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mwalimu
03-22-2009, 07:39 AM
Since I started bringing my uke to work (I teach and I generally play during lunch), a number of my students have been asking me about learning to play. Since the first real question is what uke to buy, I was wondering what opinions people have on decent beginners ukes for $100 or below.

haole
03-22-2009, 08:29 AM
I'd check out the entry-level Kalas and Makalas (http://stores.ebay.com/Musicguymics-Room_Brand-New-Ukuleles_Kala-Ukes_W0QQcolZ2QQdirZ1QQfsubZ7330323QQftidZ2QQpZ2QQ tZkm).

The Kamoas in the UU store are nice, too!

Ahnko Honu
03-22-2009, 08:32 AM
I've been happy with my Mahogany laminate Mahalo Pineapple the past 10 years, costs around $59 with gigbag nowadays.

carpekd
03-22-2009, 08:52 AM
Some people may disagree with me, but the "tourist trap" ukes are good to learn on. You can get them for around $20. Then, when you develop your interest and skill, you can move up to a better instrument. That's how I did it anyways

IamRobbyah
03-22-2009, 01:42 PM
I know of a lotta newbs that have picked up Makalas. They sound decent and can take the abuse. My cousin used to work at the music store on Tennessee St. I can see if he could get a discount for your students. PM me.

On a side note - the uke is really catching on up here... I saw 3 in Benicia today while I was working, and another at the park while I was playing with my niece. Maybe I should get into the business of uke pimpin :D

Thats awesome if you get the uke to take over the school!

shoots

GX9901
03-22-2009, 01:58 PM
I bought my 3 year old daughter a Makala soprano with the dolphin bridge that was setup by MGM. I think it sounds very good for the price and it's already proven that it can take the abuse from my 2 and 3 year old daughters. Definitely a good one to learn on.
Perfect for getting signed by star ukulele players too :D

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_hMJKe0Vprf4/SbdEHrDAuEI/AAAAAAAAAio/D6ISRW6-zBQ/s640/DSC02470.JPG

FourChordWonder
03-22-2009, 05:23 PM
I bought my 3 year old daughter a Makala soprano with the dolphin bridge that was setup by MGM. I think it sounds very good for the price and it's already proven that it can take the abuse from my 2 and 3 year old daughters. Definitely a good one to learn on.
Perfect for getting signed by star ukulele players too :D

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_hMJKe0Vprf4/SbdEHrDAuEI/AAAAAAAAAio/D6ISRW6-zBQ/s640/DSC02470.JPG

I agree. I bought one (a black one) from MGM on a whim after watching some uke videos on youtube. I did some brief research and nobody seemed to have anything bad to say about it. It sounds great and stays in tune for a long time. I usually have to tune it everyday before I play it but I think that's just from the 30 change in temp over night.

My only real complaint is the paint is super slippery and makes it hard to play standing up. I'm thinking about trying some of that rubber shelf liner or maybe roughing up the back with a little sand paper or something. I'm also not big on the dolphin bridge but that's merely cosmetic.

If I could do it all over again I'd probably go with the Kala KA-15S (http://cgi.ebay.com/SETUP-Kala-KA-15S-Mahogany-Soprano-Ukulele-w-Aquilas_W0QQitemZ250394203023QQihZ015QQcategoryZ16 224QQcmdZViewItem) from MGM simply because I like the look of it better. But at the time with shipping it would have been more than I was willing to spend on something I wasn't sure I would be into.

Ukulele JJ
03-22-2009, 05:34 PM
I've played several of the MGM-set-up Makala "dolphins". They're a hoot to play, have decent intonation, and come in at a price that's tough to beat.

If that's your price point, I recommend them.

JJ

Ahnko Honu
03-22-2009, 06:17 PM
I used to tutor special ed kids at a local elementary school and every Wednesday after school there was a ukulele class for students in one of the classrooms provided as an after school activity. About 3/4 of the students used these colorful Makala ukulele and were very happy with then which is the main thing. :)

mwalimu
03-22-2009, 06:28 PM
I know of a lotta newbs that have picked up Makalas. They sound decent and can take the abuse. My cousin used to work at the music store on Tennessee St. I can see if he could get a discount for your students. PM me.

On a side note - the uke is really catching on up here... I saw 3 in Benicia today while I was working, and another at the park while I was playing with my niece. Maybe I should get into the business of uke pimpin :D

Thats awesome if you get the uke to take over the school!

shoots

I played my uke for the wrestling team's fundraiser and now a bunch are playing. Pretty cool...

ukemonkey
05-19-2009, 09:50 AM
I bought my 3 year old daughter a Makala soprano with the dolphin bridge that was setup by MGM. I think it sounds very good for the price.

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_hMJKe0Vprf4/SbdEHrDAuEI/AAAAAAAAAio/D6ISRW6-zBQ/s640/DSC02470.JPG

I run a ukulele club for kids at the school where i teach in Norfolk England. They have to get their own instruments and so i see quite a lot of cheap ukes, the Mahalos are always OK but i've been really impressed with these Makala's they have a really big sound for a 15 uke, they're sturdy and have decent tuners (which makes my life easier as i have to tune about 15 of them during break time!)

Uke Republic
05-19-2009, 11:34 AM
Theres heaps of great starter ukes. Makalas soprano Dolphin, standard or pineapple. Ohana SK-10S soprano, CK-10S concert, Kala 15S, Vineyard flying V concert.BBBeeep! BBBeep! This just in Kala has released some concert KA-C in candy red and metalic blue with chrome geared tuners at the under $100 price. Then theres the solid koa......keychain from...:biglaugh: :shaka:

Nickie
12-31-2010, 12:19 PM
I got the Makala soprano in red for Christmas. It's beautiful sitting on my bureau, but it's too slippery to hang onto.

pdxuke
12-31-2010, 12:38 PM
I bought my 3 year old daughter a Makala soprano with the dolphin bridge that was setup by MGM. I think it sounds very good for the price and it's already proven that it can take the abuse from my 2 and 3 year old daughters. Definitely a good one to learn on.
Perfect for getting signed by star ukulele players too :D

http://lh6.ggpht.com/_hMJKe0Vprf4/SbdEHrDAuEI/AAAAAAAAAio/D6ISRW6-zBQ/s640/DSC02470.JPG

Exactly my suggestion. Not only a good uke for price--but you'll keep it forever because it's just so much darn fun.

Tudorp
12-31-2010, 12:54 PM
IMHO you can not go wrong with the Lanikai LU-21. It retails for $79 I think, but can be bought very commonly for around $50. Awesome Uke, and the best student uke money can buy in the under $100 range. It plays like a much more expensive uke.

ytmr
12-31-2010, 07:29 PM
I got my friend a Dolphin, and it's staying in tune pretty okay after I stretched out the strings. She's loving it, so why not!

captain_kelly
12-31-2010, 07:47 PM
If anybody's interested in a "step up" from a soprano then you may want to consider the Cordoba UP110 starter pack.Ukeeku recently reviewed it here http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?40039-Cordoba-10CM-or-UP110-pack-review and I must say that I feel that it is an excellent investment myself.I purchased it from Best Buy (yes,Best Buy sells decent instruments) a few weeks ago on sale for $79.99 and it is definitely worth that price and even the $99.99 standard price.It comes with a nice soft Gig bag,a pitch pipe and a starter pamphlet with all the information you need to get started.But best of all,it is a real quality instrument.It will need tuning out of the box but mine has stayed in tune extremely well for such a new instrument.Only needing a few slight adjustments over a two week period.I'm new to the Uke but not stringed instruments and I would absolutely recommend this Uke as a starter or even a second Uke to anyone.

mm stan
12-31-2010, 10:23 PM
I'm sold on my Oscar Schmidt OU2 mahogany lam concert......worth every cent..

Pippin
01-01-2011, 02:21 AM
Ohana SK-15.

ItsMrPitchy
01-01-2011, 07:18 AM
From reviews ive seen the makala dolphin is a great uke for its money. If you got a bit more money you could get the kamoa pinneapple.

<eM>Burr
01-01-2011, 07:34 AM
I really enjoy my new Kamoa ES Soprano (http://ukuleleuprising.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=35&product_id=50) I got from Ukulele Uprising (http://ukuleleuprising.com/) just before Christmas. It's $100 but worth it as it sounds great and is handling our 20 month old toddlers abuse.
I was lucky enough to have a great Orange Mahalo to start with too, new strings and off you go.

J_Tay81
01-01-2011, 11:53 AM
I've gotta go with the Makala Dolphin from MGM. He sets them up, ready to sing! For the price they are very nice playing, sounding, and even looking (although there are a few blemishes here and there, but again, for the cost, your golden. They are pretty sturdy too, what with the plastic backs and so forth.

Pondoro
01-01-2011, 12:53 PM
I've got a Lanikai LU-21 that cost $59, I had to fiddle with it but now it sounds great.

Gasworker
11-04-2012, 02:42 PM
Has anyone ever heard of a LANIKAI SOPRANO UKULELE. $50 with a tuner. Sorry Zombie thread. I didnt notice the last post date.

bynapkinart
11-04-2012, 03:35 PM
The new Gretsch soprano is $99 and is an incredible value. It stacks up well against much higher-priced sopranos and it sounds and feels fantastic. I can't think of any $100 uke that I've found playable until this one, and although the dolphin is pretty highly rated I still think this one blows it away.

ukegirl
11-04-2012, 04:36 PM
Ditto on the Gretsch and the Kamoa...both sound better and are built nicer than you would think a 100 buck Uke should.........

aqualung23
06-13-2013, 03:03 AM
How do I get a uke from MGM? I saw the Hawaiian music supply site, but they don't have the lanakai or kala sopranos I'm choosing between.

strumsilly
06-13-2013, 05:04 AM
as far as I know , MGM now works with HMS. those were old posts in this thread. I would recommend the Cordoba concert beginner pack from them., a set up concert with a tuner and bag for under 100.

bnolsen
06-13-2013, 06:43 AM
Other options:

HMS has luna tattoo pineapple: http://www.theukulelesite.com/luna-tattoo-pineapple-soprano.html

or lanikai LU-21T (tenor): http://www.theukulelesite.com/lanikai-lu21-t-tenor.html

uke republic has mainland gecko: http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/mainland-ukes-reggae-gecko

Hopefully all of these land under 100USD shipped.

greyghost
06-14-2013, 10:11 AM
I just ordered one of Butler Music's gambler's special Lanikai pineapples--$22 + shipping. Thought I'd take a chance, and either get a decent one or a fun project. More info when I get it.

1300cc
06-14-2013, 10:51 AM
Since I started bringing my uke to work (I teach and I generally play during lunch), a number of my students have been asking me about learning to play. Since the first real question is what uke to buy, I was wondering what opinions people have on decent beginners ukes for $100 or below.

strummers.com

Kayouker
01-30-2014, 10:32 AM
The range for reliable instruments for "under $100" - when you consider set-up and delivery will turn out to be a Makala (plastic body) or for another $20 or $30, perhaps a Kala Ukadelic, 15S or KA-S, or Lanakai-21. The least you will pay will be about $60 for the Makala.

The key of course is that all these require and good setup, but keep in mind these setups are of the quick and dirty kind, not like the setup a $400 uke will get.

As an alternative, you might consider spending $35 deliveredfor a Schoenhut with a set of Martin strings. Unlike any of the above, this uke will play great right out of box, with good intonation and good action - just what a beginner needs. With the Martins it holds it own with any uke under $100.

It fits in very well with our own Kala Ukadelic (which is a KA-S in disguise and the equally competent KA-15S), both of which cost at least twice as much, or more.

We reviewed the Schoenhut in the review section. At $35 we think it would be terrific for even an intermediate, as with the Martins it has a wonderful tone, brilliant and harplike, very nice.

You just can't go wrong with it. YMMV...

kmac66
01-30-2014, 12:17 PM
I vote for the Kala KA-15S. It comes strung with Aquilas and sounds really good. The neck and the body aren't too thick and it looks nice.
And they only cost about $50.

Barbablanca
01-30-2014, 01:04 PM
If price is key - then best value for least bucks is probably the Dolphin. I got one for a summer Uke to take around without worrying about it dying in the sun or getting stolen, etc. It proved a winner. But I have heard that it is a bit of a lottery buying them from big chains as the set ups apparently vary. I did a little bit of work on mine when it arrived, but not much.

If you can afford a bit more I'd go for the Oscar Schmidt. I have yet to see or play a bad one of them.

I have owned the Concert size and it was well made, came well set up and sounded great. I gave mine away to a good friend when I bought a Mainland Concert this summer.

I suspect their sopranos are fine too - judging by youtube videos.

Their Baritones sound great - see the many videos done on one by Seasonista "Pabrizzer".

And I can personally recommend the Oscar Schmidt 8 String Tenor - which is my best "value for money" Uke.

UkerDanno
01-30-2014, 02:33 PM
since the op was in 2009, I think we could up the cost a little and I would recommend the Kala KA-CEM for about $120 you'll get a really nice uke. Or, look on ebay for a Lanikai CK-C blem, they can be had for $100.

uke_dude
09-24-2016, 06:46 PM
Hi, I'm new here and just purchased a Kohala AK-SL soprano that sounds pretty decent. My only problem is with the small fretboard. I should've gotten a concert size, but Christmas is coming pretty soon!:drool:

Croaky Keith
09-24-2016, 10:11 PM
I sense UAS is in the air! ;)

It's difficult when starting out to know which size will suit you best, I bought a cheapish one of each tenor, soprano, & concert (all Makala), to find what would suit me, & the concert size is what I learned on.

Now I have all 4 sizes, plus some long neck variants; that is what is know as UAS, (Ukulele Aquisition Syndrome), & it is very easy to catch! :rofl:

Mivo
09-25-2016, 04:53 AM
Hi, I'm new here and just purchased a Kohala AK-SL soprano that sounds pretty decent. My only problem is with the small fretboard. I should've gotten a concert size, but Christmas is coming pretty soon!:drool:

If you stick with the soprano size, it might not seem so small eventually anymore. Lots of tall, broad guys with huge hands play soprano just fine. I went the same path, thinking sopranos are too small, needing something bigger and better, etc. Almost four years later, I currently mostly play a guitarlele (super-tenor size) and a couple sopranos (and my low-G tenor). Tried concerts and hoped they could be a goldilocks size for me, but that didn't work out.

This is a pretty old thread, though. If I bought a $100 "beginner uke" today.... well, I probably wouldn't. I'd try to spend a bit more. I also think it's more important where one buys, not so much which model is chosen. Cheaper ukes frequently suffer from shoddy quality control, so I'd only buy an inexpensive ukulele from places like TheUkuleleSite, Mim's Ukes, Uke Repubic if in the US, and Southern Ukulele Store and possibly Omega Music if in Europe. A $100 uke from these places stands a good chance to offer a vastly better experience than a $250 uke off of Amazon or other retailers.

bnolsen
09-25-2016, 06:07 AM
I wouldn't think twice about buying an islander laminate soprano as first uke. Right around 100usd. Four years on and I still play "beginner ukes".

Mivo
09-25-2016, 07:11 AM
I wouldn't think twice about buying an islander laminate soprano as first uke. Right around 100usd. Four years on and I still play "beginner ukes".

I trip over the term "beginner ukulele" every time I see it, too.

So, to the new folks out there: There are no ukuleles that require more expert knowledge, none that offer magic shortcuts to make it easier, and there are not really any "simplified versions" of the real thing (that is to say: a soprano isn't just for beginners and a tenor isn't just for experts). It's just about budget and preferences for size and sound. Any ukulele can be for beginners and any uke can be for a lifetime of playing.

Croaky Keith
09-25-2016, 07:18 AM
:agree: I think beginner & entry level are just a price point - any uke can be played by anybody with practice.

bellgamin
09-25-2016, 09:29 AM
I got a caramel uke, spruce top, mahogany sides & back, all solid. $80 from...
https://www.amazon.com/Caramel-CT300A-Mahogany-Acoustic-Ukulele/dp/B01EUUAIOI/ref=sr_1_4?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1474831374&sr=1-4&keywords=caramel+solid+spruce+tenor+ukulele.

Ebay has the same instrument.

Maybe I got lucky but the action, as delivered, was okay & it has great sound (for an $80 uke, that is). I switched the #4 to low G, & it now it sounds even better. Not as good as my Pono (not by a yard) but bloody good for $80.

Iulia
09-25-2016, 09:32 AM
caramel seems to have disappeared from aliexpress??

UkieOkie
09-25-2016, 12:54 PM
I am teaching a beginner Uke class for our homeschool co-op. We have about ten people and six of them have new Caramels. Adding that to my friends and family who play them, and I think there is not a better bargain to be had than the ukes from caramel. They seem to even be improving on setup and playability. My first couple needed a little adjustment at the nut and saddle as well as some fret clean up. All of the ones that the students got recently were all thoroughly playable right out of the box. Their concerts really shine.

Choirguy
09-25-2016, 01:36 PM
caramel seems to have disappeared from aliexpress??

They sell on eBay and Amazon, and have their own website. I don't think they would need any further web presence.

JackLuis
09-25-2016, 02:10 PM
+1 for Caramel. I have six of them in all sizes. The last two I bought didn't need any setup, they came almost perfect. My neighbor has three and only one of them had to be adjusted. If you change the strings to fluorocarbons, they are golden. $30-Sopraninino, $45-Soprano, $55- Concert, $65 Tenor and $85 for a Baritone. They may need a little fret sanding, but still they are pretty great.

Iulia
09-26-2016, 03:25 AM
They sell on eBay and Amazon, and have their own website. I don't think they would need any further web presence.

I'm in UK, so I don't tend to use the US ebay or Amazon sites, but I suppose if they are shipping from China anyway it might make no difference. :)

They WERE on aliexpress recently but vanished.

stevejfc
09-26-2016, 06:56 AM
Oscar S. OU-2

Mivo
09-26-2016, 07:31 AM
Going a bit against the flow here, but I feel that buying a ukulele off of eBay or Amazon for a true beginner bears the risk of getting a poorly set up instrument that may get in the way of learning.

I believe that (especially for a beginner) deciding where to buy a ukulele is more important than what particular instrument to get. Buying it from TheUkuleleSite/HMS, Uke Republic, Mim's Ukes, Mainland, or in Europe: Southern Ukulele Store, Omega Music, ukuMele.de guarantees getting a well set up, very playable instrument with good intonation up the neck regardless of the price point. It may cost a couple extra bucks, but at least it'll be good for sure.

Case in point, my first ukulele was from a large online retail store, right out of the box. It sounded decently, it was constructed well, had a solid top and all, but it wasn't set up. The action was high, the intonation was 30+ cents off in the 12th fret, and the whole thing just wasn't fun to play. As a beginner, I didn't know what was wrong, though. I had no concept of action, intonation, or saddle compensation. I only knew I wasn't having fun and it didn't feel good.

I might have stopped my ukulele journey right there if I had not found the forum here and learned about all of these things. Knowing about them didn't mean I could actually fix the problems (I still don't want to have to make my own saddle, file the nut, etc.), and so I bought another ukulele altogether, this time from a place that did setups (ukuMele.de) -- and what a difference it made.

So my advice for a beginner isn't to just look at the price, but buy one's first ukulele from a place that includes setups.

Choirguy
09-26-2016, 11:19 AM
I don't completely disagree with you, but I would argue that one of the $36-$40 Caramels, which are coming over with far better set-ups (one in a recent order of 4 was perfectly set to 2.65mm at the 12th fret and arrived in tune!) give the new player an instrument they can learn basics on and not be afraid of breaking, allowing for a future purchase from Mom, HMS, or Uke Republic in that $250-$600 range, after the player has determine that they are going to stick with the instrument.

KanePono
10-17-2016, 04:28 PM
I just purchased, from Musician's Friend, a Luna Concert "Daddyo" model for $44, free shipping, no tax, and including a gig bag. I bought it for my grandchildren to use since they have shown an interest in the Ukes and I prefer to limit their use of my solid wood instruments until the kids are more skilled and careful.

I pretty impressed with this ukulele. It is all laminate, mahogany I think, with a retro graphic on the top. It came with Aquila SuperNylguts but I will probably try some fluorocarbons to see if it will brighten up. It plays real well with good intonation, particularly impressive since it is factory fresh and has had no additional setup. The neck looks like it is five pieces. But it is straight, solid and is topped with a nice unbound rosewood fretboard. The tuners are non-descript open backs with pearloid buttons that look nice and hold tune. Over all I'm very pleased with this gamble of a purchase. It is an inexpensive instrument that is capable of playing real music right out of the box.

mm stan
10-19-2016, 01:44 AM
I personally wouldn't rely on names unless you want the names of the ones you should stay away from.
Every decent brand has lemons and gems, you have to either play them or buy from a decent store that does
A good setup. I've seen and heard SOME good Lunas am makalas.. good luck and happy strummings

ArnoK
06-01-2017, 11:47 AM
Foooolks!
I'm just ordered online Lag U77S Soprano Uke for almost 65$ thanks to discount. The other choices were be Kala KA-S or KA- 15S(-H1) or Lanikai U21. Still I can cancel it and change my mind but I didn't want to miss the discount chance. So, what do you think guys? Do you think Lag one is better than the others or not?

Graham Greenbag
06-01-2017, 10:30 PM
Since I started bringing my uke to work (I teach and I generally play during lunch), a number of my students have been asking me about learning to play. Since the first real question is what uke to buy, I was wondering what opinions people have on decent beginners ukes for $100 or below.

I play in a local community Ukulele club, the average age is about 60 and mostly the players haven't been playing for more than a few years. Some folk seem to be 'comfortably off' whilst others seem to have more limited funds, we all rub along happily together regardless and just have fun. There's a range of instruments there - non are painted - from a muted 30 Mahalo up to fancy stuff costing say 300. Sitting next to various people over the years the (good basic) skill of the player is the key factor, but after that the instrument that surprised me most is Kala's KA-15s. Their plain looks help to keep their cost down (currently $55 on USA Amazon) but they sound good and IMHO are both better sounding and better value than their cheaper Makala sisters - you might not need or want something else from the Kala for many years. If I could change my first purchase it would be to a Kala KA-15S onto which I'd put Martin M600 strings, as with most ukes a little work on the nut may pay dividends too. After a false start I now have a Kala KA-P Soprano which I really like for its shape and sound.

Croaky Keith
06-01-2017, 11:11 PM
@Arnok
If it were me - I'd get a Kala, I have a KA-S & it is a good uke & will serve you well. :)

frianm
06-02-2017, 01:36 AM
I recently bought a beat up old instrument for $12.50. Iit is not memorable BUT with some gluing, cleaning, tweaking and restringing it has turned into a sweet little instrument. I know I could have bought something new BUT this has been fun and it will be a gift for someone who wants a basic instrument to take to a school where she teaches. When I see the person stick with it and do well then I shall provide a better instrument or maybe find a kit and assemble it for her.

Do not despise the garage sale possibilities.

Mivo
06-02-2017, 04:00 AM
Foooolks!
I'm just ordered online Lag U77S Soprano Uke for almost 65$ thanks to discount. The other choices were be Kala KA-S or KA- 15S(-H1) or Lanikai U21. Still I can cancel it and change my mind but I didn't want to miss the discount chance. So, what do you think guys? Do you think Lag one is better than the others or not?

I'm not a fan of Kala, but the thing with buying cheap ukuleles online is that you don't know what you'll get. Quality differences between identical models of the same manufacturer can be huge, so even with recommendation for or against specific brands you may still get a dud or miss out on a great deal. It's a gamble.

If you can't buy locally where you can try out the exact instrument you'll take home, buy from a place that does quality control. The big music retailers do not. If that's not an option either, then just buy anything that grabs your interest and hope for the best. :p

player
06-02-2017, 04:18 AM
Get a Flight and you'll fly!

Also maybe buy locally. Not sure, but worked for me.