Is the Ukulele a Good First Instrument?


Learning a new musical instrument can seem like a daunting task. Most instruments have a steep learning curve, especially during the initial stages and this can discourage many who want to learn to play music. However, there are a select few musical instruments that are not so intimidating. The ukulele is definitely one such instrument. However, is the ukulele a good first instrument? Let’s find out.

To answer this question in a well-informed manner, we will look at everything that makes the ukulele a great option for beginners as well a couple of reasons why it could still be a bit challenging. Let’s start with the positives.

Playing Your First Song On The Ukulele Is Extremely Easy

Oftentimes, the biggest hurdle beginner musicians face is to keep their motivation high. The first few weeks of learning a new instrument usually involve developing the finger strength and practicing scales again and again. This can easily become tedious. The ukulele has a big advantage here. It does not require a lot of finger strength and many chords need just one finger. 

You could very easily learn a chord progression on your first day itself. You will still have to practice scales and do other monotonous stuff on the ukulele but knowing that you can play something musical on your first day itself can act as a huge motivation that will help you get through the initial grind which would otherwise be quite monotonous.

The Physical Exertion Is Minimal

We already alluded to this. The ukulele strings are made of nylgut which are much softer than the steel strings found on other stringed instruments. This means that you won’t have to spend the first few days in agony while calluses develop on your fingertips that will allow you to press down on the strings with the necessary amount of force. This makes it very easy to get through the first few lessons. This is especially great for children or for those who are very sensitive to pain.

It is also a relatively small instrument which means that you can hold it and play it for long periods of time without getting tired. While these things make little difference to a seasoned musician, they can make all the difference to a beginner. 

It Is Extremely Portable

As a continuation of the previous point, the diminutive dimensions of the ukulele also make it one of the most portable musical instruments. This again can come in very handy if you are a beginner. Traveling with a ukulele is far more convenient than doing so with something like a keyboard or a cello. This is particularly useful if you have to travel to a teacher’s place. You will be less inclined to miss classes. 

The portability of the ukulele also aids in the likelihood of you picking up the instrument every now and then to actually practice your chops. It also gives the ukulele a very laidback aesthetic that is not at all intimidating.

It also makes storing this instrument very easy. You do not have to make changes to the way your room or house is set up to accommodate a ukulele. All these are excellent qualities for a beginner musical instrument.

Ukuleles Are Inexpensive

Another reason why the musical aspirations of many prospective musicians remain as just a dream is the cost barrier presented by many instruments. A decent quality guitar or violin can cost a little too much for a beginner. Instruments like a piano could be completely out of the reach of many people. 

The ukulele on the other hand is much easier on the pockets. A good quality ukulele can cost as little as $35. You do not have to save up for months to buy a ukulele. It also does not require any additional transportation charges as would be the case with an instrument like the piano. 

Affordability is an important factor for a beginner as it puts less strain on your finances and makes the prospect of learning a new musical instrument much more appealing. To put it simply, it is much easier to take the plunge into the world of music when the cost of entry is so low.

Ukuleles Are Surprisingly Versatile

Some ridicule the ukulele as a toy instrument meant for kids. However, these are people who are ignorant of how versatile this instrument is. Many professional musicians have used the ukulele to produce incredible music. It can also cater to a wide range of musical genres. Getting a ukulele with pickups will allow you to use effects pedals that can further enhance its versatility.

The ukulele has great depth when it comes to playing styles. There are many advanced techniques that can take your music to the next level. This makes the ukulele a serious instrument in its own right and while many people use it as a supplementary instrument in their arsenal, many have made a career out of just playing the ukulele.

Ukuleles Act As A Great Stepping Stone For Other Instruments

If, on the other hand, your ultimate aim is to learn a more mainstream instrument like the guitar or violin, the ukulele can act as a great way to introduce yourself to the world of music. As we saw, ukuleles are not as physically demanding and they can help you understand the basics of music theory in a much more relaxed manner.

Why A Ukulele Could Be Challenging For Beginners?

While the ukulele is almost the perfect instrument for beginners, there are a couple of things that you should keep in mind. The first is its size. Its smaller form factor is a great boon in most cases but it can also make it a bit difficult to place your fingers on the right fret if you have larger fingers. This is especially true for multi-finger chords. Tuning is another area that can be a bit tricky at first.

Related Article Five Practice Tips for Beginner Ukulele Players

Final Thoughts!

Apart from the couple of caveats just mentioned, which are pretty easy to get around, by the way, the ukulele is as good as it gets for a first-time instrument. It can act as a great base for your musical journey while also being incredibly fulfilling in its own right. So, if you are looking for an instrument that is highly accessible while also being versatile and rich enough as a musical instrument, the ukulele is unrivaled.

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