View Full Version : What was your first ukulele?

10-12-2013, 02:38 AM
I'm really just curious. Any additional information would be great, I think it's interesting to hear people talk about their current ukuleles, but I haven't heard anyone talk about their first ones.
I only have one ukulele, which is my first one. A Mahalo U-30 in pink because they didn't have it in white. It was very cheap, about 22 but it has provided me with hours and hours of enjoyment, not to mention a new skill.
I'd like to get a new ukulele soon, I've seen a Laika in mahogany that I like but I'll always keep my first ukulele.

10-12-2013, 02:53 AM
My first uke wasn't that long ago, only a little more than a year now, but it was my Pono AT. I don't see myself ever getting rid of it either, it's sounds awesome, definitely a keeper. I did elect to start out with a "better" (subjective) uke, hoping it would help keep me motivated to learn and that as I progressed, I would grow into it as well.

10-12-2013, 02:53 AM
My first one is a Lanikai CK-B. I went for the Baritone because I'm learning guitar too and the strings are the same. My second A Riptide Concert I will eventually sell, don't like the size,saving for a nice Tenor...

10-12-2013, 03:04 AM
My first was a Johnson brand Pineapple picked up from one of Amazon's gold box deals. I found UU, learned about HMS, ordered a Kala KA-CEM and returned the pineapple because it was terrible.

10-12-2013, 03:31 AM
My first ukulele was an unmarked ukulele that I found while traveling the east coast of Canada. I was extremely mellow and sounded pretty terrible now that I compare it to my newer ones.

10-12-2013, 03:38 AM
A Kanile'a KPE C Premium, I couldn't resist the Kaliua Beach sand used in the fret markers and logo.

10-12-2013, 03:51 AM
Mine was a Martin S-O in 2002, made in Mexico. I no longer have it, but looking back, it was a nice little instrument. Perfectly serviceable, and at the time, they were only $200.


10-12-2013, 04:05 AM
I had a mahalo 30 dollar yellow uke, I sold it to my friend's little brother. Occasionally, when I get to play it again, I still think it sounds nice, maybe not as nice as my other ukes but not bad at all.

The Big Kahuna
10-12-2013, 04:15 AM
My Fender NoHea Tenor, followed 2 days later by my Luna Honu Soprano. Bought whilst in New York, as part of my 50th birthday year celebrations.

I absolutely love my Fender to bits, and despite owning a couple of "better" Ukes, it will always remain my favourite.


10-12-2013, 04:15 AM
Many years ago, I bought an Aria Baritone Uke at Rochester's House Of Guitars. Made in Japan, I think it was Mahogany, and I wanted something to toss in the car when I was working for an insurance company and traveling, and didn't want to take my guitar. (Places it around 1979 or so). I didn't have a case, and the neck started to twist within a month. So I hung it in the upstairs bedroom, and forogt about it. Around the same time, I got a Stella Banjo Uke at a pawn shop in Auburn, NY, with the intention of using it as wall art. (Turns out the Stella was playable - $30 well spent!)

In 2010, my Father-in-law gave me a 1950s Harmony Soprano that he hadn't played in well over 20 years.

I tuned it up, started playing, and never looked back. I don't play it very often - the action is a little high, and the tuning buttons are cracked- but I'll never let it go.

The first "real" uke I bought was a Cordoba 20TM. Ill never let that one go, either.


10-12-2013, 04:36 AM
Kamaka HF-3 that my wife bought for me because I stared at it everyday while vacationing in Kauai. It is beautiful.

10-12-2013, 04:47 AM
Kala Pineapple Soprano KA-P. I started learning ukulele with that and played for a while before I forgot about it. Picked up again few months ago, but I sold away the pineapple and changed to Kamoa E3 Tenor and Mainland Red Cedar Concert.

10-12-2013, 05:07 AM
Pono solid koa soprano with gloss finish that I bought for my wife after our 2005 vacation in Maui. It was beautiful but the tuners were heavy. We had it around for a few years and it was the instrument I brought to my first ukulele club jam in February 2012. The Pono brand has improved so much in the last few years and my wife has a new Pono Acacia soprano with a satin finish that she loves. But that ukulele sparked my interest in the instrument and it has brought lots of new friends and great joy to my life.

10-12-2013, 05:12 AM
Hmm. My first uke was a Fluke in plain old natural with Hilo strings. That was a great uke to start with.

Now I prefer a thinner neck than one finds on a Fluke or Flea.

10-12-2013, 05:16 AM
My first uke was a Kala KA-S that I bought on a whim when Amazon "suggested" it to me.

10-12-2013, 05:17 AM
I just got my uke a few months ago - a Luna Honu. I love the honu lasered onto the uke and it plays well enough. When I eventually upgrade to a solid uke, I don't think I'll sell it either. The turtle is staying. :)

10-12-2013, 05:36 AM
Not sure - the first ukulele I owned was a mahogany soprano that I was given for my 7th birthday. Wish I knew what it was... wish I still had it, and wish I'd not stopped playing a couple years later. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Fast forward close to 40 years and the first ukulele I bought for myself was an Ohana SK-20S. I outgrew it pretty quickly and passed it on to a friend, but it was a surprisingly decent uke for the price.

10-12-2013, 05:47 AM
First uke was a Big Island Honu soprano my wife bought me while on family vacation on the.......... Big Island.
That was just over a year ago and I've added several players to my stable, but that uke is one of my favorite go-tos due to playability and its sweet chime.

10-12-2013, 05:48 AM
My first ukulele was about five months ago, a Mahalo UT-30. I didn't play the ukulele, only guitar, but I recently bought a Fender Telecaster and was flipping through a Musicians Friend catalogue when I came across the Mahalo for $99. It's designed after the Telecaster and I thought it would be cute to have it. I found it on another site for $65 (it's now selling for $49). I then added a pick guard to match the Telecaster.


Then I started to learn the ukulele, but the more I played it, the more I found it difficult to hold the tight cords, so I did some research and found out about sizes. The Mahalo is a soprano, and I realized that a tenor would be better for me. Flipping through the Musicians Friend catalogue, they had a Lanikai tenor quilted ash on sale for $149. I drove over to Sam Ash in Hollywood, they had it for $329. I liked the size, sound and look, asked if they matched price, they said yes, so I bought it.

I then joined the CC Strummers group in Culver City and at my first session, sold the Mahalo to one of the members for her grandson for $35.

10-12-2013, 05:50 AM
Easy for me to remember since I've only had my first Uke a month. It's a Pono solid Koa tenor. I have a lot of improving to do to be worthy of this Uke, but I am having a blast learning to play!:D

10-12-2013, 05:55 AM
My first ukulele was a Hawaiian Ukulele Company student concert. I don't know why they called it that though. It's a mahogany laminate. I bought it in Honolulu. Man, I loved that thing.

10-12-2013, 06:12 AM
My first uke was a Koa Pili Koko deluxe concert uke. Pic attached.
It is so good, and their quality and service so excellent, that I have a new deluxe tenor in transit to me.
Great quality, setup, and service.

http://i805.photobucket.com/albums/yy337/Lend27/image-8.jpg (http://s805.photobucket.com/user/Lend27/media/image-8.jpg.html)

10-12-2013, 06:17 AM
My first ukulele was a soprano tiki flea from Island Bazaar. It was great fun. I used it for lessons in Seal Beach years ago with Eddie Montano ,and it spent a lot of time at the office.

10-12-2013, 06:23 AM
My first uke was a pre-war Martin O that had belonged to my Dad. He gave it to me on my 10th birthday (I'm 72). He had just finished building our new house, doing much of the work himself and I later realized that he probably didn't have any money for a great birthday present, so he gave me his uke. For me, it's the "gold standard" for all other soprano ukes.

10-12-2013, 08:54 AM
--- ka-s!---

Jim Hanks
10-12-2013, 09:13 AM
Risa solid concert. Didn't like the scale so sold it in favor of a baritone. Then got a tenor that is my favorite scale though I still like the sound of the bari.

10-12-2013, 10:09 AM
"My first Ukulele" wasnt mine at all, lol. A friend had a 8 string Lanikai tenor and I played it waaaaay more than he did, so not technically "mine" it is the uke that I learned and played for a couple months before I finally got my first one. Then when I finally got my first one, it was a basic Lanikai Concert, agathis or Nato whatever kind of cheap wood comes on those. Not being satisfied with the Concert after playing a good amount of 8 string Tenor, I sold the Concert to get my own 8 string, which ended up being the Oscar Schmidt 8 string mahogany, one year and 1/2 later and I still play it a lot these days.

Five Ways
10-12-2013, 10:16 AM
My first uke was a mainland concert bought from eagle music Huddersfield UK, but have since added quite a few tenors.

10-12-2013, 10:19 AM
My first was (and still is) a Custom Mako Tenor built by Dennis Kato of Mako Ukes in Hawaii. I bought it because I figured I wanted a good one to be my one and only. Little did I know you can't just have one! :)

10-12-2013, 10:19 AM
My $20 Badaax- juat a few weeks ago- didn't know if I'd like the uke or be able to play such a small scale with a couple of ancient broken fingers on the left hand (Bicycle racing).

I love it! And I can play with much less fatigue than a classical guitar, or violin (Got into that this year too!)

Anyway, I ordered it because it was the both the cheapest thing going-$20 DELIVERED
and because I'd written a movie script a few years ago with a character named "AXE", and the whole motif and script cover was green-

So it seemed somehow PROVIDENCE It's BAAAAD!

here it is if you like: http://thehearpe.tripod.com/index.html

Just got a Cordoba Concert sized- but may actually like the soprano best- too early to tell....

break away, Raleigh.....


10-12-2013, 11:06 AM
Oscar Schmidt OU7 concert. Rock solid laminate, good looks (although more bling than I like nowadays) and finish, and the intonation is really spot on. Passed it on to my brother and nephew, but am still impressed every time I visit them and play it. I played the heck out of that thing and took it all over god's green earth. Surpisingly loud, and surprisingly good tone with Aquilas. I kind of miss it, come to think of it.

10-12-2013, 11:51 AM
My first uke was one of those colourful cheapo Mahalo sopranos, a green one for about $40 back in October 2006. Wow! Already 7 years have passed! Wasn't any other uke brands available at my local music store here in Canada at that time. Still, it helped ignite the uke bug in me but I quickly realized it hurt my fingers while playing chords and I couldn't play above the 5th fret due to bad intonation. That forced me to find better ukes and it took a long time after much cash wasted. It seems to me without going to Hawaii back in 2006, 2007... ukes were scarce.

I gave away that green uke for a charity sale. I wasn't sentimental about my first uke or guitar for that matter.


10-12-2013, 11:58 AM
A soprano koa Flea. Was perfect to learn on. Now my brother has it and it has made many trips back and forth to Thailand, where my brother works with orphanages there.

10-12-2013, 02:02 PM
My first uke was a Kala KA-T, sold and set up by MGM when he had his ebay store. Great way to start.

10-12-2013, 03:37 PM
Lanikai LU-21C. Bought on a whim from a local shop that was going out of business. One of my best spontaneous decisions ever.

10-12-2013, 04:51 PM
I previously replied in the wrong thread.
My first and only is a Kala KA-TEM
I did some research and it seemed like a good entry level. This was about 2 months ago and I am having a blast.
I am starting to dream about an arch top tenor to get jazzy with


10-12-2013, 05:04 PM
I previously replied in the wrong thread.
My first and only is a Kala KA-TEM
I did some research and it seemed like a good entry level. This was about 2 months ago and I am having a blast.
I am starting to dream about an arch top tenor to get jazzy with


Good to meet you, Cliff. I'll be your enabler this evening: http://www.jazzboxukes.com/

10-12-2013, 05:05 PM
1920's to 30's Harmony (belonged tom my Grandparents), then a 50's Favilla and then a 40's to 50's Martin Tenor.......all in the collection

10-12-2013, 05:20 PM
My first was a Favilla, probably about 1963. Wish I'd kept it.

10-12-2013, 05:29 PM
Gave a Lanikai LU-21B to my husband about 10 years ago. Ukes were not terribly popular back then and there were very few in my local music stores(only one brand, in a few different sizes, and only in the inexpensive, unadorned laminate model), so it was a pretty simple choice. I just had to decide on size. Given that he's a big guy, and because of his guitar background, I went with the baritone. He played bass and a little guitar in a band, back in the day. Thought he'd get into the uke, but with 6 kids and working superlong days in construction, he never had a chance to pick it up. After I retired, I saw it sitting around and thought..what the heck, maybe I could learn how to play this thing. The moment I picked it up, I was hooked. We have many other ukes, but have hung onto this old one, and for an inexpensive uke, it sounds very nice. My son plays it now and loves it.

10-12-2013, 11:23 PM
My sister & I 'shared' a uke back in 1970, but when she finished school, took it with her ....... so I had a 40 year 'lapse in playing' until I found a Mainland Banjo Ukulele in a 2nd Hand Shop for what I considered to be a 'reasonable' price - so bought it & haven't looked back!! Next one was a Kamaka Soprano about 50 years old, then a Bruce Wei Acacia Tenor for my husband, then a Locally made Concert Uke in all Australian timbers by Guitar maker Graham Bird, then a Kala U-Bass and finally - another banjo uke - this time a Goldtone, that I bought from my sister after she found that she preferred a 'regular' uke!! All this - in the space of just over 2 years! :o

One day - I'll get that Mainland Concert!!

If I had the $$ - I would have had 10 more, too!! :drool:



10-13-2013, 12:21 AM
I had a soprano ukulele when I was a kid, but I don't remember the brand. It was probably a low end thing. Unfortunately, it got lost somewhere along the way. Then I rediscovered the ukulele after a twenty-five-year hiatus, and got a cheap Richwood soprano. That's a great cheapo brand, well worth checking out.

10-13-2013, 12:52 AM
My first was a Cordoba soprano from Bernunzio's in Rochester, NY. About 6 months later, and many visits to UU, purchased my first K brand from MGM, a KoAloha concert.

10-13-2013, 01:49 AM
Good to meet you, Cliff. I'll be your enabler this evening: http://www.jazzboxukes.com/

Thanks for the link. That's exactly what I have in mind

Patrick Madsen
10-13-2013, 05:51 AM
Since I played guitar for over 50 years at the time of my first acquisition, I knew what I wanted in an instrument. My first was a wonderful Griffin Tenor with 1500 year old growth cedar top, old growth walnut sides and quilted maple back.

10-13-2013, 07:02 AM
After almost half a century of guitar playing,I suddenly found that I
had no more interest in them.So I gave them all away to friends.
Then I spotted a bright red Mahalo cheapie in the local music shop
and thought,'I wonder if I could make any interesting noises on that?'
So I got it and that was the first of the twenty five instruments that
I either still own,or have passed through my hands,since then!

Larry D.
09-02-2014, 04:16 PM
Mine was a Epiphone Les Paul concert which looked my Gibson Les Paul Custom. I call her...."Mini Me".

09-02-2014, 04:57 PM
My first Uke was a sweet little Kamaka Soprano which I still have. My wife brought it back from Hawaii with her as a surprise gift for me. Now there's a gift that's kept on giving! It was not only my first Uke, but also my first stringed instrument of any kind. I think it was the best gift I've ever received.

09-02-2014, 08:54 PM
My first ukulele was a tiki flea. It was a great uke.

09-02-2014, 10:28 PM
My first ukulele was a mahogany soprano made by the Mitubagakki Corporation, in Japan. It was clearly based on the Martin design, but rather roughly made. I bought it in (about) 1980, for my wife, who never took to it. I started playing it myself in (about) 1994, and still have it, somewhere. Unfortunately, the glue dried out, and it has started to fall apart. I keep saying I'll resurrect it, one day, but that day never seems to get any closer.

John Colter.

09-02-2014, 10:34 PM
Mahalo soprano on special 25 aus bucks

Steve in Kent
09-02-2014, 11:29 PM
Wow, some of you guys sure started way up the quality tree:)

Mine was a Kala-CEM and is now my travel ukulele.

09-03-2014, 01:06 AM
Lanikai LU-21C. I gave it to my teenaged nephew for his birthday this year because he likes playing uke when we were camping and I didn't use it anymore.

09-03-2014, 01:08 AM
My first was an Ohana SK-20S soprano. Around 4 years ago my mother in law wanted to get my father in law one for Christmas and knowing I played guitar, she asked for my advice and help to find one. I didn't have a clue to be honest but soon as I started looking online and watching videos on youtube I wanted one.
I ordered him a Kala soprano and myself the Ohana. Unfortunately I slipped on some stairs and chipped a bone in my arm the day after it arrived! very painful but still played it and haven't picked up a guitar since. Soprano is still my fave size, maybe because my first was a soprano. Anyway, its not often people have kind words to say about their inlaws so cheers to mine for helping me find the greatest instrument in existence.

09-03-2014, 03:13 AM
I started with a cute Kala KA-S, set-up by MGM himself. I loan it out occasionally to people who think they might want to learn uke, but I will never give it away even though I rarely play it.

09-03-2014, 04:21 AM
Mine was (and is) my grandmothers banjo uke from the 20's,purchased by her at a roadside fruit stand in San Jose,CA. I have purchased other ukes since- my main ones these days are my Daniel Ho concert model and my Savannah baritone.

09-03-2014, 04:35 AM
A Risa acacia soprano, yes Risa make ukes other than the UkeSolid.

I realise now that I should have chosen a little more wisely. The Risa has really shoddy workmanship...sharp frets, marquetry piece missing, binding coming away from the soundboard (after 18months of being well looked after), untidy inside etc. etc. etc.. If it wasn't 18months old I'd be asking for a replacement.

My second uke, for which I paid as much in postage as I did for the instrument from Bruce Wei in Vietnam, is ok. It's pretty quiet, which was a huge disappoinment, but the worksmanship is good and a vast improvement on the Risa.

09-03-2014, 04:50 AM
My first was a soprano Pineapple Flea that was used as a wall decoration. I realized soon after that the soprano was the wrong size for me and move it to another home, but as they say, you never forget your first...

09-03-2014, 06:49 AM
I'm really just curious. Any additional information would be great, I think it's interesting to hear people talk about their current ukuleles, but I haven't heard anyone talk about their first ones.
I only have one ukulele, which is my first one. A Mahalo U-30 in pink because they didn't have it in white. It was very cheap, about 22 but it has provided me with hours and hours of enjoyment, not to mention a new skill.
I'd like to get a new ukulele soon, I've seen a Laika in mahogany that I like but I'll always keep my first ukulele.

I bought my daughter a Hohner kids ukulele that must have been in the shop for a long time because I can't even find them the exact one. Anyway it was on sale 40% off so I got it for her 4th birthday. I wound up playing it for about 10 days straight, and quickly ordered different sizes and better quality ones. But I'll always be fond of it because it got me started :) we still have it!

Down Up Dick
09-03-2014, 07:27 AM
My Godmother, a Hawaiian lady who I loved a lot, gave me an old Ka-Lai Pinapple uke (soprano) sometime in the 50s. My mother put it in the kids toy box sometime after I moved away. When I came back for a visit, I rescued it sans three tuning pegs, and fixed it up. For years it was a wall hanger in different houses. Then, I got the urge to sing again, put new strings on it, and banged away at it for short while. I still have it, and it plays but needs better tuning pegs.

The first one I bought is a Kala KA-SEM "Exotic Mahogany" soprano, which I still have and use for quiet playing. :old:

09-03-2014, 07:34 AM
My first was a $15 yellow plastic soprano from First Act Discovery. It is small and thin, and I learned my chords on it. In fact, I got 2 more for my toddler grandkids and we all play together.

09-03-2014, 08:52 AM
My first was a Lanakai LU-22 C GC, the slightly dressed-up Guitar Center exclusive version of the LU-21 C. Mahogany laminate instead of nato, sealed gold tuners, nice binding and rosette. I've since gotten a solid koa concert and a solid mahogany tenor, both of which I enjoy, but not more than the L-22. I was looking for the LU-21, but it was Christmas time and GC was sold out. It sold me the 22 at the same price. I've never looked back.

09-04-2014, 10:41 AM
I played trumpet from 2nd grade through High School and have been missing playing music. About 6 years ago my wife bought me a starter guitar for my birthday and I took lessons, but just didn't enjoy playing it. At my work we have a reward program where we are given "Spotlight" points that we can use to buy items out of a catalog. Earlier this year I was looking through the catalog and saw a ukulele. Since it didn't cost me any out of pocket money I decided to go for it. I am glad that I did! It is an Austin Soprano AUS25 made of laminate mahogany with Aquila strings. I absolutely love it! My wife constantly tells people that she goes to bed and wakes up to the strumming of a ukulele.

09-04-2014, 01:01 PM
My first one was an Islander spalted maple I picked up at the Aloha Bowl Swap Meet back in 2012. It's since been replaced by a few new ones (see my sig.) I may buy another uke when I'm over come April, my son-in-law tells me that there are several small shops (one or two people, solid wood, mostly mango or monkeypod) trying to break into the business, so to speak, and their prices are very low.


Ukulele Eddie
09-04-2014, 02:51 PM
My first was a Kala Thinline tenor, which I exchanged after a few weeks because it was uncomfortable for me to hold. I exchanged it toward a Cordoba 30T or 32T that, due to intonation issues, was exchanged after a week for a Cordoba 35TS which I enjoyed for several months before re-homing it and upgrading to a Covered Bridge, and so begat my UAS. ;-)

09-04-2014, 04:04 PM
My first uke was an Islander concert MSC 4, which I still have. It was a great starter ukulele and the beginning of a wonderful bout of UAS.

09-04-2014, 04:25 PM
First uke was a Gretsch G9120, mahogany laminate tenor. I still have it and plan on keeping it. I have UASed into fancier all solid wood ukes, some made in hawaii some by custom builders but I still enjoy the Gretsch.

09-04-2014, 04:55 PM
I love all these stories.

Mine was a Fender Nohea Koa, which still seems to be my go to. She look sexy, and sounds great.

For my birthday two and a half years ago I come home for the weekend from uni and it was wrapped up. BEST BIRTHDAY GIFT EVER!!!

It was really sweet of my parents, they have always loved and supported any ideas of music with me and this one came becuase I played a friend's and casually mentioned how much I loved the ukulele. My dad has no musical skills but went to the store and picked the perfect one, I cannot be happier. And as you can through my many posts I LOVE this ukulele, and would never part with her casue she is perfect