How to Choose a Ukulele
First, be sure the ukulele is in tune. Then I like to play melody notes on the first string. I try to make the warmest sound I can with the right hand and then I listen for the quality of the sound. Some instruments will have a thin and harsh sound no matter how you play in the right hand. These are instruments to avoid. We want an ukulele that will have a rich sound that we can enjoy all the time, so spend a lot of time listening to the sound of the instrument before buying it.
Related to the first point, we also want to find an ukulele that has great sustain. Cheaper instruments will not only have a thin tone but will also have very little sustain. Play a note on the first string in different positions and listen to how long the notes last. The sound of the ukulele will be more resonant (with chords and with melody) if it has great sustain.
Finally, an instrument that sounds good but won’t stay in tune is a deal breaker. So we really want to test the intonation to make sure it stays in tune across the fingerboard. Again, cheaper ukuleles may be in tune in first position, but quickly lose pitch when you move up to higher positions. Here’s an easy way to test the intonation of the instrument. Play a harmonic on a string at the 12 fret (usually it’s the fret right where the neck meets the body). Now play the the fretted 12th fret note on the same string. On a well-intonated instrument the two pitches should match. Intonation is something that can be adjusted, but if you notice a lot of variance between the harmonics and fretted notes on each string then you probably want to avoid that instrument.
So there you have it! When you’re first choosing an ukulele, keep these three key factors in mind:
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