Ukulele starter kit for dummies, yes that is the title for this article. Whether you’re looking to buy your first ukulele or you’re just looking to upgrade, hopefully this guide will steer you in the right direction. I’ve always followed the philosophy of you need to do what’s best for you. So I am going to show you a variety of different brands, different shapes, and different sizes. So that you can ultimately choose what’s best for you.
For a beginner, the ukulele starter kit that i recommend for dummies who just starting out is either the Kala “Learn to Play Starter Kit” (Soprano), the Kala “KA-SEM” (soprano) or Kala “KA-CEM” (concert). I also have made a list of my top picks and gonna leave that below so that you can check that out. Make sure you check out all of the ukulele on the list and read all of the reviews before buying your first ukulele.
- Kala Learn to Play Starter Kit – ‘Soprano‘ Light Mahogany
- Kala KA-SEM – ‘Soprano‘ Exotic Mahogany
- Kala KA-CEM – ‘Concert‘ Blue Mahogany
- Amahi UK330C – ‘Concert’ Zebra Wood
- Cordoba 15SM – ‘Soprano’ Mahogany Wood
- Cordoba 15CM – ‘Concert’ Mahogany Wood
Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone
So the first thing that you have to decide is what size do you want. There is a soprano, a concert, a tenor and a baritone. Sopranos have 12 to 15 frets. Concerts have 15 to 20 frets. Tenors have 15 to 25 frets and baritones have 18 frets or more.
Something that is also becoming more and more popular is the super soprano which is even smaller than the soprano ukulele. So what’s the difference between them all.
Let’s start by comparing a soprano with a concert. The concert is obviously bigger and there is more space between the frets. Some people find a concert easier to play than a soprano because there’s more space for their fingers. Now the larger the ukulele, the deeper the sound. The soprano and the concert, they sound a little bit more similar than a concert and a tenor do
Something to note about the baritone is that the tuning is different than the soprano, concert and the tenor ukulele. Soprano, concert and tenor ukulele strings are tuned to the notes of g c e and a. The baritone strings are d G B and E just like the first four strings of a guitar.
What Size is Best for You
If you’re trying to decide what size is best for you, my recommendation is that you play a bunch of ukuleles of different shapes and sizes and you just figure out what fits well with your body. What fits well in your hands, what feels comfortable for your fingers to move from fret to fret or what feels more comfortable strumming.
So what I would do even if I don’t know any chords. I would rest that ukulele in my hands, place it in my lap and I would actually try to strum it. This will help you try to determine what size is best for you because most people when they’re playing the ukulele they rest their arms right here.
Now if it’s not comfortable for you then you will notice very very quickly as you are strumming up and down.
What kind of music do you want to play
Also another thing to consider is what kind of music do you want to play. You will not be limited if you buy a soprano ukulele. I prefer my concert and my tenor ukulele is because they have more frets and I’m able to use different chord voicing’s that I wouldn’t be able to use on my soprano ukulele. If that is something that does not interest you well then you can skip those sizes and you can buy a soprano.
This is when I tell my students, hey just play as many oka ladies as you possibly can and you decide what sounds best for you.
What is the ukulele made out of
The second thing that you have to research is what is the ukulele made out of. It can be made out of solid wood, laminate, a combination of solid wood and laminate and plastic. So when it comes to an instrument that is of a professional grade the top back and sides are made of solid wood. That was very carefully selected.
While beginner and intermediate model they can be made of a combination of or entirely made of laminate. Laminate is essentially wood that is thinly processed and they are layered one on top of the other and held together by an adhesive.
Laminate is just another word for pressed plywood. Using laminate to make instruments is cheaper to manufacture. Therefore it makes it more affordable for the consumer. Solid wood improves the tone quality of your instrument. Something that is of solid wood is obviously going to cost more so here are the pros and cons of different ukuleles made out of different materials.
When something is made out of solid wood it’s going to improve the overall tone of the instrument. Overall the instrument could increase in value over time if it is taken care of because it is made out of solid wood it could be vulnerable to temperature and to climate. So if you don’t take care of it or you forget to humidify it in a dry climate you could ruin your instrument and that can be very costly.
Wood is porous and it can absorb moisture or dry out that also makes it vulnerable to temperature and moisture and it can cause the neck to bend out of tun. So why would a company make an
instrument that is out of laminate or a combination of wood and laminate so the combination of laminate and solid wood is supposed to be a marriage in the middle of price point and quality.
Usually a combination instrument has the back and the sides of the instrument is laminate and then the top is solid wood. The solid wood top is going to be what brings out the tone of the instrument so you can still find a really nice sounding instrument but it will not cost as much as something that is made of solid wood.
A con is that in the future it may not be worth as much as something that is of solid wood even though it’s half laminate and half solid wood. It is still vulnerable to extreme temperatures and moisture. You can still find an instrument that sounds fantastic even if it is made of laminate. Something that is made of laminate is affordable and it is not as vulnerable to the elements.
Another thing to note is that if the instrument ends up being ruined then it will be easily replaced unless we have plastic. Now some ukuleles that are made of plastic are especially made for camping and backpacking. Something that you can travel with you and it won’t get ruined very easily. Then there are other plastic ukuleles that you find it may be a big box store or a toy store.
These I have not had a good experience with them because they can barely hold their tuning and it just becomes really difficult to play.
Another thing that you might want to consider especially if you’re upgrading is if you need an instrument with a pickup. Something to note is that you should really love the tone of the instrument just because it has a pickup in it. Doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be good quality if the tone of the instrument is not what you want. The pickup is only going to pick up that tone that you don’t prefer.
When you’re purchasing a ukulele really look at the condition of your instrument especially if it’s used look for dings dents may be possible cracks also look for something called spining. I heard one person call this spining. I haven’t seen any of that kind of term on the internet before but I really like it. So I’m gonna use it.
Spining is what happens when the neck becomes so dry that the frets are literally being pushed out of the neck of the instrument and the sharp edges up the metal frets poke your hands as you play . You want to avoid buying a new ukulele that has spining unless you know somebody else that knows how to fix it.
How do you know if your ukulele has spining? Just simply take the instrument, hold it and take your finger and run it across the top of the neck. If you feel very sharp prickly edges unfortunately the instrument has spining. It may come as a surprise to some of you that I only have to Google a lace.
I have my mainland and my Gretch and I used both of them to teach either here or in my studio or to play out but those are the only two that I feel like that I personally need and I also want to encourage you that you do not need something that is very expensive. You do not need the latest and greatest. I really want to encourage you to buy something that works for you and that’s it.
That’s the end of this buyer’s guide I hope that you found this informative and I also hope that this information empowers you to buy something that you love. If you have any other additional questions please feel free to leave a comment down below and if I don’t know the answer I know people that do.