The age old question; How much should I spend on my instrument?
We all want to get the most value for our dollar as well as a great long lasting instrument that will help us sound amazing right?
Here's a few tips to get started;
A great sound: Checking if the intonation is correct on the upper frets (5 and upwards) will determine if the Ukulele will outlive your skills. See if you can check a few different styles on the ukulele, such as finger picking, strumming, chunking and vibrato (if you're not up to this, get the assistant to help you). If it rings after you have played, this a great 'live' sound. A poor quality instrument will have a 'dead' sound where the resonance stops immediately after you play.
A good budget: Be prepared to spend a little more if you're wanting a long lasting instrument. Anything between $90 - $200 is a good 'starter' ukulele, however you shouldn't need to spend over $400 unless you're at professional level.
Trustworthy Brands: Kala, Lanikai, Maton, Anuenue and Makai are all good trustworthy brands.
The right size: From smallest to biggest we have Soprano, Concert, Tenor and Baritone. Concert is the most popular size for adults as the frets are slightly wider for larger fingers. Baritone is a different tuning to the other 3, and more more guitarists wanting to experiment with Ukulele. Tenor is for those wanting something slightly louder, and wider. Soprano is a great travel size ukulele as it fits in your suitcase!
Solid Top vs Laminate: Anything with a solid top is going to grow with you, and mature its sound the more you play. It's amazing how much my Baritone ukulele (Solid Spruce Top) has evolved it's sound into a beautiful sweet tone. IF it's Laminate top, it doesn't mean it's bad, just that it will remain mostly the same. A great sound from the beginning is a good place to start.
Pick VS Acoustic: Only something for songwriters and performers. If you are serious about playing an instrument, it's a big help having a pick up already installed (and will save you $200) if you ever want to go to open mic nights, ukulele jams, or record your instrument. If you choose to install the pickup down the track, the Ukulele Five-O pickup is amazing quality, hardy and designed specifically for Ukes. A cheaper pickup will have feedback issues, a buzz so be wary.