Best Ukulele Review in 2018

With so many different brands and types of ukulele's on the market, finding the perfect fit can seem impossible. There are many factors to consider when purchasing a new ukulele, including cost, durability, and style. Most of all, what works for one person, may not work for another; this makes finding the best ukulele a little difficult, especially if you're a beginner player. However, with a great and well-researched guide, you can find the best ukulele fit for your playing.

How To Choose The Best Ukulele

1: Test It Out

Best Ukulele

If you have the opportunity to test out a ukulele before you buy it, you definitely should try to. If you are beginner and don’t know anyone who owns ukuleles, this is an alternative option. Ukulele’s have become more popular in recent years and are often available to test out at music stores. Find a music store near you or test out a friend’s ukulele to try out different feels—every single uke feels differently.

2: What Should The Uke Be Made Of?

Many people find that solid wood ukuleles work better for them because they can add complexity to the tone of the music that makes chords sound rich and warm. Solid wood ukuleles also sound better as they age, which makes a great fit for someone looking to keep a ukulele for a very long time. However, if you do not live in a warm environment (for example, Pennsylvania) all year round, then a solid wood Uke could pose a problem. If there isn’t enough humidity in the air, the wood can crack and break. While there are tools to solve this problem, some people choose to go with a laminated wood uke to avoid any breakage. Laminated wood often sounds very similar, though the feel can be different as solid wood tends to vibrate more.

3: What Kind of Tuners Should I Get?

Ukuleles have special knobs on the end called tuners that allow you to tune the strings to the right amount of tension so that the uke sounds exactly the way you want it to. Many traditional ukuleles have friction tuners. While friction tuners are a great, affordable option, they are also known to go out of tune faster while you are playing. For a more solid choice, you can choose gear tuners which hold better and are often found on more complex instruments, such as the guitar. Gear tuners are often sturdier, but they are also harder to find on a uke and can be less affordable.

4: Is My Uke Well Aligned?

If you are buying your ukulele in a store, you’ll want to look at how well the nut and saddle are aligned with one another. The nut, the line that goes between the beginning of the fret board and the tuners, should be adjusted so that the strings lay very close to the fret. Similarly, the saddle, the piece that holds the opposite end of the strings, can also be poorly adjusted and cause the strings to be too high and far away from the fretboard. When this happens, it makes it more difficult for the player to push down on the string and can cause the uke player to make more mistakes or hurt their fingers. Even in higher quality uke’s, this can be a rather pertinent problem. However, if you buy your uke at a store, you can ask to have the nut worked on so that it is aligned exactly the way you want it. If you are buying your ukulele from the internet, you may need to take the uke to a music store or knowledgeable expert to re-align the pieces correctly.

5: What Type of Strings Should I Look For?

When buying a ukulele, you should also look at what type of strings the uke comes with. While strings can be changed, it can be a while before a beginner learns how to do this. If you are at a store when buying your ukulele, you may be able to choose what type of strings you want and have them put on by a store employee who knows how to do it correctly. There are generally two types of strings: nylon polymer and titanium. Nylon polymer strings are more popular because they are easier on the fingers and can last from 3-6 months. Titanium strings are generally sturdier than nylon polymer strings, but can be more difficult to learn how to play on and aren’t quite necessary for a smaller uke.

6: What Size Uke Should I Get?

When you walk into a music store (or start browsing online), you may notice that some ukuleles are bigger than others or different shapes than others. There are generally four different sizes of ukulele: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. The main difference between the sizes is how the size affects the tone and range of notes (i.e. they sound different). Most beginners (and many experts, too) choose the soprano ukulele because it is small, easier to maneuver, and easy to travel with.

7: Are There Different Shapes?

There are actually many different shapes of ukuleles. While the different shapes do not affect the sound quality much, they can be more comfortable to hold. Popular different shapes are Cutaway, Vita, Figure 8, Bell, and Pineapple. These shapes are a bit more rare to find, but can be found in unique music stores and thrift shops. However, keep in mind that different shaped ukuleles are often more expensive because of the style. Therefore, a pineapple shaped uke may not be an affordable option for a beginning player who doesn't want to spend a lot of money to test out this beautiful instrument.

Five Best Ukulele 

Kala Makala Shark Soprano Ukulele

Best Ukulele

This Kala Makala Shark Soprano Ukulele is pretty stylish. It comes in a pale green, blue, or black color and features a shark cutout bridge on the body. At a relatively inexpensive price of $46.99, this uke is affordable and would be a great option for someone who wants to play at gigs or places where style is key. Though this option is affordable, it's not a cheap ukulele; it has a great quality and a great sound for an inexpensive price. Best of all, this one includes a nylon carrying bag within the cost so you can take it anywhere from family road trips to your next gig.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Mahogany Neck w/Rosewood fingerboard
  • Base of uke is not wood (great for cold areas)

Cons

  • Takes a week or so until the uke can start keeping its tune
  • Base of uke is not wood (sound is different)
  • Some uke's appear to be darker than the advertised picture

Lohanu Concert Size Bundle

Best Ukulele

This bundle comes with everything that a beginning uke player may need: a case, the uke, an electronic tuner, a uke strap, and three picks in varying colors. Best of all, this uke arrives with the strap pins installed to the uke for free, so there isn't any need to worry about installing them yourself and affecting the sound of the instrument. Additionally, the ukulele arrives with DVD lessons and a lifetime warranty, so that if anything goes wrong, you can quickly and efficiently exchange your concert uke for a new one. At 89 bucks, this one is a steal.

Pros

  • All laminate body that looks like wood (great for changing temps)
  • Comes with everything a uke player might need at the beginning
  • Rarely needs to be tuned after being set

Cons

  • All laminate body that does not feel like wood
  • Not intended for high end use; doesn't have the sound quality
  • Gig bag does not protect instrument very well, except from dust

Neewer YHTC-1 Finished 24-inch Sapele Soprano Uke

Best Ukulele

This Neewer uke is priced at $49.00, which seems fairly inexpensive for a uke that has a laser engraved sound hole and flower fretwork. The body and neck are made out of sapele and the fretboard is made out of Rosewood, creating a unique sound. Additionally, this uke just looks sharp. It comes pre-strung and accentuates a pretty flower pattern that is easily noticeable while playing.

Pros

  • Lazer engraved sound hole
  • Fantastic, unique, and rich sound
  • Buffalo bone nut and saddle

Cons

  • Doesn't hold a tune as well as expected
  • Does not come with any perks (warranty, picks)
  • Flower and butterfly pattern isn't for everyone

Mahalo U Smile Soprano Ukulele

Best Ukulele

This ukulele only costs $35.00 and comes in an array of different colors, including red, yellow, white, blue and pink. With a lazer-cut engraved sound hole in the shape of a smiley face, you can't help but smile when you see this guy. As an added bonus, this uke also comes with a gig bag so that you can take this uke with you wherever you go. Additionally, this uke would be perfect for someone who needs to brighten up their day!

Pros

  • Aquila Strings
  • Includes a gig bag
  • Very affordable for beginners

Cons

  • Gig bag is not sturdy
  • Stand-out design isn't for everyone
  • Doesn't stay in tune very well

Caramel CT102A Zebra Wood Tenor Acoustic Ukulele

Best Ukulele

This uke features a zebra pattern on a wood body made from rosewood. This uke also comes with Aquila strings which are pre-installed for use. Additionally, a buffalo bone nut and saddle ensure an easy alignment for beginners. While this uke does not come with a case or picks (i.e. added perks), it does feature a wonderfully inexpensive price tag of forty dollars, which is affordable to many beginning uke players. Plus, this tenor has a great sound that is definitely worth learning the extra frets.

Pros

  • Arched back gives louder sound and better quality
  • Action at the nut comes well aligned
  • Rubber on tuners makes tuning easy

Cons

  • Must order online, which means added risk for breakage
  • Not sanded down well, causes splinters in fingers
  • Solid wood might crack in extreme temperatures

Conclusion

Finding the best ukulele isn't easy. The sounds of Hawaii often come with a price tag that is unaffordable. And, if someone could afford the ukulele, it often has to be tuned and adjusted after it's been shipped. However, it is possible to find a great ukulele that fits your needs. While every uke is different, there is one out there that is a perfect match for each individual. When looking for the best uke, remember to try and find a store where you can try one out before you buy it. If you cannot try one out, remember that you might need to get the nut and saddle aligned so that the strings lay close to the fret board for easy playing. Additionally, order nylon or titanium strings with your uke if you aren't sure what strings yours might come with or what strings you prefer (though, get these put on by a professional if you aren't experienced). Whether you are looking for a small and easy soprano, or a tenor with more frets, or even a differently tuned baritone, the best ukulele is out there and can be found with a great guide.

Stephanie Su
 

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