukulele if you’re looking to start a new hobby and learn to play an instrument. First of all, they’re an affordable option for larger, more expensive instruments, such as electric guitars and keyboards. Ukuleles are also an easily accessible instrument that’s easy to grab and start learning. Thirdly, a ukulele is small, so it doesn’t occupy much space in your room or apartment and can be taken with you on the go.
However, what’s not easy is deciding what type of ukulele to buy. There’s so much to choose from, considering the countless options available in your local music store–and don’t get us started with the nearly infinite instrument being sold online, both used and new. Whether you’re going through the isles of your local Guitar Center or browsing Amazon.com, it can be quite an overwhelming task to buy your first ukulele.
Don’t worry, because the Yousician team and its ukulele experts have gathered some great recommendations for beginner ukulele players. On top of that, we’ll give you some things to keep in mind when trying to nail down the perfect new instrument for you.
Buying a beginner ukulele: Things to keep in mind
Before we introduce some great beginner ukes for all aspiring ukulele players, it’s good to be familiar with some factors that’ll influence your purchasing decision. Some of the most important ones include the ukulele’s size, material and whether it’s a fully acoustic instrument. Price will also be a major player, especially on a tighter budget.
Because of its small size, a ukulele is an excellent first instrument even for a child. However, in the hands of a talented uke player, the ukulele is far from a musical instrument used solely by beginners and kids.
Speaking of ukulele sizes, choosing the right size for your ukulele can be a confusing task. Different sized ukuleles are suitable for different sized ukulele players and playing styles. However, in case you’re a beginner learning ukulele, it’s a good idea to start with a concert sized instrument. The main ukulele sizes include:
- Soprano ukulele: 53cm long / 21 inches
- Concert ukulele: 58cm long / 23 inches
- Tenor ukulele: 66cm long / 26 inches
- Baritone ukulele: 74cm long / 29 inches
There’s also an instrument called bass ukulele that is 76cm or 30 inches long. You can read more about different ukulele sizes in our informative blog post here.
Electric or acoustic
For a ukulele beginner who’s still learning how to play, the standard acoustic ukulele is a good place to start. However, it’s good to keep in mind that there are also two types of electric ukuleles. These are fully electric ukuleles and the so-called electro-acoustic ukuleles.
Electro-acoustic: An electro-acoustic ukulele is like a regular ukulele but comes equipped with a pickup for amplifying it’s sound electronically. Electro-acoustic ukuleles are comparable to semi-acoustic guitars that work in much the same way.
Electric ukulele: An electric ukulele has a solid body, much like an electric guitar. Because of this, you’ll also need an amplifier in order to play an electric ukulele.
If you want the traditional ukulele sound, go for a traditional acoustic ukulele or alternatively an electro-acoustic ukulele that can be played even without an amp. However, electric ukuleles are not a bad choice if you wish to play plugged into an amp.
Settling on the right material is one of the important choices you’ll have to make when purchasing a ukulele. The cheapest of ukuleles are made of plastic whereas higher quality instruments are made of various types of wood, such as mahogany or maple. Ukuleles made from laminated wood are cheaper but their tone and resonance is poor compared to solid wood ukuleles made from a single piece of wood. The different ukulele parts can also be made from different materials. These include the body, neck, bridge and fingerboard, for instance.
As you might have guessed by now, the price range for ukuleles is quite wide. However, luckily for many, you can get started with surprisingly little when buying a ukulele. Just keep in mind that you get what you pay for, so most of the cheapest $20 are priced low for a reason. Especially if you’re committed to playing and learning the ukulele, it’s not a bad idea to invest in quality. For instance, most cheap ukuleles are likely to go out of tune quite quickly when playing, making them frustrating to play with.
In case you’re ready to go all in, you can spend hundreds of dollars for a high quality ukulele. However, you don’t need to pay that much for a sufficient beginner ukulele. A good beginner ukulele will cost you around $100.
Some factors that’ll influence the price of a ukulele are its size (more materials cost more money), electronics and the type of material used to build the instrument. For instance, a baritone sized electro-ukulele with a mahogany body is going to cost more than a small plastic soprano ukulele. On top of that, you’ll have to pay more for other accessories that may be required when buying your beginner ukulele, so take that into account when deciding your budget.
Beginner ukuleles: Recommendations from the Yousician team
Now you know what to look for when browsing through the numerous beginner ukuleles out there. To help you on your quest, the Yousician team has gathered some of the best beginner ukuleles to choose from. Check out at least these ukuleles at your local music store or read more online.
1. LUNA HEARTSONG
This concert ukulele by Luna Guitars features a Fishman Kulu preamp and USB output that lets you connect the instrument to your device, letting you record anytime. The Luna Heartsong has a solid spruce top that sounds great acoustic as well! This instrument also comes with a gig bag, making travelling with your ukulele a breeze.
You can find it at Amazon here.
2. CORDOBA – 15CM
You wouldn’t know it based on its $99 price tag, but this ukulele is completely handmade with mahogany. Unlike most instruments in this category, this Cordoba concert ukulele has an authentic abalone rosette and satin finish that really elevate its look. Just like the one above, this one’s a good beginner ukulele in terms of size.
You can find it at Guitar Center here.
3. MITCHELL MU40C
This concert ukulele by Mitchell has a lindenwood body for a bright tone and natural finish. The walnut fingerboard offers comfortable, easy playability for ukulele players of any skill level. It also comes with an instructional booklet to help you get started. The affordable price of this ukulele makes it a good option for beginners as well and those who don’t want to spend over $100 on an ukulele.
You can find it at Guitar Center here.
Beginner ukuleles and other accessories
Once you have chosen the right ukulele for you, there are some additional things you might want to get as well. If you have an acoustic ukulele and want to get everything for playing, get at least the following:
- Carrying case
- Ukulele stand
For electric and electro-acoustic ukulele players you’ll also need an amp and an instrument cable. As every player of a stringed instrument knows, nothing is a bigger bummer than having a broken string and not having a new string to replace it. Ukuleles use nylon strings that last a good while. However, make sure to keep a set of spare nylon strings with you for those unpleasant surprises. Luckily a set of backup ukulele strings is not a big investment.
Another reasonably small investment for ukulele players is a capo. Read more about capos in our previous blog post. In case you need to take your ukulele with you, for example to a concert, band practice or ukulele lessons, you should also get a carrying case for your instrument. Meanwhile, a ukulele strap is a handy accessory that allows you to hang the instrument from your neck when playing. Ukulele stands are good for storing your ukulele upright on the floor. You can also go for a version that lets you hang your ukulele from the wall. What better way to turn your ukulele into a nice art piece.
One of the most important tools you’ll need is a good ukulele tuner. There are plenty of physical tuner devices out there that you can use. However, these can also be expensive and not that reliable. That’s why you should give GuitarTuna a shot. The great thing is that you can download GuitarTuna on your mobile device for free. Check out GuitarTuna and all its different tuners from the Apple App Store or Google Play. You can also read our helpful blog post for tuning your ukulele.
Learn and play ukulele with Yousician
When you have your beginner ukulele with you, it’s time to start playing. Check out Yousician in case you’re in need of some interactive online ukulele lessons. Yousician’s video lessons and sound recognition software are a great way to learn the fundamentals of ukulele playing. With a wide variety of songs, you can play along to your favorite tunes as well. Yousician is available for other instruments and singing as well. Download Yousician on your mobile device or desktop computer and grab your new beginner ukulele.