7 Best Ukuleles for Beginners in 2020. Quick Reviews of Starter Kits (Bundle Packs)

Best Ukuleles for Beginners

As a novice musician your goal is to give an instrument a try, without breaking the bank. In fact, you want the amount to be as low as possible that way if you don’t like it than hey no harm done to the pocketbook. A cheap ukulele for a beginner is very easy to find, but you don’t want to go to low. Luckily ukuleles are affordable instruments so even a great starter ukulele won’t break the bank. Even if you are a potential musician with money to spend (lucky you! 🤟) it’s not necessary to get crazy with your spending.

What’s the difference between a uke player and a large pepperoni pizza?
The pizza can feed a family of four. 😋🍕

There are a lot of choices out there as the ukulele is quite popular. The main downside to this is you will get overwhelmed with all the choices. No worries though, as in the long run the decision isn’t that big. Whether you decide on a soprano, concert, tenor, or baritone, the chances you will be a satisfied customer are in your favor. As long as you aren’t too cheap or ordering form some sketchy and obscure online store, everything will be fine. To help you in your search we have picked out a few of the best ukuleles for beginners like yourself! Not only are we showing some of the best instruments, these are full ukulele kits for sale. Which means they come with tuners, cases, lessons, basically the works for the starter musician! So take a look at these great priced instruments and find a great first ukulele!

Best Ukuleles for Beginners

KALA-LTP-S – Official Kala Learn to Play UkuleleStarter KitMahogany soprano
Starter Kit includes tuner app and online lessons
Buy on Amazon
Our Review
Soprano Ukulele Beginner Starter KitMahogany soprano
Kit includes strap, gig bag, tuner, and booklet
Buy on Amazon
Our Review
Concert Ukulele RanchSapele concert
Gig bag, tuner, strap, and extra Aquila strings
Buy on Amazon
Our Review
ADM Concert Ukulele Adult Beginner Uke KitMahogany concert
Gig bag, strap, and finger sand hammer
Buy on Amazon
Our Review
AKLOT Ukulele Solid Mahogany ConcertMahogany concert
Gig bag, tuner, strap, booklet, and cleaning cloth
Buy on Amazon
Our Review
Hola! Music Soprano Ukulele BundleMulti-colored soprano
Canvas tote bag, strap, and pics
Buy on Amazon
Our Review
Ukulele Starter Kit + Live LessonsMahogany concert
Sponge case, felt picks, tuners, chord charts, online lessons
Buy on Amazon
Our Review

Soprano Ukuleles

Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Starter Kit

This soprano is a Kala which is a very popular and well liked brand. The ukulele itself is made of laminated mahogany with a satin finish. It has Aquila strings and the GraphTech NuBone saddle and bridge, which you will find on more than just starter ukuleles. The kit includes a tuner app, booklet, and online lessons.  All in all it is a great price for a Kala uke.The only con is if you are wanting a solid wood ukulele. Otherwise Kala makes great ukes for those just starting or those playing for years. 

User Reviews

“After reading many reviews across a variety of sites I choose Kala as it is a reputable company. I decided on this Kala package as it wasn’t too cheap yet inexpensive enough that I wouldn’t be out too much money if things didn’t work out.”

Matthew L.

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“So much fun! My husband has been wanting to play for years and so I bought this starter kit on a whim. It turns out I wanted to play the uke as much as him and eventually so did my son. We will soon be ordering more as each family member wants one!”

Elsie P.

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Soprano Ukulele Beginner Starter Kit

This is a mahogany soprano made by the Kmise company. Kmise makes some incredibly low priced ukes, some maybe too low. It’s a little different in build in that it has a maple fretboard and copper tuning gear. It also comes with a gig bag, tuner, strap, and instruction booklet. Here we are getting on the low end of prices to spend on a first ukulele. Remember when it comes to finding the best ukulele for beginners, the cheaper we get the more chances we have at getting a bad uke. And since this ukulele has extras the actual instrument is even less than the price. If you feel like pulling the trigger than go for it, but make sure to check it thoroughly when you get it. 

User Review

“While my soprano has a few flaws it is still a great starter kit, before ordering I saw mixed reviews but decided to try it. As much as I like it, I do want to buy a more expensive ukulele next time.”

Russel Barlow

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“This is not my first ukulele as a I have been playing a few years. My 6 yr old son wanted to play and I didn’t want to spend to much. It was frankly better than I expected. Kmise is definitely a good ukulele for beginners and a great uke for kids.”

Shane

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Hola! Music Soprano Ukulele Bundle

This bundle definitely has a cheap ukulele for beginners! They come in a variety of all colors, so they are excellent ukes for kids! They are soprano sized, and the included bundle is nothing too special, but it will get a novice by. These are made with maple and a rosewood fretboard. It also includes a canvas tote, picks, and a strap. The main con of the Hola! bundle is the potential for a lemon. At this low of price your beginner ukulele has a higher chance of having a problem. This is literally the bottom price before you are pretty much buying a toy and not an instrument. Young children or someone who wants a little beater uke is probably the best customer for this Hola.

User Review

“This Hola took forever to keep in tune, felt like I was tuning it for a week straight. But now it finally sounds ok, it’s not the best and has some rough edges but I suppose it’s ok for someone starting out. I will be getting a better one soon.”

anonymous

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“My daughter got one of these for a school program, I was pleasantly surprised. They aren’t the greatest and have some issues, but the sound is ok and kind of a perfect uke for a kid because if it breaks it’s not then end of the world”

Maria W.
Unboxing an HM-21PP Soprano Ukulele bundle

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Concert Ukuleles

Concert Ukulele Ranch

This is a concert ukulele for beginners that is made of sapele wood. The accessories included are a gig bag, a digital tuner, a strap, online lessons and an extra set of Aquila strings (which will have to be put as they have different strings at first). These are all the main extras you need; some even find the strap unnecessary. It is in the right price range, but with the sapele wood you may find the tone not as great. As a beginner ukulele player you may not even notice! The company that makes this concert is called Ranch Guitars, even though they are about 30 years old they are not a very well known brand, but if you like the look then try one of their ukes out.

User Review

“This can be a good ukulele for beginners if the player is a little familiar with music. The first one I got the intonation was off, and they sent me another which was better. If I hadn’t known about intonation it wouldn’t have been a problem.”

Marlin Campbell

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“Wow the strings took a lot of time to keep tuned, seemed like a couple weeks. It seems after it was broken in the sound is fun and it plays ok. Not a bad ukulele but I want a better one next time.”

Michael

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ADM Concert Ukulele Adult Beginner Uke Kit

This is an ADM concert uke made of laminated mahogany with white binding and a rosewood fretboard, a good beginner ukulele. The kit includes a strap, a gig bag, and a finger sand hammer. Now that is something a little different than most bundles. A finger sand hammer is like a little percussion shaker instrument that you strap to your finger, so it adds some percussive effects to your playing. The only con to that is you have to get decent at playing first. Again this uke is getting on the lower end of the price range so don’t expect perfection. A plain ADM ukulele with no kit or bundle is half the price so the instruments themselves are made very cheaply. Being one of the lowest costs is not always a good thing. (However I bet every uke player will now look up a finger sand hammer to order!)

User Review

“It might be good for a complete newbie, but I quickly needed to upgrade as the sound was a little dull. Probably a good ukulele for kidsJust don’t expect too much and you won’t be let down.”

Brandi

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“This uke had a lot of rough edges and problems with the finish, however with Aquila strings it didn’t sound that bad. I would say it’s a great starter ukulele. Especially once it is in tune.”

Dominick

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Ukulele Solid Mahogany Concert

This kit includes a solid mahogany concert ukulele with a gig bag, strap, picks, a learning booklet, and a free online course. It is a wonderful concert ukulele for beginners! The best feature of this uke is that solid wood sounds better than laminated. Solid wood is music to your ears when it comes to any instrument, and it will only get better with age. The kit is nothing too special, but worth the money you are paying. The ukulele itself is a value alone at the price, yet alone with added accessories. In the kit you get a gig bag, picks, a tuning strap, a booklet, polishing cloth, and eight free online lessons. 

User Review

“I think this ukulele sounds beautiful! I did have a problem with my tuner being loose but Aklock support helped me through it. I would recommend this as a starter ukuleleNow I can’t wait to get a tenor!”

Charles J.

Send your review

“I was surprised I found such a low price solid wood uke, of course it’s just the top but it’s better than laminate. I like it enough that I bought another one as a gift for another beginner ukulele player. The way the kit comes packaged looks very nice and of course all the extras.”

Henry

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Ukulele Starter Kit

This concert arcadia and mahogany bundle really has it all, that is one reason it has a higher price tag than other kits. A great compression sponge case, Aquila strings, felt picks, chord charts, leather strap, chord stamp, and live online lessons. This is really a great bundle and uke for kids as it is colorful and full of so many helpful tools! If you are looking for a one stop shopping of your ukulele needs, then look no further. However, if you do not need so many accessories and want a simpler bundle than definitely choose one above. Another potential con is the price, it may be a bit above what a beginner ukulele player needs. One reason the price is so high is all the extras, take them away the ukulele isn’t worth that much.

User Reviews

 “I love this starter ukulele kit! The best part is the padded gig bag, a much better bag than other places offer. The Skype lessons were also very helpful.”

anonymous

Send your review

“After researching many beginner ukuleles I decided to go with the Bondi starter kit. The uke is beautiful looking and after a few days of tuning sounded great. If it wasn’t for all the lessons and accessories, I may not have figured out how to tune it.”

Esteban

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FAQ

What is a Ukulele?

In the late 19thcentury Portuguese immigrants brought an instrument, the cavaquinho (also known as a machete), along with them to the new lands they settled in. This was a little four string instrument much smaller than a guitar. It quickly gained popularity at nightly street concerts and in no time was adapted for Hawaiian music. For being such a happy instrument its birth was brought about under pretty sad circumstances. The native Hawaiian population had been decimated by disease, so they had no choice but to bring in large numbers of immigrants. Along come Portuguese workers cutting sugarcane by day and playing music by night… fast forward and here we are today wondering what the best ukuleles are for beginners! 

It didn’t take long to spread in popularity. It hit the west coast in the early 1900s and spread from there. They were perfect for Tin Pan Alley songwriters and easy to play. By the Jazz Age it was a full blown ukulele popularity explosion. It was during this time that they began increasing the ukulele soprano size to concert and tenor, in some cases having entire ukulele orchestras. The size increase was necessary to have ukuleles that projected sound better as the soprano wasn’t enough. There have been other waves of interest, like the 50s and 60s and of course the current peak we are in. It was so popular back in the 50s that both John Lennon and George Harrison both played one as kids. On a side note George Harrison was a lifelong promoter of ukuleles, always carrying two on him in case he found another person that played!

More on Wikipedia – Ukulele

Ukulele Vs. Guitar

There is a popular meme and shirt of a guitar and ukulele in Star Wars garb with the quote “Uke I am your father.” It’s cute but not at all accurate.
They aren’t parent and child, more like second cousins, as there are multiple branches from the lute and other early stringed instruments. Guitars are larger with six strings, made of steel or carbon polymers. If you attempt to put steel strings on your ukulele you will break it. Because guitars have more strings, they can of course play a larger range of music. With only four strings the ukulele is limited in extended chords. In those old days of yore (before the current uke craze hit!) most people started ukulele after playing guitar or perhaps another instrument. During high times and waves of popularity many first time music students are more likely start with a ukulele. 

There are various sizes of guitar and two smaller ones are known as the parlor and the tenor. The parlor is like a junior sized guitar, while a tenor has four strings and can be a little larger than a baritone ukulele. (Tenor guitars can vary in size, sometimes large). The baritone is often a good ukulele to play for guitarists as it has the familiar DGBE tuning, like the guitars EADGBE. And soon the player will realize that other size ukuleles will have the same fingerings for chords, just in a different key! (The GCEA soprano is four steps above the baritone, so a C chord shape on a soprano is a G. This will make more sense as you learn more about music). If you were deciding between ukulele vs guitar for beginners which is easier to learn? Ukulele hands down as it is one of the easiest instruments to get started on

When I first learned to play ukulele,
This question I asked almost daily…
When I heard “O’er the Rainbow”
The one thing I must know,
Is the guy a Hawaiian or Israeli?

A Ukulimerick by Mike N.

What Material are Ukuleles Made From

When it comes to wood the biggest thing to remember with stringed instruments is laminated vs solid. Laminated wood is like plywood, it is really just pieces of wood glued together to form boards. Solid wood of course is pretty much straight from the tree, and you can likely guess which costs more and sounds better. Solid wood is always going to be more but have a great tone. Sometimes ukuleles will have laminated sides and then a solid back and top. And of course many of the rock bottom cheaper models can be all laminated. As a beginner you likely won’t be noticing the difference too much, but if you have the money, pick solid wood.

One of the more common woods used is mahogany. It has a lot of strength yet is light and is seen in many stringed instruments. Koa wood is indigenous to Hawaii and often used in ukuleles built in Hawaii. Koa is not cheap and sought after. Unfortunately some ukulele makers use cheaper wood with a tiny bit of Koa and call it Koa. The top of the uke with the hole is very important to the sound, and often the builder will use cheaper woods on the sides and then something nicer for the top. Other common woods are sapele, walnut, nato, cedar and maple. Rosewood is often used for the fretboards. Because rosewood is overused some countries have restrictions on it, depending on where you live you may not be able to buy an instrument with rosewood. That is why you see more ukuleles with walnut fretboards.

You will also find ukuleles made from plastic, the famous Islander uke was all plastic and popular in the 50s-70s. This was the most common uke played during this era and even is the one seen with Tiny Tim when playing “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” These are great antiques to find and a few makers are bringing the all plastic ukulele back. When looking for a ukulele brand for beginners it is probably best to stick with a wood one first and then later once thoroughly addicted try out a plastic one!   

Tiny Tim with Islander plastic uke

What to Look for in a Ukulele for Beginner

Even if you have no experience in music, common sense will help you when buying a starter ukulele. Clearly you don’t want cracks, holes, or glue coming apart. If you are shopping in person take a tuner with you, just download a tuning app on your smartphone.
When shopping, use the tuner to check intonation, each fret should be one half step away from the next. Thus the first G string will be G# on the first fret, A on the second, A# on the third and so on.
If every fret is not a half step than the uke is not playable, and chords won’t sound correct. On some instruments you can adjust intonation, but not on a ukulele as the bridge is glued. 

Another thing to check in person is action, this is a common problem on cheap ukuleles. Not only should each fret be the correct note, each fret should sound with no buzz. If it is a dead fret or there is a buzz then the frets may be loose, neck bent, or a problem with the action. The action is how far the strings are from the frets and if too high it hurts more to press the strings, if too low they will buzz. It will be difficult to play up the fretboard if the strings are high. Baritones tend to have the buzzing problem more than other ukulele sizes. They use a wound string and it has a tendency to hit the frets. Because you will be buying your first ukulele you are not expected to know how to fix these problems, just avoid them as much as possible. A good return policy will insure you can get another one without any hassle.

Of course many of you will be buying online, and likely from one of the great links above. You will have to wait until you get the ukulele, but after you receive it, still do the checks mentioned above. It is essential to have a good return policy, as there is a chance with factory production that a bad uke slipped through. It happens, don’t get frustrated just return it. Another thing to look for in your first ukulele is online reviews. Carefully read them, they should be predominantly all good, save for a few problems. An honest company will occasionally have a problem and you should be able to see any criticism. Look for more than just star ratings, the more people write and rave about a good beginner ukulele the better chance you will find a great instrument.

What Size Ukulele is Best for a Beginner

Watch video to learn about the different ukulele sizes and which one is best for a beginner
As mentioned, the most popular sizes of ukulele are soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. The first three are going to be the choices of best ukulele to buy for beginners. If you want to have that authentic uke sound than stick to a soprano as that is the original ukulele. However, many beginners seem to love the concert with the little extra fretboard room that seems to make a big difference. Now that difference is likely psychological, as many people think their fingers are too big to play the ukulele. This is not true, the part of your finger that actually touches the fret is very small. You can be a tall giant of a man and still play the tiniest soprano. In the beginning though if it helps having some extra space than by all means get the larger sizes. 

If you plan on using your uke to play shows or have any kind of audience than I would stick to a concert or tenor as they project more. In fact that was the very reason those sizes were invented in the 20s. Tenors are more expensive than a concert and that is more than a soprano (of course depending upon quality of build!). At the end of the day if you are just starting out and want to know what ukulele is best for beginners, then go with a concert. It will likely be perfect for you and your needs; you will not regret the purchase.

How Much to Spend on a Beginner Ukulele

A good price to spend on your beginner’s ukulele is about $80-100. If you are patient, then one of the brands mentioned will potentially have sales giving you a great ukulele in a lower price range. Now there are clearly many ukuleles in the $30-$50 range, but your chances of getting something bad are increased. Many experienced musicians would tell you to avoid the ukes under $50, but clearly folks don’t as they are big sellers. The roughly hundred dollar range can also get you a concert and potentially a tenor (they will just be lower quality to get them down to being affordable). The best way to buy a low priced ukulele is in person. If you see a social media/garage sale post or are at a music store you can try out even the least expensive. You never know when you may happen across a gem that sounds awesome and didn’t cost much to own! There’s always a chance when you find that best ukulele for beginners it may turn out to last you well into advanced stages of playing.

How Important Is It to Get a Great Beginner Ukulele?

We are going to be a little contradicting on this final question! First of all your choice isn’t that big of deal.  Really you can pick a budget and flip a coin on the starter ukuleles above, you will be fine and find a great uke. However it is important to make sure it is a great beginner ukulele. One of the biggest issues with new musicians is thinking they aren’t progressing when in reality they are dealing with crap instruments. Years ago on late night infomercials they used to sell guitars with books and promises of playing. They were often guitars with dead frets and bad intonation leading many students to give up in assumed failure. If you get the uke and find you have problems, well the best step is to go on social media or ukulele forums, make a video of the problem and just ask! Ukulele players are some of the friendliest musicians ever!

Hopefully we have given you a good head start on finding the best ukulele for beginners like yourself. Do your research and read your reviews (for example, our “Best Ukulele reviews” or “Best Ukuleles under $200”), and don’t let the decision become all consuming. The longer you wait to buy the fewer days of life you have to play the ukulele!

About author View all posts

Shawn Lockhart

Multi-instrumentalist musician, composer & audio engineer. I'm playing most music instruments and I create music of different genres. More then 10 yr of experience in music production. My primary instrument is guitar, but I also play the piano, ukelele, drums and various percussion instruments. I am the Music Man. 🤟

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