Before we get to the Best Ukuleles for Kids, let’s consider what a fascinating instrument the ukulele is. If you know nothing about it, the first time you come across it, it may resemble a kids toy guitar. But far from it. It is a serious instrument and one that is played nearly worldwide. There are even ukulele orchestras.
It was originally a Portuguese instrument that was adopted by the locals in Hawaii after the ukulele arrived there with Portuguese immigrants. It gained popularity and spread across America, the on to the rest of the world.
A tearful evening…
A ukulele actually provided one of the most moving experiences in my life as well, believe it or not. Beatle George Harrison had been the best man at English singer and songwriter Joe Brown’s wedding. When George died, a year to the day later, there was a concert at The Royal Albert Hall in London – The ‘Concert for George.’
Joe came on to finish and close what was a memorable evening. He played ‘I’ll see you in my dreams’ on the ukulele. George loved to play the ukulele. And there wasn’t a dry eye in the house I can tell you. In the right hands, it is certainly not a kid’s toy guitar.
Of course, like most instruments, it as its variations for children. The soprano ukulele is probably the most common and also the smallest. It is popular because of the bright sound it makes. Sopranos have a tuning of G-C-E-A.
So, let’s go through the best ukuleles for kids currently available and find the perfect one for your little one…
Top 7 Best Ukuleles for Kids in 2020 Reviews
1 Kala KA-SWB Waterman Soprano Ukulele
Kala is one of the most respected brands for the Ukulele. They have not been established for a great deal of time but have established themselves as one of the market leaders for quality ukuleles. Based in Northern California, this particular is made to a high spec in China.
The Waterman Soprano is made from plastic and, as such, is an instrument you can take literally anywhere. It takes a lot of its design and ideas from an Italian luthier, Mario Maccaferri, who designed a range of instruments made from plastic.
Built to last…
This ukulele is designed for children and is built to take a few knocks as will happen. The plastics used in the construction are Polycarbonate plastics, which are known to be tough and hard-wearing.
That means it has certain benefits. It can go anywhere as we said, it’s easy to clean, and it makes it very lightweight. This little ukulele weighs just 14 ounces even though it has the usual measurements of 21.5 inches by 8 by 3.2 inches.
It has four strings, of course, made from nylon that are quite thick and durable. They are not too heavy, though, to make them difficult for a child to play.
Not quite sure about the color?
As well as the plastic body, it also has a composite neck and fingerboard, nut and saddle. The open-geared tuners are nickel-plated and are good quality and hold the instrument in tune. The instrument comes with a travel bag. The green color is a little bright, but it is certainly a very functional instrument.
It is a decent little instrument designed for kids to learn and practice on. Its plastic build means that it will not have the rich sounds of a ‘rea’ ukulele that is made from wood.
Nevertheless, it is well-built and makes a decent sound for a child to learn. At the price point, it is a decent buy as an introduction to the ukulele for kids. And it would make a great ukulele for a toddler.
- Nicely made with good tuners and a durable plastic body.
- Affordable price.
- Plastic material won’t generate a very good sound.
2 Mahalo Ukuleles MR1PP Rainbow Series Soprano Ukulele
Mahalo is another well-known and respected manufacturer of ukuleles. Kikutani Music, a Japanese instrument manufacturer, chose the name ‘Mahalo’ as it means with gratitude in Hawaiian. They are made in China and exported around the world from their Japanese base. They make a range of instruments at every level. This is a part of their design range specially made for children.
As it is for children, it is made from high-quality Sengon wood, which makes it hard-wearing and lightweight. Also easy to keep clean. There is more wood in the mahogany bridge that has Nubone saddle. The tuners are open-geared and gold-plated. It is fitted with Aquila strings. It comes with a travel bag.
As a starter ukulele, it is a great little instrument…
It comes in this vivid light purple color that kids are going to love. Mahalo has a high reputation for manufacturing quality instruments, and this is a good example. It should be remembered though that this ukulele is made for children and made to be affordable. It, therefore, doesn’t possess the high-end designs of more expensive instruments.
Nevertheless, it plays well and sounds very good. With the wood giving it a nice resonance that other materials do not offer. It weighs just 12 ounces and is 21 inches by 8 by 4 inches. Easy for a child to hold.
Settles down quickly…
When buying a child’s starter ukulele, you should not expect a perfect pro-level instrument. This is no different from any instrument. The biggest issue is always with tuning the nylon strings, which can tend to stretch. But they soon settle down after a few days.
- Very well made ukulele in a vivid color.
- It plays and sounds nice at an affordable price.
- Some may not like the color.
3 Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
Another offering from Kala, this ukulele is an upgrade on some of their less expensive models. This has a notable higher quality from other ukuleles made for children. The body is made from high-quality mahogany. This not only has an appealing look, but it also gives the instrument a great resonance. Mahogany has long been recognized as a quality wood for guitars and other strung instruments.
An outstanding feel…
The neck is also mahogany giving the ukulele an outstanding feel, even to the experienced musician. The neck has 12 frets made from brass and marker dots.
The fingerboard is made from Rosewood, another wood you will find on high-quality guitars. Rosewood is a high-density wood that gives stability. Rosewood is also used for the bridge. The body and neck are given an attractive satin finish. Nylon Aquila strings are fitted and open-geared nickel-plated tuners.
This instrument stands out for two reasons…
Firstly the stain applied to the body brings out the natural grains and beauty of the wood. Secondly, the quality of the wood that is used to produce a sound that has real quality. Given it is such a small body, we might expect the sound to be a little top-heavy — none of it. The low frequencies are there and combined with crisp highs produce a rich, clear sound.
A great sounding instrument that is easy to play. Good for students but also playable for experienced players. A little more expensive than some but worth it for the quality of the build. One of the best ukuleles for kids.
- High-quality materials and build.
- Nice resonant sound.
- A little more expensive than some.
4 Luna Tattoo Concert Mahogany Ukulele
Now we move onto what can only be described as a great ukulele. It is a concert size, which means it is a little larger than a Soprano but still smaller than the Tenor ukulele. This ukulele stands out because of its design, as well as its quality of build and sound. It takes much of its influences from the original Hawaiian instruments.
It is not called the tattoo for no reason…
Authentic original patterns are embossed on the body that resembles tattoos. A great idea and one that maintains the cultural heritage of this great guitar. These designs are too historic and meaningful to devote too much time in this review. But they represent the closeness these people have for the natural world. Something we seem to have lost in today’s society.
It has a mahogany wood body and sides and a spruce top, which gives it a great sound. Only the finest acoustic guitars are made with the same woods. The body is a slightly bigger dimension than many other ukuleles for children and measures 23 inches in length. It does, though allow the child to grow into it and produce a rich, warm sound.
More representations of the natural world are represented by the shark’s teeth designs on the fingerboard and around the soundhole.
There is a Mahogany bridge and open-geared nickel-plated tuners that are high quality for maintaining the tune.
Hardwearing with a great sound…
This Ukulele is made expertly by Kala to be durable and with a sound quality that will allow the child to grow with this instrument. It is, of course, more expensive than most. If you want real quality, you have to pay for it.
This is undoubtedly one of the best ukuleles for kids you will see. And as an extra, it will give them a little history and culture lesson about the origins of the instrument. No bad thing. This instrument is going to take some beating as the best ukulele for kids. It comes with a travel bag.
- A stunning looking instrument made with the finest materials.
- Nice to play and with a great resonant sound.
- The price will put some people off.
5 Kala KA-T Mahogany Tenor Ukulele
The first Tenor ukulele we are going to look at. The Tenor is a little bigger in size than the soprano and concert ukuleles with more space between the frets. This can make them a little easier to play for adults but makes little difference for children. Tenor ukuleles tend to be a bit heavier, This model by Kala, for instance, weighs 0.16 ounces and measures 10.63 inches by 4.33 by 28.35 inches.
It has a Mahogany wood body, sides, and top with a very traditional style white binding. The neck is also Mahogany with a Walnut fretboard. The fretboard has 18 frets. It has a satin finish that brings out the natural grain of the wood.
The bridge is also Walnut with a Nubone fitted nut and saddle. At the top end are the die-cast open-geared tuners. It is fitted with Aquila nylon ukulele strings.
A little less jangle…
It’s quite well-made but lacks some of the style of the other Kala ukuleles. It does, though have a slightly warmer sound that is not quite so jangly. This is due, of course, to the bigger body size. And it produces a more resonant sound where the lows are a little more prominent.
With the fretboard being a little larger as we said, it is a little easier to play as there is a little more room.
It is a decent ukulele with a slightly different sound, which does offer a variation. A little more expensive than the norm, though.
- All-wood manufacture.
- Slightly bigger sound than a Soprano ukulele.
- A little expensive for a ukulele that doesn’t offer too much different.
6 Kala MK-SD-MBL Makala Dolphin Soprano Ukulele
Another Soprano size ukulele from Kala, again this one is a little different. It is made from a composite material but has a Kauri wood top. Kauri wood is from the Southern Hemisphere and is part of the Agathis family. Agathis wood is often used in guitar manufacture. Like Mahogany, it can be good or bad, depending on how it is dried. If treated well, it makes an excellent tonewood for an instrument.
There is a mahogany neck and bridge with a Nubone saddle and nut. At the headstock, open-geared plated tuners. As usual, it has Aquila nylon strings fitted. It has been given a rather striking blue finish which almost constitutes the use of sunglasses. Kids will like it, though.
What’s in the box?
This instrument comes as part of what is called a starter package. Included with the ukulele are a tuner and educational DVD and a cleaning cloth. There is also a gig bad supplied, but it has no internal padding. It might, therefore, not be suitable if you wish to carry to school or anywhere outside the house.
It is a decent ukulele, and the extras in the package make a difference. That, of course, does make it a little more expensive. The sound is ok, and the build is adequate, given that it is mostly plastic with a wood top. There are the usual tuning problems that arise. This goes for any instrument with nylon strings. A little bit of patience and perseverance is all you need. The strings tend to settle down after a few days.
- Some nice and useful extras included.
- It has a reasonable sound considering it is a mostly plastic body.
- Color and plastic body might put some people off.
7 Hola! Music HM-21BK Soprano Ukulele Bundle
The Hola Soprano Ukulele comes as part of a package and represents a very affordable bundle for a good instrument. Even more affordable when you consider the quality of the materials in the build.
The top, back, and sides are made of Maple wood. Maple, of course, is found on some of the world’s greatest guitars. It is known for its resonance and ability to create a rich, warm tone. However, we were rather disappointed when we realized the top, where much of the higher frequencies resonate from, was painted black. There goes your ‘top’ resonance.
Continuing with the use of good materials…
The neck is Walnut, and the fingerboard is Rosewood. All very good materials for instrument manufacture. On the fingerboard are the standard twelve frets. These are made from nickel. There are also dotted fret markers.
We think it could be a nice idea to try and make these instruments interesting with a variety of colors. But painting maple is, in our opinion, not such a good idea. It is fitted with the standard Aquila ukulele strings. Up at the headstock are the open-geared die-cast tuners.
The build is a fairly standard size at 21 inches long by 7 inches by 2.1 inches, and it weighs just one pound. As part of the package comes a very basic bag, a strap, and some picks.
A little bit too much…
There is no doubt that this is a decent enough ukulele. It is well made with some good materials, but their efforts to attract children by painting the maple top rather ruins it for us. They could have used a cheaper material if they were going to paint it. The rest of the instrument, though, is fine and at the price, is a very cost-effective purchase.
- Good material used in construction.
- Affordable price.
- Painting a maple top reduces sound quality.
Best Ukuleles for Kids Buyer’s Guide
Getting that first Ukulele
It’s an important time when you get a child their first instrument. As parents or as a teacher, we have this guarded hope and anticipation that they are going to enjoy playing and learning. And from there, it is a very short step to having a child develop a love of playing music for the rest of their life. At whatever level doesn’t matter. The fact they can do it is good for them.
But, you can destroy any potential love for music as quick as you can blink if what you buy isn’t right. And it can be wrong in a number of ways.
What should you consider?
Is the child flamboyant or quite reserved? It will make a difference to the instrument color you choose. Getting something that glows in the dark, it is so bright, will not appeal to the reserved child at all. They will feel awkward to use it, let alone ever take it anywhere. Remember you are buying for them, not you. Just because you like it doesn’t mean they will.
On the other hand, the extrovert child is going to love an instrument that glows in the dark. They will find the plain wood, varnished instrument a bit ordinary. Remember, you want them to love to play. That starts with them loving their instrument.
What sort of ukulele?
There are basically four different types — Soprano, Concert, Tenor, and Baritone. We have covered three of those sizes in our review. The Soprano is the smallest and the baritone the largest. The actual difference in size and weight, though is not dramatic. The main difference is the sound. The larger the ukulele usually, the better the sound.
Not really that much of an issue when you are talking about an instrument for a complete beginner. There is not a great price fluctuation. Some will be a little more if they have very good materials used or come with a few extras. The difference, though is quite small.
The Ukulele is a unique instrument
If you are buying it as a starter guitar, don’t. There are guitars for very small children. The ukulele is its own instrument. If you are buying it as a first bass guitar because it has four strings, don’t. It is not a bass. And yes, we have heard these comments. If you are buying one, it is because the child is going to learn to play the ukulele.
However, ukuleles have a set of their own problems
Some instruments have problems for starter musicians, but with the ukulele, it is usually all about tuning. Being a short scale neck, there is not a lot of room for flexibility. That is why for some unknown to us anyway, the longer necked bass guitar stays in tune better than a standard guitar.
Also, the ukulele has nylon strings. They stretch and flex and take time to settle in. It will not be in tune when it comes out of the box. And after the first time you tune it, it is unlikely to stay there very long. It will take two or three days or constant re-tuning.
Explain that to your students and give them some help rather than sending it back, saying it won’t stay in tune.
It’s a great little instrument in its own right, let them appreciate it for exactly what it is.
Maybe you want to play along with the kids while they are learning and want a ukulele that is a little bit more grown up? If so, check out our reviews of the Best Ukelele for Beginners, the Best Bass Ukulele, the Best Tenor Ukuleles, the Best Baritone Ukeleles, and the Best Electric Ukuleles currently available.
You may also be interested in our in-depth reviews of the Best Ukulele Straps on the market.
So, what are the Best Ukuleles for Kids?
We are going to be a little selfish in buying this first ukulele, and we want a good instrument, of course. We want it made of wood with a decent neck and as good a hardware package as comes with a starter instrument.
But we also want a bit more…
Learning a musical instrument is education – learning something new. So we would like to extend the learning curve to appreciate a little of the history and culture of this instrument. We want it sounds good of course as well, and so we have chosen for our best ukulele for kids the…
More than just another ukulele. A version of the instrument that reflects a little of its cultural history. For us, this is the best of the best ukuleles for kids.