Are you thinking about buying a ukulele? Not sure which one to get?
Our reviews on Ukulele Tricks are made to help you make the best buying decision.
- 5 Best Ukuleles to Buy for Beginners
- 5 Great Chromatic Tuners for Ukulele
- 16 Best Ukuleles to Buy This Christmas… Without Breaking the Bank
- Best Ukuleles to Buy for Christmas 2010
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I have 5 ukulele’s so far. For beginning to intermediate players I am really impressed with the mid price range ($150-$400) KALA models. I find they offer excellent quality and value for the money. I have two(a KA-FMT and a travel uke both are maple bodies with spruce tops) and they both play well with a nice bright sound. I also have aquired a KANILE K2T which is beautiful solid KOA and has perfect sound. This is a quality professional level instrument. The internet has lots of free learning opportunities for those interested. Pick up a ukulele and start learning, then you can enjoy the sounds of the islands.
Bob, thanks so much for posting your review. I’ve heard excellent things about Kala ukes. I only have a tenor uke right now (not a Kala), but I’d like to get a soprano someday. I’m really tempted by their flame maple soprano ukes. Maybe someday soon… As you said, everyone should pick up a uke and start learning. I’m surprised by how many very decent quality entry-level ukes you can find out there for a very reasonable price.
I have two ukuleles, a Kala KA-ST tenor with a solid Sitka spruce top, and a Makala Dolphin bridge in yellow burst (soprano). I love both, but find I play the Makala dolphin more – I like the size, the playability, and the sound. It’s doesn’t cost a lot but it is of great quality (plastic back and sides with a laminate top). Easily a recommendation for a beginner. Both are strung with Aquila strings, and were set up by Music Guy Mic on eBay. I really dig the Kala brand overall.
I’ve always wondered what the Makala Dolphin sounded like. Sounds like it’s a great entry level uke that’s pretty decent. How well does it hold tune?
I am teaching my 25 fifth graders how to play the ukulele. The Makala Dolphin w/Aquila strings is the perfect student uke. After several tunings, it holds well. The kids love the sound and the colors. I like that I am able to get them singing along with playing. By the end of the school year, they will be quite accomplished. What a gift the ukulele has been to my classroom.
Thanks for the great review, Linda!
You say the mid-range $150 onwards ukuleles by KALA’s really good. How about for beginners? How does the lower end compare with other brands? Like those under $100? I’m going out to get a ukulele but can’t decide and can’t wait to start!
While I am not as familiar with Kala ukes as Bob probably is, I would imagine the similar quality would carry through down to their beginner and entry level line. I would be much more prone to by a cheaper uke from a company that I new made great ukes all around than a no-name company that I’ve never heard of. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on this though.
Make sure you look at the action , if it’s too high it will be hard to play and put you off!
I have a Kala Tenor Uke, I love it and the back and sides are spalted maple and the top and neck are spruce, very lovely instrument. I am a beginner and it stays in tune, easier to hold onto than a soprano is as well. I would say invest your money into a midrange instrument and you wont regret it. The lower end instruments tend to go out of tune easily, or thats been my experience.
can you like do The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel on the Uke.
I think it might sound awesome
I will definitely keep it in mind!
Brett: Do you ever do chord solos eg: playing the melody of a song using chords? John F
John, I haven’t done that yet. It is something I want to get into though! Any suggestions for songs that are good to do for that?
Have you ever done any lesson on the Baritone Ukuleles in Finger Picking?
Clyde, I haven’t been able to do any although I would love to in the future!
On the subject of building a repertoire of songs and for those who have not yet visited. There are a vast number of songs on the Dr.Uke website. With chord charts and note names above, it is a real treat for beginners and advanced alike.
i am looking for a lanikai LU-21 soprano ukulele where would be a good place to get one at a decent price? i was thinking about the guitar center.
Guitar Center might have them. It would be good place to try. For online purchases, I’ve worked with Musicians Friend, Sweetwater, and zZounds, and they all have excellent service too.
Ebay has them going for around $70.
If you go to Amazon.com, there is a place in Texas selling the Lanikai LU-21 soprano, with hard case, etc. for only $89 US. I think it’s an amazing deal–unfortunately, they don’t ship to Canada. (I paid $99 here in Ontario for just the LU-21 ukulele.) I am sending this note on October 8, 2012.
where in ontario did you pic up the LU-21?
Thanks Brett for your super awesome site and for giving so much info and encouragement to all us uke newbies!
Could you post a comment or two on strings? Thanks!!
What questions do you have about strings? Aquila tends to be a pretty popular string manufacture, although there are many out there. The best thing to do is to try a bunch out and figure out what you like. Some strings sound better on certain ukuleles, so you really just gotta try it out. I’ve been using some Aquilas on my tenor uke for awhile, and I think here soon I’m going to pick another string maker and try those. 🙂
i have tried several strings and for my pona mpt i have worth’s on the e and a and then put wound c and g strings from hilo, sounds great; i have aquilas on my leolani and am planning on putting some dadarrio j71’s on soon and just got some of the new koolau strings that have a wound c and g in the set i can’t wait to put them on the pono and see how they sound.
I just acquired a Baddah mahogney baritone uke with an ebony fretboard. It is my understanding that they were made by Mele until 2003. The instrument was almost given to me, so I am wondering if anyone knows anything about these instruments. I am still a beginner and am learning on a Mitchell Concert Uke so the baritone fingering and tuning is a little confusing.
Brett: Thank you so much for your clear and informative lessons. I have enjoyed learning something entirely new at 71 years old! I have a music background in piano and taught for 20 years, so I understand music, it’s “just” getting my fingers to respond to what my head is telling them! I am learning on a Mitchell Concert Uke, which I like very much. Recently I was given a Braddah Baritone Uke made out of Mahogany and Ebony. It is my understanding that they were made in Hawaii by Mele before 2003. Do you or any of your followers have any information on this instrument? Thanks for the work you are doing.
Hey Zoe, thanks for your comment! I often hear from people in their 60s and 70s who are picking up and learning ukulele. That’s so cool!!! I am not very familiar with the Braddah baritone, but I’ll be interested to see if any other readers have some insight they can add to your comment.
What are your feelings on the Ibanez UEW20 Acoustic-Electric Ukulele?
I’ve never played it, so I can’t speak firsthand about it, but it looks like it gets pretty good reviews online.
i prefer pure ukele instrumental, combination of chords and tabs, but cant find one , probably something for a beginner to intermediate…new and popular oldies….any thoughts of making one…..
I actually have some lessons and songs like this that are in the works! I hope to be focusing on more of these types of songs and lessons the next couple months.
I don’t know when this question & your answer were posted but I’m interested & would be excited you can include instrumental and fingerpicking songs. I enrolled at your website lessons 3 weeks ago & have been enjoying it very much. But I was disappointed that fingerpicking was not included in much detail instruction like other strumming lessons. I’m currently on Lesson 9 & have played the bonus lessons 1 & 3. I tried to browse the rest of the lessons looking for fingerpicking but couldn’t find unless I just missed it. Do you have any recommendation? Sidenote: I’m excited to go to Jake Shimabukuro’s concert in June 🙂
Hi Blessel, your question is timely, because I’m currently working on some new fingerpicking lessons. Stay tuned.
I have a Makai tenor. I bought it for $80 and dislike it so much I won’t play it. I had it worked on to improve the sound but the high G string still sounds muted. It sits in it’s case. It was bought to learn with and I did. My next will be one of better quality and no doubt higher price.
Hi, I was in Lidl in the UK and they were selling one by Clifton at £17.99, not a bad little one to see if you want to play,or get the kids..
I would highly recommend a Anuenue uke. For the price I have heard nothing that is better. They are very well made and sound great, stay in tune well. Not sure of their starting price but believe them to be very affordable. My first uke was a anuenue and it served me well until I went crazy and bought a selection of professional quality ukes
Thanks for the review, Trevor!
I currently have only one ukulele. It is cheap but it does the job. You can get for $33, I think. And so far it has done pretty well. I’m surprised with how well I am doing with so little to go on. My ukulele is a Hilo Model # 2652
Thank you for taking the time to put in all of this work for total strangers.
I am 52 and have never so much as picked up a musical instrument in my life until Dec. 22/11 When I decided I had to learn to play an instrument. I bought myself a Kala KA-S. and have my eye on a Kala KA-ASAC-T a month or two down the road once I learn a few things and know it is not going to be a total waste of money.
In the past 14 days I have learned 6 chords, 2 strumming patterns and can move around the fret board fairly comfortably. And learned one 2 chord song (Anyone Else But You – moldy peaches) can play poorly, but coming along.
Along with all of your info I am using Uncle Rods Ukulele boot camp. then got stuck. He has practice sheets for doing the chords which is great. but I don’t understand what is meant by the key of C, key of F etc.
Again Thank you so much for doing this. You have no idea how much you have done for me to get me going this far!!!
Hey Bill, keys refer to the scale that a song is based on. In pop music, most songs are based on major scales (keys). I wrote a lesson introducing major scales here which will allow you to get your feet wet:
I currently only own a Mahalo coloured uke and I’m sure everyone knows that they are not exactly good, so I’ve been looking at a few models and I came across this Electric-Acoustic Ovation Applause uke. The model is UAE20 and it’s one of the only soprano ukes I found that was electric as well as acoustic. So I was wondering if anyone had any info or any reviews to put for it if they actually have one. Thanks!
If anybody else can suggest a relatively high quality acoustic-electric soprano ukulele, I’d really appreciate it
My friend just got a Kala KA-TEME and he really likes it. It is the exotic mahogany series and it has a pickup. Kala also has some higher-end models with electronics that you might look at.
Also, check out Mainland ukuleles. They are quite good for the price.
You can also look at some of the K brands like Kamaka or Ko’olau.
Just wanted to say that I have great respect for Brett. He has put a tremenous amount of work into his course and charges very little. This suggests to me that he really wants to help we “would be” ukulele players. I’m sure Brett that your Granpa is looking down, feeling very proud of you, and happy that you are using his encouragement to you to encourage others.
Hey Mops, thank you so much for your kind comment and nice review! I really appreciate the positive feedback. Playing music and teaching others is a really fun thing for me, so I’m glad you’ve been able to benefit from it.
P.S. – I should clarify my Grandpa is still very much alive. 🙂 He’s only in his 70s. He’s still a young guy.
OOps!! Apologies to your grandpa. Still a young guy indeed.
I am enjoying my new Kala tenor ukulele….lovely mellow sound.I just need to practice a lot.
Have a great day,
Not a problem! 🙂 Glad you’re enjoying the new Kala tenor ukulele!
I UNDERSTAND NOW… just to make sure you got it ill type it again…. ok here it goes…….. i just got a ukulele yesterday and i didnt know how to play it because this is my sixth instrument and im proud to say i play— clairinet, piano, gutar, recorder, keybord,and thanks to you I CAN PLAY THE UKULELE.. so thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU!!!!!!!!
You are welcome, Sarah! Welcome to Ukulele Tricks! 😀
In one of your beggining vidios you should tell people which way to hold a ukulele because I just learned all my chords upside down:(
But other then that you have helped me a lot so thank you sooooooooo much
I have always wanted to play string intruments like guitar and ukulele, I choose the uke cause it only has (4) strings. I have problem placing my fingers on the frets, can’t read music. thru the years, Im (75) yrs. young, have bought and gave away some of my guitar and uke. Now I’m really serious learning the ukulele, I still some ukulele left, just have to clean it. I have (3) soprano , a martin and kamaka, (2) tenors, 4 sting martin and a 6 string kamaka. which one do you recommend? thanks bob
You have quite the selection of ukuleles, Bob! I recommend them all. Hah, they are all great brands. I really like the Martin ukes. I play Martin guitars as well, so that might be why. However, Kamaka is a world renowned ukulele maker and they make great ukes too.
So I was looking at some Ukuleles with a llitte bit more style than most. Stuff like Luna Ukuleles. The Great Wave Concert, High-Tilde Tenor, etc. The latter specifically. I’ve been looking for a Tenor for a long time and when I first saw it, I was struck by it’s craftsmanship. I’ve heard a lot about these Ukuleles and their quality. But a natural concern was that of my wallet Luna Ukuleles are expensive pieces of work. So I’m shelfing that, for now. My question is what Ukuleles would you recommend for someone looking to spend $150 and below(ish) for a somewhat stylish in look and sound Uku? Specifically those in a Tenor key. Thanks a ton in advance, any advice you can give me is appreciated:D
I have a Kala Travel size Uke in a tenor with a spruce top with a mahogany slightly curved back. I ordered it directly from Hawaii and it arrived very quickly and ready to play right out of the gig bag it comes with. I bought mine about three years ago and just love it. You will be amazed how thin the travel Uke is, but don’t let that fool you on the sound that it will put out! It projects very nicely, has a beautiful and bright sound and stays in tune like you wouldn’t believe. I spent about $169 three years ago and it arrived already set up for me and ready to play upon arrival. I believe now th
I believe that now the price is around $199 including a soft gig bag with the Kala logo. The sound that comes out of it is truly amazing. You won’t be sorry with this purchase! I got the Kala travel tenor Uke, model # KA-SSTU-T , 9-1 1. It’s perfect for home and traveling as it doesn’t take up a a lot of room, but has a huge sound! It’s amazing and impressive! HAPPY STRUMMING! Brett, thanks so much for your slower and calmer approach to explaining everything, as us older newbies to the Uke take a little longer to catch on sometimes. I only wish that in your lesson on the first eleven chords we all should know, that there were a visual also of the fret board in addition to you explaining where to place our fingers on the fretboard. I’m more of a “visual” learner, so I know that would help me also. I’m really looking forward to improving and growing with my Uke playing, enough to feel comfortable enough to make some fun memories with friends and family and of course traveling and camp fire side playing!
I bought a lanakai 22TS Tenor last October and have been learning really well( battled with guitar for years ) Trouble is I don’t like the tone of it anymore…….I’m beginning to hate strumming, which I was really enjoying. It’s all tuned up, equipped with Aquilla strings, & have good comfortable action, no buzzes or any other excuses. I’ve toyed with my strumming technique to see what difference that makes (none I can detect) So I’m not sure why I don’t like its sound now……any helpful comments or advice would be gratefully received
Hey Fuzz, you might try going to a music store and playing other ukuleles to see if they inspire you. Sometimes picking up a new ukulele can give you some more inspiration. As you mentioned, always make sure it’s tuned up whenever you play, otherwise it’s gonna sound bad. Sounds like you are doing that.
I love your lessons, thanks for all your hard work putting the school of uke together! I was hoping that you might post the chords and strumming pattern for the song Anyone Else But You by The Moldy Peaches.
I have an Oscar Schmidt OU4. It’s a tennor ukulele with a spruce top, they call it Aloha. I use Aquila strings with a low G. They go for around $100. When you buy on ebay, pay a little extra ane buy from a music shop that will have a tech set it up for you. Butler music is a good vendor. Unless you are paying over $1000, you will not get a better sound than the Oscar Schmidt OU4
Just upgraded to a better Uke. I was using a Lanikai (21C) concert-but decided, after research and trying a variety in a local store, to look for a used Cordoba 20TM-CE, acoustic/electric. I found one. I purchased it. The pick-up in the body does not seem to effect the tone and keeps it very well balanced. I am not using an amp as of yet. The tone is nice. It’s a good size. The action is very good. Of course I did purchase it (used) from a local professional musician so it was already adjusted and well taken care of. He just needed money for another instrument and had upgraded himself to a better Uke made of koa. I really can work with this model as opposed to the Lanakai 21C. I prefer it. Cordoba seems to make very good instruments.
I have a Cordoba tenor. LUV IT!
Good Job! How do you find ALL your lessons on beginner stuff?
Genna Sara Johnson
P.S. Your RADICAL!!!
Genna Sara Johnson
Do you have a video were you show how to change chords when you’re strumming?
Hi Genna, I have a video lesson dedicated to changing chords and strumming while keeping good timing in my video lesson course Ukulele Strumming Tricks, which you can learn more about here.
Awesome course & business idea Brett! Online materials are certainly the wave of the future. After successfully completing my Masters online & know it takes allot of initiative, simply b/c of the freedom it allows. Like the degree, this facilitates instructor & peer connection; it also offers a deeper growth: One of dedication & love for music.
Decided I needed a hobby and chose to learn to play the uke. Did some research, went to local guitar store, picked the sales guys brain, held some models in the $100 range and chose the Cordoba Soprano 15-CM. Added a clip on electronic tuner and a case…out the door $160. I haven’t been able to put the damn thing down! Love all the info available on line and especially enjoy this website. Looking forward to learning the instrument and figuring out which model to add next.
My friend and I brought your Ukulele Exercises for Dummies book and were having trouble downloading Part 1 to Chapter 14 in the http://www.dummies.com/go/ukuleleexercises
We have internet access and neither of us can download these audio tracks your talking about on page 4..
I’m wondering if anyone else has this problem. Please tell us how we can download these Audio Tracks.
Hi Alison, thanks for picking up a copy of my book! For whatever reason, the dummies.com website doesn’t always redirect to the right page. Please try this link instead: http://www.dummies.com/Section/id-815872.html
Hi.. I am Pramod, a new entrant to ukulele learners, from South India.. I just got recently by email “your first ukulele lesson and then some”.. It’s very attractively laid out and easy to follow.. Well I had heard of the ukulele long ago as the easiest instrument to play in contrast to the oboe, and that made me dream of buying it..
Just half a year ago, I bought myself a “Granada” soprano ukulele from a nearby city.. It has quite better quality when compared to the cheaper Ashton Ukuleles.. However, ukulele replacement strings are yet to be available here, though on the net I heard that “D’addario” concert ukulele strings are available..
My question is this.. can we string a soprano ukulele with concert ukulele strings..?
Thanks.. I have other questions too, which I post for later..
Hi Pramod, while the strings might be a little long, you shouldn’t have a problem stringing a soprano ukulele with concert ukulele strings.
Hi Brett et al,
I just recently purchased a KALA KA- BFC concert ukulele. It’s an incredible instrument: solid brocote wood (top, back and sides). . It has an arched, bowled back and a slightly deeper body depth. Which seems to result in louder projection (volume). It is a limited edition model and hard to come by. Since it was manufactured in such limited quantity, there have not been many reviews written. Brocote is highly patterned wood that creates a sound similar to rosewood. The salesman described the sound as bright, but I think it resonates more of a rich, warm tone. The list price is around $350. I was able to purchase mine for $299 (including tax). The owner/salesman threw in a very nice hard shell case.
I apologize, I misspelled the name of the wood. It is BOCOTE wood. NOT Brocote The rest of the post is accurate. Thank you. Brenda.
im new to ukulele tricks and was wondering if you have a video on here on how to change the strings on a uke
if not could you think about one in the future if you have the time as I would like to learn this and put better strings on my uke
thanks from Scotland
I stumbled across this page while looking at some Ukulele review
I currently own Ko’Aloha Tenor Thinlines and Beaver Creek Baritones. Personally I would not recomend getting a Kala for one big reason that Kalas tend to be on the more expensive for their quiality. I personally found Lanikai or Pono better for the buck!
I love your site!
Hey brett have you considered doing review on intermidiate/higher end ukuleles? So stuff like pono, ko’aloha, kanilea?
Brett, your online fingerpicking lessons are fantastic. So worth every penny. I am going through each lesson slowly so I thoroughly learn each technique before moving on to the next lesson. I love that I can move through all the lessons at my own pace. It would cost me hundreds to take regular local lessons and I would not be able to revisit each lesson when I want as I can online. Thanks so much!