This last Christmas I bought three brand new ukulele for beginners. Two of them were laminates and one was a solid wood ukulele. The idea is that the solid wood ukulele is supposed to sound better over time, but also requires a little more care in regards to humidity. As it turns out, this is definitely the case. Now that I have had a little experience with solid wood, I think I have to recommend the laminate ukulele as the best ukulele for beginners if you are in either a very dry or very humid environment.
In my case, the ukulele went from very dry (California winter) to very wet (tropical island off Japan). I used a humidifier when in the US, but after a couple of months back here, the wood is starting to distort. The laminate that has been by it’s side the entire time is still perfectly fine.
I might have been able to prevent this, had I known a little more about taking care of ukuleles, but as this site says “ukulele for beginners”, I am a beginner. I had heard that this could happen, but most people said that it usually happened in really dry areas. Having talked to the local music shop here, the owner says he gets a lot of guitars that have to be fixed for exactly that same problem.
So if you live in a dry environement or one that is really humid, and don’t want to have to worry to much about taking care of your ukulele, then I recommend that you go with a laminate ukulele. In addition to requiring less maintanence, they also cost less. So not only are you saving time, yuou are also saving money as well. I have even heard many people say that the new laminates sound just as good or at least very close as the solid ukuleles.