Which Ukulele?

Buying a ukulele can be a very tricky task - particularly if you're buying one for the first time. The Ukulele Review section of this site aims to help you make a decision by giving you reviews, information and videos of on a wide range of ukuleles.

Which Brand of Ukulele Should I Buy?

- There's a huge range of makes of ukulele out there. This section gives you a quick history of each of the major brands, a discussion of the type of ukuleles they make, reviews from Ukulele Hunt readers and a video showcasing the uke (where available). Hopefully giving you a much better idea of which ukulele to buy and which to avoid.

Some of the ukuleles with the best reputation for beginners are Lanikai (particularly the budget LU-21 Lanikai ukuleles) and Kala (their KA-S ukuleles and Makala ukuleles are very popular with kids).

If you're looking to spend a bit (or a lot) more, take a look at the KoAloha ukuleles or the Pono ukuleles.

If you're after an electric ukulele, take a look at buying the Ovation Applause ukuleles or the RISA.

Which Size of Ukulele Should I Buy?

- There are four main sizes: soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. Most people start on the soprano ukulele since it is the traditional ukulele and, since it is the smallest, it requires less stretching. But more and more people are buying tenor ukuleles - inspired by the likes of Jake Shimabukuro - which is more suited to solo, instrumental ukulele playing.

How Much Should I Spend on a Ukulele?

- Your budget is going to play a big part in your decision. Most first time buyers get a very cheap ukulele - that's certainly what I did. But it is spending a little more to get a ukulele the sounds and feels good and is well set up. There are many good quality ukuleles in the $50 -$100 range. Buying one of these ukuleles will give you a nice uke which will encourage you to play more.

Which Strings Should I Use?

- When you buy a ukulele, it will come with strings fitted - but often these are cheap, poor quality strings. There are two types of ukulele strings that stand out above the others: Aquila and Worth. Spending a little extra money on these will make your ukulele sound much better than it does with cheap strings.

With the different sizes and tunings, buying ukulele strings is a bit of a minefield. This section will give you some guidance.

Which Ukulele Accessories Do I Need?

- Buying a ukulele isn't the end of the spending. There are plenty of other bits and pieces you just begging you to buy them. The most important being a tuner. Other less essential items include capos, pick-ups, straps and a whole lot of other stuff to keep your ukulele company. This section looks at which accessories are a must buy and which are less essential.

14 Comments

  1. Frankevich March 9th, 2011 5:02 am

    You might want to include Mainland Ukes in your suggestions. They sound good, look good, and have good reviews for quality of construction. Prices are moderate as well.

    Oh, by the way, the “Mainland” must refer to “mainland China” as that’s where they are made, not mainland USA. It’s unfortunate that many uke makers won’t let on as to place of manufacture–meaning China usually. I guess they are ashamed of it or something like as if they were made there in sweatshops by prison labor or something. Assuming that’s not really the case! I don’t quite understand the secrecy.

  2. swormy June 27th, 2011 4:22 pm

    Hi There. I’ve been pretty good with my noobie ukulele, and I’m thinking about to get a new one. Problem is I’m having difficulty finding a store that sells them, because I wanna walk in and see/hear the difference between the types. I was wondering if you knew of any stores in the Toronto area or around that I can trek to to find one. Thanks;D

  3. steve hernandez September 8th, 2011 3:34 am

    I’m lefty. Does it matter?

  4. Graham October 10th, 2011 8:46 am

    @Steve, I am also a lefty. Force yourself to learn right handed. It’s way simpler than it sounds, and you get the advantage of having your more articulate hand (left) operating the fretboard. I am SO glad that people talked me out of learning left handed, it would have been way more difficult. Many who try to learn left handed give up due to frustration.

  5. Benji February 21st, 2012 8:08 pm

    So I bought my first uke about two months ago and haven’t put it down since. I bought a concert size because it felt better in my hands than the sopranos. I am looking into buying an electric uke now, with my sights set on the RISA Uke Solid. I am not sure if I should buy a tenor or concert size though. What would you recommend? Should I stick with concert size since that is what I am used to? Or should I step it up to a tenor since I probably wont be buying another ukulele for a while?

  6. Jen April 17th, 2012 9:01 pm

    I am looking at purchasing a uke but i am concerned a lot of the woods used to build ukes are not sustainable. I have just been reading online how wood can be obtained illegally this can be related to the distruction of anciant forrests (which also leads to loss of surviaval and homes to people and wild life). Anyone know of sustainable ukes and has this issue been addressed on this site?

  7. Laura July 17th, 2012 12:57 am

    ok so i was planning to but my fella a uke for his birthday because i know how much he wants one. however i didnt realise how hard it would be to pick one. i wanted to get a very original/ classic uke but theres too much choice anyone got any ideas which would be a good one to buy cost doesnt matter :) ta

  8. Charles August 7th, 2012 4:21 am

    @laura, check out the Lanikai ukes. I would definatley buy one off amazon if you want a new one because you can get a decent ukulele for 30$ less than what i got at a local music shop. iii

  9. Paul September 19th, 2012 4:04 pm

    to anyone buying a new uke, check the tone and resonance of the body. It seems to vary…a lot down the lower end. Balance the ukes’ lower tuning pegs on your forefinger and thumb like a hammer on dads tool peg board. Give the back a little flick. You dont want a dull/dead sound, its not a great method but you dont need them tuned. Pick the one with the longest sound and ask for it to be tuned.$27 starting price, once you look at the $150> range you’re looking at quality sweet resonance!!!

  10. Aleka December 9th, 2012 12:26 pm

    I purchased a red cedar Mainland soprano 4 months ago and couldn’t be happier. Wonderful, loud sound, beautiful instrument.

  11. Will Elias February 11th, 2013 3:24 pm

    FYI I bought a Kala tenor acacia slot head uke on line (not from this site) and was very disappointed with the fit and finish especially a buldge on the bass side of the upper neck that they sanded down to fit to the body and other poor workmanship. I’m looking for another uke now but it won’t be a KALA, suggestions in the $200-500 range

  12. Hal Kaluhiokalani May 30th, 2013 7:25 pm

    I am a 78 year old Hawaiian, and have been playing na ukulele since I was 8. My dad was a professional musician. He believed the ukulele was meant to be more of a accompliment instrument than a lead instrument. I have owned and played just about every ukulele brand, from Martin, Kamaka, Koolau, Pono, Tangi, to Kala, etc. I sing and play a Kamaka baritone ukulele that is over 70 yrs old that belonged to my dad. I believe its sound is deeper and fuller than other makes. I use Koolau strings. I play ukulele and sing twice a week during brunch and dinner hours at several restaurants during the tourist season. I am a wood technologist by trade and believe density and figured woods are important features in the woods used in ukulele construction. Ebony is used in some guitars….nut, bridge, saddle and pin bridge pins and wonder how it would work on na ukelele. Just my two cents.

  13. Peter October 22nd, 2013 3:21 am

    Hello!

    Two things:

    1) Looking for a good quality electro-acoustic ukulele between $300 and $500… any you would recommend?

    2) Could you please tell me what the font is you use on your website? It’s great!

    Thanks,

    Peter

  14. spoonballs April 26th, 2014 2:46 am

    I have a concert uke (in C) and i like to sing when i play. The problem is, to sing along i have to either sing really high or really low – not in my my natural range. Would buying a tenor or baritone or whatever help to match my voice? Are the chord formations the same?

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