The name ‘ukulele’ is the Hawaiian name for an instrument that originally came from the Madeira Islands of Portugal. It was brought to the islands by Portuguese immigrants and integrated quickly into the culture with the help of King David Kalakaua who promoted the ukulele as a Hawaiian instrument, used the instrument at formal royal functions to play traditional Hawaiian music and to accompany hula.

Beginning in the 1920s, the ukulele followed Hawaiian music in becoming more popular on mainland America. This led to the mass manufacturing of inexpensive models, making the instrument more accessible for aspiring musicians.

Now, ukuleles hold a reputation of being easy to learn, easy to travel with, and offers membership into a social and welcoming community. The instrument is being used increasingly in pop music performances and recordings and for performing covers of popular music. Below is Jake Shimabukuro, a famous ukulele player, covering Bohemian Rhapsody.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” (Queen) cover by Jake Shimabukuro at TED2010

For students interested in ukuleles or later learning guitar, the ukulele is a great place to start. Ukuleles, also know as Ukes, are perfect for younger students because they are small and they only have four strings, so they are much easier to play than a guitar. They are also much cheaper, come in fun colors and patterns, and you can get a high-quality instrument for a relatively small amount of money.

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Which Ukulele Should I Choose?

The Orchestra Place requires all students to have an instrument from the teacher-approved brand list to ensure the best experience and sound for the student and the ensemble.

There are four types of ukuleles: Soprano, Concert, Tenor, and Baritone. Young students should start with a soprano ukulele, the smallest and most common style. Older students can play the soprano ukulele or move to the larger concert ukuleles. We recommend the Cordoba UP100 Mahogany Concert Ukulele as the best ukulele for quality and affordability.

Cordoba UP100 Mahogany Concert Ukulele

Cordoba is a line of high quality Guitars and Ukuleles created to provide aspiring young players with a comfortable first instrument that’s easy to learn on and play.  These exceptionally well-made ukuleles offer even the youngest students a well-made, attractive instrument that is appropriate for their size, easy on their fingers and enjoyable to play. This beginner’s pack comes with everything you’ll need to get started: Cordoba concert ukulele, gig bag, tuner, picks, user’s manual and name tag.

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Ukulele Maintenance and Care

  • Do not try and tune the instrument yourself. It takes a while to learn to do this properly, and if you’re not careful you may damage the instrument and/or break strings. Take your instrument to the teacher at your next class and have them tune it for you.
  • Do not leave your instrument in your car. Intense heat or cold can cause an instrument to come apart or crack, and will definitely cause it to fall out of tune.
  • Try to avoid exposing your instrument to sudden changes in humidity. When traveling with your instrument it is always better to keep it in the back seat of your car rather than the trunk.
  • Keep your instrument clean. Keep a lint-free cloth inside your case and wipe off all dust and dirt from your instrument after each time you play.