The ukulele, sometimes abbreviated to ‘uke’, was originally invented in the 1880s in Hawaii. It is a member of the guitar family of instruments and generally has four nylon or gut strings - making it easy to play with beginners fingers.

In the 20's and 30's when the ukulele was most popular, the best American popular song writers and composers were at their peak and the ukulele was the most common instrument, ideally suited to the jazzy tunes of that era. Since 2007, there has been a massive revival of the popularity of the ukulele and is questionably the most popular instrument at the moment - The Guardian released an interesting article about the Ukulele boom in 2007 with us being mentioned.

Ukuleles come in four basic sizes. From smallest to largest, they are Soprano, Concert, Tenor, and Baritone. The tone and volume of the instrument varies with size and construction – the larger the instrument, the deeper and warmer its tone will be.


Today any genre of music can be played on the ukulele but it is thought to be best suited to folk and pop tunes.

Here are a few examples where you can hear the ukulele in action...

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at Shrewsbury Folk Festival

Paul McCartney – ‘Something’

Bulgarian Folk Tune

FUN FACT: The name "Ukulele" means "jumping flea" in Hawaiian.

Getting Started

The first step is to get a ukulele, they are not usually supplied with a case and additional accessories as they are not essential when you first start out, this makes the instrument very affordable compared to other beginner instruments.


The soprano ukulele is the most popular ukulele for beginners (children & adults) and are usually made of wood and come and a wide variety of colours.

We recommend Chord Ukulele's for beginners as they have a great sound, playability, value, looks, and quality of construction. They have geared machine heads so the string do not go out of tune like other ukuleles which have pegs. They come in a wide variety of colours including Light Blue, Dark Blue (image shown), Black, White, Pink, Purple and Red.


Whilst additional ukulele accessories are not essential for getting started with your new ukulele, here are a few examples or things you might find useful to protect and support your new instrument.

This is perhaps the most important accessory for your new ukulele in order to protect it if you are taking it with you. We recommend this high quality and handy TGI Soprano Ukulele Gigbag - its padded to keep you ukulele safe and has handy backpack straps and a handle.

It is a good idea to invest in one if you are doing a lot of playing standing up. The strap hangs simply around your neck and hooks into the sound hole of your ukulele to take the weight of it whilst you play. They come in a variety of colours including black, brown, blue and pink.

Ukulele Pitch Pipe

This Ukulele Pitch Pipe is a very useful accessory to get you started with your ukulele, when blown into each tube, the different notes of the strings are sounded and so you can hear the tuning of them and adjust them accordingly.

Whilst pitch pipes are the most basic form of tuning device, we also recommend this relatively affordable Fender Clip-On Tuner that attaches to the top of your ukulele and guides you to tuning your it more accurately.

Whilst most players don’t use a pick to play, using a felt one such as this will help those of you who are used to using a pick with a guitar/mandolin. Using a ukulele felt pick produces a crisp and brighter sound from your ukulele but a lot of players don’t see the need for them and use their fingernails instead. Choosing whether or not to use a pick is simply a question of personal preference but if you choose to then we recommend this felt one made by Dunlop. It is very affordable and will last a long time if you are using it properly.

Beginner Books

Here are the best selling ukulele books for beginners:

The Absolute Beginners Ukulele book is packed with information and tips to get you on the road to becoming a competent ukulele player. It builds your ability in a step by step process that gradually leads to you being able to play the short pieces towards the end of the book. This edition of the book comes complete with a CD with which you can play along with other ukulele players as well as other instruments.

Starting Ukulele is a good resource if you are fairly competent with music theory and following tutorial guides. As you move through the book, you will gradually become more familiar with different techniques, progressing from strumming simple chords to performing complete tunes. The CD that is included contains backing tracks with which you can play along in the comfort of your own home.

Ukulele from the Beginning assumes no previous knowledge of music or the ukulele and so guides you through the basics in simple terms building up your confidence to be able to play the short entertaining pieces towards the end of the book. The book is described as being tailored to beginners of aged 7 years and over as its design is simple and clear.

Finding a Ukulele Teacher

It is highly recommended when starting an instrument to employ a qualified teacher to make the learning process interesting and fun. Teachers can be found across the UK at schools, local music services and musicteachers.co.uk or if you live in our locality please do not hesitate to contact us for details of suitable teachers.

Music Centres - playing in orchestras & ensembles

Music centres are set up in many towns to give students an opportunity to meet like-minded people whilst putting their playing into practice. The centres often have a wide variety of ensembles which you can join if you wish. It provides great opportunities to perform in concert situations across the UK and even sometimes Europe. Here is a list of Music Centres/Services in the UK.

You’ve recently looked at...