Ukuleles are becoming increasingly more popular these days. It’s a very beautiful musical instrument which resembles a guitar in appearance.
In fact, it’s easy to mistake them as miniature guitars despite them have a very distinct sound.
And their popularity shouldn’t be surprising as with just four nylon strings, they are easier to learn, play and even carry around when travelling.
Top 10 Best Beginner Ukulele Comparison Table
|Diamond Head DU-150 Soprano Ukulele - Mahogany Brown||Incredibly affordable, |
Legitimate soprano body shape and size,
Simple design and built rather well considering the price, Its simplicity makes it easy to play and learn, Comes with a gig bag for easy storage and transport
|Martin Smith UK-212 - The ultimate Soprano Ukulele Starter kit, Natural||Super cheap,|
Simple design and built rather well considering the price,
Standard GCEA tuning,
Easy to play and learn,
It’s compact and comes with a carry case,
Free two months access to live tutors
|Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele, Complete Starter Pack||Very affordable, , |
Fret markers on top and sides,
Includes Alfred’s Course,
Extra set of clear nylon strings,
Includes a bag,
|Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele with FREE Deluxe Stronghold brand soprano bag||Great choice of tone wood for the price, |
Outstanding quality for entry level,
Aquila nylgut strings,
Fret markers for easy playability,
|eMedia Ukulele Beginner Pack for Adults||Solid tone wood and build quality, |
Ralph Shaw's ukulele course DVD + booklet chart,
eMedia toolkit software (automatic ukulele tuner), metronome, recorder and chord dictionary,
Includes bag + set of extra strings.
|Diamond Head DU-150 Soprano Ukulele w/ Knox Case, Tuner, Strings + Beginners DVD|| Large size for a more resonant and deep sound, |
Enough to accommodate large hands,
Strong maple body for increased durability,
Holds tune very well,
|VIVICTORY Soprano Ukulele 21 Inch Mahogany Aquila String Beginner Kit Tuner Gig Bag Straps and Picks||Attractive appearance, |
Triple A Indonesian rosewood and mahogany for increased durability + sound quality,
Arched back design for richer sound,
|Honsing Ukulele Basswood Soprano Hawaii Guitar 21 inch Uke New Girl Kid Gift||Attractive and unique design reflects Hawaiian tradition, |
Holds tune well,
Great build quality,
|Kala Learn To Play Ukulele Starter Kit, Light Mahogany Stain||Attractive design + unique striation for richer look, |
Outstanding build quality and choice of materials,
Superior Aquila Nylgut strings for richer sound,
Quick start guide + free online lessons,
Kala’s Tuner App for tuning,
Includes with a tote bag for easy storage and transport.
|Mahalo Rainbow Series Soprano Ukulele Starter Pack (Amazon Exclusive)||Very affordable, |
10 vibrant color options,
Superior Italian Aquila Nylgut strings for richer sound,
Gold plated dolphin machine heads (keeps instrument in tune),
Comes with a black nylon carry bag,
Comes with 45-minute lesson by Ukulele Bartt.
Ukulele or uke as commonly abbreviated was first developed in the 1880s in Hawaii by immigrant Portuguese cabinet makers.
It was based on their native Portuguese instrument called the ‘braguinha’ and the native Hawaiians loved it so much that it quickly became the national instrument of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
They named it ukulele, which means ‘jumping flea’ since playing it requires a very fast movement of fingers. If you notice, it has a very unique sound and it is still best known for the sweet rhythms originating from Hawaiian music.
Indeed it’s a very ancient instrument but with the adoption of ukulele by artists like Paul McCartney, Eddie Vedder, Dhani Harrison and Jason Mraz, this little instrument has regained its newfound respect in the modern age.
Ukuleles are back in trend. If you want to learn ukulele, today there are hundreds of beginner models in every price range and enormous amount of online resources to help you develop the playing skills but picking the right model, which is the first step, is important and can be tricky too.
With this guide, we aim to help you find that best beginner ukulele which matches your musical aspirations and budget.
Since these are acoustic instruments, sound quality is important and for this, there are a lot of factors that must be considered when buying your first ukulele.
For instance, the type of tone wood, build quality and size – all must be considered.
We will address all this and provide you brief reviews of the best beginner ukulele models we think you should consider but before we get into that, let’s take a look at the different types of this instrument and the unique purpose of each.
What type of beginner Ukuleles are there?
Just like acoustic guitars, ukuleles come in different sizes and accordingly, they can produce different tones, projections and volumes. They are available in 4 main sizes on the basis of which they can be categorized as soprano, concert, tenor and baritone.
Soprano is the smallest and also the most popular type. Its sound is crisp and with less bass- and this is what people usually associate with ukuleles.
Some manufacturers even refer to these models as ‘standard’ ukuleles.
A soprano typically has a scale length of about 13 inches and is about 21 inches in length, making it ideal for small kids. The frets are small and may require a lot of practice for beginners.
In general, this isn’t the best size for beginners but if you’re looking for the best beginner ukulele specifically for kids, this fits the bill.
The concert ukulele is the next bigger size and it sounds somewhat deeper and louder but still quite similar to that of the soprano. It has a scale of about 15 inches and an overall length of about 23 inches.
Number of frets typically ranges from 15 to 20 and these are more spaced out, making it easier to form chords. This is the most popular ukulele size for beginners.
The tenor ukulele has a deeper and a more resonant sound due to its larger body. It has a scale of about 17 inches and length of about 26 inches.
Its fingerboard is roomier and can accommodate larger hands more easily. This is another great choice for beginners.
Baritone, which is the largest size option, sounds very similar to standard classical guitar.
With its 19-inch scale length and an overall length of about 30 inches, it is capable of much deeper bass notes than the smaller versions. If you are serious about learning ukulele, baritones should be avoided.
We say this because the chords that you play on a concert or a smaller sized ukulele won’t directly transfer over to a baritone and also other ukulele players may not be able to help you with it as it isn’t very commonly used.
If you are a beginner, concert or tenor ukuleles are perfect for you. These offer a middle ground of all different types and their fret boards are also big enough to allow beginners to manoeuvre their fingers as they learn. Tenor by the way is also used by most professional players these days.
Benefits of Best Beginner Ukulele
The first challenge for a beginner is to select his or her first ukulele. There are myriad options out there and choosing the best beginner ukulele is tricky.
But essential as it determines your entire ukulele journey and decides your love for the instrument. Simply put, your first ukulele matters a lot.
Though there are many cheap ukuleles out there, do not be tempted to buy the ones under $15 as these are aren’t built well, are usually unplayable and would most probably end up putting you off playing ukulele ever again.
Use of decent material or tone wood is of utmost significance for good sound output.
While the traditional ukuleles were made using one type of tone wood for every element (top, sides and back) of the sound box, the modern ones use softwood (as it resonates better) at the top and hardwood on the sides and the back.
The difference in sounds of the two is not huge but some users prefer modern ukuleles over traditional ones.
Also, it is worth knowing that the most popular tone wood for ukuleles is koa and then mahogany due to its similar density and tonal properties.
Rosewood, walnut and ebony are some other good options too. In terms of softer tone wood, cedar and spruce are quite popular.
The idea is that the ukulele of your choice should have a solid wood construction, which most cheap ukuleles do not have.
Downsides Of Beginner Ukuleles
There is no major downside but since these are beginner models, manufacturers often compromise on quality to maintain low costs.
Users have often complained of lack of finishing touches and unavailability of case to pack the instrument.
Friction tuners are also not very good and the volume is relatively low for finger-picking vs. strumming.
A decent beginner ukulele can cost you around 40 to 200 bucks and while there are some which are nearly as good as the professional ukes, most do not offer that fine experience.
They often go out of tune, last for less than a year and do not be surprised if you get no manual or guide with your purchase.
Also, beginner ukuleles are smaller in size, which makes them inconvenient for users with big hands.
In fact, some chords may be very hard to achieve because of the small size of the frets and the board.
These are some limitations that a user must be aware of before buying a beginner ukulele.
These are just meant to get you started and give that basic hands-on experience and if you are serious about playing ukulele, you will need to upgrade soon.
10. Diamond Head DU-150 Soprano Ukulele – Mahogany Brown
DU-150 Soprano by Diamond Head is an entry level model. It is incredibly cheap and though the sound quality isn’t very fine, it’s perfect for those who are just experimenting with ukulele and are not sure if this is something they would like to do in long term.
Since it’s a budget model, it is completely devoid of any aesthetic details or features. Having said that, it’s a proper ukulele and unlike its competitors in this price range, which are made of plastic, it doesn’t look or feel like a toy.
Also, it has a standard soprano shape and size. The neck features a standard 13.625-inch scale with 12 nickel-silver frets and is comfortable to play on.
The only thing that’s being compromised is the quality of wood. The body, neck, fret-board and the bridge- all are made of maple. The tonal properties of maple make it a decent choice for guitars, but not for ukuleles.
The body is stained with a dark finish to makes it look like it’s made of mahogany and on the same lines, the fret-board and bridge are given a much darker stain to mimic the texture and color of rosewood.
This is obviously just to make it look more premium. The combination of all maple construction and cheap factory strings makes it sound a bit dull but for an absolute beginner, it is more than alright. Overall, good buy!
- Incredibly affordable.
- Legitimate soprano body shape and size.
- Simple design and built rather well considering the price.
- Its simplicity makes it easy to play and learn.
- Comes with a gig bag for easy storage and transport.
- Low quality tone wood and nylon strings.
- Though it sounds like a real instrument, the sound is still a bit dull.
9. Martin Smith UK-212 – The ultimate Soprano Ukulele Starter kit, Black
This one is a great starter kit for beginners. The soprano is even cheaper and comes with two months of free live ukulele class lessons (which amounts to over 400 live lessons).
This makes it super easy for beginners to learn the instrument. With 4 soft nylon strings, it is easy to practice on without hurting your fingers.
Unlike most other ukuleles in this price range, it comes with a carry case for storage. It is an almost full size (20.9 inches) soprano built of wood and wood-like materials in contrast to plastic.
Even the tuning pegs are made of metal, not plastic. However, since this is a budget model, the wood quality is not the best. But the good thing is that it has a high gloss finish which makes it look premium.
The sound output is obviously not great due to the choice of materials but its quality geared machine heads and standard GCEA tuning compensate for it to some extent. It can’t be called a real soprano but it even doesn’t feel like a toy.
It’s best for kids though. It is also available in different color options. And if you want to experience a soprano at the lowest possible price, then UK 212 is the best beginner ukulele you can lay your hands on.
- Super cheap.
- Simple design and built rather well considering the price.
- Standard GCEA tuning. Sounds at par or even better than most $30 ukes.
- Easy to play and learn.
- It’s compact and comes with a carry case for easy storage and transport.
- Free two months access to live tutors. Many users found these lessons extremely useful.
- Low quality tone wood and strings which make it sound a bit dull and out of tune at times.
8. Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele, Complete Starter Pack
This is another very affordable starter pack on our list. It has a beautiful warm tint and a natural wood finish that adds to aesthetics.
The entire body is made of wood and the fret-board has fret markers on top and sides, which makes it very easy to play and learn.
With high-quality ‘Firebrand’ wood, chrome tuners and clear nylon strings, its sound quality is pretty decent.
It includes an extra set of nylon ukulele strings as well but its USP remains the best-selling Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele Course (Book, CD and DVD) which is suitable for beginners of all ages.
Alfred Music Publishing has been the worldwide leader in educational music publishing since 1922.
Its 64-page book is quite detailed and to accompany that, the Audio CD and DVD in the pack feature complete demonstration, performance tracks and also instructions from the renowned ukulele player Julia Jordan.
In a very easy to follow language, you get to learn how to play chords and melodies, different strumming techniques, how to read music notes and how to perform songs in different styles like folk, country, blues and traditional.
The product may not give the best musical tones but it’s great for learning the instrument. Also, it arrives in a highly attractive, durable and full-color premium box, which makes it a great gifting option.
- Very affordable.
- Simple design and well built structure.
- Fret markers on top and sides for easy playability.
- Includes Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele Course (Book, CD and DVD) which many users have found quite useful.
- Includes extra set of clear nylon strings.
- Includes a custom fit lightweight gig bag with handle and zippered closure.
- Highly attractive, gift ready, durable and full-color premium box packaging.
- Forty five days return policy.
- Mediocre quality tone wood and sound.
7. Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
Kala is one of the most popular and reputed brands in market today. Its KA 15S model has rosewood fret-board and mahogany body for great sound quality and playability, making it a good choice for beginners and intermediates alike.
Mahogany is known to give rich low end and strong midrange which has a beautiful depth and the rosewood fret-board articulates this tone by absorbing any stray overtones.
Moreover, this soprano has a NuBone nut that adds clarity to the tone. You can fine tune it with the geared tuners in the headstock.
Since the body and the neck share the same mahogany tone wood, it ensures that the vibrations travel from the neck to the body and retain their natural warmth.
It is 22 inches long and has 12 brass frets on a 13.625-inch long scale, which means that the board is spacious enough to easily manoeuvre fingers.
Also, there are fret marks on neck and top of the fingerboard for easy playability.
The model is pre-strung with premium aquila nylgut strings which inherit the qualities of both nylon and gut and are softer on fingers, which means that you can easily practice for long hours without your fingers getting hurt.
Also, these are great at holding tune.
Its attractive satin finish makes it look elegant and the curvy lightweight construction allows you to hold and strum the ukulele even when walking. Overall, it’s a treat to look at and is fun to play.
- Attractive in appearance.
- Great choice of tone wood for the price.
- Outstanding build quality for an entry level model.
- Premium aquila nylgut strings.
- Fret markers on neck and top for easy playability.
- Rosewood fret-board and NuBone nut for great sound quality.
- Lightweight for easy transportation.
- Does not include guide or even gig bag.
- Some users have complained that it goes out of tune very often.
6. eMedia Ukulele Beginner Pack for Adults
This beginner’s ukulele kit by eMedia, which is a very reputable brand in music industry, includes a concert ukulele, a nylon bag, set of extra strings, a printed chord chart, an instructional booklet and a 60-minute DVD course.
In that course the Ukulele King Ralph Shaw teaches you the basics. The lessons cover the concepts of tuning, strumming, the ornament notes, playing in 4/4 and 3/4 and much more.
The top, back, neck and sides of the instrument are made of solid basswood while its bridge and fingerboard are crafted with sturdy rosewood which feels great.
Indeed it’s a very well-built and durable model but it looks a bit dull and is not as attractive as some other models in the same price range are. Also, it lacks that glossy finish that most ukes nowadays come with.
The good thing is that it’s a 23 inch concert ukulele with more spaced out frets, making it easier to form chords. The sound is deeper and louder than sopranos and thanks to its high quality automatic tuners, tuning is also good.
The eMedia ukulele software too doesn’t fail to impress. It comes with helpful tools such as metronome, recorder and chord dictionary for Windows and Mac, which makes learning uke easy. Overall, a great package at an affordable price!
- Solid tone wood and build quality.
- Ralph Shaw’s ukulele course DVD with instructional booklet and printed chord chart.
- eMedia ukulele toolkit software featuring an automatic ukulele tuner, metronome, recorder and chord dictionary for Windows and Mac.
- Includes nylon uke bag with carrying strap and a set of extra strings.
- Product is not as aesthetically pleasing as some other models in the same price. Some users have even complained of lack of finishing.
5. Diamond Head DU-150 Soprano Ukulele (Mahogany Brown) w/ Knox Case, Tuner, Strings and Beginners Ukulele DVD
Diamond Head DU-150 soprano comes in an entry level model (which we have listed earlier) and this very beautiful vintage looking model which is bigger in size and sounds better too.
Its body is made of resonant maple and as the name suggests, it has a lovely dark Mahogany stain in a semi-gloss finish that enhances its appearance. Maple contributes to durability but its tonal properties are not very decent.
However, the good thing is that it’s a 28.5 inch uke with a more resonant and deep sound output due to its larger body. Also, the fingerboard is roomier and can accommodate larger hands more easily.
It comes with a kit that includes soft case, Yamaha GCT1 clip-on chromatic tuner, a set of 4 Dunlop strings and Hal Leonard’s ‘Play Ukulele Today’ DVD to help beginners learn the instrument easily.
For superior sound output and easy practice, the uke also has high quality nylon strings which give that true mellow sound of the Hawaiian Islands. Low, smooth nickel-silver frets are also incorporated for easy playing action.
The nut and saddle are made of white ABS plastic and the fingerboard has pear dots as position markers to guide the beginners’ fingers up and down the board.
With its nickel plated tuning with white buttons and high gear ratio, it feels more like a guitar and yes, it keeps the instrument in tune. This one is an extremely easy to play uke for beginners.
- Attractive appearance.
- Large size for a more resonant and deep sound.
- The fret-board is large enough to accommodate large hands.
- Strong maple body for increased durability.
- Holds tune very well.
- Easy to play and learn.
- Free Hal Leonard’s ‘Play Ukulele Today’ DVD.
- Comes with a soft case for easy storage and transport.
- Not as light weight as most other ukuleles in this range.
- High price when compared to most other beginner ukes.
4. CYC Soprano ukulele 21 Inch mahogany Aquila strings – Beginner Kit: Straps + Bag+ Picks+Tuner – Natural Color …
CYC Soprano is a full size 21 inch soprano with undisputed quality of sound and material. Its fingerboard and bridge are made of triple A Indonesian rosewood while the top, neck, back and the sides are made of triple A mahogany.
While mahogany gives a rich low end and strong midrange, rosewood articulates this tone by absorbing any stray overtones.
Both are great choices for a ukulele, which result in superior sound quality, durable construction and a beautiful outward appearance as well.
Its natural color and satin finish grab your attention at once. By the way, it’s available in other color options as well.
The CYC has 15 brass frets and comes pre-strung with superior quality Italian Aquila strings.
While metal strings are very rough for beginners, Aquila strings are soft and allow beginners to practice for long hours without really feeling exhausted.
Unlike many beginner ukuleles, it holds the tune pretty well and can be used by intermediates as well.
This is actually a 5-in-1 kit that includes the uke standard gig bag, ukulele straps, picks and premium Cherub tuner which can also be tuned with guitar, bass or violin.
The kit, however, lacks a beginner’s manual or guide so you will need to look for online tutorials or guides to learn the instrument but overall, it’s a great value for money pack.
- Attractive appearance.
- Light weight construction.
- Use of triple A Indonesian rosewood and triple A mahogany for increased durability and sound quality.
- Arched back design for richer sound.
- Superior quality Italian Aquila strings for easy playability.
- Comes with Cherub tuner and holds tune very well.
- Comes with a thick gig bag for easy storage and transport.
- The kit does not include any manual or guide.
3. Honsing Soprano Ukulele Beginner Hawaii Guitar Uke Basswood 21 inches with Gig Bag- Rainbow Stripes Color
Honsing’s Soprano Ukulele is one of the best looking beginner models in market. It has a vibrant HS & Rainbow stripes design that looks refreshing and comforting.
And though it may look like a colorful toy, it’s a real wooden soprano which is suitable for beginners as well as kids.
Since ukuleles have originated in Hawaii, the manufacturers found it fitting that they honor the Hawaiian tradition with this unique ornamentation. The model is available in other patterns as well but the one with Rainbow Stripes is the most popular.
Its full size 21 inch body is made of high quality basswood on top, back and sides. The fingerboard is made of rosewood which feels great and is the preferred material for most professional players as well.
It has 12 frets and silver geared tuners. The previous models had different strings which are now replaced by premium quality nylon strings on the basis of customers’ feedback.
These upgraded strings are more durable and hold the tune well, ensuring better sound quality. Honsing’s Soprano is a perfect beginner uke and is pretty affordable too.
If you are looking for an instrument that not only sounds great but also stands out for its funky appearance, this is the best beginner ukulele for you.
It is suitable for kids as well and can be a great gifting option for them given the striking colorful design.
- Attractive and unique design that reflects Hawaiian tradition.
- Incredibly affordable.
- Extremely light weight.
- Holds tune well.
- Great build quality and choice of materials given the price.
- Upgraded quality nylon strings for better sound and durability.
- Comes with a carrying bag for easy storage and transport.
- The pack does not include pick, tuner or any manual guide.
- The carrying bag is too thin to be protective.
2. Kala Learn To Play Ukulele Starter Kit, Light Mahogany Stain
The Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Starter Kit comes with a very classic lightweight soprano made from mahogany that gives a rich low end and strong midrange with beautiful depth.
The stain on the body creates a unique striation which is not usually seen on a model in this price range and it gives a very rich look to the ukulele.
The use of premium-quality mahogany enhances the overall sound output and durability.
Another good thing is that it uses Aquila Nylgut strings which retain the qualities of nylon and gut and hence are very soft to touch. They are also known for their superior ability to hold tune and create sweet melodies.
Since most people don’t know how to tune their instruments at the earliest stages, Kala offers an application (Kala’s Tuner App) for tuning, which makes things really easy.
This is a great ukulele kit and though the cost is higher than most other beginner ukuleles, it’s worth every penny.
Also, Kala has been in this business since 2005, and it’s the brand that many popular uke artists, of Great Britain use. With its beginner ukulele model, you can definitely not go wrong.
- Attractive design with unique striation for richer look.
- Extremely light weight construction.
- Outstanding build quality and choice of materials.
- Superior Aquila Nylgut strings for richer sound.
- Sixteen-page quick start guide and free online lessons.
- Kala’s Tuner App for tuning.
- Includes with a tote bag for easy storage and transport.
- The carrying bag is too thin to be protective.
1. Mahalo Rainbow Series Soprano Ukulele Starter Pack (Amazon Exclusive)
Thriving from the success of its 2011 Series, Mahalo has come up with its Rainbow range that has additional colors and even better features.
Naturally this makes it a great choice for beginners as well as more experienced musicians.
It is available exclusively on Amazon and at a very affordable price.
Despite its low price, this beginner ukulele comes with many exciting features which are typically seen in higher-priced instruments.
For instance, it has Canadian NuBone XB bridge saddle which enhances bass for low-frequency play and delivers great sound output.
Similarly, the factory nylon strings are now replaced with Aquila Nylgut strings which are usually seen in most high-end ukuleles and these give louder and more balanced sound that’s rich in tonal harmonics.
The body, neck and fingerboard are made of high quality Sengon wood while the bridge is made of mahogany. Both are excellent woods for a ukulele.
The product is durable and has a glossy finish. Its gold-plated dolphin machine heads, which again add a nice touch to the instrument, contribute to a more precise and longer lasting tuning.
The model is available in a wide range of colors including purple, red, pink, light blue, dark blue, orange, yellow, green and white so that everyone can choose their favorite.
From its handy carrying bag to digital download lesson plans, the kit has everything you need to get started.
All this comes at a very affordable price and if you are looking for a budget model, this might be your best bet. Also, it comes in a colorful display box and is a great gifting option for ukulele enthusiasts of all ages.
- Superb glossy finish and attractive design.
- Extremely light weight.
- Very affordable.
- Available in 10 vibrant color options.
- Outstanding build quality and choice of materials.
- Superior Italian Aquila Nylgut strings for richer sound.
- Gold plated dolphin machine heads which keep the instrument in tune.
- Comes with a black nylon carry bag for easy storage and transport.
- Comes with a Password Card that allows accessing a 45-minute downloadable lesson by Ukulele Bartt.
- The free download lesson didn’t work for some users. While some complained that the website showed error every time they tried to download the lesson, some felt that the audio volume of the lesson was too low.
Editor’s Choice of Best beginner Ukulele
If we have to choose one best beginner ukulele, it would definitely be Mahalo Rainbow Series Soprano Ukulele Starter Pack.
Though there are many beginner ukuleles in market, they are either too expensive or they are more toy-like with mediocre features and sound quality.
This one is a serious musical instrument. It has a lively sonorous tone that reminds you of Hawaiian Islands and is packed with premium features such as Graph Tech NUBONE XB bridge saddle.
Available in 10 vibrant full-gloss colors and Sengon body, this beautiful little model stands out from the crowd and offers an outstanding value for money.
The good thing is that people of all ages can easily learn it through Mahalo’s free digital lessons which cover all aspects of ukulele. Even basics such as tuning, proper playing technique, musical vocabulary and chord voicing.
It’s an ideal choice for someone who is looking for an affordable and real ukulele that’s easy to learn and play.
So if you haven’t got your uke yet, check out this great product which might be a perfect fit for you.
Did you get the chance to try any of these models? Which one do you think is the best beginner ukulele? Whether you are a casual ukulele enthusiast, learner or expert, we would love to know your opinions.
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