Best Beginner Ukulele Review in 2018

The Ukulele is an instrument that has been gaining popularity, and since it is such a small instrument, many younger students and children have been picking up the Ukulele. Finding a beginner ukulele that is perfect for your child to learn on can be difficult, so I have created this guide to help you find the perfect ukulele. The instrument can make some amazing sounds, but before you start looking at specific ukuleles, it is important to know a little more about the instrument.

What Makes a Ukulele Different from a Guitar?

A ukulele may look like a small guitar, but they are actually very different instruments. The proportions are very similar; however, the ukulele is actually a much smaller instrument. In fact, a traditional ukulele is merely half the height of a standard guitar. The biggest difference that you will notice is that the ukulele actually only has four strings, whereas a guitar has six.

The Perfect Instrument for Small Hands

Best Beginner Ukulele

A beginner ukulele is perfect for a child to learn because it is the right size for their small hands and fingers to reach the chords. Since the instrument is small, it can easily fit into a backpack; making it easy to carry. The strings of the ukulele are made from nylon, so they are not as rough on the fingers of a beginner ukulele player. In fact, if they practice enough, there will be no irritation at all. The strings are also easier to press because the tension on them is much less than with a guitar.

Most ukuleles come in child-friendly themes that are interesting to a child, so if your youngster likes certain characters or themes, their new instrument can accommodate their style. The biggest bonus of a ukulele is that they are not that expensive to purchase, so even if your student decides that playing the ukulele is not for them, you have not invested a lot of money.

Ukulele Sizes

When it comes to a ukulele, there are four different sizes that you should consider. Some models would be a great beginner ukulele for children, while others are designed for students who have a longer finger span. The four sizes are:

Soprano

The soprano ukulele is only about 21 inches long, which gives it a smaller neck that only has 12 to 15 frets. It is a great beginner ukulele, especially for younger individuals. The small size can also make it difficult for those with larger hands to move across the frets, so if you are getting this instrument for your child, make sure that they can fret the strings with ease.

Concert (Alto)

This size is only slightly larger than the soprano ukulele, which means that it is the next size that you should consider for a beginning ukulele if your student needs a larger instrument. Most concert ukuleles have 15 frets, so a wider range of notes can be played on the instrument. In addition, the neck also tends to be a bit on the wider side, but the tuning and the intonation remain the same.

Tenor

The tenor ukulele is preferred by musicians that have a bit of experience. They can work as a beginner ukulele, especially for students who already know how to play guitar. The body of this ukulele is about 26 inches long, which gives the instrument a warmer, more resonant sound.

Baritone

The baritone variation of the ukulele creates a much bassier sound than the other ukulele sizes that we have discussed. The strings on this instrument are tuned differently than the other ukuleles; in fact, they are tuned like the bottom four strings of a guitar. If you have a child who wants to learn guitar but is a bit too small to hold the instrument comfortably, a baritone ukulele can be a great place to start because it is only 30 inches long.

Type of Wood

Ukuleles can be made from either solid wood or laminated wood, but regardless of the way the body is constructed, the tonewood that is used will affect the sound that is produced. Here are some of the most common tonewoods used to craft a beginner ukulele:

Koa

This is the traditional wood choice for the ukulele. It is a tropical wood that is found in Hawaii that is known for its beautiful wood grain and the breathtaking tones that it produces.

Spruce

Spruce is a light colored wood that produces bright tones that are perfect for a ukulele.

Mahogany

Mahogany is a darker wood that offers warmer tones.

Cedar

Cedar is a type of wood that brings out the low intonation of tenor and baritone instruments.

Redwood

Redwood produces a warm resonant sound, but it is more expensive to purchase because of the rarity of the wood.

Rosewood

Rosewood is a type of wood that gives a ukulele a rich color. This is often used for the fretboard.

Five Best Beginner Ukulele 

Kala Mahogany KALA Soprano Ukulele (Spruce)

Best Beginner Ukulele

The first ukulele that is perfect for a student who is just learning the art of playing the ukulele is the Kala KA- 15S-S. It is a lovely soprano ukulele that is part of the company's Satin Mahogany series that was introduced in the year 2005. The body and the neck of the ukulele are made from mahogany, and the back and the sides are complete with a satin finish that gives it a classic finish.

The top of the ukulele has a spruce top, and the fingerboard is made from rosewood. There are 12 frets on this ukulele, dot inlays mark the fifth, seventh, and the tenth frets so that your child can easily find their fingerings.

I have found that this instrument is very good at keeping its tuning, which I find extremely useful as a parent of a student who is just learning to play the ukulele. It can slip when you are tuning it, but as long as you stretch the strings a bit before tuning them, they will stay in place. In addition, the nut of the instrument is cut very well, which means that there will be no chance of the string catching when you are tuning the instrument.

Pros

  • The fret work on the instrument is well finished; the edges of the frets are smooth.
  • The grain running through the mahogany body is breathtaking.
  • The tonewood of this instrument creates a very resonant sound.

Cons

  • It does not come with the best strings attached to the ukulele.
  • Though the instrument seems to be constructed well, the body seems to be very thin.
  • The frets markers seem to wear with time.

Kala MK-SD/PW Makala Dolphin Bridge Soprano - Pearl White

Best Beginner Ukulele

If you are looking for a great beginner ukulele, then the Makala Dolphin Soprano Ukulele is a great place to start. The instrument has a classic ukulele look that is available in a number of colors, so no matter what your child's favorite color is, you can find one that matches their personality.

The ukulele is designed with a composite back that is durable enough to last for several years of daily use. It comes with a rosewood fingerboard, a mahogany neck, and a kauri top, and when they all come together, the sound of this soprano ukulele is amazing. One of the features of this specific ukulele that really caught the attention of my daughter was the bridge of the instrument because it is shaped like a dolphin.

I found that this ukulele is a bit heavy for a soprano model, but it is still light enough to travel with ease and play without your arms becoming tired. The sound that this instrument creates is quite good, but the strings that come with the instrument do not produce a clean sound. I'd advise changing the strings to a higher quality option to create a smoother tone.

Pros

  • The dolphin-shaped bridge gives this ukulele a unique look that is stunning.
  • Once the strings are settled in, the sound that this instrument creates is amazing.
  • There are several different color options that make it great for a younger student.

Cons

  • The strings that are on the ukulele are not that high quality.
  • The ukulele tends to lose its tuning easily unless you stretch the strings before tuning.
  • The finish on the ukulele is not as high quality as it could be.

Lanikai LU-21 Soprano Ukulele

Best Beginner Ukulele

The next ukulele that I feel would be a great beginning ukulele for younger individuals is the Lanikai LU-21. It is a gorgeous soprano sized instrument that is crafted from durable materials that are designed to withstand the wear and tear of being played every day. It is a full 21 inches in length and 12 frets can be found on the fingerboard.

It is designed with a classic figure eight shape, and the deep color of the wood is simply amazing. In fact, you can see the red woodgrain throughout the body, which gives the ukulele a uniqueness that is not present on many string instruments.

The body of the instrument is made from a durable mahogany wood that will not split or crack over time. This wood gives the ukulele a beautiful resonating sound that carries in a room. The fingerboard is made from rosewood, which is another beautiful dark wood that compliments the body of the instrument.

There are no fret marks on the side of the fingerboard, but there are dot inlays on the fifth, seventh, and tenth fret to make it easier for your child to find their fingerings.

Pros

  • It has a very nice woody sound that is very pleasing to listen to.
  • This ukulele is a great value; it comes with a tuner as well as a case.
  • The strings are comfortable to play, even for a long period of time.

Cons

  • The strings need a bit of time to adjust before they keep their tuning.
  • The bindings are made out of plastic, though they are durable, they could be made better.
  • The nato wood that the body is comprised of is a bit on the thin side.

Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele

Best Beginner Ukulele

The Cordoba 15CM is a concert ukulele that is great for beginners and experts alike. It is 23 inches long and the 18 frets on the fingerboard have dot inlays on the fifth, seventh, tenth, and 12th fret so that you can quickly find your fingerings.

The body and the neck of the instrument are crafted from mahogany, which is a delightful looking dark wood that stands out even more with the satin finish. The figure eight design of the ukulele makes it easy to hold while you are sitting down, so as a parent, your child can sit anywhere to practice their fingerings.

The tuning pegs on this ukulele are made from high-quality material, so you can be comfortable knowing that the strings will not slip out of their tuned positions easily. The pegs are actually made from chrome, instead of plastic like some of the other ukuleles in this price range.

The bridge is made from elegant rosewood, which helps to create a beautiful, consistent sound that is deep and resonating. The fretboard is also made from the same rosewood material. Even though all of this quality wood is used on this instrument, you can expect a lightweight ukulele that is very portable.

Pros

  • It is a durable instrument that is still lightweight and very portable.
  • The sound that the instrument creates is quite brilliant; it is a little bit deeper than a soprano ukulele.
  • The chrome tuning pegs and the rosette add a stylish touch to the ukulele.

Cons

  • The corners of the frets are a bit rough, but a bit of sanding can remedy that.
  • The strings will need to adjust to new tunings.
  • A gig bag, which is needed for travel, is not included with this instrument.

Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Concert Ukulele

Best Beginner Ukulele

The final beginner ukulele review that will be on this list is a unique instrument that is part of the Luna Mahogany Series. It is a concert scale instrument, but the most notable thing about this ukulele is the tattoo art that is carved into the body of the instrument. These markings symbolize longevity and endurance, which is what you want in a good ukulele.

The body and the neck of this instrument are crafted from mahogany, while the top is a beautiful solid spruce that has been stained to perfection. The fretboard is made from rosewood, and the third, fifth, seventh, tenth, and 12th fret are marked with a triangular inlay. These inlays are actually created out of sharks teeth.

The head of the instrument displays the Luna logo, which looks rather attractive between the tuning pegs. Overall, the intonation is quite good. If you experience a muddy sound, try replacing the strings to get a cleaner tone.

Pros

  • The engraved wood makes the ukulele look like a very high-end instrument.
  • The ukulele has a very durable construction that will last for years.
  • The warm, semi-deep sound of the concert ukulele is very pleasing to the ear.

Cons

  • The strings may need to be adjusted a few times before they keep their tuning.
  • The tuning pegs are not made as well as the rest of the instrument.
  • The frets will need to be sanded down.

Conclusion

If you have a child who is interested in stringed instruments, then a ukulele is going to be the perfect option for you. It is small enough for a little one to hold with ease, and there are fewer strings on a ukulele than a guitar, so it is easier for a youngster to learn to play. If you are looking for my opinion on the best of the bunch, I would go with the Kala MK-SD/PW Makala Dolphin Bridge Soprano - Pearl White for a younger individual. It gives them a lot of color options for personality, and it is not a huge investment that you will regret if your child decides that it is not the instrument for them.

If you are looking for a ukulele for an older student, then the Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Concert Ukulele is perfect. It has a great sound, and the wood of the instrument is carved into a beautiful design that allows your beginning ukulele player a chance to express themselves.

Stephanie Su
 

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