How Much Does a Ukulele Cost?

One of the appeals of the ukulele is that it is relatively cheap compared to other instruments. But, as always, for a quality ukulele, you'll need to spend a little more.

The very cheapest ukes available can be bought for less than $20. These ukes will usually be playable and most people start off with this sort of ukulele - I did. However, if you're serious about the ukulele, it's worth spending a little more.

52 Comments

  1. Robert November 7th, 2009 10:31 am

    Most of the “very cheapest ukes” I’ve had in my hands could only be considered useful as a visual prop for silent movie. No matter how much time you spend ‘tuning’ them the frets are often so badly spaced that they can never be played in tune even by an ‘expert’. Unless both you and your audience are tone deaf or you’re a wannabee Pete Townshend they are a total waste of time and money.
    At time of writing you would need to spend at least OZ$80 to get something that is half playable.

  2. Woodshed November 21st, 2009 7:18 am

    Robert: Thanks for sharing your experience. I agree with you totally.

  3. Luke M. January 2nd, 2010 5:05 am

    I started on a $40 Hilo, for almost 6 months before buying a new one. In that time, I learned all the basic chords, some essential strumming techniques, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Of course, everything sounds more better on better ‘ukes!

  4. DEAN* February 24th, 2010 5:36 am

    Buy the very best ukulele you can afford, and it will inspire you to learn to play it to its full potential. Starting off on a “student uke” will only hold you back, because you’ll think the lousy sound is due to your technique and be discouraged. Buy an instrument that inspires you, and you will soon forget the price you paid for it… you’ll be too busy playing!

  5. Bryce March 6th, 2010 6:18 pm

    I bought a lanakai LU-21p not long ago, i got it for $60. I have had zero problems with it and I love it! its my first uke after playing guitar since i was 12 and i think i might enjoy it more than my old fender acoustic.

  6. Foinnse April 18th, 2010 2:31 am

    I recently got a Stagg US60-S for about 50 euro, not sure what that is in dollars, and so far i’m really quite happy! For the moment at least its fine, fact is I don’t have the money to buy a good Uke, the money I spent I couldn’t even afford really!! I got it about 4 days ago and so far can bang out two easy songs, it may not be amazing musicianship but for me thats not the point. I can now sing and accompany myself on two songs I really like, I couldn’t 4 days ago. Job done! I LOVE my uke.

  7. The Fat Pope May 7th, 2010 5:54 am

    Ukes, like mandos, should never be bought at discount unless you are an experienced player who knows what he/she is looking for and finds a great deal. Also, a word to the wise, while fender makes good electric guitars and decent acoustic guitars, do not trust any of thier other instruments. I made the mistake of buying a fender mandolin. The bridge folded in on itself after less than two years, rendering it unplayable and unfixable. I have even less faith in thier banjos and other string instruments. Beware!

  8. Leah May 23rd, 2010 5:53 pm

    I bought a Mitchell concert ukulele for around a hundred dollars, at guitar center. It’s absolutely wonderful!! It falls out of tune a little more often than a good ukulele would, but it’s an easy enough fix. :P

    It’s a great starter, because after a year I’ve had no problems with it!

  9. Baba July 17th, 2010 3:37 am

    Hey everyone!

    I bought a really cheap uke – a Stagg for children – for 25 euros.

    The sound is ok, the strings need changing though. I bought a cheap uke because I’m a beginner (not even played the guitar) and have no idea if in 6 months from now I’ll still be hooked.

    So I made a promise to myself, at X-mas, if I’m still playing the uke (and have improved!!!!) I’ll get a better one.
    If not, well it only cost me 25 euros!!!!

    PS. Hope I’ll stick to it! For the moment, my fingertips are killing me!!!! Arf!

  10. ginge October 4th, 2010 8:41 pm

    i would say the best cheap uke is a makala dolphin for £40 to begin with and i then moved up to a black kala hawk for £150 which is the amount you will need to spend for frequent playing/performing

  11. Angelfire October 13th, 2010 1:48 am

    I got a relatively expensive Ukulele as my first Uke, it was $550.00. But the thing is just amazing. :D

  12. Hannah November 7th, 2010 5:18 pm

    FOr my first ukulele, About 3 months ago, I bought a Lanikai LU-11 model, with the geared tuners, and its wonderful! I don’t know if I’m just lucky, but it doesnt get so out of tune so regularly like most ukuleles do (we,,, at least cheap ones) and I got it for only about $40.00 (USD) off amazon. I’m incredibly pleased!!

  13. Grizzly Matt November 9th, 2010 8:11 pm

    i bought a 25€ euros ukulele and the thing just couldn’t be tuned! i’m sorry i can’t remember the brand(if it ever had one)cause i changed it with a Baton Rouge uke for the same price and now this is quite ok, it has a decent sound – though it can get out of tune easily.
    just learned “sea of love” and “across the universe” and they’re wonderful on ukulele, no matter what ukulele you have – as long as it stays in tune ;)
    my tip is: ALWAYS try it, no matter if you pay it 2$, or at least try to tune it if you’re going cheap!

  14. >_______ November 11th, 2010 4:12 am

    I brought my uke for 56$
    LU-21 Lanikai
    It is good but doesn’t stay tune that much
    I recommend for beginner

  15. NJ November 14th, 2010 11:36 am

    I bought a Makala MK-T (tenor) for 90USD from Ukulele House Waikiki Plaza for my friend who’s an intermediate guitar player and he loves it! And today I just bought a single palm tree hole concert ukulele from Bob’s Ukulele at the Royal Hawaiian Village for 140$. It looks very cute and made from mahogany. The brand is called Ali’i which i try to search on google and ebay but i couldn’t find it. However it sounds great!

  16. Tinpan Chuck November 15th, 2010 6:28 am

    I recently purchased a Ukulele at a local Music store for $38.00, it came with a pitch pipe. I have tuned it only once, and before I play it, I check to see if it has gone out of tune. So far, it’s still in tune. I am waiting for a Gig bag I ordered for it, which brings me to a question,”Which is better, a Gig Bag, or a Case?”

  17. Tor December 13th, 2010 2:46 pm

    A case will protect the instrument much better than a gigbag, but cases cost quite a bit more. That said, I did get a gigbag, not a case, for my Lanikai.. even though it’s probably a very fragile instrument, it weighs almost nothing compared to my first, cheap ukulele (my guess is that that’s because the Lanikai wood is carved much thinner, part of its better sound). Well, a padded gigbag, which is what you should buy if you go for a gigbag instead of a case. An unpadded gigbag is so bad that you would be better of simply carrying the ukulele in a small backpack, even with the gearhed sticking up (e.g. one of those backpacks with room for a laptop – they tend to have some extra padding).

    If I were traveling with the ukulele I would go for a case. For carrying around in town or bringing along in my car I’m fine with my padded gigbag, I just have to be a bit careful. For my guitars I have very good cases for the expensive and/or good ones, and a (well-padded) gigbag for my reasonably priced nylon stringer.

  18. Ccs05j January 13th, 2011 3:28 pm

    For a starter uke, i went with a applause UA-10. US $115. It has been a great starter. Decent sound and very playable. Stays in decent tune as well. I am looking to upgrade soon after really enjoying learning to play on this uke!

  19. jason January 31st, 2011 11:43 pm

    i am savin up for my first uke. i have played on several friends ukes and i LOVE IT! they spent about $300 US on theirs. one is a lanikai, the others i dont remember. i HAVE noticed that they go out of tune easily. ukes in general, it seems. i have played guitar for over 20 years and consider myself a discerning musician…especially on stringed instruments. i don’t want to waste money on a showy ukulele, but i am going to play it for the rest of my life, so i want a GOOD one! willing to pay between 300 and 400 for it. what’s the best for my money?

  20. JOSE March 3rd, 2011 9:36 pm

    I bought a $40CDN one named Beaver Creek it has an alright sound but the it buzzes on the 4th fret both the 3rd and 2nd when I play them but other than that it’s good, just bought it to learn soon when I get better on the uke I’ll buy a better any suggestions that are not more than 100

  21. Hose April 13th, 2011 6:03 am

    Man, I bought a little Santa Rosa uke a couple weeks ago for like 25 bucks (it’s basically a toy) but still, it is a friggin fun time. def something worth looking into for a beginner who knows nothing about stringed instruments. I had to change the strings but other than that it’s been a party. I’m thinking of upgrading in the near future, any ideas for under lats say $150?

  22. Alexis April 26th, 2011 2:17 pm

    I bought a Luna Tattoo Concert as a starting point, does anybody played one Luna before? How is it compared to other brands’?

  23. Shin April 28th, 2011 5:09 pm

    I found my Kamaka soprano that I haven’t played in 40 years (gold foil). My wife bought me a Lanikai natural Koa tenor for $320 for Christmas, for my backup. Both play great but amazingly, even though it is way smaller, my Kamaka plays much louder with more projection and sustain. Kamaka’s are legendary. If you can afford one, go for it.

  24. beanaturelle May 6th, 2011 4:00 am

    My first Ukulele was purchased 2 years ago for my 50th birthday. My Father had played one when I was a child and taught me the “my dog has fleas” tuning method. So I always tuned his for him, but had never actually played one before. I purchased a Makala from Hawaii. It came with a beginner book with a cd, and a chord book by Hal Leonard. Additionally, it had a pitch pipe and case with it as well. Being a musician already, I taught myself the basics and I’ve been playing ever since. I have a lot to learn still, but everyone who hears me play really loves my performances and the Ukulele has a nice quality tone and was purchased at a very reasonable price. I’m really enjoying myself a lot. My Makala is a Concert C style Soprano Ukulele. I highly encourage the purchase of this instrument.

  25. Laurence Perlman June 11th, 2011 10:23 pm

    I bought a Collins tenor uke for $1300. Was this a wise decision? For this kind of money was there a better choice?

  26. xxpressojoe June 16th, 2011 1:07 am

    My new years resolution was to play more ukelele, but i didn’t own one, so i bought a Ibanez http://www.ibanez.com/AcousticGuitars/model-UEW20SG
    for $185 at my localy ownd music store. it is amazing, holds a tune, ahs a sweet mellow sound and is easy to play. at first I was just thinking about grabing the $40 just to get up & running but decided to take this georgious looking instrument for a test drive. the difference was so drastic, I had to spring for the better instrument. although I couldn’t afford a $1000 dollar Uke, but by spending a little more i got something I love to play and denifitely is a conversation piece because people always comment on it.

    Uke On!

  27. Zoe July 22nd, 2011 5:43 am

    I definitely recommend makala dolphin, I got mine for $35 from ebay 1 month ago and now I can play a handful of songs on it. Sometimes I’d bang it really loud and fast or do some simple solo songs pretending I’m a seasoned player. So yea, money well spent :D
    BTW, I see lots of discussions about the first Uke, can anyone advise me on the second Uke?

  28. Beth August 17th, 2011 4:41 pm

    Mine is a hand-me-down Baton Rouge (I call him Bertrand Russell because he has ‘BR’ stamped on him and… well I like naming my belongings). He’s not perfect, he has a crack on him due to careless cast member (grr) while we were on tour. Since arriving home I got some better strings for him (Aquila) and he sounds SO much better and isn’t so brutal on the fingers when playing. I think he cost 30 euros… although I can’t quite remember- I was only there to translate ‘Sorry we don’t speak Italian, but can my friend please have a shot of that ukulele, we are thinking of buying it’. Good times :)

  29. Olive September 5th, 2011 8:17 am

    So I was looking at some Ukuleles with a little bit more style than most. Stuff like Luna Ukuleles. The Great Wave Concert, High-Tilde Tenor, etc. The latter specifically. I’ve been looking for a Tenor for a long time and when I first saw it, I was struck by it’s craftsmanship. I’ve heard a lot about these Ukuleles and their quality. But a natural concern was that of my wallet — Luna Ukuleles are expensive pieces of work. So I’m shelfing that, for now. My question is — what Ukuleles would you recommend for someone looking to spend $150 and below(ish) for a somewhat stylish in look and sound Uku? Specifically those in a Tenor key. Thanks a ton in advance, any advice you can give me is appreciated:D

  30. Rachel October 19th, 2011 3:24 am

    I bought a Mahalo uke for 26 dollars and whenever I try to tune it, it goes out of tune before I can even finish the other strings! What can I do? I don’t want to totally buy a new uke, but, I definitely won’t be able to use this one if it acts like this normally.

  31. Olive November 2nd, 2011 7:41 am

    Rachel, I’ve found new Ukuleles tend to do that at first. It just takes a bit for the strings to stretch right, I think. But if the problem persists, I’d try changing the strings. Or possibly it IS the Ukulele. I can’t find a whole lot online about Mahalos, and I haven’t seen one for $26, but most the reviews do mention about the Uku having a tendency to fall out of tune easily.
    I’ve never purchased a Uku under $90 and it’s always taken a bit for the strings to sit right. Hope it helps!

  32. Trowy November 13th, 2011 11:55 am

    I to bought a Mahalo (the Les Paul shaped one with a pickup), just as a joke really, but ended up falling in love with it. Ukuleles are like anything else, you get what you pay for. I found that by putting quality strings on it the tone improved markedly, but it is what it is, a cheap uke. Ive just ordered a new one, won’t mention the brand because it’s a developmental project. Suffice to say the prototype I played was stunning. I am a rank beginner but the little Mahalo started a love affair with the happiest instrument on the planet. Can’t wait to get the new one!!

  33. Dave November 23rd, 2011 3:27 pm

    I bought my Uke three years ago for £20 and its brilliant. Had no issues at all sounds good an stays in tune well. :D

  34. Otter November 25th, 2011 5:51 pm

    i have been playin music for 3 years nw nd play bass, drums, guitar nd as of very recently ukelele nd have never spent allot of money on any instrument i got my electric guitar second hand for 20 euro nd a freind of mine spent 5000 euro on a lovely limited edition les paul nd dont get me wrong it is a brilliant instrument and a hell of a lot nicer soundin than mine but i dont see where the 4970 euro difference is. I cant really speak for ukelele though bcus i am very new to the instrument but most the ukes i hav played have been relatively cheap nd they have all sounded like really nice happy and mellow instruments from my experience they go out of tune allot though i guess that was jus becus all the ukeleles i have played were new dunno though?!?… but i think (nd allot of people disagree with me) that you dont have to spend allot of money to get a good instrument. if you want to get a nice instrument but dont want to break the bank well iv heard its worth while checking out them sites were people get rid of stuff they hav no need for you jus hav to pick it up nd you can also find some absolute beautiful second hand instruments at boot sales nd second hand shops for very reasonable prices there might be a bit of wear , a slight bend in the neck , high action or even bits missing its nothing a bit tendor love nd care nd mayb sum d.i.y skills cnt fix i would recommend checking your local boot sale or second hand shop bcus u cn find some beautiful instruments with lots of character nd individuality i think most people will agree that beats any mass produced cheap instrument. I spent 80 euro on my acoustic guitar wich is a pretty average price i wasnt extremley pleased with it at first but the more i played it the more it grew on me nd i have since made some adjustments too it to improve the sound nd sprayed a cool nite sky desine on the back of it nw i love it it sounds great nd is farely easy to play its called 50 cent bcus 1 of its tunin pegs broke (i had to tune it with pliers for ages) nd wen i got a new 1 off a freind it was gold nd the rest were silver so it was like 50 cent wid da gold tooth :D i take it every were wid me nd it has been all over island wid me nd played at many partys :) so long story short in my opinion u dnt have to spend allot to get allot

  35. Luis February 20th, 2012 6:38 pm

    I just purchased my first ukulele in Oahu,Hawaii. I dont know much about brands but its a Ali’i dark wood soprano. It sounds good but could also not find it when I looked it up on google. Can anyone help on wether it was a good buy for $90?

  36. Tim March 16th, 2012 2:46 am

    I to Luis bought an Ali’i Koa inlaid with mother of pearl, absolutely beautiful. But cannot find out anything about Ali’i online. If anyone can shed some light on Ali’i let us know.

  37. Michele March 29th, 2012 4:12 am

    I just bought an entry level Islander by Kanile’a, and I’m very happy with it. It is a lot of ukulele for the money ($99), but they are hard to find on the Mainland. It is a soprano, and has a mellow, rich sound, and is very easy to play. I’m replacing my ancient 1970s Harmony instrument, and just getting back into playing. A nicer instrument really makes a difference–even for a beginner.

  38. Avery April 4th, 2012 8:03 pm

    I bought my Kala KA-S about 4 years ago. It’s great! I don’t play very much so I haven’t felt the need to get a better one. It has a great sound and a beautiful mahogany color. I always get compliments. No finger prints like my guitar. It’s great. I recommend it for beginners or people who just plain suck like me. :)

  39. Lauren July 5th, 2012 6:10 pm

    I bought my first ukulele a little over a year ago. After doing some online research, I purchased a Makala MK-S for $45-$50. I absolutely love it! I think it’s a great beginner uke and great quality for the price, without being cheap. After a while I see myself buying a bigger ukulele, but for now, I’m satisfied with my MK-S :) Oh, and this website has been a total life-saver for a self-taught ukulele player – Thank you!

  40. Daniel August 2nd, 2012 5:44 pm

    I bought my very first ukulele from Hilo. Checked everything out, it looked nice, the reviews said it was a decent starter ukulele. With a… thirty-eight(?) dollar price tag, I was sold. I received it in the mail a few days later, and was greeted with missing fret markers, a b oken string, and fake geared tuners. And they were open gears, too. I guess that’s what I deserved for buying so dirt-cheap. So I returned it, hastily typed up an angry letter to Hilo, telling them to take the word “Genuine” off of their far-less-than-genuine product. Anyway, after that whole spiel, I went on another hunt; this time, a hunt with some dough burning a hole in my pocket. I came across a nice line of Washburn ukulele and my eyes widened for two reasons: the price tags were in the hundreds (a good thing, for how they looked), and, upon closer inspection, I came to one made of all rare Hawaiian Koa… for one-hundred-thirty dollars. That was that. Picked it up, played one chord, and fell in love. The tone was magnificent. Koa is the best-sounding wood for ukuleles. No, that is not an opinion. The stock strings were also magnificent. So, anyone looking for a ukulele that’ll last, sound great, and be durable (I’ve dropped a hard fifteen pounds on the sucker), look at Washburn. They’ll have your ukulele!

  41. Jake September 16th, 2012 9:53 am

    My friends bought me a Mahalo U30 uke as a joke since I shared the name of a virtuoso, and it got me hooked!
    But the intonation is shocking.. Sticking a chromatic tuner on it, the notes go up by a semitone and a half even on the first fret!
    I’ve ordered an Oscar Schmidt OU5 concert uke, looking for a better quality uke and more frets to experiment with.

    The main thing is to find something that you like, the one thats for you.
    Rule of thumb: price is the indicator of quality.

  42. Taylor October 24th, 2012 1:20 am

    I have a gordoba 15 cm. I highly recommend it 99$ right now

  43. Henry January 6th, 2013 6:09 pm

    I am 13 years old and i would say i am about intermediate at the uke and I play every day for about an hour or 2. My first uke (the only uke ive owned) is a Diamond Head Soprano and it cost me about 25 dollars. I want to get a high quality one for about 150 to 200…any thoughts and where to buy?

  44. Petra April 22nd, 2013 1:12 pm

    My first Uk was for my daughter, a crappy thing from 30€ and afterwards I had a Cordoba concert from 80€ which was quite good, especially the sound, but I had problems to hold it correctly in my hands. So afterwards I had a Uk from 109€ and now I bought the Lag U77S soprano who is laying very good in the hands. Also I like the slim shape, and the sound is good. But still there was something missing. And so I decided to get a the Maton Ukulele concert for 485€ which I am paying in three times. It comes with a beautiful hard case and the sound, shape, everything is simply wonderful! No decorations at all unfortunately, just a simple uk but only with the best Australian wood. Why I choose for this expensive uk, is because I am playing the guitar for one year. I am 31 years old, single mother, with a fulltime job, and I had not the time and energy to struggle, because the guitar was a real struggle for me. I am able to play some simple major chords, but nothing more. I had to force myself everytime to do the excercises and I was fed up with the slow progress. With the uk, I can almost lay down and still be able to play. Within one month I could already play a lot of songs. And that motivates me to grap it every time when my daughter is sleeping or when she is doing something else. It is almost an addication. So the contrary of the guitar. And because the sound of a cheap uk will always stay the same, or will become even worse, I decided to buy a real uk and with this uk the sound will only become better during the ages. So it is uk for life, and I am very very happy with it. It is expensive, but I have the feeling that I sound almost like a pro, just because of this good instrument. And also it will keep me from buying more and more uk’s and ending up with 5 or more uk’s with a normal quality, instead off investing in a real good instrument and being happy with it everytime when I have it in my hands!

  45. Jim West May 16th, 2013 8:37 am

    I paid £15 GBP ($20) for my first banger a few weeks ago. It was made specifically for a Cancer charity, Sue Ryder, so i knew this was no pedigree but as i’m brand new to music I thought that all money wasted went to a good cause.
    The strings were quite far from the fret board so it was painful to press down on the first two frets, the frets weren’t very well spaced either and the noise coming out of the laminate rainbow-painted body was far from angelic…..

    But it proved to be a perfect choice! a couple of weeks on that and I picked up a £50 ($70) and could play it well as i was used to playing the cheapo uke! My fingers went through a ‘boot camp’ with the first one and I was so happy to hear the notes come out of the new one that it now comes with me everywhere! Traffic jams are now practice time :)

  46. Tim May 21st, 2013 1:42 am

    Does your uke make you smile? Do you think you’ll still enjoy it a year from now, even if you have or plan to get a better uke, too?

    Then please get a case. I think that is the most overlooked item. I’ve even seen people with expensive ukes, guitars, whatever, using a $20 gig bag.

    The Lanikai, or Hohner (same thing) fabric covered hard foam case is currently available in the $40 range. Any uke worth caring about is worth at least that much for a case. I have four ukes sitting in them, and two of them were about the same price as the case! My better $230 Lanikai CK-C is in a $110 wood hard case.

  47. Marie May 26th, 2013 2:23 pm

    I have just had a kala acoustic electric tenor as a birthday present I never thought of playing a uke although I have played guitar base and hurdy gurdy for many years I must say I am so impressed with this the sound is amazing from such a small instrument it has a built in tuner although it stayers in tune very well ,I have just ordered a concert size puka it had a good review on one of the sites but we shall see anyone any experience of these I am hooked happy playing out there

  48. Dickie June 10th, 2013 10:22 am

    I have a George Formby uke and would like to know whether it has any collector’s value at all. Needs upgrading and work to be done on it, but I know George Formby died in 1961. Does anyone know ?

  49. Annabelle August 30th, 2013 2:17 pm

    I would always agree with: buy the best you can afford, but… Seriously, I bought a cheap Mahalo £20 soprano uke in my local music shop in England, just so I could have something to play with on holiday (guitars are just not practical to fly with)… Well guess what: I LOVE it. It actually sounds really good to my ear; and I have quite a good ear, honest!
    You just have to try a few buy something that it sweet-sounding, certainly don’t spend all your cash at the start, then when you’re hooked get a lovely treat with a better made one…

  50. Damo December 8th, 2013 4:04 pm

    I’ve been mucking around on cheap uke’s ( mahalo and Pheonix ) for a few years now and gradually the kids have destroyed one and damaged the other. The damaged one I’ve done a bodgy repair to and it still sounds pretty good and that was a pretty cheap uke and still holds its tune etc etc,anyway there’s heaps of cheap, intermediate and exspensive uke’s to choose from, determine your budget, go to the store closest to you, with the greatest selection and variety of Ukes, be honest about your budget, then pick up and play everything in your budget range, see which you like the look, feel, and sound of the most and buy it!

    Just been through this process to finally get myself a decent Uke and ended up with a Greg Bennett, UK-70 concert uke. Sounded better to me than anything else in my price range, by a long shot!

    The Greg Bennett is made in Indonesia by Samnick, but I tell you what it’s damn good quality with an awesome sound!

  51. Lenichi February 5th, 2014 3:35 am

    A friend of mine let me borrow his beautiful Oscar Schmidt (not one of the cheaper ones either) pretty much permanently, but I decided I’d rather make myself a personalized one. Bought the wood. I’m trying to finish it within the month.

  52. TommyJo March 8th, 2014 6:08 am

    a friend of mine let me play his custom made Uke. its entirely hand made one of a kind acording to his spec. he paid SGD450 for a Concert with Hard Case. The fertboard is inlayed with mother of pearl flower motif body trimmed with mother of pearl fromt and back. looks sweet and sounds sweet too.

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