Ukulele for Kids – The Complete Buying Guide

Little child with ukulele

In recent years, ukuleles have become very popular, and they are also enjoying a rise in popularity as beginner instruments for young kids. Thanks to its small size, the ukulele seems to be a perfect beginner’s instrument for kids. For all other guitarists, it’s a great second instrument to travel with or take outside, and to have a lot of fun. In addition, a good beginner’s ukulele is not very expensive. In this article, we will tell you why a ukulele can be a good alternative and what you need to consider when buying one for your child.

Differences between Guitar and Ukulele

At first glance, a ukulele may look a lot like a guitar. In fact, the proportions are almost identical. The biggest difference, however, is that a ukulele has only 4 strings instead of 6 and is tuned differently.

A ukulele is also much lighter than a guitar. It only weighs about three candy bars, which makes it easy for kids to carry around. As for size, a ukulele is only around half the height of a full-size guitar.

differences ukulele guitar

Why a Ukulele is a good Choice for Kids

As mentioned above, the small size of the ukulele is perfect for small hands. Kids can strum along to easy songs. In my opinion, the ukulele is one of the easiest and best instruments to start with. I’m not saying it’s easy to master, but as a child you can progress faster on the ukulele than on other instruments. Since there are only 4 strings, some chords can be played with only one finger. It is important to remember, however, that the ukulele also requires practice, and I would strongly advise you to consider taking lessons.

The vast majority of ukulele strings are nylon, which is another great advantage for beginners and especially children. Nylon strings hurt a beginner’s fingertips much less. With a little practice and time, this slight discomfort will quickly disappear. Many people are able to play a song on their new little instrument after just one day of practice. The strings of a ukulele are also under much less tension than those of a guitar, making it much easier for beginners to pluck them.


kala ukulele starter kit

Kala Ukulele Starter Kit

– Kala is a well-known brand for quality ukuleles
– Gig bag is already included as well as a starter kit
– Good choice for beginners!

A ukulele is a very light instrument and therefore suitable for even the youngest. They can also take it with them anywhere as it fits easily into most backpacks. They come in a wide variety of bright, kid-friendly colors or with famous cartoon characters. Last but not least, a good ukulele is much cheaper than a good guitar and it can be a perfect introduction before the guitar. This way, your child will learn the basics of a stringed instrument and when they are ready to move on to the guitar, they will progress much faster.

Anatomy of the Ukulele

parts of ukulele

The anatomy and parts of the ukulele are very similar to those of the guitar. The body and neck are the main parts of the instrument. The body with the sound hole is responsible for the sound production. Depending on the woods used, ukulele makers can influence the sound of the instrument. Some instruments even have a curved back to increase the volume. The neck with the strings allows us to produce notes. The picture shows the complete anatomy of a ukulele.

Beginners should familiarize themselves with the parts of the ukulele because you will need to know them when learning to play the instrument. Books or teachers will refer to the parts when explaining how to play.

Ukulele Types

Like guitars, ukuleles come in different sizes. In general, there are four common sizes:

  • Soprano
  • Concert
  • Tenor
  • Baritone
ukulele types

The soprano ukulele is the typical beginner’s instrument when learning to play the ukulele. It’s the smallest version of the ukulele and it’s the one people usually refer to when they talk or hear about ukuleles. Intermediate and advanced players often choose a concert or tenor ukulele because they have a louder sound. A baritone ukulele is the largest model and also has a different tuning (E-A-D-G). It’s the tuning of the first four strings of a guitar. The baritone is more of an instrument for players who already have a soprano or concert ukulele.


Soprano Ukulele for Kids
When buying a ukulele for kids, you should choose a soprano ukulele. Its size and weight are perfect for the youngest players. There are also many entry-level instruments on the market for a good price.

Buying a Ukulele for Kids

With its increasing popularity, there are more and more manufacturers offering ukuleles, but unfortunately some of them are of poor quality or not even playable. These manufacturers are mostly companies that specialize in making toys and not musical instruments. In order to avoid bad surprises when buying your first ukulele, I would like to give you some advice.

1. Toy Ukulele or actual Instrument?

toy ukulele difference
Quality vs cheap toy ukulele

The first thing you need to know is whether you want to get your child a ukulele as a toy or as a real instrument. Many ukulele manufacturers produce ukuleles in a variety of colors or featuring famous cartoon characters at an affordable price. They are often available for around $20. While it can be quite tempting to buy a cheap ukulele, these ukuleles are rarely made to be good musical instruments and could actually hinder your child’s progress and enjoyment. After all, it can be a really frustrating experience to learn to play on a ukulele that doesn’t stay in tune.

Personally, I consider these ukuleles to be toy ukuleles for children rather than actual musical instruments. They are poorly built, which means they have uneven frets, a bad neck, inferior strings, and so on. Finally, they are pretty unplayable because they don’t stay in tune. I wouldn’t recommend getting these ukuleles for kids if you want to get your child a real instrument. If you just want a toy ukulele to make some noise, they might be okay. But if your child has got the intention to learn the ukulele properly, you should spend about $10-20 more and you will already get a much better ukulele.

For about $50 you can get a much better and playable ukulele. These aren’t the best ukuleles either, but they’re pretty good for the money and perfectly adequate for young children. The strings that come with these ukuleles are usually of poor quality and are definitely the weak point of these ukuleles. Replacing the original strings with a set of Aquilas strings* will improve the sound of a cheap ukulele tremendously.

2. Choose a Soprano Ukulele for Kids

When buying a ukulele for children there are a few things you should consider before making a decision. First of all, you already know that you should get a soprano ukulele. The type is usually mentioned in the product description. I have seen many cheap ukuleles on the internet that do not have this information. In that case, you can assume that it’s a soprano ukulele. All affordable ukuleles are soprano ukuleles.

3. Don’t buy a cheap Ukulele in Supermarkets

There are some big supermarkets that sell cheap ukuleles from time to time and especially around Christmas. Most of these instruments are not real instruments but toys. Typically, the tuning pegs don’t hold the tuning properly, which means it’s impossible to play music on the instruments because they get out of tune so quickly .

4. There is not need to get the most expensive and best ukulele

For more serious and confident young players, it may be worth considering expanding your search beyond the $50 mark. A higher quality ukulele can be a good investment for kids who tend to progress quickly and who are really motivated to stick with the instrument. But this is only a recommendation for older kids, or for kids who are already playing the ukulele and want to move up to a better instrument.

If you are getting a ukulele for a very young child, don’t buy the most expensive or best ukulele you can find. Kids are kids, and anything placed in their possession will likely suffer all kinds of knocks and mishaps through their trial and error discoveries. Make sure you get a playable instrument that stays in tune. Once your child reaches a certain level, you can think about getting a better one and selling the old one.

5. Signs for a quality Ukulele

ukulele comparaison

Try to find a ukulele with good tuning pegs. For cheaper models, “geared tuners” are preferable as they tend to stay in tune longer. Also check the ukulele’s action (the distance between the strings and the neck). A bad action can make an instrument difficult to play, but should be easily adjustable. The finish is also a good indicator of quality. The thinner the better. Cheap ukuleles have a very thick gloss. It’s impossible to see the wood structure on the surface of these instruments. For a better ukulele, manufacturers use much less gloss.

Best Ukuleles for Kids

Since soprano ukuleles are the best choice for kids I want to recommend you in the following a few models that are worth taking a closer look.

A really well known manufacturer of quality ukuleles is Kala. They offer expensive high-end instruments as well as affordable entry-level models. The Kala Soprano Ukulele* is one of the most popular soprano ukuleles for beginners. For the price, you not only get a great looking ukulele, but an instrument that’s easy to play.

Great Brand
kala ukulele starter kit
Kala Soprano
– well-known brand for quality ukuleles
– gig bag is as well included
– good choice for beginners
Great Value
donner soprano ukulele
Donner Soprano
– very affordable ukulele
– workmanship is alright
– many accessories already included (bag, tuner, strap, etc)
Nice Look
loog kids ukulele
Loog Soprano
– specialized brand for kid’s instruments
– high quality instruments
– available in different colors

Another good soprano ukulele comes from the guitar brand Loog*. They build especially high quality guitars and ukuleles for children. The design and the large selection of different colors make this ukulele very appealing to children. If you are looking for a more affordable ukulele that comes with a lot of accessories, you should check out the Donner* ukulele.

Necessary Accessories for Beginners

gigbag ukulele

In general, there are three things you shouldn’t forget to buy for a child when getting a ukulele: a tuner to tune the instrument, a pair of Aquila strings to improve the sound quality or just to have in case a string breaks, and a gig bag to protect the instrument from damage.

I recommend getting a clip-on tuner that you can easily attach to the headstock. They are easy to use and quite inexpensive. The Snark SN6X* is an example of a good ukulele tuner.

If the ukulele you buy is not already equipped with Aquila strings, but only with non-Aquila strings from the manufacturer, it is better to get some Aquila strings*. These are some of the best strings you can find on the market, and they are not expensive. If the ukulele comes with Aquila strings, get some strings anyway because they can break and need to be changed from time to time.

A ukulele is a small instrument, and one of the best things about it is that it is easy to carry with you wherever you go. I used to carry my ukulele in a very thin bag, but I regretted that decision. To protect the instrument, make sure you get a good padded gig bag. Music First*, for example, has some really nice padded gig bags.

Last but not least, let me remind you of some other accessories for the ukulele that are not a must and not necessary for a beginner. Some people prefer to pluck the strings with a pick* instead of their fingers. As a beginner, you should always start by picking with your fingers to get the feel.

Once you have a ukulele, check out our overview of easy ukulele songs for kids.

Basic Guitar Chords
guitar teaching materials