When buying any instrument it is always wise to spend the right amount, if you go too low there is a good chance it will not be a playable instrument.
Luckily ukes have always been rather affordable, in fact if you look at vintage ads and adjust the prices for inflation, things haven’t changed much. There has always been a middle range price that will usually leave you with the best ukulele to leave a smile on your face. Of course it’s still true the more you spend the better chance you have of finding a high quality ukulele.
Top 10 ukuleles
|Kala KA-15S||Mahogany soprano|
GraphTech NuBone saddle
|Buy on Amazon|
|Lohanu Lu-C||Sapele/mahogany concert|
Bundle with case and tuner
|Buy on Amazon|
|Oscar Schmidt OU5||Koa concert|
Bundle with gig bag
|Buy on Amazon|
|Luna Tattoo||Mahogany concert|
|Buy on Amazon|
|Kala KA-C||Mahogany concert with white binding|
Silver nickel frets
GraphTech NuBone saddle and nut
|Buy on Amazon|
|Cordoba 15CM||Mahogany concert|
Abalone style rosette
|Buy on Amazon|
|Donner DUC-1||Mahogany concert|
Clip-on tuner, gig bag, and strap
|Buy on Amazon|
|Kala MK-B||Mahogany baritone|
Gig bag, tuner, strap, online lessons, Austin Bazaar DVD
|Buy on Amazon|
|Luna Vintage||Spruce soprano|
Gig bag, tuner, and Austin Bazaar DVD
|Buy on Amazon|
|Lanikai LU-21T||Nato tenor|
Gig bag, clip-on tuner, Austin Bazaar DVD
|Buy on Amazon|
All of the examples above are in the best ukulele brands. Now we will dive into some reasons as to why these are all the best ukuleles to buy. Keep in mind some of the differences at this price can be very basic and, in the end, it is little preferences that may help you decide on a final choice.
Kala KA-15S Ukulele
Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano
Kala has a pretty great reputation for the best ukuleles to buy. This is the usual mahogany body, but a little different with a walnut fingerboard (perhaps because of rosewood restrictions). It has a nice design around the sound hole, usually lower priced models don’t have any graphics or images besides their brand name. If you are looking for a great starter soprano, the KA-15S is a good ukulele. It won’t have the greatest projection and ring to it, but it will give you one of the best ukuleles to buy in that price range. Buying a Kala is rarely a bad decision.
“As an elementary educator I bought 25 of these for my classroom. The Kala is very durable and the Aquila strings sound beautiful. The most impotent part is it stays in tune which is necessary when playing in a classroom setting! Whether buying for yourself or for students I highly recommend it.Boris M.
“I bought this for my dad as a holiday gift as he needed a new hobby. While it’s not the greatest quality it is perfect for beginners. The case is sturdy and ok quality, all it needed was a tuner. A great uke for first time players.”Justine W.
Luna Vintage Ukulele
Luna Vintage Mahogany Soprano
This very simple and affordable soprano is made with a laminated spruce top and mahogany body. It comes with a gig bag, tuner, polishing cloth, and Austin Bazaar instructional DVD. This fretboard is still rosewood unlike the common walnut that has been seen lately. For the price it isn’t just plain wood, but a unique Luna design around the sound hole. It is near the bottom range of ukulele prices, so you will want to be sure that you check and make sure it has no major flaws. If you want a little extra on design for a lower price ukulele than Luna is probably one of the best ukulele brands to stick with.
“I already have a tenor, a couple concerts, and a soprano. Being no stranger to the ukulele I really like this, it sounds wonderful and looks nice (the artwork being one of the factors that made me buy it). This Luna is in my top three favorites!”Cristian L.
“I purchased this for my ten year old daughter, and she loved it, it was her favorite gift! Everything needed is all ready to go in the bundle. Not only did she love it, I ended up buying me a tenor ukulele for myself!”Finley A.
This concert ukulele is made of laminated sapele and mahogany. It comes in a bundle with a soft case, a strap, strap buttons, picks, a string for wall hanging, digital tuner, and video lessons. Now that is a lot of accessories! It is a very nice looking ukulele; it has the look of a higher end model. Of course if you don’t need all of the accessories than that can be a downside. Otherwise this is a good price range to be shopping in. The Lohanu is a good quality ukulele and a worthy purchase.
“I love this ukulele, so pretty and well made. The sound is great, I can just sit and strum single strings in the chords all day, I never get tired of it. All the accessories really helped me get started too.”Maia Barnett
“This uke has a loud and bright sound, nearly as good as a Kala I also own. However it was not setup out of the box, it took a couple tunings before it stayed. I am told this is normal, but I didn’t realize at first. The action is ok, no fret sharp edges, overall a good quality uke.”Coach
Oscar Schmidt OU5 Ukulele
The OU5 is a concert made of koa wood. This top quality ukulele includes a bundle with a gig bag, tuner, DVD instruction, online lessons, and even a polishing cloth. It may be a little out of the beginner’s price range, but it is one of the best ukuleles for such price. Again if you don’t need the accessories than the extra money may not be worth it. A note from the author, I bought an OU5 back in 2007 when music stores carried only a few ukes and the craze hadn’t hit. To this day my OU5 has been used at shows and in sold music, I truly got my money’s worth! Oscar Schmidt is not only a good brand of ukulele, but of many other instruments as well.
“I decided to learn ukulele at 55, after giving up on many other instruments. I love this beautiful concert and it has no flaws. This Oscar Schmidt is finally the instrument that got me playing real tunes!”Andreas Beltran
“The best beginner ukulele on the market, a fantastic clean sound with great intonation and no buzzing. The gig bag is well made, and the tuner works perfect, couldn’t be happier.”Rylie G.
Luna Tattoo Ukulele
Luna Tattoo Concert
This concert ukulele is a laminated mahogany with satin finish and walnut fretboard. It has ornamentation on it unlike other ones of this price range. The only extras are a gig bag. Along with the fancy design it has stylized sharks’ teeth as fret markers. It is one of the best ukulele brands out there and generally gets great reviews. The one downside is some of your money is going more to cosmetic features. Which for some may not be a downside, as it is an appealing and aesthetic design. Luna is known for having Hawaiian type monochromatic tribal artwork. For those who want something nice looking but not the higher price of other ukulele models, look to Luna.
“This thing is so much fun, and it sounds so heavenly. I have to say I love it. I decided to get the concert over the soprano and who would have known my first ukulele would get me so addicted! Now I want a soprano. And a tenor!”Hermione
“My 15 year old daughter bought this to upgrade her current ukulele. I didn’t expect it to be much of an upgrade but, She couldn’t be happier! Best purchase I made all year.”Alex L.
Kala KA-C Ukulele
This is another top ukulele for the Kala brand, a concert mahogany with a satin finish and white binding. It frankly looks more expensive than it really is. The Kala concert also has the well-known GraphTech NuBone nut and saddle and the beloved Aquila strings (the GraphTech is a composite and the NuBone is meant to simulate animal bones like they used to use). This Kala comes with no extras, all you are getting is the instrument. It is a very pretty ukulele and getting into the right price range for which ukulele to buy. The only real downsides to it are if you want a different size or perhaps another style.
“I have had this Kala for about a year now and after playing other a couple other ukes and sizes I can say that this concert is the best. Little did I know I got lucky. If I were buying a ukulele as a gift for another, I would purchase this concert again.”Buzz
“Lovely little instrument. The build is solid and neat, I was worried about a laminate uke, but I was worried for nothing! This Kala will put a smile on your face. It’s fabulous!”anonymous
Cordoba 15CM Ukulele
Cordoba’s are one of the best ukulele brands, and this concert with mahogany top, back, and sides is a great uke. The finish is satin with an abalone rosette with ivoried design around the sound hole. It doesn’t have any special accessories, whistles or bells, but it has a very nice sound and it looks like a more expensive ukulele with the abalone. Every penny is going towards the build and tone. It is right in the perfect price range and the only downsides are if you want a different size or are not happy with the design.
“I wanted to buy the Cordoba as it was in the best ukulele brands list. The strings took a while to stay in tune but after a week it was stretched and keeping in tune. A family member happens to have a cheap soprano, so I wasn’t expecting much, boy was I wrong. You get what you pay for. If you increase our budget by just a little you will have a great uke.”Johnathan Davis
“I have always wanted to play a musical instrument, and I am so glad I picked this starter ukulele. Even when playing in minor keys it puts a smile on my face!”Gretchen
Donner DUC-1 Ukulele
This brand may not be as well-known as other brands, but clearly from the reviews many folks are buying it and happy. Donner is very similar to other good brands of ukuleles out there. It is a laminated mahogany concert uke and comes with a gig bag, clip on tuner, strap buttons and a strap. It comes with Aquila strings which can make a bad ukulele sound good. The fretboard is Indian rosewood and it has a very simple rosette design around the sound hole. The price is a little low and remember at the lower costs you will be dealing with more potential cosmetic or sound issues. Clearly though many users of the Donner are satisfied.
“As a complete beginner this uke is the perfect size for me, I tried the soprano and it was too small. I wasn’t expecting much for the price, but the sound is great. It is a little frustrating at first to keep it in tune, but just keep at it and eventually the tuning stays.”anonymous
“Amazing, my granddaughter wanted a ukulele and I was afraid to spend too much on something she may not end up liking. Well not only does she loves her Donner concert; I bought her another tenor and she is ecstatic!”Andrew H.
Lanikai LU-21T Ukulele
Lanikai LU-21 Soprano
Lanikai has been around for a while and is one of the best ukulele brands that are affordable. This particular tenor has a rosewood fingerboard and the body and sides are nato wood, sometimes referred to as “eastern mahogany.” It is a very simple ukulele with no fancy designs or frills. It is right about at the best entry price for a good quality ukulele in the tenor size. It also comes with a gig bag, clip on tuner, and an Austin Bazaar instructional DVD. If you are looking for ukulele recommendations for great entry level tenors, you will do ok buying the LU-21T.
“For the money this uke can be beat. Yeah, the strings took a little longer than normal to settle in but be patient and it will get there. Tenors are usually much more expensive so if you want a good ukulele under $100 this is the brand to stick to.”Lena N.
“As a guitar player I wanted to get my son into playing an instrument, since the guitar is so big, we decided on a ukulele. When looking I felt the soprano and concert was now too small (like Goldilocks!) so I went with the tenor. Now I need to get a Lanikai as I can’t keep borrowing my sons!”Jared Prince
Kala MK-B Ukulele
This mahogany body baritone has a walnut fingerboard, and once again Kala is well-known as one of the best ukulele brands out there. A baritone at this price range is quite a deal, years ago they used to be hard to find for under $200. Now many builders carry various baritone ukulele models. That’s one reason why this is a very basic looking uke with no frills, to keep the cost down. It does come with a tuner, gig bag, Austin Bazaar instructional DVD, even a strap and strap buttons to hold it. Usually straps aren’t necessary for ukes, but maybe it will help with a baritone. It has great reviews and if you are really itching to get a baritone then try the Kala MK-B out!
“As a Hawaiian I have been playing ukulele forever. I admittedly bought this uke as a gift for a beginner. I didn’t except much, even felt a little guilty for paying so little. Well I was wrong, once the strings are set and staying tuned it sounds incredible. I was very surprised.”Gordon H.
“This baritone sounds lovely for the price; I have a soprano and was so desperate for a bari that I pulled the buy trigger too soon. Luckily my frugal behavior was rewarded. While the sound is great, the build is not meant to stand up to a lot of rough treatment so take it easy when playing.”anonymous
So there you have some simple pointers for knowing how to find good ukuleles vs top ukuleles. Your main determining factor will of course be budget, take that number and start looking. Regardless of the number you will find something that works for you.
It is important to choose the right ukulele size because the wrong size can make the ukulele difficult to play or learn . The four sizes of ukulele are soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. The soprano is the smallest and the baritone is the largest. Read our comparisons: Tenor Vs Soprano, Concert vs Tenor, Soprano Vs Concert. With some research and patience you will be on your way to finding the best ukulele for you!
There really isn’t a definitive answer to this question as everyone has different preferences. However, some of the more popular ukulele brands include Kala, Luna, Lanikai, Oscar Schmidt, Lohanu, Cordoba, Donner.
The best ukulele is the one that suits your needs and playing style the best. There are many different types and brands of ukuleles, so it is important to do your research to find the one that is right for you.