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How to Get Started

I Want To Buy A Uke? -- but which one?

So you wanta buy a uke, and do not know where to start....

  • Ukuleles are really FUN instruments and easy to play. Ukes are fun for you and fun for your loved ones.... everyone can enjoy the uke! Your ukulele will be worth thousands in the fun it can bring you and your loved ones. But the secret key to this boundless treasure is by actually getting started playing and enjoying this instrument....

    Ukes are really easy to play... but it does take some practice to get going. Sometimes people give up too easy and store the ukulele in a drawer, closet, or under the bed. This is a crime! Do not you be guilty of the this crime! The penalty for HIDING AND STORING a uke is a lifetime without the hundreds of smiles that a uke can bring.

    All children love the ukulele! All adults enjoy singing the old songs (the good ones... most have just 3 chords). And if you want to see the miracle of music, take a ukulele to a nursing home and play a couple of your parent's favorite songs. Read this from a customer...

      Hi, Roy-- Have not talked to you in a while, and I have a good ukulele story for you...
    • A couple weeks ago my girls and I were visiting my Granny, who is 93 1/2 years old. She now spends a lot of her days just dozing in her chair and not feeling so well. Her mind is not always there, and she can not remember a lot, even people she knew from her younger days. So, when we arrived, she was having a not-so-good day, not having gotten dressed, and just feeling punk.

      However, when she saw us come in with ukuleles in tow (me with my baritone, which is working out great for me and my small hands, and my 2 girls [ages 9 and 6] with their colorful soprano ones), she perked right up. My 6-year old can only play a nice, steady C chord so far, so we decided to do something we could all play together--Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

      We started playing, then singing as a round, and it took only a few bars for us to hear this little voice, now a baritone, joining us singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat...--yes, it was Grand! By the time we left, she had gotten dressed and was sitting up happily having her lunch. Another testament to the power of music, and ukuleles in particular!/p>

    Every uke (with all 4 strings attached) is worth THOUSANDS..... in the fun and joy it can bring. Ukes are fun instruments. Everyone loves them. You can learn a few chords and you can be a musical genius.

I have said many times that a Ukulele will improve your health! More relaxing and all that good stuff.

Well, one of our customers just sent us this testimonial. This is proof positive!

I used the uke as a replacement for cigarettes. The uke is harder to light..... 9 months smoke free and counting. Thanks for helping me to save my life!

There are four sizes of ukuleles... this seems confusing uke?

Ukuleles come in soprano, concert, tenor and baritone sizes. The first three tune to the key of C.... The baritone tunes to the Key of G like the 4 smallest strings on a guitar. Each ukulele has a distinct purpose. The good news is that if you can play any ukulele... even a little.... you can play them all!

Why buy a soprano sized uke?

This is the most common size uke.... Everyone has them..... Easy to carry anyplace.... fun for everyone.... and cute, cute, cute. Very low cost... there are nice sounding soprano ukuleles available of 30 bucks.... Tuned to the Key of C with the MY DOG HAS FLEES tuning.

Why buy a concert size uke?

The concert size uke is my favorite..... got more room on the fretboard for my "10 thumbs".... has a fuller and more robust sound due to the bigger body.... and still is easy to move around.... and cute. You can get started for 50 bucks.... tuned to the Key of C ... just like the soprano.

Why buy a tenor uke?

If you have played a little guitar in the past... you probably will prefer the Tenor size Ukulele. Tenor Ukes are larger, louder, still tunes to the KEY OF C; like the smaller babies.  Professional players really like tenor ukuleles. It is not uncommon to tune the 4th string an octave lower.... which gives the uke a fuller sound. Remember that low G tuning requires replacement of the 4th string to a heavier string.

Why buy a baritone uke?

The baritone uke tunes to the KEY OF G; like a guitar. The baritone ukulele is a great student instrument if you plan to move into guitars later..... BUT you know you are in trouble with a guitar.... with 6 strings when you have only 4 fingers sticking up when you hold it. YET with the baritone uke, you have 4 strings and 4 fingers, so you are pretty sure things will work out.

Is a banjo uke tuned like a ukulele or a banjo?

The banjo uke is a ukulele.... tuned like a ukulele.... played just like your soprano ukulele.... but sounds like a little banjo.... hee hee. Banjo ukes came into being in being in the vaudeville days, when the enterainers needed to be louder.(Remember the megaphones.... that was way before amplifiers of any kind!)

How much should I spend for my first ukulele?

There are TOURIST TRAP ukuleles are in many places that you should buy recognizing they may be novelity items. These are not fine musical instruments.... Generally thick construction and very low quality strings... so the sound is not the best.... If that is all your budget will allow.... then go ahead and buy a cheap uke... you can still have fun with them.

STUDENT QUALITY ukuleles are perfectly fine for both children and adults. Certainly, there are many BETTER QUALITY instruments available that cost than the student instruments... generally these instruments look better and sound better. But even a low-cost student uke with a good set of strings on it works out well for most people.

In general, stay away from buying ukuleles in tourist traps as these are more junky than musical.

Most ukuleles are produced in the Far East to keep the prices low... and can be a very good value.

Custom hand-made instruments from Hawaii and other custom luthiers are excellent and are expensive because of the time of making one instrument at a time. Such instruments can be both a delight to see and play.

If you are comfortable in your fun budget for spending 100 bucks... then you can get a nice-looking, good-playing, full-sounding ukulele. I would NOT spend a ton of money.... unless you have a pocket-full.... of bucks. But, if you have to eat baloney sandwiches for a month to buy the uke.... then start with a student quality instrument.

What about a second-hand uke from the auction sites?

ONLY IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING ... there can be good buys here.... but caution is the word, because there is a lot of really bad instruments being sold for way too much money. Sometimes you must have expensive repair work required to get such instrument in playing mode.... and you don't really know it until it is too late.

Avoid buying your first uke at an auction... trust me.

What about Composite or Laminated woods versus Solid wood instruments?

Composite woods are plywood, but that is not necessarily bad.... generally composites are used on the lessor priced instrument that are mass-produced in factories. Composite construction avoids the pesky little cracks and grain separations that can occur when solid woods are milled very thin for musical instruments. Do not think of composites as the junk plywood that goes under the shingles in your house. The composites used in stringed musical instruments are made specifically for such uses.

All custom and expensive instruments are generally solid wood construction.

Cedar, Spruce, Mahogany, Maple, Koawood... which is better?

Each wood has a characteristic voice.... but generally the instruments construction and bracing has more to do with the actual sound and loudness that the instrument produces.... generally the harder the wood, the sharper the BARK. I think of the softer woods with the sweeter and more melodic voices.... but I like beautiful Hawaiian dancers far better than... that whatever stuff dancers are doing now days.

My new ukulele sounds STIFF....

It probably is.... one of the reasons people like the old violins, vintage guitars, etc.... is the internal stresses found in new instruments have relaxed, and the instruments have come up to full voice. Regularly play your ukulele and give your uke about 6 months to come up to full voice.

Oh... give some thought to the strings.... many instruments factory strings are dead sounding. Better strings sound better.... no surprise here. Recognized premium strings are far better than nylon fishing-line cheapo-type strings.

What else do I have to buy besides the ukulele?

You need to be able to tune your ukulele accurately.... so you need a pitch-pipe or chromatic tuner. Some people have real problems in accurately tuning their uke.... this is where chromatic tuners really shine... the little LED light show you when a string is in proper pitch.

Protect your uke with a case or good quality gig bag. This is really low-cost insurance that will keep the value of your instrument for many years. Most ukuleles do not wear out.... they are dinged-and-banged to death.

How do I learn to play?

If you have a friends that plays uke, make them your best buddy... and learn from them..... it is easy and quick.

Teachers are available in some areas, but do not worry if you do not know any teachers...... There are all kinds of uke teaching methods, DVDs, Video and all that good stuff. On the web are all kinds of beginning uke lessons on U-Tube and similar places.

You can do this! Really!

UkuleleWorld.Com will help you get started.

Keep Strumming.... Keep Smiling....

Roy T. Cone