Best Cheap Ukuleles

Sing-along jams and ukulele festivals are popping up all over, thanks to a trend that has music lovers picking up and playing the small, inexpensive guitarlike instruments. Quickly replacing guitars and pianos as beginners’ instruments of choice, ukuleles can be had for a song: The cheapest ones start at well under $100, and higher quality, beginner-friendly models often come in at less than $200. Whether you’re a beginner or if you’re looking for the perfect gift for a budding talent, you’ll appreciate the fact that cheap ukuleles often deliver excellent sound. They’re portable, easy to learn, and fun to play – wherever you happen to be.

 

Brand Model Package Dimensions Package Weight Rating Price
AKLOT Solid Mahogany 23” Concert Uke 2.8” x 8.5” x 23” 3.25 pounds Check
Bondi 16-Piece Ukulele Starter Kit 4.3” x 5.1” x 27.2” 3.96 pounds Check
Hola! HM-124MG+ Bundle 2.8” x 7.1” x 20.7” 14.1 ounces Check
Hola! HM-424SMM+ Bundle 5” x 10.1” x 27” 2.9 pounds Check
Hricane UKS-1 21” Ukulele Starter Bundle 2.5” x 7” x 21” 3 pounds Check

 

After comparing dozens of cheap ukuleles side-by-side, we’ve come up with this list. It is divided into the best ukuleles under $100 and the best ukuleles under $200 for added convenience.

Top 5 Ukuleles under $100

Official Kala Learn to Play Starter Kit

From one of the world’s most popular ukulele brands comes the Official Kala Learn to Play Starter Kit, which comes complete with a soprano sized Kala ukulele, a protective tote bag, and a guide to help you pick up and start playing the uke as soon as it arrives. Nice extras include the Kala ukulele app, which features a built-in tuner, plus free online lessons. The ukulele itself is beautiful, with a sweet, classic sound, open-gear tuners, and an appealing satin finish. It arrives pre-strung with Aquila Nylgut strings, which are superior to many “stock” or “generic” brands.

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Pros:

  • The online lessons are straightforward and useful, very easy to follow.
  • Quite a sturdy ukulele, and the wood is gorgeous.

Cons:

  • The case isn’t padded; it’s more of a carrying bag
  • There is nowhere to attach a neck strap

Customers Who Purchased This Said:

  • This surpassed my expectations. It is well-made with a great sound and is reasonably priced.
  • Not for a serious, professional player but as a starter instrument, this is a nice little uke.
  • Nice set. It’s not top-dollar, but still decent.

Why Should You But This Ukulele

The Official Kala Learn to Play Starter Kit is best for those who want to have fun learning, minus the added expense of in-person lessons. It’s not too expensive to give to a child, yet it is attractive enough for an adult to appreciate. The bottom line? If affordability and convenience are the first things that come to mind when you think about buying a ukulele, then this may be the best instrument for you.

Concert Ukulele Bundle, Deluxe Series by Hola! Music

A fantastic bundle at an affordable price: This Hola! concert ukulele comes complete with a padded gig bag, a useful neck strap, and a set of picks. With a warmly finished mahogany laminate body and nato neck, the ukulele features a contrasting rosewood fingerboard and bridge. Closed, high-precision diecast machine heads help you stay in tune, while a laser-engraved rosette and traditional white bindings lend an attractive appearance.

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Pros:

  • Frets are filed and bound for a smooth, comfortable feel while playing
  • Nut and compensated saddle are made with real ox bone, creating a more appealing tone

Cons:

  • You can tell that the wood is laminate
  • Guitar players might have trouble getting used to the feel (and frequent need to re-tune) the nylgut strings at first

Customers Who Purchased This Said:

  • This is a fun instrument to play, really un-intimidating in comparison with others, and it’s cheap enough to plink on without worrying whether you’ll ruin it.
  • Excellent volume and sound, just the right amount of classic “ukulele” tone, and enough resonance to accompany vocals or play solos.
  • Rich sound, quality adjusters, nice fit and finish. This is a good looking and sounding instrument that has been a joy to learn to play.

Why Should You But This Ukulele

If you’re looking for a cheap ukulele starter kit but prefer one in a larger size, the Hola! concert ukulele bundle might be just right. The known “cons” are minor, and that’s a bit surprising, given the inexpensive cost. Whether you’re a complete musical newbie or someone who is ready to pick up a new set of skills, you’re likely to appreciate this sweet little instrument.

AKLOT Ukulele Solid Mahogany 23-Inch Concert Uke Starter Kit

The AKLOT Ukulele stands out for its solid mahogany soundboard, which offers a rounded edge (it’s not possible to round laminate). 1:18 pure copper gear tuners allow for greater finesse and stability, outpacing brass-plated zinc alloy tuners. A reinforced neck adds durability, and lower action allows for easier playing with less risk of buzzing. This starter kit comes with an instruction booklet, online lessons, a tuner, picks, protective case,  extra strings, and a strap.

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Pros:

  • Loud, resonant sound
  • Very comfortable to play

Cons:

  • Can be frustrating to string if you have large hands
  • Does not come with a hard case

Customers Who Purchased This Said:

  • The extras are great and I appreciate the craftsmanship.
  • While this isn’t top of the line, it is definitely good for beginners and intermediate users.
  • Far better than some other “cheap” ukuleles I’ve tried, in that it looks and plays like a much more expensive instrument.

Why Should You But This Ukulele

If you’re shopping for someone who might or might not stick with the ukulele habit, this is a choice that’s just as appealing as other cheap ukuleles, but with some nice extras to provide encouragement along the way. The solid top means better quality than some similarly priced options: it’s a good choice for someone who is ready to step up to a concert ukulele, but who doesn’t want to make much of an investment.

Lohanu Ukulele Concert Size Bundle

We were surprised to find the Lohanu Ukulele Concert size bundle offered alongside cheap ukuleles under $100: This instrument looks, feels, and sounds like it should cost a lot more than it does. Made with quality components including Sapele and mahogany woods, handcrafted ABS bindings, Aquila strings, and Chrome cast tuning gears, it features an arched back for a fuller sound. The bundle includes several extras including a neck strap and a tuner, picks and a pick holder, a spare set of Aquila strings, and a soft case.

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Pros:

  • Arrives with strap pins already installed
  • Really well made, and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Cons:

  • The tuner is only so-so.
  • Comes with a cloth bag and not a hard case, not much room in the pocket.

Customers Who Purchased This Said:

  • This is one of the better deals you’ll find in a beginner ukulele.
  • This is an excellent ukulele to start with. If you stick with it you may want to upgrade later, but this one will satisfy most players for a long time.
  • The instrument has a lovely, mellow sound that makes it a pleasure to play.

Why Should You But This Ukulele

If you’re prepared to pay a little closer to the $100 mark and enjoy the warmer, richer sound of a concert ukulele, then you’ll probably appreciate this one from Lohanu. While its price will appeal to beginners, it is also an excellent choice for intermediate players who are ready to expand their repertoires and share their music with others. Lots of extras make this a good value for bargain hunters of all kinds.

Hricane Soprano Ukulele UKS-1 Bundle

With a beautiful Sapele wood body and neck plus contrasting white binding and a dark rosewood fingerboard and bridge, the Hricane Soprano Ukulele offers a traditional appearance and a sweet, classic sound. Chrome-plated guitar-style tuners keep your music sounding good, and the protective, padded case makes transporting easy and worry-free.

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Pros:

  • Tones are deep, sweet, rich, and loud.
  • Beautiful smooth wood with a nice, polished finish

Cons:

  • One report of sharp frets requiring sanding
  • One report of a strange smell coming from the wood

 

Customers Who Purchased This Said:

  • This is a decent, detailed ukulele with beautiful sound quality.
  • A fantastic ukulele that will last well beyond you learning to play.
  • Not a high-quality instrument, but perfect for a beginner. You get a lot for the money.

Why Should You But This Ukulele

Thanks to its small size and surprisingly small price tag, this Hricane soprano ukulele is an outstanding choice for young children who might not be ready to care for a more expensive instrument. It’s also fantastic for hiking, camping, and trips to the beach – the sound is nice enough to keep people entertained, and the price is low enough that there are no worries about damaging an expensive finish. You can simply tune it up and then enjoy the fun of playing and singing along.

Top 5 Ukuleles under $200

Bondi Ukuleles Ukulele Starter Kit, 16-Piece Set

Made with Sapele and Mahogany woods and featuring a handmade saddle, this Bondi ukulele offers traditional engraved details around the sound hole, closed guitar-style tuning machines in bright chrome, and a warm, natural finish. A beautiful compression case provides protection when you’re not playing, and a big bundle of 14 accessories including a tuner, adjustable leather ukulele strap, and felt picks are included. Nice extras include a useful chord poster, online lessons via Skype, and videos to help beginners get started.

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Pros:

  • Excellent customer service and a lifetime warranty on all components
  • All the extras make this ukulele perfect for picking up and playing right out of the box

Cons:

  • One reviewer had trouble getting the tuner to work properly
  • One reviewer was missing instructions for online lessons

Customers Who Purchased This Said:

  • The lessons are so helpful for our 6th grade daughter, especially knowing it’s normal for her strings to go out of tune at the beginning.
  • Gorgeous well-made instrument, plus everything you could possibly need to learn to play the ukulele.
  • Looks and sounds great. Quality exceeded my expectations. I’m glad I read the reviews and bought this one.

Why Should You But This Ukulele

This Bondi ukulele is a fantastic choice for beginners who want to enjoy a smooth learning experience. The extra accessories – especially the compression case – add quite a bit of value to an already good-quality instrument. Bondi ukuleles are well-known for their sweet sound and outstanding playability, making this a nice instrument for someone who is ready to replace a cheap ukulele with something a whole lot better.

Concert Ukulele Professional Series by Hola! Music

A solid mahogany top and Aquila nylgut strings are just the beginning: The Concert Ukulele Professional Series by Hola! Bundle includes a nice padded gig bag with a zipper pocket on front, plus a colorful neck strap. A satin finish, traditional abalone inlay around the sound hole, and a beveled arm rest take the instrument to the next level. Its classical guitar-style headstock is fitted with precision machine heads in an attractive gold finish, and the nut and saddle are of genuine bone.

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Pros:

  • Beautiful ukulele with a fantastic sound, great playability
  • Good quality accessories in the bundle

Cons:

  • Fret ends may need some minor dressing
  • Users may find it frustrating to play notes above frets 9/10; sound is less appealing there

Customers Who Purchased This Said:

  • Workmanship is good and the sound is similar to my Kala ukulele despite the lower price.
  • A superior instrument for the price. Worth the few dollars more than some other cheap ukuleles out there.
  • The finish and look is stylish, but not expensive so I’m not too worried about it getting left around the house or taking it to school.

Why Should You But This Ukulele

While the Hola! Music Concert Ukulele Professional Series is ideal for intermediate players who are ready to treat themselves to a ukulele upgrade, this instrument is affordable enough for a dedicated beginner who wants to continue enjoying the same instrument for years.

Kala MK-B Makala Baritone Ukulele Bundle

Sized to make the ukulele more accessible to larger-statured players, the Makala MK-B Baritone comes as part of an appealing bundle that includes an Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD and a handy clip-on tuner. The agathis wood body offers a warm, traditional appearance, and is enhanced by a soft satin finish. Geared tuning machines and a rosewood fretboard complete the look. A gig bag is included for added convenience.

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Pros:

  • Rich, mellow sound
  • Lightweight, but feels solid

Cons:

  • Gig bag is not best quality
  • No instructions with the tuner

Customers Who Purchased This Said:

  • Nice instrument, and the included DVD is great for a beginner, makes me wish they had a whole series to help you learn. Good production quality.
  • Beautiful unit and the strings are easy to tune. I was surprised how quickly I got to a sweet place.

Why Should You But This Ukulele

If you’re a larger person who has tried and had difficulty playing smaller sized ukuleles, then you might really like what the Kala MK-B Makala Baritone uke has to offer. Do note that this instrument has a different, deeper sound than the “traditional” ukulele; it’s sweet and beautiful, but not so light and cheery. Overall, it’s a good choice for beginners and intermediate players; more advanced players will probably be happier with a higher-quality ukulele.

Luna Tattoo Concert Ukulele Pack with Gig Bag

With a beautiful front design inspired by tribal tattoo art, the Luna Tattoo Concert ukulele comes as part of a value pack that includes a Snark clip-on tuner, a Hal Leonard ukulele method book by Lil’ Rev, and a protective gig bag. Guitar-style tuners and a contrasting fretboard add even more quality to the instrument’s look and feel.

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Pros:

  • Unique, beautiful design
  • Nice clear concert ukulele sound with full, rich tone

Cons:

  • Some reviewers note finish flaws
  • Tuners are not best quality

Customers Who Purchased This Said:

  • Intonation is not perfect but it’s still very good. I had a slightly more expensive and higher quality ukulele to compare this to but it holds up very well for the price.
  • I bought it because I love the design, but I’m impressed with the sound quality.

Why Should You But This Ukulele

While this ukulele probably won’t satisfy professional players, it is a favorite with beginners who want a stylish instrument that they can continue playing after they’ve developed some skills. Those who want to step up from a cheap plastic ukulele to a better-quality one may find this concert ukulele appealing, as well.

Oscar Schmidt OU5 Concert Ukulele

With a select Hawaiian Koa body and top, a stunning glossy finish, and beautiful abalone binding, the Oscar Schmidt OU5 concert ukulele also features abalone trim around the sound hole. Chrome Grover tuners add even more quality, and a lifetime warranty inspires confidence in the manufacturer. Each ukulele is inspected and adjusted by qualified technicians located in America, eliminating the potential that purchasers will receive instruments with manufacturing flaws.

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Pros:

  • High-quality components including Grover tuners
  • Precise, low action and highly resonant sound

Cons:

  • Players with very small, narrow fingers may find frets too low
  • Sound isn’t quite as “big” as a higher-quality ukulele

Customers Who Purchased This Said:

  • While I picked this ukulele up as a starter, I plan to keep it forever.
  • Puts the “ooooh” in ukulele – looks really pretty and place nicely as well.
  • The quality is way beyond what I expected. I love it!

Why Should You But This Ukulele

If you are looking for a ukulele that you can learn on and then continue playing – even in front of an audience – then you will probably appreciate the Oscar Schmidt OU5 concert ukulele. It offers a combination of moderate pricing and good quality, making it a true standout among cheap ukuleles under $200.

Key Considerations when Buying an Affordable Ukulele

When affordability is first and foremost in your mind, you might find yourself looking for cheap ukuleles based on cost alone. Unfortunately, this approach is almost certain to end in disappointment and wasted money. Some considerations (besides price) when buying an affordable ukulele include:

  • Materials: Look for laminate, and don’t worry when purists lament that laminate isn’t the same as solid wood in terms of quality. While it’s true that a solid wood top provides a warmer, more traditional sound, it’s also true that solid wood ukuleles require special care – and laminates let you simply enjoy playing while getting a good sound at a fraction of the cost of most wood ukuleles.
  • Strings: It’s nice when good strings like Aquilas are included – but don’t make crummy strings a dealbreaker when an instrument appeals to you in other ways. A good set of ukulele strings can be had for about $10, and upgrading isn’t terribly difficult. Do not be tripped up by reviews complaining about ukuleles not staying in tune. It takes time for the strings to stretch and settle, which means more frequent tuning (between every song in some cases) when you’re first breaking in a new set of strings. It’s not the instrument’s fault.
  • Size: Get the ukulele size that’s best for you. Don’t settle for a soprano if you’re a larger person and you know you’d be happier playing a concert or tenor ukulele.
  • Accessories: The cost of accessories adds up, so consider this when assessing cost.

Sources:

http://www.680news.com/2017/02/15/enduring-ukelele-trend-spawning-feel-good-strum-sessions-nationwide/