Best Ukuleles For Beginners – 2020 Guide

Vlad
| Last Updated: December 29, 2020

Every beginning is hard.

Too many things to pay attention to, too much overwhelming information and it’s no doubt why so many people end up quitting after beginning something new. 

While we can’t build your determination, we can help you out to pick the best Ukulele for Beginners.

Our Top Picks for Ukulele For Beginners

  • Mahogany Tenor Ukulele
  • Smooth and warm sound
  • Aquila Super Nylgut strings
View Latest Price →
  • Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
  • High-resonant body
  • Wonderful vintage design
View Latest Price →
  • Plastic Shark-Shaped Bridge
  • 8 different colors
  • Great affordable gift for kids
View Latest Price →

Comparison of the Best Ukuleles For Beginners

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Mahogany Tenor Ukulele with glossy finish
  • Smooth and warm sound
  • Bundled with Aquila Super Nylgut strings
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Mahogany Soprano Ukulele with Satin finish
  • High-resonant body
  • Wonderful vintage design
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Plastic Shark-Shaped Bridge
  • Available in 8 different colors
  • Great affordable gift for kids
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best Baritone Ukulele For Beginners
  • Adjustable Truss Rod for altering playing action
  • Complete accessories bundle
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best Soprano Ukulele For Beginners
  • Ultra durable and sun-resistant
  • Travel Friendly features
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best Concert Ukulele For Beginners
  • Mellow, resonant and loud tone
  • Laser engraved design
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best Tenor Ukulele For Beginners
  • Metal strap lock installed
  • Nice slimline cutaway design
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best Electric Ukulele For Beginners
  • Onboard preamp with preinstalled tuner
  • Sweet and warm sustain with extended duration
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best Ukulele For Kids
  • Water resistant and easy to clean
  • Free Learn to Play Ukulele and Tuner App
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • All Mahogany Concert Electric Ukulele
  • Preamp onboard with 3-band equalizer and tuner
  • Incredible build quality at this price
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews

How Hard is it to Learn Ukulele?

Like every other musical instrument, there is a specific learning curve which is steep at the beginning as you will have to learn how to place your hand properly and how to tune, strum strings properly when to use fingerpicking technique or switch to the pick and so on.

But, there are some good points to start with Ukulele. First, it’s easier than learning a guitar and many Ukulele playing aspects can be transferred to the acoustic guitar and from that point even further to the electric guitar or even bass.

How Long Does it Take to Learn Ukulele?

It all depends on your determination and time invested. But, we can say that the first real results such as playing a complete song on your own could be seen after 2 or 3 months.

What Age Can Kids Learn Ukulele?

There is no age limit for Ukulele, and thanks to so many different types, there is a size that may suit everyone. Playing an instrument has proven to create new cognitive functions and helps build fine motor skills in youngsters so we strongly support your decision to put any instrument into the hands of your children. It will have a positive impact on emotional intelligence development, too.

What is the Best Size Ukulele For a Beginner? 

If it’s not too small for your hands, we would recommend you Soprano Ukuleles. They are the smallest ones and have the lowest string tension and kids will enjoy playing this instrument as well.

In case it’s too small for you, check Concert Ukuleles first and then Tenor. If you’re still struggling, then you will have to go for Baritone models.

However, except for Baritone, you can’t go really wrong if you pick any of those three as they all share the same tuning, so it’s more up to your preference and your budget what will work the best for you.

How to Play Ukulele Tips For Beginners

Here is some advice that may come handy for making your beginning easier:

Proper Instrument Placement

You will have the best performance if you place Ukulele correctly. If you’re standing, hold it firmly right to the center of your chest and if you’re sitting you can also try to put it on the leg closer to your strumming hand.

The Nails

Nails are your friend and foe for Ukulele. While they can be useful for finger picking, they can be a distraction for the other hand.

Metronome

Develop a habit to practice with the metronome. Being “on time” is the first trait that makes a difference between professional and amateur players. It will have a huge impact on developing your skills further.

Slow it Down

If you can’t perform a specific line or melody, slow it down until you get to the tempo where you can repeat it several times without any mistake. Then start to increase the tempo step by step and repeat the whole exercise.

Sing While You Play

Even if you’re not a singer, try to hum what you’re playing. This exercise will develop a neural connection in your brain to split the focus from playing and you will memorize parts much faster. And you will be surprised how your singing can improve over time as well (yes, singing is a matter of practicing, too, not a talent given from above)

Take it Easy

Don’t overwhelm yourself with the techniques that are not suitable for beginners. If you learn how to strum properly, learn chords, and how to grip the fretboard properly first and become very confident about that, you’ll upgrade your playing in no time.

Think about it like taking swimming classes - you don’t go to the seaside until you learn how to swim in shallow waters first.

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Review of the Best Ukuleles For Beginners 

The sound of Ukuleles for beginners is nothing special. Nevertheless, some entry-level models stand out by other aspects:

Best Overall:
Kala KA-TG Tenor

Kala KA-T Mahogany Tenor Ukulele

PROS

  • Strap button installed
  • Smooth and warm sound
  • Rosewood fingerboard and bridge
  • Bundled with Aquila Super Nylgut strings
  • Full body Mahogany Tenor ukulele with a glossy finish

CONS

  • Top is not made from solid wood
  • Good investment, but might be expensive for someone

What Recent Buyers Report

This is often the first choice for people who are certain about learning how to play the Ukulele. The sound is described as warm and very pleasant and they were really satisfied with the build quality. They also say that the seller will tune it in low G if requested.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This seems to be a really nice natural looking ukulele and it won’t be so easily mistaken for the toy instrument by anyone. It also hits a sweet spot between beginner's price and professional sound quality. Having it supplied by wonderful Aquila Super Nylgut strings upon sending makes the offer even better.

Mahogany will produce a nice warm and sweet sound while walnut is a great choice for fingerboard and it will maintain the tuning for days.

While the glossy finish may not be praised by everyone, we find that this particular one finds a middle ground between satin and high-gloss finish.

Bottom Line

If we had to pick one ukulele that would fit most - we would definitely go with Tenor type. It’s big enough for adults while kids won’t outgrow it at some point, so we find it might be the best investment in the long run.

Luna Love Music Peace Mahogany Soprano Ukulele with Gig Bag, Satin Natural

PROS

  • High-resonant body
  • Wonderful vintage design
  • Walnut fretboard and bridge
  • Fret markers also labeled at the neck side
  • Mahogany Soprano Ukulele with Satin finish

CONS

  • Comes with mediocre strings
  • Neck joints are visible on the back

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers are really thrilled by the vintage look of this model and both adults and youngsters love it. 

However, if you’re looking for something that can hold a tune for a long time, you may want to check other products first as this one comes with open gear heads.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One thing that we don’t see every day is fret markers placed on the side of the neck so you can see it even from just looking straight down while playing.

This Soprano ukulele body is made from Mahogany with a clear Satin finish while the fretboard and the bridge are made from the Walnut and it’s exceptionally smooth. The body features a unique laser-cut peace sign at the soundhole while the word 'peace' is written in different languages across the whole sound board.

Body is also highly resonant so we strongly advise you to go out and purchase some premium strings to get the most from it.

Bottom Line

While this Soprano ukulele won’t stand out soundwise, it could still be a great present for anyone, thanks to its almost unisex design, and because it looks so different from other models it could be a nice motivation, too.

Makala Surf Green Shark Soprano Ukulele by Kala (MK-SS/GRN)

PROS

  • Great affordable gift for kids
  • Available in 8 different colors
  • Comes with Aquila Super Nylgut strings
  • Mahogany Soprano Ukulele with Satin finish
  • Walnut Fingerboard and Shark-Shaped Bridge

CONS

  • Tune doesn’t hold for too long
  • Poor quality control production

What Recent Buyers Report

Users are aware that this is an entry-level ukulele so their expectations weren’t so high. They are satisfied with what they got at this price and the only problem they had is which color they should pick. If you have similar struggles, our favorite is Surf Green!

Why it Stands Out to Us

Makala is a budget line made by the Kala brand and it was streamlined to be affordable for beginners. They put extra attention on how to make those instruments look beautiful and that’s why you can pick from eight different vivid color models. Those colors aim at youngsters, but there are also plain white and black for those who feel more adult.

Body is made from laminated mahogany and the fretboard has a walnut wood. Another thing that separates this ukulele from others is the shark-shaped bridge design. While it doesn’t do anything fancy, it’s definitely a very distinctive detail.

Bottom Line

The color palette for this model is incredible and it will be a great call for your first ukulele. It’s affordable, looks beautiful and the fretboard is wide enough so that most people won’t struggle with learning how to play it.

Best Baritone Ukulele for Beginners:
Lohanu LU-B Baritone Bundle

Ukulele Baritone Size Bundle From Lohanu (LU-B) 2 Strap Pins Installed FREE Uke Strap Case Tuner Picks Hanger Aquila Strings Installed Free Video Lessons BEST UKULELE BUNDLE DEAL Purchase Today!

PROS

  • Two strap buttons installed
  • Complete accessories bundle
  • Mahogany Baritone Ukulele with Satin finish
  • Adjustable Truss Rod for altering playing action
  • Rosewood Fingerboard with chrome die-cast tuning gears

CONS

  • Transport packaging could be better
  • Free video lessons are not so helpful

What Recent Buyers Report

People are shocked by what quality they got at this price. Also, they praise the Lohanu attention for details so tuners are dust-proof, strap buttons are already installed and even their customer service seems to be very responsive.

And what might be most important, lifetime warranty really works in reality. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

Adjustable Truss Rod is a feature that’s not so often found at Ukuleles at this price and we find it really incredible. It seriously boosts the complete experience we have with this instrument and it even comes with fret markers on a visible white binding on the side of the neck.

While it may cost a little bit more than a usual beginner’s Ukulele, it simply saves you a lot of time providing you with all the accessories you may need for the start. You’ll get a clip-on tuner, gig bag, strap, paracord hanger, and not just plastic picks but leather one as well! 

Bottom Line

This Lohanu model might be the most affordable test to see if Ukulele is your thing or not. As baritone ukuleles have the same tuning as acoustic guitars it might be the easiest way to transfer all the knowledge you got from playing guitar.

Best Soprano Ukulele for Beginners:
Flight TUS-35 BK

Flight, 4-String Travel Series Soprano Ukulele, Black (TUS-35 BK)

PROS

  • Ideal choice for children
  • Aquila night strings included
  • Ultra-durable and sun-resistant
  • All ABS plastic moisture-free Ukulele
  • Travel-friendly features, weight, and shape

CONS

  • Sound is a bit plain
  • Bag could be padded

What Recent Buyers Report

Users simply loved the plain design and build quality of this instrument. The intonation is reported to be correct, and they would gladly recommend it to the others. But, if you are by any chance used to the wooden Ukulele, the sound might be a bit disappointing.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Flight delivered a really great bang for the buck with this model. Everything regarding this model is on a budget, using the durable ABS plastic used for both body and neck construction. But, they played smart and didn’t skip the idea to show you how it can sound with the proper strings installed so you have a model with a clear and loud sound.

Being lightweight and plastic is also an ideal choice for children - it’s hard to get it damaged and thanks to plastic frets there is a minimum chance of getting your kids cut. 

Bottom Line

If you would like to have a Ukulele that you can carry with you anywhere, leave it in the car trunk or even play close to the pool with friends, you can’t go wrong with this model.

Best Concert Ukulele for Beginners:
Ortega Guitars RUPA5MM Bonfire

Ortega Guitars Bonfire Series, 4-String Ukulele, Right (RUPA5MM)

PROS

  • Laser engraved design
  • Equipped with custom strings 
  • Mellow, resonant, and loud tone
  • Mahogany neck with Walnut fingerboard
  • Sapele Concert Pineapple Ukulele with Satin finish

CONS

  • No accessories included
  • Holding may not be comfortable like with other Ukuleles

What Recent Buyers Report

People say that it sounds more mellow compared to the other Ukuleles they had which might be a trait or a flaw depending on your personal taste. But, it also sounds much louder. There was no complaint found regarding build quality and they only wished if some accessories like a gig bag were included.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Concert Ukulele is made in pineapple shape using Sapele Plywood for the body construction with Satin finish while the neck is done with Mahogany and Walnut fingerboard.

Bottom Line

Pineapple models have a much more resonant body compared to that standard ukuleles. That’s why we recommend this Ukulele if you don’t want to worry about loudness and sustain sound elements.

Best Tenor Ukulele for Beginners:
Hricane Cutaway Travel

Hricane Cutaway Tenor Ukulele 27 Inch Extra Slim Light Spruce Top Travel Ukulele for Beginner with Gig Bag Strap Strings Sets

PROS

  • Body is made from all solid wood
  • Travel Tenor with walnut fingerboard and bridge
  • Unique Black Walnut with the Spruce top combination
  • Nice slimline cutaway design with beautiful blackline bindings
  • Metal strap lock installed with included strap and a padded gig bag

CONS

  • Truss rod would be a wonderful add-on
  • Due to its model nature, sustain may last too short for some users

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers really praised the bang-for-buck they were getting with this instrument. The sound is often described as loud and clear and someone noticed that this is a cheaper clone version of the Kala model. Those who had them both couldn’t tell any significant sound difference except for some cosmetics. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Travel Tenor Ukulele comes with a very interesting combination of Black Walnut body and Spruce top with the arched back. Both parts are made from solid wood, and this feature is very rare to find at this price range. In general, it means that the tone will be much deeper and warmer when compared to the laminated wood solutions.

It’s designed with a slimline concept and extra cutaway solution so, overall, it’s both affordable and much more ergonomic compared to the regular Tenor Ukulele. This eventually means that both adults and kids may enjoy playing this instrument. 

Bottom Line

Travel tenors are almost 50% thinner compared to the regular ones so they might be ideal if you have a lot of road trips planned. So, if you’re on a budget but would like to get some quality, Hricane will surprise you really well.

Best Electric Ukulele for Beginners:
Luna Guitars Vintage Concert

Luna Vintage Mahogany Acoustic/Electric Concert Ukulele with Preamp, Satin Natural

PROS

  • Walnut bridge and fretboard
  • Retro design with open-gear tuning keys
  • Mahogany Concert Ukulele with Satin finish
  • Sweet and warm sustain with extended duration
  • Onboard preamp with preinstalled tuner and 2-band EQ

CONS

  • Looks better than it sounds
  • Onboard tuner may come faulty

What Recent Buyers Report

In general, they like what they got with this purchase. The sound is decent, the same goes for build quality and the only trouble they had is from faulty tuners. But, please keep in mind that the tuner is an accessory and that it doesn’t affect the playability of this instrument at all.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We can tell that this Ukulele has a typical mahogany sound with a long and sweet sustain. And as its name says, it was designed to be vintage so it comes with open-gear tuning keys with black caps, triangular fret markers, and all wooden bindings between top, side, and bottom.

This is probably one of the most affordable concert ukuleles that come with an onboard preamp.

This preamp is equipped with 2-band equalizer sliders for bass and treble control, a dedicated volume knob, and a switch button for a tuner mode with the LED indicator for both note and when you’re in tune.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an all-around Ukulele that will suit both beginners and semi-pro players, this is what we would recommend you to look at first. It’s both affordable and decent sounding and on top of that, it comes with a preamp.

Honsing Kids Ukulele,Soprano Ukulele Beginner,Hawaii kids Guitar Uke Basswood 21 inches with Gig Bag- Rainbow Color matte finish

PROS

  • Plastic Soprano Ukulele
  • Water-resistant and easy to clean
  • Aquila Super Nylgut Strings installed
  • Provides you with the free Learn to Play Ukulele and Tuner App
  • 4 color codes for labeling most important chords on the fretboard

CONS

  • Not so good in terms of sound quality
  • Could provide some more interactive accessories content

What Recent Buyers Report

People are buying this instrument as a spare one that they will carry around everywhere they may go. The sound isn’t terrific, but the volume is reported to be decent. Also, users that bought this for their children report nothing but pure bursts of joys as feedback.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This soprano ukulele is made from all plastic. It has been patterned after the Kala Waterman Ukulele so you can play it anywhere without worrying about damaging it and this includes even playing in the pool.

But, this model is made especially for learning how to play and they use a visual method of different colors for 4 chords and an interactive songbook which will help you learn your first songs by using this approach.

It provides you with the soft bag, and free Learn to Play Ukulele and Tuner App so you can learn at any place.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a traveling Ukulele or getting a first Ukulele for your kid, Kala is a company that has been in the Ukulele business for so many years and they are especially well-known for making affordable but yet decent instruments.

PROS

  • Incredible build quality at this price
  • Solid top Mahogany with Satin finish
  • Concert Ukulele with Rosewood fretboard
  • Preamp onboard with 3-band equalizer and tuner
  • Comes with bag, strap, picks, and carbon nylon string

CONS

  • Top is not so thick
  • Double-check your ordered piece for tuning and preamp issues

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers first thought this price was some kind of joke, but once they got the package, they were overwhelmed with what they got.

They praised everything - sound, the look, and what’s even the build quality the most, so they extended their thrill by calling this purchase the “best deal ever”.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Concert Ukulele has everything you will need for a wheel at an incredible price. It even comes with the preamp so you can plug in and play on any event. The preamp also has a built-in tuner mode with a dedicated switch button and 3-band equalizer knobs dedicated for bass, middle and treble correction.

The body is made from Mahogany which unlike the rest at this price range includes the solid Mahogany top part.

And if that’s not enough, it comes with the nice padded gig bag, a strap with strap buttons installed on the instrument, and four picks.

Bottom Line

Donner did it once again. If you thought that it’s impossible to have an electric ukulele under $100, they proved us wrong. It would be such a shame not to include this ukulele on our list.

How to Choose a Ukulele For a Beginner

Choosing the right instrument doesn't have to be so hard. Once you exclude flagship models, it’s all about picking your visual favorite. A beginner’s price range all instruments have a similar sound and build quality. Relax and remember that “the mission” of the first instrument is not to be the best you’ll ever have, but to lure you into the world of music:

Hand Size

Ukuleles come in four main sizes, so depending on how big your hand is we will recommend you to go and pick Soprano for those with the smallest hands or Tenor for big guys.

Have an “in the Long Run” Mindset

If you're certain that you will play ukulele for a while, you could purchase a model a bit over your current playing level. This way, you will have all the benefits from having a more professional instrument and once you evolve, you won’t have to waste time and look for a change.

Don’t Pick the Cheapest Ukulele

Unless you need an instrument for your toddler, we would advise you to triple check if you want to go and buy some sub-$30 Ukulele. The sound will be probably awful and due to poor build quality, it will easily get out of the tune.

Tenor vs. Concert Ukulele For a Beginner - Comparison Overview 

Tenor and Concert Ukulele share the same GCEA tuning, so it won’t be hard to switch between those two instruments at any point as the chord positions and fingering are all the same.

However, the size difference between the Tenor and Concert is about 3 inches. This results in several aspects. 

  1. First, the scale is larger on a tenor ukulele which makes it more appealing to people with bigger hands to pick a chord properly.

  2. Second, due to its size difference, the Tenor Ukulele has a larger body area to resonate and have a higher string tension. This makes a Concert Ukulele brighter sounding when compared to Tenor. But, if you have played guitar before or you are thinking about it, the Tenor Ukulele might be a better choice as its size is a bit closer to the acoustic guitar size.

    However, which one will suit you better depends only on your personal taste, eventually.

  3. And lastly, the price of the Tenor Ukulele is higher. So, in general, if the budget is limited, you may get a better Concert Ukulele for a fixed price. It may not be relevant for beginner’s models, but if you go professional, the price difference may vary up to a hundred dollars.

Conclusion 

No matter how hard it may look at the beginning, remember that playing any instrument has a steep learning curve. It can be tiresome, but once you get the basics you will have a less bumpy ride and you’re going to enjoy all endeavors the music world has to offer. 

People Also Ask

It’s normal to have a lot of simple questions if you’re about to learn something new and there is nothing to be ashamed of. That’s why we will break the ice for you and answer some of the most typical questions regarding Ukulele playing and it is status among professional instruments:

Which Type of Ukulele is Easiest to Play?

If it’s not too small for your hands, we would recommend you Soprano Ukuleles. They are the smallest ones and have the lowest string tension. In case it’s too small for you, check Concert Ukuleles first and then Tenor. If you’re still struggling, then you will have to go for Baritone models.

What Are the Beginner Ukulele Chords?

Four beginner chords that you will probably learn straight away are G major, C major, D major, and E minor. Once you learn those you will probably learn the rest of the chords as well such as A minor and with those chords, you can play a lot of popular songs.

Is a Soprano Ukulele Good For Beginners?

Yes. Especially because Soprano Ukulele is the most affordable Ukulele guitar, so you will get the most quality at the same price compared to other types. It is a bit more oriented to kids because of its size, but, unless you’re a basketball player, it can be played by anyone.

What is the Best Ukulele For a Beginner?

Honestly, regarding the Ukulele type, there is no such difference regarding if you’re a beginner or pro. It’s more a matter of your age and size.

We wouldn’t recommend a 6’3” guy to play a Soprano Ukulele or Tenor Ukulele to a toddler, so let’s keep that in mind first.

Can I Teach Myself Ukulele?

If you would like to watch online tutorials and teach yourself, yes, it is quite possible. As a matter of fact, the more you use your ears and your field experience, the more you will evolve as a musician, so even if you’re taking some classes we strongly advise that you find some time and take some additional classes on your own.

Is the Ukulele a Serious Instrument?

It has been considered as a toy instrument. But, it can sound “serious” in the right hand so it’s all about who is using it. There are some amazing professionals and semi-pro users that play some really demanding picks on their Ukulele and it wouldn’t be fair to call it a toy instrument anymore.

How to Chuck Ukulele

Chucking occurs if you mute your strings on a Ukulele right after strumming them. It’s similar to the palm mute technique used on both Ukulele and acoustic guitar instruments but it occurs way faster. Take the palm of your hand and push it down the strings swiftly after you hit the strings.

What is the Difference Between High G and Low G Ukulele?

There is no virtual difference between those models. These terms refer to string setup, so high G is actually a standard Ukulele tuning, while low G comes with the first thing tuned an octave lower and it trades the note range for some playing flexibility.

Vlad

I'm a 35-year-old rock-oriented professional musician from Belgrade, Serbia with 20 years of field experience in various areas of the music industry. After graduating from elementary music school I joined my first band Alogia in 2001 which had incredible initial success with the debut album and became one of the greatest Balkan heavy metal acts ever. We have recorded several studio and live albums and played as an opening act for Whitesnake, Apocalyptica, and Paul Di’Anno. Meanwhile, I got a chance to collaborate with Roland Planet shop and get familiar with various music equipment for more than a decade. For the last eight years, I have done live audio mixing for numerous bands and other live and studio events, including some TV audio mixing for national television broadcast as well. Currently, I’m playing keyboards for one of the most authentic Serbian music rock legends - Dr. Nele Karajlić, also known for his work with Zabranjeno Pušenje and No Smoking Orchestra.