Top 9 Best Ukuleles For Beginners – The Ultimate Guide for Starters

Due to the high boost of interest in ukuleles, many newcomers are trying to find that perfect first model. However, the problem is that finding your first ukulele isn't always easy. Most of them look the same and feel the same, leaving most people wondering which one to get? Today we are going to answer that question for you. We've compiled a list of top 7 best beginner ukuleles, some of which are among the best ukuleles on the market, period. First we're going to go over each model and then we'll talk about what makes a good beginner ukulele.

Top 9 Best Beginner Ukuleles

PRODUCT

FEATURES

PRODUCT

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PRODUCT

FEATURES

Kala-Learn-to-Play-Ukulele-300x300
  • Comes with a whole bunch of awesome accessories.
  • Features a really simple design and finish.
Vangoa-Soprano-Ukulele-300x300
  • By far one of the best looking models out there.
  • Good sound and build quality.
Kmise-Beginner-Ukulele-300x300
  • A good mahogany build that inspires confidence.
  • Great set of factory strings add to the sound.
Kala-Color-Chord-Ukulele-300x300
  • Great build quality as expected from Kala.
  • Comes with chords marked on the fretboard.
Everjoys-Beginner-Pack-300x300

AR RATING 67/100

  • Great soprano ukulele that sounds good and looks cool.
  • Features good hardware with fairly accurate tuners.
Huawind-Beginner-Pack-300x300

AR RATING 66/100

  • Good build quality for such an affordable setup.
  • Decent gig bag quality and padding.
Mahalo-Rainbow-Series-300x300
  • Awesome Mahalo build quality and quality control.
  • Comes with a great gig bag.
ADM-Ukulele-Starter-300x300

AR RATING 64/100

  • Simple yet elegant uke with plenty of accessories.
  • Decent build quality and good basswood selection.
POMAIKAI-Soprano-300x300
  • Good quality considering its ridiculously competitive price.
  • Comes in two finishes both of which re decent.
Kala-Learn-to-Play-Ukulele-300x300

AR RATING 70/100

Kala is a huge brand when it comes to ukuleles. They offer models ranging from beginner ukes to more professional pieces which also cost a bit more. What makes them so popular is their attention to detail and the fact that you are almost always getting a good bang for the buck with their instruments. Same goes for this model.

Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Kit comes with an awesome Kala Soprano ukulele, a small gig bag, a tuner and so much more. It is a great starter kit of absolute beginners who are looking to get everything they need in one go. The sound is decent, and the uke itself is quite playable. Overall, it is a perfect starter.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Comes with a whole bunch of awesome accessories.
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    Features a really simple design and finish.
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    Comes with a good set of strings.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Will need to be tuned out of the box.
Vangoa-Soprano-Ukulele-300x300

AR RATING 69/100

Vangoa may not be as popular brand as some other on our list, but they definitely offer one of the best beginner bundles you'll run into on the market today. At its heart is a soprano uke which features a few things you don't often see in this category. On top of that, the accessories that come with are awesome.

The uke itself is a pretty decent quality instrument. The strings are good, not great but definitely good enough to get you started. What really took us by surprise is the abalone binding around the top and the awesome rosette. As for the accessories, you are getting a set of spare strings, a few picks, a pick holder, and more.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • check
    By far one of the best looking models out there.
  • check
    Good sound and build quality.
  • check
    Awesome set of accessories which includes all you need.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Factory strings aren't the greatest.
Kmise-Beginner-Ukulele-300x300

AR RATING 68/100

Another awesome pack comes from Kmise. It's also a soprano and it comes with a whole bunch of cool accessories. Kmise definitely did a good job at putting everything together in an awesome pack. They've also chosen a few accessories which put them apart from the rest of the pack. This is great for those who want to stand out

In terms of build quality and overall fit and finish, Kmise's uke is good to go. They used mahagony for this build which explains a slightly darker finish. The sound is good and so is playability. Accessories include an awesome checkered strap, a nicely padded gig bag, clip on tuner, a pack of spare strings and a whole lot more.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • check
    A good mahogany build that inspires confidence.
  • check
    Great set of factory strings add to the sound.
  • check
    Awesome set of accessories to get you started.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Not the most aesthetically interesting uke out there.
Kala-Color-Chord-Ukulele-300x300

AR RATING 67/100

Next comes another awesome Kala starter pack. This time around it is one of their Color Chord bundles. The one we have chosen for this list is an all-black model. Out of all of the colors available, this one looks the best in our opinion. Especially with those transparent white nylon strings. There is more to this uke than that.

The whole Color Chord name comes from the fact that Kala has market different chords using little arrows on the fretboard. This allows you to quickly start learning the basics. On top of that, the uke sounds pretty great and the accessories that come with it rock. Kala also gives you a free ukulele app which is full of surprises.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Great build quality as expected from Kala.
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    Comes with chords marked on the fretboard.
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    Features good accessible including a Kala app.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Only black version available with colored chords.
Everjoys-Beginner-Pack-300x300

AR RATING 67/100

Everjoy is another brand that offers great beginner ukulele packs. Their comes in a variety of colors although in our opinion the black and mahogany one look the best. It is a soprano which features great hardware and offers pretty decent sound. The accessory pack that comes with it makes it a perfect choice for beginners who are just starting.

The uke itself sounds great. Sure, it's pretty rough around the edges sound wise, but the core of the uke sound is there for sure. On top of that, it gets you that classic soprano vibe. The accessories which come with the uke are top notch. The gig bag is probably our favorite since it features good padding all around.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • check
    Great soprano ukulele that sounds good and looks cool.
  • check
    Features good hardware with fairly accurate tuners.
  • check
    Comes with a great set of accessories.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Needs some tuning and setting up out of the box.
Huawind-Beginner-Pack-300x300

AR RATING 66/100

Compared to most other brands, Huawind comes across as a complete unknown. With that said, they do offer some of the more interesting beginner ukes. At this price, their beginner packs is definitely one of the best you can get your hands on. It isn't as generous in terms of accessories, but it works well for those on a budget

The package includes the ukulele and a gig bag. The uke is a basswood build which is why it's lighter compared to most of its competition. Despite basswood not being the prime choice of tonewood for uke, this one has turned out quite alright. The sound is good and so is playability. All it takes is some getting used to.

WHAT WE LIKE

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    Good build quality for such an affordable setup.
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    Decent gig bag quality and padding.
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    Good sound all things considered.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Basswood wouldn't be our first choice of tonewood.
Mahalo-Rainbow-Series-300x300

AR RATING 65/100

One of the best surprises in this category has got to be Mahalo with their Rainmbow Series Soprano Ukulele starter pack. The reason why this is so surprising is the fact that Mahalo is one of the best brands in the industry. On top of that, their starter pack is easily among the cheapest in this segment of the market.

The pack doesn't include as much as some other, but you still get one Mahalo soprano ukulele and a gig bag. The uke is surprisingly well made and features cool components such as a NuBone XB bridge and nut. Then we've the Aquila Nylgut strings, which are fairly good sounding strings. For a starter rig, this package has it all.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • check
    Awesome Mahalo build quality and quality control.
  • check
    Comes with a great gig bag.
  • check
    Features good components and strings.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    A few more simple accessories would have been appreciated.
ADM-Ukulele-Starter-300x300

AR RATING 64/100

If you are really on a budget, one of the cheapest ways you can get into ukuleles is to go with ADM and their ukulele starter pack. Interestingly enough, this pack is quite diverse in terms of accessories you get. It comes in a variety of colors and finishes, so you also get that aesthetic components to choose as well.

The uke which arrives in the pack is a simple soprano model made out of basswood. Unfortunately, once you go this deep into the budget range, basswood is the only tonewood you will be running into. Either way, this uke sounds more than good for the money. It comes with a gig bag, a tuner, spare strings and much more.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • check
    Simple yet elegant uke with plenty of accessories.
  • check
    Decent build quality and good basswood selection.
  • check
    Sounds pretty good for an affordable uke.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Factory strings are not the best.
POMAIKAI-Soprano-300x300

AR RATING 63/100

Last ukulele for this list comes from Pomaikai and it represents the absolute cheapest uke we are comfortable suggesting to beginners. Truth be told, you only get the uke and the gig bag for this price, but the point still stands. The uke comes in two different colors, so you have a bit of leeway in that regard as well.

In terms of build quality, you are getting another basswood build. The overall quality of the fit and finish is pretty good. Interestingly enough, this one comes with a subtle rosette, which was definitely a pleasant surprise. The overall sound is good, especially considering its price. If you're on a really tight budget, this uke might be your best bet.

WHAT WE LIKE

  • check
    Good quality considering its ridiculously competitive price.
  • check
    Comes in two finishes both of which re decent.
  • check
    Sounds quite good for a starter of this price.

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

  • minus
    Factory strings are nothing to write home about.

The Ultimate Guide To Ukuleles For Beginners

When you are just starting out, ukuleles might all look the same. However, that can't be further from the truth. There is an impressive amount of complexity to this simple looking instrument, which is enough to catch most people by surprise. The variables are numerous. For starters, ukes come in different sizes, some of which are so similar to each other that it is really hard even for a trained player to distinguish them from a distance.

Because of all that, we have decided to put together this short guide which should introduce you to all of the intricacies of modern day ukuleles. We won't go too deep because there is a lot to say about this instrument. However, we will provide you with all the necessary information you could need to make the best decision during your shopping. With that said, lets get started.

Different Types of Ukuleles 

Remember when we said that there are several different sizes of ukuleles? Well, there are four, or five if you include the most recent sopranissimo. We won't since it isn't really a traditional size, but it is there if you want to check it out. The main four ukulele sizes, going from the smallest one to the largest one are Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone. In this segment of the guide we will take a look at each one and discuss what benefits each brings to the table.

Soprano 

Soprano is arguably the most popular type of ukulele. Every model on our list above features this size. If you hear a ukulele song on the radio, there is a 90% chance that it was recorded using one of these. What defines a soprano uke is usually a 20 to 22 inch instrument. In practice, there are very few models which go past 21 inches. Sopranos have that classic uke sound which is why many like them. Another reason to go with a soprano is pure mobility. These are super easy to carry around when traveling.

Concert 

Concert sized ukuleles are 23 inch ukes which are fairly similar to sopranos. The size differential is often times hard to spot, especially if you are a beginner. One of the main giveaways is the position of the bridge. With sopranos, the bridge is dominating the top piece and leaves very little room between itself and the edge of the top. With concert ukes, there is much more wood between the bridge and the edge of the top. While concert ukes have a noticeably deeper sound, they still retain that classic ukulele flavor which many are looking for. If you are serious about playing ukulele, you might want to consider getting yourself a concert version of this instrument. The main reason for this is the fact that concert ukes offer much better fretboard real estate. In other words, they are much easier to play.

Tenor 

Tenor ukuleles are among the larger uke versions. They are full 3 inches larger than concert, which puts them right around 26 inches. Lately, tenors have seen a spike in popularity. There are several reasons for that but being more suitable for complicated uke pieces might be the most popular one. One thing to know about tenors is that they have a profoundly deeper sound than previous two types of ukes we have covered. You are getting a tone which is definitely closer to that of a classical guitar. Also, tenros are usually a bit more expensive and are rarely found in the $100 segment. Once you're ready to invest a bit more, you will start seeing some pretty decent tenors.

Baritone 

Last but not the least we have baritone ukuleles. Coming in at 30 inches, these are definitely closest to a compact classical guitar both in terms of sound and looks. In a sense, a baritone ukulele defeats the purpose of this instrument, which is its compact size and overall mobility. That definitely explains why baritone ukes are by far the least popular type of ukulele these days. The extra depth they offer definitely has its own applications. Another thing that differentiates this type of uke from the previous three is the tuning. Due to its size, baritone is more similar to an actual guitar in terms of tuning.

Tonewood 

Much like it is the case with acoustic and electric guitars, tonewood is a very important factor when it comes to ukuleles. Long before ukes become so popular, this instrument was only made from Koa. The reason for this mostly historical and geographical. Since Hawaii is the birthplace of ukulele, it is only logical for uke luthiers of the old to use tonewood which was available in abundance. That happened to be Koa. However, there are definitely more tonewood types in the mix these days. Lets cover some of the most popular choices which you will undoubtedly run into.

Koa

Like we have just said, Koa is the traditional tonewood out of which most Hawaiian ukes were made of. These days Kao is still the proffered tonewood of choice. You will mostly find it in higher end ukes although there have been instances of Koa laminate found in the affordable range. If we had to guess, we'd say that real Koa starts appearing in the $200 price range with a few exceptions here and there. In terms of sound, Koa has a lot of warmth to it. That warmth is also one of the trademarks of an ukulele as an instrument. In other words, if you want an authentic uke experience, you will need to get yourself a Koa model.

Mahogany

Mahogany is one of the most popular ukulele tonewood these days. It is definitely not traditional, but there is a reason why so many brands are using it in their builds. Mahogany is a very hard wood, which translates to sharp and snappy sound when used in instruments. Because of this it works great for acoustic guitars as well as electric ones. It just so happens to work great for ukuleles as well. It is less expensive than Koa and offers a slightly different experience altogether.

Spruce 

One of the softer tonewoods that is used these days is Spruce. It is super common among ukes of all price ranges, although higher end ukes often use something more traditional. Tonal properties of Spruce are well known. This material has been used for centuries in acoustic guitars so it was only logical for it to spread over to the ukulele market. Overall, Spruce has a nice, balanced sound to it. Its warm, soft and often times mellow vibe works great with all genres of music. Spruce also offers the best bang for the buck if you are looking at more affordable models.

Basswood 

Basswood is definitely a more recent addition to the accepted ukulele tonewood. Often considered the cheapest option out there, many people tend to write it off when they are looking for their first uke. In our experience basswood has a lot to offer if you are on the budget. For starters, it offers a soft and mellow sound which works well with soprano ukes. If you go over our picks for this category, you will find that there is a considerable number of basswood models in there. It is no secret that basswood is cost effective but it isn't all that bad as some would like to think. With all that said, there is no reason to go with basswood unless you are looking for budget friendly ukes.

Laminate Wood and Solid Wood 

This is pretty much a straight forward distinction and a lot of rules which apply to acoustic guitars also apply to ukes. Solid wood is definitely the preferable choice. Lets talk a little about what solid and laminate wood even means. Solid wood is means that the entire top, back or sides of an instrument were made from a single, solid piece of wood. That way you are getting the optimal sonic signature of that particular tonewood, which is definitely what you want to get.

Laminate wood means that that each of these body parts were made out of several pieces of wood. Laminates are not as good when it comes to sound and resonance, but they are much cheaper compared to solid wood. At the end of the day there are some good laminates and some bad solid woods out there. However, the general rule of thumb is that laminates are good in the budget segment while anything more refined than that should come with solid wood.

Strings

Strings are one of the most important aspects of ukulele design for sure. It just so happens that they are often times overlooked, especially by beginners. Because of that you will find a whole lot of cases where a person has bought a ukulele and then got disappointed in its performance. In most of these cases it is the strings which are the cause for less than perfect sound. Especially if that ukulele belongs to the more affordable segment of the market. It is no secret that most brands out there offer not so great factory strings with their lower end models. You would be surprised what a good set of strings can do for a cheap uke. Sometimes that set of strings can cost as much as the uke, though. However often times this upgrade is worth it.

Here is the main thing you need to know about ukulele strings. They are not the same as guitar strings and you definitely should try to use them interchangeably. Ukulele strings are specifically designed and optimized for use with ukes and vice versa. Trying to put regular guitar strings on a uke will most likely damage your instrument beyond fixing. Why? It all comes down to how much pressure those strings exert on the neck and body of the instrument. Guitar strings are made to deal with much higher resistance than uke strings, and that shows. Because of all that, do yourself a favor and buy exclusively ukulele strings and nothing more for your new uke.

Hardware 

Last uke component we want to talk about is hardware. This is where your tuners, bridge and nut come in. Depending on the quality of your uke, you might have to deal with mediocre hardware. Even so, most modern ukes come with metal tuning machines. Nut and bridge will often times be synthetic unless you want a more traditional design. In that case bone is the only way to go. With that said, some of the synthetics which are used today are arguably better than bone in terms of performance.

Stuff like NuBone and similar offers extremely good performance for the money, and is capable of withstanding whatever abuse comes its way. So if you see a synthetic saddle or nut, don't be too quick to dismiss it. One thing to note is that more affordable ukes like the ones we have been talking about today are mostly going to feature unknown synthetic components. With these, it's hit or miss when it comes to quality and performance. Most of them are good but some are straight up bad. Avoiding such hardware is also why we wanted to put together this guide. All of our models were vetted for stuff like this so that you don't have to deal with the frustration of changing a piece of hardware on a brand new instrument.

Hawaiian Brands 

One of the prevalent discussions in the uke community is whether to go with Hawaiian brands or ukes made outside these islands? Ukes being a traditionally Hawaiian instrument has a lot to do with this discussion as you could probably imagine. As always there are two sides to every story. Right off the bat we can say that any uke can be good no matter where it was made or by whom.

With that small disclaimer out of the way, it is also true that Hawaii is home to some of the best luthiers in the worlds. We are talking traditional shops which have been around for a long, long time. Naturally, these shops are also going to price their ukes in the premium range. If you want a Koa uke made by some of the best luthiers out there, be prepared to spend quite a bit of money on it. That is just the way it goes.

In recent years there have been a few awesome uke brands which operate out of continental US and other places around the world. Some of these brands also use Koa as their main tonewood of choice. They also hand craft their instruments depending on the model, which is done by a group of highly skilled luthiers. In the end, you have to ask yourself whether or not you want to spend extra for a legit Hawaiian uke. We strongly suggest that you hold off that decision until you really master this instrument. Some of the higher end models really require that refined taste and skill for you to be able to truly appreciate what that particular instrument has to offer. Spending your money on such ukes before you reach that level is pretty pointless.

Conclusion 

Not so long ago it was very hard to find an affordable ukulele which didn't sound like crap. Ever since this instrument took off in popularity, we have seen a surge of awesome beginner models priced in a way that makes them attainable by beginners. The models listed in this guide are all offering a whole lot of bang for the buck. No matter which one you go with, you won't be disappointed. Some of these bundles are really all you could ever need to get your self started. The only thing left for you to do is find a pack that fits your style the best and start practicing those chords.

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