There are some basic ukulele supplies that a ukulele player needs to keep their instrument safe and in good playable condition. These include supplies for cleaning and storing the instrument, as well as the supplies you’ll need to use the instrument in live settings. There are additional supplies and accessories that can enhance you’re playing experience and that make it rather fun to visit the music store. Part of the experience of owning an instrument, in fact, is getting to indulge in a little retail therapy on its behalf.
First and foremost, you need a case. There are basically two types of cases for instruments: hard-shell cases and soft-shell cases, sometimes called gig bags. Despite the name gig bag, soft-shell cases are not a safe way to transport instruments to and from venues. Get a good hard-shell case and make sure that you use it to keep your instrument safe from harm, especially when you’re travelling to and from lessons or shows. Gig bags can be convenient, but they offer no protection to a ukulele beyond protecting against scrapes and gouges.
Strings entail a very big world of choices. They are also among the most fun ukulele supplies. They’re not particularly expensive and hunting around to find your brand can be a lot of fun. If you have sensitive fingers, consider plain strings. Those with a better callous on their hands—don’t worry, yours will come with time—may like the richer sound of wound strings. Make sure that your ukulele can stand up to the tension of wound strings. A music shop can let you know if your instrument is suitable for them, or if you need to stick with the lighter tension, nylon options.
There are numerous products available for cleaning your ukulele. This is a very important part of keeping your instrument in good repair. Make sure to get a cleaner that is compatible with the finish on the wood on your instrument. If you buy a very expensive ukulele or one that has an exotic wood, such as Hawaiian Koa, ask an advanced player, a music shop employee or call the company to find out what cleaning materials are best. The number one thing to remember is that the wood polishes and other cleaners used for household woods are not always safe; don’t’ assume that they are.
Ukulele supplies also include materials for cleaning the strings. When you play, you leave a mix of oil, sweat and skin on the strings that deadens the sound. There are good products out there that strip these off of the strings and restore their sound. Make sure that any product you use to do this is safe for the fretboard. Before you take advice from the old-timers, petroleum-based lubricants, butter and other exotic materials are not at all appropriate. These cleaners are inexpensive, so take the time to buy them from a music store.