If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me what ukulele is best for beginners, I could retire comfortably for the rest of my life. It’s probably the question I get asked most often when I’m teaching a room full of new students. And it makes sense – learning a new instrument like the ukulele can be a big investment in both time and money, and you want to make sure you get the ukulele that’s perfect for you!
The good news is that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to what ukulele is best for beginners. But the bad news is…that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to what ukulele is best for beginners. Let’s talk a little bit about what to look for in a ukulele for a brand new beginner, a beginner with a little bit of experience, and a beginner who has played other string instruments before.
Brand New Beginner on the Ukulele? Start Here!
If you’ve never played the ukulele before, it might seem overwhelming when choosing your first instrument. Rest assured that this isn’t something you can get wrong – trust yourself here when choosing your first ukulele, and then let yourself learn and grow from there. While it’s always best to go to your local music shop and try out a few instruments before you make your decision, if you live in a rural area like I do, that’s not always possible.
That’s why it’s great to have trusted sources online where you can find information and be confident in your decisions when choosing your first ukulele.
Read More: Unveiling the Legacy Of Kamaka Ukuleles
Keep a couple of things in mind when choosing your first ukulele:
- This is probably something that almost everyone is going to take into consideration when looking to acquire their first ukulele. The good news is that there are beautiful, quality ukuleles out there at every price range. The bad news (for when Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome strikes) is also that there are beautiful, quality ukuleles out there at any price. If you’re unsure about learning to play the ukulele, just trust your gut and pick the one that speaks to you. You can always choose a different uke later on when you’re ready!
- In the ukulele world, does size matter? Well, sort of. Some ukulele players are drawn to the traditional soprano size with a shorter scale length, and some ukulele beginners are drawn to a tenor or even baritone size. If you’re a beginner on the ukulele but have experience playing guitar or violin, you might want to get a larger ukulele like a tenor or a baritone. And some people are perfectly happy with the in-between mid-size concert ukulele that is just a little bit bigger than a soprano.
Remember when choosing a size that for some people, a larger ukulele might be easier to hold. A larger size ukulele will also have a little more space to stretch out on the fingerboard, and if you have longer fingers or larger hands that might make learning a little easier.
- Look at what the ukulele comes with – is it a package deal? Do you get accessories like a gig bag, tuner, capo, or strap? Even if your beginner ukulele doesn’t come with any of these things, you can always add on your own preferred accessory pack when choosing a ukulele.
Some of my recommendations for accessories are:
- a good padded gig bag or even a hard shell case (for a more expensive ukulele) so you can take your instrument with you
- a clip-on tuner for your new ukulele
- a capo for transposing songs into different keys that might be more accessible depending on your vocal range
- a ukulele strap that can be a valuable tool to help you securely hold your ukulele when playing.
A few of my favorite ukuleles that are best for absolute beginners include:
JT-ULTP Soprano, and Concert Ukuleles: The Uke Like The Pros Kala JT model is an incredible and unique affordable ukulele with the special quality approves that come with the Uke Like The Pros brand and Terry Carter. This ukulele was designed by the one and only Terry Carter and the Kala team, thinking of having an affordable ukulele with an incredible and unique look, plus all the specs and additions to have the BEST instrument for the ukulele player.
The Soprano Longneck (Soprano body with a Concert Neck) does not have a cutaway or built-in EQ.
Enya Nova Black Soprano Ukulele: I have a soft spot for Enya ukuleles. They are at a price point that’s affordable for just about everyone, and the quality and sound are fantastic. One of the great things I love about this ukulele is that it’s made from carbon fiber, so you can take it camping or in the car and not have to worry about damaging your new ukulele!
This ukulele comes with an Enya gig bag, a strap, a capo, and an extra set of strings. It’s ready to play right out of the box!
Ohana PKC-10 Pineapple Shaped Concert Ukulele: Ohana is known for making high-quality ukuleles for beginners at great prices. This pineapple shaped concert size ukulele is perfect for the beginner who wants a more nostalgic look to their new ukulele. Ohana ukuleles have wonderful tone and resonance that you would expect from a more expensive ukulele, but they are some of the most affordable instruments out there!
Kala Solid Bamboo Tenor Ukulele KA-BMB-T: I can’t leave Kala out of the list of best ukuleles for complete beginners, because this is the brand that got me started (and hooked!) playing ukulele! Their solid bamboo tenor ukulele has incredible projection and tone. This model is one that can stay with you for years to come as you progress on the ukulele.
One of the benefits of getting a solid bamboo ukulele is that bamboo is highly sustainable and eco-friendly, and you get a solid wood instrument at a fraction of the price of other models and woods.
Best Ukulele for Beginners with Some Experience
You may have a little bit of experience playing the ukulele or another stringed instrument like the guitar or violin and want to get a ukulele of your very own. If this describes you, then you might already know what size ukulele you want and what accessories you need.
This may be where you decide you want to get an instrument with a pickup for connecting to an amplifier for playing with a group or a band. You might even want to consider getting an instrument that’s a step or two above your basic entry-level ukulele. I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes buying a higher quality ukulele with better sound qualities like resonance and sustain makes me want to practice more so that I get better!
If you’re looking to upgrade your ukulele from an entry-level instrument or you want to get a great instrument of your very own, here are a few of my recommendations:
Ohana VKC-70: I recently added one of these models to my ukulele collection, and I can’t be happier with it. Ohana makes some gorgeous solid wood top ukuleles, and I love the shape of this one! Inspired by Roy Smeck’s “Vita” ukulele, this ukulele definitely sounds as good as it looks.
Kala KA-ZCT-T Ziricote Tenor Ukulele: When you’re ready to take your ukulele game up a notch, the Kala Tenor Ziricote wood ukulele is a great instrument. With a scale length of 17 inches, this is the perfect instrument for anyone who wants to explore playing up the neck.
Kala is another brand of ukulele that I highly recommend to both beginners and more experienced players for their quality and sound.
Enya EUT-MAD/DR-EQ Tenor Ukulele: If you’ve played one of the Enya Nova carbon fiber ukuleles and want to upgrade to a solid wood ukulele, this is a great entry point for you. Just like the Enya Nova carbon fiber ukuleles, this instrument comes with a gig bag, extra strings, and a strap so you have a great basic accessory pack to get you going.
Enya ukuleles are loved and played by millions of ukulele enthusiasts around the world, including some incredibly talented professionals!
Best Ukulele for Beginners with Experience Playing Other String Instruments
Like I mentioned earlier, if you’re new to the ukulele but you have some experience playing guitar or violin (or some other string instrument), you might want to think about jumping in with both feet (so to speak) and getting a solid wood instrument or something with all the bells and whistles like a pickup for playing with an amplifier and maybe even a hard shell case to protect your instrument.
There are lots of great options for a beginner on the ukulele who has some experience playing other string instruments and wants something more than an entry-level ukulele. Some of my favorite picks include:
Martin T1 Streetmaster Tenor Ukulele: After four years of playing the ukulele, I finally acquired my first Martin ukulele earlier this year and now I want more. Martin is famous the world over for their incredible guitars, and their ukuleles are made with the same care and attention to detail.
The Streetmaster Tenor ukulele is a fabulous beginner instrument for someone who has experience playing other string instruments and wants a higher-end experience with their first ukulele. It also includes a sturdy padded gig bag to protect your instrument.
Flight Voyager Electro-Acoustic Tenor Ukulele: You’re ready for a ukulele with a pickup, right? This Flight Voyager tenor ukulele is ready for you! Flight makes fabulous mid-level ukuleles that are great for both professional musicians and gigging amateurs. The installed pickup makes it a great option for anyone who wants to head out to an open mic night or just play with friends in a garage band.
This ukulele has the great looks and the tone to back it up, and it includes a high-quality padded gig bag to protect your instrument for musicians on the move.
Pono MBD Deluxe Baritone Ukulele: Say you’re a guitar player who’s looking to pick up a ukulele and see what you can do with four strings instead of six. This Pono baritone ukulele is perfect for you! Pono instruments are solid and built to last, but with a surprisingly sweet tone.
Because this instrument is tuned like the top four strings of a guitar (DGBE), it makes it easy for the guitar player who is looking for something a little smaller and more portable. A baritone ukulele is also a great choice for the budding singer-songwriter for both writing songs and performing!
Remember that if you have questions about what ukulele is best for you as a beginner, you can always count on the helpful customer service experts at the Terry Carter Music Store. In addition to hundreds of choices for the best ukuleles available today, you can also put together the perfect accessory pack with dozens of options. If you’re ready to jump in and fall in love with the ukulele, there’s no better time than right now to browse all your options at the Terry Cater Music Store!