Your kid needs a good beginner ukulele, but you’re too busy to research the buy. Don’t worry, here’s a fast lane just for you.
When you learn your first three chords on the ukulele, you’re ready to go — quick. Likewise, this guide breaks down what you need to know to buy a good quality first uke for your child — in three fast parts.
After you’ve efficiently learned the basics, check out the Best Beginner Ukulele Guide for Busy Parents.
Along the way, you’ll become a big brained uke expert. Armed with this knowledge, your ukulele journey might take your family further than you think.
Just Want The Recommendations?
No problem. Go to the Best Beginner Ukulele Guide for Busy Parents right now.
1. Get Size Wise
Size and Sound Go Together
If you’re selecting a first uke for your kids, the main decision is what size. Going from small to larger, Soprano, Concert, and Tenor ukes are the most common.
Why more than one size? Because the size and the sound go together. The ukulele family is like a little orchestra, with each uke having a different range of notes. So each size ukulele has a different sound.
The Soprano has the highest pitch, like the right side of a piano. As the other sizes get bigger, the pitch gets a bit lower, and closer to a guitar. So Concert and Tenor have slightly lower notes than the Soprano.
Since they’re all tuned the same, the chord shapes are the same. So a family that plays together can get different sizes and learn together.
The Right Ukulele Size for Kids
The ukulele’s smaller neck and body make it a far better first instrument for kids than the guitar. Kids will do best with the two smallest sizes, soprano or concert.
|Kids closer to Age 6||Soprano Size|
|Kids closer to Age 11||Concert Size|
Did you know that the U.S. government keeps statistics on kids’ hand size? Based on the research, a good guideline is kids closer to age six should get a soprano ukulele, and kids closer to 11 should play a concert.
2. Buzz Through the Hype About Wood and Price
At the high end of the ukulele market, fancy, expensive woods like koa are a legitimate selling point. But for your first ukulele, the kind of wood is less important.
Beginner ukuleles are made to be affordable, so they’re built with less expensive wood, including laminates. That doesn’t mean they’re terrible. They’re just not museum pieces made from premium woods. When kids start learning violin, they don’t get a Stradivarius.
So don’t worry, there are many good starter ukes available under $100.
Why do some ukuleles cost so much more?
One of the biggest factors in ukulele price is wood. The quality of the wood, and how much solid wood is used in the construction, affects the sound quality.
Solid wood projects sound much better than plywood, press board, or laminates. Having a solid wood top (also called the soundboard) makes the biggest difference in tone quality and projection.
If your kid has a date with ukulele destiny, you can always move up the ladder, later …
|Ukulele Price Ladder Guidelines, not rules|
|All Solid Wood||$250 Lowest|
|Solid Wood Top||$150 Lowest|
|Plywood and Laminate||Between $20 and $150|
|Plastic!||Don’t even go there …|
Under $50 and Not So Thrifty
Have you ever bought an off-brand product just because it was so cheap — then regretted it? Most under $50 ukes are made to meet a very minimum requirement: what’s the cheapest thing that can be slapped together and called a ukulele.
What we can learn here — and fast — is what to stay away from.
Ukes in this price zone are made of cheap materials. You might even see plastic used, which is not likely to sound good.
Cheap tuning pegs and strings cause tuning problems. The cheap pegs will not hold the instrument in tune, and the cheap strings are difficult to get in tune in the first place.
Whatever instrument you choose, your child will also need a ukulele tuner, and you may want a case or carry bag. Lots of ukes come with these, and you will find better bundled options above $50.
So if a good sounding, tunable, playable uke is what you’re after, better to steer clear from here, because under $50 proves to not be so thrifty.
3. Never Buy A Naked Ukulele
You really can get a naked ukulele. It comes in a box, with nothing else inside but the ukulele. What other things might you need to go with it?
Get A Bundle
Definitely get a starter uke that comes bundled with necessary accessories, like a tuner and a carry bag.
The most important physical extra to get is a tuner.
If you get just a bare naked uke, with no extras, your child may struggle with tuning it. The tuner will save them a lot of time and frustration, so they can focus on learning and having fun.
Most tuners are small and clip onto the instrument. They have a small display that shows you when a string is in tune. Tuners run on a watch battery, which is usually pre-installed. You can get a replacement battery at any drug store or online.
What about an app? Yes, there are uke tuning apps for your phone, and some uke makers provide them for free.
The carry bag will provide some protection, but is soft sided. It will save the instrument from scratching, but it won’t save it from a heavy impact.
More Bundle Bits to Look For:
- Picks (optional — most players use their fingers instead)
- Instruction Booklet
- Extra Strings
- Online Lessons
Set Your Kid Up For Success
OK, so the tuner is the most important physical extra. But since your child’s success will depend on what you do after you get that uke, good instruction is crucial. Ukulele makers have noticed this and the leading companies are amping up their online learning tools.
Not having a solid learning plan is the biggest mistake beginners make.
The combination of the best beginner ukulele and a quality online instruction program gives your child the best chance to succeed.
Not having a solid learning plan is the biggest mistake beginners make.Tweet