Buying Your First Ukulele

I’ve been asked by a friend in London to write about which ukulele to buy when you start out your first musical adventure as an adult. In every case, I’d say to please support your local music shop, so I wrote this post about Ukulele Shops in London. If you’re not in London and want to buy online, here you go…
What do you need to think about when you’re buying your first ukulele?

There are a few things to consider. People may well disagree but I think you should grab one that’s cheap, yet stays in tune. Go for it. You won’t look back. It’s a fun, sociable, and portable instrument so dive in, but don’t break the bank or spend money you don’t have/might regret. Having said that, avoid the really cheap, and completely untunable ukuleles. If it won’t hold it’s a tune, you’ll be annoyed as you’ll essentially have bought an unplayable and awful instrument. As a beginner, you’re likely to think it’s you. In some cases, it won’t be your playing. In those instances, you can blame your tools. In my experience, Ashton’s, Spongebob’s, and those awful ones they sell at Argos are ones I’d say you should avoid.

Some inexpensive starter brands I recommend:

Lanikai, Mahalo, Makala, and Stagg are decent starter ukes. They come with good quality strings (more on this later) and they’ll hold their tune when they’ve settled down after tuning them consistently each day for a week. In order to help tune-up, you’ll also need a clip-on ukulele tuner. You can use free phone apps but I like the clip-on tuners, as they seem to be more accurate if the batteries are charged up and, if you’re at a ukulele class or jam with other players, it will work on your ukulele and not be distracted by the other ukuleles.

How much should I spend?

On your first ukulele, I don’t recommend spending a lot of money.  You wouldn’t buy a Porsche as your first car, so I don’t recommend spending lots of money on your first ukulele. A little bit like a car, when you’re learning you might have a few bumps. Also, until you know for sure that you love it, I wouldn’t spend a fortune.  You can buy a cheap ukulele for about £30-50.  You can easily spend more, and, if you have musical experience and know you’ll practice and stick with it, then please do that, but if you have no musical experience and you don’t know if you’ll like it, let alone play it for a few years, then grab a basic ukulele that sounds good.

Here is our Amazon Affiliates shopfront, with lots of other ukuleles and accessories to choose from. In the interests of transparency, we are part of the amazon referral scheme so if hundreds or thousands of you buy based on links you clicked via us, we may make a few pence. In the unlikely event that millions of you click, we may make a few pounds. If you’ve found this information useful, please share it around liberally, as we like the idea of this unlikely instance.

After that, try to resist buying lots of brothers and sisters for the new addition to your family, though.  Ukuleles are very addictive and this habit could get pricey if you’re not careful. Again, there’s a ‘thing’ – Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome. (UAS). This is me trying to warn you…

If you’re not careful, you could get Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome (UAS) and end up with a bunch of other (possibly more expensive) ukes, but for now I’d say you should start small until you know you’ll stick with it, and do stick with it so you can treat yourself to more as a reward for practicing!

If you’ve enjoyed this, here are some more posts that might help:

If you are left-handed, see here.

Already got a clip-on tuning device? It’s better than using your phone. For more about that and how to tune your ukulele for the first time, see here.

How to play the G chord, here.

See how to play Bb chord on the ukulele, here.

How to play the E chord, on the ukulele here.

Get a free ukulele chord chart (and help with how to read it) from here.

Do you want 6 basic strum patterns to get you going? See more here.

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