8 Best Ukuleles for Beginners

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Are you interested in learning to play the ukulele, but not sure which one to get? Check out this guide featuring the 8 best ukuleles for beginners.
best ukuleles for beginners

Table of Contents

Introduction

The ukulele craze has been in full force for a while now, and for good reason. They are one of the easiest instruments to pick up, learn and play whether you’re just starting to learn a stringed instrument or using it as an accompaniment. It is also a wonderful instrument for children to learn on since the nylon strings are gentle on the fingers and the instrument is comfortable for someone with small hands. There are different sizes and shapes of ukuleles that each have different tonal qualities and sound ranges. In this article, we will discuss the 8 best ukuleles for beginners to help you find the one that’s right for you.

Our Selection for the 8 Best Ukuleles for Beginners

1. Kala KA-15S

Kala ukuleles are a comparatively newer ukulele brand, but they have made a large impact on music lovers.  They are a great option for beginners who want a well-arranged and high quality keyboard at a suitable price. The 21-inch Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano is one of the most popular ukuleles manufactured by Kala. The Kala KA-15S starter packs come with everything a beginner ukulele player needs – books, decent strings and a professional set-up.
This is a really economic, durable and well-built ukulele to get under 5000 INR. With 12 brass frets and a well-finished mahogany wooded headstock, this ukulele is great for strumming and has a high quality sound. It has a rosewood fretboard which is naturally oily and produces a richer fundamental tone than other types of wood material. Its strings are premium Aquila Nylgut, which are the best quality nylon strings you can get.  The Kala KA-15S is portable and easy to play because of its shape and design. It also comes with a pro tuner.

The Good:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Rich, high quality sound
  • Very durable and portable

The Bad:

  • Does not come with a carrier case, that needs to be purchased separately

2. Donner Soprano Ukulele Spruce DUS-3

Donner has a wide range of different types of ukuleles that are set at different price points. The Donner Soprano Ukulele Spruce DUS-3 comes with a strap, an electric tuner, a micro cloth for cleaning, a spare set of strings and 0.71 millimeter picks which are a little thinner than guitar picks. The carrying case is really secure and well-padded with foam in the inner lining to protect the instrument. The tuning gears are really smooth to turn, which makes it a lot easier to tune the strings.
The Donner Soprano Ukulele is a standard concert scale instrument. The top is made of laminated spruce with brown edge binding on the top and the back. It comes with a rosewood bridge with a slotted design for easy string changes as well as a pre-fitted strap button. There are no outward facing position markers on the fretboard, but there are side position markers along the black edge band of its neck.

The Good:

  • Great value for money
  • Several add-ons such as a carry case, tuner, spare strings, etc.
  • Lightweight and easy to carry around

The Bad:

  • Slightly neck-heavy which might make it hard to play without a strap
  • Uses Plywood Mahogany on the back, which is weaker than Triple A grade mahogany used by other brands

3. Ranch Concert Ukulele

The Ranch Concert Ukulele has an edge over the standard entry-level ukulele because it comes with edge binding, strap buttons, an arch back, a closed gear tuner and a lot more.  It  has a three-peaked rounded crown at the headstock and on the back. There are geared tuners with small peg buttons in black plastic which can hold the string tension well. The fret dressing is good with no sharp edges, and there are position markers placed across the fretboard. It is a 23-inch ukulele that comes with two pre-fitted strap buttons. 
The Ranch Concert Ukelele  comes with a 1-inch strap and a set of spare Aquila strings of really high quality. It also has a functional carrying case, which is thick and padded with a single backpack strap. The top body is made of laminate sapele wood which is very similar to mahogany and would provide a similar resonance. You would also get a cleaning cloth and a clip-on tuner. Overall, it is an affordable and decent ukulele for someone learning to play.

The Good:

  • High quality build
  • Arrives with great set-up
  • Rich and pleasant tone

The Bad:

  • The neck is a little chunkier than some other beginner ukuleles
  • Poor intonation – sustains notes in the lower register for longer than those in the higher register

4. Vault UK-C100

The Vault UK-C100 is a 24-inch concert sized ukulele with a unique design and high build quality. It comes with a carrying case, picks, a strap and a spare set of Aquila strings. The packaging is well-secured and the ukulele is pretty lightweight and easy to carry around. It can achieve a moderately deep bass tone and a comparatively higher treble tone at an adequate volume.
This is a soprano ukulele with open tuning pegs at the back and a standard figure-eight ukulele body design. It has an open bridge and can hold the sound pretty well. The strings are smooth and evenly spaced. The ukulele comes with accurately placed position markers across the front of the fretboard, but not on the side. Overall, it is one of the best ukuleles for beginners who are on a budget.

The Good:

  • Portable and lightweight
  • Well-balanced tone
  • Good quality sound

The Bad:

  • The tuning gears are of cheaper quality and difficult to tighten

5. Hola! Music HM-21MG Soprano

The HM-21MG Soprano ukulele is an entry-level mahogany laminate ukulele that comes with a lightly padded gig bag, a strap, and some picks. This ukulele is slightly more expensive but provides a superior quality build and sound. Add-ons include strap buttons and a 3-5mm padded carrying case. One significant drawback is this ukulele does not come with a clip-on tuner, which is provided by most other companies at this price point.
The ukulele has sharp fret ends on the neck which can be sanded down. The standard ukulele has a lighmahogany shade and is also available in several other colours. It comes with branded tuners from Hola which are of very high quality. The HM-21 MG Soprano ukulele has a decent nut width and average spacing between the strings. It is a very safe buy and one of the best beginner ukuleles in terms of functionality.

The Good:

  • High quality build
  • Wide and comfortable neck
  • Loud enough for group playing

The Bad:

  • The kit lacks a tuner
  • Sharp fret ends

6. Ashton UKE200MH

Ashton is a prominent musical instrument brand from Australia specializing in guitars and ukuleles. The Ashton UKE200MH is an entry level soprano ukulele made of laminate Linden wood with a matte finish. The bridge has a slotted style and is screwed in place with a straight plastic saddle. It has a layered rosewood fingerboard, which means the frets are directly set into the neck wood.
The ukulele has 12 frets made of brass and are slightly sharp on the edges. The top body and sides are made of mahogany. It is a concert-sized ukuleles with a plastic nut and slightly wobbly gear tuners. The gig bag is very thin and does not come with any protective foam. The strings are from Aquila and do a good job at sustaining the sound.

The Good:

  • Decent action and setup
  • Top quality strings
  • Well-constructed bridge

The Bad:

  • Slightly sharp fretboard

7. Juarez 26-inch Tenor

The Juarez 26-inch Tenor is a concert-sized ukulele with a premium look. The top, back and side body is made of sapele wood. The bridge and fretboard are constructed from rosewood, which makes it tough and long-lasting. It has a plastic saddle and an overall minimal classy design. The ukulele strings are from the Aquila Nylgut brand, which are really good quality for this price point.
This ukulele has 18 frets with evenly spaced strings and outward facing position markers along the fretboard. The ukulele neck is made of Okoume wood which is really durable. It comes with open tuning gears and strap buttons which provide better support while playing. The ukulele body is thick and resonant and therefore projects a high quality sound. This is one of the best ukuleles for beginners because of its high durability and superior build.

The Good:

  • Pins along the bridge make it easier to change strings
  • Balanced tone
  • Great action and setup

The Bad:

  • Slightly poor intonation

8. Kadence Black Mahogany Ukulele

The Kadence Black Mahogany Ukulele is a 24-inch concert-sized ukulele with a built-in equalizer. It comes with a thick black padded gig bag and a clip-on tuner.  The 3-band battery-powered equalizer can adjust the treble, bass and volume. It has a 6.35mm input jack and comes with a high build quality and finish. The top, back and side body is made of laminate mahogany.
The ukulele has a clear intonation and is loud enough for live playing. It comes with 15 frets and accurately places position markers on the fretboard. There are strap buttons available, but the Kadence Black Mahogany Ukulele does not come with an additional strap. The ukulele is also compatible with an amp and comes with a socket connection. This is one of the best beginner ukuleles for recording and concert purposes.

The Good:

  • Built-in equalizer
  • Smooth finish and premium look
  • Elastic high quality strings

The Bad:

  • Does not include a strap

The Buying Guide

Which one should you buy?

The great thing about this instrument is that they are generally very affordable, but it is a good idea to keep a budget range in mind before purchasing a beginner ukulele. Their price range can vary from INR 2000 all the way to INR 20,000 for professional custom-made ukuleles. Here is a buying guide to help you get more clarity on what to look out for while purchasing a ukulele for beginners.

Things to keep in mind before buying a beginner ukulele

A. Material
A major factor that would affect the cost of a ukulele is its build material, whether it is made of wood or plastic. A ukulele made of wood is generally more resonant and has a better tone quality. Then again, a ukulele made of plastic will not be as sensitive to humidity or weather and will definitely be cheaper.
B. Size

Ukuleles come in four different sizes – the soprano, concert, tenor and baritone ukulele. Here’s how they differ in terms of approximate length:

  • Soprano ukulele – 21 inches
  • Concert ukulele – 23 inches
  • Tenor ukulele – 26 inches
  • Baritone ukulele – 30 inches
If you’re looking to buy a ukulele based on size and physical comfort as a priority, the soprano and concert ukuleles are better suited for smaller hands while the tenor and baritone ukuleles might feel more comfortable for bigger hands. Generally speaking, the larger a ukulele is, the louder and deeper it’s going to sound. Similarly, the smaller a ukulele is, the brighter and crisper it’s going to sound. However, with enough time, dedication and practice, you could get proficient using any sized ukulele.
C. Shape
Ukuleles also come in various shapes – the most common being the figure 8 shaped ukulele which has the outline of the number eight. They may also appear in pineapple, rectangular, banjo or other various custom designed shapes, but this will not really affect the sound of the ukulele. It is important to get a feel of the ukulele before making your purchase, but the figure-8 shaped ukulele usually provides the most physical comfort.
D. Acoustic v/s Electric
Another consideration is going for an acoustic or electric ukulele. Acoustic ukuleles are projective and well-suited for playing around the house or at small venues. An electric ukulele offers you many more possibilities with your tone such as plugging into an effects pedal that could aid your sound, but it would also be more expensive.
E. Solid v/s Laminate
Another thing to consider would be whether you’d want a solid wood top or a laminate wood top. Laminate tops are known to be very durable and much less expensive due to the fact that it’s a bunch of layers on top of one another. That being said, laminate wood is often recommended to children since it’s easier to clean, maintain and even replace if needed.
On the other hand, solid wood tends to be on the more expensive side but is known for its unbeatable sound. It is also acknowledged for having an incomparable richness of tone. Solid wood tops are built to last, and if taken care of properly, can develop an even richer and more resonant tone the more it’s played over a long period of time.
F. Wood type
Five of the most common ukulele wood types used to construct a ukulele are mahogany, cedar, sepele, rosewood and maple. Mahogany is one of the most common woods used to make ukuleles. It has a very balanced sound between both the high treble notes and the low bass notes that produce the classic ukulele tone you’re familiar with.
Sapele is another popular wood with a sweet, mellow sound along with beautiful and unique wood grain patterns. It is also one of the most affordable ukulele wood options. Spruce wood has a brighter, crisper sound with a great bass response and is popular amongst dynamic strummers. Maple wood has a very distinct treble sound and is known to be extremely durable. Rosewood has a bright sound with defined highs and lows and is one of the most common woods used to construct the fretboard of the ukulele. 
G. Brand

It is helpful to educate yourself on the top leading brands that sell ukuleles before making your purchase. There are several ukulele manufacturers out there, but we’ll be discussing some of the most well-known brands. Kala is one of the best-selling ukulele brands on the market. Hola! makes a variety of uniquely designed ukuleles. Kadence is a top-quality brand with low affordable prices. Juarez is also a good brand that crafts their ukuleles with the highest standards and makes great beginner ukuleles. 

Hopefully this guide will help you make an educated and confident decision about buying your ideal ukulele. 

Ananya Roy
Ananya Roy
Music junkie with an engineering degree from Manipal Institute of Technology currently living in Pune, India. Enjoys playing the piano, petting dogs and eating sushi.

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