Beautiful instrument by a top brand that's easy for beginners to play. Features quality mahogany construction. Concert size is a good choice for musicians that prefer a slightly longer neck.
Comes with fewer accessories than many other models.
Elegant frame pairs well with black bridge and gold accents. Water-resistant and durable construction makes it an excellent choice for beginners and children. Full package features a carrying case, tuner, additional strings and strap. Traditional, yet user-friendly.
May not be the best choice for those already experienced with string instruments.
Its compact soprano size is good for people who want a classic uke sound. The Nylgut strings have a pleasant brightness. It's made from a wood laminate with a mahogany facing.
It's fairly basic, so if you take to playing ukulele, you'll probably want to upgrade before long.
Due to its electro-acoustic style, you can play this uke unplugged or amplified if you want to get noisy. It's concert size and comes in three styles modeled after classic Fender guitar shapes: Jazzmaster, Stratocaster and Telecaster.
It's on the pricier end of the spectrum.
Has a smooth sound and nice resonance. A high-quality instrument made of mahogany. Strings are soft, smooth and easy to tune. Accessories kit includes strings, picks, a tuner, a strap and a case. Great look.
Some buyers report durability issues with the pegs, strings and other parts of this ukulele.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Learning a musical instrument is a big commitment, but with just four strings and closely spaced frets, the ukulele, a cousin of the guitar, is among the easiest instruments to learn. Thanks to artists like Taylor Swift and Amanda Palmer rocking ukes, this once overlooked instrument has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.
Perhaps the first thing you need to know about ukuleles is that there are four types: soprano (smallest), concert, tenor and baritone (largest). Due to its small size, the soprano is the most popular with beginners, while a tenor ukulele is considered to be the best for advanced players or those with larger hands. If you're interested in buying a serious instrument rather than a basic model to practice on, you should also learn more about the common tonewoods (spruce, cedar, mahogany and koa) used to make ukes. We cover all that and more below, so you can find the perfect ukulele to live out your rock-star fantasies on a small scale.
Our top choice is the Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele, which comes in a range of styles, sizes and colors to meet any musician at their level.
Cordoba has a reputation for making well-built, affordably priced guitars, and their handcrafted ukuleles follow that tradition. You can choose from soprano, concert and tenor options. The soprano, the smallest, has a classic bright ukulele sound, while the tenor, the largest, has a deeper timbre. This ukulele is made of laminate wood with a mahogany veneer on the top, back and sides. This means it doesn't have as rich a sound as a solid wood version, but it keeps the price down. Mahogany tonewood gives a balanced sound, and Nylgut strings add brightness, so it's a great all-around choice.
The Enya Nove U comes in three sizes: 21 inches (soprano), 23 inches (concert) and 26 inches (tenor). Made of carbon fiber polycarbonate, this ukulele is light and durable and not prone to warping. The build — and the fluorocarbon strings — give it a brighter tone than that of most wood and laminate ukes. It comes with a bag, strap, capo and spare strings, making it a great choice and value for beginners.
The Mahalo soprano, the smallest of ukulele types, measures 21 inches long. If you're looking for a classic bright uke tone in a small package, this is an ideal option. It's made of wood laminate faced with mahogany, which is known for its balanced sound, and basswood, which has some rich lows to counteract the overall brightness of its tone. The Nylgut strings are slightly brighter than standard nylon strings and don't fall out of tune as easily. You can buy this uke on its own (it comes in 11 colors) or in a bundle with accessories including a bag, picks and strings.
This Fender concert ukulele is a little different from most others on the market. It comes in three body shapes that match the company’s iconic guitars: Jazzmaster, Stratocaster and Telecaster. If you want the look of an electric guitar in a format that’s easier to learn, this uke is for you. Made of a laminate blend of spruce and walnut, it has a decent tone that’s well balanced overall with a bright top end, and the nylon strings add even more brightness to the mix. What's more, it's an electro-acoustic, so you can plug it into an amp, and it comes in five colors.
You have a choice of the three most common uke sizes with this instrument: soprano, concert and tenor. The mahogany laminate body offers a balanced sound, although it doesn't have the richness and sustain that you get from solid wood. The Nylgut strings provide a brighter sound, for that classic ukulele tone, and stay in tune better than regular nylon. This instrument comes in a bundle with all the accessories you need to get started, including a gig bag, tuner, strap, picks, cleaning cloth, spare strings and free online lessons for beginners.
If you're looking for an instrument with a low, rich sound, consider this electro-acoustic baritone ukulele. If you already know how to play guitar, this instrument is extremely easy to learn, because you tune it the same as the top four strings on the guitar. The solid mahogany gives it a rich, nicely balanced tone with a more impressive sustain than that of laminate versions. The Nylgut strings stay in tune well and bring a degree of brightness. It comes with accessories, including a gig bag, cable, picks and more.
This uke comes in three sizes: 21-inch soprano, 23-inch concert and 26-inch tenor. In the concert size, there's also a left-handed model and one with a cutaway body. It's made from mahogany (sapele) laminate for a warm tone with a prominent high end. The Nylgut strings are brighter than standard nylon strings and help the instrument stay in tune longer. This starter pack comes with all kinds of accessories, including a soft case, digital tuner, strings and strap.
You'll find four main varieties of ukulele: soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. Each has its own properties and is designed with its own sound and uses.
Soprano: Measuring roughly 21 inches from end to end, the soprano is the smallest ukulele. This is the traditional size for this instrument, so it gives you that classic, bright sound you expect. Due to its small size, it isn't extremely loud, and it can be tricky to play if you have large hands. Soprano ukes are usually tuned to regular C (G-C-E-A) but can also be tuned to D (A-D-F#-B).
Concert: These ukuleles are slightly larger than sopranos, about 23 inches long. This marginally larger size makes them louder (and hence more suitable for concerts) and easier to play while still retaining the traditional ukulele sound. These ukes are often tuned like soprano models (regular C and D).
Tenor: At approximately 26 inches long, tenor ukes are the third-largest variety. Although they're usually tuned to regular C, like soprano and concert ukes, these have a slightly deeper tone. That means they don't retain that really typical ukulele sound. That said, they do still sound recognizable as ukuleles and are popular with professional players because their larger frets make them less fiddly to play.
Baritone: Baritone ukuleles are the largest, at around 30 inches long, and have the deepest tone, more akin to a classical guitar. These are generally tuned to the same notes as the top four strings on a standard guitar (D-G-B-E).
Most ukuleles are made from either solid wood or wood laminate with wood veneer, which gives it a solid wood appearance. Solid wood ukuleles give you an undeniably better sound, but they're also significantly more expensive. That said, unless you've got money to burn, a laminate uke will suffice for the average beginner or intermediate player or anyone who just wants to play the ukulele for fun at home or with friends.
You can also find ukes made from polycarbonate or carbon fiber. These tend to have a bright sound that projects well, but they may not have the complexity or richness of tone that comes from solid wood. Carbon fiber is particularly rigid and holds up well to lower tuning.
“Tonewood” is the term used to describe the wood used to make ukuleles (or other musical instruments). The type of wood used to make a uke affects its tone.
Spruce: An inexpensive wood, spruce is usually found on the less expensive solid wood ukuleles. It has a fairly dynamic mid-range sound and an accentuated top end.
Cedar: Since it isn’t as dense as other tonewoods, cedar is sensitive to light strumming and plucking and has excellent harmonics.
Mahogany: Another popular choice, mahogany gives you a rounded top end, a rich mid-range, and a full low end. It's also a more affordable option than koa, generally found on mid-level ukes.
Koa: A traditional Hawaiian ukulele tonewood, koa gives a balanced tone with a pleasant mid-range and overall warm sound. It also has a beautiful grain. Koa ukes are generally high-end models.
The overall build of a ukulele is important. A poorly made uke is unlikely to stand up to regular use. On the other hand, a well-made instrument should last for years with very few issues even if you play daily. We recommend looking at the quality of the hardware (such as the bridge and tuning pegs), because these are often the first things to break on a ukulele of lesser quality. Metal tuning pegs tend to last longer than plastic. Bridges are generally made of plastic, but these should be sturdy, not flimsy.
You can buy ukulele strings of different thicknesses and materials, all of which change the sound of your instrument slightly.
Thickness: The difference is simple: thicker strings have a richer tone, while thinner strings have a brighter tone.
Material: Ukulele strings are commonly made from nylon or fluorocarbon. Nylon has a warmer tone while fluorocarbon has a brighter tone. Another option is a material called Nylgut, which is a type of nylon alternative to animal gut strings. These are brighter and hold their tune better than regular nylon strings. There are also wrapped metal strings generally reserved for tenor and baritone ukes. These make ukuleles sound more similar to acoustic guitars than they generally do.
It's worth thinking about any accessories you might need to go with your ukulele. While you don't really need anything other than the uke itself to start playing, you may find some of these items useful.
Tuner: Unless you can already tune by ear, a digital tuner is extremely useful to make sure each string is tuned to the correct note.
Bag or case: You might also want a gig bag or hard case to make it easier to transport your instrument from one place to another and offer some protection from knocks and scrapes.
Plectrum (pick): While many ukulele players don't use a plectrum, others find it easier to play with either a felt pick or a standard guitar pick. If you're unsure, consider getting a few different picks to experiment with.
A. You can expect to pay around $20 to $80 for a basic soprano or concert uke or $50 to $100 for a basic tenor or baritone version. However, if you're looking for a solid mid-range instrument, you'll pay around $100 to $250. An average player won't need to spend more than a couple hundred dollars, but you can find high-end instruments priced well into the thousands.
A. Ukuleles are Hawaiian instruments, so they pair perfectly with Hawaiian music, but the fun doesn't stop there. Bands and musical artists of all genres have used the ukulele, from the inimitable indie songwriter Amanda Palmer to Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder to virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, who plays everything from jazz to flamenco to classical on his ukulele. No matter what sort of music you're into, you can play it on a uke!
A. Traditional ukuleles are acoustic instruments, meaning you can't amplify their sound unless you buy and fit a separate pickup. However, you can find some electro-acoustic ukuleles that have all the relevant wiring and hardware to be plugged into an amplifier of your choosing.
A. While there's no substitute for in-person ukulele lessons with a professional teacher, you'll find plenty of resources available to help you learn if you want to go it alone. Not only are there lots of instructional videos and web pages dotted around the internet but you can also buy books and DVDs on the subject.
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