Best Ukulele Brands for Intermediate and Advanced Players in 2020

Best Ukuleles for Intermediate and Advanced Players

So you are no longer a novice at the ukulele or playing music, and it’s time to move to a better instrument. When you are a beginner it can be difficult to explain intonation, action, and general playability of a ukulele, but after plenty of practice you now get what to look for. When you are looking for the best midrange ukulele or the best professional ukulele you know your budget must be higher and your patience greater. Low end ukuleles are pretty much all the same so its not the end of the world to jump right in, but in this case,  you will want to take extra time on your decision. 

Clearly the best ukuleles for beginners will not always be the same best ukuleles for intermediate players! You will be looking for much better tone woods and solid wood especially. It will also be important to have the ukulele setup and highly inspected! A professional ukulele for sale will not just come off the factory assembly line and straight to the warehouse, a pricey uke needs human attention. Another aspect an advanced player needs to look into is aesthetics and style. As a beginner ukulele player looks are not as important, only playability and good sound. There is also a good chance you will be playing for an audience, so you want something with ornamentation or a pleasant design. Below we will show some examples of some great ukuleles for the advanced musician.

Córdoba 20TMSolid Mahogany tenor-acoustic electric
Rosette in herringbone pattern
Buy on Amazon
Our Review
Kala KA-8Mahogany 8 string tenor
Hard Case
Austin Bazaar instructional DVD
Buy on Amazon
Our Review
Luna High TideKoa soprano
Acoustic electric
Appealing design and inlay
Buy on Amazon
Our Review
Kala KA-SMHTSolid mahogany tenor
Faux tortoise shell binding and bone nut and saddle
Basic and simple design, not too flashy
Buy on Amazon
Our Review
Gretsch G9112Mahogany resonator ukulele
Deluxe gig bag
Buy on Amazon
Our Review
Enya EUT-M6Solid mahogany tenor
Acoustic electric
Very unique design
Buy on Amazon
Our Review
Kala KA-TEMEExotic mahogany tenor
Acoustic electric
Gig bag, tuner, Austin Bazaar DVD
Buy on Amazon
Our Review

How many ukulele players does it take to cover an Iz song?
All of them, apparently. 😎

Soprano

Luna High Tide

This Luna is an acoustic-electric soprano with a natural satin finish, made of the beloved koa wood and other tropical hardwoods. The neck is mahogany, and the bridge and fretboard are made of walnut. And on top of all that it has maple and walnut binding. It comes with a gig bag and preamp pickup already installed. The full moon at the first fret causes the other fret markers to appear to rise, along with an abalone ring around the sound hole. Because it has the koa wood it will have a deeper sound than most sopranos. It is definitely one of the best midrange ukuleles. Great sound for the cost!

With all ukuleles it is wise to read reviews about what past buyers think. When it comes to buying either the best professional ukulele or even the best midrange ukulele it is important to read as many reviews as possible. Really do your research as you are spending a decent amount and you want such a pricey item to be the best!

User Reviews

“I wanted to upgrade from my first uke, and I am glad I picked the High Tide. It does seem to go out of tune a little easy but that may be the new strings, the sound though is so much better.”

Joe M.

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“The builders of this ukulele did a beautiful job on it; it is my second uke and simply way better than my first. The compliments I get for this instrument really make my day. Now I don’t need to buy a better uke, maybe just a different size to add to the collection!”

anonymous

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Tenor

Córdoba 20TM

This is an acoustic-electric tenor cutaway. It has a solid mahogany top, back, and sides with a rosewood fretboard. The cutaway part allows you to play up the fretboard easier. This ukulele bundle comes with a hard case, tuner, Austin Bazaar instructional DVD, and a polishing cloth. The electronics consist of a Cordoba active ukulele pickup (with 2 band EQ). It is a very nice looking ukulele, the kind you wouldn’t mind being seen with on an open mic night. It is near the lower end ($200) of what you want to spend on an intermediate instrument, but a worthy step up from your first ukulele.

User Reviews

“This is my second uke, but my first in tenor size, the construction is flawless, and the solid mahogany top has a tone that is beyond impressive. My only complaint is I wish it had strap buttons. If you buy this 20TM you will not need to upgrade anytime soon.”

anonymous

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“My grandson owns the Cordoba 20CM and I fell in love with the sound. I decided to get one but went with the tenor. As a beginner I am amazed at how great the sound is and the construction is just as impressive. Five stars all the way.”

Maurice Morris

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Kala KA-SMHT

A simple but solid mahogany tenor ukulele. This one is only acoustic as no electric pickup is included. It has faux tortoise shell and simulated bone and nut saddle. It gives it a very down to earth and basic look for those who don’t want to be too flashy. Remember some of the best professional ukuleles might not always be decorated, some folks like a no frills look. If you want to spend every dime you have towards a solid and great sounding ukulele with no bells and whistles this is it! Don’t forget to add the budget for a hard case, as you don’t want it to get damaged. 

User Reviews

“I originally had intended an almost $500 budget as I was looking for a more professional ukulele. Instead I found this solid mahogany Kala. I only spent half my budget and got a uke twice as good! I would recommend it without hesitation.”

Michael

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“I simply love this ukulele. The fact I was able to find a solid wood uke at such a reasonable price. It honestly has such a plain look you would never expect it to sound so good. Any level of player can’t go wrong with a Kala!

Larry

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Enya EUT-M6

It’s not the most well known brand but this tenor is also an acoustic-electric. The best part is the solid mahogany, top, back, and sides with a gloss finish. The inlay is beautiful and the style of uke alone is simply unique. It is a cutaway with a head stock reminiscent of an electric guitar. It has semi hard gig bag and a pickup already installed. This ukulele comes with D’Addario strings, which is another popular brand besides Aquila and Martin. The price of the Enya is higher than the others we have seen so far. It is really going to be a potential professional ukulele for the right person who the design appeals to.

User Reviews

“After playing a Makala tenor for a couple years I decided to spend more, and this Enya caught my eye. From the reviews I read it seemed to have comparable features to other premium ukuleles, it was the design that made my decision.”

anonymous

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“I love Enya so much that this is the second one I bought. It has incredible sound and is so beautiful. I don’t know why but this particular tenor is very easy to play. I bet I will eventually buy a third Enya.”

Jason

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Kala KA-TEME

Made from exotic mahogany with a walnut fretboard this is an acoustic-electric tenor. It comes with a bundle of goodies like a gig bag, tuner, DVD instructional video, and a polishing cloth. As a Kala it is one of the best ukuleles for intermediate players. It is right at the lower level of entry into better sounding and looking instruments. They use a built in Kala pickup known as the UK-300-TR. It has a very simple design with just the hint of flash. If your budget is right around $200 and you are looking for one of the best mid-range ukuleles than this is one is a great choice! Again you will likely want to purchase a real hard case instead of using a gig bag.

User Review

“I sent this to my son who is in the army, he has always had his own inner musical muse. He now plays it more than his guitar. He’s always had a knack for writing little tunes and this Kala gives him daily inspiration.”

Arthur R. 

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“I have owned this tenor ukulele for several years now, and it doesn’t sound the same as it did when I bought it! It sounds a thousand times better! These Kala solid mahogany ukes age so well.”

Charles Barbour

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8 String

Kala KA-8

The Kala is one of the best ukulele brands for professionals, from beginner to advanced, they have it all. This mahogany tenor is an eight string ukulele! Much like a mandolin it is often tuned so the notes are doubled up giving the instrument a chorus type sound. The double strings can be tuned the same note or in octaves (as in a low G and high G). This bundle also comes with a hard case, polishing cloth, Austin Bazaar DVD, and a tuner. This uke is on the lower end of prices for an 8 string. The more strings the more bracing and work necessary so that will increase the cost. However the price and build are clearly not a problem as many reviewers love the Kala KA-8. Be careful buying an 8 string uke or you may find yourself soon dabbling in mandolins! 😆

User Reviews

“This gorgeous ukulele has a wonderful tone. When I was buying this my plan was to just upgrade but this 8 string caught my eye. I am surprised more people do not play 8 string ukuleles; they are amazing!”

Betty R.

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“I play occasional open mics with another uke player and I wanted another size to compliment a concert. Well what works better than a tenor? A tenor with double course strings! Our duo sounds better than ever now.”

Dewey Flood

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Resonator

Gretsch G9112

As mentioned before there are a variety of ukulele styles out there, not just the usual soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. Just like resonator guitars this uke has a resonator built in to give it a very unique and loud sound. It really helps to stand out in a band and can fit a variety of genres these days. It is laminated wood, as a solid resonator would be about twice the price. If you are looking for a professional ukulele with a little something special, try it with a resonator! Also included is a gig bag, however it would be wise to buy a proper hard case. Instruments like resonator ukuleles are not made in large quantities so it is not uncommon for them to be unavailable at times, save for in used markets.

User Review

“After playing many Dobro’s and resonator guitars I decided I wanted a resolele. This Gretsch was the perfect buy, compared to other resonators it is a great price with a great sound.”

John J.

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“I bought this for my grandkid, she already has two and I wanted her third to be different. Well I hit the jackpot with the best gift ever. It is now her favorite.”

John Bradford

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FAQ

What Are Some of the Best Ukulele Brands for Intermediate Players?

The best brands for professional ukuleles are usually going to be the most established ones out there. Kala, Luna, Córdoba, Lanikai, Oscar Schmidt, these are the tried and true uke brands. You will even see other major instrument makers getting in on quality ukuleles, guitar makers like Fender and Gretsch. It is a massive market and there is no shortage of ukulele builders. Most people will decide to buy more than one ukulele, as they are so very fun to play.
Generally when buying your second or third uke you have decided to spend more as you search for the best ukulele for intermediate players.

Remember you always have the option to go with a small builder when spending on a more professional ukulele. Just because someone doesn’t have a famous brand name doesn’t mean they aren’t amazing luthiers. One of the upsides of buying from a smaller no name company is you can often make special requests in your build. It will cost more, but it may be worth it so you can have that perfect ukulele. The best way to research the lesser known makers is to join social media groups of uke players and ask who some of the best ukulele luthiers are.

How Much Should You Spend on an Advanced Ukulele?

Price is the main factor when advancing in better quality instruments, you will need to fork out over $200 easily to get a uke that sings and has fantastic sound projection. In a way the one thing you want to be careful about is spending too much. After all the ukulele is a very simple and basic item to make compared to other musical instruments. There is no major tension, so it doesn’t require much reinforcement. There is less to intonate, and no complicated springs, and a much smaller area to put designs on. Yes if you want certain rare woods as your soundboard than that will make the price jump. In general a great price range for a fantastic uke is $200-$500 (read our reviews: “Best ukes under $200” and “Best ukes under $500”). If you really want to spend a lot more money than your best bet would be contacting different outfits and see who can build you something custom made. It may seem crazy to find a professional ukulele for sale in the $200 range, but often these ukes perform well on stage and in recording.

What Am I Forgetting Before I Buy?

One other major expense that you must keep in mind is a case! When buying even the best beginner ukulele its not necessary to have a hard case. A simple soft case to keep dust and scratches off suffices. However, if you spend a ton of dough on any musical item, it is absolutely important that you have a hard case. Flight cases are often the most durable and needed if you plan to travel with your uke. Hard cases like flight cases can be very pricey, so expect a ukulele case to put you back another $100. The last thing you want to do is buy a professional ukulele and not have it protected! Some cases also come with humidifiers (or you can buy them separate). A humidifier helps protect the wood of a real high quality ukulele. 

Owning a more expensive instrument will require upkeep and maintenance.
When you save the extra money and take the time to buy a more professional ukulele there is more than just the case for potential added cost. Owning a more expensive instrument will require upkeep and maintenance. Also when things do go wrong you will want someone who knows what they’re doing to look at it. Luckily even the best ukuleles for intermediate players and even professional players are not astronomical in cost like other instruments. However, expect the more you spend the more you will want to protect that little four stringed investment.

So there you have it, you now have seen some of the best ukuleles for intermediate players. The best course of action would be to keep researching a little more. Keep notes on which models have what you like, and narrow down your list with the best pros and cons. Don’t rush to buy and when you finally do make sure they will give it a professional setup and most of all don’t forget the case! Once you have it take very good care of it, as the wood ages over the years it will just sound better and better.

About author View all posts

Shawn Lockhart

Multi-instrumentalist musician, composer & audio engineer. I'm playing most music instruments and I create music of different genres. More then 10 yr of experience in music production. My primary instrument is guitar, but I also play the piano, ukelele, drums and various percussion instruments. I am the Music Man. 🤟

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