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Want a ukulele but on a budget? Well great news, ukuleles are much cheaper than most other stringed instruments.
Cheap doesn’t have to mean poor quality though. While you won’t get the same build quality as on the more expensive ukuleles, you’ll still find plenty of good ukuleles in this price range.
Below we round up the best cheap ukuleles out there.
Kala KA-15S – Best Overall
Amazing components, incredible durability, and fantastic sound are the three things that make the Kala KA-15S (compare price on Sweetwater, Amazon, and Guitar Center) heads and shoulders above the rest. This instrument was manufactured in 2005. It burst into the scene and demystified the process of owning a great ukulele for cheap.
The only ukuleles before the KA-15S were fake plastic toys or custom ukuleles that cost a king’s fortune. The construction is solid mahogany wood that offers a rich, warm, and full-throated sound at a great price.
You’ll love the dark wood finish that includes a lovely etched motif around the sound hole. Unlike low-quality cheap ukuleles that use plastic components to minimize cost, the KA-15S features a delightful walnut fingerboard and Italian-styled Aquila Super Nylgut strings.
It’s an excellent starter instrument for adults and kids, constructed from real Mahogany—which you can tell by looking at the wood pores.
There are many things to love about this instrument, and the fantastic fretwork catches the eye the most. It’s excellently finished and properly seated, better than many premium guitars.
The only drawback is the tuning, which can be tiring to handle. However, an average tuning machine costs more than the KA-15S. Once you tune and strum the chords, you realize what an absolute gem this instrument truly is.
Single notes purr out with amazing harmonic content. The chords ring precisely, and you can play any tune on the fingerboard without issues. In sum, it has excellent craftsmanship and quality construction that doesn’t feel cheap.
Enya Nova U – Premium Option
The Enya Nova U Concert Ukulele (compare price on Amazon) is the last ukulele you’d ever think would grace this list.
It isn’t hard to see why.
This ukulele is love at first sight, thanks to its stunning color and carbon fiber construction. The polycarbonate material gives this instrument an exciting lightweight design, resulting in a clear, bright sound.
Still, its extremely durable construction offers great resonance for such a slender body. The ukulele cleans easily, and the waterproof material is resistant to scratches and dings.
The Enya Nova U is suitable for beginners and experts and has additional sonic enhancements featuring bonded atoms. The capo may look cheap, but it works perfectly without complaints.
Many uke players often have the highest expectations with the Nova U thinking it will play like a $1000 instrument and feel disappointed when it doesn’t. You’ll have fun with this concert ukulele when you understand it’s an all-weather performer.
It’s a fantastic bargain for experts and beginners alike. It’s amazing how Enya released a stunning travel ukulele that’s available in many eye-popping colors, oozes swag, and comes with a gig bag to boot!
Many major brands manufacture their ukuleles in China for cost purposes. However, this brand is about quality and affordability.
Enya Music ensures ukulele learners get the right instrument for their foray into string music. You won’t find a tuner in the case, but it does ship with a capo, strap, and additional fluorocarbon strings.
The sound isn’t as full-bodied as its wooden cousins, but the difference isn’t by much. Overall, it’s a top-notch travel concert ukulele suitable to keep in the vehicle or strum at home.
Mahalo MR1BU – Best Budget Option
There are many reasons why hobbyists spend as little funds as they can on a uke. Maybe they have a limited budget or purchase the ukulele for little kids, or they need a piece of semi-disposal equipment for travel or campfire night.
Whatever the case, the Mahalo MR1BU (compare price on Amazon and Guitar Center) is one uke that you can get for dirt cheap.
It’s not as wonderfully made as the Enya Nova U, nor does it have the awesome sound of the Kala Series. Still, it’s not so bad, considering the price.
Mahalo is the Hawaiian word for “Thanks” and “Gratitude,” and that’s what your little ones will feel when you buy them this cute uke. This instrument is a part of the Rainbow Series and comes with a downloadable lesson by Ukulele Bartt.
These lessons teach the basics of playing the instrument. The MR1BU may be excellent for your budget, but it still has some quality components.
It has Aquila Strings from Italy and a Canadian NuBone XB bridge saddle for improved projection and enhanced sound.
Moreover, the Dolphin-shaped tuners feature Mahalo’s signature design, allowing you to always stay in tune. The equipment is a beginner’s dream, with decent sound.
Like most stringed instruments, it keeps the tune so long as you play it often. The Mahalo MR1BU also has a tote bag that allows you to play the device wherever you go.
Aklot AKS21 – Best Durable
The Aklot AKS21 (compare price on Amazon) is one of the cheapest electric ukuleles, with three bands installed, including Bass, Middle, and Treble. It comes with extra strings, tuners, straps, and instructions for learning how to play.
Many ukuleles look great but produce a sound that disappoints. However, the AKS21 doesn’t only look decent; it plays well too!
Moreover, it ships with a tuner, which is an excellent addition to the instrument. When you consider the price, the tone and feel are amazing, and you’ll appreciate the solid mahogany construction.
What I like about the AKS21 is the way it holds a tune. Cheap ukuleles often have poor tuning retention, which takes away from the pleasure of the instrument but not the AKS21.
It’s a starter uke that gives your ear the chance to develop, allowing you to form the chords correctly. In truth, this is a lovely instrument with a slender neck and exceptionally finished frets.
The neck strap is well-made; as this uke has fitted strap buttons, a shoulder strap would have been a better choice. The solid Mahogany allows the sound to improve the longer the wood matures.
Aklot also offers customers access to use lessons and beginner tips on their website. I adore the etched logo and rosette on the bird saddle. Yes, it’s cheap, but it has a nice heft and feels good in the hand.
The finish requires a thicker glossy lacquer but wear and tear is inevitable for such an affordable instrument. It’s an exceptional instrument for people who aren’t ready to commit to something more expensive.
Lanikai LU Series Tenor Ukulele – Best for Tenor
The strength of the Lanikai LU Series Tenor Ukulele (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is the ability to craft cheap, high-quality ukuleles. The LU-21T is an exceptional bet for individuals looking to learn on a tenor uke.
Lanikai also offers soprano and concert versions of this instrument. Still, the LU-21T is the bestseller in the series for a good reason.
The attention to detail is superb, and the playability of this piece of equipment is on par with higher-end instruments. In addition to the die-cast tuners for reliable tuning, the instrument is handcrafted from Nato wood (also called Eastern Mahogany) on the sides and top back.
Lanikai pairs the Eastern Mahogany with a Rosewood fingerboard, which brings out a mesmerizing midrange that is almost impossible to find at a similar price point. It’s a nice-looking uke, a tad plain but expected because of the classic design.
Many people think the instrument is faulty after purchase, but it takes some time to get the uke in tune. You must break in the strings and watch the sound quality improve by the day.
Fret buzz is standard for an instrument of this level. The LU-21T is a capable ukulele if you’re looking for an introductory device that will offer exceptional value for years to come.
Cordoba 15CM – Best Lightweight
The 15CM (compare price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is Cordoba’s entry level for individuals looking to familiarize themselves with this instrument. It’s a handmade concert ukulele, often mistaken for a little kid’s toy.
The Cordoba 15CM is anything but a toy, inspired by the braguinha—a Portuguese instrument. Considering that Pepe Romero Junior designed this ukulele, it becomes even clearer what a gem this instrument is.
He wanted to overhaul the traditional uke design to make it look more like a guitar with the benefit of better resonance.
Consequently, the uke is ideal for gigs or individuals looking to learn the ropes. The tonewood is spruce material that offers a loud volume, ensuring listeners enjoy the sound more easily. Spruce is excellent tonewood, offering the benefits of an acoustic guitar.
The build quality is fantastic for adults that need a quality instrument without breaking the bank. It’s almost as loud as a guitar and features a neck and heel constructed from one wooden piece. Cordoba instruments are renowned for their Spanish influences.
You’ll like the satin finish that elevates the aesthetics, and it’s one uke that will give you excellent value for the price.
Mitchell MU40 – Best for Kids
The Mitchell MU40 (compare price on Amazon and Guitar Center) is an easy-to-play uke that puts the fun in your hands. The Lindenwood body is tailored to provide exceptional sound, and the rosewood fingerboard is for comfortable play.
It’s an excellent starter uke that doesn’t look out of place in an adult or kid’s hands. It’s as cheap as any you can find without sacrificing important quality for the price.
However, the factory strings do not unleash the full potential of this instrument, and you’ll be better off replacing it with quality Aquila strings. The MU40 isn’t a bad choice if you know what you’re doing.
The sound isn’t the brightest and struggles on the higher frequencies. Still, the MU40 includes an instructional booklet that allows you to start strumming tunes straight from the box.
You can get this ukulele in various finishes, including Flamingo Pink, Midnight Black, and Deep Blue.
The 12 frets may not look like much, but it’s still an exceptional instrument suited for kids and is an excellent starter for learners.
Caramel CB103 Zebra Wood – Best Acoustic Electric
The Caramel CB103 (compare price on Amazon) is an instrument you receive with little expectations before getting blown away by its performance.
It’s an acoustic-electric uke in the baritone class that sells at a price point you won’t normally find such a premium ukulele. A solid mirror polish dutifully complements the zebra wood construction.
Soprano ukes are the standard choice for newbies, but someone with guitar experience or larger hands might find the CB103 more to their liking. Zebrawood is undeniably exotic and stands out even more when used in a tonewood finish.
The playable neck on this model has much to do with the walnut fingerboard and seamless frets. Besides, the buffalo bone saddle and walnut bridge elevate the quality.
The action is a tad on the high side. Still, the truss rod on the neck makes the instrument comfier and more playable. Aquila springs are the standard at this price point, and it’s perfectly complemented by the closed gear tuners, which enhance the overall quality of this uke.
It’s challenging to judge the CB103 if you’re a learner because you probably don’t have the skills to make the instrument sound fantastic or masterful. You most likely need something comfortable, and this uke has that in spades.
The smooth neck translates into exceptional action, and its tapered body makes you feel like you’ve been holding the CB103 in your hands for years!
You can’t complain about the volume—it’s a baritone ukulele, after all. Whether plugged or not, you can count on this instrument to deliver amazingly-clear sound.
Overall, the CB103 packs more than enough punch for its price range. The LCD, low battery indicator, and 3-band equalizer will make you wonder why this ukulele wasn’t at a higher price.
Epiphone Les Paul – Best Aesthetics
The Epiphone Les Paul (compare price on Amazon and Guitar Center) has no business being on a list like this—especially when you consider the brand has a history of making some of the best guitars on the planet.
This ukulele has all the signatures of the renowned guitar brand infused inside a uke. You can’t deny the glossy gorgeousness of the mahogany construction that includes a triple A+ flaming maple top.
It’s a ukulele for the coolest of the cool, featuring 19 frets that are crafted from composite fabric. From port to stern, this uke shines brighter than the stars. There’s nothing not to love about this instrument, including the lacquer finishing, protective edging, solid neck, and heavy-wood body.
The frets on this uke are genuine metal, not cast into the fingerboard like the cheap pretenders. And if you want to talk about class, the EPIPHONE and LES PAUL signature is enough to silence the haters.
Expect the sound to feel good out of the box, with an almost flawless action right off the shelf. This ukulele scores top marks for durability, and it’s worth saving the box it ships in to use as a hard-shell case until you get a decent gig bag.
The sound is crystal clear. However, it doesn’t feature a battery to preamp or volume and tone control—which is the only drawback for this uke.
Considering the quality of the instrument you get for the price, finding another instrument that beats the Epiphone Les Paul for value and class will be nothing short of a miracle.
What To Look for in a Cheap Ukulele
Since the song “Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, the ukulele has steadily risen in popularity as a romantic instrument. If you’re a beginner player looking for something cheap to hone your skills on, consider the features below.
You should consider the ukulele size if budget is a priority for you. Soprano ukes tend to be smaller than their concert and tenor cousins.
The size difference also affects the price, making this ukulele the cheapest. The larger the size, the higher the price, making concert ukuleles more expensive than the soprano version.
Tenor ukuleles may cost more than their concert cousins. However, the baritone ukulele is the most costly and largest.
Sound is arguably the most critical factor when opting for a cheap ukulele. You’ll be playing this uke a lot, so you need an instrument with a pleasant tune.
You’ll find various kinds of ukulele woods with a little digging, including Lindenwood, Rosewood, Acacia, Mahogany, Mango, Monkeypod, and Cedar. Hawaii’s ukuleles often use Koa, but you won’t see this material for the cheapest ukes.
However, Mahogany is an excellent choice; it is less costly and offers a softer, more delicate sound compared to Koa.
Besides Mahogany and Koa, look out for cheap ukuleles crafted from spruce. The wood is durable and will take a beating, especially if you’re buying the instrument for kids.
Solid or Laminated
A solid or one-wood body means that the wood material on the outside also features on the inside. This ukulele type is far more expensive than its laminated rival.
Laminated ukuleles use cheaper wood material inside since that part of the instrument is less exposed to a harsh environment. The sturdier and better wood is used outside, making the uke eye-catching while enhancing the sound quality.
The primary purpose of this piece centers on your budget. With a blank check, you can buy any uke you want. Even though this isn’t the case, a budget increase will offer you the following benefits:
- Higher quality craftsmanship and better playability
- Fantastic cosmetic features, including etched rosettes, inlays, and bindings
- Exotic materials and premium woods
- Solid wood body for the top, sides, and back
- Electronics for amplifying the sound output
The ukulele accessories are often the deciding factor in whether or not to purchase a specific brand. These accessories make your quest to learn the instrument more enjoyable.
A ukulele tuner is a handy device that helps to improve your play and performance. It’s immensely beneficial for beginners who are still training their ears to hear the ukulele.
It’s foolish to own a ukulele without a gig bag. This casing is vital to store your instrument, allowing you to travel to concerts and gigs.
Many brands that sell cheap ukuleles will include a gig bag to safeguard your instrument. However, these bags are often low quality, and you’d be doing it yourself to purchase a dedicated casing for your uke.
Professional ukulele players usually enjoy playing with their fingers, but a pick is an essential item for a beginner. Moreover, it helps you to freestyle with different strum patterns and techniques. Guitar picks or felt picks are both excellent options.
Owning extra strings is of the utmost importance, particularly during a gig session or practice. Ukulele strings come in fluorocarbon, aluminum, nylon, and titanium.
It is easier these days to buy a ukulele and start playing, thanks to the lessons and access to resources offered by brands. These learning guides teach the fundamentals of the instrument and are highly enjoyable.
Best Brands That Do Cheap Ukuleles
Many brands have a solid reputation for making the best cheap ukuleles, but the manufacturers below are at the pinnacle of their craft.
The Kala brand has a high reputation for making some of the best ukuleles, including affordable instruments of exceptional quality.
The brand claims to have the highest number of unique ukuleles. World-famous musicians such as Nik West, Vance Joy, and Twenty-One Pilots are some of the few artists to use their instruments.
The Californian company offers various styles of ukes in different sizes and tonewoods. It’s no surprise that their cheap ukuleles often cost more than others, thanks to their premium build.
Enya Music isn’t related to the world-famous musician Enya. Still, the company is renowned for its innovative approach to ukulele construction. The company strives to deliver the most elegant ukuleles that elevate user experience in aesthetics and sound.
Enya Music is one of the few ukulele brands that manufacture 100% of the components in-house, ensuring the company can produce high-quality instruments at the most affordable price.
Mahalo is arguably the world’s highest-selling ukulele brand, with thousands of stores selling this instrument as their main brand globally.
The word “mahalo” is Hawaiian for “thank you” and was the name preferred by Kikutani Music—the brand responsible for distributing this ukulele brand in 1999.
Before Mahalo, cheap ukuleles were seen as toys and unplayable from a musical standpoint. The company’s entry-level ukulele was the game-changer that opened the instrument to the mainstream audience.
Aklot is a relatively new player on the ukulele scene, established in California in 2012. The company specializes in the banjolele, ukulele, and violin. It aims to promote ukulele culture worldwide by crafting affordable, high-quality ukes.
Consequently, more people can embrace the string instrument. The company continues experimenting with designs and materials to build the best cheap ukulele. Aklot is one of the few companies producing affordable ukuleles crafted from solid mahogany wood.
Lanikai specializes in crafting premium ukes for professionals requiring playability, style, sophistication, and reliability.
Whether for the stage, recording, or songwriting, you can count on Lanikai to give you an instrument best suited to your needs. The company offers various premium features, including an array of exotic tonewood that elevates your skill level while advancing your musical passion.
Epiphone is undoubtedly one of America’s oldest instrument makers and certainly one of the most prestigious.
For almost 150 years, Epiphone has crafted various musical instruments in every class and style. Even in the 21st century, the company continues to break boundaries in innovation while maintaining its ancient tradition.
Cordoba uses classic traditional craftsmanship and modern design to stimulate the evolution of the nylon string guitar. The company also crafts some of the most stylish ukuleles worldwide, with the signature lightweight and responsive design its guitars are known for.
Mitchell ukuleles are perfect for students, pros, and hobbyists looking to dazzle on the world stage. These ukes are cheap, fun, and playable, using the most premium tonewoods for an amazing sound and fantastic aesthetics.
The company is popular for guitars, but their ukuleles are catching on like wildfire thanks to the low price and impressive quality.
Top Cheap Ukuleles, Final Thoughts
Suppose you ask a team of the best scientists to develop a string instrument that’s easy to use, approachable and fun. In that case, they’d probably invent the ukulele.
This nifty musical instrument is exceptional for music enthusiasts and hobbyists—young and old—delivering the most amazing memories to everyone.
Despite its small size, it offers immense pleasure and is the instrument of choice for many people worldwide.