View Full Version : Looking for my first Uke

08-20-2009, 01:37 PM
Hey guys, this is my first post and i'm new to the Uke scene.

I've always loved music, I used to play Piano and Cello and Guitar (all at once!) But unfortunately due to exams and stress those days have gone. I want to re-gain some of that back though, and the Uke seems perfect, but I have no idea where to start. What would I be better getting? A soprano, Tenor or Baritone Uke? What strings should I look for, what are the best starter kits to get, and where can I go for lessons? See i'm not very good at teaching myself, but i'm going to give this ago. I'm starting uni in september and I want to take an instrument with me, and a Uke just seems perfect. Very small, easy to carry, and seemingly easy enough to play. I just need some good sound advice. Also, what sort of price range should I be looking at for my beginners Uke? It's my birthday next week and planning on spending some money on one, but I don't want to spend too much and jump in at the deep end.

Any help and advice would be really appreciated. Sorry if I posted this in the wrong bit, I figured it would be the best place to put it though. Thanks!

08-20-2009, 02:08 PM
Here is a link to a sticky that will answer most of your questions about entry level uke... Read on and you will be glad you did


Best thing to do is if you have a local music store that carries any uke, swing by and try a few and / or listen to some YT vids using differnet sizes and see what your ears like. then go from there.. also what is your budget?

08-20-2009, 02:16 PM
Thanks, I'll take a look at that link now.
I was gonna go and have a look for one on Monday at one of the stores in Liverpool and see if they did any, but I've never really seen any about (or maybe I've just not noticed them) but I have a niggling gut feeling I'll have to buy online which I don't like doing with musical instruments. My budget at the moment depends on how much birthday money I get, but I think it'll be around £20 ish, £30 at a push for a decent one if I see one I like.

No Talent
08-20-2009, 06:58 PM
I first brought a soprano, but on the recommendation of my uke teacher ended up buying a concert also. The concert is easer to hold and the little bit of extra room on the fret board makes some chords much easer for me. Both of my instruments are on the inexpensive side but the concert sounds better due to its larger size.

08-21-2009, 04:14 AM
What is your price limit?

When i read that you got already some experience with guitar&cello and if you've played some quality ones
you should not start with a very low-budget ukulele.

Something correct to start with would be the KALA standard series and even the MAKALA series. Prices are starting at ca. 30€.

08-23-2009, 02:26 AM
My price limit is roughly £20-30 *ish* and thats really rough. I wasn't hoping to spend that much if I can help it. My sister reckons she saw some Ukes for sale in one of the local music stores for £5, so if they look decent I'll just get myself one of them. I'm going Uke hunting tomorrow :D What would you guys say makes a better sound, a Soprano or a Tenor? And one more question, what're the best makes?

The reason why my budget is so low is because I need to put quite a bit of money away for uni in September, hopefully I'll get a nicer one for christmas or something If I like it.

08-23-2009, 02:51 AM
In that range you definitely should get the Makala Dolphin bridge. It sounds waaay better than almost anything in that price range. Plus it comes in many cheerful colors :D If you spend a little more on some decent strings like Aquila you'll be happy for a long time.

Of course that doesn't mean you won't be wanting to buy your second uke right after the first one. :D

08-23-2009, 03:01 AM
I know it's bad news, but £20-£30 is a really low budget to start with. I think it's very unlikely you'll find a satisfying uke in a local shop for that sort of money. You'll probably end up with a real piece of rubbish (Mahalo, Ashton etc) with terrible strings that sounds and feels awful. Don't buy one of those - you'll hate it and regret wasting your limited resources. Just don't.

What I think you should do is aim for a Lanikai or Makala (aka Kala Makala) uke. These are beginners' instruments made from laminate wood, but they're not as bad as the rubbish that your local shop probably carries. Some of the reviews on youtube are quite positive about them, and it seems that some quite experienced players use them as their 'beater' uke (to take in the car, on the beach, hiking, to parties etc). You'll need to spend closer to £30.

If you go for a Makala, lots of people are keen on the ones with dolphin-shaped bridges, but I've heard that their regular concerts and sopranos are okay too.

If you go Lanikai (slightly nicer, I've heard), you should get the LU-21 soprano or the LU-21C concert. These are well regarded and will be good enough for you to learn on.

For buying online I suggest ebay, and if you can stretch your budget a further £8 I'd buy some new Aquila strings in either soprano or concert size.

Another thing - without an electronic tuner it will be very frustrating tuning your uke by ear. Mine (an ENO ET-3000+) cost £12 and I really can't overstate how helpful it is to have one.

(Most of the above advice is just regurgitated from what I was reading a few weeks ago - I haven't owned any of the ukes mentioned besides a godawful Ashton.)

08-23-2009, 03:09 AM
Another thing - you asked about sizes.

Ukes generally come in four sizes:

Soprano (small, about 12 frets, high-pitched plinky plonky uke sound)
Concert (medium, a few more frets and bigger spaces between them)
Tenor (mucho bigo - loads of frets and a louder, deeper sound, more expensive)
Baritone (too big and strange, and out of your budget anyway)

Because your budget it so limited I'd say go for a soprano and if you have any excess invest in strings and tuner. If you can stretch the budget a little, a Concert seems a nice compromise. I'd forget about tenors and baritones for now.

08-23-2009, 03:06 PM
well i just got my first uke and it a pretty uncomman brand called makai ukulele co. (SF, CA.) Model- MC-70 so far so good sounds great looks great with concert body style/Matte Finish. it has a solid spruce top with mahogany neck and sides. The retail price is only $115.99 however you may be looking for a better quality ukulele...but for begginers this ones perfect! check out their website. http://www.revivalacoustics.com/makaiuke.html

08-24-2009, 12:39 AM
The cheap Mahalos are not great, and I know they are frowned upon here, but, personally, for £16 or £18 I don’t think you can go wrong. You can take it anywhere and not worry about it - one of you student flatmates can sit on it or try to break it over his head on a drunken Friday night and you won’t really care. They’re not far from “rubbish” and they might need a little attention to make them playable but they stay in tune and work just like a “real” ukulele. And, if you eventually feel like you can justify a better instrument, you won’t have wasted much money and you’ll always have a cheap “beater”. Having said that, and knowing what I know now, I would probably buy a concert like the Makala MK-C (http://www.wmcmusic.co.uk/kala-makala-concert-ukulele-mk-c.html) – still nice and cheap but a slightly better size and undoubtedly a better instrument.

08-25-2009, 02:27 AM
Thanks for all the info guys, I just got some more birthday money today so my budgets gone up to about £40-£50, but I don't really want to spend that much on my first Uke. I e mailed my local music store and they say they have some in ranging from £17.99 to £110, including Sopranos and Concerts. I think I may splash out a little bit and get myself a concert Uke, as they do seem to be the most popular. All though I kind of like the Sopranos.
I also wanted to ask if there were many Ukulele music books out there- for modern songs I mean. I saw a beatles one, but i'd really love to play the likes of 'hey ya' by outkast and some David Bowie stuff etc, but I wouldn't know where to look.
Thanks again guys!

08-25-2009, 04:16 AM
I'd suggest going to the shop, trying what they've got, and then coming home and looking online to find out whether the brand is well regarded before purchasing. Go back and buy from the shop though - it'd be cheating to then buy online.

Save your money for now and don't buy books/dvds - there are tutorials all over the web, and most books won't cover songs that you'll actually want to play (like contemporary pop). Use that money on a tuner (http://www.amazon.co.uk/3000-Clip-Digital-Chromatic-Tuner/dp/B000GG4B2G/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1251209666&sr=8-2) instead, or some new strings (http://stores.shop.ebay.co.uk/Southern-Ukulele-Store_Strings_W0QQ_fsubZ1653093018QQ_sasiZ1QQ_sidZ 923147848QQ_trksidZp4634Q2ec0Q2em322).

08-25-2009, 11:45 AM
weeeeelll... I got one today :D
I went to a Music shop in Maghull and the guy behind the counter was awesome and showed me lots of different ones, (Stagg- which he said weren't very good and the only reason he sold them was because they had flowers on them! and Makala Ukes) He said the Makala ones were the best and he got one out and started playing it, the Uke made the most awesome sound, made me grin from ear to ear! He taught me how to play it and the basic chords and gave me tips on strumming etc. I bought a pleck because I have no fingernails lol! As soon as I tried it out I loved it, I thought it may be too small but it's just the right size, its easy enough to pick up (for once!) and I've already got the hang of some of the chords. Hopefully by the time I go to uni I'll be playing George Formbys Cleaning Windows! It's a Soprano one, only cost me about £22 for the Uke, bag (which came free) and the pleck. Dad said if I keep at it and really like it I could ask for a concert Uke or a better one for Christmas or something. This one is just a beginners throw around one. It's blue laminated wood. I has a picture!


Thanks for all your help guys, I'll probably still be hanging about this site though, seems like a neat little forum!

Just one more thing- I saw the chords online but I can't remember where on earth I saw them, maybe it was this website?
Thanks again!

08-25-2009, 11:57 AM
Likin the blue. Very cool.

08-25-2009, 12:14 PM
Thanks Noah Clinnson!
Just been trying to do some chords on it but its not tuned GCEA, it's the other one but I can't remember all of it, it begins with 'A' and i'm sure it's got a C sharp in it or an F sharp, does anyone know what I'm talking about? And if they do do you know where I can get a chord sheet free online please? Cheers

08-25-2009, 12:18 PM
Thanks Noah Clinnson!
Just been trying to do some chords on it but its not tuned GCEA, it's the other one but I can't remember all of it, it begins with 'A' and i'm sure it's got a C sharp in it or an F sharp, does anyone know what I'm talking about? And if they do do you know where I can get a chord sheet free online please? Cheers

Its D tuned.
A,D,F# and B? :)

08-25-2009, 12:19 PM
Its D tuned.
A,D,F# and B? :)

Thats the one! Thanks :) For the life of me I couldn't remember!

08-27-2009, 06:59 AM
It's gone out of tune... it shouldn't have, because he'd used it for a few weeks in the shop and it shouldn't go out of tune as quick as a brand new one would, but I reckon someones knocked the pegs. We tried to do it ourseleves but it's just made it worse, and where it was only a little bit out of tune, now it's not even close. Can anyone help? We have a guitar tuner but I have no idea how to use it and it hasn't got an F sharp on it. I think I might take it back to the shop/a music shop and see if he'll tune it for me.

08-27-2009, 07:06 AM
Google "Ukulele tuner" and go here:


08-27-2009, 07:10 AM
Google "Ukulele tuner" and go here:


Brilliant, thanks so much for that. I will have another go tonight.

08-27-2009, 07:52 AM
if my Uke is tuned A D F sharp and B, is it the first string that needs to be tuned to A of the 4th string?

08-27-2009, 09:09 AM
if my Uke is tuned A D F sharp and B, is it the first string that needs to be tuned to A of the 4th string?

If you are holding your uke as if playing it (presuming you are right handed), the A should be the "top" string.

Most everyone seems to tune ukes to "Gcea" these days.

08-27-2009, 10:09 AM
If you are holding your uke as if playing it (presuming you are right handed), the A should be the "top" string.

Most everyone seems to tune ukes to "Gcea" these days.

Thanks, I've been trying to tune it but it just doesn't seem right.
I don't think I can tune my Uke to GCEA or I would, not sure it's got the right strings on it.