Best Ukulele Players 2023 (My All-time Favorite List)

Delving into the world of ukulele, I’ve had the pleasure of discovering the diversity of talent that exists. From Hawaiian virtuosi to modern maestros, this article explores the best ukulele players who have seamlessly intertwined their narratives with the strings of their ukuleles.

This is my homage to the best ukulele players that have shaped and transformed the music scene, not just on the sandy beaches of Hawaii, but across the globe.

Best ukulele players

So, let’s embark on this melodious journey together.

I apologise for the confusion. Let’s try again with an adjusted format:

No.NameBest Known Work
1Israel Kamakawiwo’ole“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” / “What a Wonderful World”
2Jake Shimabukuro“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
3Herb Ohta Jr.“Ukulele Breeze” album
4James Hill“Man with a Love Song” album and his cover of “Billie Jean”
5Brittni Paiva“Four Strings: The Fire Within” album
6Taimane Gardner“Elemental” album and her medley performance of famous Led Zeppelin tunes
7Eddie KamaeHis work with Sons of Hawai’i, especially the album “Music of Old Hawai’i”

🎶best ukulele players (A List of Greats) 

Each of these remarkable yet best ukulele players brings their own distinct brilliance, transforming the ukulele landscape with passion, creativity, and skill.

Their mastery and unique styles have left an indelible mark on the musical world and inspired countless enthusiasts to embrace this instrument.

best ukulele players 
  1. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole: The late Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, affectionately known as “IZ,” became synonymous with the soothing sounds of the ukulele. His soulful voice and deeply emotional interpretations, particularly in his rendition of “Over the Rainbow” / “What a Wonderful World,” captured hearts worldwide, making him an icon in Hawaiian music history.
  2. Jake Shimabukuro: Blessed with jaw-dropping dexterity and innate talent, Jake Shimabukuro is celebrated as a modern virtuoso. His unique blend of rock, blues, jazz, and traditional Hawaiian melodies has invigorated the genre. With notable performances such as his cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” he has propelled the ukulele into the contemporary music scene.
  3. Herb Ohta Jr.: A true ukulele maestro, Herb Ohta Jr. is a prominent player and teacher who has helped shape modern Hawaiian ukulele music. He carries on the legacy of his father, Herb “Ohta-San” Ohta Sr., a legendary ukulele performer. Offering elegance and emotion in his playing technique, Herb Ohta Jr. continues to inspire new generations of musicians.
  4. James Hill: Canadian musician James Hill has made a name for himself globally with his innovative playing techniques, drawing influences from folk, bluegrass, and jazz. With his combination of fingerpicking, strumming, and even beatboxing, Hill has extended the boundaries of what one can achieve with the ukulele.
  5. Brittni Paiva: As a multi-award-winning ukulele virtuoso and composer, Brittni Paiva showcases incredible diversity in her music. With a seamless blend of jazz, pop, and world music influences, she brings a contemporary feel while still honoring the instrument’s origins. Paiva’s expertise shines with her fingerpicking and full-toned strumming techniques.
  6. Taimane Gardner: Taimane Gardner is a dazzling force in the world of ukulele music, as she fuses rock, classical, flamenco, and Hawaiian genres with flair. Her performances captivate audiences with their high energy and intricate fingerwork. A trailblazer, she breathes new life into the traditional image of the ukulele.
  7. Eddie Kamae: A pivotal figure in the Hawaiian cultural renaissance, Eddie Kamae was not only a skilled ukulele player and singer but also a documentary filmmaker and composer. As a founding member of the acclaimed band Sons of Hawai’i, Kamae played a crucial role in the revival of traditional Hawaiian music in the 20th century.

🎶Who is the great Hawaiian ukulele player?

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, often known as “IZ,” truly epitomized the essence of Hawaiian ukulele music. Born in Hawaii, he used his extraordinary talents to merge the traditional Hawaiian ukulele sound with his soulful vocals, garnering worldwide acclaim.

Who is the great Hawaiian ukulele player

His definitive version of “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” touched millions of people, making it go viral even before the internet era.

The emotion, passion, and tenderness he instilled in his music distinctly fascinate people even today.

Despite his untimely death, IZ left a lasting legacy and continues to be an influential figure in ukulele music and Hawaiian culture.

🎶Who is the best jazz ukulele player?

Lyle Ritz considerably influences the jazz genre’s presence in the ukulele world. Known as the “Father of Jazz Ukulele,” Ritz developed a unique approach to the instrument, jazzing up its traditional Hawaiian roots, and set high standards for the genre’s players.

Who is the best jazz ukulele player

His albums “How About Uke?” and “50th State Jazz” in the 1950s revolutionized the ukulele sound, blending intricate jazz elements and soothing ukulele rhythms.

Ritz’s ability to express the emotion and sophistication inherent in jazz through the ukulele has solidified his position as one of the most influential and best jazz ukulele players of all time.

🎶Who is the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele?

Jake Shimabukuro is often referred to as the “Jimi Hendrix of the Ukulele”. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Shimabukuro’s groundbreaking and inventive approach to playing the ukulele has drawn comparisons to the creative genius of guitar maestro Jimi Hendrix.

Shimabukuro’s performances powerfully demonstrate that the ukulele, though small and equipped with just four strings, can produce incredibly dynamic and enthralling music.

His virtuosity, creative vision, and ability to push the boundaries of ukulele playing have earned him international acclaim, transforming the way people perceive this quintessential Hawaiian instrument.

🎶Who is the father of the ukulele?

The title ‘Father of the Ukulele’ can be accorded to Manuel Nunes, one of the original Portuguese immigrants credited with the instrument’s invention.

Nunes, along with João Fernandes and Augusto Dias, are considered the pioneers of ukuleles in Hawaii in the 19th century.

🎶Who is the father of the ukulele

Nunes developed and improved the initial ukulele design and established a successful business crafting these instruments. What began as a creative innovation is now an integral part of Hawaiian culture. Thanks to Nunes’s contributions, the ukulele has become a beloved global instrument.


The world of ukulele playing boasts incredibly talented musicians who captivate and inspire their audiences. These best ukulele players, hailing from diverse backgrounds, have continually pushed the boundaries of the instrument, its styles and techniques.

Their exceptional ability to convey emotion, combined with their unique artistry and innovation, makes them stand out within the global music scene.

As we celebrate and appreciate their contributions, we encourage new aspiring players to draw inspiration from these legends and carry forward the rich legacy of the ukulele.

Leave a Comment