I don’t get any kind of commission from this post as I don’t sell ukuleles or wish to sell you ukuleles. This is my impartial opinion. 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. I figured other people might also be interested.
I recommend supporting your local music shop. Music shop owners are rarely like hedge-funders, in that, the people who run those shops usually love the instruments and tend not to only be in it for the money. If you don’t have a local music shop, then please see here for some online options. I live in London, UK. For that reason, my local music recommendations are London-based, in the form of a list, in an order that can also serve as a nice walking tour.
If you have an afternoon, I fully recommend you take a walk around Denmark Street. This is London’s Tin Pan Alley. The rich musical history means that it’s worth reading about and taking a walk around, for that reason alone. There are lots of excellent things to check out nearby, in Soho, which is close to the West End, London’s Theatre District. Denmark Street has changed a lot over the years it’s history is strong.
There are 5 shops that sell ukuleles in that vicinity. The increased competition means they may throw in a tuner or a case or something nice if you ask them. There are 3 stores that are on Denmark Street, and 2 more that are a short walk away.
(Hank’s Guitars) Denmark Street
Hank’s Guitars has been on Denmark Street for eons and has sold to many well-known bands you’ve heard of. The staff are friendly, helpful and they sell excellent instruments at a reasonable price. Worth popping in.
Wunjo’s, Denmark Street
Brian and his team are based in the building where Elton John got his first job as a tea boy back in the Sixties. Friendly staff, with a great range of stringed instruments.
No.Tom Guitars, Denmark Street
Ron and his team specialise in posh guitars and ukuleles. Pop by to play a few.
Macari’s, Charing Cross Road
The longest-running music shop (according to their website) in London. Macari’s is also near to Foyle’s, which, in my opinion, is the best book shop in London. Whilst the new building’s cafe is more like an art gallery than the old building (which had a brilliant, homely cafe with a stage, drum kit and plenty of big band/relaxing jazz to accompany your coffee and reading), it is a good place to visit and pit stop for a coffee and cake. If you’re looking for a beer in that area, I recommend the Royal George, whose basement is home to Ukulele Wednesdays and I have many fond ‘memories’ of falling out of there and into the 12 Bar Club.
Last, but by no means least…
Hobgoblin Music, Rathbone Place
Founded in 1976 by a husband and wife duo, while they were searching for a concertina to play. The people who work there are as interesting as this founding story. You’ll love it.
And finally, if it’s a nice day, and you’re lucky, you could sit outside and strum in Soho Square Gardens, Bedford Square Gardens, or Russell Square. If it’s not a nice day and you still have tourism to do, The British Museum, plenty of restaurants and theatres are nearby. Enjoy your time in London!
In East London…?
If you’re headed to East London/Shoreditch, then you should check out the Duke of Uke.
Have I missed any? Please, let me know!