Ever thought playing an instrument isn’t for you? Then pick up a ukulele and discover how beautiful music can be. Once a musical underdog, the four-string mini guitar is back in fashion with an increasing number of musicians and amateurs around the globe making it their prime instrument. In fact, the instrument is so popular …
Ever thought playing an instrument isn’t for you? Then pick up a ukulele and discover how beautiful music can be. Once a musical underdog, the four-string mini guitar is back in fashion with an increasing number of musicians and amateurs around the globe making it their prime instrument.
In fact, the instrument is so popular that manufacturers are struggling to meet the demand. So why are so many people coming back to the ukulele? With just four nylon strings it’s a very approachable instrument that is easier to learn and play than a guitar. Its small size and low price tag also mean that virtually anybody can take it up and strum a few chords.
Want to join music’s most recent instrumental trend and experience the ukulele’s warm mellow sound first hand? From soprano and concert to tenor and baritone ukuleles – read up on our entry level models to choose the ukulele that best fits your needs and budget.
Soprano ukuleles – play the classic Hawaiian style
From the four main sizes – soprano, concert, tenor and baritone – the soprano is the standard ukulele size and the most popular type for beginners. Don’t be fooled by their small body, soprano ukuleles can produce a rich and varied sound that cuts through the typical strumming of an acoustic guitar. However, due to their small body and short neck they are more difficult to tune than their bigger counterparts.
The Makala Dolphin is probably the best entry level soprano ukulele on the market. It features an Agathis wood body, with a Rosewood dolphin-shaped bridge and fingerboard. These soprano ukuleles come in different pastel colours and are extremely easy on the wallet, without compromising sound or playability. Simply put on a brand new set of Aquila strings and you get a decent little ukulele at an affordable price. Choose the Makala MK-S if you prefer a more traditional look.
Want a cheap but good sounding and reliable ukulele? Then you can’t go wrong with a Kala Ka-S. This standard mahogany ukulele offers a well-rounded sound and rich tonal range. It is well made and nicely finished with classic white binding and a Rosewood fretboard. The Kala Ka-S usually comes with Aquila Nylgut strings, so you are instantly ready for a bit of island-style strumming.
Similar to Kala, Lanikai has built a solid reputation for producing quality ukuleles at affordable prices. Lanikai’s LU Series are by far the most popular, particularly with beginners. If you want to learn how to play the ukulele and have£50 to spend, a handcrafted Lanikai LU-11 is your best choice. Featuring an all Nato-wood construction, the LU-11 is best known for its sweet sound and classic design.
One mark up from the popular LU-11, the LU-21 is the best-selling soprano ukulele in Lanikai’s range and a pleasure to get your hands on. The Lanikai LU-21 is the perfect synergy of quality, size and sound. Its classic, sweet island sound is sure to get you hooked from the first chord!
Concert ukuleles – more than just mediocre
Many professional players prefer concert size ukuleles since they are right in the middle between soprano and tenor models. With their slightly bigger body and neck, concert ukuleles might be easier to hold and play, especially for people with slightly larger fingers. They have more natural acoustic volume but are still small enough to produce that classic ukulele sound.
There aren’t many good beginner concert ukuleles around, but Lanikai has surely nailed the formula with its LU-21 model. It’s the world’s best-selling concert ukulele and players around the globe swear by its bright sound. Like its little brother, the soprano LU-21, the Lanikai LU-21 C features a Nato body with a white binding, Rosewood bridge and fingerboard. An exceptionally well-made ukulele and an ideal companion for those looking for a good start with their playing.
The KA-C Concert Mahogany Ukulele is Kala’s answer to Lanikai`s LU series. It’s a wonderful instrument and ideal for those wanting something better than the low price range offers. As part of Kala’s Mahogany range, the KA-C is bound to make an impression with its stunning looks and sweet, full-bodied tone. If you are looking for a great concert ukulele with no frills, but a decent sound and outstanding value for money, the KA-C will get you strumming in no time.
If you are looking for a great-sounding concert ukulele with aesthetic touches, try out the Cordoba 15 CM concert ukulele. The Abalone inlaid rosette paired with a quartersawn mahogany top, back and sides turn this ukulele into a real beauty. Add great sound and playability and you’ll have to look no further for a high-quality entry-level ukulele.
The Tanglewood TU-3 Concert Ukulele is one of the best ukulele packages around at the moment. As part of Tanglewood’s Union Series, the TU-3 is an all-mahogany ukulele with a Rosewood fingerboard and bridge. It offers exceptional sound quality and attention to detail, whilst still remaining a reasonable price tag.
Tenor ukuleles – bigger body, richer sound
The tenor ukulele is slightly bigger and has an even richer sound than its smaller counterparts. Stage performers love the tenor size because of its fuller tone and higher notes. Some people find tenor ukuleles easier to play as the longer scale of the instrument means you have more room for your fingers to fret chords. If stronger resonance and versatility are important to you, then a tenor ukulele is your ultimate choice.
As with soprano and concert models, Kala and Lanikai build some of the best beginner tenor ukuleles. The starting point for good tenors is the Kala KA-T Mahogany Tenor Ukulele. With its warm, mellow sound and full-bodied tone, the Kala KA-T is an ideal option for budget minded musicians looking to get into the ukulele world. If you have a few extra pounds to spend, invest in a KA-TEM to get a tenor ukulele with an exotic mahogany finish.
Whether beginner or experienced player, the Lanikai S-T will tick all your uke boxes. Its solid spruce top and high-quality Nylgut strings allow for incredible projection and a nice full-bodied sound. The Cordoba 20TM Tenor Ukulele is equally impressive, featuring a solid mahogany top paired with a Rosewood fingerboard and natural satin finish. Similarly, the Gretsch G9120 Tenor Standard Ukulele is renowned for its excellent tone and quality construction.
Baritone ukuleles – the miniature 4-string guitars
The largest ukulele, the baritone, is tuned DGBE and played exactly like the bottom four strings on a guitar. Unless you are a previous guitar player, you won’t get hooked on these very quickly and be better off with one of their smaller counterparts. Baritone ukuleles produce a deeper and fuller sound than any of the three other types, making them an ideal option for blues players and fingerpickers. If you are looking for that crisp, punchy uke sound, you won’t fall in love with a baritone ukulele.
If you still want to take the plunge, try out the Lanikai ULU-21B Baritone Ukulele which features a Nato wood body and Rosewood fingerboard, creating an enhanced midrange and balanced sound. Die-cast tuners also ensure that your instrument will keep in tune. For higher-end models, consider picking up a Koloa Baritone or Kala KA-SB Solid Spruce Top Baritone Ukulele. Their clear and deep rich sound is perfect for folk music!