It's difficult to know where to begin when buying your first ukulele!
There's so many things to think take into account - size, sound quality, craftsmanship, budget, etc. - it can often seem overwhelming.
There's hundreds of cheap ukuleles online that you can buy, and some of them might actually be ok. But the chances are, if you're spending under $40 on a ukulele then it probably won't be that great.
A cheap uke won't sound good, it won't stay in tune, it won't feel good, and it certainly won't be any fun to play!
So here are some of the best beginner ukes that I've learned to play on!
1) The Lanikai LU-21 Soprano
This was the first ukulele I ever bought! I read a recommendation for it on another site and just knew it was the uke for me. It's nicely built, not too expensive, and sounds good with pretty decent intonation as well. If you're serious about learning the ukulele and looking for a model you can trust, this is the one for you.
Personally I'd recommend starting with the soprano size, but if you already have a bit of experience - or just have big fingers! - you might want to start with the concert or tenor size instead.
2) Kala Light Mahogany Soprano
As you may have heard, I'm now officially a Kala artist! This means that Kala send me a new ukulele to try out every single month, and I've never been disappointed!
Although they often send me top-end ukes (which I'll be reviewing in a separate blog post) even their entry-level ukes are absolutely solid, and I'd highly recommend them.
Kala ukes are always well built, and they use Aquila Nylgut strings which stay in tune and sound fantastic. Ideal for beginners!
3) Lohanu (LU-C) Concert
Although Lohanu aren't the most well-known ukulele manufacturer, the LU-C concert ukulele has been getting rave reviews on Amazon recently for its high-quality build and warm sound.
Made of sapele (a similar wood to mahogany), and using the same Aquila strings you would find on a Kala ukulele, this is one of the best kept secrets of the ukulele world.
It also comes in a bundle with a strap, a tuner, and a carry-case so you'll have everything you need to get started straight away, and you'll also be able to play on the go without worrying about it getting scratched or broken.
4) Kala (Makala) Waterman Composite Soprano ("The Ghost Ukulele")
My wife calls this a 'ghost ukulele' because it's totally transparent, and looks kind of haunted - especially when you play it late at night!
But there's no need to fear the Waterman! It's actually been designed to take a bit of a pounding (within reason, anyway!) with a durable, polycarbonate build and nickel-plated tuning pegs.
It's water resistant, and pretty heavy duty so you can play it on the beach, in the great outdoors, or give it to a little kid safe in the knowledge that they won't totally destroy it!
It doesn't have the best sound, but it is very versatile and, like I said, if you're worried about a small child getting near your precious uke, this might be the one to plump for. It comes in a wide array of colours too, though I like the spooky see-through one best.
5) Flight DUS 322 Designer Series Zebrawood Soprano
I used Flight ukuleles for a long time when I was establishing my YouTube channel, and some of them were absolutely fantastic! This soprano, while a bit on the pricy side for a beginner's uke, looks absolutely great - and because it's made of Zebrawood, every single one is unique so you know that no two ukes are the same!
I also used their NUC 310 Concert uke in a lot of vids, which looked really cool with its laser-etched logo around the sound hole.
6) Kala MK-SS-GRN Makala Shark Soprano Ukulele
If you're looking for a fun, affordable, brightly coloured starter uke, you can't go wrong with Kala's shark and dolphin bridged soprano ukuleles.
They have a fun design, geared tuning pegs so they stay in tune a lot better than other entry-level ukuleles, and the solid build that you'd expect from a Kala ukulele.
They don't come with Aquila strings, but you can easily restring your uke if it's important to you. But I've had a couple of these ukes over the years and never bothered to be honest - I thought they sounded pretty good straight out of the box!