As a beginner, choosing a ukulele can be a bit tedious. Even guitar connoisseurs will find it a bit stressful too. And this is because ukuleles are quite different from guitars even though they are both fretted instruments.
However, tedious or not, if you’re going to play the ukulele at all, then you need a good one.
And so, to help you, we have prepared a really thorough review on some of the best beginner ukes we could find. After carefully, going over each one, we will announce our winner.
But hey, feel free to choose something else if that’s what you want!
Top 10 Best Ukuleles for Beginners Reviews
1 Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Starter Kit
And kicking off our reviews today, literally on a very high note, is this wonderful soprano ukulele from Kala. It’s a cute little instrument that’s just right for the beginner. And we can’t wait to tell you all about it!
First, it’s made of mahogany. Mahogany is an excellent wood choice for the making of ukes. It gives a cheery warm sound and, very importantly also, it looks really elegant.
Now, quickly to the fretwork…
We are really impressed with what Kala did on the fretwork here. It looks to be well constructed, placed, and properly filed.
If you’re very familiar with fretted instruments, you might know that this is a major deal. Most manufacturers leave the frets unfiled, making it hard to slide down the sides of the instrument without drawing blood.
And, of course, the strings…
How can we not mention that they are genuine Italian Aquila nyglut? They are soft to the touch which is especially important for beginners. Plus, they give a really sweet sound when played.
Of course, they would need some breaking in like every other set of strings would. But once broken in, get ready for blissful melodies.
Err… they could be better, but, at this price, of course you can’t complain too much. You might want to get a Snark as it might be easier for you though. The tuner app isn’t much help as it tends to be a bit imprecise.
But aside these, what else is there?…
Well, of course, this kit comes with its own tote bag, and a quick guide to help you begin playing.
Our Rating: (4.6 / 5)
2 Kala KA-CEM Exotic Mahogany Series Concert Ukulele
So, here’s a beginner concert ukulele for those who prefer that. It comes in an outstanding blue color that’s really attractive. But just what is this uke capable of?…
The looks of this uke are truly exceptional. The uke is made of mahogany which gives the uke its beautiful appeal. Add that to the blue finish, and it makes the uke simply stunning.
The mahogany body also promises a great tone. As we know, mahogany is almost gold standard for manufacturing ukes…
We love the fretwork on this uke. But just before we go into whether the frets are filed or not, let’s see something else about the fret…
The action on this uke is fantastic. Many times, because of the action of some fretted instruments, they become very tough to play on the fingers. Thankfully, the distance between the strings and the fretboard is just moderate, so you’re covered.
Now, to whether the frets are filed…
Yes, they are, thankfully. It is almost nightmarish sliding up and down the sides of unfiled frets.
As for the strings, they are Aquila nyglut. We don’t need to tell you that that’s equal to amazing sound, do we?
The tuners are really functional too. And they are very easy to use as well.
However, here are some things you should know about this uke…
It does not come with a case. Neither does it come with lesson guides or stuff like that. Why this is on the table here is because our target here is “beginners”.
However, aside that, it is a really great uke and you’d love it.
Our Rating: (4.7 / 5)
3 Cordoba 15cm Concert Ukulele
Cordoba is a brand you must be familiar with if you’re looking to get serious about the uke. It’s truly a symbol of quality and you need only check out other ukes from this brand to see what we’re talking about.
But before you do that, here’s its 15cm concert uke…
First off, it’s great that the top, sides and back of this uke are made in mahogany. This way, there’s no escaping it… Only great tone every time you play… So, score one for the uke already.
Cordoba prides itself as the nylon strings expert, and they have proved it with their wide range of ukes. This is no exception. The strings are great and easy on the tender fingers of the beginner. And, of course, they give great sound too.
As for the fretwork, it’s a mixed bag…
First, we are thankful that the frets are low here. Why? Because ukes with lower frets sound much better than those with higher frets.
But while that is true, remember we said it’s a mixed bag. So, what’s the story?
The action… it’s a bit too high. Even seasoned players have issues with high action cos it makes the instrument difficult to play. This is because it could cause your fingers to hurt after a while of playing…
But hey, the uke still looks really great.
It has the beautiful old-world feel when you look at it, plus the elegant mahogany construction of the uke. Also, it comes with an ivroid binding at the fingerboard and body.
Our Rating: (4.5 / 5)
4 Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
Here’s another great soprano uke from Kala. And we’re pretty sure you want to know what’s up with this uke. We are even more excited to show you, so, let’s go…
This uke is constructed from genuine mahogany. You’d love its intonation very much. Mahogany hasn’t stopped giving ukes world over a fantastic tone.
We also love how mahogany gives this uke a very beautiful look. You already know that mahogany is a really elegant type of wood. And then the manufacturers did one better by giving the uke a wonderful satin finish, so it stands out.
The strings on this uke are about the best you can find anywhere, by general consensus. Aquila nyglut strings are best for both seasoned players and beginners. They give the best sound and they are not too harsh on the fingers, allowing you play for longer and enjoy it too.
The tuners on this uke are geared which is good. However, even though the uke itself is easy to tune, the tuners themselves aren’t fantastic. They are just fair actually, and you’d be better off getting a Snark.
However, the frequent slipping out of tune you’d notice isn’t, primarily, because of your strings or even the tuner. Let’s just say that it’s a rite of passage for all strings till they become fully stretched and can hold a tune.
Sadly though, this particular uke from Kala does not feature a bag or learning guide like the other one we reviewed. However, the uke is so affordable you can get a bag as an add-on. Plus, there are plenty of tutorials from Youtube which you’d have still ended up watching even with a guide.
Our Rating: (4.6 / 5)
5 Cordoba 20cm Concert Ukulele
Cordoba makes it to our number five spot with another terrific concert size ukulele. This time, it’s the 20cm concert uke. Let’s see what this uke can do…
The first thing you notice about this particular uke is its simplistic beauty.
The uke is made of mahogany at the top, back and sides. And with the natural satin finish, this uke gives a naturally beautiful appeal. If earthy tones are more your thing, this uke will suit you just fine.
Also, the fingerboard and bridge of this uke are made of rosewood. You’d love the way rosewood feels under your fingers as you play it.
You’d hardly have a problem with this uke’s intonation and that is thanks to its solid construction. Being made of mahogany, the tone of this uke is wonderful.
Now add this to the Aquila strings and the sound you get is absolutely divine. And let’s not forget that the Aquila strings are nice to your beginner fingers, so you’ll ultimately play for longer.
The tuners are really great too. Actually, they are geared and seem to do a nice job staying tight after tuning.
Aside the sound, another thing you’re probably wondering about is the volume. The volume is actually nice… not too loud or too quiet. It gives the uke a very graceful, refined sound at the end.
If you’ve been playing the guitar and you’re looking to transition to something fairly similar, you could try out this uke from Cordoba. You’d be glad you did.
Our Rating: (4.2 / 5)
6 Bondi Ukulele Starter Kit
Okay, so let’s start with the part about this kit that almost everyone is raving about: the Skype lessons!
We couldn’t be more impressed with Bondi for this genius move. While most manufacturers just prepare a very “not-comprehensive” guide for beginners, Bondi is different. The manufacturers introduced real-life, real-time coaches, to help beginners.
So how do you access these coaches?
All you need do is have an updated Skype account on your phone or laptop. Also, ensure your internet connection is strong. Once that is settled, your coach will begin to take you on a personalized in-depth journey into the world of ukes.
You wanna know the best part? The lessons are completely free. We don’t know about you but this is one helluva deal!
Now to the uke itself…
It’s made of mahogany with a mix of other quality hardwood. The strings are Aquila and the tuners glow. The tuners could be better though, but altogether, the uke does produce great sound.
The sound from this uke is really so sweet, you should probably try recording it – A simple mic would do.
Furthermore, the fretboard comes with note stickers to help the beginner with his fingering. This is a very thoughtful thing to do, Bondi. Well done!
Other things you get with this uke include a gig bag, felt picks, a leather strap, a cleaning cloth, and lots more. We can confidently say that this is about the most complete ukulele starter kit you could possibly get from the market.
Our Rating: (4.9 / 5)
7 Lanikai LU-20 Soprano Ukulele
So, here’s the Lanikai soprano ukulele at our number seven position. If you’re ready, then let’s get to know this uke more personally…
This is a nato uke, that is, the body is made of nato. If you’re bothered about this because it’s not mahogany, then relax. Nato is also very great for making ukes and it produces a very sweet tone too.
Aside the tone, nato also gives this uke a really lovely look.
Plus, it also makes the uke a little lighter than mahogany ukes. Some may like, dislike, or be indifferent to this fact as the case may be. But there are no rules when it comes to weight, it really depends on you.
What’s more important is the sound which we will get to in a bit. But just before then, let’s see something else…
With regards to construction, we would give this uke a ten. Aside the fact that the material of choice is great, the binding is super too. This way, your uke is pretty much immune to all forms of accidental hitting and knockings.
The uke comes with pre-strung Aquila nyglut strings. They are industry-standard, and are particularly gentle on the fingers. Of course, there will be occasional slippage after tuning. It’s typical for all fretted instruments, even classical guitars.
As for the overall sound of the uke, it’s mellow, “woody” and sweet. (In case you didn’t know, you want a woody tone from your uke… more original). It is also relatively loud enough and the intonation is on point as well.
Lastly, the tuners are solid, quality-wise. Plus, they do their job very well too.
Our Rating: (4.5 / 5)
8 Luna UKETCMAH Tattoo Concert Mahogany Ukulele
Who wants a tattoo? Well, the Luna UKETCMAH Tattoo Concert Ukulele comes with a really lovely one. You might want to give it a try.
Inspired by the Hawaiian turtle, called the honu, Luna designs a one-of-a-kind uke for you. The ornamentation on this uke consists of patterns, shapes and symbols of birds and waves, and all things representing the world of islands.
Fun fact: the fret marks are even stylized as shark teeth!
If there’s one thing we’re sure of, the looks of this uke alone already stands it out.
So, let’s get to other important aspects of the uke… like its construction, for example.
The uke comes with mahogany top, back, and sides. Mahogany gives the already beautiful uke a really beautiful tone to boot. So, expect a warm, resonating tone from this uke as you play.
As for the strings, topnotch! They are, of course, Aquila nyglut strings. So, the uke will not give a “plunky” sound like some cheap toy. The strings are good to your fingers and produce sounds that are, literally, music to your ears.
Thank God, Luna gets it right with its tuner. The quality is super and it is also very easy to use. So, yes you’ll be tuning your strings every now and then for this first few days. But, hey, it won’t be such a chore.
And finally, let’s talk about the gig bag included. It’s really nice that Luna took the time to give buyers a really nice gig bag. The bag comes padded at the back and even at the sides. This way, you can always be sure of your baby’s safety.
Our Rating: (4.6 / 5)
9 Donner Mahogany Concert Ukulele Set
And now, we are on to the 23-inch Donner Concert ukulele. It’s an excellent uke choice for a beginner and we are about to find out why.
This uke is made of mahogany at the top and body. We love this because it will definitely bring you rich, warm, cheery sound.
You’d also love the tone of your mahogany uke. As you know, the first step to a great-sounding uke is quality construction. And you know, you can hardly get it wrong with a mahogany uke.
That aside, we get to the fingerboard; it’s made of rosewood. So it feels absolutely amazing to your fingers while playing.
The strings above the fingerboard are nylon strings (not Aquila). Especially because you’re a beginner you need nylon strings. They are best for you because aside the fact that they play well, they are also soft to the touch.
Donner even went ahead to throw in an extra set of strings. That’s really sweet of them.
The tuning pegs themselves are very good and solidly made. And the electronic tuner included works superbly. It is definitely of high quality and with little effort, it gets the strings properly tuned.
As for the included gig bag, it is a really solid item. It is well padded so that it protects your uke. Plus the way the handles are attached, it gives the uke owner two carrying options. You can either carry it as a case or as backpack.
Also included in this set is a quality, adjustable strap. It makes carrying the uke easier. Plus, the fact that it is adjustable makes the uke a great gift idea for any sized person.
Our Rating: (4.7 / 5)
10 Lohanu Concert Size Ukulele Bundle
The Lohanu Concert Size Ukulele Bundle is the quality beginner ukulele wrapping up our reviews nicely today. We love this uke for a host of reasons. And we are about to share some of those reasons with you.
This uke is definitely high quality. It is made of choice materials (mahogany and Sapele) which give the uke its beauty and solidity. You can be sure that your uke will remain solid even after years of use.
An added advantage to the construction of this uke is that it comes with a laminate body. For you, this ultimately means that you can move your uke around without fear. A laminate body will mean that your uke isn’t as fragile as a normal solid wood uke.
The sound is also pretty great with this uke. Understandably, things would be a bit different if this was an all-wood construction but it’s not bad at all. The sound is still sweet and pleasant.
But there’s more about the sound…
In the construction of this uke, Lohanu chose to include an arched back. It isn’t just decorative, this arch actually impacts on the quality of sound produced. So, ultimately, you get an affordable uke that sounds like a higher end model.
In the bundle, you’d find a strap, a fantastic tuner, a gig bag, and 2 picks included. Please don’t use the picks, ukes are better played with the fingers.
The strings are Aquila which means they are quality strings. And if quality, then you can be sure of terrific sound.
Our Rating: (4.9 / 5)
Best Ukuleles for Beginners Buying Guide
The uke is actually an instrument native to Hawaii. So, naturally, it gives the “Aloha”, “islandy” feel when played. Simply put, ukes are the warmer, cheerier, and brighter-sounding cousins of guitars.
Today, we will quickly help with top tips that can help you land a really great uke as a beginner.
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 fits your sonic preferences and body size.
That said, if the uke is for a child, then a soprano might be the way to go. Soprano ukes are small, and easier for kids to hold and learn than other ukes.
Middle school children can do with 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.
As we mentioned earlier, ukuleles come from Hawaii. The original wood of choice for the uke is Koa. It’s very beautiful and gives the true ukulele sound. However, it is a bit expensive.
Another option though, is mahogany. Mahogany also gives a beautiful sound although it tends to be a little warmer and softer than Koa. It’s less expensive than Koa, though, so it’s arguably the most popular option.
Other types of wood you might find are spruce and nato.
Solid or laminate
When we say that a uke is made of solid wood, it means that the wood on the inside and outside is the same. That is, there is no difference, quality wise, in both woods.
Laminate, on the other hand, means that the wood inside is cheaper. And then it is lined by a thin film of quality wood on the outside.
Of course, you can guess which will be more expensive. You should also be able to guess which sounds better at the end of the day. However, at the risk of stating the obvious, solid wood ukes sound a whole lot better than laminate ones.
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 a good place to start.
Luckily, there are lots of beginner ukes out there that begin at that price range. In fact, many manufacturers, these days, are actually quite gracious. They produce ukulele starter kits that contain almost everything you need to play the uke as a beginner.
You still have to be careful with such deals though. In a bid to make ukes “price-attractive”, some of the add-ons might be low quality. Read reviews and be sure of the quality of those add-ons before settling for any uke.
So, here’s the part we’ve all been waiting for, our winner for today’s reviews. It’s pretty much a no-brainer the way we see it because the difference is clear.
Of course, our winning beginner uke today is the Bondi Ukulele Starter Kit. We are impressed with how Bondi thinks of everything in this its starter kit. It is arguably one of the most complete ukulele starter kits you’d find in the market.
But best of all, it’s the free Skype lessons that gets us head over heels — Professional, personalized, one-on-one teaching from professional players? Just awesome!