Ask your questions or share you experiences about buying an ukulele HERE.

Hey all you ukulele players and residents of the Underground! Are you ready for another episode of Uke Minutes? Great! Here we go ...

Down in the Underground, we get emails and Forum posts all the time asking "What should I look for when buying an ukulele?" or "What would you recommend as a good first uke?" or "I don't have much cash to spend. How can I get a decent ukulele for a reasonable price?"

Since many of you can't go down to your local ukulele store and ask the guy behind the counter your questions, we went and did it for you! Here's what the experts said ...

Some things that you should look for:
1. Materials - Look for ukuleles that are made of wood. Typically, wood sounds better than plastic and solid wood sounds better than laminate wood, especially when it comes to the top of the ukulele (the side with the hole in it). There are exceptions to the rule, but for cheaper, entry-level ukuleles this rule tends to hold up well.
2. Sound - Choose an instrument based on how pleasant it sounds to you. Try and compare as many ukuleles as you can (be sure they're all tuned first) and decide what you want from there. If you plan to play it, choose an ukulele with a sound that will make you want to play it often. If you can't try ukuleles in person, the next best thing would be to search for videos or sound clips and listen to samples. Sound is important, so really listen before you buy.
3. Tuners - There are two types of tuners: geared tuners and friction tuners. Geared tuners (usually stick outward from the sides of the headstock) are preferred because they make it easier to precisely tune your ukulele. Friction tuners (usually stick out from the back of the headstock) are a little finickier when trying to adjust precise string pitches.
4. Intonation - When the ukulele is correctly tuned, are all the notes correct when you play each fret all the way up the fretboard? Making sure that all of the notes on the fretboard play reasonably in tune is important, especially if you are planning to do pickings and solos.
5. Size - There are typically four sizes of ukulele. (See Uke Minute 3 - Sizes for more info). Try as many sizes as you can to determine what size feels and sounds right for you.
6. Playability - Be sure that the ukulele sounds nice on all of the frets, meaning there is no buzzing or "dead"-sounding notes no matter where on the fretboard the ukulele is played. Playability may also refer to how the ukulele feels when you play it, meaning there are no rough edges or inconveniences that would prevent you from properly holding or playing the instrument.

Special THANKS to Dave and Alan of Kauai Music & Sound (www.kauaimusicandsound.com) and Sam of Larry's Music (larrysmusic@islands.net or (808) 822-4181) for all of their help and insight!

If you've got any questions or anything you'd like to add, please check out the Forum post about this episode. We can't wait to hear what you've got to say!

Stay tuned, UUers. We're about to change the world.

Aloha,
-UU Staff

What Should I Learn Next?
"Accessories"
"How to Play the Ukulele in 5 Minutes"

Comments

  1. thats awesome, ive jammed with both of those guys, (especially larry) in their stores when i went to Kaui in the Summer. Larry really has a great take on music and the ukulele itself and we really enjoyed listening and playing off each other. All in all i think Kaui has great ukulele stores if you really want ukulele at its' most natural state and players that really know what they are talking about. I suggest Larry's Music stores to anyone in Kaui!

  2. what about strings? I have seen black and white and am not sure what either is made of but wondered what the difference in strings make. Do you know?

  3. I just got back from Kauai yesterday and picked up a Washburn Ukele from Costco for $100 – I took it to local Ukulele store outside of Poipu and met a great guy named Joe that sold me an upgrade in strings. I now have a great sounding uke for $110 and I know if I am not happy at any time, I can always return it to Costo. Thanks for the clip.
    Ed.

  4. You can get really great “old” ukes on ebay for around $50-$100. I’ve gotten 2 solid mahogany ukuleles for around $50 each so far. I haven’t been able to find a uke under $200 that sounds as good as my 50’s Silvertone. Do some research, save some money, and own a little bit of history you can play!

  5. Hey aldrine, nice update. I’m not in the market for an uke, but I did enjoy the vid. Hey is larry really that tall or are you reallly that short? lol!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *