A ukulele is a fun instrument that mimics the guitar aura yet at an easy playing mode. Similar to other musical instruments, the ukulele market has a variety of uke designs from different manufacturers. Accordingly, you can find a quality first instrument from the best ukulele brands.
Considering the many ukulele models in the market, we have put together an informative buying guide for top-quality ukes from the best brands. If this is your first ukulele search, let's first understand what a ukulele is.
- What is a Ukulele?
- Which ukulele brands are the best?
- 1. AKLOT
- 2. Kala
- 3. Donner
- 4. Luna
- 5. Martin Smith
- Types of Ukuleles
- Different Shapes of Ukuleles
- The Construction Materials of Ukuleles
- Tips for Protecting your Ukulele
- Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best Ukulele Brands
- Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Ukulele Brands
What is a Ukulele?
A ukulele is a musical instrument that belongs to the family of stringed instruments such as guitars. However, unlike the guitar with six strings, the ukulele (uke) has four strings, mostly nylon. Originally, the uke is indigenous to the Hawaiian people, and it comes in smaller sizes than guitars.
Ukes are also easy to play, and depending on the size and construction, different ukes have different tones and volumes. Despite the use having a different tuning, it is a great starting point for individuals who desire to learn guitar. Having understood what a ukulele is, read on to identify our top recommended ukulele manufacturers and brands
Which ukulele brands are the best?
One of the best ukulele brands on our list is AKLOT which has a reputation for building budget-friendly, high-quality ukuleles. To stamp its authority among the best-selling ukulele brands, AKLOT offers three sizes, including soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles. These four-stringed instruments from AKLOT are lightweight, attractive and effective in delivering an amazing sound. Furthermore, with their mahogany finishes, AKLOT ukes offer utmost playability comfort alongside smooth and accurate tuners.
Best AKLOT Ukulele: AKLOT Concert Ukulele for Beginners
- 【About The Sound】This ukulele is made of solid mahogany, which has a longer...
- 【Stay In Tune】This ukelele comes with an 18:1 premium tuner machine, pure...
- 【Free Cnline Lesson】Check out the beginner uke lesson on our website and...
- 【Unparalleled Craftsmanship】This uku has a unique design with a rounded edge...
- 【Customer Service】Contact us if you have any problems with your ukulele and...
Our top recommendation for the best AKLOT ukulele is the 23-inch Concert ukulele for beginners. Due to its mahogany build, this uke produces clean and warm sounds, with the tone getting better as the mahogany ages. You will also not worry about off-keys since it comes with a premium tuner and comes pre-tuned. Also, its unmatched craftsmanship will provide you with adequate sturdiness and comfort as you play it.
For a beginner, AKLOT will also provide free online lessons on its website for easy learning. With its set of ukulele accessories, including a strap, tuner and picks, you will quickly learn the basics of playing this concert uke.
Another brand that makes quality yet affordable models of ukes is Kala. Primarily, Kala offers an exceptional range of ukuleles that suit beginners and intermediate players. It is also within the Kala collection that you will find high-end and budget-friendly models. Kala utilizes mahogany and authentic koa to give their ukes the authentic tone of a traditional ukulele.
Despite maintaining the traditional Hawaiian feel, Kala invests in innovation and passion for providing you with the ultimate quality instrument. Overall, Kala creates top-notch beginner ukuleles.
Best Kala Ukulele: Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Uke
- Kala’s KA-15S came into the world in 2005 as the answer to a high-quality,...
- The KA-15S is well-suited for classroom use, practicing, and acoustic...
- A very traditional Mahogany Soprano Ukulele in a satin finish with a bright,...
- Comes with a beautiful Walnut Fingerboard and Bridge, Mahogany Neck, 12 Brass...
- Kala ukuleles are played by some of the most renowned players around the world...
Our best pick from the Kala ukes is the KA-15s mahogany ukulele. Specifically, this is a soprano uke that is affordable, attractive and ideal for beginners. Besides its suitability to beginners, the KA-15S also suits seasoned players. Unlike most entry-level ukuleles, this Kala uke doesn't have the challenge of high action and comes ready to play with zero buzzing.
Investing in the KA-15S also means enjoying its warm and sweet tone at an excellent bass, volume and resonance. All these incredible tonal aspects are enabled by its premium Aquila strings and mahogany body. Eventually, this uke is lightweight with a smooth texture for a comfortable feel.
You can also invest in the Donner line of ukes. Donner is a renowned music company, mostly known for its string instruments. Ideally, Donner is preferred to ukulele players who desire to acquire their first string instrument. So, you can find a variety of uke types for different proficiency within the Donner brand.
Donner also ranks among good ukulele brands for its free online learning assistance, making their ukes fun to learn and play. Fortunately, the Donner ukes are available at affordable prices.
Best Donner Ukulele: Donner Soprano Ukulele Beginner Kit
- ♫ Warm Rich Sound: Soprano ukulele with well built maple body has a sweet,...
- ♫ Easy to Learn with Free Online Video Lessons: Looking for an easy-to-learn...
- ♫ All-in-one Ukelele for Beginners: Donner ukulele bundle kit includes...
- ♫ A Decent Gift for Music Lovers of all Ages: Perfect for birthday, Christmas,...
- ♫ Wide Color Selection: Traditional soprano ukulele painted in a variety of...
As a testimony of the Donner brand, we recommend its soprano uke beginner kit. This uke comes with a maple body built to last long while producing a warm and rich sound. In addition, this Donner uke comes with quality silver chrome-plated tuners for ensuring accurate and smooth tones. Its premium nylon strings also contribute to its consistent bright tone.
With this beginner Donner uke, you will enjoy self-training with the help of free online video lessons and a bundle of accessories, including a strap, clip-on tuner, four picks and extra strings. Considerably, this uke comes in various beautiful colors that make it the perfect gift for a music lover.
Luna is another excellent brand that specializes in making comfortable instruments for the ultimate musical experience. This brand is mainly known for its Luna guitars which are available at various budget and proficiency levels. Specifically, as one of the best ukulele makers, Luna applies quality tone-wood to make the best ukes with a rich tone and resonance.
Best Luna Ukulele: Luna Tattoo Concert Mahogany Uke
- This Tattoo Concert Uke takes its design from traditional Hawaiian body...
- The designs were monochromatic, tattooed in black against brown skin
- The patterns and layout were strongly geometric and there were many shapes and...
- The fret markers are stylized sharks teeth
- Boasts a clear, resonate sound by virtue of its Concert body and Mahogany build,...
In particular, you can invest in the Luna tattoo concert uke to have the monochromatic traditional Hawaiian feel. The major standout for this mahogany uke is its Hawaiian tattoo that symbolizes endurance. Additionally, this particular instrument promises and gives clear sound and resonance due to its mahogany body.
In addition to its smooth mahogany finish, you can feel its tattoo for an overall comfortable action. Bass players will be immersed in this uke's bass tone mixed with a perfect treble.
5. Martin Smith
Last on our list; we also recommend the Martin Smith guitar manufacturer. Notably, they also make ukes that only ooze quality. Like their guitars, ukes from the Martin Smith label are handcrafted through thorough standards and approved control checks. So, you can be sure that a Martin Smith uke has a quality build that will last you long and consistently produce quality tones.
Moreover, this ukulele brand offers an ample proficiency range, suitable for intermediate and expert players. Therefore, the Martin Smith models are not ideal for beginners who might not appreciate the tonal versatility of their ukes, unlike a professional musician.
Best Martin Smith Ukulele: Martin Smith UK-312 Soprano Ukulele
- QUALITY - Crafted from wood and featuring chrome gear heads the 312 is a full...
- ACCESSORIES - The 312 Ukuele starter kit features a strap, spare strings, gig...
- LESSONS - Take advantage of a two month subscription to TAKELESSONS, allowing...
- CARE - The 312 Ukuele starter features nylon string which whilst taking time to...
- TUNING - The 312 Ukulele features the standard GCEA tuning.
Among the best ukuleles from the Martin Smith brand, we recommend the UK-312 soprano uke. This uke is uniquely designed to last you through different proficiency levels and still enjoy its tonal output at the expert level. Such an excellent uke is enabled by its wood build with accessories to tune and maintain its quality.
You can quickly learn to play the UK-312 through online or real-time lessons that involve an in-person music teacher. It also features an easy and adequate GCEA tuning for a diverse tonal variation.
Types of Ukuleles
In this ukulele buying guide, we have seven uke types, and each is built to produce different levels of volume and tones.
- Pocket: The pocket ukulele is the smallest type on our list, but it is not one of the four major types commonly available in the ukulele market today. Nonetheless, it is adequate for any beginner with 10-12 frets and an excellent tonal range.
- Soprano: This type is the first of the major types and is the most commonly used. A soprano uke is relatively small but ideal for a new instrument with a crisp tonal output.
- Concert: Next in line is the concert ukulele that has wider-spaced frets and a longer neck. The concert ukuleles produce a louder and deeper sound than the soprano.
- Tenor: A tenor ukulele produces a thicker and low-end sound, suiting most professional musicians. In most cases, the sound output of tenor models is comparable to that of classical guitars. This type is also known as taro patch or 'lili'u'.
- Baritone: The baritone is the fourth major type of uke, and it has the size and sound that resembles a classical guitar. The baritone ukuleles produce a deeper resonance, and it is most suitable for experienced uke players and not beginners.
- Bass: The bass ukulele is not commonly used, but they're some musicians who prefer its low-end punch. With its length, it comfortably produces an intensely warm tone.
- Contrabass: This type is also very rare. It features a large size with a tonal range of E1-B3. It is indeed rare to find a ukulele brand with this type.
Different Shapes of Ukuleles
Besides the types, ukes come in different shapes. A ukulele's shape has no impact on its price but impacts its sound. Below are the most common ukulele shapes.
This first design is the most common ukulele shape, which is similar to a standard acoustic guitar. The guitar shape has the upper and lower bout, with modern uke designs having cutaways for easy fret access.
There is also the pineapple shape which is mainly associated with the traditional Hawaiian uke build. Accordingly, the Kamaka ukuleles have adopted the pineapple shape to give its ukulele group of products a Hawaiian feel.
3. Boat paddle
Thirdly, there is the boat paddle shape which is the rarest within known uke brands. This shape takes a lot of effort to make, but it doesn't give the best performances, especially for amateurs. Therefore, you'll not find the boat paddle design among ukulele brands for beginners
The Construction Materials of Ukuleles
Similar to most musical instruments, the construction of ukuleles primarily affects their musical sound quality. Materials also affect the durability of ukuleles throughout their use. In light of a uke build, let's look at the most commonly used materials.
We begin with plastic, a cheap ukulele material. In fact, it is the cheapest but the poorest in quality. As such, a plastic ukulele can only be perceived as a toy for children's games pretending to play the ukulele.
2. Laminated Wood
Progressively, there are uke models made from laminated wood/veneer. In consequence, such builds are cheaply available and low-risk, making them ideal for beginners.
However, laminated or veneer wood material doesn't give out the best sound quality. Ukuleles made from this material are also prone to breakage and cracking, thus their low prices. Nonetheless, you can find an affordable instrument from this material
3. Solid Wood
The best ukulele brands use solid wood on their instruments. Correspondingly, solid wood offers the best sound, resonance and tone. Therefore, such ukuleles are more pricey and more suitable for intermediate and advanced players. Overall, materials such as tone-wood are the most durable with a consistent sound performance.
Tips for Protecting your Ukulele
- Properly grip your uke to avoid drops.
- Keep your uke in a hard case.
- Don't keep your uke in a hot place.
- Regularly clean to remove oily buildups.
Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best Ukulele Brands
While choosing amongst the best ukulele brands, it is essential to consider the appropriate size for your new ukulele. Generally, the soprano is the standard size, but for a more objective purchase, you should consider other available sizes in the market. Most significantly, size has a significant impact on the tone and playability of a Ukelele.
For instance, if you have a big hand, it is best to go for a new instrument with large fret imprints such as tenor, baritone or a concert ukulele. In light of the size, popular ukulele brands are known for their specialization in making ukuleles of different sizes.
2. Tuning Machines and Accessories
The ukulele is a unique instrument, and it requires to be accompanied by the right accessories to make it stand out from other instruments. Some of the recommended accessories to consider checking amongst the best-selling ukuleles are capos, picks and tuners. To start with, capos are ideal for beginner models to make it easier to explore possibilities within different keys.
There are also picks that help you play the uke faster, with the feel of a regular guitar. Nonetheless, in conjunction with ardent players, top ukulele brands do not prefer picks as part of their packages since they limit a Ukulele's strumming capabilities. You also need tuners to ensure that your koa wood instrument is playing at the correct keys. A well-tuned uke maximizes its tonal potential.
3. Acoustic or Electric
Having identified the suitable Ukulele size and accessories, you also need to consider whether you prefer an electric or just an acoustic ukulele. We recommend investing in electric ukuleles, which function like electric guitars for performances that require higher sounds and volume that can be projected through an amp.
Even so, we consider you might want to play your uke to your kids, and this might best be suited by an acoustic version. An acoustic model is more pocket-friendly, and you will still achieve the required tonal flexibility due to the built-in pickups.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Ukulele Brands
1. Is the ukulele a serious instrument?
Despite its ease of playing, the uke is a serious musical instrument that requires actual practice and mastery. Its seriousness is evident in its use by some of the best professional musicians.
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