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Ukulele

Ukuleles are synonymous with a Hawaiian way of life. However, the ukulele commonly called a uke isn't truly from Hawaii. The Ukulele based on a Portuguese musical instrument called a machete; immigrants arrived in Honolulu brought the small, four-stringed machetes.

As a result native islanders fell in love with the sound! Even Hawaii's King at the time, David Kalakaua, even took up playing one himself. The machete was given a brand new tuning and a new name, and the present-day ukulele (or "jumping flea" in Hawaiian) was born.

The instrument's portability and unique tone have received worldwide renown. Lately, the instrument has seen a massive resurgence in recognition, thanks to such ukulele player's as Beirut, educate, Jake Shimabukuro, and Israel kamakawiwo'ole. 

Ukeleles look like miniature-sized acoustic guitars and traditionally built out of Hawaii's koa wood. Nowadays, most made from high-quality mahogany, Most beginner ukeleles made from plywood or laminate woods - however, a few are made from plastic.

Ukelele strings commonly made from catgut (animal gut), but manufacturers now select nylon polymer. Common ukes have a guitar-shaped body. However, others have pineapple, or maybe bell-formed our bodies. You can also now find many electric ukuleles, that include a tuner, pickup and many other features.

What is the best ukulele for a beginner?

There are a few things you need to consider when you’re trying to find the best ukuleles for beginners. Namely what size ukulele you want and whether you want a ukulele that’ll last you a lifetime and be able to handle years of use. As we’ve always said when it comes to our ‘cheap instruments that don’t suck’ series, when we say “cheap”, we simply mean budget-friendly. This means the ukuleles we’ve chosen in this blog are budget-friendly, making them ideal for beginners who just want to test the water when it comes to learning the ukulele and don’t want to spend a lot of money. 

Is it hard to play the ukulele?

You’ll most likely pick up the basics of a ukulele in 10 minutes. Put in mind though, it’ll take around 3-6 months to be more comfortable playing songs, maybe less for easier tunes. You’ll also definitely have room for improvement after that.

So, to play this funky instrument, you have to learn two things: chord formation and strumming.

Chord Formation

The majority of the songs are created using a few chords (C, G, F, D, and A). If you master these, playing any song will become a piece of cake. So, choose two chords and keep practicing them for a while.

To switch between chords, your hand should stay on the fretboard and you should find an easy and quick way for your fingers to find the next chord and back again.

Using a chord chart will be extremely beneficial.

This will help you get accustomed to how songs are usually performed. Start slowly and make sure you’re doing it right.

Strumming

Next comes the strumming part. After you’ve got a grip on how to play the chords and how to alternate between them, it’s time to make these chords come together by learning how to strum. Most basic techniques are either up and down or down and down.

You can develop more advanced strumming techniques to up your uke game, later on.

Which is the best ukulele to buy?

Whether it's stuffed on a friend's bookshelf or above the bar at a Hawaiian-themed club, if you've seen a uke somewhere, chances are it's a Mahalo. The basic models won't set the world on fire, but they're durable, hold their tuning okay, and sound fairly decent. 

If you have the additional cash, then you'll notice a big difference stepping up to the Tiki and Kala models on this list, but if not, this is an excellent ukulele for beginners.

With a range of designs, from printed patterns on a traditional-shaped body, to 'flying V' ukes, and everything in between, there's probably a version of this uke to suit your personality.

Ukuleles come in many different variations

Size and favourite tunings of standard ukulele types:

Type Alternate
names
Typical
length
Scale
length
Frets Range
Common
tuning
Alternate
tunings
Pocket Ukulele piccolo, sopranino, sopranissimo 16 in (41 cm) 11 in (28 cm) 10–12 G4–E6 D5 G4 B4 E5 C5 F4 A4 D5
Soprano Ukulele standard, ukulele 21 in (53 cm) 13 in (33 cm) 12–15 C4–A5 (C6) G4 C4 E4 A4
A4 D4 F4 B4

G3 C4 E4 A4

Concert Ukulele alto 23 in (58 cm) 15 in (38 cm) 15–18 C4–C6 (D 6) G4 C4 E4 A4
G3 C4 E4 A4
Tenor Ukulele taro patch, Liliʻu
26 in (66 cm) 17 in (43 cm) 17–19 G3–D6 (E6) G4 C4 E4 A4 ("High G")

G3 C4 E4 A4 ("Low G")

D4 G3 B3 E4

A3 D4 F4 B4
D3 G3 B3 E4

Baritone Ukulele bari, bari uke, 

taropatch

29 in (74 cm) 19 in (48 cm) 18–21 D3–A5 (C 6) D3 G3 B3 E4 C3 G3 B3 E4
Bass Ukulele
  30 in (76 cm) 20 in (51 cm) 16–18 E2–B4 (C 5) E2 A2 D3 G3  
Contrabass Ukulele U-Bass, Rumbler
32 in (81 cm) 21 in (53 cm) 16 E1–B3 E1 A1 D2 G2 D1 A1 D2 G2 ("Drop D")

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