Buying your first ukulele – what to look for when choosing a budget instrument?

Buying your first ukulele – what to look for when choosing a budget instrument?

There are a few things to consider when buying your first ukulele. The first, fundamental and interesting thing about it is its price. And here, of course, it all depends on the size of our portfolio, but in my opinion, when buying the first instrument, there is no point in exaggerating. After all, the ukulele is one of the inexpensive instruments and let it remain so.

Inexpensive does not mean that we have to save excessively on the purchase, because buying such the cheapest budget is a real lottery. We may get a really good copy, but we may as well find one that will not be practically suitable for playing. For example, in the cheapest ukulele for about PLN 100, we can hit an instrument where the bridge will be glued correctly, while in another copy of the same model the bridge will be shifted, which in turn will prevent the strings from running perfectly along the length of the neck, which may make it difficult to catch the chords on some positions. Of course, this is not the end of the shortcomings that can be found in an excessively cheap instrument. Often the frets in such instruments are crooked, or the soundboard starts to fall apart after a short time of use. Another element that we pay attention to when buying the instrument is, first of all, whether the instrument has any visible mechanical defects. Is the bridge well glued, if the box is not sticking up somewhere, if the keys are not screwed crookedly. This is not only important for the aesthetics and durability of our instrument, but above all it will have an impact on the quality of the sound. Also check that the frets do not protrude beyond the fingerboard and injure your fingers. You can check it very easily. Just put your hand on the fingerboard and run it from top to bottom. It is also worth paying attention to the height of the strings, which cannot be too low, because the strings will scrape against the frets, nor too high, because then it will be uncomfortable to play. You can check it with, for example, a payment card that you insert between the strings and the fingerboard at the level of the 12th fret. If we still have enough slack for two or three more such cards to fit there, that’s all right. And finally, it’s good to check if the instrument sounds right on each fret.

When buying a ukulele, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy the pleasure of playing, but such a budget instrument must first of all be very carefully checked. It is known that in the production of these budget instruments there is no quality control as is the case with instruments whose prices reach several thousand zlotys. Nobody is sitting here and checking that the sound at the fret of the 12th E string is as it should be. Here is a mass show in which errors and inaccuracies occur and will probably be kept for a long time to come. In fact, it is only up to our vigilance and accuracy whether we will have a cheap but fully valuable instrument or just a prop. If we get it wrong, it may turn out that on some corner a given string sounds the same as on the neighboring fret. This is due to the unevenness of the frets. Such an instrument will not be playable. Of course, not only the cheapest instruments should be checked well, because there are also faulty specimens in these more expensive models. Although you shouldn’t spend too much money on the ukulele, you shouldn’t save too much on it. Appropriate quality will not only pay off in the form of a more pleasant sound, but also playing comfort and a longer life of the instrument. Cheap instruments do not keep the tuning for too long, and this forces us to often tune them. Over time, the wood used in these cheap copies may start to dry out, deform and, as a consequence, fall apart.

To sum up, it makes no sense to spend, for example, PLN 800 or PLN 1000 on the first ukulele. An instrument at this price is good for someone who already knows how to play, knows what sound is expected from the instrument and wants to enrich their collection with a new, better-class model. At the beginning, a cheaper model will suffice, although I would rather avoid the cheapest ones. You should get more or less the middle of this budget. For around PLN 300-400 you can buy a really good ukulele.

Leave a Reply