Can’t find the best ukulele for your kid? You’re in the right place!
Teaching children to play music is one of the best things you can do for them developmentally. From increasing memory capacity to improving their ability to read and do math, music is proven to be an incredible brain-booster for kids.
A great instrument to introduce kids to is ukuleles. It’s small, easy to learn, and fun to play. Ukuleles are also affordable.
However, there are good instruments and bad instruments out there. Before you make an investment, make sure you know what you’re looking for in a good ukulele.
- Top 5 Best Ukuleles for Kids:
- Buyer’s Guide: How to Find the Best Ukulele for Your Kid
- Final Thoughts: What’s the Best Ukulele for Kids?
Top 5 Best Ukuleles for Kids:
|Lohanu LU-S Soprano Ukulele|
|Kala KA-15S Soprano Ukulele|
|Kala MK-S Makala Soprano Ukulele|
|Mahalo MR1 Soprano Ukulele|
|Donner DUS-1 Soprano Ukulele|
Lohanu LU-S Soprano Ukulele (Editor’s Choice)
The Lohanu Soprano Ukulele is a really great option for kids. Lohanu sells its ukuleles as bundles including a case, strap, picks, and other accessories, and the Soprano comes in at about $80.
Constructed from a Sapele/Mahogany blend laminate, it is a solidly reliable ukulele that can simultaneously take the roughhousing that’s inevitable with kids’ instruments as well as produce a strong, warm tone.
After your tune the strings the first time and allow the instrument to adjust to the increase in tension, it stays tuned quite well. It’s an important feature to look for in a ukulele.
The bundle with this instrument comes with an electric tuner, two picks and a pick holder, straps, and the case. In addition, the ukulele comes with two strap buttons pre-installed to make attaching the strap easy and quick.
This ukulele is popular with beginners and experienced players alike. Dependable and well-priced for high quality, it’s a good choice that makes it easy to have everything you need to help your child start practicing.
- Great build
- Plays well
- Good accessories
- More expensive than many others on this list
This is our top pick instrument. The Lohanu LU-S ukulele is a great instrument that comes with an accessory bundle that saves you money and makes your child’s experience that much easier, and it doesn’t break the bank.
Kala KA-15S Soprano Ukulele
This Kala KA-15S Ukulele is another reliable choice for a ukulele for your child. Coming in at $75 for a bundle that includes a gig bag and an electric tuner among other accessories, this is a good deal on a good instrument.
The Kala KA-15S is made out of mahogany laminate so it has a strong, warm sound. It comes with gear tuners that are easy to tune and reliably stay that way.
There are some minor intonation issues higher up on the fretboard. However, it’s not wildly noticeable and doesn’t seriously detract from the quality of the instrument. As mahogany instruments are apt to be, this one is sturdy and well-designed, usable by both kids learning how to play and experienced players who want a cheaper instrument to travel with.
The bundle includes an electric tuner, a polishing cloth, and an instructional DVD to help your child learn the basic of ukulele. This ukulele sounds great, and your kid can definitely enjoy playing it for several years before they decide to upgrade.
- Good quality build and sound
- Intonation issues at the top of the fretboard
This ukulele is a solid option for kids looking to learn how to play the ukulele seriously. If your child decides to quit earlier than expected, you aren’t breaking the bank with this instrument.
Kala MK-S Makala Soprano Ukulele
The Kala MK-S ukulele is a little easier on the budget, though the difference in price between our top choice and this is small enough that the sacrifices you make in quality might be worth considering.
This ukulele is available with and without the bundled accessory options; about $50 without the bundle, and $70 with the gig bag, electric tuner, polishing cloth, and instructional DVD.
Two things stand out in this ukulele. First, the tone wood. This ukulele is made of the more unusual and inexpensive Agathis wood, which is meant to be a budget imitation of mahogany. It is a lower quality wood and as such, it is not as sturdy.
Additionally, it comes with low-quality strings, so you might need to invest in some better strings fairly quickly.
The sound quality on an instrument made with cheap wood tends to deteriorate over time – as does the instrument. For the first few weeks, it will be important to continuously retune the ukulele, which may be frustrating or difficult for younger children.
- Cheaper than other options
- Lower quality of materials
- Deteriorating sound
Overall this instrument is an option for those who would rather spend a little bit less. There are cheaper options out there for similar quality, and there are better options for just a little bit more.
Mahalo MR1 Soprano Ukulele
The Mahalo MR1 ukulele is a bargain for the price point – at just around $60, this ukulele doesn’t have a bad bang for your buck at all. Made of a mixture of hard mahogany and soft sengon tone wood, it can withstand a bit of rough play from children and projects sound decent.
It comes with high-quality strings and a carrying bag. It will take a few days for your child’s ukulele to stay in tune as the strings need to be stretched, and the pegs do a decent job of staying in tune.
This ukulele comes with a gig bag but no other real accessories. This is certainly not a bad choice for your child unless accessories are important to you. The price of buying them all together afterwards might bring the overall price for this one up a bit.
- Good strings
- Good sound
- Not as sturdy as mahogany laminate
This is certainly a good option for you to consider for your child. It won’t break the bank and it comes in a variety of fun colors that could appeal to children.
Donner DUS-1 Soprano Ukulele
Popular with both beginning students and experienced players, the Donner DUS-1 ukulele is at a lower price point and arguably a higher quality level than most good beginner’s ukuleles. Built out of mahogany, the construction is very sturdy – and gorgeous.
The ukulele comes with good strings, stays tuned easily, and sounds beautiful and mellow.
The biggest surprise is the price. Even with some great add-ons, this ukulele comes in at about $55. The only potential downside for this instrument is that it has more frets than some other ukuleles, which make it difficult to play. However, it should work great for small kids.
Accessories include a gig bag, a strap, and an electric tuner – the minimum essentials for your child’s beginning experience with a ukulele.
- Affordable price
- High quality of materials
- Great sound quality
- Some intonation trouble higher up
- More frets means less space to play
Definitely, consider this option as a very close second pick from us. The price is great and the only real downside is some minor discomfort while playing it. It plays great and is built great.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Find the Best Ukulele for Your Kid
Real vs. Toy Ukuleles
Ukuleles are affordable instruments. However, don’t be fooled by prices that seem too cheap. Ukuleles are cute and can come with a lot of cute designs which means manufacturers will often put out super-cheap, $20 toy ukuleles with fun characters or colors on them.
A rule of thumb is if a ukulele costs so little that you don’t need to think twice about it, think twice about it. Nothing is more discouraging to kids than trying to learn to play on a ukulele that plays badly, doesn’t stay in tune, and can’t produce music.
Common Ukulele Sizes
Ukuleles come in a number of sizes. This buying guide will focus on soprano ukuleles, the smallest of the typical sizes, and the best one for children.
- Soprano ukuleles are the classic size, at 20 inches in length and with the highest pitch; most people picture soprano ukuleles when picturing one.
- The next size up is the Concert ukulele at 23 inches; this size is a little louder, and the bigger size allows for easier playing for those with more “adult” sized hands.
- At 26 inches, the Tenor ukulele is closer in size to a guitar and has a deeper sound, with even more projection capability.
- Finally, at 30 inches in length, the Baritone ukulele is very similar to a classical guitar, with the exception being the number and tuning of the strings.
Ukuleles, like guitars, can be constructed from different kinds of tone woods, which would impact the sound of the instrument. Ranging from expensive, local Hawai’ian woods to more common woods, each one has its own impact on the sound of the instrument.
When you’re buying an instrument for a kid, you may not be as concerned with the particular tone of the instrument. However, you should assure it’s something that is made of a quality wood that will be usable after your child has established an interest in continuing to play. The important thing is knowing the basics of common woods and the vocabulary around it.
Laminated woods have layers of the expensive tone wood on the outside with the inside being sourced from cheaper woods. This makes the instrument cheaper. However, that also means it doesn’t sound as good as the more expensive solid woods. For kid’s ukuleles, laminated instruments with appropriate tone woods are a great option.
Solid woods are made entirely from the tone wood made to use it. It stays true to the sound of the wood, and it’s definitely the choice of professional players. However, the consequence of using exclusively tone wood to build the instrument is that it becomes very expensive.
Common woods for ukuleles include Mahogany for more mid-level instruments. As a warm-sounding and well-projecting hard wood, it’s a good option but slightly more expensive than some other options.
Spruce is another common wood. It’s a little softer, and not as bright or warm. Anyway, it is a great wood used often in guitars as well.
Koa is a Hawai’ian wood that traditional ukuleles were made from. A very sturdy and warm wood for the most beautiful ukuleles. However, this material also makes ukuleles extremely expensive. This is definitely the wood for professionals.
There are a few things that you should really consider having if your child intends to learn how to play ukulele. Ideally, these things should come with your first purchase.
It’s also known as a carrying case, these are usually a soft, sometimes padded bag with various pockets and zippers for the other accessories you might want to bring around. A carrying case is the easiest way to transport all your things. Its cost is about $20 for a soft case, or $40 or more for a hard case if you were to buy it “a la carte”.
It’s a great tool for kids learning how to play, an electric tuner can help your child tune their instrument and develop their own ear; it will cost about $10 to buy separately.
These make it easier for your child to hold the ukulele when standing up. There are a few different types; some you can attach to the hole on the front of the ukulele, others you can attach to pins on the side of the ukulele if they come with them or if you decide to add them. A cheap strap will run about $10.
This particular brand of ukulele strings are the best way to improve sound on a cheap ukulele. However, they can’t improve the quality of sound if your ukulele is meant to be a toy. Ideally, your ukulele will come prestrung with these but if not they only run about $5-6.
It’s not necessarily required for beginning students. However, in my opinion, a good capo will make it easier for your child to be able to experiment with any kind of piece without being limited by whether or not they require a capo to play. A capo will cost about $10.
Final Thoughts: What’s the Best Ukulele for Kids?
The most important things to consider when buying a ukulele for kids is comfort, ease, and lifespan. Getting a good quality ukulele with good quality accessories is not an expensive endeavor, not is it a difficult one as long as you know what your needs are.
You want an instrument that your child will enjoy playing for as long as possible. However, you also know that children’s interest can change pretty quickly. There’s no need to drop hundreds on a ukulele your child might not want to play again in a month, although getting a good quality instrument like the ones on this list will definitely help prevent that.
This list was made to help you figure out what you need to know when buying a great ukulele for your child. Even if your kid grows disinterested, this fun instrument is something you can keep for yourself.