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Jonathan Howard
Jonathan Howard

What Ukulele Should I Buy Beginner

Have you noticed the variety of ukulele models and sizes available in the market today? Soprano vs concert ukulele, concert vs tenor ukulele, tenor vs soprano ukulele, etc. Whether you are looking to play the ukulele for personal enjoyment or looking to pick out a set for your classroom, it can be quite overwhelming in determining what model and size you should use.

what ukulele should i buy beginner

There are many different sizes and shapes of ukuleles available. The most common types of ukuleles are soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. Some manufacturers make other sizes and shapes, such as the smaller piccolo or sopranissimo models, bass ukuleles, banjo ukes, or the novelty pineapple shape (usually in soprano size). This article relates to the most popular, standard sizes.

The Baritone ukulele is the largest size in the ukulele family. It is the only size that uses a different tuning! Because the baritone ukulele has the same tuning as the top 4 strings of a standard 6-string guitar, it can be helpful to start with a baritone ukulele.

Because of the similar tuning structure for guitar and ukulele, you can use the same fingerings to play both instruments. You will find many of the techniques carry over. If you play guitar, you can play the ukulele! Because the instruments are in a different key, you will need to transpose between guitar and ukulele. For example, a G chord on the guitar will be a C chord when played in the same fret position on the ukulele. Classroom teachers will note this is similar to the difference between soprano and alto recorders.

In the 1920s, Big Band was in full swing. To compete with the volume and sound of the Big Band instruments, the larger-bodied concert and tenor ukulele models were developed. Additionally, at this time Banjo ukuleles were introduced. These instruments are even louder than concert and tenor ukuleles. They have the same ukulele tuning, however, feature a banjo-style body with the bridge resonating on a taut head to produce a banjo-type tone.

You will want to pick one that appeals to your senses. Most players go for a model that reflects their personality. You are going to be the one seeing this ukulele; will it inspire you to play? Will you be dabbling in ukulele as a novelty or as a serious instrument? Are you looking for a ukulele that will be on display? Ukuleles make great conversation pieces so make it fun!

Instruments can vary quite a bit in sound and volume. You may want to play, listen to sound samples, and read reviews on models. Aquila Nylgut strings are the standard in the industry for most entry-level and intermediate ukulele models. These strings produce a full, voluminous tone.

Some ukuleles can be considerably more expensive if crafted of solid woods versus laminate woods. However, each model may sound different and not necessarily better with solid wood. You can have a great tone with a laminate body that will feature the aesthetics of a solid body without the price. With a laminate body, manufacturers can get a thinner top than solid wood. Resulting in more vibration and increased sound. The veneer finish still features the beauty of wood grain and may have better durability as they are less sensitive to humidity and temperature.

Solid wood model ukuleles are often more expensive than laminate. That is to say because of the raw materials including exotic woods, the craftsmanship involved, and attention to detail. The sound quality of solid wood instruments improves as the wood ages. They also require more care and humidification in drier climates and seasons to avoid cracking or warping.

Because of its small size, a ukulele is an excellent first instrument even for a child. However, in the hands of a talented uke player, the ukulele is far from a musical instrument used solely by beginners and kids.

If you want the traditional ukulele sound, go for a traditional acoustic ukulele or alternatively an electro-acoustic ukulele that can be played even without an amp. However, electric ukuleles are not a bad choice if you wish to play plugged into an amp.

Now you know what to look for when browsing through the numerous beginner ukuleles out there. To help you on your quest, the Yousician team has gathered some of the best beginner ukuleles to choose from. Check out at least these ukuleles at your local music store or read more online.

This concert ukulele by Luna Guitars features a Fishman Kulu preamp and USB output that lets you connect the instrument to your device, letting you record anytime. The Luna Heartsong has a solid spruce top that sounds great acoustic as well! This instrument also comes with a gig bag, making travelling with your ukulele a breeze.

Once you have chosen the right ukulele for you, there are some additional things you might want to get as well. If you have an acoustic ukulele and want to get everything for playing, get at least the following:

Another reasonably small investment for ukulele players is a capo. Read more about capos in our previous blog post. In case you need to take your ukulele with you, for example to a concert, band practice or ukulele lessons, you should also get a carrying case for your instrument. Meanwhile, a ukulele strap is a handy accessory that allows you to hang the instrument from your neck when playing. Ukulele stands are good for storing your ukulele upright on the floor. You can also go for a version that lets you hang your ukulele from the wall. What better way to turn your ukulele into a nice art piece.

A better build quality essentially means the ukulele will be easier to play, with a properly finished neck and fingerboard and good quality tuners to keep the instrument playing nicely. Particularly important and a common problem with very cheap ukuleles is the nut - the plastic part over which the strings break at the top of the fingerboard: if you tune the ukulele so that the open strings are in tune then hold down a chord and it suddenly sounds a long way out again, the problem is probably the nut.

Nowadays even the entry level coloured Mahalo ukuleles are surprisingly pleasant to play and for a young child the Mahalo is a good choice: they're pretty to look at, good enough to learn a few chords on and robust enough for a toddler to be able to use without fear of breaking it!

The disadvantage to the very cheap ukuleles is that because they're so sturdy they don't vibrate very easily so they sound extremely dull. Becuase of this we would recommend something slightly better for an adult beginner. The Lani series of ukuleles starts at 39 and offers an adult something that will be a lot more rewarding to play in terms of sound. Kala are another popular brand that make great value instruments that are not too expensive for a first time buyer: their Ebony series ukuleles were our best selling ukulele over the Christmas period.

Reaching beyond the larger, commonlly available brands, there are also much smaller companies making ukes that are more hand made. These ukuleles are much more delicately built than their mass produced counterparts and this mades them louder, clearer and more responsive. A handmade or workshop-made ukulele will feature hand selected, high quality woods and parts, thinner varnishes that cause less dampening to the wood vibrations and an attention to detail that can only be achieved by experienced luthiers in a workshop environment. This means that overall you are purchasing an instrument which will play and resonate much better. Good examples of these workshop made instruments are the Uluru range, which are designed by the Ayers guitar company in Australia and made in a small workshop in Vietnam.

The biggest distinction in terms of wood quality is whether they are plywood or solid wood. Most cheaper ukuleles are made from plywood. It's durable, cheap, and can look very pretty depending on the outer veneer. Because plywood is fairly stiff, it doesn't vibrate as easily as solid wood so is generally considered to be inferior to solid wood - having said that, the thickness of the ply used makes a big difference and some of the more lightly built ply ukuleles actually sound very good for the price. Since the wood you see on a ply instrument is only a top veneer, lots of exotic woods that wouldn't necessarily sound good if a solid piece are perfectly acceptable as a veneer, so there are lots of great looking exotic wood ukes that take advantage of this. Many makers will combine solid wood and ply, using a solid piece for the top but laminates for the back and sides - this keeps the cost down whilst producing a very good sounding instrument. A good example of this is the Kala KA-SCG with a solid Spruce top.

However, solid wood does have the edge when it comes to a great sounding instrument. Traditionally ukuleles were made from Koa, a species of hardwood indigenous to Hawaii, and later from Mahogany. Koa, Mahogany, Spruce, Cedar and Rosewood are all commonly used in ukelele making. If the woods are solid rather than laminated, then different species have different properties in terms of sound so a Koa ukulele will sound different to a Mahogany ukulele assuming all other factors are the same - whether it sounds better is a different matter! If you want an affordable instrument that is made from solid woods the Carvalho range from Portugal use solid Acacia (a relation of Koa), and brands such as Uluru exclusively use solid woods.

Ukuleles are relatively affordable instruments and even the cheapest Mahalo Coloured Ukulele at 25 plays perfectly well as a beginner instrument. For someone wanting a more natural look at a value price, we also stock the Lani LS-55 at 39.95.

For players looking to amplify a high end or handmade uke, we stock a number of options including the LR Baggs Five O and Shadow Pro-Age pick ups, which can be fitted to any ukulele in our workshop.

A tenor ukulele is probably the least likely choice for a beginner, but professionals enjoy these instruments the best. They have a more resonant tone than the concert ukulele and a comfortably spaced fretboard. Their volume is near that of an acoustic guitar, making this a great performance instrument. 041b061a72


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