Ukuleles and kids go together like camping and s’mores. Not only is the ukulele a perfect instrument for beginners, it’s also sized for easy playing – even when the hands on the strings are tiny ones!
In this quick guide, we’ll take a look at five of the best ukuleles for kids, plus we’ll talk about some important things to look for as make your choice.
Quick Links: The 5 Best Ukuleles for Kids
- Hola! Soprano Ukulele
- Kmise Soprano Ukulele Beginner Kit
- Kala Makala Dolphin Soprano Ukulele
- Kala Makala Shark Soprano Ukulele
- Balnna Ukulele
Choosing a Kids’ Ukulele: Things to Look For & What to Avoid
Are all ukuleles pretty much the same? Not even! In fact, they come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors. Unfortunately, many kids ukuleles aren’t much better than toys.
They’re made with cheap components, so they sound terrible. The frets tend to be sharp, so the instrument isn’t comfortable to hold, and don’t even get us started on the strings. You might as well take a roll of fishing line and try to play.
Toy ukuleles don’t hold tuning well. Although all new ukulele strings need a break-in period so that they can stretch and settle in, toys aren’t equipped with proper tuning machines to hold the strings securely in place.
The good news is that there are tons of good-quality ukuleles for kids, and even the best ones won’t really put a dent in your budget.
Pick The Right Size:
Most kids ukuleles are soprano sized. This is a classic favorite, and at just 20 inches long, it’s easy for elementary-age children to handle. Even toddlers can learn to strum a soprano uke.
Since soprano ukuleles are easiest to carry, least expensive, and most common, we’re focusing on these.
Feel free to choose a different size if you like – we have complete guides to each ukulele size so you’ll find that it’s very easy to find the perfect ukulele for your child (or you!)
Concert ukuleles are the next size up. They’re a little bit louder than soprano ukuleles, but at only 23 inches long, they’re still a great fit for little kids.
Tenor ukuleles are 26 inches long, a bit more mellow-sounding, and also quite a bit pricier than soprano and concert ukuleles – still though, you can find good ones under $100.
Baritone ukuleles are 30 inches long, and they’re a lot like miniature guitars. They are tuned like the first four strings on a guitar (although it’s possible to change the tuning) and they’re the least portable of all ukuleles.
Baritone ukes are great for older kids who want to learn guitar, but overall, they’re not among our top picks for kids.
We’re normally pretty picky about things like tonewood (wood that helps an instrument achieve a pleasant, resonant sound). Unless your child is getting an upgrade, you might want to make durability an influencing factor rather than worrying about whether the instrument has a solid wood top or if other components are of top quality.
So long as the instrument is designed for durability, comfortable playing, and fun, it’s probably going to make your child happy. For kids, laminate is a better, more durable choice than solid wood. It’s less prone to cracking, it’s easier to keep clean, and it looks cool, too.
There are even a few pool-friendly, water-resistant ukuleles out there. These didn’t make their way onto our “best-of” list as they sound pretty plasticky, but they’re great for use as second instruments – plenty of seasoned players take these camping and to the beach when they feel like playing just for fun.
Pick a Price Range:
Many people are very surprised to discover that it’s possible to find a great kids ukulele for about $40, sometimes less than that. If you want a nicer ukulele for a child who is ready to take their playing to the next level, you’ll find that there are plenty of great options in the $80-$100 range. You really do not have to spend much!
It’s important to note here that you can find great kids’ ukuleles online and in music stores. Under no circumstances should you buy a ukulele at a big box store (you know the ones we mean).
These usually appear in the toy section around the holidays, and they’re almost guaranteed to disappoint. In our experience, Amazon is the best place to buy a kid’s ukulele right now.
At the same time, we really want to stress the importance of supporting your local music store if you happen to have one available. You might not find your child’s first cheap “trial” ukulele locally, but once your child has gotten into the groove andyou’re in the market for an upgrade, definitely see what you can find locally.
Think About Accessories:
Many of the best ukuleles for kids come with extras like a simple carrying bag, a strap, a tuner, and maybe even a download or disc with a couple of basic lessons (like how to tune the ukulele) to get them started before they take their first lessons.
The accessories that accompany most beginner ukuleles aren’t top of the line, but they’re better than nothing and they can help your child get off on the right foot.
Kids tend to have interesting taste, and if they love the way their ukulele looks, then they’re going to feel like playing more often. Unless this is a big surprise, think about narrowing your list down to a couple of choices that meet the rest of your criteria and let your child help with the decision. We’ve included some fun, colorful options here.
That’s it! With these factors and a few other things in mind, we’ve rounded up a fun, fantastic group of 5 top ukuleles for kids.
Hola! Soprano Ukulele
The Hola! Soprano ukulele comes in a variety of bright colors, so kids can pick a favorite. Made with durable maple wood, and fitted with a strong nato wood neck, these ukuleles feature walnut bridges and fingerboards. The geared tuners help keep the white nylon strings in tune once they’ve settled in, and the fretboard is marked with fret position indicators at the 5th, 7th, and 10th frets so it’s easier for kids to find their way around as they learn to play ukulele.
These ukuleles are inexpensive, but they offer a warm, rich island sound. They’re offered as part of a kit that includes a colorful neck strap, a handy canvas tote bag, and a few picks. As starter ukuleles go, this is one of the best available – in fact, it’s so popular that more than a few adults make this their choice for everyday fun.
Kmise Soprano Ukulele Beginner Kit
We were surprised to find quality features including copper tuning machines, real ox bone nut and saddle, and soft D’Addario strings on a beginner’s ukulele! This one from Kmise isn’t brightly colored, but it does offer a beautiful mahogany finish, and the walnut bridge is designed to let you swap strings from right to left handed configuration in case you’re looking for a left handed child’s ukulele. Frets are nicely filed for comfort, and the action is pretty low for easier playing, but not so low that buzzing is an issue.
This ukulele sounds amazing, especially considering the price point (not even close to the $100 mark!) There are quite a few sound samples on Amazon in case you’re wondering what it sound like once it’s in tune. A gig bag, tuner, and “getting started” booklet are included, along with an extra set of D’Addario strings. Strap buttons are pre-installed, and while the strap that comes with the ukulele isn’t the nicest, it’s easy to find one that your child might like better.
Kala Makala Dolphin Soprano Ukulele
The Kala Makala Dolphin Soprano Ukulele comes in lots of fun colors, and the bridge features a whimsical dolphin shape for an extra touch of fun. This ukulele is made with durable composite back and sides, which make the sound a little “tinnier” than wood, but the Kauri top compensates for that somewhat so the overall tone is pretty easy on the ears! The mahogany neck adds contrast and durability, and the walnut fingerboard supports 12 frets. We aren’t terribly impressed with the plastic nut and saddle, but overall, this is a good ukulele for kids – and it’s one that they love to play, which adds lots of points, in our book!
This ukulele comes with some nice extras including a gig bag, a polishing cloth, a clip-on tuner, and a DVD with some helpful tips for getting started.
Kala Makala Shark Soprano Ukulele
This little ukulele brings a whole new meaning to “Island style” thanks to a whimsical shark shaped bridge. Available in lots of fun colors, this ukulele has a comfortable rosewood fingerboard, a mahogany neck, and an agathis top for a warm, pleasant sound. The geared tuners are a great touch, helping to keep those strings tuned up once they’ve been fully stretched and settled in.
The Kala Makala Shark ukulele is part of a bundle that includes a protective gig bag, a handy clip-on tuner, and a DVD with helpful hints for tuning, playing those first few chords, and more.
Don’t be surprised if you catch yourself finding excuses to pick this uke up and play! The Balnna ukulele offers a vibrant rainbow finish, but that’s just the beginning. Built with tiger-grain maple wood for a warm sound, it features colorful ABS bindings, plus colored Aquila strings. Color coding on the fretboard helps kids learn to play the ukulele with proper finger positioning while adding even more fun to the overall design. This ukulele features geared tuners, and as an added bonus, it has strap buttons pre-installed.
Quite a few reviewers mention purchasing this ukulele for their kids, and the overall consensus is that kids of all ages love it. There are a few sound samples in the reviews on Amazon in case you’re curious about the way it sounds. We are really impressed at the overall quality, as well as the price.
It’s not the cheapest ukulele out there, but it’s one that your musically-inclined child will be able to grow with and enjoy for at least a few years to come. The Balnna ukulele comes with a lightly padded bag with backpack-style straps for easy carrying.
Whatever your child’s age, the ukulele is a fantastic instrument. It’s fun and easy to play, and with just a few lessons, your child will be very proud to show off some simple chord changes and maybe even play that very first song!
We hope you’re able to find the perfect ukulele for your child – and once it arrives, we think that they’ll have tons of fun with this popular instrument. Aloha, and happy playing!