Learning the ukulele is always going to be a fun activity. It is much simpler to navigate than a guitar, partly because it has two fewer strings than a guitar, but also the size of the ukulele body makes a beautifully sweet noise!
However, as with any skill, picking up a new ukulele can be daunting.
To learn how to play the ukulele for the first time, you also need to buy a ukulele. With so many different brands, models, and sizes of this instrument available, it can be a difficult choice to make.
There are some specific ukuleles and starter kits available that will help a beginner start their journey without a lot of stress. And to reduce this stress, even more, I have narrowed down my top picks of ukuleles for a beginner.
Read on, and in no time you will be playing your favorite tunes on your very own ukulele!
Kala is renowned for its ukuleles, and the products are often used in schools to teach beginners. This is why their soprano starter kit is the perfect choice for any ukulele beginner!
This pack comes with a tote bag, a quick start guide to help you with learning the basic elements of the ukulele, and free online lessons through Kala’s website.
The Kala app, where you can also access lots of learning resources, has a handy tuner to help you get playing straight away.
However, you will only be able to access these for a limited amount of time after your initial purchase.
This isn’t stated on the product description, so be aware that there is a 7 day trial period for the app before you have to pay, and you can get the free lessons for two months before payment is taken for those.
The ukulele is beautifully designed, and it has been adorned with traditional Polynesian designs. This includes a Polynesian shark teeth rosette that has been laser-etched around the sound hole.
It is an understated and subtle design, but its simplicity will still be admired by everyone.
As a soprano ukulele, this is the most common size available on the market. It is also considered the easiest to learn on.
When I tested this instrument out, I found the Mahogany gave the ukulele a well-rounded and rich sound, and the size of this product would be perfect for all ages and experiences.
- Extra features – Comes with a tote bag, a quick start guide, and free online lessons.
- Beautiful ukulele – It has a traditional Polynesian shark teeth laser-etched rosette.
- Soprano size – It is the most common size, and it is the easiest to learn on.
- Access to the Kala app – This has a tuner on it, so it will be easy to tune it up.
- Limited access to resources – You will only have access to the app for a 7 day trial period and the free lessons for two months.
- Kala Ukulele, known for high-quality instruments, is the most recognized and sought-after ukulele brand in the world. Kala ukuleles are the instrument of choice for schools - more people learn to play on a Kala than any other ukulele brand
- The kit includes a Kala logo tote bag, a 20-page Quick Start Guide with information about your new ukulele, and all the tips you need to get started! Learn to play songs in minutes with Kala’s FREE, easy to follow online lessons through the Kala Brand Music website.
- It includes a high-quality Mahogany Soprano Ukulele with traditional Polynesian Shark Teeth laser etched rosette, Aquila strings from Italy, quality open gear tuners, and GraphTech NuBone nut and saddle.
- What makes the ukulele a great instrument to begin on is that you don’t need a lot of accessories to be successful. We can help you get in tune and start playing songs today!
- Kala ukuleles are played by some of the most renowned players around the world including: twenty one pilots, Vance Joy, dodie, EatMyUke, The Ukulele Teacher, and Zac Brown.
The fact that this ukulele is a Fender is a statement in itself. The brand has built an impressive reputation since 1946, and this Seaside Soprano Ukulele pack is a great choice for a beginner.
The ukulele’s headstock is designed to replicate the Telecaster’s headstock shape, which is an iconic and beautiful addition to the classic, Mahogany design. It also lends it an authentic Fender touch.
As well as this, the bridge of the ukulele (where the strings are connected to the instrument) is intended to be a no-tie bridge, which means that a beginner won’t have to worry about learning the special knotting that is often required for traditional ukulele bridges.
With a purchase of the Fender ukulele, you are also given a 3-month subscription to Fender Play. This is a handy resource for beginners that will teach you how to play basic chords and strumming patterns.
Once you have learned the basics, you’ll be able to apply them to popular songs, which will greatly increase confidence.
The soprano size ukulele is a good choice for beginners, simply because it is smaller and easier to control. It also releases a brighter sound that is slightly higher-pitched than the other sizes, which is incredibly pleasant to listen to and play.
I will say that when I played the Fender ukulele, while the structure was very well-built, the bridge doesn’t hold the strings as well as some other ukuleles on the market.
The strings pull quite a bit at the bridge, and some users have even found that this makes the bridge unstable and detached.
While a tightness in the strings is to be expected in a new string instrument, this could be something to bear in mind.
- Learning resources – The purchase includes a free 3-month subscription to Fender Play.
- Extra features – It comes with a bag, spare strings, and a clip-on tuner.
- Soprano size – This is the best for beginners because it is smaller and simpler to use.
- No-tie bridge – This is much easier to use than traditional ukulele bridges that require special knotting.
- Unstable bridge – Some users have found the bridge isn’t as stable on this product as other ukulele brands.
- Soprano sized ukulele
- Mahogany top, back, and sides
- No-tie bridge
- 4-in-line Tele headstock
- Includes free 3-month subscription to Fender Play, gig bag, spare strings, and clip-on tuner
The Vangoa ukulele is a beautifully crafted instrument that is tailored to beginner players.
When you first see this ukulele, you will notice its arched-back design that is intended to produce a richer sound – something that a lot of people strive for with a soprano size. As well as this, it has an etched rosette soundhole that helps to distinguish it from other ukuleles.
Vangoa says that they have designed the fretboard and fret ends to not scratch fingers while it is being played.
They have done this by smoothing down the metal ends, which will be a great help when it comes to a beginner playing this because they will be more likely to carry on learning if they are comfortable.
The actual instrument is made from Mahogany wood to give a more rounded sound, and interestingly, they have used a walnut bridge to secure the strings to the ukulele.
This is supposed to help with how far the sound will carry.
I thought it was incredibly useful that they have already installed two strap pins to the ukulele, which meant I could immediately place a strap on the instrument to make it easier to play.
This set also comes with a padded bag (to protect the ukulele when you are traveling), a tuner, extra strings, three picks, and a capo. This is a great set-up for any beginner.
To further the learning process, you will also be sent a fast learning book that is full of handy tips for ukulele newbies.
While the instrument itself is great, some users have found that the tuner isn’t as effective as other products you could buy, and they also commented that they would probably replace the strings provided in the set with their own strings.
This was because they thought the sound from these particular strings didn’t do the instrument justice.
- Smooth fret ends – This will reduce the risk of scratching fingers on the frets.
- Strap pins installed – This makes it easier to attach a strap and play the ukulele standing up.
- Mahogany body – This choice of wood gives a richer sound.
- Extra features – Comes with a padded bag, tuner, extra strings, fast learn book, 3 picks, capo, and adjustable strap.
- The tuner has some problems – Some users have found the tuner isn’t as effective as other tuners. However, this doesn’t impact the actual instrument.
- Strings – Some users don’t enjoy the sound of the strings.
- ✔️【Brighter&Richer Sound】Soprano ukulele selected AAA Mahogany producing bright, crisp and rich sound. Unique arched back design strengthens the nice resonance, making it sound richer, brighter and warmer with longer sustain from Mahogany body
- ✔️【Exquisite Mahogany Craftsmanship】C-shape neck with shallow flattened oval sports a comfortable contour for a smoother practice. Highly-polished fretboard with neat fret wire provides comfortable playability. Low action design deducts string pressure, pressing feels very comfortable under the fingers, thus pretty suited for beginners
- ✔️【Perfect for Beginners&Students】Get started with the 21 inch ukulele with Vangoa Ukulele Beginner Guide book, easy to understand. The ukulele bundle is a great ukelele kit for kids, children, beginners, students, adults or professionals
- ✔️【Easy to Tune & Keep】Anti-dust chromed plated fully closed tuning pegs guarantee accurate tuning and keep the ukulele always in tune. High-quality smooth nylon strings enhanced tuning stability. 18 frets are marked on the neck to help you quickly identify. Digital clip-on tuner make sure that you can tune the ukulele easily whenever and wherever you want
- ✔️【Complete Accessories】Soprano ukulele starter kit includes 21inch ukulele, gig bag, tuner, extra strings, fast learn book, 3 picks, capo and adjustable strap. It comes with everything you need. High quality padded gig bag features a shoulder strap and an exterior large pocket for easy carrying and well protection. A decent gift for birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Children's Day, etc
The Luna Vintage ukulele is an eye-catching instrument that is perfect for a beginner and beyond.
When I had a go on it, I thought the sound was bold and rich, helped along by the mixture of Spruce and Mahogany wood that the body is built with.
This also makes it look very striking, and the black, Rosewood fretboard provides an even greater contrast. The matching open-style turners hold in place the Aquila strings, which are very easy to tune.
Overall, the whole instrument is of excellent quality, and the sound is one of the best you can get for a soprano ukulele.
This bundle comes with a beginner’s DVD from Austin Bazaar, the seller of the ukulele, that will help a beginner pick up all of the necessary tips and techniques to successfully play the instrument.
It also comes with a gig bag so it can be traveled with, a clip-on tuner to make the tuning process much easier for a beginner, and a polishing cloth so it can be kept in amazing condition.
One thing you should be mindful of if you are thinking about investing in this ukulele is that some users have found the frets on the fingerboard can be a little bit sharp.
A beginner will have to be mindful of this, especially if they think it might put them off continuing to learn.
- Extra accessories – Comes with a gig bag, clip-on tuner, and polishing cloth. This saves these having to be bought at another time.
- Built well – The beautiful exterior and good choice of material make for a beautiful sounding instrument.
- Easy to tune – The open-style turners are easy to use.
- Sharp frets – Some users have said that the frets can be a little bit sharp on the fingers.
- Spruce top and Mahogany body
- Rosewood fingerboard and bridge
- Open-style tuners
- Aquila strings
- Item ID: UKE VSS
The Donner Ukulele Bundle Kit comes with everything a beginner could possibly need! The ukulele is made out of Mahogany wood, giving it a crisp and clear sound.
It also has an arched back design, which will make the sound much more rounded.
On top of this, it has chrome-plated guitar-style tuners. These will help to keep the strings tightened and in tune, which in turn, increases the accuracy of the ukulele.
Ultimately, this instrument is designed to sound as amazing as possible – and I have found that it lives up to this reputation.
With the purchase of this ukulele, a beginner will get a free online lesson to get them started on their ukulele journey. To help with the ease of playing they will also get a strap, a set of picks, and a tuner.
Finally, there is a spare set of strings, a polishing cloth to keep the instrument in great condition, and a padded bag to make it simple to travel with. This will meet the needs of all beginners!
One thing I will mention, that isn’t spoken about in the product description, is that the strings of the ukulele will take a few days to ‘wear in’.
This is the case with most ukuleles and other string instruments, especially when the product itself is new.
You will have to keep tuning them regularly, and then after a short period of time, they will stretch out enough to keep their tune for a long period of time.
- Huge amount of extras – The purchase of the ukulele comes with a strap, free online lesson, padded bag, tuner, strings, picks, and polishing cloth. This saves money in the long run.
- Arched-back design – This produces a more rounded sound.
- Made from Mahogany wood – This ensures that the ukulele will have a crisp sound.
- Chrome-plated guitar-style tuners – This increases the accuracy of the strings and helps to keep them in tune.
- Strings – You will have to ‘wear in’ the strings for a few days, and the company doesn’t notify you of this. This isn’t a major issue, though!
- ♫Well Made Mahogany Craftsmanship: Smooth Mahogany body produces a crisp and pleasant sound. Highly polished smooth Aquila ukulele strings with elevated resistance to wear under tension. Well polished smooth rosewood fingerboard and bridge provides a comfortable playability. Sami-Open finish with 9-cycle grinding and polishing process
- ♫Warm Rich Sound: Ukulele Mahogany top body and neck bring you much richer, brighter and warmer sound; High density bone nut and saddle combine with 4 advanced Aquila carbon nylon strings to gain clear and nice resonance and more sustain from Mahogany body
- ♫Come with Everything You Need: Concert ukulele bundle pack includes concert ukulele, gig bag, strap, tuner, 4 extra Aquila nylon strings, 4 picks and cleaning cloth. Meet all needs of both beginners and professionals. Padded gig bag features backpack style with 2 padded shoulder straps and exterior pocket for easy comfortable carry and well protection for ukelele. A decent gift for birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc
- ♫Easy to Play with Free Video Lesson: Get started with Donner 23 inch ukulele and professional free ONLINE VIDEO uku lessons for beginners. Easy to understand and get started. Donner ukulele bundle kit is great ukelele set for adults, beginners or professionals to play for fun or interest
- ♫Easy to Tune: Donner patented chrome-plated guitar style tuners increase accuracy and keep ukulele always in tune. Digital clip-on tuner is easy to tune and play. 18 brass frets with fret position marks at 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th frets on neck and top of fingerboard. Classic and Unique Soundhole Ring
If you are after some more guidance about what to look out for when buying a ukulele for a beginner, have a read of this useful buyer’s guide!
Type Of Ukulele
As a beginner, it can be quite overwhelming when you are trying to decide which type of ukulele to get.
While there are many different crossovers you can find, including the Guitalele and the Banjolele, a good way of categorizing the types of ukuleles is by Acoustic, Electro-Acoustic, or Electric.
The Acoustic ukulele is the most common type to find, and these are purely reliant on their material and strings to produce sound.
They are built with a typical acoustic body, including the soundhole, and there is no output built into them to connect with an amp.
An Electro-Acoustic (semi-acoustic) ukulele has the acoustic body of a standard, Acoustic ukulele, but it uses this feature to pick up on the typical string vibrations to then send them through an output and into an amp.
With this type of instrument, you can choose to play it acoustically or electrically, so it is very adaptable to any situation you need – especially if you are wanting to play in front of large crowds.
An Electric ukulele simply uses the same mechanism as an electric guitar. It doesn’t have a soundhole, which means that it is non-resonant.
Instead, it uses a pick-up to send vibration signals, as you strum the strings, to an amp.
These are probably the least common type of ukulele to find on the market, simply because they only produce a solid sound when they are plugged into a power source.
While you can probably find a huge range of sizes of ukulele on the market, there are three main sizes that are regularly sold. These all follow the same tuning notes (G, C, E, A) and they will play at the same pitch, but the size of the body will change the tone.
The sizes of a ukulele are given names that are determined by the sound they make. The smallest size is a Soprano, which means that it has a crisp and sweet tone.
It is ideal for beginners and children because it can be easier to adjust to the smaller fretboard if you are unused to playing a string instrument.
The next size up is a Concert. It is much easier to explore fingerpicking on this size of ukulele, as there is a longer scale length and body size.
It produces a slightly richer sound than the Soprano, but it is still fairly light.
Finally, the largest size is a Tenor. It has an even longer scale length than the Concert, and its body is also much bigger. This is perfect for ukulele players that want a warm tone rather than a crisp tone.
Quality is a massive issue with ukuleles, particularly when you are looking at a wood ukulele. It can be difficult to distinguish a well-made ukulele from a lower-quality product, particularly when you are buying them online.
However, the first thing to keep an eye out for is whether it says it is made out of plywood or solid wood.
If it is made from plywood, it is going to be less durable, cheaper to buy, and it won’t have a clear sound when you play it because the material won’t be able to vibrate as well.
While these may be alright if someone is just beginning to learn how to play the instrument, they won’t be great for long-lasting use.
If you are looking for an investment in your ukulele, look for an instrument that has been built with solid wood. The most common woods used for this are Mahogany, Koa, Cedar, Rosewood, and Spruce.
Interestingly, while they are all going to be a similar thickness in the instrument, they will all produce different sounds because of the way their grain is built-up!
As a beginner, you will want to look out for any extra features that you can get with your ukulele purchase. These will help you to develop your skills much faster, and they will save you money in the long run.
Examples of these extra features include learning programs, tuners, bags, etc. These are especially important for beginners who won’t have any of the basic equipment!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Teach Myself To Play The Ukulele?
Yes, you can very easily teach yourself to play the ukulele. You may need some help from books or online resources, such as YouTube videos, but becoming a self-taught player is definitely an achievable goal!
Many ukulele companies sell learning resources with their products, so if you have access to any DVDs or CDs and you dedicate enough time to practice, then within a couple of weeks you should be able to play a large range of chords and songs.
What Types Of Ukulele Techniques Should A Beginner Learn?
It is difficult to narrow down specific techniques that you should learn first – it depends on the types of songs you are wanting to play.
After you have taught yourself how to play chords, the next technique you will want to secure is most likely strumming and different types of strumming patterns.
Again, these will vary depending on which songs you are learning, as each song has a different pattern! Another useful technique is string bending.
This will make moving between different notes easier to do, and it will also create a cool sliding effect.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.