Thanks to the wonderful people on the island of Hawaii, the ukulele has become a very popular instrument all over the world.
While its design resembles that of a guitar, it is more similar to other stringed instruments. For example, the traditional ukulele has only four strings which is similar to the bass guitar.
The big difference between most stringed instruments and the ukulele, is that the ukulele is a lot easier to learn how to play. Especially the soprano ukulele.
This is in large part due to the size of the soprano ukulele. They are the smallest size ukulele which makes them easy to play for those with smaller hands.
If you have a child interested in playing the ukulele, the soprano is the best one to start with.
In this guide we will be sharing with you 6 of the best soprano ukuleles currently on the market. But that’s not all we will share.
We will also talk about a little soprano ukulele history, whether or not the soprano ukulele is good for beginners, how to play the soprano ukulele, what to look for in a ukulele, and so much more.
What Is a Soprano Ukulele?
To keep this as simple as possible, a soprano ukulele is a four stringed instrument that was developed around the 19th century.
However, as you can imagine, there is much more to the soprano ukulele than just four strings. Most people don’t realize this, but the soprano ukulele is often referred to as the standard ukulele.
This is because most people get their start with the soprano ukulele. It is used as a starting point to determine the sizes, as well as the classifications, for all other ukuleles.
For example, the piccolo is a smaller version of the soprano, while the concert ukulele is a larger version of the soprano.
A Brief History of The Soprano Ukulele
When it comes to the ukulele family of instruments, the soprano ukulele is the center point. While there are many ukuleles that are larger than the soprano ukulele, for example, the concert, tenor, and baritone, there is only one that is smaller.
To understand why this is, we must first look at the history of the soprano ukulele.
The first ukulele to ever appear in print can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments of All Nations – Year 1907.
If you get the opportunity to look through the catalog, you will see that one of the ukuleles looks a lot like the modern day soprano ukulele that’s being used today.
King Kalakaua is the man behind making the modern day ukulele so popular. Because of his support and promotion of the instrument, it earned a very special place in the musical history books.
But it wasn’t only King Kalakaua that helped make the ukulele so popular. Canadian educator Chalmers Doane used the ukulele to help teach musical literacy.
He loved it because of its affordability and practicality. He knew that it was a lot easier for someone to learn to play the ukulele, versus learning to play the guitar.
Through Doane’s teachings, around 50,000 children and adults learned to play the ukulele.
Is The Soprano Ukulele a Good Option For Beginners?
This is a very common question that gets asked. And the simple answer is yes, the soprano ukulele is a good option for beginners.
We have actually put together five reasons you should consider the ukulele as a beginner.
Reason #1 - It is one of the most affordable stringed instruments you can buy.
Reason #2 - It is the smallest ukulele you can play. It is light and easy to handle.
Reason #3 - It has a low number of frets which makes it very easy to play.
Reason #4 - Its size makes it great for practicing and playing anywhere.
Reason #5 - It can easily be played with or without a strap.
How To Play The Soprano Ukulele
For the most part, the soprano ukulele is played in the exact same way you would play any stringed instrument.
The soprano ukulele can be played one of three ways. With your bare hands, which is the most common way, with a guitar pick, or with a thumb pick.
Those who play the guitar know you almost always play it with a strap. The ukulele on the other hand can be played with or without a strap.
Generally speaking it will be played without the strap. If you find that it's too difficult to play without the strap, there are many sizes and styles of straps that you can purchase at any time.
The fretboard on the ukulele is very similar to the fingerboard found on the acoustic guitar. The one big difference, however, is that the soprano ukulele on has four strings, which is similar to the bass guitar.
If you are a complete beginner, the best thing you can do is invest in a chord book. A chord book will give you insight into the different finger positions on the instrument.
The great thing about the soprano ukulele is that it is not that difficult to learn how to play. So even if you decided to teach yourself, you shouldn’t run into too many challenges.
How Big Is The Soprano Ukulele?
As previously stated, the soprano ukulele is the smallest of the four main types. But exactly how small is it is the question?
The standard length of the soprano ukulele is 21 inches. When you compare that to the concert ukulele that is 23 inches, the tenor that is 26 inches, and the baritone that is 30 inches, you see just how small the soprano ukulele is.
When measuring the length of a ukulele, it is always from the bottom, all the way to the top. As far as the scale goes, the scale is only 13 inches long. The scale is the part that you actually play.
Because the soprano ukulele scale is only 13 inches long, it might not be ideal for someone who has larger hands.
Soprano vs Concert - Which Ukulele Is Better?
The tenor and baritone ukuleles tend to be the more popular choices for musicians who play professionally and are looking for a specific type of tone.
This is why you often hear so many musicians compare the soprano and concert ukulele. So, let's dive in and compare the two and see which one comes out on top.
First let's talk about some of the things they have in common. The first of which is the size. As stated in the previous section, the soprano ukulele is 21 inches, and the concert ukulele is 23 inches.
That means there is only a 2 inch difference between the two. And while the concert ukulele is a tad bit heavier, it's not something that affects the playability.
Both instruments basically have the same level of playability.
The second thing we will compare is the tuning. Both the soprano and concert ukulele use the standard tuning which is G-C-E-A.
The only ukulele that is tuned differently is the baritone.
The main difference between the two however is the fact the soprano ukulele is the ideal instrument for a beginner, while the concert is more of just a good option for beginners.
Why is the soprano ukulele ideal for beginners and not the concert ukulele? Mainly because of the size.
The soprano is a little smaller and therefore easier to play. And while the concert ukulele is only a couple of inches bigger, that extra weight makes it a little harder to balance without a strap.
Three Things Beginners Should Look For In a Soprano Ukulele
To be honest, as a beginner you should be looking for a good ukulele bundle to help you get started.
Even if you were to purchase the best ukulele in the world, as a beginner, due to your lack of experience, you would have some difficulties getting started.
There are two reasons you may run into difficulties. First, learning how to tune the ukulele is not easy. Especially if you don’t have a tuner.
Secondly, ukulele bundles come with a variety of accessories that can help you get things off the ground quickly. Without these accessories you will probably not get off to a great start.
With that being said, here are the three things, as a beginner, you should look for in a soprano ukulele.
Is The Ukulele Durable?
Durability is extremely important. If your ukulele is flimsy, it will easily break soon after you have purchased it.
Do a little research online to figure out what type of ukuleles are the most durable. The six we will review below are of course on the durable side.
What Materials Were Used To Build The Ukulele?
The materials used to build a ukulele will help determine its sound. As a beginner there is no need to get the best sounding soprano ukulele. You will however want one that produces a decent sound.
How Much Does It Cost?
The last thing you need to look at is the price. The good news is beginner ukuleles are very affordable. You can find a good one for around $50.
As a beginner you should not consider anything outside of that price range.
Now let’s get down to what you really want to know about, which is what are the best soprano ukuleles to get started with.
Best Soprano Ukuleles - Top 6 Reviewed
- Kala KA-S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
- Omalha EMF Soprano Ukulele
- Rogue Soprano Ukulele (Starter Pack)
- Kala Makala Dolphin Soprano Ukulele
- Mitchell MU40 Soprano Ukulele
- ADM 21 Economic Soprano Ukulele
The first soprano ukulele comes from one of our favorite brands, Kala. If you are a complete beginner you have probably not heard of Kala. But they are one of the most popular brands in the industry.
They have created many high quality ukuleles, with the KA-S being one of their best when it comes to craftsmanship.
The KA-S has a beautiful mahogany build. And if you know anything about mahogany you know it produces an outstanding sound and very rich tone.
You will notice the highs are very accentuated, while the lows are very mellow. This means as you learn the ropes, you will have a very rich sound to enjoy.
That being said, this ukulele is a beginner friendly ukulele. It is affordable and one of the best models in the Kala range.
Even better is the fact it has that traditional, aesthetic white binding on the top. And don’t forget about the back accent. It looks absolutely amazing.
One thing you will notice are the four chrome die-cast machine pegs on the headstock. And though they look great, they aren’t just there for the looks.
The machine pegs ensure your ukulele can stay in tune for an extended period of time. Which by the way isn’t something that is all that common.
To finish it off the Kala logo sits right on the top. That logo is a sign that you have a quality instrument in your hands.
As with all ukuleles, this one is not perfect. There are a few problems you may run into after a few months of playing it.
While the intonation on the KA-S is nearly flawless, over time you may notice the G string and the A string no longer hold their tune.
If you are a beginner this will make an excellent first ukulele. Even though it has flaws, it is still a great option.
If you are a true ukulele fan you have probably heard of the Omalha brand. Their EFMBK model is probably one of the cheapest ukuleles on the market.
But we of course aren’t reviewing the cheapest ukuleles. We are reviewing the best soprano ukulele. And for that we offer you the Omalha EMF.
At first glance this ukulele looks plain and boring. But it's all wood construction is anything but boring. It gives it a sturdiness you won’t find with other ukuleles.
The open tuners are very easy to use. Add that to the nylon strings and you have the perfect soprano ukulele for beginners.
There is however one big problem. This entry level ukulele is not the best when it comes to performance.
Yes it sounds great, and it's very durable. But as far as performance goes, it doesn’t really excel in that area.
Even still, it is a great option for the price.
While Rogue isn’t a brand necessarily known for their ukuleles, this particular soprano ukulele really stands out in the crowd.
Like the previous model we reviewed, at first glance the Rogue soprano ukulele looks very plain. It's made with mahogany materials, has a satin finish, and is the standard size.
It's also easy to play, and looks amazing.
An interesting thing about most Rogue ukuleles is they never come as just a standalone instrument.
Many will come with important accessories such as a gig bag, a chord book, and a pitch pipe. That is why this ukulele is called a starter pack.
It literally contains everything you need to get started. With all that comes with this ukulele, it's easy to see why we believe it is a great option for beginners.
The neck construction on this Rogue ukulele has a huge impact on its playability. It's a little wider than the standard ukulele which makes it easier for a beginner to grip and play.
In total, the fretboard has 15 frets. The dot inlays start at the 5th fret and end at the 15th. All frets are clearly visible so they can be easily found.
The sound hole is the perfect size. It's large enough to ensure the sound is condensed and reverberates throughout the atmosphere.
Keep in mind not all ukuleles have a large enough sound hole. Some sound holes are closed which causes the sound to be very blunt and thumpy.
The Rogue ukulele starter kit falls into what we like to call the affordable price range category. This basically means it costs a lot less than some of the more high end models.
As a matter of fact, we would venture to say this is one of the best soprano ukuleles that costs less than $100.
Here’s another ukulele from top brand Kala. This one is known as the MK-SD and it is often referred to as the dolphin soprano.
It got this name due to the bridge being shaped like a dolphin. And while it looks really cool, it has absolutely no impact on the overall performance of the ukulele.
Generally speaking all soprano ukuleles look the same. But this particular model takes things to a new level when it comes to aesthetics.
The candy red finish is just breathtaking. The neck is made using mahogany materials which are always very beautiful.
The back and sides are made using a composite, and the fingerboard is made using a premium rosewood.
The one big let down is the nut, which happens to be made out of flimsy plastic. However, it's said to last a few months so that will give you plenty of time to learn the basics of the ukulele.
On a better note, one great thing about this ukulele is it comes pre-strung with Aquila Nylgut strings.
These strings are very reputable and tend to be on the more expensive side. So the fact these strings are included is a big deal.
Most Kala ukuleles will also come with a high quality gig bag. This bag will help keep your instrument safe as you travel around with it.
There is one problem you may run into with this ukulele. And that problem is, over time the neck may start pulling away.
While this ukulele is indeed durable, the way the neck is connected is not ideal. However, as long as you are very careful you should have no problems.
Overall the Kala’s Makala MK-SD is a great ukulele. It just may be the best soprano ukulele for the money.
The one word that best describes the Mitchell MU40 Soprano Ukulele is vintage. It was built using exotic materials and has a very classic look and feel.
The top, back, and sides are made using Lindenwood. Though not as common as mahogany or Rosewood, it is just as durable and produces a very rich tone.
The top and back use ABS materials which is quite common. The 12 fret fingerboard is made using bound rosewood. The dot inlays start with the 5th fret and end at the 12th fret.
Before anything else, the Mitchell MU40 excels in the aesthetics department. To put it more bluntly, this ukulele is simply beautiful.
However, please know this ukulele is not ideal for the complete beginner as there are too many changes that need to be made before you can recognize its full potential.
For example, the stock strings will need to be replaced as they sound a bit dull. As a beginner dull sounding strings can throw you off your game.
Due to its quality build, well rounded performance, and great price, the Mitchell MU40 is no doubt one of the best soprano ukuleles.
ADM is a well respected brand known for making some of the finest soprano ukuleles on the market.
The ADM 21 comes in a variety of different colors including blue, black, green, and many more. While all of these colors look amazing, this ukulele does much more than just look good.
The hand picked basswood materials used to design the fingerboard and bridge give it a high level of playability.
This material gives it the perfect balance between feel and durability. The basswood top is very sturdy. So are the sides and back which are made using linden.
When playing this ukulele you can expect to hear a very distinctive tone.
And yes, it is a great ukulele for beginners as it comes with a lot of great accessories including a polishing cloth, a strap lock, a clip on LED-lit tuner, and so much more.
It basically comes with everything you need to start playing the soprano ukulele.
The ADM 21 is a great ukulele that is well worth the price.
And there you have it, 6 of the best soprano ukuleles currently on the market. Use them as a guide to help you decide if this really is the instrument for you.
Remember, when looking for a ukulele there are three key things you will want to consider. First, is the ukulele durable? The last thing you want is a ukulele that easily breaks.
Secondly, you will need to know what materials were used to make the instrument. The materials used determine everything from how durable the instrument will be as well as the type of sound it will produce.
Last but not least you need to consider price. How much can you truly afford? As a beginner there is no need to invest in the more expensive models.
Save that for when you decide to start doing big time performances.
While we have only reviewed 6 of the best soprano ukuleles, there are many more out there for you to choose from.
Because of this it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that meets your needs. The key is to take your time and do your own research.
Make sure you check off the things that are important to you. Also remember that, as a beginner, you don’t need to spend a ton of money on a good ukulele.
The goal is to get one that will help you learn the ropes. If later on you decide you want to take things to the next level, that is when you can invest in a more expensive model.
If at all possible, get a soprano ukulele bundle. It will come with everything you need to start your journey.
Best of luck on your search. And please share this guide if you found it valuable.