With Christmas right around the corner, there isn’t a better time to learn how to play the ukulele.
We’ve looked at the 5 Best Ukuleles to Buy for Beginners, but through the discussion in the comments of that post, there have been a lot of other great recommendations from all of you that I missed.
So in this post, I’m taking your suggestions and looking at 16 best ukuleles to buy… without breaking the bank.
Honestly, there are hundreds of brands and options out there, so I know I’m going to miss some, but these ukuleles I’ve either played or I’ve heard really great reviews from you.
These ukuleles are perfect for beginners and beyond.
Note: As I said, I recommend these ukuleles because I’ve played them and because people who are apart of the Ukulele Tricks community have recommended them. I receive a very small commission if you buy a ukulele through my affiliate link. If you’ve found this information helpful, or if you want to find a way to say “thanks” for all the tons of free information I offer on Ukulele Tricks, I would be very grateful. 🙂
Soprano ukuleles are the smallest and most traditional type of ukulele. They have a classic bright, jangly sound that is characteristic of the ukulele. Those of us who have big, fat fingers might not find the soprano ukulele to be the easiest to play.
1.) Makala Dolphin Soprano Ukulele ($39)
Don’t let the price fool you. This little ukulele gets rave reviews. While they are made out of plastic, they have great tone and playability (listen to how the Makala Dolphin sounds in this video). You’ll want to put a new set of Aquila strings on it, but once you do, you’ll have a great sounding ukulele.
The cool thing about the Makala Dolphin is that it comes in a lot of different colors. Click any of the colors to learn more: red, pearl white, black, light blue, metallic blue, pink, yellow, green, or purple.
2.) Lanikai LU-21 Soprano Ukulele ($69)
This ukulele is one of the most popular entry-level ukuleles. For those of you who don’t like the idea of having a plastic ukulele, this is a great alternative. Some people have reported having minor intonation issues with the LU-21. This means that the notes you play higher up the fretboard can sound out of tune. However, the likelihood of playing past the fifth fret on a soprano ukulele is pretty minimal. For the price, you can’t go wrong with the Lanikai LU-21.
3.) Kala KA-S Soprano Ukulele ($70)
I’ve heard from a lot of people on Ukulele Tricks who own and love this ukulele. Kala is one of the most reputable ukulele makers out there known for their quality and craftsmanship. They created this line of mahogany ukuleles to be affordable while still maintaining excellent quality.
4.) Martin 0XK Soprano Ukulele ($279)
The price of this ukulele is a bit higher than the other options, but I recommend this ukulele because this is the ukulele my grandpa plays (if you’ve downloaded my free lesson book, you know that my grandpa taught me how to play ukulele). I absolutely love this ukulele. The playability is excellent and the tone is very even and balanced. Sometimes soprano ukuleles can sound a bit shrill and thin, but this has a nice “fat”, warm tone for being a soprano ukulele.
Concert ukuleles are a little bit bigger than soprano ukuleles, which makes them appealing to those with larger fingers. However, they aren’t so much bigger that they loose that classic ukulele sound.
5.) Lanikai LU-21C Concert Ukulele ($89)
6.) Kala KA-C Mahogany Ukulele ($98)
7.) Oscar Schmidt OU5 Concert Ukulele ($149)
The Oscar Schmidt OU5 ukulele is a beautiful ukulele. It’s much prettier in person. When I played it, I was impressed by how easy it was to play. It sounds great too. You’ll probably want to put on some new strings when you get it, but overall, I’ve found this to be a great ukulele and haven’t hesitated to recommend it to friends of mine.
8.) Cordoba 20CM Solid Mahogany Concert Ukulele ($149)
This ukulele is unique to the previous ones in that the top of the Cordoba 20CM ukulele is constructed from solid mahogany wood. The previous recommendations are constructed out of a laminate plywood. Solid wood sounds better with time.
Tenor ukuleles are a little bit bigger than concert ukuleles. Due to its larger size, it tends to sound warmer and deeper than a soprano or concert ukulele. Those with larger fingers will like the feel of a tenor ukulele. There are also more frets so fingerstyle players love playing tenor ukuleles.
I love my tenor ukulele. I will often switch the tuning around between standard and low G tuning. This gives me a lot of different creative options.
9.) Kala KA-T Mahogany Ukulele ($110)
If you’re thinking you’d like the bigger size of a tenor ukulele, or if you’d like to have the option of playing in low G tuning, the Kala KA-T tenor ukulele will be a great option. It’s bigger than the KA-S and KA-C, so you’re going to get that warmer, more full bodied tone.
10.) Lanikai S-T Solid Spruce Tenor Ukulele ($170)
This is another ukulele that has a solid wood top. The Lanikai S-T has a solid spruce top which gives this ukulele a loud vibrant sound. The mahogany back and sides provide warmth and body to the tone. Lanikai has a tenor version of the LU-21, but honestly, I would pick the S-T over that in a heart beat.
11.) Cordoba 20TM Tenor Ukulele ($170)
Like it’s smaller brother, the Cordoba 20TM has a solid mahogany top and mahogany back and sides. This instrument will have a very warm and balanced tone.
12.) Fender Nohea Koa Tenor Ukulele ($199)
The biggest draw to the Fender Nohea tenor ukulele is the koa top, back, and sides. Koa is a very beautiful tonewood that has a clear, warm tone similar to mahogany but with less bass. With this being a laminated instrument, you might not find many differences between this and a mahogany ukulele, but it’s a beautiful instrument, which is worth the price for some.
Baritone ukuleles are the largest ukuleles, which means they carry much more bass than any other ukulele. A baritone ukulele is tuned like the bottom four strings of the guitar (DGBE). This means that the chords for a baritone ukulele are not the same as the chords for a soprano, concert, or tenor ukulele.
13.) Oscar Schmidt OU53S Baritone Ukulele ($175)
As far as baritone ukuleles go, this is a great entry-level baritone ukulele. When I played this ukulele, I found that it played easy and it had a very good low end presence while still maintaining clarity.
14.) Lanikai S-B Solid Spruce Baritone Ukulele ($190)
With a solid spruce top, this baritone ukulele will have a lot of projection. The mahogany back and sides will provide added warmth and clarity.
15.) Koloa Baritone Ukulele, Solid Mahogany ($190)
Unlike all of the other ukuleles on this page, this ukulele not only has a solid mahogany top, but it also has a solid back and sides. With time and a lot of playing, this ukulele will age very nicely.
16.) Kala Solid Spruce Top Baritone Ukulele ($199)
This Kala baritone ukulele has a solid sitka spruce top. Sitka spruce is known for it’s very lively and clear sound. Sometimes with baritone ukuleles they can sound so dark to the point of being muddy. Because of the spruce top, you won’t have that problem with this ukulele.
What Ukulele Do You Recommend?
What ukulele do you have? Would you recommend it to a friend? It doesn’t have to be on this list. The more recommendations we can get the better. Let’s hear it!