If you’ve tried to look for the best ukulele for beginners online, I’m sure that you felt overwhelmed by the variety of choices out there.
We can solve your findings by narrowing down the choice. As you may have known, there are four standard ukulele choices, which are the soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.
In the post this time, let’s discuss the type of ukulele that you need based on its pros and cons.
The ukulele beginner should avoid
Although no ukulele is created equal, most ukuleles fall into one of four standard sizes. Among the four, the Baritone is the biggest, at 30”. And it is also the one that I don’t recommend to newcomers.
Although baritones offer us a very rich tone and a unique music experience, there is one dead spot that makes it incompatible with new users. That is the music tab.
Most ukulele music tabs and tutorials are made for the standard tuning G-C-E-A.
This is also the tuning shared by the soprano, the concert, and the tenor. The shared tuning also means that if you know how to play at the concert, you will also be able to play on the soprano or the tenor.
The baritone, on the other hand, plays on a different tuning, which is the D-G-B-E. This tuning is five-half steps lower than the standard tuning. You will have a harder time finding the music sheets, chords, or tabs for this tuning online.
Therefore, if you are a beginner, it’s best to avoid the baritone.
The easier to play
Ukuleles often wow the crowd for their small sizes, which is in dire contrast with the impact they make. Ukuleles are good, as small as they are. But how small is bad?
A lot of people find it difficult to play with a ukulele as small as a soprano. At 21”, its scale length is very limited.
Because of the shorter scale, the frets on these smaller ukuleles are closer together. That also means less room for maneuvering on the fretboard. Not a good choice if you have bigger hands or thick fingers.
People with normal hand sizes will have a better chance of playing with the concert or tenor ukuleles.
This is important if you are going to buy your ukulele online. Because you can’t try them hands-on, so you will have a better chance by avoiding the trickier option, which is the soprano.
As prices go, the sopranos are generally the most affordable ones in this instrument family. They are smaller, so they are made using fewer materials. Therefore, the sopranos are the best choices for beginners who are on the budget.
There are cheap ukulele brands, and there are expensive ukulele brands. However, you can expect to pay 10% to 25% less for a soprano than the concert (the next size up) in any given brand.
*Fun fact: It happens that a lot of terrible quality ukuleles on the market are generically made in size sopranos. As a matter of fact, an easy search on Amazon will show you thousands of $20-ish ukuleles, soprano size.
A lot of people adore ukuleles for the upbeat, tinkling sounds that they make. If you are one of them, then the soprano is the one for you. The soprano ukuleles instantly bring a wisp of bright endearment into the room.
On the other hand, the larger body allows the concert and tenor ukuleles to sound fuller and warmer. These “thicker” notes are compatible with more situations, and you can use them in varied musical settings. Therefore, if you look for a ukulele with versatile use, then try the concert and the tenor.
The Banjolele and Guitarlele
Aside from the four options above, you can also find the Banjolele and the Guitarlele in the ukulele family. These guys are more distinct from the traditional ukulele build. The Banjolele has the body of the Banjo, and the Guitarlele has six strings.
A lot of newcomers are wow-ed by the uniqueness of these two instruments. However, because they are not made according to the standards of the ukulele, you won’t be able to practice easily on these guys.
So, while I think that the Banjolele and the Guitarlele are nice complements to your collection, it is not ideal to start your ukulele journey with these hybrids.
So, what is the best ukulele size for a beginner?
From what I have said, there is no standard “best” ukulele for a beginner. You can only decide on one based on your priority: price, versatility, or hand size.
With that said, I feel that a concert or a tenor is more tailored to the needs of new ukulele players. Because of the longer scale, people tend to form chords easier on these two.
Add to that the warm and rich tone of a larger body, and you have an instrument that can bring on a fun time.
Another very popular option is to set out with a soprano first. The inexpensive price allows people to test the water, to see if they and the instrument are a good fit. After that, the player can choose to move up as they so desire.
To sum it up:
If you are on a budget or love the sunny notes of a traditional ukulele, then choosing the soprano is on the spot.
If you are going to make the purchase online, have thick fingers or big hands, or are looking for a more versatile instrument, then it’s best to try the tenor or the concert.
As beginners, you will have more difficulties practicing with the baritones, banjoleles, and guitalele.
There you have it, the four ukulele sizes pros and cons. I hope that from this post, you can make a satisfying decision about purchasing your first ukulele.
Check these ukulele brands out if you are a beginner
If you are new to the ukulele world, it’s no wonder that you’ll need a helping hand choosing a good instrument. Don’t settle for the cheap, generic ones that sell lower than $30, because they’re gonna sound like kids’ toys.
Instead, choose one from these reputable brands. These ukulele makers offer you solid options at surprising prices. Beginning players should definitely not miss them.
With beginners, one of your major problems is that you are unsure about whether you will like playing the instrument. If that is your case, then Mahalo has the answer: many of their ukuleles cost less than $50!
As cheap as they seem, these ukuleles still have great playability. Mahalo also offers higher-end crafted instruments or even electric and electric-acoustic ukuleles.
The first thing you are going to notice about this brand is that they offer very artistic ukuleles. The instruments are embedded with tattoo-like and tribal patterns.
There are many options to choose from, with different models for beginners or children, along with models for seasoned stage players. The price range is also vastly varied, from very low, to hundreds of dollars.
This is a company that made its name in the world by crafting high-quality classical guitars. Cordoba also offers very good beginner-friendly ukuleles.
Even though they are a tiny bit more expensive than the options above, the quality is worth the price.
First of all, the instruments are well-made with good-quality wood. Secondly, you will get a ukulele that sets the standards for the tone, resonance, clarity, and volume of them all.