Best 10 Ukuleles
As Of June 2022
We did the
Pick Up a New Ukulele & Start Strumming!
Do you want to find a new hobby to spend your downtime creatively having fun? Are you looking for an easy to pick up instrument other than an electronic keyboard? With a ukulele, any beginner can learn quickly to strum a few melodies and tunes in no time! From classical guitars, hybrid guitaleles to banjos and other string instruments, everyone agrees that they’ve at least once fiddled with a ukulele.
We want to show you the top ukuleles available on Amazon and help you understand the differences in sizes, materials, and other important features for better playability. Aren’t quite ready to play a larger classical guitar or electric guitar? Start slow and buy a uke! Most guitar players are also ukulele players, so it’s a great investment!
What is a ukulele?
A ukulele is a smaller version of a guitar with four strings. Many often think that it’s a mini guitar for kids to play, but it’s a separate instrument. The first one came from Hawaii more than 200 years ago and are very popular worldwide as a compact instrument for entertainment.
There are many different types of ukuleles that produce various sounds, from the classic and most common acoustic ukulele for a low price to higher-end concert ukuleles that advanced players like. There are also electric models that professionals enjoy because of their amplification. You can find highly customised versions of these instruments because they come in many colours, materials, and unique touches such as a gloss or satin finish, abalone rosette, and other sleek looks.
What to look for in a ukulele?
If you don’t have experience or musical education and are just starting, you’ll need some help to pick the right choice for you. We’ve added a list to give you a better idea of the top features to look for so that buying will be a walk in the park.
1. Type & Size
The first thing you have to consider is what type of ukulele you want and how big of a size you want it to be. The four main types are soprano, concert ukuleles, tenor, and barytone. The soprano is 21 inches and the standard starter’s pick. Concert ukuleles are 23 inches long and have more frets than sopranos, making them a bit more comfortable for adults.
Tenor ukuleles are 26 inches long and are best for those who play the guitar because they have a similar fretboard. The barytone ukulele is 30 inches and looks most like an acoustic guitar due to its larger size. It produces the deepest sound compared to the other types.
The next feature to decide on is the material. If you’re going for an authentic Hawaiian-like ukulele, find one made of koa wood which is local to Hawaii and looks like mahogany. There are other wood types to choose from, too, including rosewood, solid mahogany and basswood.
If you want a material that is better for acoustic sounds, go for one that has a walnut, maple or spruce soundboard. For a low-budget and beginner’s choice, you could pick a plastic ukulele that’s less fragile and more scratch-resistant.
3. Build Quality
An overall good manufacturing quality means that you will have a long-lasting and durable ukulele to pass on through generations. You want to pick one that’s comfortable to play with, so the winders should be of good quality and the finished neck and fretboard soft and smooth to the touch. The winders come in multiple materials like wood, gold, and silver plates.
Also, the fret number determines the sound quality, which overall impacts the manufacturing quality. The more frets on the ukulele, the richer and warmer of a sound you will get. Depending on what size you pick, your ukulele could have from 12-20 frets. For ease of use, pick a ukulele with a cutaway so that you can access the higher frets without straining your arm.
The ukulele strings are a top feature to look out for, too, because their length determines the sounds and melodies that your ukulele produces. The longer the strings, the more beautiful ukulele sounds will come out when you’re playing. Most ukulele brands use quality string materials like carbon which doesn’t break as easily. Many will have plastic strings, a great alternative if you are on a tight budget and want to buy a cheap ukulele. Those are far easier to break, don’t last as long as carbon and produce a more muffled sound.
The most popular strings that top quality ukuleles use are Aquila strings and Daddario, as they produce the finest melodies and display excellent craftsmanship.
Generally, ukes are lighter than guitars, but there is still a large selection depending on the size. You can find options weighing as little as 0.37kg for soprano ones to 2kg for larger tenor or baritone ones. For beginners, it’s best to pick a super lightweight and easy to carry ukulele. On average, soprano models are lighter than concert ones or other larger types.
The weight will matter more if you plan on buying a ukulele for kids. It’s much easier for a child to lift and handle an instrument that’s not too heavy. Besides, that’s why many parents prefer to buy ukuleles for their toddlers instead of guitars. They give your little ones better control.
6. Bundle Kits
Many brands include a full bundle kit on a friendly price range that includes many handy accessories and equipment. It’s a money-saving way to buy anything you might need from the get-go, not to mention that it will also improve your playing experience. A good accessory to have is a carry bag because it will make your uke much more portable and keep it dust and scratch-free. Other accessories include a shoulder strap, capo, and picks.
Many kits come with clip-on digital tuners that help even the most inexperienced to fine-tune their stringed instruments. It can be a complicated process if you don’t know how to do it, but the tuner does all the work for you. Don’t want to spend a fortune on instructor lessons? Some kits include online classes and tutorials that teach you melodies and tunes in as little as half an hour!
What size ukulele should you get?
As we mentioned above, the four main ukulele types differ in size. Each size works better for a certain level of experience and also produces its unique sound. These four types are soprano, concert size, tenor and baritone ukuleles. All are great quality, and there’s not one that’s better than the other. Their differences are the sound they produce and their length.
The soprano is the smallest in length at 21 inches long and the most popular for a starting ukulele. They are best for those with smaller hands because of their narrow fretboard, and parents choose them for their children. When it comes to their sound quality, the soprano ones have a higher sound than the others.
Also, in terms of build quality, sopranos use darker woods because they work better in giving off that high sound. The most standard soprano ukes have a mahogany top and mahogany body, but there are other wood materials like maple and basswood. Soprano gives a crisp and sweet tone, but the one downside is that adults with larger fingers can’t play chords as easily.
2. Concert Uke
A concert size ukulele is above 23 inches long and is in the middle of the sound spectrum. It has a larger fretboard than soprano ones, and many prefer them for fingerpicking. Also, the sound quality is delivered better with brighter tonewoods with a spruce top, headstock and body or other solid wood options that are not as dark.
3. Tenor Uke
Tenor ukuleles produce a warmer and richer sound and have a larger body length, usually above 26 inches long. For anyone playing the guitar, this is the most familiar fingerboard they will find. This is still a compact ukulele that you can transport around with ease, but it gives off a louder volume than sopranos and concert ukes in a longer body length.
Baritone ukuleles are above average in length sitting at 30 inches long. They have a lower pitch than the previous sizes giving off a deep and beautiful sound like a full-length guitar. The only difference is that the baritone ukuleles don’t reach the two lowest strings (A and E) like guitars do. They are the most comfortable size for anyone with thick fingers because of the big spacing between the frets.
Do you need a pickup?
Most starter ukuleles like the soprano ones don’t need a pickup. After all, you’re just starting, so you should dip your feet slowly into the water. Some concert size ukuleles include a pickup and preamp that give you a better sounding acoustic or electric ukulele. We’d only recommend you go for a ukulele with a pickup if you plan on doing professional gigs. For hobby purposes, you don’t need one; it’s simply a neat accessory to amplify your musical instrument.
How much should you spend on a ukulele?
Ukuleles are very inexpensive instruments and won’t cost you a fortune. They are one of the cheapest stringed instruments. The size, material type and additional features will determine the price range, but you can find a valuable option for less than £80, which is the starting rate of guitars.
For beginners, laminate is a very inexpensive material that won’t cost as much as solid woods like koa or walnut. Most soprano models cost as little as £15 to £30. You can find multiple colour options within this price range, solid wood choices, and a few guides to pick it up fast for immediate strumming. The lower price does not compromise in quality. The main difference compared to the more expensive counterparts is the uke’s size.
You will find larger ukuleles on the upper end of the scale, including the tenor and baritone ones. Also, electric ukuleles will cost you more than acoustic ones. You can expect them to cost as much as £70 as they will be in a complete kit with pricier materials such as koa wood or basswood. The added cost makes these a better choice for an adult. If you are looking for a gift for your kids, you can find some great options that won’t cost as much.
So, who’s ready to pick up a new hobby? With the best ukuleles, you can strum for hours in your bedroom, at the beach or even at a friend’s party. They are small and compact, lightweight and portable so that you can bring them anywhere without strain. Many like to start with a ukulele and build their way up to guitars. So, if you’re a newbie, this is the perfect choice for you!
We are optimistic that our buying guide gave you a better understanding of the different sounds that a ukulele can produce. Whether you want rich and warm sounds to deep and louder ones, there’s an option out there for you. Take some time to look through our top choices and find a colour, size, style and material that will have you playing your ukulele all day!