So, you want to learn how to play ukulele, but you’re not sure what uke to buy.
So. Many. Options. Ah! – Photo credit
I’m here to help.
In this short guide, get my top beginner ukulele recommendations and discover some tips for buying your first ukulele.
Before going further, remember, the most important thing:
Get a ukulele!
Don’t overthink your decision too much. The most important thing is to buy a ukulele and start playing. The free ukulele lesson book Your First Ukulele Lesson and Then Some has all you need to begin today… no matter what ukulele you have.
With that said, here are my tips and recommendations for buying your first ukulele.
If you want, skip ahead to the top 5 beginner ukulele recommendations.
Borrow a Friend’s Ukulele
If you’re just starting to learn ukulele, consider finding a friend, family member or coworker who has a ukulele that you can borrow.
Warning: It might be difficult to get your friend to part with their ukulele!
Borrow it for a week or two, get the free 45-page ukulele lesson book Your First Ukulele Lesson and Then Some and see if you like playing the ukulele.
If you find out you hate it (which I highly doubt), then you’ve not spent a bunch of money, and you can continue about your life.
Narrow Down Your Options With Your Budget
Say you already know you love ukulele and you’re ready to dive in.
The next thing to do is to set your budget. How much do you want to spend on your ukulele?
There are unlimited ukulele brands at various price points, so narrow down the pool you’re picking from and set your budget up front.
The great thing about learning how to play ukulele is that it’s not an expensive instrument to learn. You don’t have to break the bank. For around $50, you can get a decent and playable ukulele.
At the same time, there are benefits to investing more into a ukulele. Higher quality ukuleles tend to hold tuning better. In addition, those who put a financial investment into playing ukulele tend to be more motivated to learn how to play. You want to get your money’s worth.
The sky really is the limit in terms of price. This is why it’s important to set a budget for yourself so you don’t get lost in all your options.
Most beginners can expect to pay anywhere between $50 to $200 for a good, playable ukulele.
I don’t recommend buying anything cheaper.
Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $200 for a good beginner ukulele –
You might be wondering:
“Why would someone want to pay more than $50 for a ukulele?”
Great question. As you go up in price, you get into ukuleles built with solid wood rather than laminate wood or plastic. Solid woods cost more because the tonal characteristics of the instrument tend to be richer and fuller. Different woods have different tonal characteristics. Some woods are rarer than others which also affects the price. More expensive ukuleles might be handmade or have finer detailing (e.g. pearl inlays). Higher-priced ukuleles tend to have better quality tuners, which means the ukulele will stay in tune for longer periods of time. All of these different things factor into the price of a ukulele.
As a rule of thumb, you get what you pay for.
There are exceptions to this rule. Even though you go up in price, it doesn’t always mean the ukulele will be better made than one that’s cheaper. This is why it’s always important to play a lot of different ukuleles or at least read as many reviews online as you can.
As a beginner or newer player, you don’t need to break the bank.
Because of how cheap you can get a good uke, you have no excuse not to get one!
Let’s take a look at some good beginner ukes.
5 Best Ukuleles to Buy for Beginners
The following ukulele recommendations are based on my experience playing these ukuleles and/or your recommendations from the hundreds of comments below this post.
Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Proceeds are used to support this site.
If I’m missing any great suggestions, please say something in the comments below!
1.) Makala Dolphin Soprano Ukulele
For just at $60, you can play the fun and famous Makala Dolphin ukulele.
Don’t let the price of this ukulele fool you. People everywhere online rave about these. They are made out of plastic but they have great tone and playability for the price. Definitely replace the default strings that come with it with nicer higher-quality ukulele strings.
This is a perfect ukulele for beginners on a budget or those who want a good “throw-it-in-your-backpack” ukulele.
The Makala dolphin ukulele comes in a lot of different colors like: red, pearl white, black, light blue, metallic blue, pink, yellow, green, or purple.
2.) Lanikai LU-21 Soprano Ukulele
For those who don’t like the idea of having a plastic ukulele, the Lanikai LU-21 soprano might be a better choice for you.
This is a laminate wood ukulele, but it’ll have the “look” of the real thing. Depending on how hard you play, you might have to tune the strings often. I found when I played the Lanikai LU-21 the intonation is not perfect higher up on the fretboard. For a beginner who just wants to strum some chords, this ukulele gets great reviews and you can’t go wrong, not to mention it also comes in a concert and tenor size.
3.) Donner Concert Mahogany Ukulele w/ Case, Strap and Tuner
This is easily the best bang-for-the-buck ukulele on this list.
Just recently I played the Donner concert ukulele, and for the price, I was quite impressed with the quality of the sound, how the ukulele held tuning, and the intonation up the ukulele fretboard.
Most budget ukuleles sound out of tune when you play notes high up the fretboard but not this one. Also tuning held nicely. Once the strings stretched and settled, tuning held well with small adjustments every 10 to 15 minutes of playing. In addition, with the ukulele, you get a strap, case, and tuner. It’s a really nice setup to get started. You can’t go wrong with the Donner concert ukulele. Lastly, if you’re on a tight budget, you can get the Donner ukulele in a smaller soprano size too for less money.
4.) Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele
Based on your feedback in the comments, I had to include the Cordoba 15CM concert ukulele.
You all give this ukulele outstanding reviews in the comments at the bottom of this post. This ukulele sports a mahogany top, back, and sides. In addition to a concert size, the Cordoba also comes in a smaller soprano size and a larger tenor size. If you have larger hands, definitely go with the tenor so you have extra space for your fingers between the frets.
5.) Kala KA-TE Mahogany Tenor Ukulele
If you ever want to “plug in” and amplify the sound of your ukulele, then, the Kala KA-TE tenor ukulele is for you.
I play a Kala tenor ukulele for some of the video lessons in the Strumming Tricks online ukulele lesson course I teach and love it. It’s not the same ukulele as this one, but I can’t say enough great things about Kala ukuleles.
This ukulele has an electronic pickup which means if you ever want to perform your ukulele live and plug in to amplify the sound then this ukulele is for you.
For those with bigger fingers or larger hands, you might find soprano and concert ukuleles hard to play. If this sounds like you, look at a tenor-sized ukulele. I have a tenor ukulele and it feels much more comfortable to play and hold with my bigger hands. This Kala tenor ukulele is a great choice. And if the electronic pickup isn’t important to you, Kala also makes this same ukulele in a soprano or concert size.
What Ukuleles Do You Recommend?
There are many ukuleles out there that would suit a beginning player. I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg, and I know I’ve missed some other really great entry-level ukuleles out there. So, let’s hear your recommendations! Post a comment below to share your suggestions.
Last updated on April 8, 2022.
My first uke was a Makala Dolphin, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it. And not just to beginners! It sounded good out of the box and even better with a set of Aquila strings on it.
I’ve recently upgraded to a Kala Lacewood concert (partly because I wanted to go up a size), but the Dolphin will still be getting played often.
Great to hear some more praise for the Makala Dolphin. It’s a workhorse.
What do you think of the LANIKA pinapple?
Lanikai makes great ukes for beginners and entry-level players who are on a budget. Pineapple ukuleles are fun to play! They look cool too. You can’t go wrong with it.
I just purchased one of these beauties for $39 online, free shipping. I’m also buying two of the dolphin series ukes for my nieces. We can’t wait to get started! Thanks Brett for all your help.
I’ve owned the Lanakai TunaUke pineapple for a few months. I like the size and shape (came down from a concert size uke) and I like the playability….but it has an intonation flaw that we cannot figure out. There is a buzz or vibration that puzzles me. I replaced the factory strings with Worth brown strings. Still like the uke but would like to solve my problem.
Sounds like the neck is warped. Sight down the neck looking for how straight the neck is and how even the frets.
How do you feel about the Flukes and Fleas?
Love them. I have a friend who keeps one handy in his studio. They record wonderfully. Excellent tone. You can’t go wrong with a Fluke if you ask me!
I love Flukes. My first ukulele was my mom’s very old Pinapple Kamaka hand made by Samuel Kamaka. She bought it used in the 1920s and I played on it off and on from the 1950s till about 2004–when I found out this particular uke is a very limited collector’s item. So I shopped around and looked at many, many ukuleles. While I wanted a good used Martin I couldn’t afford one. I discovered the Fluke, played one and loved the tone and how well it was made. I bought a Concert Hibiscus Red model (15 1/2″ scale) and just loved it, and yes, it is fairly loud for a uke, and does hold a tuning quite well. About a year later I bought a Tenor Fluke with a 17″ scale and like it even better. The shape, like the Concert, is great as it will stand up on its own with its straight bottom edge. I added Aquila strings, which was not an option when I bought it and loved that it can be tuned GCEA or the lower DGBE (high D). Eventually, I’d like to pick up another Tenor with a hardwood fretboard and internal pickup. While this will not add anything to my ability or be easier to play, it would be cool to have. I gave my Concert Fluke to my wife and would like to find a decent, used baritone. If only Fluke would make one. If you are more or less a beginner or better and on a budget I would look for a fluke on line or used. You cannot go wrong and the molded fretboard plays as well as the hardwood. If you tire of it you will be able to get a bit more for it than a starter uke from China that you can buy new for $50 to $100. New Flukes today, November 2012, will set you back $200 and up–they are worth it.
Is Flea just as good? Are the same manufacturer?
Hi do you still have you fluke please?
Do you know a good uke around $17.00 or a place that sells them that cheap?
If you only have $17 to spend on a ukulele, wait a little bit and save some more money. At even $30 – $50, you can get a much better uke that won’t be “toy” quality.
I got a blue moon soprano uke a couple of years ago for about £17 (which is close enough to $17) and I’ve played it almost every day since, it’s the best £17 I ever spent! It’s not perfect, but it’s not bad either, and if I’d waited until I had more money I’d still be waiting now. Unless your ears are very sensitive you can have loads of fun even with a cheap uke 🙂
I think I can clear this up: 17 pounds equals US $30, so you two are agreeing that $30 is acceptable for a lower limit.
First of all, congratulations on a WONDERFUL, LIFE SAVER Uke course. I just started a pilot program here in the Desert called “Ukes In Schools”, funded by the Steinway Society of Riverside County and an Anderson Grant, and manned by volunteers like me, learning from YOUR website. Here’s the latest news report on our Ukes In Schools program from last Tuesday:
Anyway, just wanted to thank you for all the GREAT stuff we’re learning from you and in turn are sharing with kids who would otherwise never get a chance to learn…
As far as basic Uke recommendations…have you seen the Sunlite US-100T/eng? It’s about $70.00 but has a tuner built IN and strap pins for folks who have a hard time (initially) holding and playing at the same time. We’ve been using them for the kids at Madison Elementary…they’re solid wood, Aquila Strings and fairly accurate in the intonation. We highly recommend them!
We have 2.5 year old daughter and would like to buy a uk for christmas. I’m overwelmed with all possibilities and options. Any help appriciated.
At that age, you would be better off buying a “Toy” ukulele for 15-20 dollars. I only say this because at that age she wont be bale to process the shapes of the fingerings and the strum patterns, but it will get her used to the size and allow her to become familiarized with the ukulele.
Yes, I just came across the sunlite soprano and was amazed at the volume that came out of it and ease of playing. I would recommend them.
What an exciting music program. It must be wonderful to share your enthusiasm with school-aged students in your community! Such work is Very inspiring to say the least. I hope I can find and volunteer for something similar in my neighborhood. 🙂
I have a Kala Solid Spruce Top KA-SC Ukulele, which I bought last Christmas. It is only now that I have decided that I want to properly learn to play it. What is your view on this instrument, was it a good choice to learn on?
Looking forward to starting my learning through you excellent site
In my experience, I would never hesitate to recommend a Kala ukulele to a beginner. That sounds like a great choice!
Anyone have any comments on the Luna concert? I have been looking at the bundles – Uke, case and tuner, for $106.00. Do you recommend buying online or picking the uke out in person?
Hi Michelle – I have a Luna Tapa Cedar concert & am loving it! I upgraded to this version as it has a built in pickup for versitality …. around $199 CAD. A beautiful bright sounding uke 🙂
I bought a Luna concert a few months ago after a beautiful KoAloha I’d bought in a private internet sale never arrived. Despite it’s being something of a second choice, I absolutely love it – all solid koa wood in a satin finish and a really natural sounding pickup on it too. The intonation is a tiny bit out, but it has a nice bright sound and I’d recommend it to anyone.
I play with a friend who has a Luna tattoo concert with a p/up, it’s lovely to hold, play and has a rich mellow sound with good volume without plugging it in, the tattoo also looks pretty cool as well, making it a little more individual that most uses. Good luck
I am a 13 year old with no ukulele experience whatsoever. I only saw a girl at a camp play one once. But recently I have been doing some research and trying to figure out what to buy if I were to earn the money. Under 30 dollars would be preferable, since I don’t need anything fancy. Could you help me? It would be greatly appreciated! 🙂 Thanks! Faith.
Hi Faith, it sounds like the Makala Dolphin ukulele would be perfect for you. You’ll probably have to save up at least $50. I would recommend saving up the extra money just because you want it to sound and play decently. The other option would be to visit your local music store and see if they have any ukuleles in stock that are in your price range. Try them out or ask someone in the store to play and recommend you one. I’m sure you could get them to throw in some strings or a tuner too!
If you still looking, I got a student uke online (same used in music class at my younger brothers school) $34 on amazon (on sale) Alfred’s teach your self to play..comes with book and bag (though I’d prob buy a case as the bag is flimsy…not perfect but 2 learn I like it, if I keep playing and start to catch on I’ve already picked out a more expensive reall wooden makaya with paisley so carved into the wood 🙂
So, the difference between the tenor, soprano, and concert ukulele is the size? My husband is 6 foot, and want to buy one as a surprise xmas gift…
Tenor is the largest of the three, but if he wouldn’t mind, the baritone which also has four strings is like a small guitar. His chording will be different than the soprano, concert and tenor, but would fit his size. Keep in mind, also, that not all of the four different sized ukuleles are exactly the same length or width. Different manufacturers have their own take on whether they want 22″, 23″, etc.
Oscar Schmidt Has a really nice Uke the OU6W Tenor
Extra wide neck makes it real easy on us larger guys.
Aquila came out with GCEA strings for the baritone ukulele. FYI they sound good but they have have the space for the bigger fingers. Also, Kamoa ukuleles can be found at http://hawaiian-ukulele.com. (The Big Island’s#1 dealer for Kamoa Ukukele) have Classic guitar string spacing and use spruce and maple woods for deeper tones.
Your #1 recommendation Makala Dolphin should include the Makala Shark. They are virtually the same. Only differences are the bridge is a shark, fewer colors and colors are less flambouyant.
THANK YOU! i was wondering if there was a difference, because im getting a Makala Shark.
I must say I enjoy your site!
I was given the Lanikai LU-21 Soprano Ukulele for Christmas. I am still “not getting” the strum patterns but I am getting better, at least my wife and children can listen and know what I am doing sounds “close to right”
The LU-21 is over priced at places like Guitar Center ($100+) etc, really shop around on that one. I am not 100% satisfied with it because after only a few minutes of playing it goes out of tune quickly and I find myself messing with it. I am going to order new hardware for the keys and see if that makes a difference. It also may be something with going to nylon (I had a baritone with metal) strings that makes it harder to tune in the beginning so be aware.
Again awesome site! Thank you!
Thanks for the comment! I’m glad you like the site. I’m also glad to get your thoughts on the LU-21. I imagine new hardware for the keys would really help. Did you have the LU-21 equivalent in a baritone size or were you putting baritone strings on the soprano LU-21?
I don’t remember the brand. It was a long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… I was a teenager and my sister wanted a shortcut to learn the chords on the guitar… you were right, she had no vested interest in the Ukulele so she picked it up and put it down. I grabbed it and never looked back. Now I am older and wiser. It was a wood body, probably a really nice Baritone … my 3 year old used the bridge as a bridge … and it splintered into thousands of pieces.
Note: for the first time the LU-21 held the tune today. Maybe I don’t need to buy hardware quite yet! Oh and the book that comes with the LU-21 has a couple misprints in the songs, the wrong Chord etc.
That’s a great story It’s a shame it didn’t end well for the baritone uke, but at least you’re rocking a soprano now these days! 🙂 Glad to hear the LU-21 is tuning a bit better. Is that because you tried different strings on it?
Brett. do you recommend d a Islander ukulele made of mahogany wood?
It really depends on the strings. The entry level Lanikai ukuleles come with Aquila strings, which are actually pretty good with the caveat that they have to “set” before they can really hold your tuning. Initially, yes, it can be annoying to hear it fall out of tune after only a few hours, but with time they work just fine.
I was told strings have to be on for a while before they’ll stay in tune. I put new strings on my old Harmony (1960’s vintage) and it took weeks for them to “season”. I was also told to push on them to stretch them, and play, of course.
I’ve got an old 60s harmony as well! It’s my first one. Did you restring yours? I’m thinking about restringing it cause the strings are old but I don’t think i should cause it’s vintage.
I just bought a Lanikai LU-21. It has nice tone I am a true beginner but am playing around with chords and melody. I played a little violin and piano.so the tuning isn’t a problem but even with Aquila strings I have to tune while I am playing. That could also be new strings. For the price it is a nice uke.
I love the Aquila strings and my Lanikai S-C stays in perfect tune weeks on end, I can’t believe how great this ukulele always sounds and how true the intonation is even on the highest frets, Cost $165.00 and I just got lucky when I bought it without researching. Really well made and has great enclosed tuners. Violins should have these tuners. This is the perfect concert sized ukulele. The soprano doesn’t have enough frets and the fingerboard is too narrow. Good strun’in.
I got mine online for $45.00. One note… I highly recommend a case. this will cost you $25-$50.
Get a Makala Dolphin they’re great, just bought one been using them at college and was loving them.
I got the Makala Shark one, is it by any chance as good as the Makala Dolphin?
Did you get one of them by any chance?
Once the strings stretched mine hardly needed tuning. It’s all in the strings. This is a very nice ukulele for the price.
as far as the Lanikai goes, I have an LU 21C. It has been giving me fits on certain chords. Today my partner, Pete, found online information for me that I didn’t know. Basically that the “action” needed to be adjusted. There is a test you can do with a plastic credit card, (no, not buy a new Uke), you need to place it across the fretboard just below the nut and if there is air under it (like a couple mm’s or more) then the piece needs adjusting by a luthier. and there is one here at a local store. Apparently that needs to be done with this particular model-maybe all the Lanikai models, maybe others as well. He’s not going to raise the nut and lower the saddle…but is just going to lower the saddle a tiny little bit to improve the string action. I mean I play acoustice guitar and have playing calluses like you wouldn’t believe, but the Uke with Aquila strings rips my fingers, calluses and all, to shreds. Not to mention effecting strumming and picking. I did try a more expensive Uke at the store today and will be purchasing it. The difference in the action was so striking. I am glad I have the Lanikai to learn on and practice with, but I’m going with a Cordoba Tenor in the very near future-the electric/acoustic.
I adjusted the action on my soprano myself – I decided any self respecting luthier would probably charge more than my cheapo uke was worth anyway! So I filed/sanded a little off the plastic bit that slots in the bridge and similar with the nut at the other end – cautious and slow is the watchword here! Changed the uke completely , easier to play, better sound, the lot. Not sure I’d want to try it on a better quality instrument though! There are several you tube videos showing how to do it if anyones interested – I went for approx. 1mm string height at the first fret and 3.5mm at the 12th fret, but it will depend on personal preference and which size instrument you have.
I recently purchased a Makala Soprano Mk-P and can recommend it. Even with black standard strings, it is very playable and sounds good, although it is thought a change to aquila strings would be an advantage. Maybe other players would like to comment on aquila strings or decent alternatives.
Sounds like a good uke! New strings always seem to help a little. I just put some Aquila’s on my tenor and so far I’m pretty well pleased. I think I’m going to experiment a little bit in the future though.
Try some of the clear flourocarbon strings that are available. They don’t stretch as much as nylon strings, especially wound ones like the Aquilas. They “set” more quickly, and hold their tune much better. They tend to have a clear, bright sound that makes any uke sound better, in my opinion. Worth makes some excellent clear flourocarbon strings, along with some brown ones that are more subdued in sound. Martin’s clear flourocarbon strings also seem to be very good. There are other reputable brands like Fremont. Most strings are pretty cheap, so you can try several until you find the ones you like the best. Elderly Music has a great selection.
I love the Aquila strings and my uke stays in tune for weeks. I have had plastic strings and open tuners with really awful tuning problems.
As a newbie, these are great tips seriously for purchasing Ukuleles, cheers!
Just purchased a Lanikai LU-21 (with Aquila strings)as a beginner, after doing much internet research. I lived in HI about 10 years ago and regret not learning while I was there. I was able to get it on Amazon for about $65 including shipping. So far so good, after 2 weeks it no longer needs tuning every hour. I’ve been tuning it by piano but would like to get an inexpensive tuner since I don’t trust these old ears.
I have “Twinkle Twinkle” memorized and my daughter wants to learn it too.
Thanks for all the info on your website, I have learned a lot so far and I appreciate you explanation of where each finger goes for different chords. I am teaching myself to play!
Mary, I’m so glad to hear that the LU-21 is working out for you! I wrote up some suggested tuners over here if you want to check those out to get some ideas. I’m really encouraged to hear it’s going well and glad to hear you are having success so far! Keep up the GREAT work! 🙂
A Snark tuner will cost about $11 on Amazon.
You can download free chromatic tuners for your phone or computer. For my android phone i got an app called gStrings. I’m really happy with it. It occasionally has ads running at the top but this does not affect functionality. I used it for 3 days before I even noticed the ads were there!
I had the good fortune to be able to take a trip to Hawaii. While I was in Hilo on the Big Island, I took the plunge and bought a Kala Mahogany Concert Electric Ukulele (KA-CE). It cost about $130 but you can get the same uke without the electronic pickup for $90-$100. I only got the CE because I already play electric bass and have an amp that I can plug into. I plugged it in when I got home, and the output sounds great. But most of the time I practice acoustically, so for most beginners the KA-C model would be all they need. I got interested in the ukulele by trying out a friends Makala Soprano, but I find it a bit small in the fret area and the strings were a very hard black material. In contrast, the KA-C has an 18 fret neck which guitar players will find more easy to handle. The tone and volume of the uke is fuller because of the slightly bigger concert body. I really like the white Aquila Nylgut strings as they are much easier on the fingers and I believe they enhance the tone of the instrument. It’s still small enough to carry anywhere and I love just picking it up and practicing some chords and songs, even if I only have 15 minutes of time. This is a ukulele I think any beginner will be happy with if they can afford to move from the $50 range into the $100 range. You can watch a UTube video of this instrument by going to the follwing link. Maybe if I keep practicing I’ll be able to play as good as this young man. At least I know that if I don’t sound that good I can’t blame the Kala uke!
Here’s the web link:
Gil, thanks for posting your review of the Kala. Sounds like an awesome uke!
I am surprised no one has asked about action, the distance between the frets and strings. They all seem to vary enormously and as you know, high action will put off anyone especially begginers. I have a Brunswick concert and the action is far too high compared to a friends lanakai, the lanakai is far more rewarding to play, needing a lot less pressure with the right hand fingers. So, I will be trading in the Brunswick……… Anyone else noticed this action discrepancy?
I am so happy to find out what action means! Have been reviewing uke sites as I want to upgrade from a Savannah and so many mention ‘action’ . Now I finally know what it is…
when you get more familiar, you may want to adjust the action yourself., or have a pro “set up” your instrument. There are a couple way to do this, which I find not to be much trouble or risky. One of the first things I do when buying a uke is turn it flat, at eye level, and check out the action. If, by chance, the actioin is too low on a uke, or even one of the strings, you will hear a buzz.
I forgot to add one more thing about the Kala KA-C Concert model. The fellow who sold me the instrument owns and runs the Hilo Guitar and Ukulele Music shop in Hilo. He tells you a little bit about it in his YouTube video clip at the bottom of the following page link. The left and center frames he uses a KA-C in the video. According to him it should cost you about $90 for the model without the electronics.
Here’s the link:
Here’s yet another demo of that Kala Concert ukulele (KA-C) that I was talking about. Even an inexpensive model in the right hands (hopefully mine in the distant future) can produce impressive results. Another video clip performance in the Hilo, Hawaii guitar and ukulele shop. (No, i’m not a salesman or representative …. just a satisfied customer)
Here’s the link:
Hope this helps others who are brand new to ukuleles as I am.
I bought a “HILO 2652” Uke from Guitar Center a short while ago (I think I got it on sale for $40) and didn’t see any Hilo recommendations — is the Kala a Hilo brand? Any thoughts on this model?
I have the little green Mahalo in the header image. I love it! For only $30, it’s a great uke to start on. Hopefully later this year I’ll move up to a Kala.
My local music store also has a banjo-uke I’ve been eyeing up.
I want to eventually get a banjo-uke. They sound so cool!
I have the Lanikai banjolele (concert size) and it is terrific fun! Subs in for a banjo when there isn’t a banjo and plays louder than my already-pretty-loud Kala lacewood concert. I’d definitely opt for the solid back resonator banjolele instead of the open back versions. I found the tone to be much more full on the solid back. Hope you get your hands on one soon!
I love my banjolele..It is sometimes better for some songs than the uke. I really like to pull it out and play songs like “Big Rock Candy Mountain”
Definitely a head turner when you pull it out.
I have a Mahalo too. I’m not sure if it’s a good uke or not because it’s the only one I have. It’d be interesting to try a banjo-uke tough.
Mahalo makes a great entry-level ukulele! I’d like to buy a banjo-uke eventually. Such a cool sound…
I’ve been playing Ukulele for a few months now. When I started I was borrowing my friends and I ended up getting it as a hand-me-down. My ukulele is a Mahalo U-30 Painted Soprano Ukulele, yellow, I love the thing, seriously the perfect beginner uke. (even if it slips out of tune a little, it’s very good practice to have an instrument that needs attention. I, for instance, have become pretty good at tuning by ear.) At this point, I’ve checked out a few different ukes, I’m looking to upgrade to a concert size and, eventually, get a banjo uke (that will be the real investment). I completely agree with the advice of borrowing a friends ukulele. I actually got mine from a friend who upgraded her ukulele, and now, I plan on giving my old Mahalo to my mother once I’ve upgraded. I also recommend just going to a store and picking up a few ukes, you might find that a specific sized uke is most comfortable for you. I ended up being most comfortable, more than size was concerned, with an instrument that was in used condition.
Hi Brett, my first try here, I have worked from your site in part as a beginner player. I belong to what I term as the Old Age Teenager Club, us old fogies that meet once a week to have a bash at playing the Uke. I have been now just over a year and have so much to learn.(At 81 it takes a little longer perhaps).Anyhow reading all these comments about what to buy, well my teacher recommended a Tenor Mahalo,it didn’t mean a thing to me,so I shopped around and got a “bundle”. I was hooked on the Uke,my only fault is that the fret board is a tad shorter than most other Tenors,but for an “el cheepo” it takes some beating meaning that after not playing this machine for a considerable time it was spot on key and I was really proud of it.I must say though I now have U A S, and now have 2 Baritones 3 Tenors (one is a 6 string Kala) and a Concert.By the way, reading some of the comments about Baritones,I must confess that I could NOT get my head around playing Baritone chords when all music was in the norm, ie re entrant, so I had them re strung using the lower G, sounds fine,Aquila strings of course, they are great.One Bari is an Oscar Schmidt, the other, plus one of the Tenors are Vietnamese Hand Made solid timber. Absolutely fantastic machines, love em to bits,so too is the Concert. I cant let these Ukes down and so I will be signing up for Tuition from your good self, all the jollies from Sydney Australia. Ern Stroud. By the way for those that wonder??U A S. Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome.
I have two soprano Ukuleles, one Leolani and a solid mahogany Islander. Different sounds but like them both. ( changed the Islander strings from Aquilas to Worth brown to tone down the A string. It made a ringing, almost grating sound. Harmonics of the smaller sound box I think. ).
I bought both of my grand kids Mahalo ukes. The strings that came with them you could hear go out of tune within a few seconds of playing them in the store. I talked the store owner into making me a deal on two sets of Aquilas to go with them. After a few days of breaking in the strings they stay in tune and sound fairly good for such inexpensive Ukuleles.
I would recommend the Mahalo to anybody who wants to try it out on a budget.
My first uke was a hand me down mahalo concert, i don’t know the exact model, it was about 5 years old at the time(2009) and it cost my mate £25 including case. It was awful but somehow it still got me hooked, within 2 months I had a Kala KA-MS it’s very good for the price £165. I still haven’t seen a nicer lookin uke for less that £1k. I recently played a Martin S-O and although I wasn’t impressed enough to buy it, I didn’t like the lack of fret markers, it has made me want a higher quality uke, Im currently looking at getting my hands on a KoAloha but am finding it quite difficult in the UK.
hiya, brett! “-) i’m a kala uker, too. but i fell head over heels for the “watermelon” soprano! i mean, it’s just SO cute to look at annnnd, it’s proven to be a really solid instrument. the strings are aquila and it has a really nice sound. i love when i go to tune it and find it’s still perfectly in tune. if you play it in a park or on the beach, it’s like having a chipmunk sitting in your lap, eating a peanut. everyone wants to come and see it! :-))
thanks for the great uke site! more STRUMMING lessons, if ya can! “-))
hah, what a crazy analogy! I’ve found that nothing draws a group of people like the sound of a ukulele. 🙂
I want to do some more strumming lessons eventually. I just opened back up an entire video lesson course called “Ukulele Strumming Tricks.” It’s dedicated completely to strumming. You can learn more about it here: http://www.ukuleletricks.com/ukulele-strumming-tricks/
Your strumming video(s) are such a benefit to new players. I also loved the blues uke video lesson. I was going over this pattern one day at a local park and before I knew it some parents sat down nearby as their children started dancing. I couldn’t believe it. I just started playing ukelele six months ago.(this sort of thing never happened while playing violin!) Your lessons have really helped a lot. The learning and fun factor curve seems so quick, compared to my experience learning to play other instruments such as the piano, flute, violin or guitar. 🙂 My only regret today is not picking up a ukelele 20 years ago.
My mum brought back theeee most beautiful uke from tahiti when she went over last year. Its also the best sounding uke ive ever heard! it has eight strings on it and sounds much (much,much!) better then the one we had got before (from the cook islands) with only four. The tones just sound so much richer then the 4string ones. It looks kinda like a very mini electric quitar and is quite heavy as its made out of solid wood 🙂 wouldd highly recommend to everyone! just having it in the house has made me want to learn how to play it properly!
I’ve not yet played an eight string ukulele yet. Do you know what brand it is? It sounds awesome! What a great souvenir to take back from a trip. My aunt just went to hawaii and scored a really nice ukulele.
Hi Brett – thanks for your great work on this website! I was heading into my local Long & McQuades music store here in Canada, and I found the most unique instrument called a Charangolele. It’s an 8 stringed uke-like instrument based on the traditional Bolivian 10-string charango (the charango has an extra E set of strings). It’s made from naranjilla wood & designed by a luthier named Delgadillo along with Amazonic, who imports them in from Bolivia. It’s highly glossed with gorgeous inlay work (beautiful instrument artistry), and is tuned to the regular uke GCEA patter, only the C string set is tuned up 1 octave as the strings are very thin compared to the regular uke. The E string pair is tuned to the high/low octaves, while the others are tuned to the same octave notes. It has the most unique sound when strummed, kinda uke-y/mandolin-y, incredibly bright and massive volume. I was jamming the other night along with a ‘regular’ concert uke, and it sounded like a full string section! Best riff so far on this instrument …. Kashmir by Zep …amazing!!!! An interesting 8-string uke alternative & I’m curious if anyone else out there is also playing this instrument?
Brett, I wanted to start out with a tenor, and a friend found a store offering a deal on an 8-string Kala tenor ($149 including hard case). I love the warmth of the sound and it’s a beautiful instrument. I really appreciate your strumming and chording tips. The only warning I would give is that you may have a hard time finding strings in music stores, but they are available at online sellers.
Do you have more recomendations for buying uku’s. I found this to be helpful.
One thing I forgot to mention was try to find a friend who plays ukulele you can bring to a music store. Sometimes it’s nice to have a second opinion and get extra perspective, and even hear the other person play it. You might even ask someone in the music store to play the ukulele too.
I’d be interested in hearing what others tips people have!
Hi. I’m from New Zealand, 55year old Nana, learning to play ukulele. Just started about August last year. I’m still on my first Uke and it is a Greg Bennett design Samick. It cost me $75 as I didn’t want the cheapest but also didn’t want something too high priced in case I was no good at it. It’s a great Uke to start on and has a good tone. Looks nice too which is a bonus. I’m really happy with it and loving my lessons. Today is my first time on your site by the way. Good stuff.
If you want to see a particular model in action check out youtube- lots of people do reviews of their ukes there.. also- don’t overlook craigslist. My Christmas present uke was found there. Still waiting for Christmas to open it..
I’ve read that the oscar schmidts have a bit thicker and wider necks – so folks with big fingers might find them easier to handle.
I believe there is no mid priced uke comparable to the oscar schmidt ou5 or ou7. The looks, playability, workmanship and sound beats them all, in my opinion…john
I have an oscar schmidt OU2 concert…has been a great thing to learn on….plays well stays in tune and looks pretty good too lol
I really recommend the Oscar Schmidt OU4 Tenor Ukulele. Its sounds great out of the box and it is made of SOLID wood that’s polished. It costs just over a $100. Great ukulele! I have 4 Ukes and the Oscar Schmidt is my favorite so far!
I had a friend a couple weeks ago who was looking at an Oscar Schmidt. Glad to hear it gets a great review! 🙂
I have a Oscar Schmidt OU2 Concert , very good
I just purchased a used Kala Tenor Koa, Solid Cedar Top Ukulele (KA-KTG-CT) for $329 which included a Kala case, tax and shipping. This Ukulele has no scratches or wear marks. I love the mellow full volume tone of this Ukulele. I think I got a great buy on this, what do you think?
Also, my 12-yeqar-old granddaughter was here for the weekend and picked up my Ukulele as a first time user. By the end of the weekend she was chording “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World”, per your our instructional video, and singing along with her Ukulele work. So……. I ordered her a Kala Makala Tenor Ukulele as a starter instrument.
Sounds like you got a great deal! That’s gotta be a gorgeous ukulele. A lot of you guys here on the site have been raving about the Kalas.
It sounds like you got your granddaughter hooked on ukulele. Way to go 🙂 My grandfather got me hooked on ukulele when I was just six. What a wonderful gift you can give her!
Yes, when I was in Hawaii a couple weeks ago I tested a lot of Ukuleles. The Kalas were by far the best sounding in all price ranges up to about the $600 level. They have got the key to building quality instruments for for every need.
When starting out, don’t forget to look at used ukes too. I am a beginner, bought the Makala Dolphin and played around for awhile, but decided to make an investment in a uke with better intonation. After nosing around eBay and instrument shops, I discovered Favilla ukes and fell in love. I ordered a 1940s-era Favilla soprano from Elderly Instruments for $175, plus a set of Aquila strings. Solid mahogany, warm tones, perfect intonation. Bargain price.
Just make sure to ask the right questions regarding condition, necessary repairs, and so on. Elderly even offered to play the instrument over the phone so I could hear how the uke sounded.
Great suggestion about looking at used ukuleles! Sometimes you can score a really good deal. It is important to ask those questions surrounding the history of the ukulele and give it a thorough inspection. It sounds like you found a great used ukulele!
Thank you very much for the uke tips! I play the guitar and I’m really looking forward to start playing ukulele. I was searching the web and found this brand “Kohala” ( http://www.amazon.com/Kohala-KP-S-Kanikapila-Soprano-Ukulele/dp/B004NIFYD8/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=musical-instruments&qid=1304884322&sr=1-6 – I’m interested in purchasing a soprano uke) Have you ever heard of it? Thank you!
I am not very familiar with that ukulele, but it looks like it could be a good first ukulele. I’d be interested in knowing if the seller has a return policy incase you were to have any problems. Other than that, it might be worth the try!
I just found your site and it seems a great resource. As far as entry-level ukes, I would actually recommend the Luna Tattoo series. I have the concert size, but the soprano size has a honu etched around the soundhole, while their pineapple soprano and their concert size have polynesian waves along the bottom.
They’re mahogany laminate but have really nice projection and sustain. They come standard with Aquila strings, and mine didn’t need setup or adjustment for buzzing or action.
And, at under $100 each, they’re also affordable.
I bought a Luna concert last week. I am troubled with the intonation on the first 2 frets. I am new to the Ukulele and from everything I’m reading a lot of the under a $100. Ukes have trouble with intonation, which is a shame. I’m trying to decide if I should just put up with the problem or return it and look some more. Too bad the big box music store I bought it from didn’t do a set up or check the action…and being a newbie, I didn’t know to ask either…
Ah bummer. It sounds like you got a sour one. I’d go back to the music store and just say, “Hey, I noticed the intonation is a little bit off on the first two frets. Is there anything you can do to help make this better?” They might be able to do a little bit of a setup on it to get it sounding better. Also, you might try putting fresh new strings. Sometimes the stock strings they include on ukuleles aren’t that great and can cause tuning problems.
If the intonation problems still persist, you might try to exchange the uke for another Luna concert to see if you just got a lemon. Or you might jump up in price range for a nicer uke, but I know for me, I do like to have a uke around that I feel like I can beat around a little bit. 🙂
I have a Luna Concert size. I almost didn’t get it because I thought that since it had the design, the creator wouldn’t have focused as much on quality sound, but, honestly, i have been so impressed! I originally bought a Lanakai LU-21 and I actually didn’t like the sound of it, and when I went to the store to return it, I randomly picked up the Luna Concert and just fell in love. Eventually, I would like a solid wood bod, but I am making myself get better first. 🙂
Ukulele’s are wonderful and people just migrate to them! I work in a preschool and use it to sing to the kids and everyone just adores the whole experience,
Cordoba! Get a Cordoba uke, da’ ting stay all in tune right outta da box! I got one new for $99 at guitar center and it was all blee-blee-blee-BLAH outta tune, I tuned it up right there, after bouncing around in my backpack, being set aside while I did chores, etc it was still in tune, next morning … still in tune… etc. Cordoba makes Classical guitars and you can just GUESS who I’ll get one from if I decide to take that up, meanwhile, Consider a Cordoba (and they come with aquila strings, nice).
I picked up a makala MK-S Uke and I set it up with some aquilla strings and it sounds amazing! I got the uke shipped to my door for 48 bucks flat and another 6 for the strings, It’s a great intry-level ukulele
Very nice! I actually played this uke at Guitar Center the other day and it was great!
I have a Lanikai LU-21T Like the soprano it is a laminate but it is a good price for a beginner. The intonation , sound and playability is very good. My husband who as been playing uke for 3 yrs or so also has been playing guitar for many years helped me pick it out. My Lanikai is defiantly not top of the line but is still a great one.
Happy playing…I also do like your book. it is a great help.
I for got to add the Lanikai’s come with aquila strings. I my listening experience they are the best. can turn a harsh sounding Johnson soprano uke in to a much better sound for a beginner. May be giving it to my nephew if he like the class I will be taking him to. My house hold has a wide selection o f ukes already.
It’s a popular little uke! It sounds like it’s serving you well. Glad you are enjoying the book too! Thanks for your comment, Deanna!
I bought a Makala MK-C as my first foray into ukes. Went for the concert over the soprano because I found it easier to play with my clumsy guitarist fingers! It has a nice sound, and is a pretty solid instrument for the low price (I paid about £30 for it). But I have had difficulty keeping it in tune, and I’ve had it for about 6 months now. I think I need to try to tighten the pegs a little, as they tend to slip when I’m trying to tune it. If I get good enough I might plump for a more expensive, decent instrument one day! But first I must master the dreaded E chord! It’s really limiting what I can play at the moment!
Rachel, I’m a guitarist too, so I’ve found a concert or tenor much easier to play as well. Sounds like you made a good choice for getting started. For the tuning, you might also changing the strings if you haven’t done that already. Sometimes the stock strings that come with the ukulele aren’t that great. I imagine you probably have done this tho. Thanks for your comment! I know a lot of people in search of a ukulele will find it helpful.
Rank beginner here. I knowingly bought a too-cheap ukulele yesterday just to find out if learning might be fun. Five-O brand, laminate, made in China. I put Aquila strings on it straight away, and apart from a buzz on one fret I’m perfectly happy with it – for now. (A very gentle sandpapering of the next fret helped to reduce the double contact!)
I just bought a Luna brand, concert size, acoustic-electric ukulele and I love it. Not only is it beautiful (has traditional Hawaiian tattoo designs carved in the face and around the sound hole), but it has excellent tone and what seem to be high quality strings. For about $100, it’s definitely worth it. I not only got this beautiful instrument, but a gig bag, which is great. The last thing I want is a dusty, or broken, ukulele.
I also downloaded your lesson book, and I’m really enjoying the learning process and I can’t wait to start singing and playing. I’m a Music Ed major in college with a focus in opera performance, so any instrument I can play well is a godsend. Thanks for this website, I was so happy to find it.
You are very welcome! Thanks for posting your comment and sharing the ukulele recommendation to help others out. Enjoy! 🙂
when i moved to hawaii in 2007 i bought a makala. i messed around with it off and on for the next four years,i put some dadarrio j71 strings on it and it made it sounded nice, then my pastor at church started giving us lessons so after a few months i decided i wanted to upgrade and get a better uke so i went for the lacewood leolani and then after playing songs for special music in church i decided to geta pono mpt. i sold the makala to a friend who wanted to go up from an saprano size to a tenor, i play both of the other ukes often but i strung one of them as a low g and one a high g; the more i learn the more i want to keep learning; the uke is a great insturment!
Hi Brett! I’m going to buy an uke, do you think buying it on a web site is safe? I mean, do I risk it breaks in the shipping?
Your site is great, I learned a lot here.
Sorry for my English, i’m italian.
I’ve ordered a lot of music gear online and I think as long as you buy from a reputable music website (e.g. Musicians Friend, Sweetwater) you will be okay. Make sure whatever site you buy it from offers a 100% money back guarantee incase there is every a problem during the shipping.
I bought a makala dolphin, it’s fantastic! I’ve already learned “twinke twinkle little star” and now I’m trying to play “kiss the girl”, the chords are simple but it’s fast and I am working on the strumming pattern. Thanks for your free ebook, it helped a lot, now I think I’ll subscribe your course.
Sweet! It sounds like you are on your way to becoming a pro! 🙂
I noticed you didnt recommend any concert ukes, any reason why?
Great question. I had no reason at all not to mention them. It was really hard to narrow it down to 5 ukuleles, but there are many great concert ukuleles out there too. For example, the Kala tenor ukulele also comes in a concert version as well which is worth checking out.
I bought Mainland concert sized about a month ago for around $200. It is solid mahogany. I am very pleased with it. I am a beginner but I wanted a decent instrument I could use for a while. My first uke was a Makala dolphin but I couldn’t get the notes to sound right even with the strings tuned properly, so I decided to spend a little more and it made all the difference.
Joan, I almost bought a Mainland concert mahogany ukulele. I’ve heard such great things. I also like that you can customize the ukulele a little bit too when you purchase it.
You should also talk about getting a uke that is set up as I suspect my dolphin’s action was messed up and that interfered with my being able to play it properly
I spent about an hour at the Kiwaya shop in Tokyo yesterday. They make Kiwaya (called Famous in Japan) and Luna brands. The Luna’s here are their better level and all solid, not laminates. The decorated and laminates are made for the export market only. I started playing famous concert models and was almost ready make a buy, when I decided to try a equivalent Luna. The difference between laminates and solid woods is night and day- much warmer, more balanced and less “thack” when you pluck the strings. I decide it was worth the extra $60 and got a Luna LC-1 concert model. The clerk in the store was really helpful and let me try 5 identical ukuleles from stock and pick the one I liked best as there was bit of rattle in the floor demo model. I highly recommend trying two or three of the same instrument before you decide.I’ve been working from your videos all afternoon. Thanks. you are great teacher.- clear, simple and useful.
I live in Japan, so my first uke is a Famous FS-5:
Famous is Japan’s biggest (only?) brand. The guy at the store said it was Hawaiian koa, but I’m pretty sure that stuff’s all imported from SE Asia nowadays. I’m quite happy with it.
Wow, can they get expensive, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to resist picking up a second next time I’m in Hawaii.
I’m clumsy, so I can’t recommend enough getting a hard case.
I play ukulele since 2 weeks and I recommend the “Mahi Mahi MT-7G”.
It sounds fantastic for begginers.
Daniel, thanks for the recommendation!
You’re missing out on Carvalho (APC) ukes made in Portugal of solid koa sister wood (acácia wood) ranging from € 60 to € 120. All solid wood, beautiful decorations. They are branded APC but I think also branded Iberica. Look it up on the Youtube. You’ll be amazed. I’m Portuguese, but I have nothing to do with the Carvalo factory. I just own a APC Concerto Simples (a concert sized, with the simple decoration) uke, and I love it.
What do you think of the Ibanez brand. I have a deposit down on one. It looks beautiful, and I have read nothing but good reviews on it. I got to play it a little in the store. Not sure about it until I play for awhile.
I think you will be very happy. 🙂 Congratulations on the purchase!
I don’t know which model ibanez you have but i’ve heard that on at least the one that’s acoustic & electric, the neck is often bent so the the strings at the frets closest to the head won’t play properly- that if you get one like that keep sending it back until you get a good one. The review said when you get one that’s right they’re great.
The Kohala HU-212by Lanakai is an excellent beginner uke for anyone it only about60 dollars it is very sturdy and keeps in tune which is all you need
My first uke purchased was a concert size Lanakai S series (solid spruce top and mahogany sides). I’ve loved it – but I’m ready to move up in size and quality.
Is a Ohana Solid Koa a good investment (at $649) or too big of a jump in price????
ps…just discovered your website and love it. Thank you!
I’m not super familiar with the Ohana brand, but whenever you get into buying ukuleles that are made out of solid wood rather than a laminate, you’re gonna quickly jump to that price range. Especially if you’re looking at koa. I imagine it to be a real nice uke! I would try to play one if you can before you buy it. Maybe some other people here have some experience with the Ohana too.
OH….forgot to mention….the Ohana is a Tenor.
I’m just about to buy a Gold Tone Banjolele Deluxe. I just like the extra resonance and the pronounced twang of a banjo ukulele. I like the George Formby sound and I am hoping that with Brett’s help I’ll be able to progress. This really is a great site.
I bought a makala concert ukulele. Its my first and i am happy with it. Feels good sounds good and i hear alot about ukuleles being hard to keep in tune i play mine alot set it down and pick it up and still in tune.
What i really want is a national steel body ukulele. It was always one of my dream guitars but as a ukulele is much more obtainable
I recently purchased a Korala Beginners Soprano ukulele and I love it, I re-strung it with Aquilla Nygut Strings and that has made a huge difference to the sound.. I know this is off topic, but do you have any tips on how to paint this ukulele? Thanks 🙂
Imogen, I have actually have never painted a ukulele before! I honestly wouldn’t know where to start. Does anyone else have any tips?
I still don’t know which uke to get. Maybe a Kala Or a Hilo . Soprano sounds good but I kinda Have chubby fingers and my nails are short o_o. I’m so confused of the kinds of ukelele’s
If you went with either brand, you’d be in good shape! I would recommend looking at a concert or tenor ukulele if you have bigger hands. You can learn more about the ukulele sizes here.
Don’t over think it too much. The important thing is to get a ukulele and start playing! 🙂
Okay! Thank You So Much!! You’re Awesome! [:
You Really Help alot.:D
A while back I had been wanting a ukulele for ages, but hadn’t really done much research on what to buy nor what the cost might be. And one night I was hanging out with a friend at his house and he had a few ukuleles and I commented on how I wish I had one and so right then and there he gave one to me! It’s a Lanikai LU-11 Tenor ukulele. I love it and I’m still a bit new to it, but I catch on quickly, and this site helps loads! So thanks!
Haha, strike that, I was thinking of my dad’s old ukulele. Mines a soprano, not a tenor. My little fingers wouldn’t be able to handle a tenor hah.
I recently bought a Kala mahogany tenor ukulele (KA_TEM). As a first time uke player I have to say I’m impressed. The quality of the Kala is very good. It comes with Aquila strings which stabilized in about 2 days and has a nice mellow sound. I’ve been noodling with the guitar for about 2 years so learning some uke chords came quickly and am able to strum along with recorded tunes. I’m now working on learning to finger pick individual notes. It is a bit challenging trying to stuff my fingers between those small fret spaces.
am in process of buying a better ukulele, I’m stuck between a Lanikai LU21CE and an Ashbury AU60 , both concert size. Still a newbie but intend to carry on, long arms so my soprano too short, concert size seems fine. any ideas please
I just wanted to say that you need to try the Firefly Banjo Uku. If you like the Fluke or the Flea, you’ll love the banjo uku. I was able to get one of these and it is a blast to play. Tuned just like a regular ukulele, but louder and sounds just like a banjo..And you can never have to many ukuleles..Cheers..Keith
Highest beginner recommendation: A Makala MK-S. It’s playable, cheap, and sounds pretty good.(mahogany wood). Replace with good strings helped the sound right away. It’s a great starting ukulele. $39.00 I play it most of all of the ukuleles I own… and (here’s the key!….) I bring it everywhere, as I don’t worry too much about it as it’s cheap. Stays in tune very well. If it’s with me…I’ll play it!
I also had a Lanakai LU-21 and It sounds good, but has two frets that buzz…they appear to be slightly raised. 9th and 10th frets. Disappointed with it. I don’t play it much, I leave it at my office to mess around if I get a minute.
And finally I have a Luna Koa (Tide) concert size uke.
Very very nice sound (best of all of my ukes) , but I worry about it too much to bring out. (it was $199.00)
Question: Is it recommended to practice on one size (soprano, for example) all the time, or is it ok to switch to concert size then soprano, back and forth? depending on the song? Would I still make progress in chords and strumming?
Great reviews! Thanks so much for your comment.
I would try to switch up your practice between different ukuleles. Each ukulele will have its nuances, and it’s good to learn those. I wouldn’t be afraid of switching back and forth!
Hi Im a new Uke fan,got me a “cheap as chips” Makala Dolphin I put Aquila strings on its Brill.
Started playing the ukulele earlier this year and I am now totally hooked!! Just purchased an Anuenue Lani Tenor which is absolutley amazing! Wonderful tone, aquila strings and good to look at too! My wife (who is also nuts on the uke) has an Anuenue Papa Concert which she loves!!!! Find your website really informative, thanks for the advice. (…..if more people played the ukulele the world would be a happier place!)
Regards from your neigbours in England.
Hey Bret, im 15 years old, currently i have a Diamond Head Ukulele. i really dont know anything about them. I was hoping you could help me out with that. And also i was hoping to buy a ukulele around the $100-150 dollar range considering i started merely a week ago. By the way your website helped me SO much! your doing a great job and I appreciate your work! 🙂
my first uke, i made out of a cigar box, i finished it today, and found this site to learn how to tune it.
That sounds really cool! You should post some pictures of it on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ukuleletricks
I’d love to see this!
I’m using a Kohala HU212, and i think it’s great^_^ It’s my first ukulele, but I will buy a makala dolphin soprano later^_^
I started with my son’s red (cheapie) Maholo which he never played but as he was only 3 I wsn’t allowed to play it either, so I quickly had to go and get my own. I ended up with a pineapple Soprano Mahalo not sure what model but cost me about $120. Plays really nice. I had to tighten up the tuning and put Aquila strings on. Two years later I’m still going and I bought my husband Tenor Mahalo about the same price as he kept wanting to play mine when I wanted to play too. He’s got big hands so the soprano was too small
I see a lot of your comments about tuning – is part of the problem that people not used to stringed instruments don’t realize that the strings take some time to stretch before they will stabilize?
Love you web site
Frances, thanks for your comment, reviews, and kind words!
I think the tuning issue could be a couple things. It could be that folks are putting on new strings and they are stretching like you said, or they are just old, stock strings that aren’t very good to begin with. It could also be a thing where the quality of the ukulele tuners aren’t very good so they just don’t hold tune well.
hi brett,wow I’m kinda feel left out,I didn’t know what kind of uke to,so I ended up buying a concert oscar schmidt ou2 by washburn because I reconized the washburn name.I was having alot of trouable because I couldn’t tuneit.I play guitar but that didn’t help.I didn’t play for 3 moths,but I have a nice who’s begining to play the uke we took it to a store and all it needed was to let the strings stretch.and I almost gave it away and now I found your site and I lived hppy ever after.you’ve tought me so much.I play for hours a day. thank you very much jet
What a wonderful site.
The Kala KA-C was my first ukulele. It was around $80.00 at the time. What a wonderful uke. Very playable and a lovely tone.
Love my little blue Makala Dolphin…even my grandson’s can figure out what I’m playing :-). I haven’t tried new strings – but am told they’ll sound even better.
Very nice website. I am a fairly new player, 1.5 years, and have now become a collector. I have purchased 11 so far. (I did give 5 away to friends and family). They range from a Fluke to a Kanile in price, but have had excellent results with KALA products (6 ukes were made by them). I even purchased their entry level MAKALA pineapple for a granddaughter last year. It was cute but sounded horrible, like the strings were fishing line. I changed out the strings to some Martin M600 and the difference was amazing, it completely improved the sound of the ukulele. I have now put these strings on 5 other Soprano and concert models and had similar results. On my tenors I am using AQUILA or WORTH. The ukulele set up make a huge difference. There are some sellers that do a setup on everyone they sell. I can personally recommend Hawaiian Music supply because they do a professional quality setup on every uke they sell, and sell them online. If you can’t go to a store with people who can demonstrate it they are a good option. Thanks again for your site and Merry Christmas to all.
Hey Bob, this is a ton of really helpful information! Thank you so much for posting it for us!
I have been offered a Rally DUB-2F banjo ukulele as a gift.
Would this be suitable for a complete beginner?
I’m not super familiar with the Rally DUB-2F except that I’ve heard pretty good things about it. A banjo ukulele won’t be as versatile as a regular ukulele, but if you like the sound of a banjo uke, you should get it. I’ve been wanting to get a banjo uke for awhile now.
I’ve played guitar for fifteen years and work at Marshall Music in Lansing Michigan. Just picked up my first uke a couple months ago and as much as I despise Washburn or other “cheap” brands..I purchased an Oscar Schmidt by Washburn OU2 tenor ukulele. I will eventually upgrade but for 80 bucks this uke is a great starter. Nice sound, quality hardware and construction. Neck is about as straight as you can get without a truss rod. Highly recommended!
Hey Jeff, I’m a guitar player too and was skeptical of the Oscar Schmidt ukuleles. I found them to be a surprising little instrument for those who are looking to get started with ukulele. Thanks for the review!
im 11 , dont know what to look for at my guitar store i want it to have quality but also not too expensive and also around 80-100 dollars because well im eleven and currently only know how to play a a minor and a7 at that store they have some pretty cool lookin ukuleles but im lost in trying to find one
I’d recommend looking at all the ukuleles you can find in that price range and try them out. See which ones you like the best! 🙂
i think all of them are ukadelic makala and some other ones i cant remember the name of but are there any brands that you would recomend
Makala makes some good ukuleles in that price range. You might also see if they have Kala, Lanikai, Luna, or Oscar Schmidt. Any of those brands are pretty good!
so you wouldnt recomend ukadelic soorry for bothering so much
It’s not so much that I wouldn’t recommend it, it’s just that I am not super familiar with that brand.
Thanks for the many useful tips in getting an ukulele. Here´s my little contribution: I recently got an Oscar Schmidt tenor by Washburn, and I´m quite happy regarding its sound, action and overall quality. It comes with GHS strings, and I´m not sure whether or not an Aquila set would improve its sound. Regarding prices, here in my place (Argentina, South America) instruments for beginners and/or advanced players are both really expensive (i.e. mine, a typical beginner instrument was a bit more than $200). Anyway, I think I was lucky of getting a friendly instrument. Here you can find a nice sample of its sound: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYVrWYIhsWM. Best wishes for all!
I like the cordoba 15cm. Its only a $99 and has a really warm sound.
I have a Kala Soprano all solid mahogany. Paid $200.00. It is a wonderful ukulele that has a warmtone and is pretty loud but with good dynamics.
My first uke was a Lanikai concert. It had a decent tone but horrible intonation. The neck was attached slightly crooked. I bought and returned an all Koa Lanikai soprano and it was horrible. Either a bad neck or action too low. No dynamics, buzzed, no volume, tiny sound, bad finish. So no more Lanikai for me.
I just ordered a solid mahogany soprano Islander from Hawaii Music Supply. Comparable in price to Kala. I will let you know how it is once it arrives. Hawaii Music supply has a great web site – lessons, lots of video samples etc…
Great site. I appreciate it. Keep it up
No body has a Cordoba? I bought a Cordoba concert for $99 at Guitar Center. The fit and finish are awesome after about a week of play it almost never came out of tune again and it has great sound quality. Has anyone else had a Cordoba? I’m curious what the general opinion is.
I’ve heard from a few people that have a Cordoba ukulele and the consensus is always quite positive.
great job with this- i didn’t bother researching before i got my Makala Dolphin (barely even tried it), turned-out the stock strings are pretty tough to play. didn’t take long for the Wife to let me upgrade to a Makala Tie-Dye laminated, though, so it works out! eventually, i reckon, there’ll be a dozen or so varying grades and makes strewn about the place… that’ll be awesome! thanks again for your work. *j*
Hi, I want to start playing the ukulele and I’m thinking of buying a Makala. Everyone seems to be praising the dolphin one, and I’d buy it but it’s just that I’d prefer a brown one. Would you say that this one ( http://www.ebay.com/itm/Makala-MK-S-Soprano-Uke-Ukulele-Ukelele-Agathis-Wood-Body-Rosewood-Fingerboard-/280806270224?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item41615ba510 ) with an agathis wood body is better than the dolphin? And what’s the difference between the two anyway?
Hey Ellie, while I haven’t been able to do a side-by-side comparison, I want to say they will be very similar. The main differences is that the Dolphin is made out of plastic and the Makala is made out of a wood laminate. Both will sound pretty similar. Some people might make fun of me for it, but for me, there is something inspiring about playing a beautiful instrument, so if you like the look of the Makala, you should go with it! Especially since they are so similar. 🙂
I’M AN ABSOLUTE BEGINNER, [LEFTY], AND I’M USING A HILO BARITONE UKE. I’M INTERESTED IN YOUR COURSE BUT I’M WONDERING HOW WELL IT WILL WORK FOR A LEFTY BARITONE.
Hey Gerry, I did teach the course using a tenor ukulele tuned to standard tuning, so this will be a different tuning from your baritone. However, the majority of the course is spent focusing on strumming and rhythm, so these techniques will be able to be applied to your baritone ukulele.
Some people who have baritone ukulele will use a capo on the 5th fret to follow along. By placing a capo on the 5th fret, you are easily transposing your baritone ukulele to the equivalent of standard tuning. This would be a solution if you wanted to purchase the course.
A while back my daughters in another state took a community college uke class that included a uke in the price. I soooo wanted to go. Then I saw Tony Danza play his Flea on a morning show, ” practice for a month and have fun for a lifetime.” I HAD to have one then so I ordered the Hibiscus Red one which came with Aquilla strings. I have joined a group in our town that practices and performs together and couldn’t be having more fun. My little Hibiscus sounds great comparing with the 14 others and stays in tune. I love the felt pick that came with it and the little shaker doodad I got to put on my finger for a rhythm toy. I’ve had better luck finding what i want with my online purchases and would you believe I live near Austin?
Hey Kathleen, that’s so cool. The ukulele group is an excellent idea. You’ll learn so much by playing with other people. I live in Detroit and it’s even hard to find good music stores that carry ukuleles around here too.
Hey Brett-Yeah, I got a Luna, because of the look and the nifty tattoo. However, my very first love is a Kamaka Tenor. It was a present, I love it then and love it now!! Thanks for the site!
That’s a very nice present! Hang onto that uke 🙂
Just curious what you think about the following Ukulele.
Luna Guitars High-Tide Koa Concert Ukulele
This beautiful Luna ukulele features a deep koa body, producing full, deep sound along with the instrument’s concert body size. The cutaway offers comfort when accessing the upper-register frets, and the nato/mahogany neck and rosewood bridge and fretboard add lasting sustain and clarity to your tone. The open-style tuners keep the instrument in precise tuning and the onboard preamp provides easy amplification that can be dialed in quickly. Dressed in a satin finish and featuring a rosewood binding, you won’t believe your eyes with the ukulele’s natural beauty. Just wait ’til you hear it.
23″ Concert Cutaway
High-Tide ring in abalone
High-Tide abalone Inlay Fret markers
Grover open style tuners
23″L x 8 3/16″W x 2 11/16″D
Luna ukuleles are great! This ukulele will be good if you ever want to plug it in to an amplifier since it has an onboard preamp. You do pay more for the electronics on the ukulele, so if you don’t think you’ll use the electronics, you might want to consider another option.
i have recently bought a second hand lazy ukulele, and i am really happy with it. it holds tune really well and it sounds fine, although i am entirely unsure of what possible previous modifications have been made to it. i got it on ebay, for around 50 dolars, including postage from the uk to australia, and a pitch pipe, (but i normally tune it using my brothers unused guitar tuner). my only trouble with it is that the nut is really high and a long way away from the fretboard so when i play on the first and second frets it feels like the strings are cutting into my fingers. on most of my friends ukuleles it isnt that high. is there anything i can do about this or do i just have to get stronger fingers? Thanks!
Hi Sarah, you could try removing the nut and sanding the bottom of it down. This will lower it. However, this project is probably one better suited for a luthier at a local music shop. I know that I don’t trust myself enough to modify my own instruments in that way. 🙂
Thank u everybody! esp Zion, 4 helping me decide on a Schmidt OU4 tenor for $109 for my first uke after studying this site & looking everywhere. OU4’s seem hard 2 find @ that price, amazon has none. I sure didn’t see anything else in that range that looks anything like it – abalone, rosewood/mahogany/koa/spruce, & shinier than a new lamborghini. (I know, it’s not the looks that counts, but not having heard many in person I can’t comment on the sound, plus my low G string hasn’t arrived yet.) BUT One thing I hadn’t thought about was matching my (low) vocal range – playing the songs off site charts or youtube, they’re often too high for me. I’ve been told putting bari strings on a tenor won’t work (too short neck?).
So now I’m thinking get a bari too, and back to the hunt for the best ones for the money I have left. I’m thinking Makala, sounds like a lot of people love them, local store sells them for $50-60 w/o bag. Anybody else run into voice range issues & how do you adapt? Don’t always want to be transposing…Did anyone else get a bari for that reason?
(Sorry, I meant to say “even” amazon has none- they’re my seller of last resort – but their dealers do have a lot of models, so no OU4’s was noteworthy, I thought. Even for just after Christmas.)
Yay I bought your number 1 before I saw this, I love it 🙂
just stumbled upon this sight while looking up my favorite song (somewhere over the rainbow)….my grandmother died recently and i always promised he i’d learn to play something and my little sister has been messing with an uke so i though..what the heck….went online and bought a Lanikai for $40 on ebay! just waiting for it now…..thanks a ton for posting all this great stuff….
Hey Daniel, you’re very welcome. Welcome to Ukulele Tricks. Learning the ukulele sounds like an awesome way to honor the memory of your grandmother! 🙂
How about a Flea ukulele for a total beginner?
Thanks for your great job helping people.
Love Flea ukuleles. My friend has one and it’s a dream to play!
hey , i bought a MK-S Soprano
is it good?
That’s a great ukulele for beginners!
I bought it for US$84.00 ..was it too expensive ?:0
I wouldn’t worry about the price too much! Enjoy your ukulele and play the heck out of it! 😀
I just bought a new Fender tenor and find it to sound amazing, loses tune quite quickly however as its relatively new it probably needs “breaking in” any suggestions? much different from the sop, love the idea about the low G tuning
Hey Mark, I imagine the strings need a little bit of time to settle. If it doesn’t get much better, the stock strings might not be the best, so you could try some Aquila strings or another string manufacturer.
I bought a Kala signature limited Edition KA-ASAC-T-SP/MM
Had to return my Kala to the dealer due to Manufacturing defects within the slotted Headstock
The Grover tuner shaft fits into the inside drilled hole in the headstock, which acts as a support bearing for the tuning shaft. This hole was far to big allowing the shaft to pull downwards towards the bridge when putting tension on the string . This creates leverage and causes the tuner mounting plate to pull away about 1/16″. In doing so It pulls the mounting screws out of the wood and stripping the wood away so the screws cannot be retightened.
If you have one ,You can check yours by unwinding the string, and using a finger from underneath, pushing the shaft towards the bridge.If the bearing hole is too big,This will allow downward movement,causing the mtg plate to pull away from the head stock. When tuning, the leverage pressure will strip the wood from the mounting screws so you may not be able to tighten them.
A expensive Ukuleles should not have passed a good quality check,of a manufacturing defect like this.
I really loved my Kala , and felt very sad that I had to return it.
Hopefully mine is a isolated case, and this does not affect others, of the production run.
I have since bought a Pono, MPTC Pro-Classic Tenor Cutaway in Spruce and Maple and do love it .
By the way , I am 77 and love music
Hey John, thanks for your comment. That is very unfortunate and frustrating about your ukulele. I hate when that stuff happens. I imagine you got a lemon because I haven’t heard too many stories about Kala ukes having this sort of trouble. Bummer!
After reading your blog last night ,I bought a A”Addario Classical Wound Guitar string .029 thou,
D fourth string Normal tension, silver plated Wound
and replaced my Worth brown G that was .0244 Thou.
So Far It sound great, gives me a different tone, and like that G string for picking.
Thanks for mentioning that on your blog
Thanks for the great review, John!
I just wanted to say that at Guitar Center they have a lot of nice Ukulele’s but the one I got is the Mitchell MU-70 and I love it! It was $100 dollars and worth every penny! Its really pretty too, and they have other ones with lots of different types of wood and they’re all really nice. By the way mine is a Concert Ukulele 🙂
Thanks for this website, Brett! I (very averagely) play guitar, but my wife always bugged me about learning to play “Tonight, You Belong to Me” (that awesome scene with Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters in “The Jerk”), so about a month ago I up and bought a soprano ukulele and have been LOVING every minute of it. Just so happened that the one I bought is the Lanikai LU-21 you recommended above. GREAT sound and look… worth the $69. Now to figure out how to change the strings… lol
Brett, first of all, this site is AMAZING. My friend linked me to this site after I asked her the chords for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, and boy, aren’t I glad she did. I managed to learn so much in a period of about 20 minutes. So thank you for your dedication!
My friend bought me a Mahalo from Amazon as a birthday present. The strings aren’t that great quality, but I’m hooked onto the instrument. What do you think about the Mahalo? I’m a beginner, first of all, but I’m considering to upgrade perhaps in a year or so. What do you think?
The Mahalo ukuleles are great entry-level ukuleles. I’ve heard from a lot of people who are satisfied with those ukuleles starting out. As you improve and get more into the world of playing ukulele, you’ll probably want to end up shelling out a bit more money for a nicer ukulele.
I just learned about this ukulele from Raggyrag on Youtube, and he knows his music, and I had to see if it was as good as he said so I bought one, it is the Kamoa Pineapple Soprano, and this is a very nice ukulele with the innotation right on. I like this better than the Lanikai Soprano, which for the price is nice. It is not a 3 to 5 hundred dollar ukulele but you would never know it from the sound and quality.
I have this site setup as one of my home pages..Thanks Brett.
Here is what the Kamoa Pineapple sounds like.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1kXhGJMYgg
I started off with an electric solid body Amina concert a few months ago. It was an odd looking thing, with a very nice flame maple natural finish. It has a built in tuner, and because it’s electric, I can play it unpluged without making much noise. My wife wanted to start, and bought a lovely Kala acoustic concert travel uke. It’s thinner than normal. About an inch, but the violin back gives it a deep resonant tone. As a gift, we picked up a Diamond Head soprano for my nephew, and strung it with some Aquila nylagut strings, which sound nice. It looks just like the Makalas up on the top row. He won’t get it a couple more weeks, so I’m keeping it tuned for him… It’s fun to play around with. Last night, the latest arrived – a Risa tennor uke stick. By far the oddest of the collection, it’s a headless electric stick. Very light for an electric, and built for travel.
I just took my first uke workshop a week ago (3 hrs.) with Toronto Ukes and bought a Makala MK-S to see if I like the instrument in general. Great for my budget (around $50) . Nice sound and keeps tune very well.
I have a Harley Benton HBUK12 and it suits fine and it cost me like $26
i’ve recently bought a 23″ concert ukulele, when i play a song, it sounds a bit different from my 21″ soprano.
how can i fix it?
Hey Bonnie, a concert ukulele is going to sound different to a soprano even if it’s tuned the same. No ukulele sounds completely the same. This is okay and good! 🙂
I am brand new to Ukulele and I’m having a great time with it. I have some feeble guitar skills and experience with cheap gear, so when I went to buy a Ukulele I wanted one that would not have me wanting a better one only a short time later. I played many and liked a few that are very popular with many people here, with good reason, but in the end I really enjoyed the sound quality, build quality and appearance of the Cordoba ukes even though they seemed a bit more expensive then typical. I am ultimately very happy with the Cordoba 20TM-CE I purchased. It stays in tune great even after hours of playing. It came with Aquila strings and a very nice gig bag too. I had an amp already so I thought a pick up might be nice, glad I did cause it sounds great electric. I love my Ukulele and play at least a couple hours a day or more. Highly recommended.
That’s great to hear, Derek! Thanks for the recommendation.
I just bought an Oscar Schmidt concert Uke for $60.
Havent recieved it yet, but what do you think of them?
I’ve played one, and they are great for beginners!
I have just recently purchased a KOHALA UHU212S UKULELE mad by Lanikai. I thinks so far its pretty awesome. Your thoughts?
Lu-21 is fine as long as you don’t test drive a Martin. Well I did and now the Lu-21 sits in the closet.
Haha, this is very good advice! 🙂
I wanted to learn to play the ukelele after my daughter’s friend who had two music teacher cousins in town visiting Played every day. As my daughter explains… “They sat on the front porch every afternoon Playing the ukelele and singing… It was so much fun!” The cousins taught my daughter and her friend a few chords and the girls preceded to muddle thru Bridge over Troubled Waters, all along strumming laughing and having a great time!
They posted their “song” on you tube where I saw it on a face Book! Now these 2 teenagers are always into something and sometimes things I wish they weren’t into, but this day it was the simple pleasure of music and laughter! I’ll never forget this next part… When my daughter came home from her Friends house I remember her not even stopping to say hi but she ran upstairs and brought me the uke that her grandparents brought her from Hawaii 2 years ago and asked me if I would tune it for her! Now I have played the piano for 35 years and guitar on and off and I also helped my daughter and her friends on occasion with music theory and other related music questions when they were in the concert band in high school, so Lauren felt confident in my ability to tune her “toy” Ukelele. I say toy because it still had the price tag on the box and it said $12.99. Now I knew nothing about ukes when she asked me to tune it but, knew enough to ask her what “note” was each string supposed to be tuned to and she knew it from the music teacher cousins. And of course I was only able to get the 4th string “close” but the remaining strings were well lets just say between the low quality tuning keys and cheap plastic strings it was hopeless! She laughed but, I could see she was visibly disappointed! She is a Freshman at University of Miami and left to go back to school after spring break the next day and that is when I decided to research ukes, buy one and learn to play so I could sit on my front porch and share the gift of music with my daughter! After reading A LOT of reviews I decided to purchase the Kala K-A8. It was $69.99 and came with a soft bag for my uke, electronic tuner which I love!, and a polishing cloth.
It also came with a flyer to get started playing chords and fingering etc.
It tunes very nice and holds the tune for at lest 2 days now that it is a lil over a month old. I practice with Brett pulling up his videos on my Phone and play along with him and the sound is exact! I have learned somewhere over the Rainbow with Brett’s online instruction and plan on surprising my daughter with it next week when I drive down to Miami to pick her up because her freshman year is over! I plan on buying her a Kala uke just like mine so we can play and enjoy the music together! Thank you Brett for the awesome teaching videos and super online courses! D. Olinger
Hey Dee, that is an amazing story!! I love reading these stories, because it shows how contagious ukulele is! It’s absolutely amazing to me. Ukulele is a great thing to share with family. I have a lot of great memories with family playing the ukulele. I’m sure you’re daughter is going to get a kick out of all the progress you’ve made. 🙂 Enjoy.
I have a Kala KA CEM..exotic mahogany uke….love it…finish looks silk but feels matt.. so easy to hold..no slipping …and usual tuning…sonds deeper then soprano…but with more space for fingers…
how do you feel about the makai MC-70. I got it at my local music store half off. I personally love it and all my friends who have ukulele’s continue to tell me how much they like my ukulele more than their own ukulele. I think it sounds great and looks beautiful. I got it for only 50 bucks and it’s a solid top soprano concert ukulele. I just want to know what you think of the brand and this specific ukulele. Thanks
What about the Oscar Schmidt by Washburn?
Aloha O.S. Washburn?
I’ve not played that particular one, but I’ve played other Oscar Schmidt ukuleles and I think they are great.
I believe you are referring to the Ou2 uke which is a mahogany laminate. I bought this for my 8 year old grandson, to try to.convince him there is more to life than basketball.or soccer… (with moderate success)…I am a strong supporter of the Oscar Schmidt ukes and have played his.instrument several times. This model is quite inexpensive, is easy to play and sounds very good…Will.sound even better when strung with Aquila strings. God luck!
Thanks for the site mate, you have some really useful stuff here, keep going! I started a couple of moths back now, and purchased my first Uke, a Tanglewood Union series concert, for about $150 in australia. I find the concert size a bit friendlier to learn on, but love the soprano’s as well. Since then i have also bought a Tanglewood Lane Cove series Soprano (250), an epiphone les paul electric uke (250), and my son and his friend a couple of Mahalo soprano’s, which at about $30 are excellent for kids to have fun on, without wrecking a more expensive uke. None of my ukes i would class as “expensive” but there is a definite sound difference between my Tanglewood Soprano, and my boy’s Mahalo Soprano. On their own my untrained ear likes them both, but side by side the difference is enormous.
Next month i am looking at upgrading my concert to a Maton Concert for about $650. A fair bit more money, but Maton guitars are the best Acoustic guitar’s in the world.
I definitely have a Ukulele problem now, but it is truly a joyful one!
Happy strumming mate.
My first uke was a korala uks 36 I bought it yesterday for 35 euros.
you’re lessons really help I’m a guitar player and pianist as well
So I’m picking it up pretty fast but it is still strange that the bass note is the third string 😀 .
thanks for the help.
Hey Nick, I play guitar and piano too, and it is a little weird at first to get used to the top string. You’ll get the hang of it. 🙂
What do you think of the Sunlight Soprano US-200? Any nuances you know about?
Hey guys, just wanted to say great post and hello from Ireland, I just wanted to give a honourable mention to the Mahalo U30 soprano, i got one of these for 25 euro, just a little over 20 dollars for those in the US and I must say was and still is the best €25 I ever spen. The U30 generally get a bad rap on th net with some saying the they have a buzz and the only 1 in 5 is work playing, well I’m just gona say at bull. The U30 is a fine uke, I did spash out and switch the factory friction pegs for a set of geared one to make tuning easier and one the strings set in I only have to turn it one or twice a week depending on how heavily I’ve been playing.
Thoughts? Opinions ?, Any other U30 lovers out there
IM thinking about buying a mahalo or a Hilo . The mahalo is really cheap and they both have plastic strings .should I buy one of those and what kind if strings should I buy to replace the plastic ones ?
I’ve been using Aquila strings and they’ve been good. I’ll probably try something different after I’m done with this set.
luna tattoo concert. just got mine out of the box and it was still in tune WTF? HOW? great sound good strings out the get go. great wood gig bag preamp and under a buck fifty. what is NOT to like.
Better sound from concert than soprano IMHO.. but i play guitar as well so that may factor.
Mellow tone. but bright. smooth action and never a buzzzzzz.
LUNA is the shizzle.
I’ve heard from a lot of folks who like the Luna Tattoo! Thanks for the review Gabriel!
Being a complete novice I took a players advice and bought a Makala Dolphin. I asked the shop to do a setup and also fit Aquila strings but they had sold out of Aquila’s and so said they would do the setup when they had the strings in stock. This gave me a chance to play the Dolphin before and after setup and the string change – the difference was huge. For the setup they have done a bit of work on the frets, the nut and have lowered the saddle about 1mm.
I would urge anyone buying their first ukulele to have a setup done by a professional. It really makes a big difference.
I am very pleased with my Dolphin and would happily recommend it to anyone as a first ukulele – it is a very playable instrument for a price that is hard to believe. Mine cost £33 including Aquila strings and the setup (they did not charge me for the setup).
Hey Jon, great suggestion to get a setup done at a music store! This is one of the big benefits to shopping locally versus online!
What store did you go that did the set up for your ukulele? So far only place I have seen that done is at the ukulele site in hawaii
I play guitar and decided to get a uke as it is easy to carry if I travel. After trying a few ukes, I bought a KOYAMA Lava Series with a pickup. It looks and sounds great, has a solid spruce top, mahogony back n sides, rosewood bridge n fretboard, Aquila strings and what appear to be good quality tuners. I used to think ukes were cute little toys, but I am really happy that I now see good ukes as serious musical instruments! Reading through your site, I haven’t come across KOYAMAs and was wondering if you have any views on these? ?Thanks for running a great site on ukes!
Hey John, I’ve not played one yet. I’ll be on the lookout. Thanks for posting a little review. There are so many little ukulele manufacturers popping up all over the place. It’s wonderful, but it’s hard to stay on top of it all. It sounds like a good uke!
my first ukulele was a cordova i actually got it in best buy for 80$ and it came with a case and a tuner its really good and this 4th of July if you buy it you get a 10$ gift card so i found it to be a good deal i also got a mahalo at amazon for 35$ it was good but i like the cordova a lot better
I just recently picked up the ukulele and have grown very fond of it. While visiting Hawaii I got a ukulele for cheap you know nothing to special. Well I put some better strings on it and tuned it with a tuner, and it sounds amazing. I have also since picked up another ukulele at a garage sale for 50 cents strings where busted but I figure I will just put new strings on it and if it sounds good great if not oh well. One of my favorite songs of all time is over the rainbow and I was so excited when I found this site. It really is great.
I’ve got a soprano given to me for my birthday, it’s made of wood, didn’t like it though I thought the thing too flimsy. So I ordered a Kamoa Victor King Signature Series Concert to play, it’s shipping at the moment, the reviews and videos I saw were good so I bought it… Anyone agrees with me??
I got a Luna guitar, what do you think of those?
I’ve heard from a lot of students of mine who have them and really enjoy the Luna ukuleles!
I did not have time to read through all of those comments…WOW!…so I am not sure if someone already touched on this…I just wanted to say that a local instrument maker told me that the best advice he could give me was that the lighter Ukes tend to sound better. Not sure if this is really the case across the board, but I purchased one for $79 recently and it sounded better than the shiny $225 one I played in the same store. Has your experience been the same in that regard?
(Great website and lots of fun, btw!)
Hey Brett i bought a tenor Makala Mk-T Uku and i have small fingers. Do you think that this was a good choice for me??? Whenever i tried to reach to Em it is always hard for me. Plz respond back. Thank you!
I play a Lanakai Concert electric. The tuning keys are professional quality and the Aquila strings hold their tune on stage. This is a good thing! Only $99 w/gig bag on sale on the Web. Perfect traditional size Uke that will last forever, and most Uke players accumulate 5+ instruments and hate parting with any as they become family! This site is a dream!
I’m loving my Kamoa Pineapple… so much fun. It’s my new baby, goes everywhere with me!
For a beginner, would it be best to start out cheap, or should I go ahead and get a more expensive electric uke if I know I’m gonna play it in a band?
Thanks for the helpful info!
If you know you’re going to be playing with a band, you’ll definitely want to go ahead and get a ukulele with electronics in it. In my experience, it’s a real pain to mic up a ukulele in a band setting.
Just got back from Honolulu/Waikiki and decided to get a Ukulele as a souvenir. I was going to get a “toy” from the local ABC gift shop for about $12, but decided to check out the local Pua Pua Ukulele shop in Waikiki. They played several for me and I decided to go with their recommended Ami Ami Long Neck Soprano (Model ASLN). It’s the size of a soprano and the longer neck offering more space between frets and notes. I’m loving it. I took some guitar lessons and I must say I feel I’m learning
(and getting) the ukulele much faster. I got the ukulele, a hard case, and a chromatic tuner for about $138 after taxes, which I am very happy with. Ami Ami (or Amina) is designed exclusively by Pua Pua Ukulele, though they sell many other high quality Ukes. I figured it would be more of a souvenir to get their brand. I was also tempted by Costco, which sells a Kohala brand Ukelele for $99 which comes with a soft case and a chromatic tuner. But I love my ukulele!
FYI: Pua Pua Ukulele’s website is http://www.hawaiianukuleleonline.com
Hey I just got my uke today, it’s a kamoa (e series) soprano, ever tried it out? 🙂
great site, this is very helpfull for the uke beginner I am !
I just bought a Lehua Soprano. this brand does not look so famous. Do you know it?
I like my Stagg US20 and US40. I`ll get them from ebay. My kids and i try to learn the tabs by ourselves and have really fun. But the strings can be better. Which are do you prefer?
I have just started teaching kids in my school ukulele, there’s a pilot running throughout the region. We have been issued with Mahalo ukes and despite the initial constant retuning of 20 ukes my kids love it! For me it makes no difference how much they cost they ALL get treated like a priceless vase – if they learn to respect and appreciate a cheap one then if they continue learning they will certainly appreciate a more expensive one. I must admit the Mahalo’s are perfect for kids, I bought my 8 and 3 year old one too. I just love the sound and its great that kids get success very quickly with them. I have 2 classes of 10/11 year old kids hooked! Such a fab wee instrument! 🙂
Anyone know a good crossover uke? I play guitar and want to learn uke. I’m looking at about 100-150 dollars.
Whats your opinion on the Mahalo ukulele (soprano)?
Great article! I really like the Mahalo uke, it sounds good and comes in different colors which make is fun. Thanks for the info!
I picked up a concert sized Mitchell at Guitar Center recently, and have been favorably impressed with the low action and rich tone. Spruce/rosewood build, and abalone inlay – very pretty. It’s right at $100 and comes with decent sounding strings that hold their pitch (sorry I don’t know the brand).
I can’t decide if I like the stock tuners, but so far they’re doing the job. They seem a little loose, though.
My only gripe is that I’m not getting any play time: my 5 year old keeps taking it away so she can practice!
Hi,I am a 60 yr. old Grammy. When I was a kid I had a hand me down uke….loved it.
Now I’d like to buy one to tinker with….my kids want to buy one for my upcoming birthday. They have $125 to spend….I could kick in some $$$. What uke do you recommend?
I have to be honest, I splurged £65 for my ukulele, it is a spruce laminate top concert ‘ukulele by Kauai. I would easily recommend it to anyone, maintains its tune for way more than three hours of straight playing and jamming with others and it sounds simply fantastic too. To the trained ear, it may sound similar to a mandolin at first, but it is simply magnificent as an instrument.
After starting with a “Lazy” brand soprano, I moved up to a Kauai Mahogany laminate Tenor ukulele (KUT-55) which I picked up in the sales for the bargain price of £35. I’ve got to admit I’ve been very impressed with it – and like yours it really does hold it’s tuning for hours. It has a much fuller, almost guitar-like sound (which I rather like) and just feels really nice to play.
I’m currently looking for my first uke and this website is awesome! What a wealth of information. I’ve been researching brands. Is anyone familiar with Lucky Penny? Description seemed very much like some of the others mentioned here.
I own a Makai PK-55, it’s one of those budget soprano ukes, and I love it! I’d recommend it for beginners
I prefer Lanikai(soprano) that u recommend above.
I have been playing now for about a month. I went with the coolness factor and got a tenor Fender, and I love it. Very sweet uku. Also, love the site, it has been a BIG help on my new journey!
Hi, I have only been playing for about 6 months and I am addicted. I started out on a Mitchell MU 70 concert great little uke very happy and bright. For mothers day my kids got me a Oscar Schmidt OU6LCE tenor, very low action and fun to plug into an amp. My husband surprised me with an Islander MT 4 by Kanile’a he has been really great about my new obsession. My newest uke is a Pono MHT solid mahogany set with a low G and I love it. Your site and courses have been wonderful, thanks so much I know I wouldn’t play as well as I do without this site is a wonderful resource.
I am a professional musician and got into ukulele when I had to play for the show “Chicago”. I had to pick up banjo, mandolin, and uke very quickly (I already played guitar and Bass for many years). I ended up buying a Luna Tattoo and it has been a great instrument. Good sound, intonation, etc. I recently changed over to the low G and really like it.
I am also a school music teacher for elementary kids and I decided to add ukulele to the classroom. With a limited budget I decided to go with the Diamond Head uke and for the money (@ $30 on Amazon) they have been great. They hold tune very well and out of the 12 I bought only one or two had a “thin” tone and I suspect better strings might help that out. Several students have ordered their own and I beleive it to be a decent beginner uke for kids. They are holding up well in the classroom and I am teaching 1st grade through 5th.
If you are looking for an inexpensive introduction to the uke this might be a decent choice. I have some students who bought other brands (Mahalo, etc.) and I have not found the sound to be necessarily better – at least not enough to justify the added expense if money is an issue.
I have always advised students to buy the best instrument they can afford at the time. If that is a cheapie, then learn on it and you will have a better idea of what to look for when you upgrade. Keep the cheapie around to take on campouts or to the beach.
My fingers are raw. I played guitar as a kid and into early adult life. I only really learned a few folk toons so I did not get very far with it. My father was a world class trumpet player and old school. I beat scales into me on guitar and Piano at the same time. He wouldn’t let me learn songs. Wax ON Wax OFF!
Really it made me lose interest.
I better approach I think is to learn scales, learn theory but learn some tunes at the same time.
I am learning Dream a Little Dream on my third day and I’m finding it hard to hold down F7.
I have a lanikai concert ukulele. Intonation seems a tiny bit off, but I dont care at this point. I am wondering if there is a better string I could use that would help me brake my fingers in slower.
My index finger had a run in with a table saw years back and grooved the bone out a little so it is even worse then the rest. F7 right next to the nut is really hard to deal with.
I mean F minor not F7
Try barring the first fret while depressing the first string on the third fret…it’s much easier to play and provides a more contempory sound than Fminor, but fits effectively and fingers aren’t as crowded!
If you live in the UK I recommend Dawsons music cheap own brand Redwood ukelele , I have the concert with the zebra wood body , it was 65 quid, plays lovely , just needed a quick nut set up As it was a bit too high .
I just bought today a Kala k-s ukulele is this ukulele has a good quality sound?
And is thiS a good ukulele? I need your opinion about my new ukulele because this is my first time to play this instrument.
I started to play with a Johnson baritone since I have tremor which prevents me from playing my classical guitar these days. To this day it continues to remain in tune and sounds adequate for a first baritone experience. Since then have added an Oscar Schmldt OU-53 and a Luna “Big Wave”concert to the arsenal. I must admit that I really enjoy playing them for church. MY. oU-53 has a stick on pick-up that in conjunction with my first generation Mort Pandora unit suits all my needs. Not all Johnson hies are flawed you just have to play them to find a good one. I purchased mine from Musicians Friend about 10 years ago.
how about the lanakai lu-21 pineapple
I am a (quite) amateur acoustic guitar player, and am looking to purchase a good-very good quality uke. Which model will perform well, keep its tune, and last a good while?
hey! i want to buy my first uke, and i don’t wanna spend more than 50$.. I can not decide between the dolphin makala and the pineapple makala.. any recommendations?
Hi Brett fantastic website, i am 70years young and have never played a musical instrument much to my regret other than a brief encounter with guitar which i love but that was in my youth and could’nt master, do you think i am wasting my time and kidding myself on that i could possibly get a tune out of a ukulele, on the other hand i even like the look of them so it would always be a nice ornament then maybe some of my grandchildren would be tempted to take it up, i am thinking of buying a kala concert or tenor and i would definitely need a tuner, no fool like an old fool eh, any thoughts on what my choice is
If you have large hands, you should definitely get a tenor. C: Unless you have nimble, small fingers! I couldn’t imagine my father playing on something as small as a concert size! I just bought a kala ka-c (concert) for my boyfriend and it is a wonderful starter uke, i’d definitely recommend that or the tenor size if youre not concerned about losing that “soprano ukulele” sound and don’t want to be discouraged because of a small fretboard.
Hope you don’t mind, i thought i’d put my two cents in. 😉
Doug, I am in my 81st year with arthritic fingers and am becoming addicted to ukulele playing. I have purchased an Oscar Schmidt OU5 (tenor) acoustic uke and more recently a OU7TE (tenor) electric model which allows me to play in a seniors band here in Maine…both are superior looking and sounding instruments…no more talk about being too old…you’re only a youngster! Good luck…my dog has fleas too! John
hey! I just ordered a ukulele but I kind of regret it now and want to exchange it for a different brand. I’m on a tight budget because I’m a college student, so I initially ordered the Rogue Soprano uke. However, I read reviews that said it was horrible. Do you know anything about it?
Also, since I am planning on returning that one, I am looking at the Mahalo Soprano uke. What do you think of this ukulele?
I’ve been playing Ukelele for a year now, and I’m also a guitarrist and pianist, dont have much trouble with learning to play new instruments.
I’m looking for a middle/high quality Tenor Ukelele to record in my home studio and to play live (that’s why I’m looking for Cutaway-Electric Ukeleles )
What product would you recomend to me for this use? My estimation is between 250 and 400 USD.
I’m trying to decide between 3 ukes:
– Lanikai CK-TEK Tenor Koa Ukulele Fishman Preamp, or zebrawood/monkeypod models (maybe its too expensive) $389
– Lanikai LQA-TCA Quilt Ash Tenor Cutaway Electric $349 with case, cables, tuner, stand, etc
– Oscar Schmidt OU8TLCE Ukulele Tenor Spalted Maple $329 with hard case
I think im buying the Oscar Schmidt one, I have seen some Kalas around that price, or higher, but Oscar Shcmidt models are insane.
What would you recommend? I seek a very good sound, and a great wood model.
I recently purchased the Oscar Schmidt tenor model OU7T. The wood is mango…very beautiful and sounds terrific! I paid less than the $329 you quoted for the maple version. Check it out online…the best looking uke I have ever seen! Good luck! John
Roll…if you have not already done so, I would recommend the Oscar Schmidt OU 7T tenor version. The wood is spalted mango and the sound is fantastic! I own one and paid less than the $329 you wilted for the spalted maple. It is the most beautiful ukulele I have ever seen! Good luck!
I live in Mexico, so finding a ukulele locally was difficult. After a trip into the Guadalajara music district I found and purchased a Fender Hau’oli Tenor Ukulele, which included the gig bag, a Musical La Flauta Magica. Paid $1980 Mxn pesos .. which translates to about $155 US. Absolutely love it. Has a great tone. I’ve seen them for much more online so I think we got a great deal.
I didn’t feel like sorting through all the comments, but just in case no one touched on this, don’t forget that even though some starting ukes don’t have perfect intonation, a lot of the time this is just a sign that the nut slots or the saddle height are too high. When the strings are depressed, it ends up bending them slightly too far and thus creates a slightly higher pitch than desired, especially further up the neck. This can be remedied by filing down the nut slots and removing the saddle then filing down the bottom of it and replacing it back in the bridge. The action also drastically improves ease of play. On one starter ukulele i bought (a Luna tattoo concert uke), the nut slots were so high that i had immense trouble barring the first fret and a little trouble playing single strings on the first fret. Now, i’d probably recommend taking your ukulele to get a professional setup done, especially on starter level ukes to address intonation problems and the action, but for the avid DIYer, you could always just find something (i used a metal nail file) and file the slots a bit. It worked perfectly. C: Next i may address the action and file down the frets a bit since i think they’re a bit high (it seems a lot of companies manufacture their stringed instruments with high action to avoid fret buzz and hide uneven frets/necks, even though it makes it impossible to play, especially for beginners with weak hands… which is ironic because its usually prevalent in beginner level instruments) but other than that, for the price i got this ukulele at ($79), it really can’t be beat. came with a free gig bag which i plan to pad myself, and i can easily fix what TINY tiny bit of intonation problems it has. It plays beautifully, especially for the wood used, very sweet mellow sound that resonates rather long. Not to mention the beautiful design on it!
However, if you can afford to pay a little more ($105 for it with no gig bag included so get yourself a nice hard case) then I can’t stress how much better the Kala ka-c that i picked up for my boyfriend sounds, with NO extra work needing to be done. It has some “nubone” technology or rather where they precision engineer the nut and saddle and its brilliant. The wood is much more solid and it resonates a bit longer. It doesnt quite sound as mellow as my luna, but its definitely louder and easier to play, and sounds absolutely delightful!
DO NOT buy the kala ka-cem (exotic mahogany), the body shape is much smaller and i can honestly say i find the wood to produce an ugly, tinny, obnoxious tone and it doesnt project well at all. This may just be me, but i’m not at all a fan.
The moral of the story is, though, that you can buy a starter ukulele and improve it. It’ll sound and play like you spent WAY more on it! Don’t let crappy chinese manufacturing hold you back. 😀
Hi there, I got this cheap little Soprano Diamond Head (model DU-109) to start myself off in learning how to play the ukulele via internet how-to’s. I’m wondering if I should replace what appears to be plastic or maybe plain nylon strings. I’ve only found one review on my (purchased for around $10-20 at the store) uke. Should I replace the current strings with Aquila strings or get another ukulele that might be of a better quality? Thank you.
My first (and only) ukulele is a Kohala Kine-O soprano ukulele. It has a nice sound but it does produce a slight buzzing noise due to some manufacturing errors in the frets. But, oh well, it was $40. I am planning on upgrading in a couple of months anyways.
Keep in mind that one aspect of cheaper ukuleles is possible difficulty of staying in tune, or intonation. It could be due to imprecisely placed frets, tuners not staying put, but either way, or the action being too high, it can make playing frustrating. Getting a professional setup is very important, but even more important with less expensive ukuleles because of poorer quality control.
I’m all about the Mahalo U30 ukes. we’ve got three of them in my house so far and a friend of mine has 5 or 6… most of them (these days) come off the production line sounding really good. the nuts generally don’t *need* any adjustment, my little girl’s is nearly perfect all the way up the neck (we’ve checked it with a snark), and sounds as good or better than much more expensive ukes we’ve put it next to. I wouldn’t bother buying anything else for a beginner. In the UK we pay from about 15 GBP for these…thats 23 USD.
Any reviews/comment on aNueNue Ukuleles? There’s an uke shop (Here in Philippines) that highly recommends the aNueNue ukuleles. Need some reviews please help. Thanks!:)
What about the Luna ukulele? What is the nicest sounding wood that ukuleles are made out of? When a ukulele is electric does that mean I can only play it when it is connected to the amplifier? Or can it be used with and without being connected to the amp? Thanks
What are your thoughts on a Luna Concert Mahogany Ukulele? This will be my first purchase for a Ukulele, and it is in my price range. Yes, i am a beginner, but i want to get a quality Uke at a reasonable price!
I’ve just started looking into buying a ukulele, mainly because I saw one with a v shaped body. but there are some great tips on here which I will be considering so thank you.
I’m a mediocre ukulele player who’s looking for a new ukulele. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on one but would still like to get a good quality. Also I would like for it to last, do you have any ideas and if so where should I buy it (Internet or shop). Maholo
This article has been so helpful. Is the Makala Dolphin only sold online? Also, what’s your opinion on Diamond Head ukes?
I just bought a Hulala Ocean Dance Concert ukulele last month, and I’m so happy with it. It sounds really nice and yet it is very cheap (I bought it for only $65). The tuners are of good quality too, since I don’t have to tune my ukulele that often. Hulala is under ANueNue, like how Makala is under Kala. 🙂
I ordered a Lanikai Koa Concert Pack off of Amazon and I love it! The uke sounds pretty nice to me and it came with Aquila strings which was nice. I like how since it was a pack it came with a gig bag and tuner because I otherwise would have had ti buy a tuner. I love it and it’s a great uke, I have also seen it recommended on ukulele websites as a great beginner ukulele.
Which of the following ukulele you think is more suitable for a beginner?
Ukulele BugsGear UL-01/Soprano
or Ukulele aNueNue U900/Soprano
I first got into ukuleles three years ago when one of my best friends was moving from the States back to Taiwan. They couldn’t bring everything back with them so she gave me her little brother’s Red Dolphin Makala. It was love at first strum! I was really excited to get my smaller hands on a stringed instrument that had a smaller fingerboard than my father’s Classical Guitar. After playing the Dolphin for about two and a half years, I decided that it was probably time to upgrade to something of a better quality. I ended up choosing the Kala KA-CEM Exotic Mahogany Concert Ukulele so my fingers would be able to not get as tangled up when changing chords. This has been one of my best buy-and-then-tell-mom buys! I absolutely love the Kala and received it with a hard case and pre-strung Aquila strings for about $115 off of Ebay. However, now, not even a full year later, I’m itching to get my hands on another uke (Sorry Flute and Piano, I’ll play with you again soon!). I was at a music store the other day and was able to try out a (If I remember correctly) Makala Baritone. I instantly fell in love with the different sound quality that it produced compared to Concerts and Sopranos. Are there any good Baritones that you would recommend to someone who enjoys dabbling in ukulele fun with a budget of around/under $200? I’ll most likely switch the strings out for Aquila Baritone GCEA strings to make the transition into a slightly bigger instrument easier before reverting back (if I ever do) to the DGBE.
What can you tell me about the ukuleles made by “Luna Guitars”? Im looking forward to buy one and would really apreciate the opinion of an “expert”. Btw nice lessons!
There are so many ukes out there and wanted to know if i should get a teach yourself kit or just an uke and learn online. I’m afraid that the ukulele in the kit would be very mediocre as reviews online said the nylon strings weren’t very good. I’m leaning towards the makala more than the firebrand uke (the makala also looks better). The firebrand ukulele also comes with a book and chord chart and tuning lessons. What should I do?????????
Also if there is a cheaper, (COOLER LOOKING), uke out there please let me know.
Great site, Brett and thanks for all the excellent resources and demos. I’m curious as to why you say the Makala Dolphin bridge is made of plastic. The specs say it has an agathis wood top, rosewood fingerboard and mahogany neck. It also has an injection molded body – is that the plastic part? I’ve just bought my first uke–a Makala Dolphin– so I’m curious.
Hi Jacquie, great question. A lot of these “cheaper” ukuleles, while parts of them might be made out of some sort of wood, it’s rare that the entire ukulele is made out of actual solid wood. Often times, the top, back, and sides will be a laminate combined with wood or other stuff (such as plastic or another kind of composite material). Often times retailers will avoid disclosing this fully in the description. It’s hard for me to say exactly what part of the Makala Dolphin ukulele is plastic but I can say that it isn’t entirely made out of wood. Still though, I think the Makala Dolphin is one of the “best bang for your buck” ukuleles out there!
First of all I want to thank you for the website. It is a wealth of great information. I was thinking about getting a banjolele. Have you played one before? Do you have any suggestions?
Hey i want a ukulele, but i dont know know what type of ukulele is the best for me… 2 of my cousins have them…. and i learned how to play it… they r so fun… we played a song for them i dont remember the name… but with the ukulele it sounded great… can you help me choose the best ukulele?
Hey, someone was trying to sell me a US-100 Sunlite Ukulele for 175U$D and i was wondering if I could get your advice on wether that is a good price for it. thank you
I’m looking to buy a ukulele for my boyfriend’s birthday, but have no idea what to look for. I’m trying to stay in the price range of under $50 and would do $60 at the most. Everything you said about the Dolphin seemed perfect, except I’m not so sure how he would feel about the different colors or dolphin on the bottom. I was wondering if you had any other suggestions with a more “traditional” ukulele look. Thank you (:
I just got my hands on an Oscar Schmidt OU4 (made by Washburn) after a long search at my area Music stores. I was very impressed as it was built very well, it stayed in tune, had great action, intonation was fabulous, projected well and had a very balanced tone. All this for $134 plus tax. I also tried the smaller OU13 (soprano) and it played just as well much to my surprise. It might be because of the spruce top on both these instruments. Finally, I also tried the OU2T Mahogany model. It played and sounded great as well but with a much warmer and mellower tone. (On a side note the O.S. ukes are made in Indonesia). I’ve tried Kalas, Lanikais, Ibanez’s, Mitchel’s, Martins and even Riptides and although they all they all sounded reasonably good many of them had issues with intonation and projection. Alas, how good a ukulele sounds is shaped by individual tastes and I’m certain that many would disagree with my assessment. But it’s par for the course. My next purchase will be an Oscar Schmidt…
I have an Ashton uke, that I got about 6 years ago, is this a good brand to learn on?
Okay Brett, thanks! That sounds like a good idea, I will do just that! 🙂
How long do the dolphin ukes last? Are the tuners good and last long?
My first ukulele is an Ohana Pineapple Ukulele (who only responds to the name Layla). I was wondering if pineapple ukuleles have a different tonal sound than the classic uke shape.
Hi, I am looking at buying my brother a ukulele for his birthday. I k ow that he likes Kala and wants a tenor electric, so I have been hunting around. It appears there are quite a few on E Bay manufactured in China. Is this where they are all manufactured? The one I am looking at is mahogany , which I have read gives a good sound for the tenor as does walnut and spruce apparently. They offer refunds but just wondered what other more knowledgeable readers might be able to add re the Chinese standard of finish etc. thank s a million.
My first uke is a luna tattoo pineapple style. It’s beautiful, the original strings work great and I LOVE the tone. I tend to like lower instruments (Cello, french horn etc) and the pineapple shape gives it a very mellow sound. Highly recommend.
About two months ago I bought my first ukulele. Akohala soprano uke for about $39. Apparently it was on sale from $60? Anyways, I’m thinking of buying a better one in te near future. What types would you recommend that are within a reasonable price range?
Has anyone had experience with the two that Costco sells? One is $99.99 for Kohala K3-C Koa Concert Ukelele Bundle (padded soft case, instruction booklet, built in tuner, rosewood bridge, Aquila concert strings) and the other is $149.99 for Kahuna Zebrawood Concert Ukelele Bundle (Kahuna deluxe padded soft case and ProRockGear A-frame ukulele stand, ABS ivory body binding, Aquila concert strings.) Saw the Kohala in the store and it was nice for a first timer (me) though wondering if the Kahuna is a better buy.
I want to buy a kohala ko-c concert uke but i want to know if i should ??
Any thoughts about the Ka-15S? Any advise on strings?
I’ve never played ukulele before, and i want to start, but 50 is a little too much for me, because what if i’m bad? is the Mahalo U a good one? its only 29$ on AMazon.
I’ve been completely spoiled. My first and only uke is a black, National Steel concert. I ordered it and they custom built it. It took 5 months but the wait was worth it. I’m a frustrated blues guitarist, but seem to get more fun out of my uke than my 4 guitars. Thanks for great free material.
I’ve been hiding in the corners of the house and playing my kids’ Kala soprano uke. Love that little thing. Now looking to get myself a littler bigger uke….concert or tenor. Does anyone know of an online uke seller that sells Oscar Schmidts and offers the set-up that many places advertise. Maybe the whole set-up thing is a scam, but there’s so much variability in the action in the ukes in the stores that I can see the virture of having someone look at that before sending it. I may just get a cordoba from Hawaii Music Supply. But I’d consider an Oscar Schmidt OU 5 if I can find an online dealer to set it up.
Thanks. Keep Strumming. TM
I also own an OU5 tenor uke…a beautiful and great sounding koa laminate ukulele. You should be able to pick one up through Amazon…they partner with many sellers. I own two OS ukeses and both were spot on out of the shipping box…neither needed to be set up. Good luck! John
what kind of uke did IZ play?? i like the sound of his and i really want to start playing cause i just love the sound…but i dont want an extremely expinsive one. Was it a soprano or tenor…whats the best sounding out of those two? i like the normal sounding one but honestly i know really nothing about ukuleles. please write back i really wan to know…thanks
pretty sure he had a Kamaka
Just got my first Ukulele here in Toronto. I wanted to get the Lanikai LU-21 but no music store has it so I went with the Kala KA-C for $106 plus tax.
hi brett, this was so helpful, thank you! i have no experence with ukeleles at all, but i really want to learn to play. after researching a lot and reading this im leaning towards the cordoba 15CM concert ukelele. it looks like a quality instrument and for my first ukelele i think itd be great, because its affordable for me, a high school student. im just wondering if you think itd be a good match for me, someone with no experience.
I hope you didn’t buy the kahuna. My wife gave me the K-zebra concert uke for this Christmas. It’s fancy and everything with a nice solid case and a heavy stand. Looks great too. But the tuning gears are cheap, did not work, and kept losing the tune. It drove me nuts. I’ll stick with the two soprano ukes I bought in Hawaii. We will actually return it today. Bummer.
I am planning to buy a Ukulele but I saw sites saying that soprano type of ukulele is suited for beginners, is this true? I want to buy a tenor type of ukulele because you said that people who have big fingers can play this type of ukulele more comfortably.
had a chance to sit with and pick the brain of Uke Masters Benny Chong, Byron Yasui and they both had the same consensus that the KALA flat back, for the price you pay, had the best bang for your buck For begginers. My personal fave is Islander BY Kanile’a and the fluke by Jumpin JIM
What can you tell me about the Palm Beach Tenor Ukelele?!
My first uke was a Lanikai spalted maple concert. And I love it. My second was a Luna Tattoo pineapple soprano. Maybe it’s the pineapple shape (bigger air space and faceboard than “peanut” ukes) or maybe it’s the set-up the vendor did but friends and ukulele club members admire its sound and find it comparable to the larger concert uke. I also bought a cheap plastic uke that I could take to the beach or sit on or lose and not mind as much. I think if Luna ever makes a tenor in the Mo’o design I like, I’ll buy my last uke for a while. LOL
My first uke is the Cordoba Concert sized. Good size for my grown up size hands. I tried the soprano and too small. I also have A Lanakai with ability to play electric or acoustic that I got last Christmas. Still love my Cordoba but like to be able to play through an amp, too. Thanks for your wonderful website. I started taking lessons at 52 years old having never played an instrument of any kind and find it gives my life a whole new meaning to connect with the music by playing the music. Keep up your great work on this site. Therebis a Ukulele revolution out there!
Hi, I was given a Blue Mahalo that cost about $15-$25 in Australia. I’ve had it for about 5 years and am nowhere near a real musician but everyone around me loves it, from children to elderly. I still am a beginner because of the strumming but what fun and joy I’ve had playing it with others and on the back veranda by myself singing away deliriously!! I’ve just bought myself a new Kala with a fun design and have decided to learn strumming so I’m thankful that your lessons are available on line and will purchase them soon. Merry Christmas!!!!
I am getting a a Hofna Concert Ukulele for christmas, I have a soprano at the momen and sometimes i thought it sounded tinny! but then i realised it was me not pressing down clearly on the strings. Does anyone have a Hofna Concert?
Hi Brett, I got myself a second ukulele, a Korala concert uke, exotic mahogany. Not expensive and a great, warm sound. The more expensive ones did not have that same warm sound. It turned out that my ukulele teacher also bought a Korala tenor uke, exotic mahogany for that same reason: warm sound, not too expensive. I love my ukes. Thanks so much for the Christmas songs. Thanks to your website I’ve learned a lot. It’s great and it’s fun. How nice of you to share your skills …
I bought my son a Riptide Acoustic-Electric Tenor to take along to National Scout Jamboree this summer.
I started learning as well. It sounds brilliant.
When he ditches us to head to college, I’ll pick another up for myself to keep!
Since I often play when everyone else goes to bed, I needed something quieter.
I just picked up a custom cigar-box style concert uke. 3G guitars in Meridian, ID made it using a Peppermint Bark tin for the body. Looks awesome, plays great (intonation is even good!), and it’s a whole lot quieter than the Riptide!
For my first uke I purchased an Ibanez concert cutaway. It is a beautiful instrument made of what they call “Spalted Maple”. It has a high-gloss finish and is an acoustic electric. It is exotic and the sound is rich and full. It also has an on-board tuner. The neck is made of Mahogany and has an abalone rosette around the soundhole. The regular price was $400 but it was on sale for $250. A bit pricey I know but I sure am proud and happy with it.
In February of 2015 I am travelling to Hawaii to attend the Aloha Music Camp to learn Slack Key Guitar and Ukulele. Is there anyone who would be interested in joining me? Perhaps yourself Btrett. From what I have read it seems like a great experience.
Hi Brett! I am a beginner. I was wondering if a Kala KA -15s would be good for me. I want this to last a long time and it might take a beating or two. I would also want to know what your opinion is for buying it on Amazon?
Amazon is a top quality merchandiser…very good service and very supportive of both their vendorrs and customers. I have purchased 3 ukuleles and many other items from them…not a single problem.(and no relatives work for them) Good luck!
What about a Songbird Soprano? Please advise.
Anuenue U900 vs Lanikai LU-21, which one is better?
Researching which might be best ukulele to start off with based on what is available to me in local music shops. More or less decided to go concert size rather than soprano and would spend a little more for solid wood rather than laminated. Which might be the best between these makes: Lag, Brunswick, Kala, Ohana, Makala, Laka? Any help greatly appreciated
I just got a Kohala for my birthday last month. I am also a beginner. I tune it every day and find that it keeps its tune quite well. Listed at $129. on sale for $99. It’s a laminate with a mahogany top. I had to get a humidifier to go with it. Quite happy with this instrument. And now
I’m also getting excellent instruction from Brett!
Brett, I just want to say how much I have enjoyed your site today. I started early this morning having decided to buy a ukulele, but knowing nothing about them. I found the list of 5 that you posted and began to do research on them. I also read almost all of the posts below your recommendations and did research on them. It has turned into a 10 hour research project, but it would have been almost impossible without this forum. I ultimately decided on a Kala KA-TEM ( a tenor which I think is just a more exotic wood (laminate) than the KA-T that you recommended). Also in your forum I read some good comments about Hawaii Music Supply. I opted for them in the hopes that it will come already “set-up” nicely. Once again, something I would not have thought about without this forum. I hope that turns out to be a good decision. So anyway, thanks so much for all you obviously put into this project. I hope it turns out to be a financially rewarding venture. I know it must be rewarding on a personal level. I will subscribe to your lessons when the uke comes…or maybe before. Thanks again
Hello! My mom wants to buy me a ukulele for valentines day. She only wants to buy one that comes with a book though and she warns to buy it off amazon. If anyone knows anything about kits off amazon it would be great if you could comment. I am a beginner player.
Brett, My son just bought a uke for me. It’s a Ohana. Do you know anything about them? The sound is good, unless my fingers can’t hit the strings correctly. I’ll continue to practice the chords. Frustrating… But I’ll try.
Any tips for an old lady? (77)
My friend and I are planning to buy ukulele. I have a background on acoustic guitar & classical guitar.
I really need help because I don’t have an idea on how to pick a good ukulele
hi Brett, I saw a concert size acoustic/electric epiphone les paul shaped uke on guitar center.com and was wondering if that would be any good? and also if it would sound alright plugged into my bass guitar amp?
Hi Brett, what kind of ukulele is on the cover of your free book? It’s beautiful! Thanks. ~Bill.
My name is Luna and I’m 15. And I’ve want to buy a uke for some time but for I am a beginner I have no idea where or how to look for one. I am playing guitar for almost a year now and I was wondering if should buy a tenor or a soprano uke. Me and a friend of mine went to a shop (Alphenaar) and they had different size ukes and I liked the tenor size but I don’t know if it’s good to start learning. I also wondered if you knew anything about the brands Mahalo and Korala. And if you do, would you recommend them?
Hi, I started playing uke in the summer and absolutely love it. Am now teaching 60 kids at school too! I wanted to upgrade to an electro-acoustic one and wondered if you had any recomendations please?
Hi there! I’m a piano player with VERY little experience on stringed instruments but I’ve been dying to learn the ukulele and am determined to try. I’m small, though — with small hands. Not sure if I should get a soprano to fit me or just “go big or go home” so my fingers will become accustomed to (or “stretch”) to suit the larger styles. I remember as a kid what a huge deal it was to be able to reach a whole octave on the piano! As an adult it’s still as far as I can go. Recommendations? Thanks! ~Amy
I play a fair acoustic guitar and was considering a baritone uke because I was told it would be easy to learn. Is that the truth, and could you recommend a good solid wood brand?
Thanks – Jim
Hi. I am a beginner in the ukulele word but i have played guitar for about 3 years
I want your opinion on what i am currently playing
I have a soprano ukulele purchased at hilo hatties on muai,hawaii for about 15$
But i put premium nylon aquila strings on it
A friend recommended the soprano or concert ukulele. I play guitar so looking for a small feel for female. What do you think of the quality and sound of the Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele?
Many comments on Amazon site for the Lanikai LU-21 say it sounds like a toy for kids. I also see another listed: Soprano Ukulele Standard 21″ Uke Aquila String Heart Mahoganye Rosewood Hawaiian, are you familiar with this uke’s sound and quality? My cost is around $50-90 for starter with decent sound.
I also saw good rating for beginners for this uke: Kala KA-MK-P Makala Pineapple-Style Soprano Ukulele.
Anyone familiar with the quality and sound?
An experienced uke player loves this model, and would buy again: Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele. It’s cheap in my price range, but anyone agree?
I want to buy a ukulele for my daughter’s 30th birthday (her request!). I have seen & heard the Ami Ami Soprano Long Neck which I really liked. What are your thoughts on this? It is $240 (Australian) and I wondered if this was reasonable. I’m prepared to pay that (they will throw in bag and book) if it is a good price. Is there anything else that is comparable?
I have a Makala MKA-S. Is this a quality uke?
I’m 14 years old and I’m planning to buy a ukelele.
I decided to get a concert ukelele since I play the guitar and I find the soprano ukelele a too small for me, but since I’ve never owned a ukelele before, I don’t know if I’m choosing the right ukelele. I’m planning to get Kala KA-C at the end of this month and we’re ordering it on Amazon. I’m planning to bring this when travelling instead of my guitar but I don’t know if this is a good ukelele for me. Any suggestions? Thanks:)
This is great information! I am searching for the right uke for my soon to be 17 yr old son. My brother just got a Kohala AKAMAI AK-T Tenor Ukulele by Kohala
For his 21 yr old and loves it. Do think that would be a good one? I was thinking of getting a concert but perhaps the tenor is a better choice for a boy
Ok, Brunswick are good starter models, Chinese made and laminate, dark mahogony laminate with white edgings which stands out well. I had tenor and my birst baritone in these and found them good. Good tone for the money. I gave them brother who still has them, I’m up to higher things.
Ashbury is proprietory to Hobgoblin store chain in the UK or Gremlin products more internationally. Often made in Vietnam, but again, good tone and feel including high gloss ones. They include the spruce soundboard and mahogany body combination, and I also had a flame oak model, I think that is a local wood to area of manufacture.
I am on my 2nd Lanikai, very satisfying quality and performance. working up the tree a bit here, around the £150 mark or so, this is more the next level when you’re besotted. I am! I also found Barnes and Mullins spruce top and spalted Maple body an absolute gem, so had both baritone and tenor. Note: this is the first baritone I had tuned with a high 4th string like tenor and everything below it. You get big body projection without having to play a deep bass line.
I worked up in 3 stages to this – a £20 pretty soprano out of a local Argos, – find a local store with a returns policy. It is common to be able to take these back for a full unconditional refund within 14 days or so. Actually, the condition is that it still has original box in useable condition and the instrument or item is still as good as new – they still have to re-sell it. so, you got that long to try it, before buying the next real one from a good music instrument supplier, or online site, and return this one, or give it to a little niece or grand daughter.
When selecting, it’s worth going to the store and trying some, not one, several for comparison, different wood combinations give a different voice, it can be a very personal taste which most appeals to you! I’m into solid Koa or solid Spruce tops.
Get a case, a good one, if you get a good instrument to love – it gets to that in the end! – you need to look after it. solid wood cases are good, pricy and clunky. A well padded soft case, it opens like a case hwich I recommend, heavy duty canvas type material for toughness, and 9mm of foam padding under a fleecy type material. The pod cases are much of this, but styrofome or styrene in the UK, instead of soft foam, so a semi-rigid, but still tough canvas type outer with shoulder straps and such. The first cheap one is likely to be in a cheap cloth gig-bag, which is a bag with a zip at one end, and you drop the instrument in it head first. You soon get to giving much more TLC than that.
Hope this helps, BobH.
I was wondering if you knew anything about 22″ Slivertone Ukuleles? I’m bidding on one online because I’m interested in learning to play and I guess it may be vintage/antique. I don’t know…? It’s a semi dark brown and looks like some sort of wood (there’s no details on the webpage I’m looking at) and was wondering if knew anything about them and/or their value. Any help is greatly appreciated! 🙂
Hi, I’m looking into buying a uke. It would be my first instrument. I was wondering what size would be best for me. I’m a bigger guy and have bigger fingers. However, they aren’t particularly long or anything like that.
I just picked up a Mitchell Concert Ukulele MU70 and I LOVE It !!!! It’s beautiful, great craftsmanship, wonderful sound and it’s a pure pleasure to play. I got it for half price, best musical investment that I have made. A friend of mine said when he retires he wants to sit on his porch and play the ukulele, it sounded great so I went out and picked up this ukulele.
I have a granada soprano ukulele.. is it a good quality one..?
Hey I was thinking about getting a ukelele and I was wondering if you knew anything about the Melokia 4 string soprano uke? Thank you:) -Emily
Hi Brett, just stumbled across your web page and delighted I did, what an interesting read and so informative. I am a serious beginner having recently joined a beginners class in our village here in England, unfortunately for me they only have soprano ukes so I am looking to buy a tenor to suit sausage like fingers, may I ask what is your opinion of the Makala MK-T as a beginners tenor and can the action on these be lowered if need be, thanks again Clive
What can you tell me about Sunlite brand Uke’s
Thanks for all the great info. Any info on the harmonia mahogany body, rosewood neck soprano ukulele?
I just got an Oscar Schmidt ou-4 spruce tenor for $105 with a padded case. All I can say is wow!
Very happy with it and it came with Aquila strings (in high g)
I know people go for the more traditional names but Oscar Schmidt is a label from Washburn guitars.
Thanks for the great site and all the awesome info!
I just got a Kohala KP-B (Kanikapila Baritone) Uke at a sale. As a guitarist, of course, there is a very small learning curve to get the basics down on a baritone. Like, five minutes! And they are quite reminiscent of a smaller classical guitar. Too bad they are always left out of the conversation.
Already I am dreaming of another, probably concert size. I wanted to ask you your thoughts on pineapple-shaped instruments? Many say they sound really good. Also, in looking around I came across the Romero Tiny Tenor. It’s a handmade, concert size, tenor scale (so they fit a longer scale onto a shorter instrument), triangle/pineapple shaped item from a famous guy (who, as a newbie, I’ve never heard of). Any thoughts?
I’m not familiar with the Romero Tiny Tenor, but I’ve played some pineapple ukes (like the Flea Ukulele), and in terms of size, it’s cool! I find that the pineapple shape is a little harder to hold, but it sounds good.
Is it possible to file down the bridge or neck to make the strings closer to the fret board? (So my fingers don’t have to press so hard to hold the strings down) Or is that not a recommended thing to do? How can I judge if my strings are at a proper distance from the fret board? I have a KALA concert uke.
Hi Daniel, indeed, filing down the bridge or the nut is a way to improve the action on your ukulele. I prefer to let a professional do this, so I don’t mess up my ukulele. Just a small millimeter change can drastically alter the way notes play across the fretboard (for better or for worse).
I’ve never played a string instrument before. But I really really want to learn how to play the ukulele. Which type should I get? And which brand?
Makala makes their dolphin ukulele, and they also make a shark. The shark is a bit more expensive, but it is made out of wood. Do you think it’s better for a beginner?
Hey so im looking to get a ukelele as I live at college and I dont really have room to keep a guitar around. Im primarily a singer so I really only want it to accompany myself when relaxinb. I found a mahalo ukelele within my price range (comes with a bag and instructional dvd) at a local music shop (and I know the staff fairly well so im sure they would let me try it out first). Would you recommend this particular brand
I have been playing a few months now and enjoy my Cordoba 15 m the most – it was reasonable in price and it stays close by and I pick it up and play it often. I really enjoy learning old hymns that I grew up with in church.
Hi what about a LAG Concert for a beginner? I just love the finish on this instrument makes the others for beginners look like a toy. I have a budget and this one runs for a package deal $279.00. But I am thinking wait till I have the extra before I purchase? Thanks for your info and time.
do you recommend the mahalo ukuleles? It’s cheap in the US but pretty expensive in Malaysia after conversion 🙁
10/29/2014 Saw the Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele on amazon ….It has the Aquila stings on it. price is 53.99.
This is for an xmas present for my 13 yr old daughter and 14 and 15 yr old nephews. (Shopping early) They are beginners….never played.
Im so overwhelmed with all the choices and don’t want to have to buy one where i have to replace the strings.
any suggestions. The dolphin one is nice but don’t really want to replace the strings.
Hi Brett , I recently downloaded your ukulele lessons although I haven’t started using them yet ( time restraints I’m afraid ) but I did purchase a soprano uke for the princely some of £ 24.95 and as I have not seen it’s name mentioned by any of your other correspondents I am wondering if I have bought a pig in the poke and wasted my money or is it indeed a worthwhile buy it sounds good although being brand new it is taking me about an hour to tune I already have a Yamaha Guitalele which takes about 15 minutes. The make of my new ukulele is a Mahalo U30G made in China any info on it would be gratefully received. Thanks a lot and keep up the good work.
Hi Jim, Mahalo is very well-known entry-level ukulele brand.
Hi Brett, thanks for the quick response to my request for your opinion of my new Mahalo uke , I am now in tune and about to start your lessons.Thanks again.
I have an Córdova Tenor Uke, and I love it!. Is a little expensive but I got a great deal at the guitar center store as the only one there was the display one, and it did not come with a case. But when I was browsing through all of the uke there, this one was my election definitely, because of his solid and resonance sound provided by a very detailed craftsmanship, and the solid wood! It is very stable too: It keeps in tune Very well…
I don’t have any other but I am so happy with this that I dont feel the need of searching for a different one!
I’m a music education major and looking for a nice uke to start playing. I saw an acoustic-electric uke and thought that would be a nice one to buy because I could use it for concerts with my future students. What do you think I should buy?
So glad to find your blog. I just traded up from a Lanakai to a Mtchell and the tone is so different
I think it helps to start with a less expensive uke at first. You will eventually begin to hear and feel the difference between ukes. This Mitchell is a lot sturdier and feels better built.
I am going to keep growing my collection for sure.
I am looking to buy my husband a ukulele for Christmas but have no idea which brand/kind to get him. I know that he has played friends’ ukulele’s in the past but I haven’t been able to find out what kinds. He has played the guitar for many years along with the piano and saxophone. I’ve only been able to find information on what types to get beginners but nothing for more seasoned musicians. He is also a bigger guy so perhaps he needs a larger uke? I would love some suggestions.
I just picked up a Lanikai LU-21C at the Salvation Army Store for $10. Looks brand new and I love it! Now I’m selling my Makala tenor. For me I like the soprano and concert size. Mine are both Lanikai. I always told myself once I got better I would buy a nicer uke. I’m not great but I’ve been playing on an off for 7 years and I think I’m good with what I have ….. for now.
Are the Washburn Ukes good for the beggining?
The Washburn ukes are actually the Oscar Schmidt models. They come in all sizes, finishes and wood. I own 2 of them (OU5T (koa) and OU7TE spalted mango) models. They are beautiful, easy to play, have perfect action and the sound quality is perfect. They are NOT entry level instruments, as others have suggested, prices range from around $60 for the OU2 mahogany laminate model to upwards of $500 for the better models. They are made in Indonesia, then sent to US for set up and fine tuning. After much investigation I chose the two I own and purchased the OU2 for my 8 year old grandson. All came perfectly out of the box…no setup required. I think some early confusion about them resulted due to the Washburn name…but the connection is administrative only. If you see one you’ll want to play it…after playing it you’ll want to buy it! …and I don’t work for them! Best of luck.
I have 2 questions and would be very very appreciative of any/all feedback!
1. I’d like to buy my girlfriend a Ukulele since she has an interest… thinking around $200 but I’m flexible. Based on what feedback I’ve seen, I feel like solid wood is the way to go. “Upper” price range beginner guitar so to speak. Looking for quality sound and something built to last. Can anyone recommend specific models? Leaning toward soprano as I believe that makes the most sense.
2. I’ve been casually playing acoustic and electric guitar most of my life… almost 20 years now. I think it’d be really fun to learn together with my girl. I’m probably around advanced intermediate for guitar and would be looking at adding ukulele to my repertoire. Kinda leaning toward a baritone… probably because it would be closer to what I’m used to. Not worried about price; focus would be on something that I could still stand by 10 years from now.
I know the right thing to do is go pick up some ukuleles and just play them as this is heavily subjective… would love to have another reference point though. Just wanted to get some additional thoughts. I’ll apologize in advance if this is redundant!
I just bought the kala KA-15s for my first ukulele and thought if buying the Ka-15s is a good choice for a beginner ukulele. Was that the right choice???
So, could anyone give me any opinion about the Kohala ukes, please?
I bought the Kala Concert Travel Uke for my first uke – and whilst it has excellent tone, I sometimes felt the “slim” body was a little uncomfortable to hold whilst playing. A bit skinny. So I just bought a Lanikai Tenor uke to supplement my range! I prefer the size of this and the richer tone. However I think the Kala is the superior of the two and I will certainly continue to use it – especially when travelling. The Kala Concert was also quite a bit more expensive – so I guess I do not have the same excellence of quality with the Lanikai – but as I am no expert it doesn’t really matter that much to me.
I am just starting out playing the uke and after two weeks of research, internet and visiting several music stores, I purchased a Kala KA 15S and I love it. A great instrument to start if with and I look forward to learning new things every day.
I am now looking for a uke group who gathers to all play and learn.
I hope my comments help someone.
Hello. I’ve been playing my Tanglewood Union Series soprano ukulele for just over a year now. I was hoping to move on to a better quality soprano ukulele that isn’t too pricey (under £70). Do you have any suggestions on what I could go for? Thanks.
Hiya! I’m a complete beginner and just bought a Tanglewood TWU1 Soprano. Have you heard of this one or have any experience with Tanglewoods? I know this one is pretty entry level, but am hoping it’s OK!
Love your site!
I was lucky, I was at Guitar Center trading in some old musical equipment that has been laying around for years, and asked what they had in entry level ukes. They showed me the Lanikai LU22CGC concert, and it happened to be on sale for $70. They gave me $60 in credit, so essentially I got it for $10 and I love it! It came with the Aquila strings and once broke in, the seem to hold tune very well. My daughter (11) heard me playing and saw how much fun I was having, so she wanted to start playing too. We went online and got her the pink (only color she will have) Makala Dolphin ($60 for the uke, gig bag, and mini tuner), and now we are learning together. I think the Makala has a brighter sound, after all it is a soprano, but they sound amazing together and are both a riot to play. The only thing I can say about the Dolphin is my old, fat fingers have a hard time on some of the chords, but my daughters nimble little fingers have no problems navigating the smaller fretboard.
Is there a difference between the Kala Makala soprano dolphin and the Kala Makala soprano shark? Because I like the coloring on the shark better, but I don’t want to trade quality for a color. Thanks! 🙂
Hello! I have no idea how old this thread is, but, I’m thinking about purchasing a ukulele, and my local guitar center has a Diamond Head DU-10 Soprano uke. My friend also has this exact brand and I played around on hers the other day. Do you think that this is a good choice for a beginner?
Use a nylon string (classical style) guitar. Play fingerstyle. The four high
strings are the same as baritone ukulele. Capo at the fifth fret and play
the four high strings- same notes as soprano, concert and tenor ukulele.
Great article and info about beginner ukes. Just wondering if you would consider doing another article about higher quality ukes and what to expect from a $500 uke as opposed to a $100 uke. Do you recommend buying used ukuleles?
Thanks for the feedback, Shawn! Definitely can do a post in the future about higher quality ukes, what to expect, as well as buying used. When it comes to higher-end instruments, you can often find some great deals buying used. In short, I would recommend it and have had good experience buying instruments used, but that said, I would always try to play the instrument before purchasing or make sure the seller has a solid return policy. In addition, you should be wary of “fake” or counterfeit instruments sold as a high-quality brand, especially vintage instruments. As a rule of thumb, you should request or identify the serial number of the used instrument and crosscheck that with the manufacturer or a luthier who specializes in those instruments.
I got a Kala KA-BFT bocote butterfly tenor Ule for Christmas and I’m trying to figure out if it’s all laminate or solis wood. Does anyone in this group have this model?
Hey Brett, great post, thanks for that…
So I already have a beginners level concert ukulele that is also considered really good, it probably costed me about 80/90 dollars, since I bought it in Brazil with Brazilian currency and I made my research and many ukulele experts and musicians spoke very good about this uke alto beginners looking foward to go deeper into ukulele playing… this ukelele I bought is from a Brazilian brand… So now I kinda want to buy it in US and I am kinda looking for a us version of this one I have that is really good and I really love it… Also I kinda want to buy a soprano since I already have a concert one…
Do you have any tips?! Thanks!
What’s the question? Haha, my reaction to your comment is more ukuleles the better… I certainly won’t judge you. I have one of each size because I appreciate the small differences in sound. That said, if you already have a concert, the soprano will feel very similar, so I may be more inclined to go with the tenor size, just because it’s a good size if you ever want to do any solo fingerpicking playing.