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.
One of the most common questions for people who want to learn the ukulele is “what is the best ukulele for beginners to buy?” The difficulty in this question is that everyone has their own opinion, so you need to ask a lot of people. I did just that.
I went to one of the largest ukulele forums and created a post asking for peoples opinion on what was the best ukulele in different price ranges. I then put the answers into a list and created a poll.
The final poll included:
All of these ukuleles are under $60 with the Kala KS-15 and Lanikai LU-21 being the most expensive, and the Makala Dolphin and MK-S being the cheapest.
Before telling you which ukulele won the poll, with a mighty 45% of the votes, I want to discuss what seemed to be the biggest factor in choosing the best ukulele for beginners.
Cost-performance. Many people claimed that it sounded just as good, or better than the others, but is also the lowest costing of the group. As far as value goes, it was just hard to beat. Durability, looks, and quality also came up, but the deciding factor really seemed to be the sound you could get for your money.
So as you’ve probably figured out by now, the winner was the Makala Dolphin. It had 45% of the votes and there were really no complaints about it.
The rank for the best ukulele for beginners under $60 was as follows:
The Makala Dolphin- 45.45% of the votes. Noted for it’s exceptional value, bright colors, and durability.
The Makala MK-S- 27.27% of the votes. Noted for it’s great sound, and preferred over the Dolphin by those who wanted a wood grain ukulele.
The Lanikai LU-21- 14.55% of the votes. A good ukulele, but at this price range, most people felt the Dolphin was a better deal.
The Kala KS-15- 12.73% of the votes. Slightly higher grade ukulele than the Makala, but fell into the same boat as the Lanikai.
Yesterday I posted an article and video talking about 10 Ukuleles for Beginners under $200. Since not all of us have the ability to get to a good music store to test out and listen to various ukuleles, hearing as many as possible in a video can be very helpful. Yesterdays video showcased 10 different ukuleles under the $200 range.
However, that video only showed 10 ukuleles for sale under the $200 mark and there are many more. So if you didn’t find anything you like in the last video, here is another video of 10 ukuleles under $200.
These are all pretty good ukuleles, but on ukulele underground, a forum all about ukuleles, the Islanders seem to get very high praise. Many say that it sounds as good as many much higher priced ukuleles. As a bonus you get to see some pretty amazing playing as well.
If you aren’t sure what size of ukulele to get or would like a little more information on brands then please check out the two following links.
The title of this blog is ukulele for beginners, but most of these ukuleles are probably just fine for intermediate and advanced as well. Most advanced players will generally purchase something more expensive, but as I stated earlier, many claim that some of these sound nearly as good as ukuleles that are much more expensive.
Here is the complete list of ukuleles they show in this video:
0:08 Kala KA-SEM 0:48 Islander MS-4 1:14 Leolani Soprano 1:43 Kala KA-SC 2:23Cordoba 20-CM 2:48 Luna Maluhai 3:33 Islander MT-4 4:05 Cordoba 20TM 4:28Kala Ka-ST 4:57 Cordoba 20BM
Now that you have read Ukulele for Beginners and all about ukulele brands you are ready to buy your first ukulele. So the next question is “what is the best place to buy an ukulele?” Especially in the last few years the ukulele seems to be making a come back and is getting more popular. The good thing is that there are a lot of places to find ukuleles for sale. The bad thing is that it is harder to choose the best ukulele, the best price, and the best ukulele store.
If you are new to ukuleles, then two common places to start looking are Ebay and Amazon. The reason is that you can see a lot of different ukuleles and different prices between different sellers. If you choose to purchase from either of these two you also have some insurance that if you aren’t happy you can get your money back or an exchange of some kind. However, there are a lot of ukuleles for sale and getting help or good advice from sellers on either of these sites can be very hit and miss. Also, there are a lot of really cheap ukuleles, but trust me, you will want to get something better.
If you are looking for a beginner ukulele then you are probably looking to spend under a couple hundred dollars. Since most ukuleles aren’t individually set up at this price range, you might want to choose a company who sets it up for you. Setup includes things like saddle and nut heights and intonation checks to make sure the instrument sounds it’s best. You don’t want to buy a nice ukulele that doesn’t sound great because it’s not setup correctly.
The point is to make sure you consider the whole package (ukulele, service, shipping, etc) before making your choice. If you have a local music store then check them out. The advantage is that you can actually test out the instruments. Depending on the knowledge and service that they have, they may even be the better overall deal. Knowledge can be worth a lot.
Lastly, ask for advice and recommendations. Check out the forums and review sites. If there are lots of people who recommend a certain store, then it is probably a pretty safe bet. You can also use the forum to help find local stores that you might not know about. You will be spending a lot of time with your new ukulele, so make sure you spend some time choosing the right one and the right place to buy it.
When it comes to choosing a cheap ukulele for beginners (or just about anything else) you get what you pay for. Middle of the line is usually pretty good. However, when it comes to ukuleles the price difference can be pretty extreme. It can be hard to tell where the middle of the line really is.
A quick search on Ebay will show that the cheapest ukulele starts at around $10 plus shipping while the most expensive is selling for $6,500 plus shipping. That is 650 times more expensive than the cheapest one. Decent ukuleles start around $60 and up, and a lot of people recommend ukuleles near the $100 mark. That’s a big difference.
The price point of cheap ukuleles can make them very tempting. And for someone who isn’t really serious and just wants to play around a little, they are probably okay. For those of you who are actually interested in making music, you want something that will sound good. The below video discusses why you don’t want a cheap ukulele and compares two different ukuleles. One is a cheap Mahalo that can be picked up for about $20-$30. The other is a Japanese ukulele brand called Famous and runs from around $80-$150.