Updated 11/15 2018
When people picture the Ukulele they are normally picturing the Soprano size. This is the most traditional ukulele size and is exactly what you’d expect when shopping for this high pitched, fun instrument from Hawaii.
For many, this is the best size ukulele to start with when learning the instrument. In fact, this ukulele features the smallest frame of the four major sizes which makes the body and neck easy to play for kids and adults alike. The main type of people who generally struggle with soprano ukes are former electric and acoustic guitar players, they tend to wonder where the rest of their stringed instrument went!
The main problem that a soprano ukulele beginner normally comes across is the fact there are so many choices! That’s why we’ve put together this complete buyers guide.
We have selected four (plus honorable mentions) choices for you that include a satin mahogany soprano ukulele, a ukulele bundle starter pack, a travel ukulele, and a color series! We also took price range into consideration as well.
So… without further ado, here are our choices for the Best Soprano Ukulele for beginners!
Best Soprano Ukulele for Beginners
Now, we’ve give you some options, we have to tell you our favorite. The Lanikai LU-21 was the best beginner ukulele for sopranos that we found. It has a perfect ukulele sound, is made by a company we know and trust, comes in a soprano ukulele start pack, and for the price is an amazing value!
We’ve written more detailed reviews of each of our picks below, and further down the buyers guide we detail what we judged our choices on!
- Soprano size
- Rosewood fretboard, 12 frets
- Nato top, back, and sides
- Chrome die-cast tuning machines
- Limited lifetime warranty
Our choice for the best beginner Ukulele is from Lanikai. The LU series is the company’s entry-level instruments and the LU-21 is the best of them.
This instrument is a great combination of price, quality and sound. The value you get for around $80 is unmatched.
Another bonus about this instrument is that it comes soprano ukulele starter pack, perfect for a beginner who doesn’t have any of the pieces. This includes a digital tuner, Austin Bazaar instructional DvD, and gig bags.
- Kala’s KA-15S came into the world in 2005 as the answer to a high-quality, affordable, entry-level ukulele and still remains the unrivaled ukulele in its class.
- The KA-15S is well-suited for classroom use, practicing, and acoustic performance. It is the instrument of choice for schools - More people learn to play on a Kala than any other ukulele brand
- A very traditional Mahogany Soprano Ukulele in a satin finish with a bright, warm, full-bodied tone.
- Comes with a beautiful Walnut Fingerboard and Bridge, Mahogany Neck, 12 Brass Frets, GraphTech NuBone and Aquila Super Nylgut Strings from Italy and distinguished by its etched Polynesian-style Shark Teeth rosette
- Kala ukuleles are played by some of the most renowned players around the world including: twenty one pilots, Vance Joy, dodie, EatMyUke, The Ukulele Teacher, and Zac Brown.
- SOPRANO UKULELE – This is the most common size of ukulele, and the smallest, with the shortest scale length and tightest fret spacing – tuned G C E A
If you are on a budget and but still want a great Ukulele you’d be hard pressed to find one better than our first offering from Kala.
The KA-15S is made by the super popular company Kala, who also makes the budget line Makala. It is safe to say they know how to make instruments.
The KA-15 gives you a full satin mahogany body, a rosewood fretboard, Aquila strings, and a truly traditional sound.
This model is also one of the more economic soprano ukulele we could find. It’s quality construction makes sure it sounds good and will last, and it can be found for under $60, making it a perfect first instrument for a beginner!
- Solid Spruce top, Ultra thinbody
- Made in China
- 1 1/4 to 1 3/4- Inch archback thinbody depth
- Mahogany back and sides
The nicest Soprano Ukulele we found for a ukulele beginner is the Kala KA-SSTU Soprano Travel Ukulele. If you bought a poor first instrument, know you like playing, and want to spend a little more to get an instrument that will last until you’re more of an strong intermediate or even expert level player, this should be your choice.
This model features a thin body design with an arch back to produce a full sound. Don’t let it’s size fool you though, this thing absolutely sings.
The combination of a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides gives this instrument a touch of quality.
If you want to grab a great starter instrument or an upgrade to a poor first purchase, you could do much worse than the SSTU
- Agathis top
- Mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard
- Fun dolphin-shaped graphite bridge
- 12 brass frets
- Easy-to-use geared tuners
Most cheap Ukuleles are more toy than actual musical instrument. In fact, with one exception we’d say that any Ukulele under $50 is probably not worth the money. The Makala Dolphin Ukulele is that exception.
The only thing we don’t like about this model is the ukulele features some very poor strings, but after replacing those with nylon strings this instrument will sound great, especially considering the price. It comes in a wide range of colors that make it fun for kids or those young at heart.
You will want to be careful with this ukulele starter, it’s not made to take a beating. For someone who wants to learn the Uke, or simply wants to have fun at a good price, this Ukulele is a winner!
We’ve now updated this guide four times, and each time we do we pick at least one new ukulele for our list. So, we wanted to mention a handful of other ukes that either have been on the list, or might be in the future. The Luna Tattoo Soprano pineapple ukulele is a favorite of ours, and the concert ukulele size is on our list.
If you’re looking on the lower end of the price range, definitely peak into the Donner Soprano Ukulele Spruce, which is a good alternative to the Makala Dolphin Bridge at the same price point.
Last but not least, the Luna Honu Soprano Ukulele is a great instrument for beginners that is a bit nicer than all but the Kala KA-SSTU.
How We Selected our Ukulele Buyers Guide Picks
We realize that many people will probably disagree with this list. Some musicians have certain brands they are fond of and all others simply don’t compare, Some need to get a recommendation from a local pro, and others simply think you can’t get a decent ukulele for under $500.
So, for those who disagree, or simply want to decide for themselves which Soprano Uke is right for them, here are some of the criteria we used when selecting our best beginner soprano ukuleles!
Body and Neck Materials
Some woods just simply sound better when used to make a musical instrument. With the Ukulele, there are also some that are more traditional than others. Hawaiian Koa, for instance, has uke written all over it.
Other good quality woods include Mahogany, Spruce, Maple, and to a lesser extent, Mango.
The best instruments in the world are made from one of these tonewoods and are “solid wood”, meaning you’re getting one solid sheet per side. This leads to the truest notes and sounds.
Now, with many beginner instruments you’ll see one of the above woods specified as laminated. This normally means that there is a thin sheet of the specified wood, and then chunks, pieces and slivers of the same or less expensive woods “pressed” together and sealed.
Laminates can either be very good or very bad. We recommend sticking with trusted companies if selecting a laminated instrument to guarantee you’re getting a quality instrument from a brand that has experience making laminates.
Last but not least are the plastic, or composite, instruments. Generally speaking, we don’t recommend these as most sound very poor.
Even if you do go with the Dolphin Bridge we recommend here, you’ll probably outgrow the sound and quality quickly, leading you to want an upgrade sooner than later!
When you first start playing Ukulele you probably won’t have any idea how your strings are affecting your playing, or what you might like better. That’s ok, one less thing to worry about!
As you become a more advanced player you may want to experiment with different sets, and we encourage you do. For a beginner, though, it is hard to go wrong with an Aquila Nyglut string, which is an industry favorite.
The Ukuleles Sound
This is one factor that simply can’t be compromised on. If the instrument doesn’t sound good, even in an experienced players hands, then how is a beginner ever going to make it sound even close to how it should? How is a beginner to judge what does and doesn’t sound right?
We made sure that all of the instruments on this list, and that we recommend site-wide, have a reputation for great sound if we personally haven’t been able to play them.
The elephant in the room, so to speak. We’ve tried to give you a nice selection of economic soprano ukuleles because we know most beginners don’t want to make a substantial investment. We didn’t even consider ukuleles over $200 even though we easily could have.
That being said, we tried to keep our price range above the cheap plastic toys that are everywhere. We’ve run across far to many musicians who spend little to nothing on their first instrument and are struggling in the beginning because of it.
So, while we don’t think its necessary to spend hundreds or even thousands on your first Uke, you should spend enough to get a quality instrument. A beginner can get a really high quality starter instrument for $75 to a $100 dollars.
The Final Note
There you have it! Our favorite soprano ukulele for beginners turned out to be the Lanikai LU-21.
Do you agree? Have another soprano ukulele you’d recommend first? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Check out the rest of our ukulele articles for more reviews, information, and interviews!
Last update on 2023-01-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API