Cheer in a Wooden Box – Best Ukuleles

Have you decided to get a ukulele? If so, let me tell you my friend that you have entered the right place. It is obvious that you have a question which uke is the best of them all? Well… the answer is not that easy. Nowadays, there are so many ukuleles available on the market. Some of them are affordable, while others are cheap. Actually there is a big difference between affordability and cheap in overall quality of performance, craftsmanship, and other features. All instruments are advertised in the best way possible, so you might get easily deceived, especially if you are a beginner. Do not worry, that is exactly why I wrote this article. I made a throughout research into this matter. In this article I will review best ukuleles that are on the market today and give you some general, background information about the instrument itself. It is good to know which ukulele is the best, but even better to understand why it is best. That’s why I will explain everything the best way I can. Trust me the feeling that this amazing instrument gives is worth all the fuss with the choosing part. It feels like the sound teleports you into a different reality, somewhere on a champagne sandy beach, Hawaii maybe, looking down the clear blue water. The sensation is truly hard to describe, you just have to relax and let the sound lead you. Hope the article will help you in making the first step towards it. Here goes the list enjoy.

Top 9 Best Ukuleles – All Categories

#ImageGuitar Model
Rating
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1Oscar Schmidt OU5 Koa Concert Ukulele Bundle (4.9 / 5)Check on Amazon
2
Lohanu Concert Size Ukulele Bundle From (LU-C) (4.9 / 5)Check on Amazon
3Kala Mahogany KA-15S-H1 Soprano Ukulele (4.9 / 5)Check on Amazon
4Epiphone Les Paul Acoustic/Electric Ukulele Outfit Heritage (4.8 / 5)Check on Amazon
5Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Tenor Ukulele (4.9 / 5)Check on Amazon
6Alvarez RU22B Regent Series Ukulele (4.9 / 5)Check on Amazon
7Luna UKE VMS RDS Vintage Mahogany Soprano Ukulele (4.8 / 5)Check on Amazon
8Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele With Free Aquila AQ-S (4.8 / 5)Check on Amazon
9Fender Ukulele '52 - Sunburst (4.8 / 5)Check on Amazon

Ukulele for Beginners

Oscar Schmidt OU5 Koa Concert Ukulele Bundle

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Oscar Schmidt OU5 Koa Concert Ukulele Bundle

The first model on our list is Oscar Schmidt OU5 Koa Concert Ukulele Bundle. It is one of the top picks from the list. Playing has never been easier with its all-inclusive package. The bundle includes, Gearlux Case, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, Clip-On Tuner, and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth.  The instrument has Hawaiian Koa top, as well as back, and sides. Smooth rosewood fingerboard so you can play for many hours on the sleek neck, without getting tired. The craftsmanship of OU5 is very impressive, especially if you keep in mind the price. The look is minimalistic and natural, with abalone top, to deliver that attractive Hawaiian vibe. Oscar Schmidt OU5 Koa Concert Ukulele is equipped with high-quality Grover tuners, so going out of tune is surely not problem for this uke. Its sound will amaze user of every level. It surely is a great deal for the price.

Lohanu Concert Size Ukulele Bundle From (LU-C)

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Lohanu Concert Size Ukulele Bundle From (LU-C)

This ukulele bundle is a perfect combination of top notch quality and low price.  The all-inclusive package includes- Strap, Tuner, Case, 2 Picks, Pick Holder and a very high quality extra set of Aquila Strings. The instrument has pre-installed strap buttons, so you will not have to spend more for their installation. LU-C comes with Free bonus lessons, so that makes the job for beginners out there even simpler and surely is a nice asset. Its craftsmanship is undoubtedly high quality, especially for the price. You can clearly see how exquisite every detail is. Materials used are Sapele and mahogany, that enables for the rich and full sound. Your hands will easily glide on thin neck and smooth rosewood fingerboard. The ukulele itself is 24 inches long, so pretty comfortable to carry on all of your adventures. LU-C is geared with Chrome die cast tuning system, so the instrument stays in tune pretty well, due to top notch hardware. Handmade ABS Bindings of Lohanu Concert Size Ukulele undoubtedly adds nice, Hawaiian detail to the facade. All in all, this beautiful ukulele is perfect if you are just starting out. It is super affordable, so make sure to check it out.

Soprano

Kala Mahogany KA‌-15S-H1 Soprano Ukulele

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Kala Mahogany KA-15S-H1 Soprano Ukulele

Kala mahogany KA-15S-H1 Soprano Ukulele has a decent overall performance quality. It has a Tribal Rosette, beautiful satin finish and an optional tattoo band, to add uniqueness to the look. The instrument comes with Aquila Super Nylgut strings, so the tone is very clear and sharp. Mahogany body delivers full, warm overall sound. Kala mahogany KA-15S-H1 Soprano Ukulele is equipped with Chrome open gear tuners to help it stay in tune. This instrument feels very comfortable in your hands, standing or seated. You will be able to play on a smooth neck for many hours without your hand getting tired.  Craftsmanship of KA-15S-H1 is very impressive. This uke will surely be a nice addition to your arsenal, even if you are a pro, as it combines affordability and nice, decent sound. Definitely worth to consider.

Concert

Epiphone Les Paul Acoustic/Electric Ukulele Outfit Heritage

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Epiphone Les Paul Acoustic-Electric Ukulele Outfit Heritage

Epiphone Les Paul Acoustic/Electric Ukulele Outfit Heritage is one more representative of how well Epiphone combines low price, solid craftsmanship and good sound. It has mahogany body, with AAA Grade Flame Maple Veneer top, to deliver the most authentic, nice tone.  Its D-profile mahogany bolt on neck, with rosewood fingerboard is relatively easy to play. Your hand will glide like a breeze without getting tired on daily basis. The scale length is 15 inches, to enable a wide range of sounds. It uses a standard G, C, E, A tuning system. Epiphone Les Paul Acoustic/Electric Ukulele Outfit Heritage provides an Epiphone passive piezo pickup, wired to a standard ¼” output jack for easy connection to an amp or mixer. 14:1 Diecast tuners, will hold its tune for a long time, so no need to worry about it. The Uke comes in two colors, cherry burst and vintage sunburst. It will surely be a reliable partner.

Tenor

Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Tenor Ukulele

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Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Tenor Ukulele

Luna’s ukulele is one of the most popular ukes on today’s market. It has the legendary Hawaiian body ornamentation. Its symbols are inspired by the natural island world. Mainly they are based on symbols of waves and sharks’ teeth which are also echoed as fret markers. The facade also has Laser Etched Tattoo Design by Alex Morgan, which is a nice asset. The instrument surely lets you feel the best of uke, and experience the real Hawaii in your hands. It has very nice craftsmanship- Tenor body, with Select Mahogany on top and Mahogany on back/sides, to enable warm and full tone. Nat neck, with Fretboard/ Bridge of Rosewood is 19″ scale length. It is super easy to play and has beautiful finish from Satin. It is light and comfortable, easy to carry around. The sound box seems to be marginally larger than other tenors. Its sound is very much of a guitarlike, but still has the details of nice, traditional uke tone. The instrument has high volume to it. Good for strumming and plucking. It will undoubtedly let you experience the best of ukuleles.

Baritone

Alvarez RU22B Regent Series Ukulele

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Alvarez RU22T Regent Series Ukulele

The Alvarez Regent Series is a perfect entry level instrument that combines features and high quality of Pro Alvarez uke models.  Its top is made of mahogany, to deliver nice, warm tone. Gloss finish, fan bracing, real bone nut and saddle add a classic look to the instrument. Closed Back Tuners will make sure to keep your instrument in tune for a long time. This ukes are truly a nice representatives of Alvarez family. All in all, It has a wonderful tone, great sustain, and stays in tune for a very long time. Its craftsmanship is pretty nice, especially if you keep in mind the price. It is good if you are just starting out in music – will guide through your learning process perfectly.

Cheap

Luna UKE VMS RDS Vintage Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

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Luna UKE VMS RDS Vintage Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

Luna UKE VMS RDS Vintage Mahogany Soprano Ukulele is a combination of low price, nice tone and high-quality craftsmanship. Its body is made of mahogany to deliver full and nice tone. The instrument has mahogany neck, with rosewood fingerboard to let your hand easily glide on smooth surface and deliver excellent playability. Luna UKE VMS RDS Vintage Mahogany Soprano Ukulele is equipped with open-style tuners so going out of tune will not make a big problem. It has high quality strings that produce vibrant and clean tone. Instruments craftsmanship truly is a top notch. Luna UKE VMS RDS Vintage Mahogany Soprano Ukulele is a great deal for the price. Would recommend to any level player. Join the Luna Tribe today!

Kala KA‌-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele with Free Aquila AQ-S

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Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele Bundle

This Great soprano ukulele is perfect for an entry level player, as well as experienced one who just wants to add a nice instrument to his/her arsenal. The instrument is a nice combination of low price and good quality, so you definitely will not have to rob a bank to get into the music. It has Mahogany body, to deliver wonderful sound. Mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard enables for very smooth and nice playability. Kala KA-15S is equipped with Chrome tuners, so coming out of tune is definitely not a problem for this Uke. Aquila strings make the sound of instrument even cleaner and more vibrant. Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele with Free Aquila AQ-S has beautiful cool pattern in the center, and delivers minimalistic, traditional overall look. This uke has a high volume for a laminated wood ukulele. Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele will undoubtedly be a great companion on your music learning journey.

Electric

Fender Ukulele ’52 – Sunburst

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Fender Ukulele _52 - Sunburst

Fender Ukulele ’52 – Sunburst is very cool and affordable electric ukulele shaped like a Telecaster. It features spruce top and mahogany back and sides, to deliver sweet sound. The instrument is perfect for live shows and recordings, it stays sturdy. Mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard enables for easy playability, so you will definitely not get tired after playing nonstop. The look of it is impressive – beautiful sunburst. Nice bone saddle and bone nut delivers crisp sound. It has nice tuning system – holds the tune pretty well.  The overall performance that Fender Ukulele ’52 delivers is top notch. Its affordable price is a nice asset. The instrument is perfect for beginners as well as for experienced players. It will surely be a reliable partner in your musical journey.

Ukulele models from the list above are truly best of the best. Hope you made up your mind which one to get, but if you did not, that is totally okay. Furtherly, I will give you some general information about the instrument itself and how to distinguish what is good and what is crappy. Here we go.

I guess you are wondering why ukuleles are considered as symbols of Hawaii and how did they develop in the first place. Well, the history of ukuleles dates back to the end of 19th century.  At that time there was a high demand for new labor workers due to the increased sugar cane markets in California. Hawaii was one of the few places to produce big quantities of sugar canes, therefore people in search of work, moved to Hawaii. Immigrants mostly were from Portugal. By the end of 19th century they were already settled in Hawaii. As usually happens, when two cultures merge, foreign nation brings their traditions etc. to the new location. One of the things Portuguese people brought was a musical instrument called Machete de Braga. This instrument had four metal strings. It was relatively simple to play and had wonderful sound so locals fell in love with it immediately. As time passed by, native Hawaiians started to modify de Braga according to their wish. Its shape and sound developed until the point when it could be considered a predecessor of modern day ukulele. After that famous local luthiers decided to modify it even more, and transformed what was left from Machete de Braga into Ukulele. Since then it has not changed even a tiny bit. Locals fell in love with ukuleles and they started to use it on daily bases. But the most important historical part about why it became symbol of Hawaii is linked to king Kalakaua. He cherished local culture a lot, but also adored art and music. The minute he heard the sound of ukulele, he gave order to use it in royal ceremonies.  From that point it established in the nation as national musical instrument. It spread all over the world and is one of the most popular instruments nowadays.

Now that you know the history of this amazing instruments it is time to jump to its general review.

Shape

As you might already know, there are four shapes of ukuleles available. They differ from each other with their size, sound, style etc. From smallest to biggest the order will go like this: Soprano, Concert, Tenor, Baritone. I will describe each one of them briefly.

Soprano

Soprano ukulele is the smallest in relation to other types. It is considered to be original uke, with its size and body structure. Soprano ukulele is 20 inches (51 cm) long. The instrument has 12-15 frets, so you do not get much of a wide range as in the case of tenor uke for example. Sopranos have simple structure. They are much more compact, so it is easier to carry it on your adventures. For people who have larger fingers it is difficult to play as the frets are too close. Sometimes you might accidentally bend a string out of tune, as strings have less tension. As soprano ukes are very inexpensive, they are the ones that beginners usually get, so consider one if you are just starting out.

Concert

The size of concert uke is approximately 23 inches long (58 cm). Concert ukuleles have up to 20 frets so their sound range is wider than soprano’s. Longer neck enables your hand to move comfortably. Due to the bigger body size, concert ukuleles sound much fuller and have more power and the tone. Here you get bigger space between frets, so more room for your fingers to move. That surely is a nice feature that delivers nice overall playability.

Tenor

Tenor ukulele size goes up to 26 inches (66cm). Additional frets deliver wider range of sound. Due to the large size, they have more powerful sound with more clarity to it. This kind of uke is perfect for performances on stage, as it still delivers that beautiful tone of ukulele, but adds more volume and power. The instrument is very popular among professional musicians. One of the most famous ukulele players-James Hill used Tenor ukulele while performing usually.

Baritone

Baritone ukulele is 30 inches (76 cm). It differs very much from other kinds of ukuleles. It sounds more like a guitar and is big in relation to other ukuleles. It has deep, rich sound with a lot of power. One of the most attractive qualities of ukulele is its portability, with amazing uke sound. Baritone uke seems to lack it and for this reason it is not very popular, even though it has wide range of tones due to many additional frets and nice overall sound.

One thing I want to state in the article is that people often think that ukulele is something like mini guitar. The first time I saw it, that was the thought that crosses my mind. In reality it is not. It has completely different tuning system. So, knowing how to play guitar is not really helpful, as you will have to learn new chords due to each string being keyed in a different way. Ukulele has four strings and its standard tuning is G – C – E – A. The sound of uke differs a lot as well, so the only thing in common is I guess visual part, nothing else.

Anatomy

Let’s explain every part of ukulele. They have three major parts – body, neck, and hardware.

  • Body – As you can see Ukuleles very much look like classical guitars. To be short ukes’ shape is an hourglass contour with your standard treble and bass bout. Due to ukes’ being acoustic instruments, their tone is affected by craftsmanship and tonewood used a lot.
  • Neck – Ukulele necks are relatively short as you can see yourself. They differ in every type of ukulele. The average scale size is 21 inches.  Ukuleles have different kind of strings due to their size and tuning.
  • Hardware – it implies bridge, saddles, nut and tuning of uke.  Those features are pretty similar to usual acoustic or classical guitars. Tuning machines and the bridge are highly important in case of ukuleles. It they do not operate properly and are of a low quality, you will run into big problems.

Materials

One of the most important things while getting a ukulele is to pay attention to wood material. There are lots of materials that can be used for making uke, like- monkeypod, mahogany, mango, koa, rosewood, cedar, acacia etc. The list goes on and on, but generally most common ones are Koa, Mahogany and Spruce.

  • Koa– is mainly used in crafting very expensive ukes. The origin of material is Hawaii, so Hawaiian ukes are generally made of it. The sound produced by koa is very sweet and warm.
  • Mahogany– is a solid material for ukuleles. The sound it delivers is a bit softer than Koa. Mahogany generally is less expensive, so perfect if you are looking for an affordable instrument.
  • Spruce– is usually used on the lower end ukuleles (e.g. Mahalo’s). It produces a nice, full, vibrant tone.

Solid Vs Laminated

Before we “combat” these two materials, let’s define them as it is highly important to know if you want to get a solid wood uke or laminated one. Solid material means that the same wood is used for the inside and outside of instrument. It is pretty expensive, and affects the sound of instrument a lot. As for the laminated one, it is a much cheaper version. In this case cheaper wood is used on the inside, thin layer of nice wood is used on the outside. It surely gives a nice look to uke but does not make a difference in sound. Therefore, I would like to highly recommend you to splurge a bit when it comes to materials as they make a significant difference in sound.

At the end it all comes down to your preferences. The models from the list above are truly best of the best. They all will make a reliable partner, but each one in their own, unique way. Some ukes might even look pretty similar, but there is always a difference. Consider its ups and downs. Make sure your hand easily glides on the fretboard and the whole body should feel comfortable, standing or seated. If you ask me comfort is the most important factor when you are getting a new instrument, as you will not be able to enjoy your uke at its best if you get tired easily and do not feel comfortable playing it. Makeup your mind about what you want, go to the store, check everything and you will find your perfect match.

Conclusion

To sum up the article, I have reviewed top instruments that are available on today’s’ market. I have also given you the general idea about ukuleles, as I believe that background knowledge about the instrument you are going to get is super necessary.  It is good when you know what is the best, but even better to know why it is the best. The uke hunting process can be a real headache, trust me I understand, been there. But also trust me about the fact that it is all worth it. I remember the first time I heard ukulele play, the sound went straight through my body to my heart. I loved it so much that I bought my first ukulele the next day and we have never been apart since then. I take it with me everywhere. It’s simple to carry, and so nice to have around and play my favorite ukulele song “Somewhere over the rainbow“ by Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole . The sound of ukulele teleports my mind into a whole new reality. I feel that special Hawaiian vibes. It’s like I am on the sandy beach, feeling the breeze, looking down the crystal-clear water. Everyone should have opportunity to experience that feeling, and it’s good that you are on that path. Hope the article about best ukuleles will help you make a choice in the best way possible. Wish you all the best in your ukulele hunt.

 

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