Mandolin vs Ukulele - Which to start with?

March 04, 2018

Which is better as a first instrument, Mandolin or Ukulele?

As much as we love mandolins, Ukulele has some major advantages as a first instrument to learn. The use is easier to play and costs significantly less. These to reasons alone make it the better choice for most players. Of course there is a lot more to it. Read on to see why we choose ukulele over mandolin

We might be biased

Well, this is no mystery. while the ukulele is great, we deal with a lot of mandolins and it has become a Folkmusician specialty. So why then, would we recommend ukulele over mandolin? That just it, we wouldn't unless it really was the better choice here.

I was around 7-8 years old when I received my first Ukulele as a gift. I had already had some experience with guitar by this time, but it was't the greatest quality instrument and was rather painful to play. Not so with the uke! And this brings us to the first major advantage for beginners. Ukuleles are just easier to play.

8 vs 4 strings

A mandolin has 8 strings, where a ukulele only has four. Additionally, a mandolin's strings are metal where a uke would normally be nylon. This makes for a huge difference in string tension. The mandolin's strings are physically harder to push and there are twice as many of them! A reasonable quality uke is very easy to play and you don't need a lot of strength or thick calluses. Ease of play goes to the Ukulele.

Learning the instrument

This part isn't as straightforward. In general, the ukulele is going to be the easier instrument for most players to get a grasp on. The mandolin has a much more intuitive tuning. As far as memorizing the notes, the mandolin has the advantage here. Where it balances out is in the technique. The styles of music that mandolin is used for require higher degrees of skill. And going back to the physical difficulty... Combined with this, it will take quite a bit more time to sound presentable on a mandolin. 

Which costs more?

Mandolin vs. ukulele cost isn't even close. Where a nice mandolin will start around $300, you can get a comparable ukulele for under $100. To take it one step further, many go the $50 ukes are not bad at all. It is safe to say that a beginner ukulele can be purchased for 25% of the cost of a beginner mandolin.  Naturally there are a lot of variables here, but you get the point. Ukuleles are MUCH cheaper than mandolins.

That about sums it up! I hope this helps with your research. Here are some best selling ukuleles for beginners:

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in mandolin

Kentucky KM-276 Oval Hole Mandolin
Kentucky KM-276 Oval Hole Mandolin

August 11, 2018 1 Comment

Say hello to the new Kentucky KM-276 model! As many of you know, this is not an entirely new mandolin, but instead a new color option for players that prefer a more organic look. This is based on the popular KM-270 Oval hole mandolin.

Continue Reading

Best Mandolin Pickup K&K vs Radius vs Fishman

March 27, 2018

We are always being asked what the best mandolin pickup is. Being familiar with these and having installed hundreds over the years, a few have risen to the top. All three of these recommendations are passive pickups. While there are several other good options, these should be at the top of your list.

Continue Reading

Ovation Mandolin Reviews and Buyers Guide
Ovation Mandolin Reviews and Buyers Guide

March 15, 2018

The main reason you are going to buy an Ovation mandolin is obviously the pickup. If not it should be. These are not the best sounding acoustic mandolin made, but on stage they are in their element. Need to add some mandolin to your high-volume rock band?

Continue Reading