The association between Hawaii and the ukulele dates back to the 19th century when Portuguese immigrants brought with them an instrument that would quickly come to be adored even by Hawaiian natives. Even King David Kalakauna loved the ukulele, incorporating its music with traditional Hawaiian dance.
Fast-forward over a hundred years, and the ukulele is still a beloved instrument! You’ve caught the ukulele bug, too. You want to learn how to play well enough to impress a king and you’ve done your research on the best ukulele for you.
You still feel like you’re missing something. Maybe even several things.
Don’t worry! Here’s a list of twelve ukulele accessories you need to start playing like a pro.
Whether you’re taking your ukulele out on the town or want to keep it safe and clean when it’s not in use, a case is one of the most important ukulele supplies. You have the choice between hard and soft cases, although it’s not a bad idea to have both.
Hard cases are crucial if your ukulele is antique, vintage, or valuable in quality. They are a little more expensive than a soft case, but that extra protection is worth it, especially for nicer ukuleles.
Soft cases are sometimes referred to as gig bags because that’s precisely what they’re for — to get your ukulele to the gig! Gig bags are lightweight and inexpensive. They often have backpack straps attached, leaving your hands free to carry other gear.
Hard and soft cases typically come equipped with compartments for other ukulele gear like straps and picks.
Because ukuleles are small, they’re easy to hold when sitting but a little awkward when standing!
Straps can help solve that problem, but don’t expect that you can use your electric guitar strap on your ukulele! Ukulele straps are designed to fit into a soundhole on the bottom, while the top of the strap wraps around the neck.
There are some seriously cool ukulele accessories out there, and picking a great strap is one of your chances to show off your personality!
CLOUDMUSIC Ukulele Strap
WerKens Ukulele Strap
Hot Seal Linen Style Ukulele Strap
Backup strings are essential ukulele accessories. You don’t want your ukulele to be temporarily out of commission if you break a string, do you?
Strings don’t have to be a huge investment, especially if your ukulele wasn’t exactly on the pricey side. Check out this buying guide for ukulele strings to find the best match for you.
Aquila Ukulele Strings (Full Range)
4. String Winder and Cutter Sets
Having a string winder can take the pain and frustration out of restringing your ukulele. Rather than manually winding the strings around each peg, this tool will do the winding for you!
Oftentimes, string winders will come with string cutters. Regular scissors aren’t the best tool to use on nylon, and you could end up with broken scissors or scratched up fingers. Even if you don’t think you need a string winder, a string cutter is essential
Of all the ukulele gadgets, the capo may seem the most alien when really, it’s easy to use.
This is not a reference to the Italian term for “leader of the mafia family,” although an instrumental capo does have Italian roots and means “head stop.”
Capos alter the notes you can play based on how many frets the capo is covering. For each fret being covered, your ukulele will play one note higher. Placement of the capo depends on what you want your music to sound like and they turn any ukulele into a more versatile instrument.
Shubb Ukulele Capo
Kyser Quick Change Ukulele Capo
Eventually, you may be able to tune your ukulele by ear. Until then, it’s best to add a tuner to your list of ukulele accessories!
Tuning forks and pitch pipes are cheap and nonelectronic options, but for beginners, it is advisable to use an electronic tuner. The most accurate electronic tuners will be the ones that you can clip onto the headstock. These won’t pick up as much background noise.
Some tuners even come with a built-in metronome, which is another plus for any beginner who is having trouble staying on tempo when they practice!
Not all ukulele players use picks, but they’re nice to have around in case you want to give your fingers a break or experiment with different sounds.
However, standard guitar picks are not the ones to reach for. Ukulele strings are softer than guitar strings, and the hard plastic can cause damage.
Ukulele picks are similar to guitar picks in shape and size variations, but the key difference is that they are usually covered in soft felt to protect your strings.
Depending on your ukulele, different pick sizes and levels of hardness will produce different tones. Picks are a dime a dozen (maybe not literally, but they’re cheap), so why not try a few different kinds? Maybe you’ll find a new way to play!
8. Ukulele Cleaning Supplies
If you tend to sweat when you play (hey, no shame), you may want to invest in a string lubricant spray. Just spray it on your strings after you play and wipe it down. Simple!
Even if you don’t sweat, it’s good to get into the habit of wiping down your ukulele after you play it–but you can skip the lubricant spray.
Natural oils from your skin can build up on your instrument. A microfiber cloth can wipe up any dust or grime on the body, and if your ukulele is especially worse for wear, give it a wipe down with a damp cloth and then another with a dry cloth.
To clean the fingerboard, you may want to try a wire wool cloth, although again, microfiber will do the trick. Just make sure you remove all the dirt and oil!
Jim Dunlop Formula 65 Ultimate Lemon Oil
9. Hangers or Stands
If you’re playing your ukulele throughout the day, taking it out of the case and putting it back in each time might start to get old. Leaving it out on the floor or perched against the wall is not a good alternative, however. You need your ukulele to be easily accessible, but not in a place where it can get kicked, stepped on, or knocked over.
The solution? One of the cheapest and easiest to use ukulele accessories — a hanger or stand!
Hangers are small hooks that are meant to be screwed into the wall. They are positioned so that your ukulele will hang comfortably off the ground without slipping and falling.
A stand you would place either on the ground or on a wide, stable shelf or table. They hold your ukulele from the base.
Both are safe options for your ukulele, and your choice between the two comes down to preference and space options. If you have a crowded floor or rowdy pets, hangers may be the better choice. However, some walls don’t take kindly to nails or screws, in which case you may have to use a stand!
String Swing Wall Hanger
Stagg Ukulele Stand
10. Ukulele Humidifiers
No, this is not the same kind of humidifier you’d use when you’ve caught a cold. But it is similar!
Ukulele humidifiers keep your instrument from drying out, which can, in turn, prevent damage like cracks in the body or fingerboard. This is one of the more essential ukulele accessories if you live in an area with an extremely dry climate.
(As much as we love a dry heat, our ukuleles do not.)
Most ukulele humidifiers will attach to the C and E strings, hanging horizontally in the soundhole. To use them properly, keep your ukulele on its back in its case. Try not to forget it’s there and pick the case up, or it can fall into the body of your ukulele and become a hassle to get out!
There are a few alternatives to ensure that your ukulele doesn’t get too dry, but the easiest method is to purchase a ukulele humidifier and use it a few times a week during the dry seasons.
11. Instrument Cables and Amplifiers
If you want to hear your ukulele amplified, consider getting an instrument cable, pickup and amplifier. A ukulele may be a quieter instrument than some others, but with the right accessories you can compete on volume and make yourself heard.
Syncwire Professional Instrument Cable
KNA UK-1 Ukulele Pickup
Luna Portable Suitcase Ukulele Amplifier
As fun as it is to noodle around and make up your own songs, you might want to consider picking up some songbooks to add a few recognizable pieces to your repertoire.
A lot of songbooks are designed around skill level, which is great for beginners. If you’re still learning chords, a beginners songbook can provide you with the exercises and lessons to teach yourself in no time!
Other songbooks are geared towards different bands, which can be a lot of fun once you’ve advanced a little bit. Want to hear what your favorite classic rock song would sound like if played on a ukulele? There’s probably a songbook for that!
Questions About Other Ukulele Accessories?
This list has covered the basics, but there may be other ukulele accessories you’re still curious about.
Please feel free to reach out with any comments, suggestions, or questions you may have!