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.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 9 Best Ukuleles – All Categories
- 2 Ukulele for Beginners
- 3 Soprano
- 4 Concert
- 5 Tenor
- 6 Baritone
- 7 Cheap
- 8 Electric
- 9 Shape
- 10 Solid Vs Laminated
- 11 Conclusion
Top 9 Best Ukuleles – All Categories
|1||Oscar 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
|3||Kala Mahogany KA-15S-H1 Soprano Ukulele||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|4||Epiphone Les Paul Acoustic/Electric Ukulele Outfit Heritage||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|5||Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Tenor Ukulele||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|6||Alvarez RU22B Regent Series Ukulele||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|7||Luna UKE VMS RDS Vintage Mahogany Soprano Ukulele||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|8||Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele With Free Aquila AQ-S||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon
|9||Fender Ukulele '52 - Sunburst||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon
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.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.