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Top 10 Best Ukuleles For Beginners In 2019 Reviews & Buying Guide

As a beginner, choosing a ukulele can be difficult. Even guitarists, who have been playing for a while, can find it a bit stressful. This is because, even though ukuleles look like small versions of guitars, they are in fact quite different.

And, if you’re going to play the ukulele, then you need a good one.

So, to help you on your search, we’ve prepared a thorough review of the Top 10 best ukuleles for beginners we could find. After giving you all the info you need, as well as the pros and cons of each one, we’ll announce which one we think is the best uke for a beginner.

So, let get to it…

Best Ukuleles for Beginners
Photo by Zaydee

Top 10 Best Ukuleles For Beginners 2019 Reviews


1 Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Starter Kit

And kicking off our review, literally on a high note, is this wonderful soprano ukulele from Kala. It’s a cute little uke that’s just right for the beginner.

Kala Ukulele is well known for their high-quality instruments, and is one of the most sought after and recognized ukulele brands in the world. They are the instrument of choice for many schools and more people learn on a Kala uke than any other brand.

As mentioned, the uke in this kit is a Soprano, which is the most common and smallest size of ukulele. It has the shortest scale length and the tightest fret spacing. It is usually tuned to G, C, E, and A.

It’s made of mahogany, with a traditional Hawaiian laser-etched rosette around the soundhole, and has a satin finish. It features a Graphtech NuBone nut and saddle. Mahogany is an excellent choice of wood for making ukes. It gives a nice warm, cheery sound and also, looks great.

The strings are the excellent Aquila Super Nyglut. They are soft to the touch, which is essential for beginners. They produce a lovely tone when played, which should be enough to keep most people practicing.

This uke comes as a starter kit, so you’ll also get free online lessons, a free Kala App with a tuner, a Kala logo tote bag and a How to Play Ukulele Starter Booklet.

Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Starter Kit, Light Mahogany

Our Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)


Pros
  • Mahogany construction.
  • Genuine Italian Aquila Nyglut strings.
  • Comes with a tote bag, free online lessons and a starter booklet.
Cons
  • The tuners could be better.

2 Kala KA-CEM Exotic Mahogany Series Concert Ukulele

We’ll stay with Kala, but this time go for a bigger concert ukulele for those who need more volume. And just look at the color, isn’t it stunning?

Like our first offering, this uke is also made of mahogany which as we know creates a beautiful tone, and the wood really comes to life when the beautiful blue finish is applied to it.

The action on this uke is fantastic. On cheaper ukuleles, you often find terrible actions that make the instruments basically unplayable. You won’t find that on this gorgeous uke.

As for the strings, they are again Aquila Nyglut, so will sound good and last a very long time.

There are no extra with this uke, unlike our first Kala, the reason being that this isn’t really considered a beginners instrument. It’s obviously a great instrument to start learning on, but isn’t sold as such, with all the additional case candy. So please bear in mind that you’ll need to buy a case, etc. on top of the price of this uke.

If your looking for a great sounding, easy to play ukulele with drop dead gorgeous looks, then the KA-CEM Exotic Series Concert Ukulele could be the perfect choice for you.

Kala KA-CEM Exotic Mahogany Series Concert Ukulele

Our Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)


Pros
  • Mahogany construction.
  • Attractive blue finish.
  • Aquila Nyglut strings.
Cons
  • No case included.
  • No lesson guide for beginners.

3 Cordoba 15cm Concert Ukulele

Cordoba is an established Ukelele company and is truly a symbol of quality. You need only check out some other ukes from the brand to see how good they are.

Even though they offer a vast choice of ukes, for this review we’ll be focusing on the 15cm concert ukelele.

The top, back, and sides are all constructed from mahogany, which will provide you with a great tone every time you play. It has a rosewood fingerboard and a satin finish.

The instrument plays well and sounds good, but, the action is a little of the high side for our liking. It’s not uncomfortably high, but it would be a lot better if it were lower.

Even seasoned players have issues with an action that’s too high, because it makes the instrument difficult to play. It’s even harder for a beginner to get their hands around a uke with a high action.

But some players actually prefer a higher action, so they might love this instrument.

And finally, we’ll get to the way it looks, which is great. The elegant mahogany construction with the ivroid binding on the fingerboard and body, gives it a beautiful, old-world feel.

Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele

Our Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)


Pros
  • Low fret height.
  • Mahogany top, back, and sides.
  • Rosewood fretboard.
Cons
  • The action is a little high.
  • Some of the frets might need some manicuring.

4 Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

Next up, we have another great soprano uke from Kala. And again it’s an all-mahogany construction with a rich satin finish that accents the woodgrain.

The wood delivers a tone that is warm, yet bright, with a full-bodied sound and enough volume to stand out from the crowd.

The KA-15S is excellent for practicing, classroom use, and for acoustic performances. In fact, it’s one of the most commonly used ukeleles in schools worldwide.

It was developed because many schools needed a high-quality, affordable, entry-level ukulele. And it fulfilled their wishes perfectly and remains the unrivaled ukulele in its class to this day.

The strings on this uke are about the best you can find – Aquila Super Nyglut. Which are considered a superb choice for both seasoned players and beginners. They produce a fantastic sound and are not harsh on the fingers, allowing you to play for longer.

As well as the mahogany top, back and sides, this great little uke features a beautiful walnut fingerboard and bridge, a mahogany neck with 12 brass frets, and a GraphTech NuBone Nut.

Again, it has no additional extras, so you’ll need to get Bags, Tuners, or whatever else you need separately.

Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

Our Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)


Pros
  • Great price.
  • Quality materials.
  • Aquila Super Nyglut strings
Cons
  • Tuners could be better.
  • Strings tend to slip out of tune occasionally.

5 Cordoba 20cm Concert Ukulele

We’re back again with Cordoba, who make it to our number five spot, with another terrific concert size ukulele. This time, it’s the 20cm concert uke. So, it’s obviously bigger, but is it better?

The first thing you notice about this particular uke is its simplistic beauty. It looks great and is very well constructed, with its mahogany top, back, and sides. It comes in a natural satin finish, giving it a fantastic earthy look.

The fingerboard and bridge are made of rosewood, which gives it a superb feel under your fingers while you’re playing.

Yet again, it has Aquila strings, but let’s be honest, most quality ukeleles do. So, no surprise there.

So, it’s obviously bigger than it’s 15CM brother, and along with the extra 5CM comes not only more volume but also more low-end.

We are, of course, taking about ukeleles here, not subwoofer systems, so don’t expect anything super low. But, it does deliver a lower, clearer bass tone than it’s smaller brother.

The 20CM Concert Ukelele from Cordoba is also a great choice for guitarists who are looking to transition into ukelele playing and want something similar.

Cordoba 20CM Concert Ukulele

Our Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)


Pros
  • Mahogany top, back, and sides.
  • Rosewood fingerboard and bridge.
  • Aquila Nyglut strings.
  • Simplistic natural beauty.
  • Loud.
Cons
  • The louder volume may drown out other players when playing together if they have smaller ukes. Which could be a good or bad thing, depending on who’s playing what?

6 Bondi Ukulele Starter Kit

Okay, let’s start with the part about this kit that everyone is raving about: the Skype lessons!

We’re very impressed with Bondi for this moment of genius. While most manufacturers prepare a simplistic to OK guide for beginners, Bondi has gone one massive step further. They have introduced real-life teachers to help beginners.

So how do you access these coaches?

Well, you’ll need an up-to-date Skype account on your phone or laptop. And ensure that you have a good internet connection. Once that’s all sorted, your online teacher will take you on a personalized in-depth journey into the wonderful world of ukes.

And, the best part is that the lessons are completely free. It’s a fantastic idea and is sure to sell Bondi a lot of Ukeleles.

Now to the uke itself…

It’s made of mahogany with a mix of other quality hardwoods, and the strings are yet again, from Aquila.

The sound from this uke is really sweet; you could even try recording it if you fancy, any simple mic would do.

The fretboard comes with useful note stickers to help the beginner with his fingering early on. When your more comfortable on the instrument, you can, of course, take them off. This is a very thoughtful thing to do, so well done Bondi!

Other items you get with this uke include a gig bag, felt picks, a leather strap, a cleaning cloth, a tuner, and lots more. We can confidently say that this is about the most extensive ukulele starter kit you could possibly get. So is recommended for that reason alone, without even considering the excellent free Skype lessons!

Ukulele Starter Kit (16-Piece-Set)

Our Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)


Pros
  • A complete ukulele starter kit.
  • Free, personalized, easily schedulable Skype lessons.
  • Aquila strings.
  • Fretboard comes with note stickers for help with fingering.
Cons
  • Not the best quality ukelele in this review, but considering everything you get for the price, this is an unbelievable deal and you can always upgrade to a higher quality uke in the future if you really enjoy playing it.

7 Lanikai LU-20 Soprano Ukulele

It’s no time for another soprano uke, the LU-20 from Lanikai at our number seven position.

Unlike every other ukelele we’ve covered so far, which has been made from mahogany, this is made from Nato. It’s another commonly used wood for the construction of ukes and also produces a wonderful sweet tone, but does sound slightly different to a mahogany model.

And, we mean ‘different’ not better or worse. It’s a matter of personal taste as to what a particular player prefers. Nato instruments do tend to be cheaper than mahogany ones, simply because it’s a cheaper wood. But, the sound that Nato instruments produce can be superb.

Nato is also a little lighter wood than mahogany, which reflects in the weight of the LU-20. Obviously, weight doesn’t make a lot of difference to ukes, let’s face it, none of them are exactly, heavy. But it might be a consideration for some buyers.

Yet again, this uke comes with Aquila Nyglut strings. But, they are excellent, and gentle on the fingers, so we really should stop going on about them being used by every manufacturer.

As for the overall sound of the uke, it’s mellow, “woody” and sweet. It is also relatively loud with a great intonation.

Lastly, the tuners are good quality and do their job well.

Lanikai LU-21 Soprano Ukulele

Our Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)


Pros
  • Lightweight uke with great construction.
  • Mellow, “woody” sound.
  • Great tuners.
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty.
Cons
  • No bag or instructional booklet included.

8 Luna UKETCMAH Tattoo Concert Mahogany Ukulele

Do you like tribal tattoos? Well, now you can have one on your ukelele. The Luna UKETCMAH Tattoo Concert Ukulele comes fully adorned.

Inspired by the Hawaiian turtle, called the honu, Luna has come up with a uniquely designed uke especially for you. The ornamentation consists of patterns, shapes, and symbols of birds and waves. And makes this ukelele stand out from the crowd.

The fret markers are even stylized as sharks teeth!

So, let’s get to other aspects of the uke, like the construction…

The uke comes with mahogany top, back, and sides. Mahogany gives the already beautiful to look at uke, a wonderful tone to boot. So, expect a warm, resonating sound from this uke as you play it. It also features a rosewood fingerboard.

As for the strings, they are… you’ve guessed it, Aquila Super Nyglut, now that was a surprise. So, the uke will definitely not produce “plunky” sounds, like some cheap toy instrument. The strings are good for your fingers and create sounds that are, music to your ears.

It’s also really nice that Luna made an effort to give buyers a gig bag. The bag comes padded at the back and at the sides. This way, you can always be sure your uke is well taken care of.

Luna UKETCMAH Tattoo Concert Mahogany Ukulele w/Gig Bag

Our Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)


Pros
  • Stunning tattoo design.
  • Mahogany top, back, and sides with a rosewood fingerboard.
  • Quality gig bag included.
Cons
  • Some might not like the distinctive styling.
  • No ukulele lessons included.

9 Donner Mahogany Concert Ukulele Set

And now, we move on to the 23-inch Donner Concert ukulele, which is also an excellent choice for the beginner.

This uke again features a mahogany top, back, side, and neck. So, will again bring you the characteristic rich, warm sound the wood is famous for. The fingerboard is made of rosewood. So it feels great under your fingers while your playing.

The strings are nylon, and amazingly, they are not from Aquila? Not quite sure what to say about that, but we are a little shocked. Donner even went further and decided to throw in an extra set of strings. But they’re not from Aquila either? What is the world coming to?

But, getting back to being a little more serious, the tuning pegs are good and solidly made. And the included electronic tuner works well.

The set also includes some other items, such as a well-padded gig bag, which you can either carry it as a case or as a backpack. You also get an adjustable strap and some picks.

All this adds up to a good assortment of quality items for such an affordable ukelele set, fair play.

Donner Concert Ukulele Mahogany DUC-1 23 inch

Our Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)


Pros
  • Mahogany construction.
  • Quality electronic tuner included.
  • Comes with padded gig bag.
Cons
  • Some buyers have complained that the strings tend to buzz a little.

10 Lohanu Concert Size Ukulele Bundle

The Lohanu Concert Size Ukulele Bundle is a quality beginner ukulele wrapping up our review nicely.

The top, back, and sides are made from choice mahogany and sapele, which gives the uke its beauty and solidity. It also features an arched back for longer sustain and a fuller sound.

The fingerboard is made from rosewood and the neck, as well as the body, features a handmade ABS binding.

What’s also a little unusual is the fact that this ukulele has two strap buttons. Although this might seem obvious to some, most ukeleles don’t feature them. This is because a lot of players play without a strap.

The sets we’ve reviewed that include a strap obviously do feature them on the ukes. But most of the ukeleles in this round-up don’t come with strap buttons as standard.

Not that this makes a lot of difference to a beginner, who will normally start by playing sitting down, but it is something to bear in mind if you do have a preference.

In the bundle, you’ll find a strap, a tuner, a gig bag, and two picks and a pick holder.

The strings are, of course, Aquila, but you must have been expecting that by now. And on that note, we should end, before we get carried away talking about how commonly used their strings are, yet again.

Ukulele Concert Size Bundle

Our Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)


Pros
  • Arched back design which gives fantastic projection and tone.
  • Aquila strings.
  • Great tuner.
Cons
  • Frets could have been finished to a higher standard.

Best Ukuleles for Beginners Buying Guide

Ukuleles for Beginners Buying Guide
Photo by Brian

The ukelele is originally an instrument that was native to Hawaii. So, naturally, it creates an “Aloha”, “islandy” feel when played. You can also think of them as the warmer, cheerier, and brighter-sounding cousins of guitars.

So, it’s nearly time to reveal the winner in the Top 10 best ukeleles for beginners, before getting to that, we’d like to offer some top tips that will help you land a really great uke.

Size

There are four different sizes of the ukulele: the soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. The truth is that there is no best size for the beginner. Choosing the size for you is more intuitive than anything else. It’s best to go for any size that you like the sound of and fits your body size.

That said, if the uke is for a child, then a soprano might be the way to go. Soprano ukes are small, making them easy for kids to hold and learn on.

Middle school children would be better suited to a concert and adults can go for a tenor.

However, as we have said, there are no rules. The only rule is to get something that fits you.

Wood

As we mentioned earlier, ukuleles come from Hawaii. The original wood of choice for the uke is Koa. It’s beautiful and gives the true ukulele sound. However, it is expensive and not usually used for making instruments for beginners.

Another option is mahogany. This also gives a beautiful sound although it tends to be a little warmer and softer than Koa. It’s less expensive than Koa, so it’s the most popular option for starter ukes.

Other types of wood you might find are spruce and nato.

Budget

Finally, as a beginner, you’re probably looking for a cheap uke, which is understandable. However, a better option might be to look for a good uke that’s affordable. $75 is an excellent place to start.

Luckily, there are lots of beginner ukes including some of the ones in this review that are around this price. In fact, many manufacturers produce ukulele starter kits, that contain almost everything you need to play the uke as a beginner, for around this price point as well.

Conclusion

So, here’s the part we’ve all been waiting for, the winner in our review of the Top 10 Best Ukuleles for Beginners. And that is the…

…Bondi Ukulele Starter Kit.

We are very impressed with how Bondi includes a great ukelele and everything else you need to become a good player in its starter kit. It’s easily the most extensive ukulele starter kit you’ll currently find in the market.

But, it’s the free Skype lessons that really made it stand out as the winner – professional, personalized, one-on-one teaching from quality experienced teachers? For free! Just awesome!

Top 10 Best Ukuleles For Beginners In 2019 Reviews & Buying Guide
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