Beginner, first instrument - Lanikai LU-21, Aria ACU-250, or others?


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Nov 11, 2010
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Hi everyone. I'm new here. :D

Long story short, I've decided I want to start playing the ukulele. (I normally play bass guitar, and some guitar). I got to try a few, and I think I prefer the concert to a soprano size. I'm now getting one for my birthday (3 weeks away).

I've looked around, and the 'recommended' I would say instrument is the Lanikai U-21(C). Think it's U. In the UK, it seems much harder to get hold of stuff than in the US.
The only concert one I've found is £80, which is outside my price range (Up to £70). However, I did find a soprano one for £56.

After some more searching, I found an Aria ACU-250 (Concert size) 'uke for £65. I couldn't really find any reviews on the internet about it, but one other seller for $150.
In theory, it seems better than the Lanikai. It's mahogany (which I think the Lanikai is only a substitute or something, Nato?) and solid top (rather than laminate).

The issue I'm thinking is that it may be friction tuned rather than geared, though I don't know what this means. Geared is guitar-type, I think. And preferred for beginners.

Or is there another instrument I could look into? I've heard about Makala and Kala, though not sure what exactly to look for.
I've seen a huge range, but they're all on US sites. Amazon.COM, ebay.COM. Never the UK ones. :(

I would try my local music store, but they only have Ashton and Mahalo painted ones for about £20 (which sound pretty bad and I don't like), and a £120 Barnes & Mullins concert one really.

Thanks guys! :D
Of your selection, Id choose the Lanikai U-21C.....Good Luck and Have Fun!!!!!Happy Strummings...MM Stan
If you want a starter entry level ukulele, but may not be available in a Rogue soprano, a cheapie
but maybe one of the best bang for the's $24.99 from Musician's friend or Music 123...only it's their
company's own uke...nice feel and intonation and playability.. Good Luck.. Check out their website.. Good Luck!!! Let us Know what you get....
BTW Welcome to the UU and our forums...and the Ukulele..Have Fun and Enjoy!! Keep strumming them strings!! MM Stan
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Our of your selection, Id choose the Lanikai U-21C.....Good Luck and Have Fun!!!!!Happy Strummings...MM Stan

Sorry, I didn't think I made it clear. I wanted the 21C, but I cannot get it in my price range.

I can get the soprano U-21, but I preferred a concert size when I played some.
So it's really between the concert Aria one and the U-21 (with slight bias towards the Aria becuase of size), or any others that people could potentially find in the price range.

Unless of course, someone can nicely find me a lanikai u-21c in that price range. In the UK.
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I started the uke a few months back and got myself a Makala MKC from Victor Morris in Glasgow. I have since bought several other Ukes including a Kala FMC I still find that my go to Uke is my Makala MKC. It really is a great concert starter and at £35 plus a change of strings ( My personal preference is Worth extra tension ) it is good value for money.

They have a good selection of ukes on their website...including lanikai u21c for 69.99 I do not remember how much delivery costs are though.
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I would second the suggestion for a Makala, my first uke was the tenor version and it's still one of my favorite players. I also have an LU-21C and like it too, but think the Makala has a better sound, although the Lanikai is probably a bit more durable since it has binding on the body. Sorry but I've never heard of the Aria so can't comment on that one.
i'd go with the LU-21, it hangs well with bigger, better ukes, and it has a really nice solid sound to it. Makala's definitely good too, but personally, i think the LU-21 gets better street cred, and people seem to recommend it more for starters. have fun with your choice!
For the price point, the Makalas are great. I know you wanted a concert size, but the Dolphins are an excellent starter ukulele. Great sound, durability, good looks. Don't let the bridge fool you - they can be serious instruments in the right hands :)

Do avoid the Mahalos, though - you're right on that IMHO.

Lani or Makala is my vote!
Aloha TheCommieDuck, Welcome to UU. I read the specs on the aforementioned Aria, it's just about the same as the lu-21 but less priced. They're both mahogany laminates, tho lu-21 calls their's Nato which is eastern mahogany. Only difference I see is the tuners. Go with your heart and pocket. Good luck, and above all ,enjoy it...........BO........
Just my thought on the subject, I've owned many different ukuleles while searching for the right size myself.. I started off with a soprano and after owning multiple ukuleles (and annoying many different store owners) it's where I ended up once again. I initially found soprano ukes to be a bit small and some chords were seemingly impossible to play. However, after playing a tenor for some time I had no problem at all in getting used to a soprano and preferred it hands down. I've found that for myself and many others, the soprano size is the perfect size.. (choose a 15 fret model) At very least, you should have 1 in your collection if you stick with it.. easy to travel with, it has the most traditional sound, the most traditional feel, and they're somehow more aesthetically pleasing as well. Now, concerning the tuners.. as long as they're somewhat decent friction tuners then you have no worries at all. I hope you find exactly what you're looking for and enjoy your first ukulele! Strum away!
in UK, (part of have light blue makala dolphins for £20.99 and the postage is only £2.49. I've checked that they are definitely composite ones. Bargain!
Kala Ka TEM or Kala Ka SEM if you want to pay a little more. or get a Makala Dolphin!! I want the Makala Dolphin.
Good Luck Buying
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