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Starting a Ukulele Program in Your Classroom: Part 3 of 6
By Sam Marchuk
12/1/2017 12:34:00 PM

Starting a Ukulele Program in Your Classroom Part 3 of 6: Which Ukulele Model Should I Choose for My Classroom?

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There are many different models of ukuleles available, so how do you which one you should choose for your classroom?

You will want to make sure to choose a quality instrument that will play in tune and produce a good tone - while staying within your budget. You will also want to consider how these instruments will be stored and budget accordingly as some models do not include a gig bag. (See upcoming Part 6 of 6: How Should I Store My Ukuleles? for options.)

Here are some of our most popular models that have proven themselves with our classroom teachers:

Makala MK Series Ukuleles

makala mk ukulelesFor the classroom, the 303685 Makala MK-S Soprano Ukulele really sets the standard. Branded under Kala’s entry-level Makala name, it is a traditional all-wood model that is consistent in quality, playability, and tone. It features an agathis wood body, mahogany neck, rosewood or walnut fingerboard and bridge, geared tuners, and the highly sought-after Aquila Super Nylgut strings. The bridge is set up with the strings wrapped around it and securely knotted in place – a feature not typical on ukuleles in this price range. Our teachers rave about the quality, sound, and affordability of this ukulele! This series is available in the larger concert, tenor and baritone sizes plus classroom sets:

303685 MK-S Soprano Ukulele

  Ukulele only

  Bundled with gig bag and digital clip-on tuner

  Classroom sets

303686 MK-C Concert Ukulele

  Ukulele only

  Bundled with gig bag and digital clip-on tuner 

303687 MK-T Tenor Ukulele

303688 MK-B Baritone Ukulele


Kala KA-15S Soprano Ukuleles

kala a ukulelesThis model is based on the Makala MK-S all-wood version but has several upgrades with only a nominal price difference. If you have the budget these upgrades are worth the investment and include:

 - GraphTech NuBone nut and saddle (vs. plastic on the MK-S). This denser material transfers more vibration to the instrument top, producing a fuller sound with more volume

 - Pearloid tuning buttons (more decorative than the plain plastic buttons on the MK-S)

 - Laser-etched design around the sound hole


See more info on this model here:

  Ukulele only

  Bundled with gig bag and digital clip-on tuner


Makala MK-S/Dolphin Ukuleles

dolphin ukulelesIf you are looking to add some color to your classroom, Makala’s Dolphin Series ukuleles are a great option! Based on the MK-S all-wood model this series features a molded plastic body over a wood top and are painted in a variety of bold colors (black, blue, green, pink, purple, red, white, or yellow). This model has many of the same features as the all-wood version, including Aquila Super Nylgut strings, metal frets, and rosewood or walnut fretboard and bridge. The plastic body makes for a brighter tone than the wood model, with plenty of volume – but also making it washable and extremely durable. The plastic body may hold up better for locations that are warmer and have high humidity. This model includes a non-padded gig bag. More info and available options.


Westwood Ukuleles

westwood ukes

Our Westwood series of ukuleles offer many extras at a great value. Constructed of basswood, these ukuleles also include a non-padded gig bag, a strap, and pre-installed strap buttons. Available in soprano, concert, and tenor sizes and classroom sets:

304101 Westwood Soprano Ukulele

  Ukulele only

  Classroom sets

304102 Westwood Concert Ukulele

304103 Westwood Tenor Ukulele


Kala Waterman Ukuleles

watermanThe Kala Waterman ukuleles is another inexpensive option and a great value! While the Makala Dolphin series has a plastic covered body with wood neck and metal frets, the Waterman ukuleles are constructed entirely of plastic (except for the geared metal tuners). That makes this ukulele completely waterproof and a fun option with the color choices and available finishes. Solid color models are the most popular and affordable, while translucent, and even a glow-in-the dark model, are available for just a bit more. Each Waterman ukulele includes a non-padded carry tote. The larger concert size is also available in this series. Here is a link for more available options!

Be sure to remember that the strings on any new ukulele will stretch quite a bit when being tuned up for the first time. They may take some time to settle before staying in tune. Check out this article on how to break in new ukulele strings. Have any questions or comments? Contact one of our Education Consultants at 800-397-9378 to see how we can put together a set of classroom ukuleles to best suit your budget and needs!

Read Part 4

About the Author

Sam MarchukSam Marchuk is an Education Consultant for West Music specializing in folk instruments and curriculum for the elementary classroom. He has been playing ukulele since 1998 and is an avid collector of vintage and contemporary ukulele models.

As an Education Consultant, Sam assists with the selection and acquisition of instruments and curriculum with teachers across the U.S. He enjoys matching up players of all skill levels and classroom teachers with the right ukulele to fit their personality, style, and budget.

Sam has demonstrated the potential of the of the ukulele at numerous state and national music education conferences, helped with the startup of ukulele programs across the U.S., and has taught beginning ukulele at the annual Strathmore Ukulele and Guitar Summit in Rockville, MD.

Tags: ukulele, music education, classroom
Categories: Guitars & Folk, Music Education
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