March 5, 2021

Ukulele Price Guide: How Much Does A Ukulele Cost?

Once you've decided to get a ukulele, you probably want to know more about the ukulele price to find the right one within your reach. 

Ukulele is a fairly fun and easy instrument to pick up. If you find guitar or mandolin intimidating, you can start small by experimenting with a ukulele first. 

How many ranges of the ukulele price on the market?

Most ukuleles range in price from $30 to above $2000. There are some offerings under $30, but they are barely playable. 

For beginners, the sweet spot is from $150 and $500. Move up to $1000 above, and you can get better instruments with refined details or even a custom-made, one-of-a-kind piece of instrument.

What Factors Affect The Price Of A Ukulele?

The Smaller Ukulele Might Cost Less

Four-common-ukulele-sizes

There are four main ukulele sizes: Soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. Soprano is the smallest and features the tightest fret gap, making it the perfect fit for children or adults with small fingers and hands.

Baritone is the largest piece and looks like a guitar. It has a wide fret gap that offers more comfort for those with large hands.

It’s best to choose the size that you're comfortable strumming.

In most cases, large ukuleles cost more than the smaller models. It is easy to understand as a large piece requires more material and effort to make. 

Different Materials Make Different Prices

The material of any instrument is the key to its quality. A plastic or laminate ukulele sounds different from an all-solid one. 

Price-wise, plastic ukuleles are the cheapest and of the lowest quality. They're also easy to wear and tear. 

Laminate pieces are slightly better and more expensive, but there's still a lot to be desired in their sound production. On the upper end of the scale are partially solid ukuleles, whose top is made from solid wood and back and sides from laminate. 

Beginners can settle with these top-solid as they create decent sound. More pricey pieces are entirely made from solid woods, and their sound is hard to beat. 

One of the most favorite hardwoods is Koa, thanks to its top-notch sound production and beautiful look.  

Good Strings Are More Expensive - Quality For Concert And Show

Strings are a crucial component of the ukulele and need some investment if you want your ukulele to sound right. While instruments on the lower end of the spectrum tend to come with cheap strings, more expensive competitors bring out better tones as their strings are made from better materials. 

Fancy Look Ukulele Might Cost Extra

For such a functional device, look is not the utmost concern. While ornaments don't add anything to playability and sound quality, they help your instrument more aesthetically pleasing. 

Cutaway or fancy inlays do that job pretty well, but instruments that come with these add-ons cost higher than those without. 

What To Expect From Cheap Ukuleles?

There's not so much to expect from these pieces within this category except for the cheap price. Cheap ukuleles cost you no more than $30. 

For such a price, you should keep your expectation realistic and don't be surprised at their poor build quality and inferior sound production. 

Ukuleles in this price bracket are plastic or laminated wood pieces. These materials contribute to the ukuleles' thin, unclear, and somewhat sad tone. 

Another culprit for inferior sound quality of cheap models is the low-quality strings that come with them. These strings bring to life a relatively dull sound that can put you off right from the first time you play. 

Other parts like tuners and frets also play a role in the sound production of a ukulele. The sad truth is that manufacturers don't pay much attention to them as they should. 

You're likely to come across ukuleles with movie characters on them. They look lively, making them a perfect gift for your children. 

However, you'll pay a little extra for these models. 

If you’re buying a ukulele with a tight budget but are not sure you'll stick with it in the long run, a cheap ukulele is the way to go.

What To Expect From Entry-level Ukuleles? $50-$150

$50 - under $100

Purchasing a good instrument from this price range is less of a gamble than the lower-end spectrum. The build quality is more consistent with better components to improve the playability. 

However, unless you're on a tight budget and need a ukulele as soon as you can, I suggest you should be more patient, put aside a little more to go with the upper-end spectrum, which I will discuss right below. 

$100 - $150

Pieces cost from $100 to $150 make a decent starter ukulele if you're new to the world of ukulele. These ukuleles enjoy better craftsmanship and higher quality materials ( but still laminate wood). 

You can buy one with more confidence as they're all serviceable and play better than their cheaper counterparts. Although the $50 difference might appear significant to some, I recommend you should go for the one on the top-end spectrum ($150) as it'll last longer and of higher overall quality. 

Bottom line

The $50-$150 price range is suitable for those taking playing ukulele slightly more seriously and have a decent commitment. You'll get a reasonably well-built item that produces true ukulele sound. 

As your skill progresses, you might want to upgrade the instrument. However, pieces in this price range make a safe start, especially for those who still hesitate to pay a lot for such an instrument. 

What To Expect From Mid-range Ukuleles?

$150-$500

This ukulele price range is suitable for beginners and seasoned players alike. 

While most pieces in this bracket look better with a few add-ons, appealing inlays, for example, they offer no better sound quality than their entry-level counterparts. So, you pay a little more and get a better-looking instrument. 

That's said, there are some models with new features that make a difference. 

There are a decent number of solid-top ukuleles for a mid-range price. But is solid-top any good? The answer is an absolute yes. 

I mentioned laminate wood above, which is not an ideal ukulele material for sure. Solid-top is a huge upgrade from laminate as they produce clear, full, and rich sound. 

You should note that you only get a ukulele whose top is made from solid wood for the price while its back and sides are still laminated. 

However, that's more than enough for those who're just starting. 

Besides, if you go for a mid-leveled instrument, you can have the option of a cutaway ukulele. 

A- Enya-cutaway-concert-ukulele

Although the cutaway affects the overall ukulele sound, I can say the difference is small to negligible. 

The cutaway design helps your hand reach the higher chords easier, meaning you can get more fun with a wider range of tones. However, I must say that this high-tone area is of little use to anyone who just starts learning to play the instrument. 

Therefore, unless you're a seasoned ukulelist, a standard model does you just fine. 

Electro-acoustic ukuleles are available in the mid-range league. These instruments allow you to play for a large crowd with an amplifier.

Electro-acoustic pieces are your best bet if you usually entertain people or aim to play on the school's stage.

What to expect from high-end ukuleles?  $500 And Beyond

If you've played a ukulele for long enough to take it to the next level, a high-end choice makes a lot of sense. 

Within this price bracket, all-solid ukuleles are the norm. You can let your playing skills shine with this premium choice, playing full, bright, and vibrant sound every time you hold your instrument. 

All the more, manufacturers might go the extra mile in terms of materials with exotic wood for a more stunning look or higher-grade material for the sake of durability. 

For $700-$1000, what else can you expect? 

The sought-after elegant Koa ukuleles are within your reach. Superior sound, look, and durability are what you get for your money. 

Hawaii hand-made ukuleles are attainable for this amount of money, which boasts refined construction and high-grade tuners.

Moving up this price ladder, you can even get yourself a custom-made ukulele, which usually costs higher than $2000. 

Custom-made objects have a soul of their own. Therefore, beyond outstanding quality, you can represent your taste and personality via the instrument. 

For the price, there is a one-of-a-kind ukulele that you can call your own.

What Are Some Good Ukulele Brands?

Once you know the average ukulele price, you might wonder what brands are safe to buy. While more ukulele manufacturers jump on the bandwagon, there are some trusted brands that you can trust for quality.

Lanikai, Donner, Kala, Cordoba, and Martin are a few big names in the industry. They make reliable pieces for beginners and professionals alike.

If you're buying for the first time, you'd better stick with these brands.

Conclusion

Now you have a better idea about the ukulele price range and what you can get for the money you pay. Consider how much you're willing to spend for your instrument and make adjustments if you see fit. 

For example, if your budget straddles the price line, you can consider paying more to get better quality and durability in return. If you're a first-time buyer, it's best to purchase from a well-established brand as you've got covered better.

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