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Do you fancy giving playing the ukulele a go, but you are unsure where to start? The ukulele is a great instrument to learn that is a little different from the guitar or the violin that are both played by the masses. Deciding to play the ukulele is just the first step however to your future as a budding musician. You will need to see which ukulele is best for you.
There are plenty to choose from both acoustic and electric, and for beginners and pros. There are even special ukuleles for the youngest of learners. In this article we have picked out some of the best for both beginners and pros, hopefully answer the question “what is the best ukulele to buy”
Introducing Ukulele for beginner:
The great news to newbies to the ukulele is that it’s not an expensive instrument and it’s also easy to learn. This means that you can have hours of fun with an instrument that is light and easy to take with you on the move. From busking to traveling, the ukulele is becoming more and popular both amongst guitarists and also amongst those who simply want to learn to play an inexpensive stringed instrument.
In some countries such as the UK, the uke as it is commonly called is now found in the school band or orchestra; a far cry from just simple recorder lessons of yesteryear. In Canada, kids have been learning the ukulele at school for decades.
As a guitar player, it’s really quite easy to learn the ukulele, the only problem you may encounter being the high “G” found on the lowest string. The ukulele is tuned in fifths just like the guitar; and just for information, you can now purchase a 6 string guitalele. But, let’s get back to the purpose of this article and introduce you to some of the best ukuleles available today.
What is the Best Ukulele to Buy Right Now
Martin T1K Tenor
The best ukulele for you will depend on a few things, one of the most important being your budget. If you are not on a strict budget, you could easily invest in a Martin T1K Tenor. This has to be one of the best ukes there is that is not vintage, not a custom order, and not rare.
If the ukulele is your main instrument and you will play regularly, then you may like to spend more on your instrument. But, for those who are just starting out, there really are few benefits of spending big sums of money on your first Uke.
In our opinion, one of the best ukuleles on the market for fun at festivals or at how is the Mahalo. It’s a low cost, fun ukulele that is perfect for strumming in the park. The Mahalo comes in different variants, the “flying V” being a particularly popular one. This uke is perfect for some inexpensive fun or as a gift for a guitar player.
Things to Look for When Purchasing a Ukulele
Just like with any instrument you are hoping to buy, there are certain criteria that need to be met and certain things that you should be looking out for. The three main things you should be taking into consideration are the neck feel, the range or voicing, and the construction. It is perhaps also important to note the type of tuning; electric ukes are often strung with a low “g” rather than the acoustic high one.
The type of wood used in the construction of the ukulele can drastically alter the sound of the instrument. Darker woods are generally considered to be better for soprano ukuleles, and brighter woods better for baritone and tenor instruments; a lot however goes down to your own ear and personal choice.
The voicing of one ukulele can be radically different from the next. The most common and the highest is the soprano ukulele; this is followed by the concert, tenor, and finally the baritone. A baritone uke is not actually that unlike a half-sized guitar, this being the case most especially with a steel strung uke. Voicing is undoubtedly the most important variable that you should be considering when purchasing a uke; others are the string type, the re-entrant tuning, and the body size.
Top 8 Ukulele To Buy:
1. Mahalo Soprano Ukulele
As mentioned above, the Mahalo is one of the best ukuleles on the market for some casual summer strumming in the park or at a festival. The Sengon construction, soprano voicing uke is acoustic and comprises 3 nylon strings. With a launch price of $37 it’s affordable to almost anybody. It’s cheap and cheerful, and it’s a durable model that holds its tuning fairly well.
You may however find you outgrow the basic model, wishing to upgrade to the Fender or Kala once you become a more confident player. This uke is available in all colors and shapes, including printed patterns. Really, there’s a model to suit everyone out there!
Mahalo Ukuleles MR1LBU Rainbow Series
Mahalo Ukuleles MK1TBS Kahiko Series
2. Kala Mahogany
This is more pricy than the Maholo, with a launch price of 115$. The construction is mahogany on the top back and sides, and the voicing for this model is concert. The Kala comprises 4 nylon strings and is an acoustic model. This model sounds great and is still reasonably priced for those who are stepping up to something that is a little more than casual strumming.
Official Kala Ukulele Soprano Starter Kit
Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
3. Martin T1K Tenor
As mentioned above, this has to be our all-time favorite Uke on the market. Once you invest in the Martin T1K, you have a ukulele for life. However, this particular model is not within the price range that everyone can afford. At 702$, when you invest in the Martin T1K you will however have a ukulele for life. Made of solid koa on the top and sides, this acoustic ukulele comprises 4 nylon strings. The only downside we can find to the Martin is that it’s not available in the soprano version.
4. Fender Venice
If you are searching for an aesthetically pleasing ukulele, then the Fender Venice wins hands down. This basswood and walnut soprano instrument with 4 nylon strings has a launch price of a very affordable 70$. The fender boasts a cool headstock and is available in a wide range of colors.
The stylish finish of the fender is perfect for someone looking for an entry-level price instrument. The surf green is one of our favorite colors, a talking point even when it’s just hanging on a wall.
Fender Grace VanderWaal Signature Ukulele
5. Yamaha Guitalele
For something a bit different, and a ukulele that is suited to guitarists, we recommend the spruce top, maranti back and sides Yamaha. This acoustic instrument comprises 6 nylon strings and baritone voicing.
With a launch price of 92$ it’s the perfect choice for guitar lovers and for those who are after something a little bit different. This uke is only recently becoming widely available. It should also be noted that it is tuned without the re-entrant “g” and is tuned to A.
6. Ashbury Resonator
In our opinion, the Ashbury Resonator is the best uke you can buy if you wish to record. Built with a mahogany top, back, and side’s construction and concert voicing, it comprises 4 nylon strings. A pricey model that looks great and sounds awesome, it’s designed for recording purposes. The approximate price for this concert ukulele is 350$.
7. Fender Grace VAnderWall Zuma Signature
Priced at 188$ this Fender Grace is our top choice for an electric ukulele. This model boasts sapele top, back, and sides, and concert voicing with 4 nylon strings. This uke is relatively affordable and also sounds good when unplugged.
Fender Grace VanderWaal Signature Ukulele
8. Risa LP Electric Tenor Ukulele
Another good choice for an electric uke is the Risa LP. This is probably the best ukulele on the market for rockers, although at 552$ it is not within the reaches of everyone. Unlike the other instruments in this review, the Risa LP has 4 metal strings, also comprising a mahogany construction and tenor voicing. This uke comes without the re-entrant “G” making a perfect choice for those that are already familiar with the guitar.
What is the Best Ukulele to Buy: FAQS
Now that you have seen just what’ on offer, and hopefully you have made a decision on which ukulele to purchase, it’s time to answer some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding this musical instrument. When it comes to learning to play the ukulele it’s not enough to just buy the best you can for the money; you also need an understanding of the instrument and how it both differs and is similar to other instruments such as the guitar.
1. Q: Is the Ukulele Easier to Learn than the Guitar?
This really depends on your definition of “easier”. It is certainly true that you can learn to play the ukulele with less effort at the start, and in this case, it would be deemed an easier instrument to play than the guitar. However, to become really proficient, you will need to put in a lot of practice.
The uke is popular for beginners as after just a few days you will be making music. The nylon strings of the ukulele make it easier to play than the guitar, and also, chords are easier. Many people go on from playing the ukulele to the guitar, finding the transition very easy.
2. Q: Are the tuners the same with guitars and ukuleles?
The answer to this question depends on the particular instrument you have. Baritone ukuleles tuners and ukulele tuners are not the same. You can however use a guitar tuner to tune a uke. The best option would be to invest in a chromatic tuner.
3. Q: Is the Ukulele an easy first instrument?
No instrument is truly really easy to learn, not even the recorder you had in school. The uke however is not difficult to learn; it is comfortable. Like all instruments however, you will need to practice in order to become a proficient ukulele player. As the instrument only has 4 strings, it is for example, easier to learn chords than with a 6 string guitar.
4. Q: Are Ukulele and Guitar Strings the Same?
A simple answer here; no they are not.
5. Q: Are all Ukulele strings the same size?
No, they are not. They are all different lengths, depending on the scale of your instrument. This is measured from the nut to the bridge. A soprano will have a scale length of thirteen inches and a total length of twenty one inches. The baritone uke has the largest scale length and therefore requires the longest strings. In short, every set of strings will not fit perfectly on every type of ukulele, and it is a good idea to buy new strings from a music store where you can see what you are buying.
6. Q: How Often Do I Need to Change the Strings?
This depends on how often you play and how serious your ukulele playing is. What is more important is that you change all the strings at the same time, so your sound will be uniform. After playing the uke for a while you will learn when your strings need adjusting or changing; you don’t just change them when they snap.
7. Q: What are the Strings Made Of?
Most commonly and almost always with acoustic model, the strings are nylon plastic. You will find metal strings on an electric version sometimes.
8. Q: Are Ukulele chords the same as Banjo and Mandolin chords?
The short answer to this is no, they are not all the same, some are and some are not. All three instruments are different. A mandolin and a uke do not have the same chord are not tuned in the same way; banjo chords however are the same, providing the instrument is tuned in the same way.
Learning to play the ukulele is lots of fun. You only have to look at the different colors and designs of this instrument to realize that you will love the uke. From strumming in the park or at a festival to more serious playing, there is an affordable ukulele waiting for you. The ukulele is a relatively cheap instrument when compared to the guitar or violin, a beginners’ instrument costing as little as just 37$ for the Maholo Soprano.
Remember that when choosing a ukulele its not just about choosing a stunning color or pattern that will be the talk of your home. Choose the voicing carefully, opt for a solid construction, and make sure you take note of the type of tuning for your new musical instrument.