The Top 10 Ukuleles – Finding the Best Ukes on the Market

Best-Ukuleles

Looking for a new ukulele? Whether you’ve been enchanted by the sweet Hawaiian beach tones, or attracted by the playability and portability, you’ve come to the right place –we’re crazy on ukes here at GuitarFella!

Since it was developed in Portugal in the late 19th Century, the ukulele has grown in popularity, although it’s recently seen a bit of a renaissance, and these daysis one of the coolest instruments to be seen with.

While it’s perfect for everyone from children and beginners to experienced performers, there’s lots questions you can ask when buying a new ukulele – which are the brands, what are the sizes, what should you look out for, and how much to spend?

To help you narrow in on the perfect uke for you, we’ve compiled a chart of some of the top ukuleles to suit any budget– from affordable beauties to premium players from some of the best known uke brands including Lanikai, Cordoba, Kala, and Luna.

Below the chart, you can check out our complete guide to the ukulele – learn everything you need to know to help you make an informed decision.

Note that, in the chart, we will highlight the size of uke (concert, soprano, tenor or baritone), although you will usually be able to find an alternative size of the same model elsewhere on the market. For the sake of simplicity, we also only focus on four-stringed models.

The Top 10 Ukuleles:

ImageUkuleles / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Lanikai TunaUke SMTU-C Concert Ukulele Lanikai TunaUke SMTU-C Concert Ukulele

Total of 4.83/5   4.83 Stars

A gorgeous, innovative ukulele, which deserves the top spot!

+ - Cordoba 32T Tenor Ukulele Cordoba 32T Tenor Ukulele

Total of 4.83/5   4.83 Stars

Classic style and tone from a beautiful tenor.

+ - Kala KA-ASAC-B Baritone Ukulele Kala KA-ASAC-B Baritone Ukulele

Total of 4.78/5   4.78 Stars

Awesome sound with this delightful baritone.

+ - Luna Dolphin Concert Ukulele Luna Dolphin Concert Ukulele

Total of 4.75/5   4.75 Stars

Undoubtedly one of the best-looking ukes on this list.

+ - Fender Nohea Tenor Ukulele Fender Nohea Tenor Ukulele

Total of 4.75/5   4.75 Stars

Real Fender style and playability with the Nohea.

+ - Ibanez UEW15E Concert Ukulele Ibanez UEW15E Concert Ukulele

Total of 4.78/5   4.78 Stars

Ibanez add their own twist to this excellent concert uke.

+ - Kala KA-PWS Soprano Ukulele Kala KA-PWS Soprano Ukulele

Total of 4.72/5   4.72 Stars

Pacific Walnut gives this affordable uke its unique look.

+ - EleUke Electric Peanut Ukulele EleUke Electric Peanut Ukulele

Total of 4.75/5   4.75 Stars

A perfect electric travel uke for under $100!

+ - Bondi Ukulele Starter Kit Bondi Ukulele Starter Kit

Total of 4.85/5   4.85 Stars

So much value on offer with this incredible bundle.

+ - Lohanu Ukulele Bundle Lohanu Ukulele Bundle

Total of 4.78/5   4.78 Stars

Great uke, great price, great bundle!

Lanikai TunaUke SMTU-C Concert Ukulele

Lanikai TunaUke SMTU-C Concert Ukulele

Body And Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.9 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars

A ukulele sitting at the top of our chart needs to deliver on sound, style and playability, while having that wow factor – and the TunaUke SMTU-C from Lanikai delivers on all fronts! The main attraction is the TunaUke technology, which makes adjusting individual string intonation a simple task, resulting in a ukulele with pro-levels of versatility and sound quality. But this innovation is backed up by substance, as the SMTU-C offers beautiful looks. There’s a concert body made from spalted solid Hawaiian Mango wood used on the top, with a laminate of the same wood used on the back and sides. There’s also a very playable hand-oiled mahogany neck, and quality hardware – as we highlight in the full review of the Lanikai SMTU-C.

Cordoba 32T Tenor Ukulele

Cordoba 32T Tenor Ukulele

Body And Neck:4.9 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars

Looking for a ukulele with huge quality, style and tone? Cordoba is usually the brand to deliver, as this 32T from their higher-end 30 Series proves. Using traditional Spanish building methods, this uke features a tenor body, made with solid Sitka spruce on the top and solid Indian rosewood on the back and sides. There’s also a premium-feeling mahogany neck, with a rosewood fretboard, 18 frets and slightly wider nut width, which is great for players with larger hands. Sound-wise it’s excellent, and projects very nicely. Another plus point isthat it comes with a top-notch Cordoba polyfoam case for storage and protection when travelling. Our full review of the Cordoba 32T gives you all the information you need to know.

Kala KA-ASAC-B Baritone Ukulele

Kala KA-ASAC-B Baritone Ukulele

Body And Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.9 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars

With concert and tenor ukuleles such a popular size, there’s only room for one baritone ukulele on our chart, and that’s the beautiful KA-ASAC-B from Kala. The top, back and sides of the baritone body are made from solid acacia, and built with adept craftsmanship, making this uke feel worthy of its higher-end price tag. The impressive detailing also goes a long way to making this ukulele shine, with herringbone purfling and pearl vine inlays – as does the smooth mahogany neck. As we elaborate in the full review of Kala’s KA-ASAC-B, the sound quality of this ukulele is wonderful, with a warm and deep tone. The arched back and solid wood construction also ensures it’s a big singer!

Luna Dolphin Concert Ukulele

Luna Dolphin Concert Ukulele

Body And Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.7 Stars

For an instrument with the wow factor, you usually don’t have to look much further than Luna Guitars, who specialize in producing beautifully-designed instruments worth admiring. Their Dolphin concert ukulele is certainly one of these, with an aquatic theme that ticks all the boxes. Giving the illusion of waves is the trans-azure finished flamed maple top, that sits on a laminated maple body, with a trio of dolphins making up the striking soundhole rosette –overall a gorgeous design. There’s great playability and the naturally bright tone can be amplified nicely via the fitted Luna UK-T2 preamp and pickup system, with volume and 2-band EQ controls – as we highlight in the full review of Luna’s Dolphin.

Fender Nohea Tenor Ukulele

Fender Nohea Tenor Ukulele

Body And Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.8 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars

As used by Train’s Jimmy Stafford, the Nohea tenor is one of a small selection of ukuleles on offer from the iconic electric guitar brand Fender, and one that sits in our chart with ukuleles under $300. Spotting that it’s a Fender is easy, with that distinctive Telecaster headstock sitting on the very playable mahogany neck, which features a rosewood fretboard and 19 frets. The full-size tenor body is very attractive (which is appropriate, considering that Nohea means ‘handsome’ in Hawaiian!), and is made from a highly-glossed koa laminate, with a sparkly acrylic abalone rosette and binding. Be sure to check out our complete review of the Fender Nohea for all the details.

Ibanez UEW15E Concert Ukulele

Ibanez UEW15E Concert Ukulele

Body And Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars

Just like the Fender Nohea above, this Ibanez ukulele sports a little rock n’ roll attitude, while delivering everything a concert ukulele needs. This sub-$200 ukulele offers great value – in fact, it’s hard to fault. Featuring Ibanez’s EW Series shape, there’s a concert-size body which looks great in an open-pore flamed mahogany, along with some nice detailing and binding across the uke. It’s lovely to play, with the mahogany neck feeling sleek and fast in the hands – as you’d expect from an Ibanez instrument. As we mention in the full review of the Ibanez UEW15E, the electronics are also pretty good for the price, with Ibanez’s UK300-T pickup and preamp, featuring 2-band EQ controls and a built-in tuner.

Kala KA-PWS Soprano Ukulele

Kala KA-PWS Soprano Ukulele

Body And Neck:4.8 Stars
Hardware:4.7 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.8 Stars

The first soprano ukulele on our chart, and another which falls into the sub-$200 category –although it looks like it could be priced much higher. The KA-PWS features a body made entirely from Pacific Walnut, with a super grain and elegant detailing – the black binding and satin finish in particular enhance the look further. The hand-feel is great, with a mahogany neck, a rosewood or walnut fretboard, and 12 frets, all in the clear. For a more affordable instrument, the craftsmanship is great, while the tone on offer is bright and clear – everything you’d want from a soprano uke. All the details you need can be found in the full review of Kala’s KA-PWS.

EleUke Electric Peanut Ukulele

EleUke Electric Peanut Ukulele

Body And Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:4.9 Stars

Unique? Yes. Travel-friendly? Yes. Affordable? Oh yes! At under $100, the Electric Peanut from EleUke is one of those that instantly feels underpriced. It’s definitely a bit of a wildcard, with a peanut-shaped concert-size body made of solid, satin-finished mahogany. However, it’s light and comfortable to hold, and offers a full-size mahogany neck with 13 frets. As the full review of the Electric Peanut confirms, this uke features a piezo pickup and preamp for easy headphone playing, while there’s also Bluetooth connectivity allowing you to easily hook up to a smartphone. The Peanut is robust and durable enough for travel, and includes a nylon gig bag – great value for under a hundred bucks.

Bondi Ukulele Starter Kit

Bondi Ukulele Starter Kit

Body And Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:5 Stars
Sound:4.7 Stars
Value:5 Stars

The first of two bundles on this list is one that offers incredible value and is very much targeted at beginners. The kit offers everything you need to get started with – and master –the ukulele. However, the ukulele itself is also great, and worth the price tag alone. It’s an attractive full-size concert model, made entirely from laminated Sapele, with a rosewood fretboard and 18 frets. The rest of the package includes a brilliant protective case, a clip-ondigital tuner, a strap, felt plectrums and spare strings, not to mention a few cool extras. As we highlight in the complete Bondi Bundle review, this kit includes lots of instructional material too, including a free Skype ukulele lesson.

Lohanu Ukulele Bundle

Lohanu Ukulele Bundle

Body And Neck:4.7 Stars
Hardware:4.8 Stars
Sound:4.6 Stars
Value:5 Stars

For beginners, it’s hard to go wrong with this exceptional package from Lohanu – offering pretty much everything you need to get up and running on the ukulele. The main attraction of this bundle is a lovely laminated Sapele-bodied ukulele, with either a soprano, concert or tenor size. It’s an attractive and highly playable ukulele, with a nice grain and protective ABS binding. It also sounds great, and the arched back helps with the projection. Aside from the ukulele, this kit comes with a nice, padded Lohanu gigbag, a strap, a clip-on digital tuner, plectrums and even an extra set of Aquila strings. Want all the info on the Lohanu Ukulele Bundle? Check out the full review here.

Remember that the chart above is certainly not a comprehensive list – there are hundreds of quality ukes out there. However, our selections offer a good taste of what’s hot in the current market, across all price ranges. If you walk away with any of the ukes on the list above, you’d have made a decent choice.

What is a Ukulele?

That’s a good question!

To the general passer-by, they may say, ‘A ukulele is a small guitar’, but they’d be wrong in reducing it to that –it’s a completely different instrument. Although the two do share similarities…

Ukulele vs Guitar: The Similarities

On the face of it, we can tell why someone may confuse a ukulele for being a miniature guitar. In fact, the general anatomy of a ukulele will be very familiar to anyone who has played a guitar. Whatever size uke, the instrument will feature a body, a neck, a fretboard, a headstock, as well as a nut, bridge, saddle, strings and tuners. Like a guitar, a uke will sometimes include electronics, in the shape of an undersaddle pickup and a preamp with various volume and tone controls.

Ukulele vs Guitar: The Differences

However, there are more differences similarities. Firstly – in most cases – a ukulele will have just four strings, compared to the six you’d find on a typical guitar. They will also have less frets. From soprano to baritone, you may find anywhere between 12 and 21 frets – much less than standard guitars, which will generally have between 19 and 24 frets.

Ultimately this means that ukuleles are slightly easier to learn and play than guitars, and require less pressure to play due to the lower string tension – so they are brilliant for beginner.

Another key difference is that ukuleles sound much brighter and happier than a guitar. Of course, a tinkly soprano uke will sound different to a deeper tenor uke, but all have a sound that’s easily distinguished from a guitar. This is half down to the size of a uke compared to a guitar, but also because they are tuned differently (typically G-C-E-A, although a baritone ukulele is the exception).

Finally, be aware that a ukulele will usually cost less than a guitar. Obviously, it’s not always the case, but you will find that generally a decent entry-level uke may cost $40, whereas a decent entry-level guitar would be nearer $100. At the higher end, $500 would get you a great uke, but you may need to spend double that to pick up a guitar with similar woods, tone, craftsmanship and electronics.

Finding the Right Size for You

Browsing this article and chart, you will have gathered that there are four primary ukulele sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.

You can find others, such as the miniature pocket ukes as well as hefty contrabass ukuleles, but the four sizes listed above are the most popular and, as such, the main focus of both the current market and our charts.

While you can find out much more about the individual sizes on their respective pages, here they are in a nutshell:

Soprano

Of the popular sizes, the soprano ukulele is the smallest – and usually the size you’d associate with the ukulele. A soprano has a typical length of around 21”, with 12 to 15 frets, and the standard ukulele tuning of G-C-E-A. It produces the classical ukulele tone – vibrant, bright and happy! It’s great for children due to the smaller size, although adults can certainly find as much enjoyment with a soprano.

Concert

Another small ukulele, although slightly bigger than a soprano, is the concert ukulele. You’ll usually find a length of around 23”, with 15 to 18 frets, and the familiar G-C-E-A tuning. While a concert uke still offers a bright sound, it’s a little louder and richer than a soprano. It’s also excellent for beginners, as there’s a little more space to maneuver, while remaining compact.

Tenor

A tenor ukulele is bigger again – generally featuring a length of around 26”, with between 17 and 19 frets, and that traditional ukulele tuning of G-C-E-A. The larger size means that the sound is slightly deeper and fuller, and projects very well. It’s a great stage performer, and another uke that’s excellent for adult beginners due to the bigger fretboard.

Baritone

As you may have guessed by now, a baritone ukulele is the biggest of the popular sizes, with a typical length of 29”, and around 18 to 21 frets. The tuning is the same as the highest four strings of a guitar: D-G-B-E. While a baritone is less suitable for ukulele beginners, it’s great for guitarists who will be familiar with the tuning and setup. Sound-wise, a baritone provides a deeper, louder ukulele experience.

It’s worth watching the video below, which offers a very useful breakdown of the differences between the feel and sounds of the four main ukulele sizes:

The Differences Between Spending $50 and $500

In the ukulele market you can find a great uke for both $50 and $500 – although there will be huge differences in quality. Let’s briefly touch upon a few of these.

Brands making a cheap ukulele are more likely to use laminated wood in the body construction, as opposed to solid wood, which can offer a bigger sound with more character. This isn’t always the case, as some higher-end models can utilize laminates, but generally a $500 uke will be made of solid wood.

The craftsmanship on a high-end ukulele will also be much better than something in the budget market, and will come out of the box feeling as smooth as butter, with no rough spots, sharp frets or suspect electronics. Again though, some cheaper models do show off good craftsmanship, despite being mass produced.

You’ll also find that higher-priced ukuleles come with more advanced electronics, which deliver clearer, more natural sounds, with more versatile EQ controls, while you may also find some innovative features – such as Lanikai’s TunaUke system, which allows for individual string intonation adjustments.

Finally, while the tone of any ukulele is subjective, it’s pretty much guaranteed that a higher-end uke – thanks to its quality solid woods, construction and electronics – will offer a sound with more complexity, character and projection, when compared to an all-laminate budget model.

Should I Buy an Electro-Acoustic Ukulele?

It depends on your aspirations – where are you taking your ukulele?

If, like many players, you dream of playing the uke on a Hawaiian beach around a campfire for a small group of friends (that is the ukulele dream, isn’t it?), then you are unlikely to need electronics. Same goes if you are more of a bedroom player, or are travelling around, or are a complete beginner – while electronics may seem cool, when you’re just starting out they provide little more than a distraction.

If you are buying a ukulele that is destined for stage performances, then electronics are suddenly a better idea, allowing you to easily plug into an amplifier. This is also the case if you are planning to record with your uke, as you can easily hook up to recording systems.

When it comes to electronics, you can actually find some decent electro-acoustic ukes in the budget ukulele category, although the more you spend, the better quality of pickup and more versatile the preamp system. However, each brand and model varies so much, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to ukulele electronics.

Should I Buy Used or New?

Buying used is always a risk – although it certainly has its advantages. For example, providing you can get over the fact that it’s not going to be ‘box fresh’, you can find a more expensive ukulele for anything up to half the original price. So, if you are considering a high-end ukulele, buying used could work out very cost-effective.

However, if you are looking at a budget uke or something with a lower price tag, buying new is usually your best option, unless you are on a super-tight budget. You will guarantee a quality ukulele with no wear and tear, damage, or problems with electronics. Plus, you have the security of a returns and refund policy, if buying from a reputable online marketplace (such as Amazon or Guitar Center) or a trusted local guitar store.

If you are going the used route, make sure you are able to test the ukulele thoroughly before buying, especially if it has electronics. And make sure you are aware of the returns policy of wherever you are buying the instrument.

The Final Word

Buying a ukulele is a fantastic experience, although it’s just the start of a long and entertaining journey to becoming a great ukulelist.

When buying a uke in whatever price range, make sure you take your time over the decision. Compile a little shortlist of your favorite models, read reviews, watch videos and test them out, if possible. Don’t rush this important decision. (Although sometimes you will see one, and immediately know it’s the right one for you… that’s why we have so many!)

Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced player, we hope you’ve found the chart and guide useful in the hunt for your ideal ukulele.


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