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Ukulele Buying Guide

Top Ukulele Suggestions

Top Ukulele Suggestions!

1. For kids 12 and under:

2. For serious beginners:

3. If you want to invest in the best:


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My Personal Favorite Ukuleles!


1. Oscar Schmidt OU5 Concert:

2. Kala Dolphin Soprano:

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Ukuleles Featured In The Video Above!


1. Makanu Soprano:

2. Oscar Schmidt OU5 Concert:

3. Makanu Tenor:

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Ukulele Brands Mentioned In This Post!


1. Kala:

2. Luna:

3. Oscar Schmidt:

4. Lanikai:

5. Mahalo:

6. Cordoba:

7. Martin:

Let’s walk through the seven major factors to consider whenever buying a ukulele; I am going to cover multiple buying options for ukulele sizes, shapes, sounds, woods, tunings, brands, and prices. 



Ukulele Sizes:

  1. Soprano: 21 inches

  2. Concert: 23 inches

  3. Tenor: 26 inches

  4. Baritone: 30 inches


Best size for you? 

If you were to buy a ukulele based on size and physical comfort alone, then I would say the Soprano and Concert Ukuleles may feel more comfortable for smaller hands, while the Tenor and Baritone Ukuleles may feel more roomy for larger hands. But I also strongly believe that with enough time, practice, and dedication, that any hand size could adjust to any ukulele size.


I do want to mention that there are a few other types of ukuleles that are much less common, but still worth noting. There is a mini pocket size ukulele, which is also referred to as the sopranino, and is about 16 inches in length. And there is also the bass ukulele, which is rather new, and typically electric. 

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Ukulele Shapes:

  • The traditional ukulele shape, and most common shape is the figure eight.

  • The second most common ukulele shape is the pineapple shape. 

  • There is also a rectangular cigar-box ukulele shape.

  • There are even boat paddle, banjo, and other various custom-designed shapes.


Best shape for you?

Whether you decide to buy a pineapple shaped ukulele or a figure 8 shaped ukulele, the shape itself won’t have too much of an affect on physical comfort, nor will it make a significant difference in the ukulele’s sound. Generally speaking, it comes down to personal taste, both in how it feels for you personally, and also in what you find to be most visually pleasing. Some people say that one is more comfortable than the other for them, due to their size, and also due to whether they are standing or sitting. For this reason, it may be best to go into an music store and experiment with playing whatever variety of sizes is available. 





Ukulele Sounds:

  • Generally speaking, the larger your ukulele is, the deeper and louder it’s going to sound. 

  • Generally speaking, the smaller your ukulele is, the brighter and quieter it’s going to sound. 

  • Watch my ukulele buying guide to hear the difference in sounds for each type of ukulele.

  • Another factor that can effect the sound of a ukulele is the wood, which I will talk about in the next section. 


Best sound for you? 

When it comes down to which ukulele sound is best for you, it’d be good to ask yourself, “Do I prefer a brighter, crisper sound? Or a deeper, louder sound?” Choose a number on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being the brightest sound, and 4 being the deepest sound. Whichever number you choose, match it up with the following: 1 = Soprano, 2 = Concert, 3 = Tenor, 4 = Baritone 


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Ukulele Wood Options:

  1. Mahogany

  2. Koa

  3. Cedar

  4. Maple

  5. Rosewood


  • Mahogany is one of the most common woods that ukuleles are made from. It has a very balanced sound between both the high end and bass, giving it that classic ukulele sound that we all know and love. 

  • Koa is another popular wood. It has a sweet, mellow sound, as well as unique and beautiful wood grain patterns. In Hawaii, Koa is considered to be the most ideal wood for ukuleles, yet it is also one of the more expensive options.

  • Spruce has a bright and crisp sound with great bass response, and is popular amongst dynamic strummers. Spruce is also one of the more affordable woods used to make ukuleles, and can be recognized by its pale yellow color. 

  • Maple has a a distinct treble sound and is known to be very durable. You can find variations of maple, such as spalted, flamed, curly, qullted, and burl. 

  • Rosewood has a bright sound, defined highs and lows, and is one of the most recognized woods in the world. It is commonly used to make the fretboard section of the ukulele. 

  • There are, of course, other woods such as cedar, mango, bamboo, myrtle, and more. But for times’ sake, I wanted to touch only upon the five listed above. 


It’s important to note that many ukuleles are made out of multiple types of wood. For example, a ukulele can have a Cedar top, Mahogany sides, and a rosewood fretboard!


Another thing to consider is whether you would like to buy a ukulele built with a laminate wood top or a solid wood top. Laminate tops are typically less expensive, and are often known to be more durable due to the various layers that are stacked upon each other. That being said, laminate wood is often recommended for children, because it can be easier to clean, maintain, and replace if needed. Solid wood can tend to be on the more expensive side, yet is commonly acknowledged for having an incomparable richness of tone. Solid wood ukuleles are most often recommended to anyone who is serious about sticking with the ukulele long term. Solid wood ukuleles are built to last, and if taken care of properly, can develop an even richer, more resonant tone the more often it’s played!


Best wood option for you? 

Because each type of wood has its own set of benefits, as well as its own unique look, it all comes down to which look you prefer, and which particular sound you prefer! 


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Ukulele Tunings:

  • The Soprano Ukulele is tuned to: G C E A 

  • The Concert Ukulele is tuned to:  G C E A 

  • The Tenor Ukulele is tuned to: G C E A 

  • The Baritone Ukulele is tuned to: D G B E 


You might have noticed that the soprano, concert, and tenor ukuleles all have the same tuning, where as the baritone ukulele has the exact same thing as the top four strings of the guitar! 


Best tuning for you?

If you are learning the ukulele as a way to transition into learning the guitar, the tuning of a baritone ukulele might be perfect for you, seeing that it is tuned the same as the top four strings of the guitar. But if you plan on sticking with the ukulele more permanently, you may enjoy the sound of the standard ukulele tuning that’s used in the soprano, concert, or tenor ukulele. 


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Ukulele Brands:

  • Kala is one of the best selling ukulele brands on the market. 

  • Luna makes a variety of uniquely designed ukuleles. 

  • Oscar Schmidt is a top quality brand with low affordable prices. 

  • Lanikai is a brand located in Hawaii, where the ukulele originated.  

  • Mahalo is widely known for their affordable beginner ukuleles. 

  • Cordoba prides themselves on the high skill of their luthiers. 

  • Martin handcrafts their ukuleles with incredibly high standards. .


While it is helpful to educate ourselves on different ukulele brands, it’s also good to remember that you don’t have to buy a ukulele by one of the top brands. For example, I bought my ukuleles based off of reviews I read online. Two of my ukuleles were made by brands that I didn’t list, and I am completely satisfied with both of them! 


Best brand for you?

If you are just starting out on the ukulele, and you aren’t sure whether you’d like to stick with it permanently, then it may be best to purchase a ukulele by a more affordable brand, such as Mahalo or Kala. If you’re sure you’ll want to stick with ukulele, but aren’t ready to shell out a large investment, I’d suggest going with the Oscar Schmidt brand. If you strongly desire a unique and personalized look on your ukulele, go with the Luna brand. And if you are confident you’d like to play the ukulele long term, or if you have already purchased a beginners ukulele and would like to invest in something of higher quality, I would suggest the Martin brand. 


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Ukulele Prices: 

    - Toy: $25 and under

    - Budget: $25 to $75

    - Beginner: $75 to $200

    - Mid-level: $200 to $600

    - High End: $900 and up.


Best pricing for you? 

When it comes to pricing, honestly it’s all about whatever budget you are willing to work with. Buying cheap, or toy ukuleles is almost never worth it due to the fact that they will almost constantly be out of tune. Budget ukuleles and beginner ukuleles are an excellent choice if you are just starting out and want to get a feel for the ukulele. And mid-level to high-end ukuleles are wonderful for anyone ready to invest in a long-term ukulele that will last for many years to come. 

Ukulele Suggestions
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