Advice For Purchasing your First Ukulele

So you have falling in love with the sweet tropical sounds of the uke and have decided that if all those Youtube sensations can do it why can't I.  You have found a ukulele teacher and are excited to learn.  Then you do a quick search to purchase your first instrument and become over whelmed with all the ukulele options that are available. Below are a few tips to guide you through your first purchase.

What's up with all the different size's and tunings?

There are four sizes of ukuleles from smallest body size/neck length to largest they are soprano, concert, tenor and baritone.  The soprano, concert and tenor uke's are all tuned the same gCEA.  The tenor ukulele is often strung with a low G string.  If you have been awe struck by Jake Shimabukuro this is the tuning  he and other uke masters often employ.  The baritone is the black sheep of the family being tuned DGBE like the top four strings of a guitar

Wood vs. composite

Entry level instruments will be constructed of some sort of composite wood ie. plywood/laminated material.  The next step up is typically a solid wood top instrument with composite back and sides. Followed of course by the solid wood instrument.  Historically this wood would be KOA. As the ukulele has become more popular an ever widening array of woods are being utilized from accaia to walnut.  All of these woods will impart different sound qualities to the instrument.

For beginners a composite instrument is going to give the best price point and a durable instrument that won't make you cry so hard if it gets a few dings in it. Once you can play some songs and are committed to the instrument you can always upgrade.

My Recommendation

From my teaching experience the concert uke is typically the best size for beginners.  Since it has a slightly longer neck compared to a soprano more notes and chords are available.  The fret spacing is also less of that of a tenor and baritone. Which gives your left hand the advantage of not having to stretch as far when playing chords.

As far as brands I have been impressed with every Lanikai ukelele my students have purchased.  They are relatively inexpensive with some of there concert ukes priced at around $125.  You might be enticed to start on the $50 uke but your hands and ears will appreciate the upgrade.  Many a budding musician has been defeated by an inferior instrument.

Non-Factory Strings

One other thing that should be purchased with your new ukulele is a set of strings to replace the not so great factory set.  I recommend Aquila strings most stores selling ukes should have these in stock and should be able to change them for you or take them to your ukulele lesson and have your teacher show you how to change them your self.

I hope this offers a little bit of insight into the wonderful world of ukulele's.  

Good luck and happy shopping.



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