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  • Luv Mahtani

The Ukulele Buyer's FAQ

Updated: Feb 27


Q: What size of Ukulele should I buy?

A: The standard Ukulele has 4 sizes. From smallest to biggest, they are:



Soprano is easily available in the market but too small in size for an average adult's fingers It’s definitely the best choice for kids below 10.

Concert is larger than the Soprano and is my personal choice of ukulele in terms of size, sound and availability in the market. It’s your best bet.

Tenor is slightly larger than a Concert in size with a fuller sound than all the other standard tuned Ukuleles but it isn’t as accessible or available offline/online.

Baritone is the biggest in size and tuned like a guitar which is good for someone who is looking to play a four-stringed tiny guitar. Since I don't play or teach the Baritone Ukulele, my information regarding this size is limited and hence not included in this blog.


Addition: Pineapple is usually a Soprano or Concert sized Ukulele that has an oval shape and is a great change from the conventional look of a standard Ukulele.


I own Concert & Tenor Ukuleles.


Q: What brand of Ukulele should I buy?

A: A list of Ukulele brands I have owned/played are:

  • Kadence

  • Juarez

  • Kala

  • Mahalo

  • Enya

  • Hohner Lanikai

  • Fender

Caution: Colour-coated, glossy finish ukuleles usually in a price range below 2000/- are best avoided.


For reference sake, I’m linking a few Ukuleles available online that I think are a good fit for a beginner and can hope they are still in stock when you go through this list:


Concert:

Kadence Concert Ukulele (Acoustic)

Kadence Concert Ukulele (Semi-Acoustic)

Juarez Concert Ukulele (Acoustic)

Enya Concert Ukulele (Acoustic)

Kala Makala Concert Ukulele (Acoustic)


Soprano:

Kadence Soprano Ukulele (Acoustic)

Kala Soprano Ukulele (Semi-Acoustic)

Fender Soprano Ukulele (Acoustic)


Tenor:

Kala Makala Tenor Ukulele (Acoustic)

Enya Tenor Ukulele (Acoustic)


I own Ukuleles by Kala, Kadence and Mahalo.


Note: If the link leads to a product that's out of stock, look for similar products by the brand. You might find the right fit according to your budget and pin code availability.


Q: Should I buy a Semi-Acoustic Ukulele?

A: If you hope to make good use of the instrument by plugging it into an amplifier/speakers to perform on stage or for recording purposes some day, by all means. It also is usually a good indicator of the quality of the instrument as a brand usually wouldn’t invest in adding a semi-acoustic pickup to a model of below par quality. It’s a more expensive option, sure, but it’s entirely up to your budget and intention of use.


All the Ukuleles I own are Semi-Acoustic.


Q: I am left-handed. Can I flip and play the Ukulele? Or do I need a special Ukulele?

A: Flipping the Ukulele unfortunately will be difficult to manage through since the strings are of different thickness and tuning. Buying a special left-handed Ukulele is possible but not easily available in the market. Easiest options are to either buy a standard Ukulele and get the strings re-ordered bottom to top by a local instrument shop technician. Or you possibly could try learn the Ukulele like a right-handed player since both hands would be equally necessary (and alien) to the process of playing in the beginning. Constant practice can do wonders.


I am right-handed, by the way.


Q: Where should I buy a Ukulele?

A: For folks in Pune, it really depends on stock available at any store. The ones I’ve personally seen with decent quality Ukuleles on sale are:


Divine Music

Music Shack

Vaadak Music


I bought my last ukulele from Divine Music.


Q: Where should I buy a Ukulele online?

A: Here's a trusted list:


www.amazon.in

www.bajaao.com

www.procraftindia.com


I’ve helped many of my students buy their first Ukulele on Amazon with little to no complaints. I bought my last ukulele on Bajaao.


Q: What quality checks do I need to know of before buying a Ukulele?



A: - Closely inspect every part of the Ukulele for any scratches, dents or bumps.

- The tuning keys should not be loose and shaky, and they should not be difficult to turn/wind. Metal tuning keys are always preferable to plastic ones.

- The neck should be straight. No sort of bend is a good sign.

- Hold down each string on each fret of the ukulele and play all the individual notes to test their sound clarity. Any buzzing or muted sound on any note is a red flag and should be brought to the attention of the seller. If it can’t be fixed, try another Ukulele.

- The soundhole should be approximately the same size as the picture above. Some local brand Ukuleles come with bigger soundholes or non-circular soundholes too.

- The body of the Ukulele at the top should be flat. No kind of odd bump or dent is a good sign. The body on the back can have a slight curvature but it should be an even curve. Again, no odd bumps or dents.

- If you’re buying a Semi-Acoustic Ukulele, test it out on an amp at the store that is suitable for the instrument. Electric guitar amps/bass amps won’t give you a good idea of how it will sound plugged in. Ask them if the amp you’re testing the instrument on is meant for semi-acoustic guitars/Ukuleles.


Q: What kind of accessories should I consider buying with my Ukulele?

A: Most often, Ukuleles online/in stores don’t come with a good gig bag. You’re looking for something well padded, durable and (hopefully) waterproof. If it’s an investment you can make, it’s well worth it.


A clip-on tuner is important for a beginner to keep the instrument’s sound in check. But there are enough apps available on your phone for you to not need a separate device. Again, buy it only if it’s an investment you can make.


Ukulele straps/belts can be a great addition to use on stage if you intend to play standing. It can be good support to folks that find their ukulele slipping when they play seated down as well. If your ukulele does not have button/nuts on either ends to attach a strap, 'Button Free Ukulele Straps' that hook to the soundhole of the ukulele are also available online.


Ukulele stands or wall mounts are a nifty investment as well to keep your Ukulele placed in a dedicated spot of your room and maintain good posture for your instrument over long periods.


Ukulele capos are a great tool to easily change the pitch of your strings to play songs in different scales. Good quality capos specially sized and built for the Ukulele are currently not as easy to find in stores or online. Usually they are clip on capos with a strong spring action that can cause unnecessary tension for your Ukulele neck if used for extended periods of time. Finding capos that can be screwed on so you get to set the strength of capo pressing against your neck is a preferred choice, in my opinion.


Strumming and picking with your fingers is the preferred choice for the Ukulele but one can use plectrums/picks made of felt material instead of the plastic ones people use with guitar. Plastic plectrums can be too harsh for nylon based Ukulele strings.


Q: I want to buy new strings for my old Ukulele / I want better strings than the stock strings my Ukulele came with. Which strings should I buy?

A: D ’Addario is usually available online and decently priced. Aquila is a classic but might be priced over budget. Here are a few links:


D 'Addario Concert Ukulele Strings

D 'Addario Soprano Ukulele Strings

Aquila Concert Ukulele Strings

Aquila Tenor Ukulele Strings


If you have any more questions, suggestions or recommendations for this FAQ,

please mail me at ukulelewithluv@gmail.com


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