Best Starter Uke?

I certainly screwed up with my first ukulele purchase. I went in to my local music shop, picked up the only ukulele they sold and bought it without even trying it out. It was a no-name, badly-made hunk of junk. I hated playing it and it spent most of its time under a desk breeding a small but genetically diverse warren of dust bunnies. It wasn't until years later, after buying a decent ukulele, that I really got into playing. I entirely blame that decision for the fact that I am not Jake Shimabukuro. To help you avoid that fate, here are a few tips.

If you're just looking for a quick ukulele recommendation these two are good starters: Lanikai LU-21 and the Kala KA-S.

Which Size?

There are four main sizes of ukulele. In order of increasing size they are: soprano, concert, tenor and baritone.

As a beginner, I'd steer you away from the baritone. They're tuned differently from the others and it's much harder to find tabs, tutorials etc.

Of the other sizes, soprano is the traditional ukulele size and the one most often used by beginners. With it being the smallest, there's less stretching for notes. They also tend to be the cheapest. Overall, I'd recommend starting with a soprano.

Concert and tenor sizes will give you more room to maneuver on the fretboard. Tenor is the size used by most professional players these days. Both concert and tenor will work well for new ukers. You play them exactly the same as

How Much to Spend?

You can get some very cheap ukuleles but I'd recommend spending at least $60. If you buy a very cheap ukulele, it's very likely to have problems which can put you off playing.

Equally, I wouldn't recommend blowing hundreds and hundreds on your first uke. Save up for when you've played a while and have a better idea of what you want.

Which Model?

There's a really good selection of ukuleles for beginners these days. There are also a few duds. For your first uke, I'd recommend steering away from anything too crazily shaped or highly decorated.

Two good options for beginners are the Lanikai LU-21 and the Kala KA-S.

116 Comments

  1. Chris February 24th, 2010 7:02 pm

    I have been playing guitar for 26+ years. I recently purchased my first uke (Kala KA-S).
    Overall, I am quite pleased with it, espescially for the pirce ($50-ish). It was hard to get it to stay in tune intitially, but I expected this since this is true with new strings on any instrument.
    The intonation isn’t perfect and I notice that it can be quite bad if I press on the strings to hard at any given fret. However, when I relax a bit and loosen my grip, I find that it is tolerable. There are also methods to make some adjustments to the intonation if you are willing to google for the tips.

  2. Annie Saunders March 5th, 2010 10:43 pm

    LET IT BE KNOWN:

    Flying V-style ukuleles (for example: this – http://bit.ly/aFcpvg ) are tempting. They look “so cool” and are “pretty interesting” BUT acoustic instruments aren’t supposed to be shaped like that. The sound gets lost in those cool little points, and sounds pluckier than even a ukulele should.

    I speak from experience. ;___;

  3. Steve O March 12th, 2010 3:37 pm

    Go for a Makala MK-SN. Spot on intonation and very easy to play. I have eight Ukes now and this is the only one I havn’t had to alter apart from fitting Aquila strings. At £21. a bargain.

  4. Mischa April 2nd, 2010 10:39 am

    My first was an online purchase a few years ago. I was seduced by the fact that it was a Regal from the 1920′s. However, the intonation was so bad that it was unplayable above the 4th fret… had nice tone, though. In my estimation, this problem would have cost as much as the uke -if not more- to repair.

    Since then I’ve acquired a Fluke concert (rosewood fingerboard) and a Kala tenor. Very happy with both of them! Just changed the friction tuners (can’t stand them) on the Fluke to Grover geared and Aquila strings make them sound great.

  5. Dag April 27th, 2010 4:49 pm

    I was a lousy guitar player due to a slightly mangled pinky finger and related hand damage. As such, I just couldn’t master the instrument after years of trying (and possibly a lack of native musical talent). Last year I purchased a Lanikai LU-21C (concert sized) uke after spending weeks of research. I paid $79.00 for a package on sale: uke, extra strings, beginner’s book, and gig bag.

    After stretching the strings for a couple of days, I sat down and began to seriously tinker with the uke. A year later, I find I play it every single day for one to four hours a day. I love this uke!

    The Lanikai LU-21C has a nice, rich, and sweet sound. Because it is the concert size, I believe it the tone is fuller than a soprano. The sustain is very good. The uke reports all the proper notes on on the 12th fret, which I learned is a trick to test the quality of the neck, nut and bridge. It range true and clear. The native action on the uke was a little hight, but 2 mm sanded from the bridge did the trick. Even before the bridge reduction, I never heard a buzz that was not caused by my poor fingering.

    The fit and finish are well above average. There are no gaps in the joinery, the fret board is smooth, even and lays flat. The body pieces are securely attached. The internal pieces of clean, well finished and properly applied and aligned. The tuners are machine heads, and they hold a tune remarkably well even after some heavy playing (hammering and picking). I treated the entire uke to a tung oil coat since it is matte finish. The finish was nice, but I caught a few rough spots where the neck joins the body. I used tung oil to add a layer of protection to the wood. This did not effect the sound or tone in any manner.

    This uke is a joy to play. It sounds good, looks good, and has withstood my learning curve. I switched to Aquila strings, and that simply improved the entire experience.

    Purist will berate Lanikai as Chinese pieces of junk, but I heartily and vociferously disagree. My Lanikai is now a study, trusted and loved friend. This is a great uke for beginners and even intermediate players. A friend even borrowed it to use on stage. He loved it as well; so much so that he got one for himself.

    Lastly, I recently got a Fender Hua’Oli tenor ukulele. It’s nice, but I think the Lanikai sounds better… fuller, richer and sweeter. Could be the strings. Time to test some Aquilas on it.

  6. Helen June 4th, 2010 6:02 am

    I just got my first ukulele last month and I love it. It’s a Lanikai LU-11. I had a hard time choosing but I decided to get this one and see what happens. I highly recommend it! It came with Aquila strings and sounds great.

  7. maree June 6th, 2010 4:14 am

    I’ve never played a ukulele, but I’m planning on getting one very soon.
    Do you think one has to sing to play a uke?

    Is there sheet music where you can play strings singularly, along with chords, and make it sound good.

    I’ve played guitar, a little bit (and I do mean litte) of classical guitar, but wounld like to get a uke, and play for fun, and nothing else.

    Anyone have any suggestions about buying a used uke, how much I should pay, if there is sheet music esp for a uke?

    Do I just go my chords? Also, any suggestions of any kind about taking up this instrument as a pass time/hobby, and am I being insulting to avid muscians by saying this?

  8. Rey June 10th, 2010 12:09 am

    I bought a Kala KA-KT koa tenor for Cad$315. Comes with aquila string and sounds very crisp. But when I discovered it is just a laminate koa not solid, I returned it and replace it with a Kala KA-ASAC-T all solid acasia tenor which I now loved more than the one I returned. I love my KA-ASAC-T’s sound, finish, slotted headstock, frit in-lays, Aquila string and the grover tuners. I bought from Long & McQuade here in Canada for just Cad$320. I’m very happy with it. I’m also ordering the Kala ASLAT all solid lacewood with solid spruce top, I’m very excited to have it soon. I can’t wait.

  9. Chris Weber June 22nd, 2010 2:22 pm

    I’ve been playing bass for some time I just recently started playing ukes so I got the Lanikai LU-21. I can really recommend it for anyone who’s just started since it doesn’t cost much and sounds pretty good. But I really love it for one reason: whatever serious Uke you’re gonna get after it you’ll always be happy to have a cheap one for the beach and situations where you just don’t want to bring your ‘pro’ instrument. So stop thinking so much about which ukulele to get first! Get one and start playing already :-) (just don’t get a Stagg or other crappy one since they won’t convince you that playing uke is probably one of the best things on earth.)

  10. Lexxy July 15th, 2010 1:53 pm

    Allright, now i’ve got a massive dilemma.
    To get a Concert, or a tenor?
    To look at what types of brands? (And which model)

    Cuz i’ve had a soprano ukulele (Mahalo UK220), and I’m looking to buy a better one. I’m budgetting around.. 100-200 bucks for a new one? Can anyone please help me?

  11. Karlton July 18th, 2010 11:44 am

    Hi maree
    I have a Kala KA-MS (soprano), it sounds awesome and has looks to die for, £200 with all the stuff that goes with it, including a clip on tuner which is a must for someone with no musical ability, like myself when i got my uke. over a year on and i still can’t tune by ear. Also and almost as important as what uke to buy you need Aquila strings(£7), they can make an average uke sound great, and poor strings can do the opposite.
    if you don’t want to spend that i’d go with the lanikai everyone’s on about. I have to say its not as good as mine but value wise its unbeatable.
    For tabs check out (google) solo ukulele for einsteiger, its in German but tabs are tabs no language needed, also there’s weinachten ukulele by the same guy(Wilfred Welti) they’re mostly quite simple classic tunes but they sound awesome for a beginner. tabs are quite hard to find as most available are just chords for strumming. i’m currently learning house of the rising sun and the charleston by musicteacher2010 on youtube.
    And i don’t sing, i can’t do, it and play a the same time, and i prefer solo style tunes like the tabs mentioned.
    hope this helps

  12. Adam July 26th, 2010 5:42 pm

    I play a Martin SO-Uke. At $340, it is more pricey than most beginner models, but I was very lucky to get a new one for less than $100 (about $85). I know a guy…
    Anyway, I love it to death. It stays in tune, has a LOT of volume, perfect intonation and a sweet, warm tone. Just strung it up with Aquilas for the first time. Sound even better. I just wish it had some fretboard dots and body binding, but those are small issues.

  13. Julie July 28th, 2010 2:40 pm

    There is a lot of talk about beginner ukes and they can be pretty darn bad – don’t intonate, cheap construction & tuners, bad sound. I love Makai ukuleles. They are great for beginners and I know good players who still have their Makai uke and play it daily. The 55 series features mahogany laminate top, back and sides. The 70 series has a solid spruce top for a little bit extra. These ukes sell for $50 – $100. A baritone is a little over $100. I highly recommend them.

  14. dano August 5th, 2010 7:37 am

    Adam, I have an so martin and love it too. I put fretboard marker dots on it and side marker dots on it. It now looks better and is easier to play. If you cant do the dots your self a repair man can do it for very little.
    also as Martin suggests, put some Johnson’s past wax on it. It will keep it from drying out and make it look a lot better.
    Dano

  15. Jason August 30th, 2010 4:13 am

    So I am thinking of buying an ukelele lanikai Lu-11 and I am not Sure if I should get that brand and type of a ukelele. I was just wondering where u would buy these ukelele in Toronto if anyone lives there. Finally I was wondering what a Aquila string looks like and what do i let some one do this restringing for me if I do buy it? Sorry I do not have any guitar or ukelele backroud knowledge what so ever. Thanks for reading and please help me out. Thanks

  16. Katie September 20th, 2010 5:27 pm

    I recently bought the lanikai LU-21 concert. It’s amazing. Wonderful sound quality.

    To Jason, if you haven’t bought one yet, go to Steve’s Music Store. It on queen street, near the intersection at spadina. Huge store, they constantly get new lanikais.

  17. Tor December 13th, 2010 2:29 pm

    My first uke was a cheap one I added as a side-order while purchasing some other stuff from an online shop. It was good enough to give me the “ukulele bug”, but it did have some intonation problems and chords like e.g. Bb and B were a bit difficult. An inspection showed that one reason the cheap ones are cheap is that there’s really no final setup done on them.. the nut cuts were way too high, for example. Obviously it would add to the cost to add time for setting up the instrument. Fortunately I’ve got a set of nut files and a little work with those improved the instrument a lot, the Bb and B chords etc. are now easy and the intonation is much better (as I don’t have to press the strings as much). If things like that is a problem with your cheap one you may get help from someone with tools and a little experience and you’ll end up with an instrument a bit easier to play.

    (Later I also found that I had a bit of luck with my uke as well.. the local shop has exactly the same uke (only one instrument in stock), but that one sounds bad compared to the one I got online. Presumably they vary a lot.)

    Later I bought a much better ukulele anyway (got the bug from the first one, remember..), and this time I bought a tenor. That size fits my fingers much better than a soprano, so that’s probably the neck size I’ll stick to in the future. Got to get another one so that I can have one in high-G tuning and another in low-G! :-)

  18. Heather Nygren January 1st, 2011 11:00 pm

    I am a beginner and have two local ukuleles for sale, one a $25 lanakai and the other is a $150 Vintage Gretsch. What should I go for?

    Just missed a great deal for a $99 Kamaka with case that ended on ebay! They changed it to $349 with local pickup in HI only!

  19. Scooterchick January 2nd, 2011 6:29 pm

    I’m a beginner, and have already accumulated 3 ukes. First I bought a baritone, a slightly used Hilo for $40. I’ve learned some chords, but basically, I can’t play it well at all. I’ll only use it to back up other uke players.

    I went out a bought a new Cordoba Concert model with a gig bag, tuner pipe, and book for $100. I really love this uke. It’s got a wonderful tone, doesn’t seem hard to play, and I’ve already learned some beginner songs and a few chords. I got it at Sam Ash Music.

    I got a surprise uke for Christmas, a little red Dolphin soprano from Makala. It doesn’t have nearly the tone of the concert uke, and the black string will have to be changed, they are impossible to see against the keyboard. I think I’ll hang it on the wall, it’s so cute.

    I like the concert series so well, I bought my daughter a Concert Luna tattooed model. I just had to try it out first, and this thing really talks. It’s loud, and has a thicker body than my Cordoba. I almost traded with her…

    A friend of mine bought a soprano Oscar Schmidt, a really fancy uke. I tried it out, and I don’t like the sound at all. I guess I’m just not a soprano uke fan.

  20. Caitlin January 5th, 2011 3:14 pm

    I recently got a uke for christmas and I haven’t been able to put it down! it’s a cheap, standard Mahalo soprano in the colour red but It sounds not so bad considering the price. It is fairly good quality although I’m not sure about the varnished surface and I would have preferred a more professional,less novel ukulele but I have to say, it’s the best christmas present yet!

  21. david gowers March 5th, 2011 6:40 pm

    i plan to get a uke very soon after playing guitar for years. Whci should i buy and why? soprano, baritone, concert etc. Id like to play alongside guitar. does the tuning change for these types?

  22. Laouik March 6th, 2011 3:01 am

    My first ukulele was a Mahalo UK320S solid top soprano ukulele. The store I went to in Toronto stated they had a range… and in a little corner they has about 6 ukes. Four of them were about CAD$40, the one I ultimately bought was about $120 (came with a hard case) and they had a couple for about $300. I wanted to “start” properly so I went mid-range (or what the store purported as being mid-range).

    I went home and strummed long. A week later I went to a uke jam. I couldn’t hear it… the Oscar Schmidts the others were playing were drowning me out.

    I later got home. Looked inside. Saw the “Made in China” label and gobs of glue everywhere (don’t get me wrong, there are some fine things made in China… but this was not one of them). Then considered that the case was worth at least CAD$40 since you can’t get a hard case for less than CAD$60 in this town. I sold it online for CAD$90 and went to a different store and purchased a Kala solid flame maple/spruce. It sounded great when I tried the couple of chords I knew at the store… It was twice the price of the Mahalo but no case. The case was an extra CAD$75. I took it home and started to explore more adventurous tabs. I soon found out that the Kala had a buzzy fret. I returned it and got a full refund.

    I did more research… after saving up I bought myself a Kiwaya KTS-4 for my birthday. It was twice as much as the Kala (on sale!) but this thing is impeccable. I love touching it. Holding it. When others hold it they look at it quizzically – it’s so light but sounds so good! It’s precious.

    I totally splurged and shouldn’t have spent $500 on a uke that early but, for me, it was the right call.

    What am I trying to say with all this rambling? Listen to our fearless leader’s tips. Go somewhere that has at least two or three brands on display. Look at them. Don’t let a salesperson make you feel like you’re on the spot. If there’s a defect on it and it bothers you, be patient. You’ll find the right one.

    Lastly, it should be mentioned that, chances are, your first uke will only last you a year (if that) then you’ll upgrade (or want to upgrade).

  23. Gus March 27th, 2011 12:34 am

    Hi, i just bought a savannah, made in china, but its worked out so far.

    I think for a begginner, for no more than $60.00, is not such a bad uke.

    Up to now ive been practicing on it, and im satisfyed with it, im thinking in some time ill try to get a better one, but for now, its not bad at all.

    Anyway, just thought id get my two cents in here :P jejeje.

    By the way, im from Mexico, and if you think its hard getting a ukulele from where you´re at, try doing it here.

  24. Nick April 3rd, 2011 5:40 pm

    Hey guys,
    I am thinking about starting to play the ukulele. I do not have any musical experience on stringed instrument, so this is very new territory for me because I am a brass player. I have been reaching on different ukuleles and some websites are not clear on which to choose. So I want to know what is the best size, and bran for a beginner like me. Thanks

  25. Marlene April 9th, 2011 6:50 am

    I am wanting to learn to play the ukulele, I don’t want the salesperson at the music shop to try and sell me anything, I don’t want to be put off by buying the wrong one, I am looking for something exciting and want to get some of my friends in on this new venture in our lives. Cheers

  26. Julie April 15th, 2011 7:10 pm

    I’m just starting out playing a ukulele, been using my kapo on the guitar to play along with my boyfriend on his uke. I want a vintage uke but not sure if I can get a good one for under $100 that I will be happy with for a long time. Is there a review site for vintage ukes?

  27. zm May 17th, 2011 3:51 pm

    Pls…buy a uke with metal pegs..i bought one with plastic pegs, and well, they’re a turn off for sound quality.

  28. bill chua May 19th, 2011 5:41 am

    I have a pineapple uke for sale about USD700 excluding shipment. It is carved out of native filipino hardwood. The voice is beautiful if you use worth strings which are less harsh than aquilla. Interested buy please contact me at my emails. Since the uke is hand crafted, you may have to wait for 3 to 4 months depending on the availability of wood. But then great things are worth waiting for arent they?

  29. Halfie May 27th, 2011 6:12 pm

    I’m about to purchase my first uke, and am leaning towards a lanikai or makala soprano. I’m a petite woman so the sizing will work well for me, and being an absolute beginner the price is right too.

    Actually though, my top choice would be to buy used. Why don’t I ever see listings for used ukes on ebay? Is there another resource for finding used ukes online somewhere, or else locally in NYC? I’d appreciate any advice!

  30. Mike514 June 3rd, 2011 12:25 am

    Am I missing something? I can’t find musicguymic’s e-bay store. There’s a website where they’re selling $2,000+ ukes, but I didn’t see anything below that.

  31. Woodshed June 3rd, 2011 12:55 am

    Mike514: Sadly, Mike has had to shut down his shop due to illness. Which means I’m going to have to get round to doing a lot of editing.

  32. RickyTj June 12th, 2011 11:15 pm

    Do you guys happen to know the ukulele type that Ryan Gosling played in the movie “Blue Valentine”?

    I am having a hard time thinking which type of ukulele should I get. I play guitar, not so well, but completely new to ukulele. My fingers aren’t that long and big so I think soprano won’t be a problem to me, also it is the most basic type of ukulele which I think will fit more for a beginner like me, but with its limited tones to play, I really can’t decide whether to buy a soprano, concert or tenor. And also are there any different types of Aquila strings or just one type? Please help and thanks.

  33. Clifford June 22nd, 2011 4:03 pm

    Hi

    I am looking to buy my first Uke and have two in mind a Lani LB50 CEQ @ £109 or a Ohana BK35 at £200. My questions are, is the Lani any good for the money and will I see a big difference in quality if I go for the £200 Ohana. The Lani did sound fine when the guy in the shop played it.

  34. Adam Rossano June 23rd, 2011 2:27 pm

    Excellent advice, thank you! Decided to avoid the temptation of a cheap ukelele off eBay and pay a little bit more to get something much better. I’m a beginner and as my more experienced friend said, it’s better to invest in something a bit better because it’ll inspire you to play it more.
    Cheers for the tip about the Southern Ukelele Store in the UK… was delighted and surprised to find out it’s based in Bournemouth, my home town! Perfect, cheers.

  35. Claude July 24th, 2011 5:15 pm

    The local guitar store sells Sunlite ukes for $50 to $100 depending on size and trim level. The reviews I’ve seen give them fairly high marks for the price range, and the geared Ping tuners give me a certain confidence. Has anyone tried one of these?

  36. Moon August 13th, 2011 3:18 am

    I just went and purchased my first Ukulele (Cordoba Concert) and am so excited to begin my musical journey. It was reasonably priced and the sound was beautiful.

    Would love to get some tips, feedback on my Uke choice and any recommendations (in NYC).

    Thanks,
    Moon

  37. SL August 31st, 2011 1:47 pm

    Hey everyone,

    I’ve always wanted to pick up guitar but because of my small hands its very hard for me to play certain chords? (my hands are considered very tiny, it matches a 10 yr old kid’s hand)

    So instead of playing a normal guitar, i’m thinking of picking up the ukulele instead.

    Just wondering, if i should get a concert or soprano ukulele as a beginner. Cause i’ve heard that concert ukuleles have a fuller tone.

    Your help is much appreciated :)
    Sincerely,
    SL the newbie :)

  38. savi September 9th, 2011 12:40 am

    Hey I am going to buy a uke after I get an electric guitar. I have been playing guitar for years. But have NO experience on Uke’s. Could anyone give me some good advice about which uke to buy??

  39. end33thousand September 19th, 2011 5:30 pm

    My first and only uke is a chord soprano that came with a free bag for only £25. It makes a pretty decent sound and I can play loads from just 4 months of learning (with no teacher). I think I might get a concert uke soon but I’m gunna get a drumkit before then (I’m gonna learn drums too). What concert ukes are good and within £20 – £50?

  40. Kanoonoo October 9th, 2011 5:59 pm

    Hello all!

    So I have been playing for about 6 months now I started out with the Kala KA-WTML, you know the one that looks like a watermelon, I got it as my starter uke to just see if it liked it enough to keep on playing, and as it turns out I do like it enough to keep on playing(thanks a lot to this site). Now I want to get a tenor. I had my heart set on a certain Lankai model but then I was at a music store and saw the Cordoba TM20-CE and I LOVE THE WAY IT SOUNDS!!!! Plus it is an acoustic electric one, which is what I was looking for. So any who, does anyone have any experience with this uke? If so do tell. You may email me at kanoonoo@gmail.com thx!

  41. Nick October 12th, 2011 12:41 pm

    This is great advice. As he writes above, don’t go the cheap route, unless you want a toy. I did go the cheap route, and even after replacing the strings, it doesn’t make a good sound even though I have gotten much better at playing. You will be much happier spending the extra money.

  42. Sarah October 14th, 2011 6:36 pm

    My first ukulele (current) was one of the cheap mahalo coloured ones.
    Would you recommend the Kala KA-C Concert or Greg Bennett Concert? They’re both the same price but I’m not sure which one is better.

  43. Brogan October 27th, 2011 5:46 pm

    If we want a good, very cheap ukulele then go for Mahalo. Literally the cheapest you can get (cost me about £12 – which is around $15 im guessing).
    Sounds alright, but its very playable and stays in tune very easily. I personally wouldn’t spend a whole load of money on something that you might not want in a few months.
    Here is a link to what im on about:
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Mahalo-Black-ukulele-uke-coloured-gigbag-beginner-/150653732003?pt=UK_Musical_Instruments_Sting_Instruments&hash=item2313a984a3#ht_1690wt_1139

    for you Americans:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mahalo-U30OR-Painted-Economy-Soprano-Orange-Ukulele-/200667741829?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb8babe85#ht_2089wt_905

    Happy Playing!

  44. Becca October 27th, 2011 8:57 pm

    This is great advice! I did not research and went the cheap route. I got a Vineyard and it sounds really really awful! Ive tried changing the strings and Ive practiced like crazy for the last year and it just never sounds right. Do your research and save up that money, you will not regret it! (:

  45. Teddy November 12th, 2011 10:19 pm

    Personally, for the beginner, I’d recommend the Makala Dolphin, which is cheap (soprano cost me £23), reasonably loud given Aquilla strings, stays in tune nicely, and is quite robust (survives the occassional trip to school and back without so much as a scratch) with a nice tone. Not for the virtuoso, but if you want something to try out before deciding if Uke is for you, or just something that’ll take a couple of knocks while you’re out and about and still give a pretty good sound, the Dolphin is made for you.>

  46. Lora November 15th, 2011 2:26 am

    I am buying my soon to be 19 yr old son a Uke for his birthday. He played the double bass in school orchestras for 7 years so the thought of him playing a soprano makes me laugh. I tried out a concert sized in a store and even that seemed small to me. Would a Tenor be a better size for him? I don’t think he wants to feel like he is holding a guitar. Thanks.

  47. Basement Ruthie November 30th, 2011 2:13 pm

    I started uke by accident; my first uke was a concert one I found in our hall cupboard this April. I think it was my sisters when she was, like, four or something. The brand was Nseer. Some really obscure cheap’n’nasty thing. I had never played another instrument so I was totally ignorant. I picked it up and fell in love with uke, though I did wonder why some songs didn’t sound right!

    I learnt enough songs to realise that I was going to keep learning uke and started peeping into music stores. I didn’t want to buy a uke unless I had played it first. The ukes I encountered were so diverse – some the frets felt funny, others the strings, or the width of the neck. I didn’t want to chance an internet purchase and discover it was like that.

    Quite simply, I fell in love with the Lanikai CTK-EQ, a Tenor uke with a pickup. The pickup was kind of just a bonus though; I fell in love with the rich sound of it and the ease of playing. It was a massive jump, and to be honest when I purchased it I felt slightly unworthy, but it’s a uke I can grow into. As I mentioned, it is so much easier to play that my improvement over the last few months has accelerated greatly.

  48. Violinist December 8th, 2011 6:10 am

    I picked up a cheap Mahalo uke sometime during the summer. It cost 20 US dollars, bought off of Amazon.

    I guess I must have been a little lucky not to hit any problems with it. The tone isn’t anything special, and there’s something odd about the G string and the frets that make notes a bit sharp if fingered and flat if played open, but for 20 dollars it was great value.

    I think it’s also fortunate that I’ve had a decade of violin experience, and so it’s not too difficult to start learning. I could possibly see a beginner getting deterred by tuning difficulties or mediocre tone.

    I’d say that if you had the money, you could try a higher end brand, but for a beginner with a tight budget a Mahalo works just fine. I might purchase new strings for it, since it sounds like those Aquila strings really add something to a ukulele.

  49. roger December 10th, 2011 12:20 pm

    has anyone got a brunswick concert ?—–

    look as if they are well made and would suit a beginner like me.

    thanks. roger.

  50. charlie cullpepper December 19th, 2011 8:22 pm

    Hey Brogan! I’m tinkering a Mahalo here at work, and yes, for the cheapest of cheaps…it’s a pretty decent Uke! Hard on my sausage fingers, but that’s not the Uke’s fault. I would reccomend it as a “do I even like playing this thing” or a youngsters first Ukulele.

  51. Jonbie December 21st, 2011 1:25 am

    Just got my first uke about 2 weeks ago and its a brunswick concert (semi accoustic) model number bu4ec. Before i bought it i tried every music shop i could find in Dublin (Ireland) and i tried a good few uke’s but most music shops in dublin only sell very cheap €25 ukes that sounded horrible and over price anything decent. Then i came accross the brunswick concert. It sounded nice but i will say that after playing a number of them i found that they seem to have a bit of a resonance from the c chord, only slightly and i havnt figured out how to completly get rid of it, but it does sound good. Its made from solid mahogany and is well constructed. There is no buzzing at all other then from my own finger mis-placements and it comes strung with Aquila strings, which is nice. The price tag was €125 so i decided to buy it online and i got it for €85 including delivery from the UK.

    I would recommend a Brunswick and if i was to mark it out of 10 i would give it a 7 or 8.

    (Hope that was helpful roger!)

  52. Thais December 22nd, 2011 3:49 pm

    Everyone knows that the fender is a great brand for guitars.
    But will it also has great quality in their ukuleles?
    The Lanikai is marked in a long time. Does lanikai is better than the fender?
    I’m looking to buy a ukulele and I’m in doubt between a fender and a soprano Lanikai LU-21.

    I have another question.
    The fender has launched a new model of soprano ukulele and want to know if it is a great option for beginners.
    The model is this: http://tinyurl.com/6q43gwh

    Can you help me please?

  53. Brian December 28th, 2011 7:55 pm

    Hi Guys, As a newbie this has been so imformative and has thrown a whole host of choices into the mix! I will have a trawl round my local music shops and see what is on offer. However and unfortunately, I do feel that the internet will take my money!
    Thanks for all the info.
    Cheers
    Brian

  54. Bill January 4th, 2012 9:12 pm

    Never played a stringed instrument in my life. Played harmonica for years. However, I picked up an Ibanez Uke last week. Really enjoying the experience! Looks like I need to consider different strings for better sound, although the sound is good.

  55. Skinnyhippy January 26th, 2012 11:46 pm

    hi

    i’m looking to buy my first uke very soon.

    my local store has this little baby in and I wondered what you all thought of it ?

    http://www.jgwindows.com/products/SUTH133800.html

    I’ve been looking at Les Paul style Mahalo’s upto now but was wondering if this is worth spending the extra ££

    Any help much appreciated – Great site by the way

  56. MyLittleEye February 19th, 2012 12:31 pm

    I’ve been drawn towards the Uke for some time but am already learning mandolin, so have resisted the urge to complicate matters with a new fingering system. However I’m delighted to discover Aquila sell a string set specifically tailored to addresses this dilemma:

    Aquila 30U Ukulele SOPRANO Fifths Tuning – GDAE (w/ wound G-string)

    Purists will frown no doubt but for those of us already familiar with the violin, mandolin, and Irish banjo instrument families here lies a potential middle path.

  57. Heather February 26th, 2012 4:48 pm

    I am thinking of getting my first uke, and I’m really happy I found this site and read everyone’s comments. Thanks to everyone for your input!

    I play guitar a wee bit, but not very skilled. I thought I’d try a ukulele, as for some reason I’m most recently interested.

    At my local store, I saw a gorgeous Oscar Schmidt baritone… mother of pearl and I think koa wood… but I think it’d be overshooting it. Although I could get an amp and have some fun! I know there is also a Lanikai there that they demonstrated for me; it sounded great, even when I tried it, haha! It seems everyone has good things to say about the Lanikai. Not sure if the one at the store is concert or soprano size. Either way it’s a nice-sounding instrument.

    Reason tells me that it’s best to start small… something else tells me to snatch up the OS baritone and a little amp and go wild! Thoughts?

  58. Jonesie Girl April 2nd, 2012 3:47 am

    Question: I have been researching for the purchase of my very first ukulele. I’ve been researching for months, but I’m just not sure what to purchase. I love the look of the LUNA Mo’o ukes and the idea behind their creation. I have read enough to hear that the Lanakai LU-21 concert is also a great instrument. I’m a little unsure about purchasing a laminate wood instrument but I guess I am only a beginner (as I read up on LOCALS ukuleles and fell in love with them but cannot purchase in Australia). I had a play of both a LAG uke and a Lanakai zebra concert, both with aquilla strings. Both had rich sound…but love the look of the LUNA Mo’o. Would I be disappointed with the purchase of any of these?? Any advice would help!!

  59. Davidbreslin101 April 7th, 2012 1:00 pm

    I’ve been playing (in public!) on a £60 Mahalo U320G soprano for the last year and it feels like time to move on. Pros: it’s well set up, keeps its tuning well, and feels comfortable to play. Con: it’s about as resonant as a brick. (I have a permanently out-of-tune £10 Lazy with a stronger tone!)
    I think it was an OK choice for a first proper instrument tho- when you start playing something, it’s hard to tell which problems are you and which are the instrument. So I got something cheap but not bottom-of-the-range, expecting to replace it later. Still annoying though!

  60. Raija April 21st, 2012 12:28 pm

    Hi, I’m looking in to buying a uke very soon, but don’t really know much about them… I’m at the moment travelling, and have no experience playing any instruments… So I’m deffinetly looking in to getting one as cheap as i can (not cheaper than $50 I think though..).
    After reading just a litttle bit about them, I’m thinking about getting a soprano-sized Lanikai or Maka.. But I deffinetly can’t tune by ear, so I’m wondering how much a clipp on tuner costs? And should I really have Aquila strings? Is there other things I should know/ think about when buying a uke?
    I’m pretty new to this, so I’m not expecting the fastest learning-curve, but I’d still like to make sure I don’t buy some cheap-shit, just beacause I didn’t know better…

  61. Dympna May 1st, 2012 3:02 pm

    I’ve started playing my son’s Makala uke that he abandoned when the school stop teaching it. I absolutely love it but would like to get some new strings. How can I tell what kind of uke it is, I’m guessing it’s a soprano but are there any measurements I can take to make sure?

    By the way, brilliant website.

  62. Dympna May 13th, 2012 9:03 pm

    Went ahead and bought some Aquila strings, managed to re-string it and it sounds great, well it could do with some slicker chord changes and more consistent strumming, but I’m working on it! Sounds better than it did (to me)!

  63. ACW May 22nd, 2012 4:51 am

    Want to buy a uke for my musician daughter, age 20. She plays violin/fiddle, keyboards, and guitar already. Thought this would be fun portable addition.
    She is petite, with smallish hands. Am thinking of a concert or tenor uke in the $200-250 range. She would be playing music with friends and local coffeehouses with this. Any suggestions appreciated.

  64. woo May 23rd, 2012 1:34 pm

    hello, im considering a oscar schmidt OU2, Kala KA-s and a makala MK-S. i have read reviews and tried these three out. but i dont know which of the three i should get. im a beginner but i do play the guitar. any suggestions are appreciated! thanks =)

  65. Arynne May 25th, 2012 12:55 am

    Okay, I have been involved with music all my life, and I started playing guitar about a year ago, and I realy want to try out ukulele! I want a nice one, but I also dont want to blow a ton of money. Im thinking at the most $150.

    Is there any brands you recomend?

    Whats the difference between the sizes is it just the pitch? I have long fingers, and can easily play guitar and piano (To give you an idea, I can reach an octave and 1 key on piano), so is the size just for what you are most comforatable with?

    So could anyone help me with some suggestions? Thanks! :)
    Arynne

  66. Kira May 27th, 2012 1:17 am

    Hi! I’m thinking about buying a ukulele. I’m 17 and have played the cello for about 9 years. I found a Kalos by Cecilio ukulele on Amazon for $60. Would that be an okay choice? I want to get a tenor ukulele because it will be a more similiar range to my cello. Also, are there any differences in Spruce top ukuleles?

  67. Matty May 31st, 2012 4:59 pm

    Hey guys im looking for ukes and i am considering buying a Makala Kala Soprano MK-SN what di you guys think?

  68. Adam Cerico June 4th, 2012 11:06 am

    I’ve seen “pineapple” shaped ukes! Are these good for beginners?

    Cheers!

  69. Corinne June 10th, 2012 3:02 pm

    I am just setting out to learn the ukelele (I don’t play any other instruments, but do sing and have basic musical knowledge). A relative bought my hubby a baritone Lanikai uke with Aquila strings, thinking he would like it since he plays guitar. He hasn’t touched it, so I’m planning on stealing it. My question is, since you recommend starting with a soprano uke, am I setting myself up for failure by starting with the baritone? If it makes a difference, I have small hands and have always had a hard time trying to learn the guitar because my fingers are barely long enough to reach all the strings without touching other strings in the process. I hate to buy another uke when I have a brand new one, but it doesn’t seem like the price point on a new soprano is too high…

  70. Ruth June 11th, 2012 6:33 pm

    Ilove Ukelele hunt, it’s awesome and really helpful!
    My question is what ukelele to buy? I’m a beginner, and i’ve only ever played the school ukeleles a couple of times. i have small fingers if this helps…
    So, does anyone have any idea what to buy?
    But i have to wait till september (my birthday)! aagh!!!! :-o

  71. a kid June 13th, 2012 1:02 am

    well i got some random mahalo uke for 50 bucks at my local shop. i love it even if it sucks. i dont realy care i just play it.

  72. Jeff in NYC June 13th, 2012 2:07 am

    Great website and I just read the whole page of comments!. Very informative thanks! Someone mentioned musicguymic. He has been on the mend and after much research on the Internet, I was able to contact him and I’m in the midst of ordering one of Mike’s set-ups.
    I am an absolute beginner with no musical experience and was considering the recommended entry level sopranos with Mike’s loving handiwork, but he has suggested 2 tenors to me. I was surprised, but have been reading a bit more and I will trust this legend’s advice. If anyone is interested in his contact information, please feel free to email me (but after my order is in! LOL)

  73. Mark June 27th, 2012 8:01 pm

    I ran across this beautiful pineapple sunburst tenor ukulele on Ebay but no brand name is listed. See: http://tinyurl.com/72×4782

    I emailed the seller and he says it’s handmade and “plays beautifully.” Is this worth the risk?

    Thanks,
    Mark

  74. Jenna July 3rd, 2012 9:20 pm

    I have never played/owned a ukelele in my life. I’m looking around to see what kind I should get. I really have no clue what to get. I want one that’s well made, sounds good, and won’t fall apart on me. If anyone could help me, it would be great! Thanks!
    (Sorry for my next to no knowledge on ukeleles!)

  75. Mark July 5th, 2012 3:30 pm

    Hi Jenna,

    I started with a concert-sized ukulele made by Oscar Schmidt, but it ended up getting warped because I didn’t have a humidifier device in its case. I paid about $60 for that one. I then bought a concert-sized Makala ukulele for around $120, and I bought the humidifier. So far it has been a good instrument.

    The good beginner brands are mentioned higher up in this page: Lanikai and Kala. (I believe those are soprano models) Makala is also mentioned on this site as a good uke for beginners. It just depends on how much you want to spend. If you can spend $100 you’ll be set, though from what I’ve read on this site and others you can probably spend less than $100 and get good instrument.

    Once you identify some possible brands, check them against this page

    http://ukulelehunt.com/buy-ukulele/categories/ukulele-brands/.

    Good luck!
    Mark

  76. Char July 14th, 2012 5:26 pm

    I wanted to buy a cheap ukulele and i have been playing the guitar for about a couple months and I personally think that it is time for me too get a ukulele because i have been wanting one for a long time. I am going to get one from tom lee music store but i dont really know what brand to get. I was thinking that maybe i can get a mahalo soprano or the EMUS. The only reason why i chose those 2 brands is because they are about $30-40, do you think that is a good brand for me as a begginer?

  77. Kerry July 15th, 2012 10:30 pm

    Any thoughts on the kala ukadelic models for a beginner?

  78. Rebeccafp July 16th, 2012 8:10 am

    I got a cheap Mahalo ukelele just two days ago and I couldn’t be more please. I know it’s not as wonderful a sound as a more expensive one, but it’s fine. I wouldn’t live up to a nicer Uke anyway.

    If I were to have bought one for $50, I’m sure I’d be all serious about it. “I MUST set aside practice each day… I WILL get good at this, harumph.” Then, I would inevitably fail.

    With my cheapo, uke, I don’t have any expectations. I’ve found that I’ve just been playing and having fun for almost the whole day continuously! I know about 20 chords now, and I know how to play 3 songs. This, to me, is because of the novelty of it. The lack of pressure.

    And you know what? I sound pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. :p

  79. paddy July 22nd, 2012 10:14 pm

    i am a biginner and i am just wondering which one is better for a sixteen year old a lanikai la 21 or a kala ka-s or does it matter

  80. Helen July 27th, 2012 12:24 am

    I’m also looking into buying my first ukulele. From what I’ve read, I have so far on my list:
    - Aquila Nylgut strings
    - Metal pegs
    - Guitar style tuning
    I’ve also seen the Lanikai LU-21C come up quite a few times.

    Here are my two questions:
    1. Is there a major difference between concert and soprano? Is one easier to sing to than the other?
    2. Is it possible to make a ukulele “electric”, as in loud in enough to perform on stage with an electric guitar and piano?

    Thanks :)

  81. Mark August 1st, 2012 7:24 pm

    Helen: For some info on the difference between a concert and soprano see this:

    http://ukulelehunt.com/buy-ukulele/tips/which-size-ukulele/

    2) You can get acoustic/electric ukuleles fairly easily. Just look around at the Guitar Center website for an idea of prices and features:

    http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ukuleles-Folk—Traditional-Stringed-Instruments.gc

    I have read that ukuleles with a spruce top have more volume than others, but have no personal experience with it. Take a look at this website for some info on the different woods used to make ukes and how they sound:

    http://www.ukulelemovement.com/different-woods-for-different-sounds

  82. anna August 4th, 2012 6:00 am

    I just bought my first uke (been a muso for years though, just never tried uke) and got a kohala by lanikai ku212. It cost me $69 but I’m loving it. I’m a lefty and was just going to restring it myself (guitarist from way back) but they did it for free for me!

    I’m really loving it and my years of guitar have definitely helped me – strumming patterns are a cinch. Only thing I struggle with is reconciling the difference in chords between instruments but it really isn’t taking long to adjust.

    I can’t wait to buy better strings for it and learn more!

  83. Barbara August 12th, 2012 3:57 pm

    I bought a Anuenue Papa I, and it’s a high quality beginner ukulele.

  84. Jessica August 19th, 2012 11:06 pm

    Headed to Hawaii (Kona) and intend to purchase a uke to bring home. Any comments on where to purchase/visit for an authentic uke there? Thanks!

  85. Michael D September 2nd, 2012 3:12 pm

    I COMPLETELY disagree on Chris Weber’s remark “(Just don’t get a Stagg other crappy one since they won’t convince you that playing uke is probably one of the best things on earth.)”

    I have a Stagg and it was my first, I fell in love the first time I played it.

    I do, however, agree that REALLY crappy ukes from like First Act or a toystore wouldn’t make you want to play.

  86. Mego September 13th, 2012 7:20 pm

    Hello. i am Mego from Nagaland, India. I have been playing the guitar for quite sometime now but i want to try ukulele after watching Britni Paiva on Youtube. i was just going through Amazon but i just dont know how to go about with buying a good one for myself. i want one with a pick up but i found very less choices. i was wondering if any of you could help me out. my budget is expandable till 100 for the Ukulele but i havent found any yet. i have seen a case for 40$ which i quite liked. can some one please suggest some links??http://www.amazon.com/Tanglewood-Soprano-Ukulele-All-Mahogany-TU-1-CE/dp/B004P4DC4S/ref=sr_1_136?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1347559526&sr=1-136&keywords=soprano+ukulele i have seen this with pick up . i liked this but i dont think it has a pick up http://www.amazon.com/Oscar-Schmidt-Soprano-Ukulele-Rosewood/dp/B0002GLMO0/ref=sr_1_51?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1347559284&sr=1-51&keywords=soprano+ukulele .. i need help :|

  87. Stu September 23rd, 2012 8:21 pm

    Greetings from England. I have a cheap UKE branded ‘Denver’ Its ok for me as a beginner. The methodology used was
    1 – find someone who knows what one should look/sound like
    2 – ask him or her to get you one. The friend who brought mine looked at the whole stock of that type in the shop abd took the instrument which was basically the most sound – they varied a lot.

    3- get same person to fettle it . By all accounts a lot can be done as mentioned by people above.above. It was, incidentally, brought on Canada.

    4- as stated by others, fit better strings – I have aquilas which made a noticable difference to it.

    For all you Canadians, there is an excellent misical instrument store in Guelph Ontario (Folkways Music, usual disclaimers.) and in Nottingham UK we have Dave Mann Music (also usual disclaimers)

  88. MICK October 24th, 2012 7:52 pm

    Looking for my first uke My local shop (uk) stocks LAG UKULELE U44S AND U77S as well as BRUNSWICK UKULELE BU4S All are soprano Does anybody know anything abot this make ?

  89. Eric October 27th, 2012 9:09 pm

    I just brought the Lanikai 21 but i heard it needs to be set up. How do I set it up?

  90. NanaNurse December 31st, 2012 5:28 pm

    I bought a Luna Tatoo Concert Uke about a month ago and I love it! Tried for a few years to play guitar, could not master any thing and became frustrated. Played clarinet as a kid and in high school. Now, as a 50-something, I am in love with playing and learning music again! My Luna Tatoo Concert Uke plays as beautiful as it looks! I am taking lessons, practice everyday, watch You Tube Uke videos…it’s great! I am hoping my grandchildren get involved with music, the universal language of love and peace:)

  91. mdb January 1st, 2013 1:14 am

    I am an amateur acoustic guitar player, with average talent but perfect pitch. I would like to learn the Ukulele, and do not wish to purchase a cheap beginner instrument. Can you suggest a few models of very good to excellent quality that will perform well for many years? Please also recommend which size. Thanks, mdb

  92. Luis Alexandre January 4th, 2013 2:13 pm

    Aloha !!

    Please, someone knows which kala model is this one ?

  93. Luis Alexandre January 4th, 2013 2:14 pm

    Sorry, I forgot the link, someone knows which kala model is this one ? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lh9gDMSdGM

  94. Sheila January 24th, 2013 2:22 pm

    Hi Jessica, which ukulele did you end up buying when you went to Hawaii? I will be leaving for Hawaii on Saturday Feb 26 and I am planning on purchasing a uke there also.

    Thanks for any advice. I have never played any instrument before, and can’t wait to begin practicing.

    Sheila

  95. huggie January 27th, 2013 12:12 pm

    Hi,
    I’m thinking of getting a uke.I have played the banjo for about 3 years and have reached a reasonable standard.I understand that you can tune a uke the same as a banjo DBGD which means I wouldn’t need to learn new finger patterns,are there any obvious pitfalls with this,would I need to re-string it at all??

  96. Renato February 24th, 2013 4:31 am

    Hey everyone.What do you think of a beginner Uke, Makala Dolphin ?….I heard the sound on You Tube and its not bad..$42.00 on EBay

  97. great! March 3rd, 2013 1:01 am

    I recently got the LU-21 Lanikai and i recommend it to anyone who wants to learn the ukulele. It is a little smaller than the concert but it is the best for beginners. It definitely has great strings and a good, plenty loud sound. If u are a beginner this is the one for you!

  98. Eric March 3rd, 2013 5:56 pm

    Hi! I was given a brand new Hilo Soprano Model 2651, a year or so ago, I’ve never touched it. A ukulele club is starting at the Comm. College I attend, will this do for a beginner? Thanks!

  99. Paul April 7th, 2013 1:04 pm

    I would like to purchase an ukulele and I don’t know where to start. I read some of the comments and your articles and I tought about this one: http://esound.ro/flight-du-200-diamond-head-ukulele-soprano.html

    I mention that I’m a complete beginer in what regards stringed instruments and I would need a piece of advice: how’s that ukulele, is it good for beginers and does it have any problems with the strings getting loose all the time or something?

    One more question: (answer sincerly please) Is it late for me to start learning to play the uke at 17?

    Thank you!

  100. Alyssa April 7th, 2013 10:59 pm

    I’m really interested in getting my own ukulele, and after a bit of research I’ve found two that seem like a good fit for me. The first one is a Rogue Hawaiian Soprano and the second is a Mahalo U-30 Soprano. So my question is which one would you recommend for a beginner?

  101. k2panman April 28th, 2013 11:09 pm

    I just ordered my first ukulele – I have a Lanikai LKP-T package on it’s way. This is a Tenor, comes with a soft case, book and electronic tuner for $160 (Musicians Friend). I bought it because 1 – this website said Lanikai is “probably the best ukulele for beginners”, 2 – it is made of Koa wood (I have some things made from Koa I got in Hawai’i – absolutely beautiful wood) , 3- it has what sound like good tuners – being they went to the trouble to gold plate them 4- it comes with Aquila strings, 5- it has abalone trim – makes it really pretty. I’m a wannabe musician, that is, I am not very good, but I’d like to find the time to play more. I own several electronic keyboards and I build and tune steel drums. As the steel drum or the key boards are not very portable, I thought the ukulele would be easier to find time to play, and it sure looks like a fun instrument.

  102. Marcus June 6th, 2013 8:53 am

    I played guitar quite pathetically years ago. Now as an oldster, and having drooled over Jake, I have fallen in love with the ukulele. I followed advice on this site, and bought a Lanikai LU 21 Soprano for my first uke. It’s a bit small for my hands, so I swapped my guitar for a Lanikai LU 21 Tenor. MUCH more comfortable, abd mellow tone, but ut buzzes. Not just my fat fingers – it buzzes for others.

    I hunted around online and eBay here in Australia, and found a spruce-topped mahogany tenor at a good price. A Chinese uke, I bet. The difference for my big hand and broad fingers between the Sop and the Tenor is marked – MUCH easier for my fat fingers to play the tenors. I have one standard stringing, and the other with low G. LOVE the Low G. My preferred uke to sing to. Even begun composing songs for singing again

    I know I want something better, but I need to play much more, solo and at a local Uke Club – Uke Choir!!!

    I recommend trying both sizes, then save up to buy a really good uke of your fave size after a year or so. That’s my plan, anyway.

  103. Kim Adelaine June 7th, 2013 5:13 pm

    I played guitar for a year already and I kinda feel bored.
    I want something new and easy to play
    so I’m planning to buy a uke soon.

    Should I get a tenor or soprano ukulele?
    And which brand is a good choice?
    Do u guys have any advice or recommendations to give?

    Please help me in choosing my first uke to be
    since I don’t have any idea at all.

  104. Adrian July 30th, 2013 6:55 pm

    I have an aqua ukulele, to me it sounds normal, but is a colored ukulele worse than a regular wood one?

  105. Dave Vasser September 21st, 2013 10:27 am

    I have 4 entry level type ukes. They are in order of my cost high to low:
    1. Lanikai LU-21TE Tenor Electric (Low G setup)
    2. Lanikai LU-21CE Concert Electric (standard tuning)
    3. Kohala KP-T Kanikapila Tenor (standard tuning)
    4. Makala Kala Makala MK-SD Dolphin Soprano (Standard tuning)
    The Makala Dolphin is the one I play every single day. I would never have thought I’d like a little soprano uke so much. Maybe someday I’ll get a high end soprano made of solid koa, but the Dolphin is a blast and I love it to death. I paid $20 for it used at a consignment store. If it gets driven over by a bus, I’m out $20. No biggie. It has me wanting to try a Kala as it is the budget Kala.
    The Kohala is the worst I have. I bought the “Uke from Hades” online as a STUPID DEAL OF THE DAY at Musicians Friend. I tuned it, played a few chords, checked intonation, put it back in the box and it will never be played by me again. Santa will take it some unfortunate needy kid. It really is so bad that I will never so much as TOUCH anything with Kohala on the headstock again. Pity because this is a beautiful looking tenor ukulele that should sound like the Lanikai but sounds terrible and has the worst setup I ever saw.. Honestly I saw Silvertone guitars at Sears in 1965 with better setups. It sounds so pitiful it isn’t worth spending $75 for a setup since no matter how easy it plays it is still going to sound like “the Uke From Hades.”
    The two Lanikai LU models I have are good ukes, but came from a dealer that actually sets up the ukes they sell. They are laminate ukes and even though they come with Aquila strings they just are not as much fun to play as the Dolphin! So they haven’t been played at all since I got the Dolphin a month ago.
    The setup on the second hand Dolphin was nearly perfect and intonation is the best of the 4 ukes I have right now being within 2 cents to about the 10th fret. I can’t tell for sure, but I think it is the factory setup! This uke was not used much if at all. The Dolphin chords easy and there is NOTHING wrong with the black nylon GHS Hawaiian strings on it. I like them on this uke and bought spare sets of the same strings because I think that is part of the reason it intonates so well and sounds so sweet and happy. The Dolphin has polycarbonate back and sides with a laminate agathis wood top, which is very similar to the Fluke uke construction method. No it is NOT a Fluke but it sounds great to me compared to the ukes I have that cost 3 to 5 times as much. If the Dolphin was lost or stolen or broken I’d buy another one immediately. Can’t say the same about the others I have at all. Most uke shops don’t keep Dolphins in stock and now I know why.
    If I had the chance to rewind and begin again, I’d start with the Dolphin first. I probably wouldn’t need any of the other ones. I had the delusion of becoming a uke master at one time. I have since realized that isn’t happening I’ll settle for being a killer electric bassist in public and a uke player for fun with family and friends who tend to be more forgiving than paying customers.
    There is a LOT to be said for learning from my expensive mistakes!
    Mistake 1. Don’t buy more uke than you need. For example, I really didn’t need two electric ukes. The dealer sold me on their versatility. Being an electric bassist it made sense at the time but was the wrong choice.
    Mistake 2. Don’t buy a uke without playing it first. Don’t buy one ONLINE as they are almost never even inspected by the seller, much less setup! Best to buy from a dealer that does a setup on them because 99 out of 100 ukes don’t play to their potential out of the box, especially ones costing under $1000. They all need some work, the trick is finding one that needs the least work.
    Mistake 3. FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU, NOT FOR SOMEONE ELSE! I listened to everyone who said, “One must have Aquila strings,” or people who said, “a soprano is too small but makes a great children’s instrument.” I’ve found I am really enjoying the GHS Hawaiian nylons.. I also found the soprano Dolphin is more fun to play than any of the others I’ve had. SO FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU! I’ve played over 20 different ukes in the past year. Out of all of them up to $300 I prefer the Dolphin and wish I’d bought it first but no dealer I visited had one, or at least had one on display. Your mileage may vary. So get out there and try some! The Dolphin may not be right for you, but when you find what is right for you, YOU’LL KNOW IT IMMEDIATELY! It could be any size, make or tuning setup. Just TRY AS MANY AS POSSIBLE! If you are not in a situation to try before you buy, contact a reputable store that sets up and sells ukes online or by phone. Someone selling 100 ukes at a time on eBay ain’t where you need to be shopping!

  106. Linda Hunt October 2nd, 2013 1:47 am

    Any information to compare Mitchell to Diamond Head baritone ukuleles?

  107. Sarah October 2nd, 2013 3:11 pm

    Can anyone give me a bit of advice please – My 14year old Daughter used to play Guitar then taught herself the ukelele 2months ago and has played it for hours every day since.Its her birthday next week and we want to get her a ‘proper’ ukelele,as the one she has been playing has worn out – it was only a very cheap generic ebay 19.99 buy and shes unable to bear the sound any longer!. I have three in mind – the Lanikai LU-21, The Kala KA-S or one I have been offered as a solid mahogany- the Kala KA-SMHS. Would appreciate any input :-) Thanks

  108. Rosalie October 5th, 2013 8:05 pm

    Hi, I’m a 57 year old and picked up the Ukelele about 18months ago. I love it. My first Uke is a concert Greg Bennett design/ It’s a beautiful Uke and sounds lovely without being too pricey – NZ$75. Then a while back I bought a 2nd one for fun, and yes, I admit, because it was ‘cute’ and pretty – AND I thought my granddaughter could learn on it as well as it is smaller. It is a Makala, teal blue in colour. I find it sounds good anyway – it was only NZ $45 at the music shop and just has the typical uke sound, not as nice as the concert but still a fun little uke to play. I learned to play with a small group of friends and now alternate between finding easy Uke songs on Google and working out the chords myself for all of my old favourite songs. Have to admit I mostly play in C chord or F but I am loving it.

  109. Margaret October 20th, 2013 9:24 am

    I will be 70 end of October and I want a ukulele for my birthday what the best one to go for not expensive but a nice tune out of it Thank you Margaret

  110. Kent November 1st, 2013 8:47 pm

    Wondering – Any difference in sound between the Pineapple style and guitar style?

  111. Steve Gent November 13th, 2013 8:09 pm

    I have two ukes, a Lanikai LU 21T ( tenor) which I love. Bought from e-bay at a reasonable price. It plays pretty well, and stays in tune pretty well. I haven’t changed the strings yet, but have some Aquilas. I have found that he frets are not all level, the nut is a bit high, making fretting at the top of the neck a bit tiresome, and for me the saddle is a bit high. I have ben taking lessons in guitar maintenance and set up, and was told by my teacher that the adjustable bridge and compensated nut set up on the new LUTU models is totally unecessary. Compensation is only needed on steel strings, as they stretch differentially with the wound strings stretching more, hence the compensation. So save your money and get the old model. My other uke is a very cheap Hola soprano, that I bought for my wife. It took 2 days to get used to my house, now it tunes pretty well, but does not stay in tune for long. I guess it needs better strings. For me the Lanikai is a good beginners instrument, and the tenor is more comfortable than the soprano, but that is an individual thing. So if it’s your first best to try before you buy. The Guitar Center have free uke lessons, where you can borrow a uke. So check them out. I am addicted to my uke now. For the first time I was able to quickly learn c=some chords and play some songs.

  112. Brenda December 6th, 2013 2:20 pm

    This info has been very helpful. Not musical,but want to be! My daughter and I both want to learn to play the uke.

    From this info, I’ve gathered the following…is this on base?

    *I think the concert size might sound the best and encourage us as beginners.
    *Ive seen several brands listed: Kala, Makala, Lanikai,
    *Ive seen Aquila strings listed
    *Clip on tuner.

    Am I on the right track before I buy something online?
    I want to buy something decent enough that we are encouraged to keep learning/playing
    Thanks for input everyone.
    Is it best to take lessons or try to learn online with a program?

  113. Rebecca December 29th, 2013 2:40 pm

    Hi guys,

    I’m in Japan and looking to get a Ukelele. The Lanikai and Kala models are pretty pricey over here, and I was just wondering if anyone can recommend an alternative?

  114. kiboy January 10th, 2014 9:56 pm

    I bought two Lanikai a few years ago. The LU21T and the LU21S and both of them sound great. I got started but had no one to play with so didn’t play much and put them away. I’m over 60 by the way. Anyway I met someone last year and gave her one for Xmas and we have both taken off playing together and this time I’m really into it. These starter Uke’s are wonderful little instruments and I highly recommend them.

    However I just ordered a Pono solid wood from a company in Hawaii and the place sets them up for you (it takes an extra few days go get it) to make sure they play perfect. They also have a little clip on their web site so you can hear them played and they do the set up even with $70 ukes. I’m pretty excited but really the fun is in playing any decent instrument with someone else who loves to play. The Lanikai are absolutely good enough so you would never need another. Get at it and good luck.

  115. Digal February 16th, 2014 7:03 am

    I am over 40 now…trying to learn uke as I used to like guitars.. But found that uke is easier to pick up.

    I intend to get a concert size of either leho or hulala. Any idea are these 2 brands good? I really like their design.

  116. Joni June 3rd, 2014 5:52 am

    I am looking to purchase a Ukulele for my 15 yr old son. No one in my immediate family plays an instrument (although I am related to Rusty Young, for you music buffs). I understand purchasing the Soprano for a beginner is best for a beginner. I also see the recommendation for the Lanikai LU-21 & Kala KA~S. I came across a Kala KA 15S, but have NO IDEA of the difference. Is there any further advice anyone can offer in my search.
    Thank you

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