Finding a ukulele for beginners can be tricky. That’s mostly because beginner ukulele players don’t really know what to look for.
As such, I’ve made this beginner ukulele guide to help out my fellow musicians find the perfect instrument. I’ve also included some of the best ukuleles for beginners I’ve come across. So, without further ado, let’s get started, shall we?
At a Glance
- Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele – Best Overall
- Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele – Runner-up
- Donner Concert Ukulele Mahogany DUC-1 – Most Affordable Starter Kit
- Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Concert Ukulele – Best Esthetics
- Makala Dolphin Bridge Soprano Ukulele – Best for Children
- Kala KA-TE Mahogany Tenor Electric Ukulele – Best Tenor/Acoustic-Electric
- Lanikai MA8T Natural Ukulele – Best for Aspiring Musicians
- Yamaha GL1 Guitalele – Best for Former Guitar Players
The 8 Best Beginner Ukuleles of 2022
In case you didn’t know, there are actually various types of ukuleles. Soprano ukuleles, tenor ukuleles, concert ukuleles, baritone ukuleles. There’s even a sopranissimo and a bass uke.
However, you’ll find most ukes on this list to be soprano and concert-sized. That’s because these are the most lightweight and comfortable to hold, especially in the case of children.
Still, I threw in some other options that’ll be more interesting to all the adult beginners out there. So, take a look and find the best beginner ukulele for you.
1. Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele – Best Overall
Our star of the day is none other than the Kala KA-15S Mahogany soprano ukulele. Honestly, this baby is what I’d call the definition of beginner-friendly, and I’ll explain just why.
First off, since it’s a soprano uke, its minuscule size will make it perfect for both kids and adults.
Additionally, it’s made out of laminated mahogany, which is quite solid and durable. As such, it can withstand quite a lot before it starts showing any signs of wear and tear.
Let me also mention that this ukulele has Graph Tech Nubone XB nuts, which, unlike other synthetic nuts, can improve the uke’s projection and resonance.
Moreover, they can provide you with superb sustainability and intonation. Believe it or not, this uke has exceptional intonation up to the 12th fret, and best of all, its action is perfect, allowing you to play comfortably without any disturbing buzzing coming from the strings.
Now, the only thing that makes this soprano uke fall slightly short of perfection is its construction. Unfortunately, its soundhole isn’t lined, and there were some splinters and glue remnants within it as well.
Still, in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t really matter much. And, you should know this; this beauty has one heck of an exterior.
It’s got a brilliant satin varnish, and its walnut fingerboard is as smooth as can be. Even the fret ends are smooth as butter, meaning your fingers will be spared the injuries which come from other ukes in the same price range.
All in all, I’d recommend the Kala Ka-15S to any beginner as it will serve them well for many, many years, even with its minor flaws.
- Sturdy and reliable
- Great intonation and sustainability
- Comes with Aquila Nylgut strings
- Perfect action and excellent projection
- Great price for a uke of this caliber
- Small enough for children of any age and size
- The sound box needs better finishing
2. Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele – Runner-up
Just barely missing first place is the Cordoba 15CM concert ukulele. Handmade by the Cordoba experts with the best materials out there, this uke is guaranteed to be an excellent companion for any beginner.
Honestly, from good looks to high-quality sounds, this uke has got it all.
Its laminated mahogany body is beautiful to look at, and more importantly, it adds a warm, rich tone to the instrument. And thankfully, it’s for a rosewood fingerboard that’s so smooth that your fingers will basically fly over the frets.
And, for I mention the abalone rosette inlay as well as the ivoried binding that contrasts beautifully with the dark mahogany? Pair this with the chrome tuners and pearl buttons; you can’t help but admire this wonderful uke.
Still, there’s a reason I put it in second place, not first, and that’s mainly the price. In my opinion, this concert ukulele is a bit expensive for a simple entry-level instrument. I’d typically recommend it for intermediate players who have been playing for a while and don’t mind the investment.
Still, if you don’t mind splurging a bit, then you’ll have a great time practicing Ng with the Cordoba 15CM.
- Handcrafted uke
- Mahogany neck and body
- Comes with Aquila nylon strings
- Easy to tune
- Great projection
- Has a balanced, warm tone
- Great for beginners and intermediate musicians
- A little pricey
- Doesn’t come with any accessories
3. Donner Concert Ukulele Mahogany DUC-1 – Most Affordable Starter Kit
Though still relatively new, Donner has managed to make a name for itself within the musical world, having the DUC-1 mahogany concert ukulele as one of its best products.
Why you ask? Well, when you compare the quality of the product you’re getting with its price, you’ll understand just why I’d recommend this to any ukulele beginner.
First off, let’s talk about the construction of this uke. It’s got a laminated mahogany top and a rosewood bridge and fingerboard. Accordingly, you know you’ve got yourself a sturdy instrument that will make a clear, bright, and sweet sound.
Moreover, the ukulele has an arched back to improve its resonance and sound projection, thus making the most out of every single note played on its Aquila strings.
You also get chrome-plated guitar-style tuners that make tuning accurate and effortless, but best of all, you’ll get numerous ukulele accessories for a bargain price.
A clip-on tuner, ukulele strap, padded gig bag, cleaning cloth, picks, extra strings; you’ll get it all. You even get free online lessons to help you play your new instrument.
Now, the only thing I’ll say against the Donner concert ukulele is that I don’t really like that it’s got an unbound fretboard. I’ve found through my experience that they can sprout in dry conditions.
Still, with proper care and storage, you can avoid this problem, so just keep this tidbit in the back of your mind when buying this uke.
- Arched back leads to great sound projection
- Smooth mahogany body
- Reliable tuners
- Various accessories
- Bargain price
- Unbound fret
4. Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Concert Ukulele – Best Esthetics
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better-looking ukulele than the Luna Tattoo Mahogany concert uke. This beauty has fret markers stylized after shark teeth, as well as a spectacular satin finish that brings out the most of its wood. It also has a beautiful design inspired by traditional Hawaiian body ornamentation.
Since its body is made from high-quality mahogany, the Luna concert ukulele is the definition of endurance and durability. Add to this the walnut fretboard and bridge, and you’ve got a fantastic uke with a bright, warm sound that’ll melt any heart.
Thankfully, the price isn’t extravagant, making it perfect for any beginner who’s afraid to commit to something more expensive.
I will say this, though. This uke doesn’t have the best tuners. They’re a bit of a hassle to work with, and they don’t hold the tune for long. However, if you replace them with a set of Grover tuners, this uke will be one of the best beginner ukuleles of all time.
- Beautiful tattoo-inspired design
- Shark teeth-like fret markers
- Solid mahogany top, back, and sides
- Has a bright and sweet sound
- Durable walnut bridge and smooth walnut fretboard
- Subpar tuners
5. Makala Dolphin Bridge Soprano Ukulele – Best for Children
If you’re looking for a ukulele for a small child, say aged 3-10, then the Makala Dolphin ukulele is your best bet.
As its name implies, it has a Dolphin-shaped bridge, which is absolutely adorable, and it comes in various colors, from pink to purple to blue. As such, your kid will be extremely excited to start practicing on his new colorful ukulele, and ultimately, that’s what all parents want, isn’t it?
Additionally, since this uke is soprano-sized, it’ll be light enough and small enough for kids’ hands, and they’ll be able to carry it to their lessons with no problem.
Now, I will say this. This uke isn’t made of the best possible materials. Don’t get me wrong; they’re not bad by all means. They’re just not the most durable. So, they won’t exactly take a beating and come out unscathed. Nevertheless, they’re still functional and have a pretty good sound.
Just don’t let your kid act like a rock star with the uke, and both he and the instrument will be just fine. Still, even if he did, the loss won’t be great as this baby is priced pretty reasonably.
- Best for children
- Easy to play and carry
- Cute and colorful design
- Comes with Aquila nylon strings
- Walnut fretboard
- Kauri top and mahogany neck
- Not made of the best materials
- Needs daily tuning in the beginning to stretch the strings, but they’ll hold the tune well later on
6. Kala KA-TE Mahogany Tenor Electric Ukulele – Best Tenor/Acoustic-Electric
Now, it may seem strange that I included an electric ukulele on this list. However, if you’re thinking about performing on stage later on, then you should definitely consider the Kala KA-TE tenor electric uke.
As you may have heard, the Kala brand is quite renowned for producing quality instruments for a fraction of the price of teg high-end brands. Of course, their KA-TE tenor ukulele is no exception to this rule, and you’ll find it much cheaper than other acoustic-electric ukes.
This is despite the fact that it’s got a full mahogany body and a walnut fingerboard. These features not only increase the sturdiness of the instrument but also result in a clear, warm, and full sound that travels across any room. That’s even without plugging it into the amplifier.
Fortunately, this tenor uke’s neck profile is sized just right so that almost any sized hand can hold it comfortably. So, don’t let the tenor size scare you away if you’re a beginner.
Still, it’s worth mentioning that this uke’s got an unbound fretboard, even though the rest of it has cream-colored ABS binding. So, make sure to properly condition the uke if you live in a dry environment as the fretboard may sprout.
And if you find yourself wanting a tenor ukulele that’s not electric, then you can simply get the acoustic version (Kala KA-T) and save yourself some money in the process.
- Mahogany body
- Both acoustic and electric
- Great resonance and projection
- Good size for most ages
- Unbound fretboard
- May be too expensive for someone just starting out
7. Yamaha GL1 Guitalele – Best for Former Guitar Players
All my guitar players out there, if you want to play the ukulele without having to learn a whole new instrument from scratch, then you’ll greatly appreciate the Yamaha GLQ Guitalele. As the name implies, the Guitalele is part guitar and part ukulele. You have the six strings of the guitar and the size and sound of a baritone ukulele.
That being so, you don’t have to lug around a whole guitar in public, which I find to offer several benefits.
One, you won’t like a showy peacock.
Two, you can play it lying in your bed or inside narrow places like your car.
Three, you can whip it out whenever and wherever you want as it’s so easy to store and carry.
Four, it’s great for musicians with small hands.
I can go on, but basically, it’s a wonderful solution for all those pesky guitar problems.
And don’t worry about its projection. This ukulele produces a nice, loud sound that’ll reach all ears. And thankfully, the construction is pretty solid as well. I mean, hey, what do you expect of Yamaha, right? They’ve been holding their place in the music industry for decades for a reason, you know.
So, you’ll find the spruce top to be quite sturdy, and it lends the instrument quite a beautiful, mellow sound. Still, keep in mind that the Guitalele may not be the best way to learn to play ukulele. Yes, it sounds like a uke, but it doesn’t function the exact same way.
- Great for classical guitar musicians
- Can function as a mini guitar
- Easy to carry and transport
- Good sound and projection
- Comes with a gig bag
- The strings aren’t the best quality, but you can easily replace them with better ones
8. Lanikai MA8T Natural Ukulele – Best for Aspiring Musicians
If you’re really serious about pursuing the ukulele and you see a future for yourself playing the instrument, then go with the Lanikai MA8T uke.
This bad boy is a tenor ukulele that’s meant to accompany you through all phases of your journey from newbie to expert.
It’s got a wide nut to increase your comfort. It’s also got a genuine bone nut and saddle, which will drastically improve its tone and sustainability. Moreover, it comes with open-back tuners that make tuning incredibly easy and accurate and further increase your comfort by lightening the headstock.
Now, as is traditional with ukuleles, it’s made of the sturdy mahogany wood that’ll give it a full, warm tone. However, what’s not traditional about this baby is the fact that it’s an 8-string uke. What is an 8-string ukulele, you ask?
Well, think of it as two ukes in one. As such, you have a richer, fuller sound than you would with a regular ukulele. However, there’s a catch.
You’ll find that the 8-stringed uke is harder to master than the 4-stringed one. That’s because you need to apply even pressure on both strings, and this can be a bit difficult for most beginners, especially if they’re children.
That’s why I only recommend this uke to those who are really serious about playing ukulele.
- Comes with a padded gig bag
- Has fingerboard binding
- Full and rich sound
- Sturdy mahogany body
- Needs more practice than the standard ukulele
Buyer’s Guide to Beginner Ukes
Getting your first ukulele can be daunting if you don’t understand the first thing about ukuleles.
Sure, you’ve probably already seen numerous cheap ukuleles being sold on the street, but these are mere children’s toys. They’re not musical instruments that are worth having and learning.
So, let’s see which factors you need to look for so that you can end up with a high-quality instrument that suits you perfectly.
As I previously mentioned, ukuleles have various sizes. However, there are four main sizes; soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. The soprano ukes are the smallest among the four, while the baritone ukes are the largest, with the concert and tenor ukuleles falling in between.
Now, the soprano, tenor, and concert ukes’ strings are all tuned to G, C, E, and A. However, the baritone is tuned to D, G, B, and E.
So, now that we have that covered, how does the size of the ukulele affect your decision when buying a new uke?
Well, first off, you should understand that the larger the ukulele, the more frets it has and the more space between the frets there are.
To give you an example, a soprano ukulele has 12-15 frets with small spacing, while the baritone ukulele has 18+ frets with larger spacing.
Accordingly, if you’ve got big hands and you choose a soprano or a concert ukulele, then you’ll feel as if your fingers are very cramped when making chord shapes, and playing will become extremely uncomfortable. You may even find the small size hard to control when playing.
Of course, the opposite applies to small hands and large spaces, which make jumping from one chord to another pretty exhausting. That isn’t even mentioning how uncomfortable their grip will be on the bigger-sized instrument.
Surprisingly, the size also influences the instrument’s tone and resonance as well. Typically, the larger the uke, the deeper and louder the tone, and the smaller the uke, the brighter and quieter the tone.
So, that’s why I always advise potential buyers to try all ukulele sizes first at a local music store. That way, you can find out which size you’re most comfortable with.
Reputable ukulele brands that have been around for many years are a great way to judge whether a ukulele is of good quality or not.
I mean, if a company’s products are terrible, the company should still be standing, right? They must have a certain standard that has made their customers happy and satisfied with their purchases.
Nevertheless, certain brands can be too expensive for the average joe who’s just trying his hand at stringed instruments. That’s why I’ve made sure to include brands that sell reasonably-priced ukes made of good-quality materials, such as the Cordoba, Donner, and Kala ukuleles.
With price, I always say this; if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
As sad as it is, dirt-cheap ukes are just not good ukes. They’ll always have some major flaw, be it twisted necks, sharp frets, warped tops, or overall bad construction.
Unfortunately, any of these flaws will seriously impact your playing and make you hate practicing due to the horrid sound that comes out of the instrument. That is, of course, if you don’t chuck out the uke after you get injured on a sharp edge from the first use.
So, be realistic, and get an affordable uke. Don’t go for the lowest price; go for the one that makes the most sense.
If you’ve never played a uke before, and you want to get started, then your first uke needs to be a good one. And I find the Kala Ka-15S mahogany soprano ukulele to be the best of the best.
It’s got it all, from looks to durability to sound quality. To top it off, it’s not expensive, and you can even find a concert or tenor version if you’re not a fan of the soprano size.