One of the most asked questions by anyone that wants to start playing ukulele is what is the best ukulele for beginners? Read on for my recommendations
Firstly, you should aim to spend as much as you can afford, most cheap ukes are pretty terrible and will having you tearing your hair out (and then you’ll look like me).
Do not under any circumstances just be tempted to buy the cheapest ukulele you can find. There’s a high chance it will completely unplayable and it could easily end up putting you off ever playing ukulele again. That said, there are some bargains to be had at the cheaper end of the market and these ukes will do the job for you without making you bankrupt.
Here are what I consider to be the best ukuleles for beginners…
The 15SM is Cordoba’s best-selling ukulele and for good reason. The satin finish, abalone rosette and pearl buttons make this one beautiful beginner ukulele. It comes strung with Aquila Nylgut and is also available in concert scale. This is one highly respected entry-level ukulele. At $80 it’s a little bit more expensive than the other ukuleles on this list but if you can afford a little extra, it’s worth the step up.
Makala MK-SD (Dolphin)
The Makala MK-SD, or Dolphin as it’s better known is one of the best selling entry level ukuleles around and comes with a cracking reputation. For a long time this has been the recommendation from most veteran players as the best ukulele to begin with. At around £30 ($45) this is considered by many to be the best budget uke around. It might be worth pointing out that not everyone will like the dolphin bridge from a cosmetic point of view, but if you can get past that then they’re great. The Dolphins are available in a range of colours. Makala ukes are made by Kala, one of the best known ukulele brands in the world. Stick some Aquila strings on it and you’re good to go.
The current model of the octopus packs a hell of a bang for the buck (you should be able to pick one of these up for around $30/£20 -they’re quite difficult to get hold of in the US). A number of improvements have been made to the Octopus over the past few months and it’s great to know that it’s being constantly improved. Like the Dolphin, the Octopus is also available in a range of colours (of which I think probably the black is the least offensive). Have a look at my review of the Octopus Soprano.
The Makala MK-S is a decent alternative to the Dolphin. There are some similarities although the Dolphin has a plastic back and sides whereas the MK-S has an agathis body (the Dolphin has a more muted sound) and it has more of a classic soprano look. For around £35 ($50) this is a ukulele that looks, feels and plays really well. Check out my review of the Makala MK-S right here.
Alic Soprano/Mahilele Soprano
This uke comes under a couple of different names, check out my review of the Mahilele. If you can find either of the above names for less than £50 then I would highly recommend it. The Alic Soprano/Mahilele Soprano is a plastic backed ukulele that comes in a range of styles and colours. Don’t let the plastic back put you off though, this ukulele has a really rich, full tone – oh and it’s loud too. Durable, affordable and sounds great.
So there you go, 5 beginner ukuleles for you to take a look at. If these 5 don’t take your fancy then take a look at some of my other ukulele reviews. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’d recommend spending as much as you can afford (otherwise you could just end up buying twice). If you can get to a store to try some out then that’s the best option, even better if you can take someone with you who knows a thing or two about ukuleles.
If you have to buy online or by phone, then pick a store with a good reputation such as Southern Ukulele Store or Omega Music if you’re in the UK, or The Ukulele Site if you’re in the US. Pick up the phone, talk to them and see what they recommend.