Things To Know Before Buying Your Ukulele

THE GUIDE

So you’re looking to buy your first ukulele? It may seem very tempting just to go for it when you visit your local music shop, but I advise you to read the little tips in this ukulele before you buy guide first. That way you know what you are getting yourself into. I definitely wish I had read something like this before I bought my first ukulele. After all, there are certain things that are extremely important to know before buying a ukulele.

You’ve decided that you want to go for a ukulele? Super! Definitely check out the UkuGuides ultimate buying guide for tons of tips when looking for a ukulele.

Read this before buying a ukulele

On the whole, your average local music shop is unlikely to have very good quality ukuleles. I happen to live near a very good retailer and they have some top-of-the-line Kalas in stock most of the time. But I’ve been to many shops that only stock a few Mahalos in every colour of the rainbow, to appeal to a wider audience. Those aren’t really the best ones out there.

If you can’t find a good ukulele anywhere local, look online. I have had very good experiences with the TheUkuleleSite (formerly known as Hawaii Music Supply). They are super friendly and have amazing quality ukuleles in stock that are set up the way they should be. As always when you buy something online, do your research well!

typical ukulele shop with ukuleles on a row

Quality strings are key!

If this ukulele buying guide teaches you anything at all, let it be the following. Quality strings are key! If you see ukuleles with black strings that feel very plasticky, you can be absolutely sure that the sound and quality won’t be very good. Good ukulele strings aren’t that expensive (around $10) and they can make a huge difference. The best-known brands for quality nylon ukulele strings are Aquila (soprano, concert, tenor, baritone) and D’Addario (soprano, concert, tenor, baritone). They offer good stability, durability and a warm, traditional ukulele sound.

What should you spend?

Good ukuleles typically start around the $100 mark. Anything lower than that can be of a questionable quality. Definitely ukuleles that sell for $30 or less are generally of very poor quality or “toy” ukuleles. Read more about what ukulele to pick in our ultimate buyers guide, listing what to look out for and the best ukulele for every budget.

What to keep in mind when ordering online? I’ve ordered quite a few lower-end ($50 range) ukuleles in the past from several online shops and at least 50% weren’t set up at all. The main issue is that they don’t stay in tune. The reason? Loose tuning keys (or peg heads). Tighten the screws and once again, this can make a lot of difference! So do not worry too quickly when you’re receiving your brand new ukulele.

builder's reserve series by Taylor Guitars
Image of the wonderful builder’s reserve series IV by Taylor features a guitar and a ukulele

Guitar and ukulele are not the same

So what if you’re a guitar player and you’re looking for something different? Do you think the ukulele will be very easy to learn? I can tell you this (and others will agree): a ukulele is not a guitar! You don’t use plectrums, you finger pick (although there is a very big debate about this). And having two fewer strings doesn’t necessarily make it much easier! Sometimes even the opposite is true… You can dive deeper into the differences between guitar and ukulele in this guide or decide whether to learn guitar or ukulele here.

Need more input as well as the tips in this ukulele buying guide?

Feel free to contact me whenever you need more information before buying a ukulele.

When you have decided that the ukulele is for you, you may be interested in checking out the ultimate ukulele buyers guides!

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