If you have the financial means or perhaps saved enough to have $500 to put towards a ukulele, then consider yourself very lucky. This is really the sweet spot of budget for some of the best value ukuleles. Of course you could spend way more than $500, like $1000 or even $1500 and on. If you have that budget then go ahead, but you will be hitting a high point where the ukes are really not getting any better. It’s a basic instrument and even solid woods are only X amount of dollars. When you get into prices above $500 you will likely be paying for more ornamentation, art, and maybe even precious metals or better pearl inlay. At that high of a price point it’s not the sound that’s really changing. (The main reason to be spending 1K or more on a ukulele will be if it is vintage and has some historical significance, as in a collector’s item. Otherwise too high a price is not justified.)
Don’t forget that you can buy a great uke for even around $200, they are much cheaper, but still good. We also have an article on Best Ukulele Under $200 in case you find the $500 price point to be too high. And if you really shop cleverly, like getting rid of bells and whistles and accessories even the best value ukulele can be found for roughly $200. But anyway we have come here today to look at the top ukuleles, the ones that cost about half your months’ rent! Without further ado here are some of the best ukuleles under $500.
|Martin C1K||Solid koa concert|
Hardwood neck dovetail neck joint
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|Kiwaya FS-5G||Hawaiian tone wood soprano|
Padded bag, pitch pipe, and strap
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|Kala KA-SA-T||Solid acacia tenor|
GraphTech NuBone nut and saddle
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|Kala KA-RES-BRS||Mahogany tenor|
Chrome or brass cover
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|Martin 110XKUKE||Laminate koa soprano|
Strata bond neck and morado fingerboard
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|Kremona Mari||Solid mahogany tenor|
Authentic bone and nut saddle
Wooden archtop hard shell case
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Kiwaya FS-5G Ukulele
KIWAYA FS-5G Soprano
This is not as well-known ukulele company, but Kiwaya makes one of the best midrange ukuleles. This soprano is made in Japan with Hawaiian tone woods. They are laminate, but somehow by the end of the construction that doesn’t seem to be noticeable. Of course it comes with a gig bag, but it is wise to get a real hard case. Unlike cheaper ukulele descriptions you will notice Kiwaya isn’t too wordy. They don’t even tell you that much in their product description, or even explain how they work magic with laminate wood. That’s because they are well known in Japan as precision made ukuleles. If you want great sound, no fuss, and the best concert ukulele under 300, try out this great FS-5G.
“If you notice the headstock says Famous instead of Kiwaya, this is an instrument made by Kiwaya. Despite not being solid wood it sounds much better than my all solid wood Martins, I am convinced it is the tone woods.”Jennifer
“Everything about this ukulele is fantastic, the action, build, and sound projection. How this can be laminate wood is a puzzle to me. I love it and would highly recommend this uke.”Christopher
Martin 110XKUKE Ukulele
This is the first uke in the Martin X series, as usual Martin keeps it simple. Yes, it is made of a high pressure laminate of koa, but still this soprano sounds wonderful. This special laminate keeps the uke wood protected from humidity and temperature changes. It also has a strata bond neck with morado fingerboard and black binding. This is one of the best value ukuleles in the Martin line, and that is a very sought after brand. Martin was famous for ukuleles many years ago (along with guitars of course!) and this is one way to get a chance to have such a classic uke. There is no artwork or special designs other than the logo. It is THE classic Hawaiian soprano ukulele look.
“The build quality is superb as I would expect from Martin the action is perfect and it sounds great. It is definitely laminate as it looks a little like flooring, but you would never know with such a great sound.”anonymous
“I’ve always wanted a Martin ukulele ever since I saw Adam Sandler with one in the 90’s movie Mixed Nuts. Finally with a more affordable ukulele like this I can make my Martin dream come true.”Ivan J.
Martin C1K Ukulele
Martin C1K Concert
In The Beatles song “Glass Onion” John Lennon sings the lyrics “trying to make a dovetail joint.” Many listeners might not have known that a dovetail joint is a woodworking technique in a connection that greatly improves tensile strength. The C1K has this along with solid Hawaiian koa on the top, back, and sides, which will give it a beautiful sound. It also comes with a gig bag, but at this price for a ukulele it is highly advisable to buy a hard case. Besides the wonderful koa wood this instrument doesn’t have many frills or accessories. That’s ok though, you are dealing with Martin, their ukuleles have been loved for years. Not only does Martin make one of the best ukes in this price range, they make some of the best instruments out there!
“Wow this concert uke is so very resonant the sound just carries! The action is so low it is the easiest instrument ever to play! It is quite the sum of dough, but worth it if you have the money.anonymous
“There is no better wood than koa for a ukulele, it is the standard and best tone wood of all. Hats off to Martin for building a phenomenal uke.”Ronald A.
Kala KA-SA-T Ukulele
This solid acacia tenor is a very lovely ukulele, the wood grain and herringbone purfling give it a pricey look. Normally ukes use mahogany but this acacia gives the uke a different sound and darker wood tone. It has a maple binding, a walnut fingerboard, and GraphTech and NuBone bridge and saddle. Kala is known for its sound and quality and this particular Kala is the best tenor ukulele under $500. You are paying for no accessories, no case, only the uke is what matters here. If you have the budget to pay for the KA-SA-T you will know if it’s your choice the second you see it! At these prices don’t forget to buy a case!!!
“I have purchased multiple Kala’s and a Luna; all beginner type models. I finally save up and buy a good tenor ukulele and wow what a difference. It is going to be hard to sing with this uke because after each strum I am speechless!”Jason
“This is a professional sounding uke. It has no fancy artwork, no accessories. It is just simply a fantastically built tenor ukulele. Buy a hard case immediately so it doesn’t get scratched or harmed. I can’t wait to hear what it sounds like years from now.”Alexander
Kremona Mari Ukulele
Kremona Mari Tenor
This ukulele sometimes doesn’t meet the criteria of best ukuleles under $500, because this beauty can be sold for a little more! However this company clearly goes the extra mile with this solid mahogany tenor ukulele with a matte finish. Unlike other ukulele tuning machines the Kremona’s are gold. It also has an authentic bone nut and saddle and is handcrafted in Europe. (Years ago animal bone or ivory was used, but now it is mostly simulated. Supposedly real bone sounds better.) It also comes with a deluxe wooden archtop hard shell case. This ukulele has the look of a pricey old world instrument. Almost as if it was one of the early Portuguese instruments that inspired the ukulele! The Kremona gives the musician the appearance that they are a classically trained musical genius.
“Not one defect on the entire ukulele, it is near perfect, especially the intonation. It was worth every last penny and I will be distraught if anything ever happens to my Mari.”Patricia
“An incredibly handcrafted instrument, this is one of the best ukuleles out there on the market. Strangely this uke sounds better with Martin fluorocarbons than the more popular Aquila’s. The case is also gorgeous.”Dewitt P.
Kala KA-RES-BRS Ukulele
Kala KA-RES-BRS Tenor Resonator
This Kala has a lightweight aluminum resonator cone in a mahogany body. Resonator ukes are not cheap, making this one of the best ukuleles under $300. It also has a pickup as it is an acoustic-electric, so you will have lots of volume with this ukulele! It is laminate wood and not as high quality as other ukes in this price range, but the metal cone adds to the cost. The little cover for the resonator can either be brass or chrome. Resonator ukuleles aren’t usually bought by beginners, but when the resonator bug hits this is the ukulele to try out. It has no accessories or case so be sure to buy the case at least. Because they are not as common you will find times when they are out of stock. Especially as more people discover them and try them out!
“This acoustic has a very clean resonant sound; it really adds a twist to the normal tone of the ukulele. I’m glad I went for something a little unique in the uke world.”Graham C.
“As usual Kala has done it again. I have quite the ukulele collection building, but I had yet to get a resonator uke. The ones with solid wood were a little out of my price range, but this one was perfect. You can’t even tell it is laminate wood anyway.”Scott
So there you have it, some wonderful ukuleles at a price that, well let’s face it, at a price that might hurt. If you are a serious player or professional stage musician than it is worth that pain to have a sweet sounding “jumping flea” (as the ukulele word itself roughly translates too). Just remember that the best midrange ukulele is not going to require as much care as a super expensive solid koa wood made instrument. If you spend $500 on your uke than you need to do more than just learn how to play some chords and tunes. You will need to learn how to take care of the wood that way years later it is looking and sounding great. And again you will have to budget at least another $100 for a great hard case, preferably one that is suitable for flying (as those are some heavy duty cases!). Just remember when spending this much on a ukulele (or any instrument) to make sure you take your time and do your research. Don’t rush into a decision, in time you will find a great uke.
Musical instruments are not a great investment for return of money, let’s face it it’s hard to sell a used instrument, even a great one, in this market. The real investment is in sound, as that solid wood ages you will find every year it gets better and better! This price range of instruments if taken care of will not just last you but can be passed down to the next generation. So it is worth pulling the trigger if you have the budget, choose one of these best ukuleles under $500 above and you will be the happiest uke player on the block!