It’s so easy to fall in love with ukuleles. They look like cuter versions of big acoustic guitars. They’re simpler instruments, and they’re generally cheaper too. At least, these were just some of the reasons why I picked up my first ukulele.
Today I want to talk about beginner ukuleles. I’ll touch on topics such as what makes the best beginner ukulele, which brands and companies you can rely on, and finally, how to pick the right one. Without any further ado, let’s take a look at this list of the 7 best beginner ukuleles this year.
What Is a Beginner Ukulele?
In essence, a beginner’s ukulele is an instrument that’s light, relatively cheap, and easy to play. Factors such as scale length, fret spacing, neck profile, weight, action, and intonation determine the playability of any ukulele, and playability is the most important factor to consider when choosing a beginner ukulele.
In terms of ukulele types, beginner ukuleles are available in all shapes and sizes, including soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone, as well as acoustic and semi-electric.
Types of Beginner Ukuleles
Beginner ukuleles are categorized in four size-based groups, along with the addition of the semi-acoustic type:
The most petite ukulele type is the soprano. These ukuleles have the shortest scale length, the smallest bodies, and relatively small spaces between the frets. They’re perfect for children, teens, and adults with smaller hands.
Concert ukuleles are just a tad larger than sopranos. However, they’re more versatile, and musicians usually pick them up due to their warm, controllable sound. There aren’t many differences between sopranos and concert ukuleles in terms of playability.
See More: Best Concert Ukuleles Buyer’s Guide
In comparison to tenor ukuleles, concert and soprano ukuleles seem like toys. This ukulele type offers a fuller sound, extended scale length, a bit bigger neck, and ideal fret spacing for people who have little experience with stringed instruments.
See More: Best Tenor Ukuleles Buyer’s Guide
Personally, I don’t recommend baritones for total beginners. This is the largest, heaviest ukulele type, and newcomers tend to struggle with it, especially when it comes to chords. However, it offers the deepest and loudest sound, which is the reason why live performers typically use it.
See More: Best Baritone Ukuleles Buyer’s Guide
Ukuleles outfitted with preamps or pickups are called semi-electric. They can be plugged into regular guitar amplifiers via instrument cables for substantially increased control over the volume and tone.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Beginner Ukulele
While shopping for a beginner ukulele, you should consider its size, what it’s made of, how playable and sturdy it is, its sound quality, and of course, its price tag.
Size is one of the most important factors that determines the playability of a beginner ukulele. Smaller models offer superior handling at the expense of volume and sustain, while bigger types are generally better for intermediate and professional musicians.
The type of wood used to make a ukulele defines its sonic signature. One of the most common tonewoods is mahogany, followed by spruce, acacia, and maple. Traditional ukuleles are made of koa wood, so consider models made of that particular tonewood if you wish to sound like the Hawaiian ukulele legends.
Playability is hard to define because it’s subjective. Essentially, playable ukuleles allow you to easily fret both single notes and chords, as well as use any technique and playing style. Stiff, wide necks and rough-edged fretboards are the most common hindrances to a ukulele’s playability.
Beginners aren’t yet able to determine whether the ukulele is the instrument they want to continue playing even after trying it out. For that reason alone, I recommend buying a cheap ukulele until you’ve learned the basics.
Bundle vs Standalone
Even though bundles are normally a bit more expensive than standalone ukuleles, they’re tailor-made for beginners. Ukulele boxes feature the most essential accessories that will help you handle various aspects of this instrument, such as tuning, storage, transport, and such.
Going for a standalone ukulele has more merit if you already have these accessories or if you’re on a cash-strapped budget.
New vs Used
Buying any used instrument is always a gamble, as you can never be completely sure whether it was used, stored, and treated properly prior to reaching your hands.
However, if you’ve already decided on your budget, chances are that you’ll be able to get a better instrument this way.
7 Best Beginner Ukuleles Overall
Below are what I consider to be the best beginner ukuleles.
- Size: 9 inches by 7.9 inches by 4 inches
- Weight: 76 pounds
- What’s included: Gig bag, clip-on tuner, polishing cloth, Austin Bazaar instructional DVD
- Material & finish: Ebony body, maple binding, satin finish
- Best for: Best beginner ukulele overall
The main reason I like the Kala KA-EBY-C more than other beginner ukuleles is because its sound is worlds apart from that of an average ukulele. It’s made of beautiful, robust ebony and has maple binding for extra sturdiness.
Furthermore, its satin finish is responsible for its gorgeous aesthetics, while the fast, comfortable neck gives it superior playability. To top it all off, it comes in a decently versatile bundle comprising a gig bag, a tuner, a polishing cloth, and a valuable instructional DVD.
Why I Recommend It
I mainly recommend this ukulele to adult beginners. The fact that it’s slightly bigger than most beginner ukes might dissuade some teens from trying it out, but other than that it’s simply perfect.
- Size: 63 inches by 8.38 inches by 3.25 inches
- Weight: 1 pound
- What’s included: Gig bag, Kala Quick-start guide, replacement strings, tuner app
- Material & finish: Mahogany construction, gloss finish
- Best for: Best cheap beginner ukulele
Kala is one of the most popular brands in the ukulele industry, and their Kala Learn To Play Soprano Starter Kit LTP-S is certainly one of the finest, most valuable ukulele beginner bundles. It’s made of decently durable mahogany, it sounds pretty great for the buck, and it features an online lesson program and Kala’s online tuner application.
Why I Recommend It
If you’re looking for a good-sounding, sturdy ukulele bundle as a beginner, look no further than Kala’s LTP-S Soprano Ukulele Starter Kit. It’s affordable, relatively robust, and the quick-start guide will help you learn the basics in no time. It doesn’t stay in tune for long, however.
- Size: 28 inches by 10.5 inches by 4 inches
- Weight: 3 pounds
- What’s included: Standalone ukulele
- Material & finish: Spruce and mahogany construction, sunburst finish
- Best for: Best beginner ukulele under $1,000
The Kala Archtop Sunburst Tenor is the best-sounding ukulele a beginner can have. It features a comfortable neck, clearly visible fret markers, adequate fret spacing, and a set of versatile pickups. It also boasts a gorgeous two-tone sunburst finish, making it one of the most aesthetically complete instruments in its price range.
Why I Recommend It
Although it’s unusual for beginners to start out with boutique models, doing so will help you get accustomed to quality and you’ll certainly be more inspired to play more often. I recommend Kala’s Archtop Sunburst ukulele if you don’t want to settle for anything short of perfection and if money isn’t an issue.
- Size: 27 inches by 11.5 inches by 6 inches
- Weight: 99 pounds
- What’s included: Gig bag, truss rod, strap, finger shaker
- Material & finish: Mahogany construction, gloss-paint finish
- Best for: Best beginner ukulele under $500
The Enya EUC-MAD XB is a remarkably sturdy, great-sounding, and unique-looking concert ukulele that’s a part of a beginner-intermediate bundle. It’s packed with a variety of exquisite accessories and boasts superb levels of durability and playability.
Why I Recommend It
Enya’s EUC-MAD XB is my warm recommendation for beginner ukulele players who’ve had some experience with guitars, violins, or any other stringed instrument. It’s very easy to play, it sounds great, and its only drawback is its hefty price tag.
- Size: 8 inches by 10.8 inches by 4.5 inches
- Weight: 24 pounds
- What’s included: Gig bag, clip-on tuner, replacement strings, strap, Caramel pillow
- Material & finish: Solid mahogany construction, high-gloss finish
- Best for: Best beginner ukulele bundle
The Caramel MC41 is a versatile beginner’s bundle comprising a thoroughly padded carry bag, a reliable clip-on tuner, a set of replacement strings, a beautiful ukulele strap, and a complimentary Caramel pillow. The ukulele itself is made of durable mahogany and boasts great playability and intonation.
Why I Recommend It
I warmly recommend Caramel’s MC41 to any beginner who’s looking to get the most value for their money. This bundle features high-quality accessories, it sounds pretty great, and its intonation is fairly awesome.
- Size: 5 inches by 8.5 inches by 3.5 inches
- Weight: 2 pounds
- What’s included: Gig bag
- Material & finish: Mahogany construction, satin finish
- Best for: Beginner ukulele with best level of playability
The sleek, thin neck paired with a smooth fretboard and the miniature size of Cordoba Guitars U100SM make it remarkably easy to play. It’s made of sturdy mahogany and comes with a padded gig bag.
Why I Recommend It
If you’re more interested in ukuleles that feel good rather than models that are stiff but sound good, I think you’ll love Cordoba’s U100SM. It’s sturdy, beautiful, and pretty affordable, but more importantly, it offers a superior level of playability.
- Size: 23 inches by 7 inches by 2.4 inches
- Weight: 74 pounds
- What’s included: Gig bag, tuner, strap, polishing cloth, replacement strings, online lessons
- Material & finish: Plywood construction, painted finish
- Best for: Best ukulele for immediate beginners
The Winzz Concert Ukulele Bundle is a mid-range beginner uke box that contains a lightweight bag, an accurate clip-on tuner, a set of replacement strings, a handy uke strap, and Winzz online ukulele lessons. The uke is pretty light, and its plywood construction offers much in terms of durability and sound.
Why I Recommend It
Regardless of your age or musical preferences, if you’ve decided you want to give ukuleles a shot, you may want to take a look at Winzz’s concert ukulele. Even though it’s a tad bigger than some of the models on the list, it offers great playability, an excellent tone, and an eclectic selection of accessories.
Best Cheap Beginner Ukuleles
The differences between cheap and high-end ukuleles are typically little details that beginners aren’t able to spot. Getting familiar with this beautiful instrument is ideally done on an affordable model due to several factors.
First and foremost, you won’t feel the pressure of needing to play simply because you’ve spent a lot of cash. Secondly, even professional musicians are a bit stiff when they’re playing expensive ukuleles, as it’s so easy to scratch or bump them. If you’re looking for a high-quality cheap beginner ukulele, you might want to check out these models:
- Kasemi Soprano Ukulele: This ukulele is made of decently durable maple and is part of a versatile beginner bundle. Although its sustain isn’t exemplary, it sounds great for the buck.
- Mahalo MR1LBU Rainbow: One of the tiniest sopranos I’ve used. It’s remarkably light and its sonic performance is above average. It doesn’t have fret markers, though.
- Kadence Concert Ukulele: Excellent-sounding, sturdy concert ukulele that comes with a durable carry bag. It’s made of robust mahogany and sports a gorgeous white paint finish.
Best Beginner Ukuleles for Kids
Ukuleles made for children aren’t particularly handy for adults, and kids would struggle to play full-sized ukuleles.
With that in mind, a child’s ukulele should be as small as possible, preferably a soprano.
- Hamano U-30WT Soprano Ukulele: This ukulele is remarkably lightweight and made of great-sounding maple. It’s also cheap and available in several color styles.
- Fender Seaside Soprano Ukulele Pack: An excellent mid-range ukulele value bundle that includes a highly playable soprano and essential accessories.
- Diamond Head DU-150 Soprano: This ukulele sounds great and is well-crafted and remarkably light. It’s also one of the cheapest beginner ukuleles for kids on the market.
Best Soprano Ukulele for Beginners
Sopranos are perfect ukuleles for people who’ve never played a stringed instrument. As mentioned before, these ukuleles are petite and substantially lighter than other ukulele types, which is why they’re such a perfect fit for beginners.
These are some of the best soprano ukuleles that the current market has to offer:
- Huawind Soprano Ukulele: Cheap but well-built, Huawind’s soprano is an excellent all-around choice for beginners on a steep budget.
- Hola! Music HM-121PP: A better-sounding mid-range soprano ukulele that comes with a handful of high-quality accessories.
- Cordoba U100SM: The US100M boasts excellent playability and quality of sound. It’s just slightly more expensive than the other two, but it still offers tremendous value for the buck.
Best Concert Ukulele for Beginners
Concert ukuleles are a bit better-rounded and bigger in comparison to sopranos, but they’re still considered small, lightweight beginner instruments.
There are numerous high-quality models on the market, and for your convenience I’ve picked only the most valuable ones:
- Kala Makala Waterman: Smaller than a standard concert ukulele, Makala Waterman offers improved playability and excels in durability. It’s fairly affordable, although its sound leaves room for improvement.
- Vangoa Concert Ukulele Bundle: This is a versatile bundle that comes with a variety of beginner accessories and a well-rounded, sturdy concert ukulele.
- Cordoba 20CM Concert Ukulele: The Cordoba 20CM is one of the finest concert ukuleles on the current market. Even though it’s a standalone instrument, it excels in virtually all fields of performance.
Best Tenor Ukulele for Beginners
Adults who start out on a tenor ukulele will have no problem switching over to ukulele basses and baritones if they ever decide to form bands or perform as solo artists.
Tenor ukuleles are louder, bigger, and sonically different than sopranos and concert ukuleles. My top 3 tenors are:
- Vanphy Tenor Ukulele: A cheap beginner’s tenor bundle that features a robust spruce ukulele, a pack of replacement strings, a gig bag, a strap, and a handful of picks.
- Kala KA—PWT Pacific Tenor Ukulele: Excellent sound, durability, and tonewoods. This ukulele is a bit pricier, but it’s well-rounded and great for the money.
- MrMai ML-T Tenor Ukulele: One of the priciest ukuleles on the market, but also one of the best-sounding and sturdiest ones. MrMai’s ML-T offers a unique tone and unmatched playability at a relatively hefty price tag.
Best Baritone Ukulele for Beginners
A baritone ukulele is the least suitable type for beginners who’ve never played an instrument. However, it’s much closer to acoustic and classical guitars in terms of playability and design, so if you want to expand the list of instruments you already play, this may be a great choice.
In my humble opinion, the best beginner baritones are:
- Kala KA-B Mahogany Ukulele Bundle: Perfect for both amateur performers and beginner musicians. This baritone sounds great and offers much in terms of playability and robustness.
- Ortega Guitars RU5-SO Bonfire Series: Big, sturdy, and exquisite are the words that best describe both its tone and RU5-SO as a whole. Pricey but valuable, it’s an excellent choice for adult beginners.
- Kala Ziricote Baritone: My personal favorite high-end baritone. Kala’s Ziricote offers a roaring full-bodied tone, a sturdy body, and exceptional hardware.
Best Semi-electric Ukulele for Beginners
There aren’t many things you can do to alter the performance of any acoustic ukulele unless it’s equipped with a pickup system.
Semi-electric ukuleles can be hooked up to an amplifier, just like electric guitars, so in that sense, they’re more controllable and tame. My personal three favorite semi-electric ukuleles are:
- Kmise UK-24EQ Electro-Acoustic Concert Ukulele: I recommend UK-24EQ for its sturdy spruce construction and a warm, controllable tone. It’s a cheap, well-built, and beautiful semi-electric ukulele.
- Luna Tattoo Concert Acoustic-electric Ukulele: A classy, great-sounding semi-electric ukulele that comes in a simplistic beginner’s bundle. It’s a bit more expensive than the UK-24EQ, but it sounds and feels much better.
- Fender Fullerton Telecaster: The ultimate beginner’s semi-electric ukulele for fans of rock and metal music. It’s equipped with an advanced preamp system and great-sounding pickups.
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Table of Contents
- What Is a Beginner Ukulele?
- Types of Beginner Ukuleles
- Things to Consider When Choosing a Beginner Ukulele
- 7 Best Beginner Ukuleles Overall
- Best Cheap Beginner Ukuleles
- Best Beginner Ukuleles for Kids
- Best Soprano Ukulele for Beginners
- Best Concert Ukulele for Beginners
- Best Tenor Ukulele for Beginners
- Best Baritone Ukulele for Beginners
- Best Semi-electric Ukulele for Beginners
- In Conclusion
Before I wrap things up, let me share with you a few final tips regarding how to pick the best beginner ukulele.
It’s generally better to buy a cheap model if you’re just curious. If you’re determined from the start, consider investing a few more dollars in a sturdier, better-sounding instrument, as quality ukuleles tend to inspire more than flimsy, poor-sounding ones.
Size matters in this particular scenario. Smaller ukuleles aren’t just for kids, and obviously, bigger types such as tenors and baritones aren’t meant for adults exclusively. Size and weight affect the playability, so keep these in consideration.
Finally, I warmly recommend investing in a quality semi-electric ukulele rather than an acoustic one. The compatibility with guitar amplifiers will help you form or join bands, as well as perform live once you feel confident enough.