Are you looking for the best beginner ukulele but don’t know where to start? Ukuleles have more choice than many other instruments. You should spend a little time researching before buying your first ukulele. We’ve provided plenty of information to let you choose your beginner uke.
In a Hurry? Here Are the Best Beginner Ukuleles
Choosing Your Ukulele
So that you don’t get overwhelmed by the choice, we’ve created a short guide to choosing the best ukulele. You have plenty of options for price, brand and even style of ukulele, and our guide should help you decipher it.
How Much to Spend
How much do you need to spend to get a good beginner ukulele? Luckily, it doesn’t have to cost you the earth. The range for a good beginner ukulele is about $50 to $100. This isn’t a specific rule, though. Some cheaper ukuleles are decent in quality, and if you have more to spend then you can find an upgrade.
You should avoid the absolute cheapest ukuleles. You can find options for very affordable price tags. Some ukuleles only cost around $20. These don’t tend to offer the sound quality and playability you need. Spending a little more should mean getting a slightly more pro model.
Luckily, compared to other instruments, ukuleles are pretty affordable. They’re a great place to start as a musician.
What Are the Benefits of Spending More?
In general, the more you spend on an instrument, the more quality it will offer. What do we mean by “quality” though? What do you get for your money?
Tonewood is the biggest impact. By spending more you might get higher quality and more exciting woods. The wood can add more depth and interesting tones. Just like guitar tonewood, certain types of wood are more sought after for ukuleles. More on this below.
The wood will also probably be more solid the more you spend. This further improves the tone.
Other benefits of spending more include:
- Better craftsmanship. You may find handmade quality ukuleles.
- More spent should mean better looking inlays, binding and detailing.
- Sometimes, electronics such as pickups are included. This lets you amplify the ukulele.
- Spending more can mean more accessories included such as tuners, spare strings and a bag or case.
What Body Size and Style is Best?
You can easily get confused by the different styles of ukulele. There are four main body sizes and they are all slightly different. If you are a beginner, you will want to choose between a Soprano, Concert or Tenor ukulele.
Basically, all three of these have the same tuning. You play them all the same way. You can switch between a soprano, concert and tenor ukulele and though you’ll need to adapt to the size, the way you play is the same.
Why are there different sizes, then? Well, the different sizes all have different tones. Smaller, soprano ukuleles tend to have a brighter sound. As they get bigger the tone has more depth.
Sizes are also different because of playability. If you have bigger hands, playing a small ukulele might be a challenge. You might go for a tenor or concert ukulele to make it easier for fingering and chord positions. You are looking for the best starter ukulele, so you don’t want it to be too hard to play.
Does Brand Matter?
Does the brand of your ukulele matter? The answer is both yes and no. You shouldn’t get too hung up on brand. The name on the front of your ukulele doesn’t matter, especially when buying your first ukulele. However, some brands indicate quality.
You will notice brands like Kala that provide loads of good options for beginners. Brands like this are associated with quality. Do a little bit of research on the brand, check things like their warranty policy before making your purchase.
Should You Worry About Wood?
Tonewood is important, but ukuleles have plenty of different tonewoods that sound great. Traditionally, ukuleles are made out of Koa wood. Koa gives a bright tone, and the sound we associate with ukuleles. It is native to Hawaii and it is said that some of the first ukuleles were made out of this wood.
Other woods sound good though. Mahogany, sprice, rosewood and even cedar might be used and they can sound equally tuneful and enjoyable to listen to.
They all sound a little different and have their own little quirks in terms of tone, but these are minute details. For a beginner, you just want a clear sound, and the nuance of the tone isn’t the most important thing. If you can get a koa model, great, but it isn’t necessarily better than the other ukulele woods.
Setting Up With Accessories
You need to think about accessories. If you are trying to find the best ukulele for beginners, you might want something with a lot of included accessories. You won’t already own things like tuners and cases.
Many of the top ukuleles on the market for beginners come with things like tuners, spare strings, picks and even songbooks. A ukulele bag or case is also something you should be on the lookout for. Some of the models on our list go one step further and even include things like capos. This can allow you to play more songs with ease.
Read our guide if you are looking for a left handed ukulele.
Top Beginner Ukulele Reviews
1. Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Soprano Starter Kit
Kala is a great ukulele brand, and this is their very best product aimed at beginners. This isn’t just a great ukulele, it is a full kit to get you started. Kala’s range is big, and they are the most popular brand for ukulele sales.
If you buy other ukuleles, you might need to go shopping for the accessories, this ukulele has all you need in the box with the reliable soprano ukulele. If you don’t have huge hands, you can get started with a small uke like this.
- Comes with a quick start guide to explain your new ukulele.
- Includes access to online lessons provided by Kala.
- Well-built with Mahogany wood. Includes brilliant Aquila strings, NuBone nut and saddle to replicate traditional bone design.
- Comes with a tote bag.
- Excellent craftsmanship for the price, well-built with a good tone.
- Included bag doesn’t have any padding or protection.
- The tuner included is in the form of an app, you need a device to use it.
- May be tough to play if you have larger hands.
If you are looking for a kit that has a bag with it, and can get you started with your lessons, this offering from Kala can be ideal. The Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Soprano Starter Kit is especially good for small hands. The Soprano size is the smallest, meaning it is more portable.
The quality we’ve come to expect from Kala makes this a good choice for beginners, and it doesn’t break the bank.
2. Hola! Music HM-21NT Soprano Ukulele Bundle – Best Value
If you are looking for the cheapest option that has plenty of quality, the HM-21NT could be the choice for you. This is another ukulele bundle and another small Soprano option. Soprano ukuleles are popular among beginners.
The ukulele itself is basic, it isn’t going to be played on any number one album recordings. However, it is more than good enough for a beginner, and all the accessories you get are pretty impressive.
- Available in lots of different designs and colors.
- Mahogany construction and Walnut bridge. Great materials for the price.
- Comes with two months of free online lessons.
- Includes all the accessories you need to get started including a good quality strap.
- The included canvas bag for the ukulele isn’t padded.
- Intonation isn’t always perfect and tuning can be a little tough.
- Some of the finishes feel a little bit plastic and cheap.
It’s important to be realistic when you get a cheaper beginner ukulele like this. It doesn’t have a ridiculous amount of quality when it comes to tonewood. However, for the money, the Hola! Music HM-21NT Soprano Ukulele Bundle has plenty to offer. Definitely aimed at beginners and children, but that is exactly what we’re looking for.
3. Concert Ukulele, Ohuhu 23 Inch Ukelele – Concert Ukulele for Beginners
If you think you’ll struggle with fretting and finger position on a small, 21-inch ukulele, the Ohuhu gives a little bit more space. A 23-inch ukulele is playable by most people. This is another beginner setup. It includes accessories to take one of the considerations off your mind when buying your first ukulele.
Though it’s a bigger option than soprano ukuleles, it has a similar cost, and the accessories are arguably better than the options above. The craftsmanship is high quality, and there’s plenty to like about this affordable ukulele.
- Includes lots of accessories. A ukulele gig bag, clip-on digital tuner, spare strings, a strap, and even a polishing cloth are included.
- Accurate, open-back tuning pegs. You can tune reliably and the intonation is great.
- A brilliant tone and good quality, thick wood for the money. Plenty of warmth to the sound.
- Easy to play, space between the frets, it’s great for playing if you have normal sized, or even slightly above average hands.
- You need to tune up regularly. This ukulele might fall out of tune.
There aren’t many downsides to this ukulele. For beginners, it includes all you need. Some people find it easier to play as there’s more space on the fretboard. The tone is impressive and rich, you could easily mistake this for a more expensive uke.
It’s hard to fault the build quality. It isn’t the most professional of ukuleles, but it certainly does the job for beginners. If you want something a bit bigger than a soprano ukulele, consider the Ohuhu 23 Inch Ukulele.
4. Enya EUC-X1C Cutaway Concert Ukulele – Best Koa Professional Model
Koa wood is the traditional, Hawaiian wood that is used to make ukuleles. It gives the tone most of us associate with a ukulele sound, and many of the professional models go for a koa wood to stay true to the origins of this instrument.
This instrument is also designed to cope with different temperatures and a variety of humidities. Some ukuleles can warp when the humidity changes.
This really has the feel of a more professional option. The Enya EUC-X1C cutaway concert ukulele is just one of the options from this brand. They also offer tenor and soprano models at a reasonable price, that comes with the same accessories. These options are equally impressive in tone. You can choose which size and design you want.
- The cutaway design of the EUC-X1C allows for soloing and more intricate playing.
- Free string replacement for the lifetime of your instrument.
- Reliable tuning pegs.
- Thick, quality Koa wood.
- Excellent accessories including a padded bag and even a capo to expand your playing possibilities.
- Not as affordable as some of the other options on the market.
The Enya EUC-X1C Cutaway Concert Ukulele gives a lot of different playing options. It is great for picking, and a good option for beginners but also intermediate players. This ukulele has a suave design, beautiful koa wood and a nice matte finish.
It’s also worth paying a little more due to the accessories. The fact that the bag is padded and that this comes with a capo is fantastic.
5. AmazonBasics Soprano Ukulele Bundle
A lot of people are put off as soon as they see the AmazonBasics brand. However, we’re happy to recommend this. It’s not a hugely professional ukulele, but it is perfect for beginners, there’s plenty of quality.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t have “AmazonBasics” branded on the product anywhere. The wood quality is great, the sound is fantastic and Amazon have made a great instrument. Against what you might expect.
- Smooth sapele design with thick, quality wood.
- Excellent Aquila strings, industry standard for most beginner ukuleles.
- Comes with lots of accessories including a tuner, carrying case, strap, and some picks. There are also spare strings.
- 1 year Amazon warranty.
- Tone is good, but not amazing for a soprano ukulele. No authentic koa sound.
- The carrying case included could have more padding.
AmazonBasics isn’t an instrument brand. However, if you want a bundle that has plenty of accessories and does the job in terms of quality for beginners, it’s worth thinking about buying a model like this. Don’t get too hung up on the branding.
Bonus Product: Enya Concert Ukulele Nova U 23’’ Carbon Fiber Travel Ukulele
The above options are our top five best starter ukulele options, but we also wanted to include this innovative idea from Enya. Ukuleles aren’t huge to take out and about, but this travel model makes the design even smaller. You can take this anywhere with you.
The main difference is how thin this ukulele is. It makes it good for putting in the car and taking to the beach, or to practice wherever is convenient.
- Tiny and very thin, as well as lightweight.
- Decent tone in spite of being made out of carbon fiber.
- Cutaway means you can play intricate melodies.
- Lots of different designs and colors.
- 60 day money back guarantee from the manufacturer.
- You can tell the sound is not generated by tonewood.
- More expensive due to the thin design.
It may not be for everyone, but the Enya Concert Ukulele Nova U is great fun, and saves some space.
Conclusion – Wrapping Up the Best Beginner Ukes.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list. We found that the Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Soprano Starter Kit is a brilliant option for beginners, and the best on our list. If you want a product with a good tone and plenty of accessories, but don’t want to break the bank, the Kala could be a good choice.
This ukulele has the advantage of the Kala brand name, and you can tell by it’s bright tone. The tone is comparable to the excellent Enya EUC-X1C Cutaway Concert Ukulele, but the price is far more accessible for starter ukuleles.
The soprano design is small and portable, and the tonewoods are quality for the price. As explained in the buying guide, good tonewoods can make all the difference. For an affordable bundle with everything you need to get started, the Kala Starter Kit is the clear winner of our list.