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Do you want to learn the ukulele or expand your skills? Then, consider a soprano ukulele. It’s a popular choice among beginners due to its small size, short scale, and recognizable sound. Moreover, it’s referred to as the traditional and original ukulele, played by many great musicians.
So, based on different levels of experience, goals for playing the instrument, and other factors, here are some of the best soprano ukuleles.
Kala KA-PWS – Best Overall
The Kala KA-PWS (compare prices on Sweetwater and Amazon) is an excellent choice. It uses Pacific walnut for the top, back, and sides. Meanwhile, it has a rosewood bridge and a mahogany neck with 12 nickel frets, which makes it easy to play at different dynamics.
Guitar players can easily switch to this ukulele due to the low action. But beginners who don’t play any string instruments can also start learning to play. You can get a nice and bright tone when playing alone or with others.
While it’s a laminate model, it sounds great and is easy to learn how to play on. This model is a nice balance between quality and affordability. Beginners and players with some experience can enjoy the tone and response of this instrument.
The instrument is 20.875 inches long, while the scale is 13.625 inches long. Its upper bout is 5.12 inches, and the lower bout is 7 inches. Tuning the ukulele can be difficult at first, but it gets easier with practice.
Unfortunately, you won’t get a case or bag with the ukulele. That means you’ll need a safe place to put it, or you’ll want to invest in a separate gig bag. It’s also not the best for people with nickel allergies, but you can wash your hands after playing to help.
For better or worse, not all ukuleles of this model are the same color. There are some slight variations in the wood, so the instrument you get could be lighter or darker than average.
Martin S1 – Best Premium Option
The Martin S1 (compare prices at Sweetwater and Amazon) has a top, back, and sides that are mahogany, which is pretty standard. You can get a sweet yet warm sound out of the instrument, so you can play beautifully.
Over the wood is a hand-rubbed finish that looks great. The nickel tuning pegs are on the back of the instrument, so they’re out of the way. You can play chords close to the headstock without having to bend your hand into an odd position.
This model works well for playing tons of types of music, from folk to rock. You can get different tone colors and sounds. It’s more expensive than some other models, but it’s a handmade instrument.
Each one might sound and respond a bit differently. But that can help you get a unique sound to help you stand out from other players. You’ll be able to play with others as well, and you can blend with a group of musicians on this instrument.
However, the higher price makes it better for players with a bit of experience. You probably won’t want to spend a ton if you’re new to the uke. Still, it’s not terribly expensive, and you can finance it if you don’t have the cash.
Now, the strings have a lot of tension, which can make it hard to play. The frets are also low and can make bar chords difficult. But some players like the design, so it could be the best choice for you.
Kala KA-15S – Best Budget Option
The Kala KA-15S (compare prices at Sweetwater and Amazon) is very affordable. If you want to try the ukulele on a tight budget, you’ll love this model. Kala introduced the model to help beginners who don’t have a ton of money to spend.
You can use this instrument in a classroom or on a stage as well as in a solo practice room. It uses Aquila Super Nylgut and GraphTech NuBone strings. The strings are easy to adjust to get the right tuning with yourself and other instruments.
Mahogany is the main wood on the body, and it features a satin finish. Those qualities help you get a warm yet bright sound. You can easily play at different dynamics as well to meet the needs of the songs you perform.
Unlike other cheap models, this one is ready to play when you get it. You won’t have to buy new strings and replace them to get a nice sound. Beginners and professional musicians can enjoy playing this ukulele.
Sadly, some players have had issues maintaining the tuning over a long period. It’s also not the best for experienced string players. However, it’s better for anyone who hasn’t played a string instrument before.
It’s especially nice because the strings won’t hurt your fingers like some strings. So you can still play and get better without needing to develop calluses on your fingers. Of course, it’s also one of the cheapest models out there, but it doesn’t sacrifice quality.
The Cordoba 15SM (compare prices at Sweetwater and Amazon) is another somewhat affordable choice. This model features mahogany on the top, back, and sides, and there’s a natural satin finish.
The rosewood bridge and fingerboard look great and can help you play comfortably. It uses premium strings from Aquila so that you can sound good right away. Meanwhile, the silver tuners have pearl buttons to help you get better intonation.
Its strings are at a good height for beginners, and the neck is a bit bigger than other models. That makes it a nice choice for adults with larger hands. The larger size can help you press just the right strings without bumping the neighboring strings.
However, it’s still small enough for people with smaller hands to play. You can even choose from a variety of colors to get the look and sound you want. Just make sure the color you select is available in the soprano size since they also have this model in concert and tenor ukuleles.
Unfortunately, this ukulele doesn’t come with a bag for storage. You also may need to pay for someone to adjust the instrument to get it to play in tune. Both of those expenses could easily add up to the cost of the ukulele.
If you’re looking for something to start learning, though, it’s a great choice. You’ll probably want to find a safe space to rest it when you aren’t practicing. Then, you can keep the ukulele in good condition.
Enya Pineapple Soprano Ukulele
The Enya Pineapple Soprano Ukulele (compare prices at Amazon) is a fun option. Instead of the traditional body shape, it looks like a pineapple. It also features a high-pressure laminate body that won’t react as much as wood to temperature and humidity changes.
Holding the ukulele is comfortable, so you can start learning easily. You’ll also be able to get a fantastic sound, which can help motivate you to practice and get better. According to Enya, the pineapple shape can help you get a mellow tone but also play louder than other ukes.
This model also comes with a variety of accessories, including a strap, case, and extra strings. You’ll even get a few picks as well as a polishing cloth, a sand shaker, and a capo. That means you’ll have what you need to start learning the instrument.
Speaking of the strings, they’re carbon strings. Like the body, carbon can withstand changes in temperature and humidity. So you shouldn’t have to do a ton of tuning each time you pick up the instrument.
If you want to take your ukulele on trips, this is a great model. You can use it in various climates without the risk of damaging it. And it’s relatively affordable, so it’s not a huge deal if something does go wrong on your travels.
Now, there are some quality control issues. Some people have had intonation issues due to the strings, but you can fix that with strings from another brand. You’ll eventually need other strings anyway, so you can start using them now.
The Fender Seaside ukulele (compare prices at Amazon and Guitar Center) comes alone or with a case and other accessories. If you get it alone, you’ll get an instrument with a traditional headstock. On the other hand, the model with accessories has a different headstock design.
Either way, the body of the ukulele uses mahogany to help you get a bright sound. But it can also sound warm, especially in the lower register. The bridge doesn’t require you to tie the strings in place, so changing your strings is quick and simple.
Since it’s from Fender, you can use the Fender Play program to learn music. Download the app to your phone and learn at your speed. Beginners can use the app or other tutorials to get the hang of playing the ukulele.
This ukulele has excellent intonation, so it’s great for playing in a band. Unlike some ukes, this one has a low G string, which extends the range down a fourth. That can take some getting used to, but it also makes the instrument more flexible.
You might want to change the strings to make it sound better. The strings you get can make it sound a bit like a toy. However, once you change the strings, the sound can help motivate you to practice more and sound even better.
While it comes with a gig bag, the bag isn’t the best. It doesn’t offer a ton of padding, so you’ll still need to be careful when carrying it around. However, it’s better than nothing, and you can always get a better gig bag later.
Flight Elise Ecklund Sunset
The Flight Elise Ecklund Sunset (compare the prices at Amazon) is a fun model. It features a sunset image on the body and headstock. Because of that, it’s not the best for left-handed players since the sunset would be upside down.
However, it uses laminate materials, so it’s great for playing outdoors. You won’t have to worry about wood cracking due to humidity or extreme temperatures. Those materials can help you get a bright sound, so you can play alone or with others.
The action is low, so it’s great for beginners and other students. Guitar players may also appreciate the action. You shouldn’t have to worry about the frets breaking or other issues popping up.
There’s a strap button, so you can easily hold the uke in place. That’s especially important since it has a rounded back, so it could move around a lot. In addition, you can connect a strap to the headstock before you play.
This uke comes in a blue gig bag to protect it in travel. The bag isn’t the thickest, so it’s not perfect, but it’s a start. It features a zipper and handles to keep dust off your instrument when you aren’t playing, which is nice.
Of course, plastic may not sound as good as wood ukuleles. However, you should give it a chance to see if you like the tone. Then, you can use it to learn the basics, and you can upgrade to something else later.
Luna High Tide Koa Acoustic/Electric Ukulele
The Luna High Tide Koa Acoustic/Electric Ukulele (compare prices at Sweetwater and Amazon) is versatile. It uses koa, rosewood, mahogany, maple, and walnut to help you produce a full sound when playing acoustic music.
There’s also an onboard preamp you can use to plug it in. Use the piezo pickup to use the ukulele as an electric instrument. You can use the Pearloid tuners to help improve the tuning, but it might not be as in tune as some options.
That can be okay if you’re playing alone or if others are willing to tune to you. But if you have perfect pitch, the intonation could start to annoy you after a while. You can adjust the tuners to work on the intonation, but you might not be able to correct it entirely.
This model has 12 frets, and there are markers to help you find the fret you need. There are stickers on the first, third, fifth, seventh, tenth, and twelfth frets. The first fret features a moon sticker, while the others are waves, so they don’t stand out too much.
You’ll even get a bag to protect the ukulele during storage and transportation. If you don’t want to switch between ukuleles in acoustic and electric settings, this is a fantastic choice. However, you can also use it primarily for electric playing or acoustic playing.
Of course, this model isn’t the best for a small budget. But it’s still not terribly expensive, so you can save up for it. You can even tune the ukulele up a step if you need to, which is nice if you don’t have a capo or don’t want to place your capo too far down the body.
The Cordoba 28S (compare prices at Sweetwater and Amazon) uses real Hawaiian Koa wood, so you can get an authentic sound on it. There’s also a Pao Ferro fingerboard, which is another traditional material for ukuleles.
It has a matte finish and Aquila strings, which are common on good instruments. Now, the wood color is a bit light, which can be a shock. However, it offers a fantastic sound and response, so you can use it to learn to play the uke well.
If you prefer a darker wood, it also comes in a mahogany model. The fingerboard features 16 frets, and the uke uses Cordoba Vintage Open Gear tuners. Those are easy to use to help you play in tune and adjust when necessary.
The craftsmanship is great, and you can get a clear sound. However, you’ll want to be careful about where you buy it. Some sellers don’t pack it very well before shipping, so there’s a chance the instrument will get damaged.
As you play the instrument and the wood ages, the tone can change. That’s a good thing, though, so you can get a better sound as you improve your playing. Your sound can become clearer, which can further help you sound better.
You’ll probably want to purchase a case or gig bag for your instrument to keep it safe. And if you love how this model sounds, you can also get it in a concert or tenor size. Whether or not you get any accessories, this model is great for beginners and advancing players.
Luna Tattoo Pineapple Soprano Ukulele
The Luna Tattoo Pineapple Soprano Ukulele (compare prices at Sweetwater and Amazon) is a great choice for beginners. It has the shape of a pineapple, so you can get a louder, fuller sound than on some models.
Meanwhile, the tattoo design looks great on the front. It features a mahogany body and a walnut fingerboard, so you can get a nice tone. The fingerboard has stickers on the third, fifth, seventh, tenth, and twelfth frets, and the stickers look like shark teeth.
Over the top of the materials is a natural satin finish. That helps keep the instrument looking good as you play it. It’s an excellent first ukulele, and it’s not too expensive.
You’ll get a gig bag with a handle and backpack straps. If you want to travel with your ukulele or go to band rehearsals, you can easily carry the instrument. It also comes with a booklet of chord charts to help you learn some music.
The nylon strings are nice, but they can go in and out of tune easily. Be sure you keep a tuner on hand when you’re practicing to learn when you need to adjust the strings.
It’s not handmade, which is common for ukuleles at its price point. But there can still be some quality control issues.
What To Look for in a Soprano Ukulele
When comparing the best soprano ukuleles, you have a lot to consider. You want to make sure you get the best model for you.
However, there isn’t one model that’s perfect for everyone. You can learn about the models others love, but their preferences might not work for you. That’s okay, but you need to put in some time to help choose a ukulele you’ll want to play.
Here are some factors to keep in mind before you buy your next ukulele.
Consider the Wood
First, you should think about the different types of woods available. Mahogany is a common choice for ukes. But you can also find koa models, which are more traditional.
The wood can have a small effect on the sound you get, especially the wood on the body. Wood on the neck can also matter. Of course, if you have an allergy to a specific wood, you’ll want to avoid any models that use it.
You can also consider the climate where you live and how a certain wood does there. Then, you’ll be able to choose an instrument that won’t crack as easily. No matter what wood you choose, be sure you have a safe storage place to protect against temperature and humidity extremes.
Don’t Forget Laminates
Some of the best soprano ukes don’t use wood at all. Instead, they use a type of plastic, like a high-pressure laminate or ABS resin. These materials may not sound the same as wood, but they can work well.
If you live somewhere particularly dry or humid, you may not want to deal with wood. The wood can crack if you aren’t careful. That also makes a laminate model a better choice if your child wants to play the instrument.
You can also use a laminate model as a backup. That way, if you need to lend out your main ukulele, you’ll still have something to play on.
Look at the Peg Placement
Another thing to consider is if you play a lot of bar chords. These are chords where you use a finger to press down all of the strings at the same fret.
They can be fun, but they’re also difficult near the headstock. If the pegs are in the traditional setup, you could bump them when playing a bar chord, and it could be uncomfortable.
In that case, you may want a model with the tuning pegs on the back. Fender even makes a uke with all of the tuning pegs on the top side. That way, they’re out of the way for any bar chords or other techniques you want to use.
Decide on Acoustic or Electric
Next, determine if you want an acoustic or electric ukulele. Most models you’ll find, especially on a budget, are acoustic instruments. However, you can find some that have a pickup that you can use as an acoustic or electric uke.
You may be able to add a pick up later, but that can be hard. It’s easier to decide what type of soprano ukulele you want before you buy one. Then, you won’t have to worry about adding a pickup.
Think about where you see yourself playing the ukulele. That can help you narrow your search for a model that works for you. If you don’t know for sure, an acoustic/electric model is great.
You can use the instrument in various settings and not have to switch them out. Luckily, you can always buy another ukulele later if your needs change or if you don’t get the best one right away.
Research the Strings
You’ll also want to figure out what strings come on a ukulele. First, think about the material, such as nylon or carbon. Nylon strings are popular, but some brands use carbon, which can be very flexible.
It also helps to look at the brand of strings. Then, if you like them, you’ll know what to shop for when your strings wear out or break. On the other hand, you might want to buy a different brand if you don’t like the strings.
Consider if you’ll get an extra set of strings with your instrument or not. You don’t need an extra set of strings, but you may want to buy some. That way, you’ll have extras on hand if your strings break right before a concert.
Another thing to keep in mind with the strings is how you’ll restring your uke. Many models require you to tie the strings in place. But there are some models that have a no-tie bridge, which can be very convenient.
Stick With Reputable Brands
If you’re a beginner, you should learn about reputable brands. Then, choose from those companies when it comes to buying an instrument. You can find some cheap models online, but they aren’t always quality ukes.
Reputable brands will almost always be easy to play and tune. There will always be lemons, and you may need to learn how to adjust your instrument. However, the chances of getting a bad ukulele go down when you stick to a better brand.
Also, you should try a few brands. Just because someone you know likes one brand doesn’t mean you’ll like it. Choosing an instrument can be very subjective, so it’s up to you to find the one that meets your needs.
Know Your Budget
Of course, you don’t want to overspend on a ukulele. Some cost less than $100, while others cost thousands of dollars.
When you know your budget, you can use that to narrow your search. If one model is way out of reach, you don’t have to waste your time on it. Instead, you can spend your time researching and testing more affordable options.
On the other hand, if you have a larger budget, you can find better models. Then, you’ll be able to make the most of your purchase.
Think About Your Level
Along with your budget, you should consider your ukulele playing level. As a beginner, you can get away with more affordable instruments.
But as you advance, you may want to spend a bit more. Then, you can get a handmade instrument with better materials or strings.
Best Soprano Ukulele Brands, Final Thoughts
Another essential part of choosing your ideal ukulele is knowing what brands are good. You can probably find dozens of companies that make soprano ukes.