There are a ton of musical instruments out there in the world. Among them, the Ukulele is one of the most popular stringed instruments. In fact, the ukulele is the most popular four-stringed instrument amidst all the different types.
However, as there are a plethora of ukulele models and variants in the market, it can get pretty confusing for someone to choose the right or the best ukulele for them.
Especially, if you look up ‘best ukuleles’ on google, you’ll find literally a ton of results – each having a different opinion of their own. Well, if that’s the case then how can you find the best ukulele?
The answer my friends lies within the question itself. Instead of just looking for the best ukuleles, you have to be a bit more specific if you want to find the perfect one for you.
There is no universal ‘best ukulele’ that is perfectly suitable for everyone. The choice depends on a lot of factors. For instance, some are made for beginners, some for professionals. So, the best actually depends on what you’re looking for and lots of other factors such as price, tonewood, etc.
If you’re someone who is really interested in the ukulele, and literally have zero knowledge regarding them – this article is just for you!
This article is basically a ukulele handbook that’s going to cover everything there is regarding ukuleles including how to play, how to choose the right one, and even which one is the best variant for an individual.
By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll possess enough knowledge that will facilitate your decision-making and jump-start your ukulele journey.
What Is A Ukulele?
Since we promised that we were going to cover everything there is, let’s start with what a ukulele is. A ukulele is a small string instrument that originated in Hawaii. It has similarities to a classical guitar and creates a harp-like soothing tone.
The name “ukulele” comes from the Hawaiian word, “uke,” which means to accompany oneself with a simple melody on an open-tuned guitar or Ukulele. Ukuleles are part of the lute family and usually have four strings with multiple frets.
The first thing you need to know about Ukuleles is that they come in many sizes. They can be as small as 13 inches or less or up to 36 inches long! It is possible for the Ukulele to have only four strings and no frets, but it might also have ten frets with more than four strings.
The strings on the Ukulele are typically made of nylon, but occasionally they can be made from steel or other metals. Therefore, when you buy a Ukulele, it is essential to know what size and type of string you want before picking one out!
If you end up picking the wrong one, you will face a lot of issues while playing. Eventually, that may even lead to the end of a promising musical journey. Therefore, choosing the right ukulele is very important.
The History & Development of Ukulele
The Ukulele was first created in 1879 after some Hawaiian natives wanted a more diminutive form of guitar to play on the sugar cane plantations. It is thought that the word ‘ukulele means “jumping flea” because its small size makes it easy for someone or something to jump around while playing.
If you are interested to know more about the origin and history in detail, check out our standalone article solely focused on the history of the ukulele.
Best Ukuleles of 2021
As we’ve already mentioned before, there’s no certified ‘best ukulele’ for everyone. It depends on a lot of factors. Therefore, we have segregated that into individual small categories for you to easily find the best ukulele for yourself. Check them out below!
- Best Ukulele for Beginners
- Best Ukulele for Intermediate Players
- Best Ukulele for Kids
- Best Left-Handed Ukuleles
- Best Soprano Ukulele
- Best Concert Ukulele
- Best Tenor Ukulele
Best Choice for Beginners
Ukuleles are very popular among beginner musicians looking to pick up an instrument and start their musical journey. They are easy to learn, relaxing to hear, and quite easy to carry. That’s why a lot of beginners choose the ukulele as their starting instrument. If you’re a newbie and looking for the perfect ukulele, then our post on the best beginner ukuleles will definitely help you out.
The Ideal Choice for Intermediate Players
While some ukuleles are manufactured for beginners, there are some that are meant for advanced players or professionals. Experts prefer a more sharp and precise tone that is suitable for recordings or live concerts. Therefore, it is really important that you pick the Best Ukulele created for the Intermediate Players if you want the optimum performance.
Best Ukuleles That Kids Will Absolutely Love
A lot of parents choose ukuleles as their child’s first instrument. The underlying cause behind this wish can be a lot of things. At the same time, children are usually very fond of ukuleles due to their size and playability.
Therefore, there are a lot of ukuleles out there specifically made for little kids so they will enjoy the mere presence of it. Kids’ special ukuleles usually come in durable ABS bodies, variant colors, and with an affordable price tag.
However, if you want the best ukulele for your child, you need to be careful and pick wisely as that decision will either put your child into the path of a musician or will end up with the ukulele getting smashed to pieces!
Best Ukuleles for Left-Handed People
I remember the time I tried to introduce my girlfriend to the music world for the first time. She had gotten really frustrated as my guitar wasn’t compatible with left-handed people. Thankfully, my ukulele was a maple cut created for all types of orientation and thus saved the day.
I think a lot of left-hand-oriented people struggle in this regard. Sometimes people wonder whether can you play ukulele if you are lefty. Turns out, you most definitely can.
However, there are so many options in the market, yet not many that are suitable for lefties. Therefore, as you can already see – our guide for the best ukuleles for left-handed people is here to help all the lefties pick the right instrument.
Best Ukulele for Soprano Lovers
The first thing you learn about ukuleles is that it comes in 4 standard shapes. Among them, the soprano is the smallest in the family. Due to their compact size, soprano ukuleles are very popular among women and children. However, people with large hands struggle a bit to play them. If you are interested in the Soprano, check out our article where we have picked the best soprano ukes for you.
Best Concert Variant
After the soprano, the concert comes 2nd in terms of size. The concert ukulele is the most commonly found and popular ukulele variant out there. The size of concert ukuleles isn’t too small or too large, it’s just perfect.
Therefore, it can get pretty confusing when you’re looking for the finest concert ukulele in the market. As there is a huge number of products, it’s a safe approach to do your research and act accordingly.
For the Lovers of Tenor Ukuleles
The tenor ukulele is the 2nd largest member of the ukulele family. You might already know that, as the size gets bigger – the sounds start to get mellower.
However, the tenor ukulele produces a soothing tune that is a fine mixture of sharpness and warmth. They provide extreme comfortability, they are easy to play for people with large hands, and they are an excellent choice for guitar players looking to switch their instruments.
Check this out if you’re looking for the perfect tenor ukulele for yourself.
Ukulele Vs Guitar: Which One to opt For
By now, I’m sure you’re wondering why there are so many similarities between a ukulele and a guitar. If that’s the case, then why not buy a guitar? Why go for a ukulele in the first place?
In order to provide you with a clear answer and facilitate your decision-making progress, let’s look at the resemblances and differences between the ukulele & guitar.
That way, you can weigh your choices and make the right decision for yourself. If you’re interested in going into the depth of this matter, our article on guitar vs ukulele can definitely help you out.
Similarities between Ukulele & Guitar
The Ukulele is a member of the lute family, and it closely resembles a small guitar. This similarity can be seen in its construction as well – both instruments have six strings attached to an oval-shaped body made from wood or other material (metal for guitars). The strings are arranged in pairs on either side of the bridge.
There is also a very similar headstock, nut, saddle, and tuning pegs on ukuleles and guitars. Some say that the ukulele is a miniature version of an acoustic guitar. Therefore, it’s relatively easy for ukulele players to play the guitar. You can even play guitar songs on ukuleles and vice versa!
While the Ukulele is a member of the guitar family, it’s not actually related to any other instrument in that group. There are even ukuleles that originated from Portugal, where they were called cavaquinho or little boats!
The Difference between Ukulele & Guitar
While there are a few similarities among ukuleles and guitars, there is a number of differences between ukulele and guitar that set the two instruments apart.
Generally, ukuleles have four strings whereas guitars have six strings. However, some unique ukuleles can have 6 strings similar to a guitar.
The Ukulele favors the treble strings, while guitars place more emphasis on the bass.
Ukes are tuned to GCEA (lowest string is a C), whereas guitars typically tune in EADGBE. This tuning difference means that standard guitar chord shapes don’t work as well for ukes. But if you can lower the pitch, you can tune a ukulele like a guitar.
Almost every Ukulele has fewer frets than a guitar. The most common type of Ukulele has 12-21, while the typical guitar ranges from 19 to 24.
A ukulele’s strings are usually narrower than a guitar string, which is thicker and more challenging to pluck.
Ukuleles are generally more lightweight than guitars. In addition, their compact size makes them really easy to carry around as opposed to guitars.
Why You Should Learn to Play the Ukulele
There’s no denying the fact that ukuleles have a certain charm. And whenever you start playing it, the soothing sound calms your mind. Here are some of the salient reasons why you should play or learn the ukulele.
Health Benefits of Playing the Ukulele
Now that we’ve covered the reasons behind picking up a ukulele as a learning instrument or switching to one, let’s discuss some of the health benefits of playing the ukulele.
Yes, you heard that right! There are many physical and mental health benefits that can be gained from playing the ukulele including better focus, mental peace, and many more.
Playing the ukulele can boost both your mental and physical health significantly. In fact, the music overall can be very beneficial to your health. Find out the health benefits of music here.
Some Famous Ukulele Players
The Ukulele is popular in Hawaii and has been played by many famous musicians, including George Harrison, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Roy Smeck. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam also plays the uke on most of his solo songs, as well as having a ukulele track for every other song he’s known to be famous for. Check it out, if you’re interested to know about the famous ukulele players and their songs.
Best Ukulele Brands
You probably know that there is an ocean full of ukulele manufacturers and models in the market. While all of them promise quality, very few of them succeed in delivering.
Through a number of high-quality products that create a beautiful tone and have good longevity, some of the manufacturers have earned their title of being the best ukulele brands in the market. When you’re thinking about purchasing the best ukulele, choosing one of their models will definitely be wise.
Types of Ukulele
Generally, it is a known fact that the ukulele comes in four different types. They are Soprano, Concert, Tenor, and Baritone. The soprano ukulele is the smallest and the baritone is the largest member of the uke family tree.
However, it’s not confined within this only. There are so many different types of ukuleles – each created for a specific purpose. These various types of ukes come in different sizes, shapes, and even sound quite different as well.
How to Take Care of a Ukulele?
Taking good care of your ukulele will increase its longevity and help your playability quite significantly, so you should learn how to properly take care of a ukulele.
Ukulele Anatomy: Exploring all Parts of a Ukulele
While the anatomy of a ukulele isn’t as complex as a human body, it’s certainly not simple. At all. A ukulele usually consists of a lot of parts – each playing a significant role in the construction and music range. Different body parts, different fretboards, and all the other parts of a ukulele together result in a unique instrument!
Among the plethora of options out there in the market, choosing the perfect ukulele is no easy task. But when you’ve finally chosen the right one, you need to know which accessories can help with your playability and the longevity of your ukulele.
A carry case or gig bag is one of the most essential accessories for any musical instrument. A case or gig back can protect your uke from dust, unforeseen shocks and preserve the quality properly.
Tuners can be really handy – especially if you’re a beginner musician. If you spend too much time tuning instead of playing, it can be a big letdown.
Furthermore, even professional musicians use tuners to fine-tune their instruments and produce the perfect tune!
If you have nimble hands, there’s always an option to play ukulele with a pick.
Usually, ukuleles come with nylon strings. But in some cases, you can string a ukulele with metal strings if you want. Be cautious as the metal wound strings have more tension than regular strings.
If you’re a beginner musician, it’s wise to have an extra set of strings as ukulele strings can easily break if you’re not careful.
Capos make bar chords easy to make. Even though you’re perfectly capable of holding a bar chord yourself, using a capo will increase your comfort by a mile!
Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Ukulele
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player, you need to meticulously choose your ukulele according to your taste and playability.
We have thorough buying guides included with every single category article so you’ll know what to look for. Despite that, here are some things you should generally look for while choosing a ukulele.
Among the four standard types of ukuleles, you should opt for one that fits your posture the best. If you have large hands, a soprano may not be a good option for you. Similarly, it will be a good choice if you prefer a compact shape!
Choosing the right kind of wood is very important as different tonewoods produce different kinds of tunes.
Just like their differences in size, different ukuleles produce a different range of tones as well. As the shape gets bigger, the tone starts to become a bit warmer. Therefore, you should choose accordingly.
You should consider the spaces between frets as they can help you make chords and create precise tones. This is important to both beginners and professionals.
While pricing isn’t that big of a deal in terms of ukuleles, make sure you avoid the really cheap ones. They will just be a waste of your money.
How to Play the Ukulele If You Have Long Nails?
You can play a ukulele with longs nails, but the nails of your chord hand must be short. Not everyone’s Dolly Parton you know!
First of all, congratulations on becoming an expert on ukuleles! If you’ve read through, you already know that the world of the ukulele is vast.
Therefore, it can get pretty confusing to find the ‘best ukulele’. It’s kind of similar to looking for the perfect fish in an ocean. Thankfully, you’ll find it a bit easier to find the right pick with our help. Feel free to comment below if there are any queries that we didn’t cover.