Getting a new instrument is always a big headache. You might be motivated to buy an instrument and start playing right away, However, at some point you realize that it is not that simple. There are so many things you need to think about in order to get a nice uke. The list goes on and on, and one of the things is surely a budget.
It is the most important actually. If your budget is really tight, you might even think that normal ukes are not available for such a low price and eventually give up. That is what I do not want you to do. I have been there myself. I remember the first time I heard the sound of uke, I was stunned. It was a song- “Somewhere over the rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole. The vibration of sound went through my body, straight to my heart. I fell in love with the sweet tone that made you feel like you were in Hawaii, at the champagne sandy beach right away. I bought the uke next morning, I was on a budget, but not very tight.
However, I still did not make the most out of the amount I had, because back in the days I did not know how to distinguish nice, solid instruments from the crappy ones – made to deceive beginners. That’s what I will talk about in this article as well – give you some general idea about ukuleles and some tips for a successful purchase. I did research on best cheap ukuleles available on the market today, so no need to worry, after reading this article you will be able to not only make up your mind about which one to buy, but also know and fully understand why you made this choice. Here goes the list. Enjoy.
Top 10 Best Cheap Ukuleles
Luna UKE VMS RDS Vintage Mahogany Soprano is one of the most popular soprano ukes on the market. In this model Luna combined low price and nice overall quality in the most exquisite way possible. The instrument has mahogany body, which produces sweet and warm sound. Mahogany neck, with rosewood fingerboard, deliver excellent playability. The aesthetics of this uke is beautiful – minimalistic, natural. The instrument has solid craftsmanship, especially for the price. This uke really is a catch. It looks great, is well made, and has a great price. The overall sound is the most authentic and wonderful. High-quality strings, give more clarity to the sound. Luna always does a good job in giving best features and enable for nice quality sound in their budget-friendly instruments. The hardware is solid as well, so going out of tune will not be a big of problem. All in all, it is nice starter instrument that will let you grow to some point once your skills develop, for a good price.
- Good craftsmanship
- Low price
- Great sound for its price range
- Choice of black and red satin
- Not the best nut material
- Change the strings
Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele With Free Aquila AQ-S is surely a nice instrument to have in arsenal for beginners as well as experienced players. It is a perfect example of how to combine affordability and nice quality, to not make the instrument crappy and cheap. This uke has a Mahogany body, that enables for a beautiful tone. Mahogany neck with the rosewood fingerboard will let you play for many hours without your hand getting tired. Kala KA-15S is equipped with Chrome tuners,so it will stay in tune for a long time. It also has Aquila strings that make the sound of the instrument even more vibrant and clear. Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele with Free Aquila AQ-S has nice facade, in the center you can see cool pattern, and just overall minimalistic, traditional look . Even though it is made of laminated wood it has pretty high volume and big power. Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Uke is surely a great deal for the price. It will perfectly guide you through the learning process.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Great looks
- Tuning issues
- NuBone nut is not the best
- High action
Sawtooth ST-UKE-MS-KIT-2 Mahogany Soprano Ukulele has a lot to offer, for such a budget-friendly model. The instrument has high quality craftsmanship, as well as nice tone. Its body is made of mahogany, which enables for vibrant, full, warm sound. The neck is made of mahogany with rosewood fingerboard, which lets your hand easily glide on smooth surface for many hours. Natural Satin Finish, Beautiful Laser Etched Rosette and Dot Inlays on fingerboard give its facade a wonderful overall look and surely delivers that Hawaiian vibe. Sawtooth ST-UKE-MS-KIT-2 has good tuning system, so it will stay in tune for long time. Aquila Strings are very comfortable to lay and add clarity to the sound. The all-inclusive bundle includes a Padded Ukulele Gig Bag, Metal Folding Ukulele Stand, Tuner, & Quick Start Guide, so once you get it, you are ready to rock out. I would recommend this beautiful uke to beginners as it is all you need, – affordable, has nice overall performance and comes in a kit that has everything needed to start playing.
- Good price
- Useful bundle accessories (stand is pretty great)
- Good tonewood
- Tuner and sometimes DVD was not included in certain shipments
- High action
- Sharp frets
The Kala MK-S Soprano undoubtedly is a great deal for the price. It combines everything – low price, high performance quality, and comfortability. It is one of the most popular models from the budget-friendly ones. Even though this uke has laminated top, it still delivers a pretty loud sound. The top is made of agathis that gives nice and full overall tone. The satin finish is a nice asset to the design of uke. Rosewood of a comfortable neck delivers super smooth and good playability. It has 12 brass frets, so the sound range is limited, but for a beginner, Kala MK-S Soprano is great uke, as you are just starting out and need a lot of practice. The instrument is very lightweight, which makes it even easier to carry around on your adventures. The overall sound quality is really good, especially if you keep in mind its super affordability. It feels good in your hands, both- standing and seated. This ukulele has high-quality hardware, so stays in tune very well. All in all, it is a great ukulele for beginners. Nice combo of good sound, good playability and low price. I would definitely recommend to take a look at this one and see how it feels in your hands.
- Great price
- Nice combo of woods
- Good action
- Change the strings immediately
- Does not hold tune that well
Donner Soprano Ukulele Mahogany DUS-1 represents that affordable does not mean cheap and crappy. It has a beautiful aesthetics – Natural wood color, minimalistic with a smooth feel to it. This traditional ukulele has a mahogany body, that brings out the warmest, brighter and very full tone. The thin neck is made of mahogany as well. It has a rosewood fingerboard, with 15 Brass Frets that have Fret position Marks at 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th frets, to deliver excellent playability. Your hand will not get tired after hours of nonstop playing, as the instrument is very light and comfortable to hold while standing, as well as seating. The instrument is equipped with the most accurate Donner patented chrome-plated tuning system, so going out of tune will surely not be a big of a problem. Donner Soprano Ukulele Mahogany DUS-1 comes with ukulele bag, ukulele strap, carbon nylon string and digital clip-on tuner as gifts. It delivers an amazing overall performance quality. Definitely much better than you would expect for the price. It is a perfect ukulele for beginners and will be a reliable companion on your uke learning journey.
- Sweet, balanced tone
- Good bundle deal
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Does not stay in tune
- Sharp frets
- The sound is a bit tiny
Hola! Music HM-21 Soprano Ukulele Bundle is one of the most affordable instruments from the list of best cheap ukuleles. It is available in wide range of colors, so everyone will find something of their own style, what caters to your tastes in the most perfect way possible. The instrument has maple top, as well as back and sides, to deliver excellent, warm, full tone. Its neck is constructed of maple as well, with rosewood fingerboard that enables for easy and comfortable playing. HM-21 has 12 silver nickel frets with fret position marks at 5th, 7th and 10th frets on top of fingerboard. It is equipped with white nylon strings that adds more clarity and vibrancy to the sound. Silver geared tuning system will ensure to hold the tune well for a long time. Hola! Music HM-21 Soprano Ukulele Bundle includes Canvas tote bag, Strap and Picks, so you do not have to buy those things separately, as you will definitely need them throughout learning process. HM-21 is one of the best, the most demanded and affordable Soprano-style ukulele on the market. It will definitely be a reliable companion for someone who is just starting out in music. I would recommend for beginners.
- Good price
- Functional and quality bundle accessories
- Fret edges might be a little sharp
- Tuning issues
Whoever said that cheap ukuleles couldn’t look absolutely beautiful hadn’t seen Kmise UK-24. Though it’s pretty simple, this bad boy has a stunning pattern on the surface. The harmony that radiates from this image is tailored to the character of the instrument and that’s exactly why I like it so much. But we all know that there are more important things in this world than looks, so we’d better look at the specs. UK-24 is a concert size ukulele with a solid spruce top, sapele back and sides, okoume neck and rosewood fingerboard. It’s rather common to see some flaws with the latter in more affordable instruments, but this one doesn’t have any issues with rough edges or anything like that. The nut and saddle aren’t synthetic, which is also impressive for the price. UK-24 is an acoustic-electric model, which means you can play it unplugged or amplified. It has a 3-band EQ and a tuner that will help you maintain the best qualities of your tone. The downside here is that this fella gets out of tune pretty easily, but that’s something you might experience with many different models. This issue can be solved – you just need to keep playing before you break it in. Regardless, Kmise UK-24 is still an amazing affordable option.
- Easy to play
- In-built tuner works well
- Overall quality is impressive
- The strings don’t stay in tune
- You might notice some buzzing
This ukulele is perfect for starters. Its overall performance is more than you would expect for such a low price. It has a Zebrawood body. It is a laminate ukulele and the finish feels thin. The instrument has Buffalo bone nut and saddle. It is equipped with Aquila strings that add more clarity and vibrancy. A Truss rod is embedded in the neck for neck adjustment. You can tighten the truss rod adjusting nut to straighten a neck that has an up-bow, or loosen the nut if the neck is back-bowed. It has pretty decent hardware, so will rarely come out of tune. Beautiful tattoos in the center of this uke give its facade more exquisite look. Overall sound and craftsmanship is pretty decent in Caramel CT102A Zebra Wood Tenor Acoustic Ukulele. Its playability is amazing. This uke is definitely more than you would expect for the price. Perfect for getting started.
- Nice tonewood
- Truss rod
- Good price
- Not the best sustain
- Sharp frets
What can you get if you only have 50 bucks? – a nice wine, a ticket to the movies or a ukulele bundle. Even though the first two options seem pretty appealing, I think you’re here because you’re interested in purchasing a cheap uke. Vizcaya Uk-23C-MA bundle is a handy option for those who are too lazy to buy accessories separately. It’s a budget-friendly concert ukulele, which is suitable for kids, teenagers or adults – basically anyone who wants to learn. Since it’s so affordable, you can buy it if you are interested in the instrument, but aren’t sure whether you want to learn it professionally. This puppy has a handcrafted (nope, you’re not tripping) mahogany body and rosewood fingerboard and bridge. You won’t find any physical flaws with this one, however, you should still take a really good care of it, as it might break apart easily. The accessories included in the package are a gig bag, guitar picks, a clip-on tuner, an adjustable strap, and a strap. Even though these accessories don’t have the highest quality in the world, they will be very useful before you figure everything out. Vizcaya UK23C-MA will quickly occupy your heart, soul and fingers.
- Extremely affordable
- Decent sound
- Included gig bag and tuner don’t have the best quality
- The ukulele isn’t very durable
ADM 21″ Ukulele Soprano Mahogany Deluxe is handcrafted, which makes such a low price even more incredible. Smooth body lines and exquisite laser etched rosette on the head and soundhole give its facade more interesting and attractive look. ADM 21″ is perfect for both experienced player as well as someone who is just starting out in music. This uke has mahogany wood with a satin finish, to give the tone warm and full sound. It is geared with a chrome die-cast tuning system, so will rarely go out of tune. Comfortable, thin neck and rosewood fingerboard will let your hand easily glide like a breeze above the 15 brass frets for many hours. The ukulele offers great sound and nice overall performance for the price. It is light and comfortable to take on your trips. This uke surely delivers that Hawaiian vibe that makes you feel like you are teleporting by the ocean. The 21-inch ukulele suits any occasions. ADM 21″ Ukulele Soprano Mahogany Deluxe is a great Uke for beginners as well as for four-string strumming professionals. It has so much more than what you would expect for the price. Definitely a model worth to consider.
- Great price
- Good uke for beginners
- Choice of tonewood helps the sound
- Does not stay in tune
Did you like the models from the list above? Have you already decided which one to get? Well, furtherly I will give you some information about ukuleles that will be helpful, so if you have not made a decision you will be able to after finishing the article, and you will fully understand why.
First of all, I want to talk about the difference between the ukulele and guitar. The first time I personally saw ukulele, I thought it was some kind of mini guitar. That is wrong, even though it looks pretty similar to classical guitar, they differ with so many things. Even though they do share some common features, but on the whole, they are different in principles of operations, size, and generally how the instrument behaves. Ukulele has 4 strings, while guitar has 6. They use different tuning system. Ukes generally are tuned G – C – E – A. E. Each string has a different key, therefore you cannot transfer guitar chords to ukulele, so knowing how to play guitar, in this case, will not be that useful they use totally different chords. But you are already aware of strumming patterns, that might be good. Ukes differ from guitars with the sound as well. Their sound is sweeter and does not have big power and volume to it, but undoubtedly has nice clarity. Some ukes have more guitar-like sound than others which I will explain further.
Ukulele Body Sizes
As you might already know there are four sizes of ukuleles. They differ from each other with the sound, style, size etc.
Soprano ukulele is the smallest in comparison to other shapes. It is considered as the original, traditional uke. It usually is 20 inches (51 cm) in length. The instrument has 12- 15 frets, so not that big of a sound range is available, but its sound is the most authentic ukulele one. As soprano uke is the smallest, it is very compact, so it is easier to carry around on your adventures. One thing to consider, before you actually get soprano uke is that, the frets are too close, so for someone with large hands and fingers it can be sometimes a bit difficult to play. Sometimes you might accidentally bend a string out of tune, as strings have less tension. Soprano ukes usually are more budget friendly than others, so they are considered to be perfect for beginners. So, if you are just starting to get into music, go for it.
Concert ukulele is 23 inches long (58 cm). It has up to 20 frets so has pretty wide range of sound. Concert ukuleles have excellent playability due to thin and long neck. They have bigger body, so the sound is fuller and with more power. Frets are not that close so it will not make a big of a problem.
Tenor ukulele size goes up to 26 inches (66cm). They are larger than soprano and concert, so the sound has more power and clarity to it. Due to additional frets, you get a wider range of tones. It delivers nice sweet and warm sound of ukuleles, but changes it in a way to be stage worthy- adds volume and power. Tenor uke is very popular among professional musicians. One of the most famous ukulele players – James Hill used Tenor ukulele while performing usually.
Baritone ukulele is around 30 inches (76 cm). It sounds the closest to a classical guitar tone. It is the largest in comparison to other shapes, it has the biggest power, and the fullest sound. Additional frets give it even wider sound range. It has deep, rich sound with a lot of power. One of the most attractive qualities of the ukulele is its portability and baritone uke surely lacks it therefore is not very popular. But the sound is really amazing.
To sum up the article, I have given you the list of best cheap ukuleles available on the market today. These models are truly best of the best.
Remember that instrument should fit all your needs. Sometimes we get so caught up in specifications and everything else that we forget about aesthetics. Trust me, in the long run that plays a big role. Do you want a minimalistic, simply designed ukulele? Or do you prefer a uke that has a lot of tattoos, to feel that special Hawaiian background? Think about it, because the more it caters to all your tastes, the stronger is your motivation and pleasure from playing. Not only should it sound and feel well, but look good as well. So, search for your perfect match, and trust me, you will find as the models from the list above mostly have very different designs. Playing ukulele for me is one of the most satisfying things in life. You get so attached to this tiny thing that never wants to let it go and you carry it everywhere. Well, that is how it worked for me. I can never go on my hiking trips or any kind of travel without taking my partner’s ukulele with me. Everyone should have such kind of amazing feel from the instruments. Hope this article helped you in some way. Wish you all the best in your uke-hunting process.