Ukuleles are a great instrument for beginners. They’re easy to play, with chord shapes demanding a maximum of three fingers with no big stretches. They sound great, bright and cheery, which appeals to children and keeps them motivated. They are ultra portable and don’t weigh much, so children (and adult beginners who don’t want to hit the gym just so they can lug their instrument to lessons!) can easily carry them around. If learners later decided to switch to guitar, all the shapes and skills they have learnt are transferable. They can also be a very affordable first instrument. But buying a first ukulele can be a difficult task….
The problem comes when you start looking to buy a ukulele online. There are so many options out there and so many of them are complete unplayable! The worst thing you can do for a beginner musician is to provide them with a terrible instrument. Nothing is more demoralising than doing everything right but still not getting a musical sound. I have met lots of young musicians over the years who have given up playing due to poor quality first ukuleles. Buying a first ukelele online can seem like a difficult option, but the cheaper prices are attractive to many beginner ukelele players so it can be worth doing… If you know where to look!
I myself tried to buy a cheap soprano ukulele last year for one of my students. I assumed that a cheap one would suffice. A few terrible, plastic, un-tune-able bits of rubbish later I realised that even the best looking listings on eBay and Amazon were sold by charlatans. The bright, edited photos made these rubbish products look playable, and the descriptions were written to convince people of the quality of what was essentially a plastic ornament. (NB Ukuleles pictured are not the ones I bought and may not be rubbish!)
eBay sells around 150 ukuleles per day in the UK, but I realised that many of them are complete rubbish. I decided to get searching for a supplier of good quality ukes. I hoped to save hundreds of potential young musicians from the depressing experience of trying to learn to play on a poor quality instrument.
I am extremely pleased to say that after testing various manufacturers and wholesalers I have finally found a selection of high quality ukulele brands to work with!
Octopus are a UK based brand, providing reliable, quality manufacturing at affordable prices. Their ukuleles are ideal for beginners and their higher end mahogany models are absolutely stunning instruments for learners looking to upgrade to an instrument with more tonal presence and aesthetic charm.
Aiersi are a small Chinese manufacturer who specialise in ukuleles and guitars. All their instruments (even the cheapest ones) are hand finished to a very high standard and I am proud to be selling their ukuleles on eBay and in my guitar and ukulele shop in Sheffield.
I have now got soprano, concert and tenor models in stock along with cases and accessories. I plan to expand the range as much as possible over the next few years. The ukuleles I have are made of responsibly sourced, quality tone woods. They play like a dream, with a loud, bright tone and plenty of presence and sustain. As the necks are well set up, it is easy to fret the chords even for beginners and all models are fitted with Aquila strings, the industry standard for quality. The action isn’t too high and there are no buzzy notes as on so many cheap ukuleles. I know that many of my customers are beginners, so they also come with a free carry case, cleaning cloth and set of plectrums. This is everything you need to get started with this fantastic instrument, at extremely affordable prices.
Here’s a little video clip of me playing my Aiersi tenor ukulele:
Please see my eBay listings below for the full details (links open in a new tab). You are also very welcome to stop by the shop on Shoreham Street if you’d like to try one yourself.
I am always working on new tutorials, free tabs, videos, cool arrangements etc and you can get an occasional digest of the latest tutorial content by joining my mailing list! The absolute maximum number of emails I will send you is one per month, probably fewer.