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Here are some of my favorite places to buy ukuleles:

Buying an ukulele is easy. Just play them all until you find one that makes your heart melt. If it's too expensive, keep looking. Get the one that makes your heart AND your wallet happy. You can always get the fancy one later.

Choose the right WOOD:

Koa has that classic Hawaiian sound. It's very mellow and clear, and the grain can be spectacular. It's also more expensive.

Mango and Curly Koa have a lot of fancy grain and shimmer. They get expensive, too.

Mahogany is a softer wood, and has a softer tone. It's more affordable than Koa, but it scratches more easily.

Laminate is not a tonewood. It is several layers of plywood laminated together, and sometimes topped with a thin veneer of mahagony or other tonewood. It's the most affordable.

Myrtlewood is an unusual wood for ukuleles, but it can have a stunning grain. It sounds bright and resonant.

Choose the right STRINGS:

Your ukulele will have an entirely different sound when you play strings from different makers. This is an overlooked but MAJOR thing to consider. Wound strings are nylon strings that are wrapped in a layer of metal or nylon. They are loud and bright, but they also create a lot of noise when you slide your fingers along them while playing. Monofilament strings are nylon strings that are not wound.

LOW-G vs. HIGH-G --- Low g-strings are a lower octave and are therefore deeper-sounding. High g-strings are a higher octave, and thus the "bass note" has a very high pitch. If you are a guitar player, you'll have to get used to this. Low g-strings are usually wound strings, but you can find monofilament low g-strings if you want to avoid string noise.

Kala Red strings are very bright and have a long resonance. They are colored bright red.

Worth Strings are also very resonant. They have monofilament low g-strings that sound really nice. They are colored brown.

Guadalupe Custom Strings will custom-make any strings you want, and color them in any color. Any instrument, including European or Asian instruments.

Choose the right SIZE:

Soprano: The tiny one. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole is playing one in the "Over the Rainbow" video. High-pitched and sweet.

Concert: Slightly bigger than the soprano, and sounds slightly deeper. Still small and sweet, though.

Tenor: Bigger. The long neck allows for more advanced technique and better clarity in the high notes. Ukulele Bartt and Jake Shimabukuro usually play these.

Baritone: Biggest. Tuned like a guitar (D-G-B-E).

KAUA'I: Larry's Music

4-1310 Kuhio Highway
Kapa'a, HI 96746
(808) 822-4181

Sammy bought the place from Larry years ago, but kept the name. Sammy sells splendid ukuleles. I oughta know; I bought a Kamaka soprano from him. Sammy is the authorized Kamaka dealer on the island. Fantastic selection, and Sammy is a friendly guy who would love you to call him right now. Tell him I told you to. Maybe he'll give you a free Kamaka. Who knows? You can e-mail Sammy at and ask him about his high-end ukes or his beginner ukes.

Bartt and Sammy laughing at Larry's. And just kidding about the free Kamaka. But Sammy will take good care of you.

Maui - Mele Ukuleles

1750 Kaahumanu Avenue
Wailuku, Hawaii 96793
(808) 244-3938

Great Koa and Mahogany ukuleles. Creative designs for 4-string, 6-string and 8-string ukes. They even have a double-neck!

Tell them Ukulele Bartt sent you and they'll give you free directions to the beach!

Los Angeles - Candelas Guitars

2724 E.Cesar Chavez Av

Los Angeles, CA. 90033


Tomas Delgado of Candelas guitars will build you the second-finest custom ukulele on Earth. He already built the number one custom uke for me. Andres Segovia played Candelas, so why not you?

Tell Tomas that Ukulele Bartt sent you and he'll ask you to bring him some lunch. But check out his ukuleles first!

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