Deciding which ukulele to buy is tricky even for seasoned uke players. If you play uke for long enough you’ll discover the right answer to the question ‘which ukulele should I buy?’ is ‘all of them’. If you’re buying your first ukulele or you’re buying someone else’s first uke it can be difficult to know where to start. So I’ve put to together a little first time ukulele buyers guide (particularly for people buying online). If you’ve got any advice to add, let everyone know in the comments.
Ukuleles make great gifts for kids to get them into making music – they fit into child sized hands and let them jump around pretending to be rock stars. They’re also great presents for musicians – particularly guitarists – as they are very portable and easy to learn.
Unless you live in Hawaii, dedicated ukulele shops are hard to come by. Local music/guitar shops will probably sell a couple of very basic models. If you want some real choice, the internet is probably your best bet.
There are a number of dedicated ukulele sites in the US, The Ukulele Shop in the UK and RISA/Uke Surfer in Germany. But the biggest choice is to be found on eBay. Buying on eBay can be a bit risky sometimes, but there are some ukulele sellers with good reputations. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything buy glowing praise for musicguymic from anyone. All the instruments he sells, even the cheapest, are expertly set up. ukulele4u is another popular seller and usually has a wider selection of lower priced ukes.
Which Size Ukulele Should I Buy?
There are four main sizes of ukulele: soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. The smallest of these, soprano, is the classic ukulele and the one that most people start on – particularly children. If someone has asked you to buy them a ukulele, this is probably what they mean.
How Much Should I Spend?
There are a lot of cheap ukuleles for under $20. These are usually playable – many people start out on these – and would make a good present / stocking filler for a guitar player. However, they’re often not set up ideally which isn’t handy for a beginner. Spending a little more will give you a much better instrument and will be more playable straight out of the box.
Ukuleles for Under $50
Makala ukuleles are your best bet if you’re on a tight budget. As I mentioned before, if you musicguymic it will be properly set up (which makes it worth the small premium). It’s also worth getting a decent set of strings to put on it (such as Aquila).
Ukuleles for under $100
Kala ukuleles mostly inhabit the $200 – $300 price range but also make some lower price models. The Kala Soprano ukulele with set up and strings for $60 looks like a good deal to me. Oscar Schmidt are another popular company that sell ukulele in this price range.