Musically inclined tots headed towards a life of rock and roll gravitate towards large instruments like drum sets or guitars to work out their rhythm. If your little one’s a regular Tommy Lee, starter drum sets come in all different sizes and materials, but if your pride and joy is a Jimi Hendrix–type in the making, you might want to hold off on the guitar lessons until they’re a bit older. Instead, a children’s ukulele is a great string instrument for beginners.
Although there are many clear differences between the two instruments (ukuleles and guitars are related, but not one and the same), generally ukuleles are a better fit for toddlers and early elementary school musicians for a few reasons. For starters, ukuleles are small instruments, so they’re physically a more comfortable fit for small fingers and arms. Ukuleles also have softer strings than guitars, so they’ll be easier to strum and gentler on your child’s sensitive skin.
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Beyond the tangible benefits of the instrument, ukuleles are an overall fantastic introduction to the music scene for kids. With only four chords to pluck and strum, they’re easy to learn, fairly inexpensive (so no harm done if they decide they aren’t interested) and come in four sizes — soprano, concert, tenor and baritone — your child can experiment with as they grow older and become more accustomed to the instrument. So if your little one is interested in making music early, browse the best ukuleles for kids to help them get started.
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1. Hola! Music Soprano Ukulele
Hola! Music has everything your child needs to master the ukulele. The Soprano Ukulele bundle is essentially the ultimate starter kit that features one 21-inch long soprano ukulele (available in seven colors) constructed of maple, walnut and nato with premium Italian Aquila Strings; a canvas tote for easy transportation; a ukulele strap; and three picks. In addition to providing the actual instrument, Hola! Music partnered with takelessons, America’s largest lessons company, to bring your musician-in-training two months of free live video lessons with an expert instructor.
2. POMAIKAI Rainbow Starter Uke
If you’re not actually sold on the idea that your child will commit to playing an instrument long term, POMAIKAI’s Rainbow Starter ukulele is an ideal purchase. The beginner’s bundle is very basic: it comes with one 21-inch basswood ukulele with nylon strings and a gig bag for convenient transport. The lightweight, travel-friendly children’s ukulele is also available in 10 colors and designs, so your child can choose the instrument that best represents their vibe. With enough practice your little one will not only begin to hone in on their musical skills but the instrument will also provide them with developmental benefits, too, such as attention to detail and acting with intention.
3. YEZI Classical Ukulele Guitar
Maybe your little musician is super little, as in toddler-size? Here’s some good news for your musical mini me: They don’t have to wait until they’re a big kid to strum a mean ukulele chord, thanks to YEZI. This children’s ukulele is smaller than our previous picks, measuring at just 17 inches long, and it’s also very difficult to break since it’s made of eco-friendly ABS plastic materials (so if your child’s a bit of a Bam Bam, YEZI has you covered). Your child will pick up on basic rhythm, strumming and other musical techniques the more they practice, and you’ll love listening to these soothing chords over janky guitar strings or clanging symbols (we highly recommend waiting until your child is a tiny bit older to introduce these kinds of advanced instruments).