For beginners who wish to start playing the guitar or another stringed musical instrument, it is often advised to start with the ukulele because it is easy to learn. Polynesian instrument par excellence, with only 4 well-spaced strings and a thinner neck, it offers a better grip. It also happens that regulars simply have a preference for the ukulele. In any case, the following parameters must be taken into account to make the right choice.
The budget allocated for the purchase of your ukulele
The ukulele is an instrument that makes you dream, it is often, rightly, associated with Hawaii or Bora Bora, paradise islands cradled in sunshine all year round where life is sweet!
As with any purchase, you must prepare a budget before even shopping around to find the ukulele of your dreams. If you are a beginner, a simple entry-level instrument to learn to play will be perfect. If you're a serious ukulele player, you're probably looking for a top-of-the-range model made from top-quality wood species, equipped with quality strings and delivered with several spare strings. Price varies by brand and retailer. Hawaiian brands are the best known but there are also other brands in France, Japan or Tahiti that are just as reliable. To be sure to get a good deal on your purchase, first take the time to consult an online ukulele comparison.
Choosing the right size for your ukulele
There are four main sizes for ukuleles with a varied price range and suitable for all profiles:
- The soprano ukulele is the smallest of all with its 55 cm long, it makes a rather sharp sound. It is ideal for learning for children or adults because it is easy to hold. Most music schools use this size to train their students. It is the musical instrument that Polynesians like the most because it is easy to transport to go partying everywhere!
- The 63 cm Concert Ukulele offers a richer sound thanks to the midrange, it also has a seat allowing you to put it on your leg when you play. A little less widespread than the soprano in Tahiti, it nevertheless has its followers. It is recommended mainly for people with large hands.
- The Tenor Ukulele has a higher sound volume and a wider body, it measures 66 cm. It is found a lot in Tahitian parties and among connoisseurs!
- The Baritone Ukulele is 77cm tall and very much like a guitar, it has DGBE tuning while the other three deploy the classic GCEA tuning. It is not widespread in our islands.
It must therefore be understood that the sound produced by a ukulele depends on several factors: the format, the sound box, the brand of the set of strings used, the quality of the mechanics, the quality of the neck and the fret. An essential element to take into account during your purchase is of course the comfort of the instrument and its look because it will follow you everywhere. For our part, we recommend ukuleles with a sober look that will last over time. After all, it's all a matter of taste and feeling with your ukulele!
In general, beginners turn to the soprano and concert while professionals or experienced players choose mainly according to the desired sound.
Consider the intended use for your ukulele
To start, prefer a soprano ukulele or a concert ukulele. With time and experience, you will be able to master the tenor and then the baritone. A totally acoustic instrument is also recommended in this case. If you are a professional musician who plans to use your ukulele during studio recordings and gigs, opt for an electro-acoustic ukulele with a built-in pickup system. So you won't have to use a separate microphone. Very often, this type of instrument is also equipped with an output that can be directly connected to a loudspeaker or a recorder.
The resistance of the ukulele
As a general rule, ukuleles made of solid wood (such as koa, maple, ebony or walnut for example) by luthiers are the most expensive. It is true that they are thinner and have a classier, more luxurious look. In addition, their sound is richer. One would therefore think that they are also more solid but this is not always the case. They can be more resistant to shocks and scratches even if it is strongly advised to avoid all aggressions as much as possible. But they do not tolerate heat and humidity well unless you carry out regular and very specific maintenance. Otherwise, the solid wood instrument may deform.