Before we get to the best concert ukuleles for beginners, let’s consider that the ukulele is quite an instrument, with an interesting history. The little ‘jumping flea’- the literal translation into English – has become an instrument that can cross genres. Since Portuguese immigrants brought it to Hawaii in the 1800s, it has become a recognized sound.
There are ukulele orchestras, and of course, Jazz ukulele players appeared in the 20s. And whilst it has always been more popular in America, and especially Hawaii, it has a worldwide appeal. It is hard to judge if it is taken that seriously outside of the Americas, though by some, it certainly is.
In the UK, it has never been taken that seriously as an instrument because of George Formby. He was a British comedian who used it in his act, made jokes and innuendo about it. The irony is he didn’t even often play one; it just looked like one. He played a banjolele.
On the 9th of February 1964, the night the Beatles conquered America, Tessie O’Shea, a British singer, opened the Ed Sullivan show playing one. There have been others, Steve Marriott was given one by his father as his first instrument (he thought it was a small kids guitar) but most memorably by the OAP of British rock n roll, Joe Brown.
He closed the ‘Concert for George’ at the Royal Albert Hall in London a year to the day after Beatle George Harrison’s death. Playing his ukulele and singing ‘I’ll see you in my dreams,’ he reduced the audience to silent tears. An instrument that can cross genres quite easily. And also one that can create a unique emotion.
It is small, light, easy to carry, and has cemented its place in the world of music.
In this review, we are going to have a look at Concert ukuleles. The concert in the title doesn’t refer to ‘live’ gigs; it is a type of ukulele. Soprano, Concert, and Tenor being the most popular. There are others, Bass, Baritone, etc. but this is all about Concert ukuleles.
And we’ve included some good ukulele brands as we take a look at the Best Concert Ukuleles for Beginners and find the perfect one for you…
Top 10 Best Concert Ukuleles For Beginners To Buy 2020 Reviews
1 Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele
Cordoba has become one of the major players in the ukulele market. Only formed in 1970, they manufacture a range of ukuleles in the classical style. It takes its design influences from the instruments of its Portuguese and Spanish roots. This instrument from Cordoba is made in China.
It has a solid build and has a complete mahogany body. Back top and sides are all made from this recognized tonewood. It has an abalone decoration around the soundhole and a white binding to the body and on the fingerboard. The body is given a satin finish, which is very eye-catching. All of this ukulele is hand-made.
It is a compact little instrument measuring 24 inches by 6.5 by 10 inches and weighs just four pounds. And is fitted with open-geared tuners and Pearloid buttons. It has 20 frets, of which 14 are easily playable.
The sound is nice and has a little bit of punch to it. You may find cheaper beginner models than this ukulele, as it is not the cheapest. But the quality of manufacture is good, and the materials used are also good quality. The sound is great, as well. It is easily one of the best concert ukuleles for beginners, but is it the very best? Read on to find out…
- Hand-made with very good materials.
- Rich, warm sound.
- Some will consider it expensive.
2 Lanikai LU-21C Concert Ukulele
Lanikai is a well-known and respected manufacturer of ukuleles’ They have a wide-ranging catalog that extends to all playing levels. The LU-21C is one of their instruments designed for the beginner. It is also one of their most popular.
The top, back, and sides are all made from Nato wood, which is also known as Eastern Mahogany. This is also used for the manufacture of the neck. The wood is a laminate, but a high-quality laminate. This is an advantage in some climates where solid wood instruments that are small can crack.
The fingerboard is Rosewood, as is the bridge. All of these woods are quality materials and give the instrument a tone with a lot of depth. The instrument is made in China.
Up at the headstock are four chrome-plated closed back tuners. It certainly is an attractive looking instrument with its attractive dark brown stained finish and white binding. And is fitted with Aquila strings.
It has a nice comfortable playing feel. And measures 26.5 inches by 13 by 4.5 inches and weighs just two and a quarter pounds.
It comes with a nice package of extras. There is a gig bag and a cloth to keep it clean and polished. There is also an instructional DVD and a tuner. A little expensive for a starter instrument but is a quality ukulele.
- Well made with good materials.
- Nice sound and easy to play with some good extras in the package.
- It might be expensive for some.
3 Mitchell MU70 12-Fret Concert Ukulele
This is a budget line of starter ukulele. It has nicely chosen woods to try to produce a good sound. The back and sides are made from a laminated Rosewood. This is not a common wood type for this purpose. It has though excellent tone production and is a good choice.
The top is laminated Spruce, again a good choice and an excellent tonewood. The fingerboard is Rosewood, as is the bridge. The ball-end design bridge makes stringing a lot easier. There are imitation mother-of-pearl dot inlays on the neck.
They have made a serious effort to make this instrument as attractive as possible. The body has a natural finish. It is glossy but not overdone, which is nice. There are some nicely appointed extra decorative additions. The white binding is nice, and the abalone purfling around the edges of the body a nice touch. There is a further abalone decor around the soundhole.
It measures 25 inches by 10.9 by 4.1 inches and weighs just 2 pounds – a good size and weight for a young player to handle. It is fitted with nylon strings that might not be the best available. That is a problem easily solved.
This is a nice ukulele for a budget starter instrument. A lot of design work has gone into making it an attractive instrument. It is certainly that. It is produced at the cheaper end of the market, and for that reason, you should not expect a spectacular instrument.
We don’t think the intonation is perfect, but it is not so far out as to be that noticeable to a beginner. It is a starter instrument designed for a beginner. It does that job very well.
- A good looking instrument made of good materials.
- Affordable option.
- Intonation is not perfect.
4 Martin C1K Concert Ukulele
As soon as you see the name Martin attached to anything to do with instruments, you know it is going to have a lot of qualities. They have been building ukuleles since 1916 and, as they have with their guitars, refined the art.
Martin has used Koa wood for the manufacture of the back, sides, and top. Koa is a wood native to Hawaii and appreciated by ukulele players everywhere. There are no laminates used in the manufacture. This wood gives a big, full-bodied sound and produces a louder sound than most other woods.
It has Spruce wood for the internal bracing. The body is finished with a matte satin lacquer and a tastefully understated design placed around the soundhole.
The neck is made from hardwood with a Sipo fingerboard. The neck is joined to the body using a dovetail joint. There are small dot inlays. The bridge is made from Morado with a white Tusq saddle. It has 17 frets, but only 14 of those are easily reached.
Up at the headstock, there are nickel tuners that are open-geared. They have white plastic buttons. The nut is made from white Tusq.
It is as you would expect, a well-made ukulele using good materials. It is made in the Martin factory in Mexico. Included is a padded gig bag.
There is no doubt that this is a very good ukulele with a great sound. It is all pure wood using no laminates, so you don’t expect it to be a premium price. But what a price? You couldn’t even reasonably call it high. It’s getting close to going off the dial, really.
- Beautifully made with great materials.
- Nice sound and plays easily.
- The price is going to make some runaway.
5 Luna Tattoo Concert Mahogany Ukulele
This is an instrument we greatly appreciate for a number of reasons. This instrument has been designed with its historical culture in mind. Drawing on the influence of authentic Hawaiian ukuleles.
It is well-named with the patterns and designs on the top of the body resembling tattoos. They are original designs steeped in authenticity that creates a great atmosphere about this instrument. They represent an affinity with the natural world. A lot of today’s’ supposed intelligent, who are not at all, societies have lost that.
The build quality is good, using a spruce top for a fine sound supported by a mahogany body. A combination used on some of the best acoustic guitars and guaranteed to give you a great sound. Despite the relatively small size of the body, it generates a warm and rich sound. There is a sharks’ teeth pattern around the soundhole — more links with the natural world that surrounds them.
The neck is hardwood and has more symbolic sharks teeth as fret markers on the fingerboard. The bridge is Mahogany. Up at the headstock, there are nickel-plated tuners that are open-geared.
This is more than just a ukulele; it is a piece of historical art, and one the manufacturers should be proud of. It comes with a gig bag.
- Great styling and manufacture using good materials.
- Rich, warm sound.
- Some might think it expensive.
6 Kala 1KOA-C Elite Concert Ukulele
Another manufacturer of the Ukulele with a high reputation, Kala, produces good instruments at all levels. This model is designed as a starter instrument. But it still carries with it many of the great features of the more expensive models.
They have stuck with Hawaiian traditions and used Koa wood for the top back and sides. This is real wood, not a laminate. Inside is a bracing system to add stability and improve the tone. It has been given an attractive satin finish. The Neck is also Koa, and the fingerboard is made from Indian rosewood. The neck has 18 frets, with 14 of them easily playable.
The bridge is also made from Rosewood, and there are open geared tuners. The ukulele is fitted with Fluorocarbon strings. These are well-known amongst ukulele players as providing a great sound with plenty of sustain and volume.
There are some good extras with this instrument, including a hard case with padded interior. Also included is a humidifier to protect the wood from temperature change. This is an important aspect of solid wood instruments. They can often have an adverse reaction to temperature change. This can result in cracking.
This might be the only case where a laminate instrument is better. Laminated wood does not usually react so badly. A humidifier is, therefore, a big plus.
A well-made instrument with good materials, a nice sound, and easy to play.
Just the price. Sit down before you look. We mentioned that the Martin ukulele was almost off the dial – this one is way off it.
- Well-made using good materials.
- Nice sound and plays very easily.
- Very expensive for what is supposed to be a beginner instrument.
7 Concert Ukulele Bundle
This is a cost-effective instrument for a beginner from Hola. They have used some good materials for the construction, including a laminated Mahogany back, sides, and top. Mahogany is known to generate a warm, rich sound, so it is a good choice. The body is finished off with a nice stain and has a white binding. There is an attractive decoration around the soundhole. The Bridge is made from Walnut.
The neck is made from Nato wood, which is often used in guitar manufacture. It has a walnut fingerboard and has inlay dots. There are 14 frets made from nickel that are easily accessible. It has a bone nut and saddle.
This is unusual as most cheaper instruments have plastic for these two essential fittings. Being in contact with the strings, they are important. Bone is known to affect the tone in a positive way. Good quality Aquila strings are fitted.
It also includes a padded carry bag, picks, and a shoulder strap.
This is a well-made ukulele with some nice features. The materials are good, and the sound is acceptable for a cheaper instrument. It is a budget level instrument and, therefore, will not compare with more expensive instruments. Having said that, it is very good value for money. It makes a good affordable option for a beginner.
- Made with good materials.
- Nice sound at an affordable cost.
- Some will want a higher quality of instrument.
8 Luna Concert Ukulele With Gig Bag
When we first saw this instrument, the first thing we thought was, where are the Beach Boys? This might be a sacrilegious thought for some ukulele players, so we apologize. Regardless, it is a stunning design that just screams Hawaii at you.
I suppose you could say that this is where skilled manufacturing meets art. It has a mahogany body and top. But it also has a cutaway. This is something you don’t see that often on a Ukulele. It also is adorned with ‘that’ wave. It deserves some comment so more on this later.
The neck is also mahogany, and there is a walnut fingerboard. All good materials then, so that is a good start. It has 18 frets that are easily playable because of the cutaway. There are dot inlays. There is a walnut bridge with a plastic saddle. Up at the headstock is the Luna logo along with open gear chrome-plated machine heads.
The sound is good, and it certainly benefits from its mahogany construction.
Going back to the wave design. We think that it is a stunning piece of work modeled on the famous Japanese wood print ‘The Great Wave.’ Yes, the artwork is great, but there is a downside. Having such a piece of art on a mahogany top will inevitably affect the sound.
It can’t be helped. The top wood on any instrument generates sound, and the sound waves bounce off the surface. With a mural such as this, the sound will not react in the same way. There will be a slight loss of quality and possibly volume.
We would happily sacrifice a little of the sound quality for a beginner instrument for the ‘wave.’ It adds a special feel to what is a good instrument. At its price point, it is excellent value as a ukulele and as a piece of art. It comes with a gig bag.
Now, “Round round get around, I get around…”
- A great looking instrument with a fabulous design.
- Sounds nice and is easy to play and made from good materials.
- Some are not going to like ‘the wave.’
9 FLEA Ukulele
“And now for something completely different,” as a bunch of comedy giants once wrote. A very different style and a very different sound. And we have to say, the more you look at it, the nicer it becomes.
Nothing wrong with that, of course, but this one doesn’t – it actually resembles a paddle. We wondered if it was designed after the oars used on those Hokulea boats that they race in Hawaii. Just a cultural thought.
It is made from Birchwood with a maple neck, so good quality tonewoods are used in the manufacture. The two-tone wood finish gives it a nice look. There is a polycarbonate fingerboard, which is a strange choice. Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic polymer. It is hard-wearing but contains no sound benefits whatsoever.
The headstock is also an interesting design and something unusual. It is fitted with Grover tuners, though, which is a step up the quality ladder from the norm.
The bottom of the ukulele is flat, so it can sit anywhere that is comfortable. That makes it easy to get a comfortable playing position. As a starter instrument, it is ideal. The action is adjustable, so it can be set low to help new players. It is a compact instrument at 22.2 inches by 6.8 by 2.5 inches and weighs just one pound.
We think this is a great little ukulele. We appreciate the nice playing action. The sound is a little basic but adequate for a starter. The design is very attractive and different. It comes with a gig bag.
We would consider buying this instrument just to hang on the wall; it is so nicely made and finished. What would stop us is the price. For what it is, it is very expensive. The novelty value is worth something, but there are better-sounding ukuleles at much less money. They don’t look as good, though.
- Great design and look.
- Plays very easily and comfortably.
- The sound is not the best, and it is quite expensive.
10 Kohala Akamai Concert Ukulele
This is very much a budget range ukulele designed for the complete beginner. It is made in China using Eastern Mahogany for the back and the sides. It is also the wood used for the top surface. The back is slightly arched, which is not a common design for a ukulele.
It does give it a warm, rich sound. And the body has a lush dark brown stain that is highlighted with a white binding.
The neck is made from hardwood, and it has a Rosewood fingerboard. It has four inlay dots, and 14 frets are easily playable. The plastic nut spaces the strings so that chords are easy to create.
Up at the headstock, there are geared die-cast tuners. It is fitted with Aquia strings. Measuring 34 inches by 5 by 14 inches and weighs less than a pound, and is therefore lightweight and easy for a beginner to handle.
It plays nicely and is an attractive looking instrument with a decent sound. Given the affordable price point, it is very good value. It won’t be the best sounding ukelele you can buy, but it is for a starter and, as such, is more than adequate.
For a complete beginner, this ukulele represents a good option. It isn’t the best concert ukulele, but it is well-made from good materials and therefore is worth consideration.
- Well-made with a nice sound.
- Affordable price.
- Some will just want better quality.
Not sure if a concert ukulele is exactly what you’re looking for? No problem, check out our reviews of the Best Bass Ukulele, the Best Ukelele for Beginners, the Best Tenor Ukuleles, the Best Electric Ukuleles, the Best Baritone Ukeleles, and the Best Kids Ukeleles on the market.
You may also be interested in our reviews of the Best Ukulele Straps currently available.
So, What Are The Best Concert Ukuleles For Beginners?
As you review these ukuleles, you begin to realize that they are quite similar. There are some differences in build and sound quality, but basically, they are the same. There was one with a cutaway and the instrument that resembled what we thought was a paddle from a Hokulea. Then, of course, we had the Big Wave, which really is a stunning piece of art as much as anything else.
However, as our best Concert Ukuleles for Beginners, we have gone for the…
We love the design and the cultural inferences, and it’s got a decent sound as well — a great little ukulele.