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Learning how to play a stringed instrument can be a challenging task, especially if you don’t have any prior musical training. Picking up a ukulele may be your best choice if you’re wanting to learn how to play a stringed instrument because the size of the instrument is a lot more manageable in comparison to the body of a large guitar. Ukuleles are known to produce a beautiful sound and can be traditionally found in Hawaiian music.
There is a whole variety of different ukuleles that you can choose from in today’s market; there is a wide range of styles, sizing, and prices for musicians of all backgrounds and levels to choose from. A soprano ukulele is going to be the best choice for you if you are someone who is a beginner that’s looking to learn how to play the ukulele, if you are someone who interested in getting the classic ukulele sound from your instrument, or if you are someone who has smaller hands.
Buying a ukulele can be difficult, especially if you have never gone shopping for an instrument before. Purchasing the best ukulele for your personal needs and goals is going to require a bit of research and patience on your part; but once you have selected your dream ukulele, all of the work that you put in will be worth it!
In today’s discussion, we’re going to focus on soprano ukuleles, mainly because whenever anyone thinks about the size and shape of a ukulele, they’re usually thinking about the soprano uke.
A soprano ukulele is the smallest ukulele in the ukulele family and typically will run around 21-inches in length, with four strings, and has between 12 to 15 frets. The standard soprano ukulele follows a G-C-E-A tuning.
There are smaller ukuleles available on the market that are going to produce a higher pitched sound than a soprano uke, like the pocket ukulele (also known as a piccolo ukulele). However, these aren’t mass produced in the music world because they really aren’t meant for performances.
Generally speaking, soprano ukuleles have a bright, twinkly, happy sound that is commonly found in Hawaiian music. However, the exact sound of all soprano ukuleles isn’t going to be the same across models and brands; this is because there are different woods that go into the composition of these instruments, which causes changes in the tone quality of the ukuleles.
If you are an experienced ukulele player, you will most likely notice the sound difference between that soprano ukuleles have in comparison to their larger siblings. Soprano ukuleles have a smaller body, which means that it’s going to lack the warmth and the projection that you will receive from a concert or a tenor ukulele.
There is an option available for musicians that are looking to play a soprano ukulele but are looking for an instrument with a larger sound. ‘Pineapple’ ukuleles are still considered to be sopranos but are built with a larger waist, which helps the ukulele to produce a larger sound.
Since soprano ukuleles have smaller bodies and have a 13-inch scale length, these ukes would be great to use if you are someone who has smaller hands, as the sizing of the frets will feel much more comfortable for your fingers.
Soprano ukuleles are also great for beginners or younger musicians to use, as the strings on soprano ukuleles don’t have as much tension as other ukes. In other words, this means that users won’t need as much finger strength to be able to press down the strings on this instrument. Beginners also won’t have to worry about hurting their hands in an attempt to stretch for difficult chords, as the frets on the soprano ukulele are very close together.
These types of ukuleles are also much cheaper than their concert and tenor counterparts, mainly because of the size of the instrument. This is another reason why soprano ukuleles may a great starting instrument for beginners, who may not have a very big budget to work with to buy a new instrument or if they are unsure about the longevity of their playing relationship with the ukulele. Due to the compact size of the soprano ukulele, these instruments also are great to travel with!
Make sure that you keep an eye out for cheaply made soprano ukuleles! Since soprano ukuleles are the most commonly found type of ukulele, you will find that there is a whole large variety of ukuleles on the market. However, the downside to this is that there are tons of cheap $10 ukuleles that guarantee to deliver outstanding sound.
These cheap, $10 or $20 ukuleles are really nothing more than toys and are just pieces of junk in the use of someone who is looking to seriously learn the ukulele. Even if you’re not looking to spend more than $50, you can still find a lovely sounding soprano ukulele in this targeted budget range, without ending up buying a piece of junk.
Another disadvantage that comes along with using a soprano ukulele is something that we’ve already discussed- limited sound projection. The projection that a soprano ukulele produces is very limited, especially when compared to tenor or concert ukuleles.
Also, soprano ukuleles are very difficult to play if you are someone who has larger hands since the neck is shorter, which makes the frets on the ukulele closer together.
There are many benefits that come with using a soprano ukulele but depending upon your experience level, budget, and/or body size, you may find better luck in using a differently sized ukulele. The next biggest ukulele is a concert ukulele, which typically runs around 23-inches in length. Concert ukuleles are better to use if you are someone who has larger hands or if you are looking for a larger, richer, louder sound. These types of ukes are going to be more expensive than soprano ukuleles, but aren’t as expensive as tenor ukuleles can be.
The Kala KA-15S is a mahogany soprano ukulele and is known to be one of the best soprano ukulele models on the market, for musicians of all levels. The neck and the body of the KA-15S are comprised of mahogany, while the fingerboard and the bridge of the ukulele are comprised of rosewood. The KA-15S has twelve frets, with markings on the fifth, seventh, and tenth frets.
Another interesting detail that the KA-15S has hidden in its details is that this uke come strung with Italian Premium-Quality Aquila Nylgut ukulele strings. While this soprano ukulele is affordable, it isn’t the cheapest instrument available on the market that would make it accessible to musicians of all budgets.
In case you were interested in the Kala KA series but not the 15S, here are the other variations that Kala includes in their KA series:
Kala is a famous ukulele manufacturer and knows how to make a quality instrument on an affordable budget. When you first lay eyes on the Kala KA-PWS, you will most likely notice the Pacific Walnut laminate that was used to comprise the body of the ukulele; the black body binding paired with the satin finish really help to give this soprano ukulele a classy look.
There are twelve frets available on the soprano uke, with a rosewood fretboard. Playing the Kala KA-PWS will give you a bright and clean tone that’s balanced out with sufficient warmth.Martin’s OXK Soprano ukulele has a simple design to it but produces a warm and charming sound. As a twist on a traditional feature, the OXK is comprised of laminated Koa which helps to provide the instrument with increased durability. No matter if you’re a beginning ukulele player or you’re an expert of all stringed instruments, the Martin OXK is a ukulele that’s capable of delivering an amazing sound quality that’s a true joy to learn and play.
The Martin OX Ukulele Bamboo NaturalMartin OX Bamboo is a higher-end version of the Martin OXK Bamboo which sports your choice of a pastel blue finish, a green finish, a red finish, or a natural finish, with a bamboo grain. Martin’s OX Bamboo model is comprised of eco-friendly high-pressure laminate, instead of wood. The use of this tonewood produces a very bright, brilliant sound, with outstanding sustain and decent project, all of which is very comparable to the sound that a solid wood ukulele produces.
Luna created their Honu Soprano Ukulele in tribute to the green sea turtle, which is called ‘honu’ in Hawaiian as there is a laser-etched turtle located around the rosette, which provides the instrument with a striking and unique appearance. As for the physical build of this uke, you’re going to be getting your hands on a body that’s comprised of mahogany, with a mahogany neck, a rosewood fretboard, and mother of pearl shark tooth inlays on the fretboard. While the size of this ukulele is small (since it’s a soprano uke), you’ll find that the sound of the instrument is incredibly impressive, considering how warm and vibrant it sounds. Your purchase of this ukulele will also come with a chord chart, a tuner, and a gig bag too!
The Luna Tattoo Pineapple soprano ukulele isn’t your average soprano ukulele, mainly because of the pineapple shape it sports. But if you take a close look to the top of the instrument, you will notice the tattoo designs on the guitar, which were inspired by Polynesian style tattoos and were laser-etched into the top of the ukulele. These tattoos were made with black color, which really adds a traditional flair to the appearance of the guitar.
This uke is comprised of mahogany with a satin finish, which really helps to highlight the pattern of the wood. The purchase of this ukulele also comes with a gig bag to help keep your instrument safe!
The Luna High Tide Soprano Acoustic-Electric ukulele provides users with an outstanding quality at a mid-range price. The top, sides, and back of this acoustic-electric soprano ukulele are made up of satin-finished solid koa wood, while the neck is comprised of mahogany. Luna is well-known for putting eye-catching designs on their instruments, the High Tide ukulele features a high tide theme with abalone waves acting as fretboard markers and a full moon design on the first fret. As for the electronics on the Luna High Tide Soprano Acoustic-Electric uke, you will be getting your hands on a piezo pickup and an onboard pre-amp, which really helps to highlight the natural acoustic sound of this soprano ukulele.
The Sawtooth ST Mahogany Soprano Ukulele is one of the basic beginner ukulele kits on the market, as all it contains is the ukulele and a quick start guide. The guide that comes in the guitar kit will give beginning musicians the basic knowledge that they need to get started playing their new instrument. The use of mahogany to build the neck and the body of the instrument give is a classic appearance, but that’s not all that this ukulele has to offer.
The fingerboard is comprised is soft rosewood and has dot inlays, which provide beginners with an easier time guiding their fingers. The Aquila strings that come strung in this uke are of extremely high quality and are great for beginners to start off with since they’re softer strings (which will delay blistering/callouses that develop as you play a stringed instrument). Having these high-quality strings will make starting off playing ukulele more comfortable and easier for beginners, which will also assist in the production of clear and beautiful tones.
If you are a beginning musician and looking to get a start in the world of music with a ukulele, the UBETA Soprano ukulele is an affordable kit with an instrument that produces a quality sound. This is your traditional soprano ukulele that comes strung with high-quality Aquila nylon strings. The neck and the body of the ukulele are comprised of mahogany, whereas the fingerboard is made up of rosewood.
The UBETA soprano mahogany kit is great for beginners in terms of budget, because it comes with several accessories that make learning the instrument easier, such as:
The purchase of this kit comes with basically everything that you need to be able to successfully learn how to start playing the ukulele, at an affordable price range!
Fender is one of the world’s most reputable guitar manufactures, but not many people know that they also produce ukuleles. They named this soprano ukulele ‘uku’ as this word means ‘tiny’ in Hawaiian, noting the small size of this instrument. The ‘U’Uke is comprised of laminated mahogany, which helps to increase the durability of the typically fragile instrument. It also has a rosewood bridge and a rosewood fingerboard that has twelve frets. This instrument also is strung with Aquila strings, Fender’s logo on the instrument printed in gold lettering, and a headstock shape that was designed by Fender.
If you really take the time to look over the physical appearance of this soprano uke, you will really begin to notice the true beauty that this instrument has to offer. The Cordoba 15SM Soprano Ukulele is comprised of a mahogany top, mahogany sides, and mahogany back. Cordoba chose to use mahogany as the wood of choice in the composition of this ukulele to not only provide it with the cosmetic appeal but also to add sturdiness to this small instrument.
The rosette on this ukulele is comprised of abalone, which really adds to the classic appearance of the ukulele. Cordoba’s 15SM is handmade and really plays well in the hands of beginners and intermediate ukulele players.
Making the choice to go along with a soprano ukulele is a great decision, especially if you’re a beginning ukulele musician. Once you have a better understanding of how ukuleles work and how to efficiently play the instrument, you can always upgrade to a tenor or concert uke.
If you have the option to, I always highly recommend going to your local guitar or music store to test out a few different soprano ukuleles. Going to a store and testing out different soprano ukuleles will give you an idea if soprano ukes are the absolute best fit for you or if you may need to go with a larger size!
Danny grew up playing anything that looked like a guitar. Since some kids just don’t know how to grow up, he continues to write about guitars because you can do that these days.