The ukulele is a criminally underrated instrument. Maybe it’s because it almost looks like a toy, but this miniature stringed instrument is a great choice for anyone looking to get into music without spending a fortune, and it’s perfect for anyone who sings in a higher register and wants to supplement their vocals with some instrumentation. Also, there’s something nice about having an instrument that’s so small. You’ll always be able to take your ukulele on the go and be the life of the picnic, camping trip, or party. If you’re a beginner looking for their first ukulele and you don’t know where to start we’ve got you covered. In this list, we’ll show you the best ukuleles for beginners and help you get started on your wonderful musical journey.
Carry on reading to see our full list of the best ukuleles for beginners, followed by a recap breaking down what makes each product on our list stand out. Or jump straight to our number #1 pick on Amazon here.
What Should You Look for in a Ukulele for Beginners?
If you’re new to the ukulele, or music in general, buying your instrument can feel very daunting. There’s a lot of jargon that gets thrown out in music, and to the layperson, every instrument can look the same, but then you’ll hear the pros talking about them like they’re completely different. That’s why we’re going to give you clear, jargon-free, criteria to use when assessing your ukulele for beginners. This will help you understand our list, and it will help you on your journey once you start actually learning to play your ukulele.
Criteria #1: Playability – It should come as no surprise that we want our ukulele to be easy to play. We want skill to be the only obstacle involved in making beautiful music on your new ukulele, not the instrument itself. But what makes a ukulele playable? Somethings to look for are the height of the neck – a neck that’s too tall will make it difficult to go from string to string, while a neck that’s too short will have you mashing all the strings at once – and action. Action is how far the string is from the neck. The better the action, the less force you’ll have to use to press down on the strings and get the right note to come out. You may also want a longer neck depending on what kind of music you’ll be playing, but with ukuleles, this is less relevant, since it’s unlikely you’ll want to hit the super-high notes at the end of the neck.
Criteria #2: Size – This is mostly subjective, but it’s important to know what you’re getting in terms of the size of your ukulele, so you can make an educated decision on what you want in your new mini stringed instrument. Some of it is just your body type. If you have smaller hands, you’ll want a smaller ukulele to go with it, and if you have larger hands and fingers, you’ll want a large ukulele that allows you to still be precise and accurate while fretting your instrument. But it also depends on your musical taste, a lot of larger ukuleles will have a deeper sound than medium and smaller ukuleles, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when making your decision. Of course, there’s also the simple fact that smaller ukuleles are more convenient and easier to carry around.
Criteria #3: Price – A ukulele for beginners should be cheap, and we’re not here to make you spend a ton of money for no reason. But meeting this criterion is less about being cheap and more about justifying your price. We’d rather buy an expensive product that’s cheaper than it should be than waste money on a cheaper product that isn’t worth the money and that will just break on you or not perform well. Especially if you’re a beginner, there’s no point in shelling out the big bucks for a crazy expensive instrument if you don’t know where your new hobby will take you. Luckily, ukuleles are much cheaper than most musical instruments, so you won’t have to worry about the price too much. We will give priority to any product that comes in a bundle with all of the beginner essentials such as a tuner, a case, and an extra pack of strings.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Ukuleles for Beginners
We measured the specs of the top products on the market against our listed criteria to see how they held up and if they’re worth buying. We then checked customer reviews, blog posts, and “best ukulele for Beginners” articles to see if the products on our list performed as advertised. We’ll also make sure to include some more niche options on our list so that everyone can be sure that they’ll find the perfect ukulele for their specific needs and taste.
And without further ado, here is our list – tailored to your specific needs – of the best Ukelele for Beginners.
#1: Ranch Concert Ukulele Bundle (Best Value – All-Purpose)
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Ranch starts us off with their amazing concert ukulele bundle. For the uninitiated, a concert ukulele is not necessarily intended for concerts, it’s a specific size and sound-range of ukuleles that falls in between the high-pitched soprano and the lower tenor ukuleles. This concert ukulele has a nice light-brown finish and measures 24.25 x 8.25 x 3.38 inches in length, width, and height respectively. It has the standard 18 frets which gives you more than an octave of sound to work with, and it comes equipped with the very highly regarded Aquila strings to make sure you have the best sound possible as soon as you start to learn to play ukulele. The neck is crafted from mahogany, and the soundhole has a beautiful, intricate pattern carved around it, so you’ll have a pretty ukulele to go with your pretty music. The neck also has a two-dotted inlay on the 12th fret, which is good to have easy access to since it’s the beginning of a new octave.
As for the actual bundle, this ukulele for beginners comes with an extra set of Aquila strings, a strap, a carrying case, a cleaning cloth, and a tuner. That’s all coming in at a great price, and this ukulele bundle is probably the best value out there. For beginners, the really big sellers of this bundle are probably the tuner and the carrying case. The tuner clamps onto the headstock of the guitar and senses the vibrations to give you pitch-perfect tuning, which will be crucial before you learn how to turn by ear. Obviously, the carrying case is perfect for anyone who wants to travel with their new ukulele. This bundle also includes 12 free video lessons to get you started on your journey as you learn to play ukulele.
Besides being featured on other lists of the best ukuleles for beginners, this ukulele has over 5,000 reviews on Amazon, and they’re all glowing. One reviewer simply titled their review “perfect!” while several customers raved about the affordable price and the great sound of this Ranch ukulele. Just in terms of quality, this ukulele would’ve earned a spot on our list, but once you take into account the value and that it comes with everything you’ll need to get started, it was the clear choice to be named our best ukulele for any beginner looking to learn to play.
#2: Kala Ka-C Mahogany Ukulele Bundle (Best Instrument)
If the Ranch Concert Ukulele Bundle didn’t steal your heart right away, don’t worry, we have a whole list left of great ukuleles for beginners. Coming second on our list, the Kala Ka-C Mahogany Concert Ukulele might actually be a better ukulele than our number one pick, and it was only because of the price difference that we eventually decided to have it as second place. But if you’re willing to spend more, you’ll definitely want to check out this still-affordable Kala Ka ukulele starter kit that will help jump-start your musical journey. Below, we’ll discuss the big selling points of this ukulele that might convince you to spend your extra money on it.
Reason #1 to Choose This Product: More Options
If a standard concert ukulele isn’t what you’re looking for, Kala Ka has more than got you covered. The Kala Ka-C comes in all different sizes and styles, and there’s an option to buy a soprano version of this ukulele, as well as a full-sounding tenor ukulele, or a booming baritone ukulele. On top of that, every size has an acoustic-electric model that’s perfect for anyone who wants to crank up the volume a bit every now and then. So whether you’re looking for a soprano, concert, tenor, or even baritone ukulele, or you want the option of using an amp, Kala Ka will have the perfect beginner ukulele for you.
Reason #2 to Choose This Product: Different Dimensions
Feel and comfort are everything when looking at string instruments, and ukuleles are no exception. This beginner ukulele measures 27 x 5 x 12 inches compared to the 24.25 x 8.25 x 3.38 inches of the Ranch Concert Ukulele start kit. This means that our number two ukulele is longer and taller than the Ranch ukulele, and it’s also narrower. The narrower build may be nice for some players, as it means less bulk to get your hands around, though of course, ukuleles are so small this won’t be a big issue for most players. The taller and longer build, however, may make a huge difference for anyone on the bigger and/or taller side, and you won’t have to feel like Shaquille O’Neal holding a paper cup. If you’re a bit bigger than most folks, I’d recommend going to a music store or borrowing friends’ ukuleles so you can find what you’re comfortable with.
In terms of the bundle, this ukulele starter kit comes with all of the same essentials as the Ranch ukulele. You’re getting a clip-on tuner, a strap, a gig bag, an extra set of Aquila Nylgut strings, and a DVD containing free ukulele lessons. This high-quality ukulele is a great way for anyone to get started learning, and it comes in concert, tenor, and baritone sizes so there’s something for everyone. If you’re willing to spend a bit more on your first ukulele, the Kala Ka-C Mahogany Ukulele Bundle is one of the best choices for you.
#3: Luna Tattoo Mahogany Acoustic-Electric Concert Ukulele Bundle (Best Acoustic-Electric)
The Kala Ka-C Mahogany Ukulele may have acoustic-electric options, but if you’re dead-set on an acoustic-electric ukulele and you have the musical taste that warrants it, the Luna Tattoo Mahogany Acoustic-Electric Concert Ukulele is a great instrument to help you bust out some genre-busting jams on your new ukulele. This Luna Tattoo ukulele features top and back sides made from beautiful mahogany, and it comes in the standard concert size with a nice tattooed finish on the body that’s sure to help you stand out before you even start playing.
The Luna Tattoo ukulele has one very hard-to-find feature that makes it ideal for anyone with heavier taste in music: a cut-away body. With most acoustic guitars and ukuleles, the body gets in the way of the last several frets, and if you want to play the higher notes it demands some very awkward flexing and stretching. As the name implies, with cut-away guitars and ukuleles, that annoying chunk of the body is “cut away” leaving you room to comfortably reach those higher frets. This means that you can go against contemporary wisdom and really shred with this beautiful ukulele. So if you’re not very into singer-songwriter stuff but you still want to learn to play the ukulele, the Luna Tattoo Mahogany Acoustic-Electric Ukulele Bundle. And just like with our first two ukuleles, it comes bundled with all of the beginner essentials. However, it is a bit more expensive than our other options, so I wouldn’t spring for this high-quality, cut-away, acoustic-electric ukulele unless you really know it’s exactly what you’re looking for, which is probably less common among beginners.
#4: Everyjoys Soprano Ukulele Beginner Pack (Best Low Cost)
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Soprano ukuleles are an amazing way for beginners to save some money on their instrument, and if you appreciate the higher sound then it’s just a win-win for you. The Everyjoys Soprano Ukulele Beginner Pack costs almost nothing, and it has everything you need to start playing your instrument. This Soprano comes in at a miniature size of 21.3 x 6.9 x 2.5 inches that’s perfect for anyone a bit on the smaller side. The top, back, and sides are all made of the same basswood, and the ukulele comes equipped with the standard nylon strings, which come in a rainbow pattern to help the things stand apart from each other and help beginners learn their way around the instrument that much quicker.
The biggest drawback of this small instrument is that it only has 12 frets, but since it’s starting at a higher pitch that’s probably for the best, and more frets than that would just be unnecessary. In terms of the bundle, the Everyjoys Soprano Ukulele comes with a gig bag, a clip-on tuner, an extra high string, and even some picks, though it’s pretty unorthodox to use a pick when playing ukuleles. Considering how cheap this ukulele is, that feels like a complete steal. This quality instrument also comes in several different colors, so you can tailor it to your tastes or get it as a gift. If you want to save as much money as possible, or if you just want a soprano instrument, the Everyjoys Soprano Ukulele Beginner Pack is one of the best choices out there to help you find your sound.
#5: Musoo Tenor Ukelele Bundle (Best Cheap Tenor Ukulele)
Just by nature of the extra material needed, most tenor ukuleles cost more than soprano and concert ukuleles, which makes this Musoo tenor uke that much more impressive. Despite being a tenor instrument, and a solidly sized one at that, this Musoo product costs about the same as our Everyjoys soprano ukulele. Our Musoo tenor instrument measures 25.79 x 9.06 x 4.33 inches and has 18 frets, so you’ll still be able to reach those higher notes. The instrument features a mahogany top, and it features sealed tuning pegs that will make sure your stringed instrument is always in-tune and ready to go. It also boasts great action, which means it’ll be easy to push down on the strings, even at the higher frets. This good fret action will really come in handy if you end up wanting to play in a register closer to what concert sized ukuleles play in. Finally, the bundle comes with a gig bag, a strap, nylon strings, guitar picks, and a capo. The capo is definitely the biggest source of value here, and it’s especially useful since you’re buying a lower-pitched instrument. This Musoo product is a great instrument for anyone interested in ukuleles but who wants something with a slightly fuller sound.
What Should I Know When I Start Playing My Ukulele?
Unfortunately, I can’t exactly give you a full music lesson right now, and there’s no big secret there anyway, other than “practice, practice, practice.” But I will give you some quick tips to not bust up your uke as soon as you buy it. First of all, be very delicate when tuning your instrument. It takes a bit of time, and a developed relationship with your instrument, to get a sense of how rough you can be with the tuning pegs, and you don’t want an early crash course in hor to replace a string. We’d much rather that happens when the time is right. Also, it’s important to know that these tiny stringed instruments have a very different standard tuning than guitars do. While guitars have their strings lined up simply with the lowest note on top and the highest note on the bottom, ukuleles use a scrambled pattern, with the highest note on the top string, followed by the lowest note, then the second to lowest note, and then the second to highest string at the bottom. So throw out any prior knowledge of guitar you have, you’ll be surprised how irrelevant it is when you start learning the chords on your uku. And with that, there’s nothing but to get started playing.
Verdict: Your Best Ukulele for Beginners
We’re almost at the end of our list of the best ukuleles for beginners, and you’re hopefully pretty close to making your decision. But if not, don’t worry. We’re going to quickly recap all of our ukuleles and highlight their standout features so that you can hone in on your priorities and pick the high-quality instrument that’s perfect for you.
If you want the best value for money, pick the Ranch Ukulele Bundle.
Our number one product has everything you could need, and it comes in at an amazing price. If you’re focused on getting the best deal, this is the only option for you. It has 18 frets, comes with Aquila nylgut strings, a tuner, and everything else you’ll need to get started. Did we mention that it’s cheap? This great instrument with a great sound was number one on our list for a reason
If you need an acoustic-electric, pick the Luna Tattoo Mahogany Acoustic-Electric Concert Ukulele Bundle.
Just because you’re looking at ukuleles doesn’t mean you have to play the same stuff everybody else does, If you’re looking for your own sound, breaking out of the typical boxes with an acoustic-electric is a great first step. And the cut-away body means that you can reach those high frets and blow everyone’s minds when you start shredding on your electric uke.
If you want to keep the spending cheap, pick Everyjoys Soprano Ukulele Beginner Pack.
Learning to play an instrument doesn’t have to be a big investment. Our budget uke costs less than a high schooler’s weekly allowance, and it still comes with everything you’ll need. Especially if you’re looking for that beautiful, high, soprano sound, this is the perfect budget option for beginners looking to get started.
And that brings us to the end of our list. If you aren’t partial to the highlighted options above, you may be more interested in the versatile Kala Ka-C instrument, or the full-sound tenor uke from Musoo. If you’re having trouble with the decision, it could help to sit down and think about what your top priority is. This will speed up the buying process a lot, as you’ll quickly realize that only a few choices really fit your wish list. That’s it for now. Enjoy the beginning of your musical journey!