Shopping for your first ukulele can be confusing if you don’t know what to look for. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration. You want your first ukulele to be something that you enjoy playing. The more you enjoy it, the more you’ll play it, and the more you play it, the better you’ll become! and the funny thing about that, the better you become, the more you want to play. That being said, what makes you enjoy something? How it feels? Looks? Sounds? All of these things are factors in enjoying an instrument.
What size is most comfortable for you to hold and make chord shapes on? Ukuleles normally come in 4 sizes. They are , Soprano; the smallest one also referred to as the standard size. This one is little and fun, and many times very big sounding, but usually the soprano is cramping for medium-larger size hands, especially as you get to more advanced chords. Also, it has the shortest scale length, usually under 14 inches. This allows the strings to be easily bent out of tune, a common issue with beginners and something to consider when choosing your first one. For children under the age of about 10, the soprano is a good choice because of the comfort of the size and tension. For adults, it is not the most common choice, but it can be a fun size to have in your collection! The Concert is the medium size with its’ own sound and feel. It is a popular size, and the second most requested to the next size up – Tenor; the size used most often by professionals and converted guitar players. It gives the largest range while still being the G C E A sound associated with the ukulele. It is also common on the Tenor to put a low G rather than high G string on the bottom string. This gives a deeper, and usually richer tone with more sustain and depth. Of course, the deepest and warmest sounding one is the Baritone; the largest of the bunch and tuned a 4th lower. Because it is tuned a 4th lower to D G B E just like the high 4 on a guitar, it is considered a bit of its own instrument, or perhaps not the one to start on if you want an “ukulele sound”.
Why would looks matter? Something that has strong visual appeal is more likely to picked up and played. A beautiful instrument can be inspiring. Look at the ukulele. Look at the wood type, the fit & finish, and the accents. Take into account the build quality and make mental notes on what you like & don’t like. Call or email us with questions. Make sure to find out if the ukulele is made from solid wood or laminate wood. Keep in mind that over time solid wood opens up or “blooms” while laminate wood remains the same. Of course, price will be another key factor, and a laminate instrument can still be a very musical instrument. And the one that looks AMAZING may not be in your budget. Ultimately, if your goal is just to learn with this one, looks are not the most important factor. On the other hand, if you can afford to get something really nice; the more you love your ukulele in every way, the more you will want to play it.
Do you like how it sounds? This is crucial. Remember that your “ear” acclimates over time to what you are used to hearing. Tone is completely subjective and there is no “wrong” tone, just different colors. If you like the sound, the sound is good. Having found what feels, looks, and sounds good is great, but now we have to try to get one that fits the budget. Remember, by no means does an ukulele have to break the bank to be a great uke. Some really good ones are right here at unbelievable deals! Likewise, the cheapest ukulele you find isn’t always the best deal. In our case, even the same model you find elsewhere cheaper is not a better deal. How could that be? Because we put in 30 minutes and more on every single ukulele we ship. We dress the frets on almost every inexpensive import model on our store. This is not a tune it up and wipe it down kind of thing. Vist the setup page for details. This process makes all the difference for those on a tighter budget. Remember that buying an ukulele doesn’t have to be hard. It can be fun; and should. You only get one first ukulele so have fun & choose wisely.
Written by Aaron & Andrew
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