A ukulele is a really fun instrument to have around. It’s a great entertainment option for yourself, your friends, and family. The learning curve is very manageable, so anyone can pick one up and get to playing relatively quickly. It’s also a very good choice for children, thanks to its simplicity and gentle feel that won’t hurt fingers while practising. The last thing to note is the fact that they are very affordable—costing a fraction of the price of a piano, guitar, or drum kit. I’ve recently received two ukuleles from the Kahiko series by Mahalo. In my possession I have the MK1TBR Soprano Ukulele and the Learn 2 Play Essentials Pack (labelled the MR1TBRK).
I’ve recorded a video showcasing the ukulele’s sound and the contents of both products. I’ve also included my initial impressions and why I think it’s a great choice for someone just starting out their musical journey.
Everything you need to get started
Both ukuleles are very similar. For all intents and purposes, they are the same. Both models are soprano models, so the smallest ukulele made traditionally. The body and neck are made out of woods that aren’t usually used in instrument construction: Sengon and Jabon respectively. Jabon originates mostly from SouthEast Asia, while Sengon is present in Oceania. They are common building materials (used in plywood for example). The fingerboard and bridge are made out of mahogany, though—a very popular and fine tone wood. Both ukuleles I’ve received are brown, but they are also offered in other colours, such as blue, red, and butterscotch.
Mahalo Kahiko Ukulele
The MK1TBR (the single ukulele) is shipped with a thin nylon case. It doesn’t offer the highest amount of protection, but it will keep you from scratching your instrument or getting it wet. It’s mostly there for having a convenient way of transporting your ukulele.
Mahalo Rainbow Essentials Pack
The MR1TBRK (the essentials pack) has a lot of extra things to get you started. First of all, there is a very useful tuner. It’s a clip-on model, which is convenient and easy to use. It will even work on other instruments! There is an extra pack of strings, which is great because you might break one through regular playing. Even if you don’t, it’s good practice to change your strings periodically to have an optimal sound and good projection. These are the appropriate nylon strings for ukuleles.
There is a trio of picks. These are very thin, and I guess that they are appropriate for the ukulele. The strange thing is that this instrument is usually strummed with the thumb and index finger. It’s still nice to have the option and a different sound possibility.
A few documents accompany the bundle. First of all, there is a handy ukulele guide that shares information on maintenance. You might find this interesting, especially if you are a first time buyer. A great addition is the access to an instructional video to help you get started. It also includes a download of an e-book that will help you remember the chords, which should be the main focus of the player.
Last but not least, there is a set of stickers. Use them as a reward for your child that’s learning a very fun skill!
A great starting point
The kinds of ukuleles that are the MK1TBR and the MR1TBRK bundle are really a good starting point. They aren’t expensive, but they are very worthwhile. Learning music on a ukulele is a great idea. You will explore and develop a lot of fundamentals on this instrument. First of all, rhythm is very important for all musicians to grasp, and this instrument will definitely force you to grow your understanding and inner beat keeping.
Also, harmony is the main focus of an accompaniment instrument like the ukulele. This is great news because it will solidify one’s understanding of how music works and eventually how melodies are crafted. Exploring chords and their inner workings is invaluable knowledge that will transfer to most instruments.
For children, the small-sized soprano is ideal for their growing hands. It’s not large like a classical or acoustic guitar. The blueprint is also simpler, with only four strings, making progress rather rapid. It’s quite impressive to see new players quickly going from chord to chord with ease. Also, the gentle nylon strings will reduce the pain associated with gripping tightly strings, as the student tries to properly finger the chords. They are a lot more comfortable than steel strings found on acoustic guitars.
The bundle has tremendous value thanks to its many included accessories. The tuner in particular is invaluable for beginners. You’ll be tuning those new nylon strings for a while once you get the instrument; they require a certain amount of use and stretching before they can hold the pitch properly. It’s just the nature of strings made out of this material. The instructional material is also great until you can find a teacher that will work with you in person. For newcomers to music, one on one style teaching will always be the best way to progress, thanks to personalized feedback.
Great second instrument
If you already own a ukulele, owning a second one might interest you. It’s a great option to have to play with others in a miniature orchestra. I like it as a good way to bring people together. It’s also good to show other individuals the basics of the instrument. People pick up on it surprisingly fast! You might also be the owner of a concert or even larger model. This is an affordable choice to expand your arsenal.
The individual model is probably the most logical choice here, since you might already have most of the supplied accessories in the Learn 2 Play Essentials Pack. Buy a few of them and you’ll even be able to start a neighbourhood ukulele class or club!