Best Ukulele in India

Are you looking for your first musical instrument?

Or are you a seasoned guitarist who needs a more portable contraption?

Or are you a singer looking for an instrument for accompaniment?

If you meet any of the above criteria, then Ukulele is the perfect instrument for you.

Ukulele was my first instrument. I was really into singing and wanted an accompaniment without having to spend months trying to learn guitar or piano.

I think that it was a pretty good decision as it laid the foundation to the guitarist that I am today.

I found that Ukulele has the following benefits as a beginner instrument:

  • Easy to learn – most people are able to play their first song within a week.
  • Portable – Ukulele is a small and lightweight instrument that is really easy to carry around.
  • Affordable – It’s really affordable. You could get a decent one for under 2000 Rupees.
  • Low Maintenance – Ukulele requires minimal to no maintenance. This makes it truly beginner-friendly.

History of “Ukulele”

When we think of Ukulele we usually picture garlanded Hawaiians dancing around with miniature guitars. Ukulele has long represented the culture and music of Hawaii. Having said this, you might be surprised to know that the instrument is actually of Portuguese descent. 

In the 1800s, Portuguese immigrants from the island of Madeira, west of Morocco, landed in Hawaii with these tiny instruments. The locals were mighty impressed with the sound and capabilities of this instrument.

Hence, they named it “Ukulele”, whose literal translation means “Jumping-Fleas”, attributing to how the fingers jumped around on the fretboard while playing it.

Best Ukulele Brands

Almost 16 years ago, when I first started learning Ukulele, very few people in India could actually tell it apart from a guitar. Most people who saw me play it thought it was some kind of a toy.

They were only convinced about it being a real instrument when I made them listen to some popular songs having that signature Ukulele sound. And then I got that “Ohhh! So that’s what it was!” reaction.

Things have certainly changed now. With access to so much information on the internet, people have become more aware of musical instruments that are not exactly conventional.

The Ukulele has gained immense popularity over the past decade. Today, ukuleles are selling like hot-cakes all across the globe. Things are not very different here in India.

Here are some popular Ukulele brands in India:

Best Ukulele Brands for Beginners

Now, remember, there are a lot of plastic Ukuleles being sold for less than 500 Rupees. There is no use buying these if you want to actually learn the instrument. If you just want to decorate your walls, then that’s a different question.

If you are a complete beginner in the world of stringed-instruments, then I would suggest you keep your budget within 3k INR. Here are some good brands for ukuleles you can look out for:

Intern

Intern is a good brand for those who are absolutely new to the world of stringed instruments and are bedazzled just by the sound of a ukulele. I would not suggest this brand for guitarists who are looking to buy their first ukulele.

Keep in mind, however, that manufacturing real instruments at these insanely low price points and still making profits is a near-impossible task. So, I will cut them some slack in the quality department.

Juarez

Juarez is a decent brand for entry-level guitarists and ukulele players. They provide quality instruments and accessories at unbelievably low prices. Although I wasn’t particularly impressed with their guitar collection, Juarez ukuleles do sound pretty sweet.

Kadence

If you want to start off with a quality Ukulele, go for this brand! To my discredit, I hadn’t heard much about them until my friend’s fiancée turned up with a Kadence ukulele on one of our vacations.

My first impression of it was that it looked great (and expensive). Honestly, I thought it costed more than 5k. To my pleasant surprise, it was priced at well below 3k. I actually ended up buying one for myself! Check it out on Amazon.

Best Ukulele Brands for Intermediates and Professionals

I will definitely not claim myself to be a professional but I have been playing on stage for quite a long time to be able to call myself an intermediate player. In that sense, I do understand the basic requirements of live performers. Here are some reliable brands in India that you can surely trust:

Kala

Kala has both laminate and solid-body ukuleles. Mid-range and top-range models feature piezo pickup systems with multi-band equaliser systems that are perfect for live performances.

Kala ukuleles are undeniably beautiful-looking instruments. The most incredible thing about this brand is that they provide all of the above and more at very affordable price points. This particular one on Amazon has been with me for a couple of years now and I simply adore it for its beautiful tone.

Alvarez

Alvarez is a well-known brand in the world of guitars but they make great Ukuleles as well. If you want a no-compromise deal where everything from the machine heads, nut, fret wires, and the bridge to the quality of tone-wood used are top-notch, then go for this brand!

Best Ukulele in India

I would suggest absolute newbies stick to the soprano size. This is simply because it is the easiest one to play and carry around. For intermediate players and guitarists, either the concert or the tenor would be more comfortable.

Intern INT-UK21LD-BK

TypeSoprano
Size21-inch
Frets12

This is as cheap as it gets folks. The fact that Intern has been able to produce a playable ukulele at this price point still amazes me and it does not sound half bad either.

Moreover, it looks pretty damn good – like a real ukulele and not a toy. If all this wasn’t enough, it also comes with a free gig bag.

My Verdict: I’d say, if you are not too picky about quality and tone then you should definitely go for this right away. This instrument would serve as a starting point before you graduate to something better!

Pros
  • Dirt cheap price
  • Playable
  • Sounds decent
  • Comes with a gig bag
Cons
  • The intonation on the higher frets seems off
  • Doesn’t have a strap pin

Juarez JRZ21UK

TypeSoprano
Size21-inch
Frets12

This is a good option for any beginner in my opinion. It features a laminated Sapele body that imparts a certain brightness to the tone. The quality of the tuners is pretty good.

The tuner machine heads are of open type which can be both good and bad at the same time. When the ukulele gets old and the tuners become jammed and hard to turn, they can be easily lubricated. The downside is that the open machine heads may get rusted if not wiped and cleaned from time to time.

My Verdict: It is a playable and decent-sounding instrument. The overall quality is quite good for the price point. However, this is certainly not the best-looking ukulele at this price point in my eyes.

Pros
  • Good quality nut and saddle provides ample sustain
  • The factory fitted nylon strings are pretty good
  • Satin (plain) finish looks very sober
  • Good quality gig bag
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Not a big fan of the engraved rosette

Kadence Wanderer Series

TypeSoprano
Size21-inch
Frets15

As I have already mentioned, I was mighty impressed by this Ukulele from Kadence. They have truly left no stone unturned. Not only does it have a classic satin finish but it also sounds amazing.

The highs are extremely sweet without being overly harsh and the low-end is punchy but not puffy. The all-mahogany construction imparts an attractive dark texture. This is one of the few soprano ukuleles in this price range that has spot-on intonation.

My Verdict: This is a perfect starting point for any beginner. Intermediate players would also find great value in this instrument.

Pros
  • Great build quality
  • Attractive mahogany finish
  • Excellent tone
  • Good intonation all throughout
  • Covered machine heads
  • Comes with a tuner and gig bag
Cons
  • A rosette around the sound-hole would have been nice

Kala MK-TE

TypeTenor
Size28-inch
Frets18

I have owned a couple of Kala Ukuleles including this one for some time now. For me, they hold unmatched value. This particular model is perfect for any live performer as it is fitted with onboard pickup and equaliser.

This model is a tenor and is significantly larger than a soprano. Hence, guitar players would find it more comfortable to play.

This ukulele has a very dark satin finish owing to the all-mahogany construction. It sounds full and lush acoustically and can easily fill up a small room. The pickups sound gig-worthy!

My Verdict: If live performances are what you have in mind then go for it. This ukulele gives you everything and more for a very moderate price.

Pros
  • Great tone
  • Excellent build quality and finish
  • Pickups sound good
  • Tenor size is great for guitarists and people with bigger hands
Cons
  • Instead of a chunky equaliser panel that eats away into the wood, dedicated band knobs would have been sufficient

What to look for…

Over the years I have picked up some useful tips on things that need to be checked while buying a Ukulele. Below is a comprehensive guide that you should find very useful, especially if you are a beginner:

Size

The very first thing to look for is body size. Ukulele comes in different sizes: Soprano(smallest), Concert, Tenor, and Baritone(Largest). Smaller ukuleles have low-volume projection but are very sweet sounding.

Bigger ukuleles have more low-end volume to their sound. These ukuleles trade off some of the sweetness in the tone for a fuller sound.

As the ukulele gets bigger in size, the distance between the frets increases. While this leads to better intonation, beginners find it slightly more difficult to play. Hence, the soprano and concert sizes are more suited for newbies.

Body

The body of the ukulele, especially the top, determines its tone or sound quality. The body can be made of either laminated wood or solid wood. Laminated wood ukuleles are good for beginners as they are very affordable and do not require much maintenance. Solid wood ukuleles, on the other hand, require regular humidification to ensure that the moisture level in the wood does not fall below a certain level (40-45% RH).

Tone

Solid wood ukuleles have a richer and more resonant tone with greater sustain as compared to laminate constructions. This is because a single piece of wood has greater coherence and does not involve glue and other materials otherwise found in laminated bodies. In my opinion, most beginners would find it hard to differentiate between the tonal qualities of an all-solid construction and a laminate construction.

Electronics

If you intend to perform on stage or record your ukulele, then having on-board electronics is a must! Using a microphone to amplify ukulele could lead to several issues like external noise, audio feedback, etc. Electronic piezo pickups eliminate these problems while maintaining the integrity of the tone. Since, piezo pickups sense the vibration in the body of the instrument, therefore, the acoustic nature of the sound is not greatly affected.

FAQ’s

How to pronounce Ukulele?

I am still embarrassed when I think of how I used to say “Ukulele”. It was more like – “You-Ke-leel” (LOL!!). Unfortunately for me, that’s not how it is actually pronounced. There are two correct pronunciations – “You-Ku-Lay-lay” and “Ooh –Ku-Lay-Lay” (the original Hawaiian pronunciation).

Why does my new ukulele not stay in tune?

This is a common question that I get from beginners. If you are facing the same with your brand new ukulele, then don’t panic. You don’t have a defective piece. The same problem is also faced by classical and flamenco guitar players. So what does a classical/flamenco guitar have in common with a ukulele?

The answer is “Nylon strings”. Ukuleles usually have nylon strings. Nylon is a plastic-like stretchable material that takes time to settle down to a particular tuning, especially when it is new. However, once it settles down it remains very stable at the set tuning.

If you have purchased a brand new ukulele, then chances are that the factory-fitted strings are new as well. Keep tuning it up to pitch with the help of a tuner and the problem should go away in a couple of days. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.

Which ukulele size is best for guitar players?

Guitar players are habituated with a longer scale length, a larger fretboard, and wider gaps between frets. While playing a ukulele, guitar players usually struggle to cramp their fretting hand fingers in that small space.

This is especially true for Concert and Soprano sized Ukuleles. Thus in my experience, a Tenor ukulele is a good transition point for a guitar player.

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