Ukulele For Beginners: Humidity

I’ve talked a lot about the different aspects of choosing an ukulele for beginners. The size, the type, the setup, and how to get started. One thing that I haven’t covered is humidity. While it’s something you might not think of, humidity can have a big effect on which ukulele you choose.

Recently, I took a 9 day trip to Taiwan (it is an amazing place if you have a chance to visit). Upon returning home, I picked up my ukulele and started playing. Unfortunately, I was only able to play a few minutes because the bridge (the part that holds the strings to the ukulele) popped off. No more playing ukulele!

This happened for two reasons, both of which were caused by humidity. Both of which need to be considered when buying an ukulele for beginners.The first was that the body started to warp.

In my case, I live on a tropical island of Okinawa where the humidity is near 100% during the summer time. I was told this wouldn’t be a problem when I bought the ukulele, but that’s just not the case. Very high or very low humidity can both cause damage to your ukulele. If you live in either you need to keep your ukulele in a case and in the right humidity

Because of the high humidity and the body warping, the glue on the bridge was no longer able to hold it to the body. My instructor told me that this is something that happens all the time here and that I should really keep my ukulele in the case.

So, if you are buying your first ukulele, think about where you live. Laminated ukuleles are supposed to be better against dry or humid conditions (from what I have heard) than solid wood. My solid wood ukulele is warped and my laminate is perfectly fin.

If you live in a very dry or humid climate, you may want to look at getting a good case and some kind of moisture controller.

Buy ukulele: Hamano H-100 Vintage

This last christmas I bought three new ukuleles. One for my wife, one for my brother, and one for myself. Today I wanted to talk about the ukulele I bought for myself, the Hamano H-100 Vintage.

Check out the Hamano H100 on Amazon

I chose this ukulele for a couple reasons. It had great reviews, it was a solid wood ukulele at a pretty decent price, it was a concert, and though I didn’t particularly like the style at first, I grew to like it. Many people actually prefer this style as it resembles the old Martin ukuleles.

Once I actually started playing it, I was very happy. It had a great sound, and was very easy to play. The quality is also very good for an ukulele in this price range. I was used to playing a soprano, so playing a concert did take some getting used to, but once I got used to it, I loved it.

I have been playing it for about 7 months now, and I have to say that the sound has gotten even better. When I first looked at buying a solid wood ukulele I heard people say this, but now I have actually experienced it myself. It makes you want to play even more.

I am also surprised at how many people comment on the style. I wasn’t a fan at first, but everyone really seems to like the vintage style ukulele.

So, if you are looking to buy an ukulele, and want something that will sound great and last, then I can highly recommend it. I think it is a great ukulele for beginners and is high enough quality to stay with you for a long time.

I have had a chance to handle some more expensive ukuleles and I think this one definitely competes with those. It’s not quite as flashy as a lot of other ukuleles for sale, but that is actually part of it’s appeal.

Check out the Hamano H-100 on Amazon

 

 

Buy Ukulele: Toys vs Instruments

Buying your first ukulele can be a bit difficult. If you were like me, then you probably had very little information about ukuleles and what to look for. Furthermore, finding the right information can be a pretty daunting task. Some people will say that a certain ukulele is great while others will say that it is horrible. Some will say to get a cheap ukulele and some will say to get the most expensive you can afford.

What do you do?

I started out with a really crappy ukulele, and then had the chance to play a number of different ukuleles. I was able to realize that not all ukuleles are the same. At the end of last year I wanted to buy 3 ukuleles and had to make some decisions. What should I get.?

I ended up buying 3 ukuleles that were all different brands, different materials, different sizes, and at different price points. The reason for this is that I had different needs for each ukulele.

The least expensive was for my brother, as he had interest in playing, but chances were that he would probably not continue playing for very long. He ended up with a Makala MKS. You can buy this ukulele for pretty cheap, but it actually has a great sound if setup properly. It was the one I was most impressed with because of it’s price point.

The other two I bought were an Ohana Willow Wood Soprano and a Hamano H-100 Concert. Both great ukuleles, but they were a bit more than the Makala. These two get played on a regular basis, so I didn’t mind spending the extra money. They are both high quality ukuleles

The bottom line is that you can find great ukuleles even at lower prices, but to really know what is best for you, you should try to get the ukuleles in your hands. You’ll be able to decide what sound you like and what feel. I have played crappy ukuleles and it can be a bit depressing. Some of the ukuleles out there are really just toys, and you will have a hard time making them sound good even as you get better.

There are differences even in between ukuleles of the same model, so it is always best to try them out first. If you can’t, then you should at least make sure that you have them properly setup.

Ukulele For Beginners: Beginner Videos

I actually have two things I want to talk about in today’s post. The first is buying an ukulele for beginners. The second is getting started and learning to play.

A few days ago I had a friend ask me about buying an ukulele. She had recently attended an ukulele class and had so much fun she decided she wanted her own ukulele. Since her ukulele knowledge was very basic, she didn’t know where to start. How much should she spend? What brand should she get? What size should she get?

There are a lot of questions for the beginner. So what should you do?

The first thing is to do a little bit of research yourself. Check out the bottom of this post for a bunch of useful links on choosing the right ukulele. However, it’s also important to realize that you don’t have to choose the most expensive ukulele. You want one that sounds good, but it doesn’t have to be the best. (check out the ones in the sidebar for some cheap, but good ukuleles for beginners. If possible, get to an ukulele shop and try them out.

Learn Ukulele For Beginners

Depending on where you live, it can be difficult to find a good ukulele teacher. I live on a small tropical island in Japan, and I actually have an ukulele teacher here. However, there are a lot of areas that don’t.

So what’s the next best thing? YouTube of course! This is how I first started learning the ukulele, and I still use YouTube to learn a lot of different songs or for helpful tips.

A few days ago I came across a really cool YouTuber who is making beginner ukulele videos. He has a series of videos that you can check out and learn from. The first video shows you how to tune your video, and how to play your first few chords.

I recommend that you watch the video once and then actually try to play along on the second run through.

Ukulele For Beginners: Solid Wood Ukuleles

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. 

Two Great Ukuleles for beginners

If you found this website, then there is a really good chance that you have come looking for information on buying an ukulele for beginners. Seeing as this site is dedicated to the topic, I have written quite a few articles about it. You can find those articles at the bottom of this post.

For those ready to purchase an ukulele, I have also created links on the sidebar for two great ukuleles. Both the Makala MK-S and Dolphin were very high rated in the surveys that I did for the best ukulele for beginners under $60 and also the one for $100.

If you are looking to buy a great ukulele for beginners, definitely check them out. I also get a percentage of the sale if you purchase through those links, which in return allows me to spend more time working on the site.

 

 

The Best Ukulele For Beginners

If you go on Yahoo answers, you will find this question has been asked hundreds, more likely thousands, of times. “I want to learn the ukulele, but I don’t know what ukulele I should buy. What’s the best ukulele for beginners?”

Having now spent more time learning the ukulele, and having now bought 4 ukuleles myself as well as playing on several others. I think one of the best ukuleles for the money (especially with proper setup) is the Makala Dolphin and the Makala MK-S. This is further backed up by the survey I made on the Ukulele Underground Forum. They are dirt cheap ($35-$60), so you don’t have to worry about beating them up too much, and they sound pretty good.

Of the three ukuleles I bought this christmas, the one I was the most impressed with was the Makala MK-S with Aquila strings. It sounded about the same as the nicer Ohana that I purchased. Having played the MK-S or the MK-C, I feel that it would have been more than enough to get me well through the learning these stages and beyond. In fact, there were a lot of people who left remarks on the survey saying that they still often put their much more expensive ukulele aside to play their Makala Dolphin.

So if you are trying to find the best ukulele for beginners, then I say this is a good choice. If you aren’t happy with it, you aren’t out much money. Or if you use it a lot and then want something better, you can always use this as a backup to take to the beach or on trips. I even considered buying a second one just for that purpose, but decided I would see how often I was playing before I invested the extra money.

Buy Ukulele: Best Ukulele For Beginners Under $100

If you want to buy your first ukulele, but aren’t sure which ukulele to buy, then this is the post for you. If you are wanting to spend under $60 or even under $40, then the most recommended ukulele was the Makala Dolphin. You can see how it fared here: Ukuleles For Beginners under $60.

But what if you want to spend a little more and get something nicer? What should you get then? What if you want to buy an ukulele around the $100 range? Well according to the poll that I submitted on the Ukulele Underground Forum, the answer is a draw.

The Makala Dolphin and the Kala KA-S both recieved 24.5% of the votes. Some people felt that the Kala KA-S was the best ukulele for the money. Others believed that there wasn’t a big enough difference to warrant spending the additional money and that it should be saved up to get a more expensive ukulele. You can see the full results here:

  • Kala K-15S- 5.26%
  • Kala KA-S- 24.56%
  • Makala MK-S- 5.26%
  • Makala MK-C- 8.77%
  • Makala Dolphin- 24.56%
  • Lanikai LU-21- 5.26%
  • Bruko/Brueko Soprano- 3.51%
  • Other (specify in comments)- 22.81%

So which one should you buy? It really depends on how much money you want to spend and what your goals are. However, with the Dolphin being as good as it is, it is a hard bargain to pass up. Rarely do you hear people give it bad reviews. I think at this price level it would have to be my choice for the best value.

Ukulele For Beginners: Ukulele Buyer’s Guide

I have talked a lot about the things you want to avoid in buying your first ukulele. There are a lot of questions on the web from beginner ukulele players about what is the best ukulele for beginners. Well, it really depends on what kind of instrument you are looking for. Is this your first instrument? Are you really serious about playing or are you just looking to play every once and a while? Do you want to spend as little as possible or get something really nice.

The answers to all of these questions will decide which is the best ukulele for you to buy. You don’t want to get a cheap ukulele because it will sound like crap, but decent ukuleles can be had for around $40.

While the criteria to find the perfect ukulele changes for each person. There are certain things that everyone should do when finding their ukulele. This includes getting it from a store that knows what they are doing, playing it before you buy it (when possible), and really thinking about how much you are going to use it.

The below video discusses some of the important things you want to consider when making your first ukulele purchase. You’ll notice that he talks about a twingy A string. I also had this problem with my first ukulele. It is quite annoying. This can be avoided by choosing a good ukulele and having it setup properly.

Some stores may charge a little more, but if they include a proper setup with the ukulele, then an extra $20-$40 is worth it. This is especially true when purchasing ukuleles in the sub $100 range, which are more likely to have slight imperfections. However, with a proper setup, I can say that the Makala MKS I purchased for my brother was darn near as good as the Hamano I purchased for myself. I was actually more impressed with it because it sounded so good for so little.

So here is the video. It’s a little erratic, but has some good points.

Buy an Ukulele: 3 Things to consider

Buying your first ukulele can be a bit overwhelming. There are a lot of ukuleles to consider, a lot of different ukulele brands, and even different sizes. You will be spending a lot of time with your ukulele, so you want it to be the right one. So what is the right one for you? Here is a list of three things you should consider.

How serious are you about learning the ukulele

This may seem like a pretty stupid question. If you weren’t serious then you wouldn’t be planning to buy an ukulele right. However, knowing the answer to this question will help you decide what kind of an ukulele to purchase.

If you have experience with music and know what it takes to learn, and know that you will continue, then you should buy something that is nicer. That way you don’t have to buy something better down the line.

If you just want to try learning the ukulele, or if this is your first instrument, then you may want to buy a less expensive ukulele. Something like the Makala Dolphin, which has a great sound, but can be had at a great price. This way if you don’t decide to continue playing you are only out a few bucks and can give the ukulele to someone else wanting to learn.

Try the ukuleles out

This isn’t always possible. For those who do have the ability to test out different ukuleles, you definitely should. It will allow you to see how they feel in your hands and how your fingers hit the chords. You will also find that ukuleles vary between each one. Some will sound great while others might not sound as good (even though they are the same model). Getting them in your hands will help you find the right one for you.

The right shop and setup

Not every shop carries ukuleles, and most of the ones that do, don’t specialize in them. This means that they are selling the ukuleles as is. This is usually okay for high end ukuleles, but for ukuleles for beginners, ones in the lower to middle range, most will sound better with a proper setup. A shop who knows ukuleles will usually offer a setup with their ukuleles, which helps to get rid of the imperfections from manufacturing and makes your ukulele sound better. Most places will include this service for free when selling an ukulele, but you should always consider this in the final value when making your choice. A proper setup is probably worth about $20-$40.

So now that you know what to look for, check out some of the below links to get started on choosing your ukulele.