Top 10 Best Ukuleles For 2017 – Full Buying Guide

Ukuleles are small, beautiful and really fun to play which doesn’t come as a surprise considering that they originate from Hawaii. Ukulele is a fairly easy instrument to master so it is perfect for beginners.

If you are a beginner who never held any lute instrument before or someone who is already familiar with the ukulele, this buying guide will offer you the best ukuleles available today.

Before I dive into the buying guide and ukulele choices keep in mind that the best ukulele for beginners which I would recommend doesn’t differ so much from the best ukulele for an experienced player. This is because ukuleles are not an expensive instrument and are not extremely complex so any of the quality choices will do great for beginners and professionals alike.

However, there are differences among these instruments and you should read the guide below before you make any decisions. In order to find what is the best ukulele for you, there are some factors you should consider.

Most important thing you should know is that the price tag isn’t everything. I have seen ukuleles which are very cheap provide the player with the beautiful playing experience, same as the expensive ones.

Still, if you favor certain brands, materials and sizes, the price tags will stretch here and there, but like I said previously even the best ukuleles are not really that expensive and if you are a beginner I would advise to go with the one you will like overall at the end of this guide.

So, which is the best ukulele for me? 

At this point, you are probably wondering how to decide which is the best ukulele for you. No worries, I got you covered. Here is a full guide to help you understand what kind of a ukulele is for you:

Ukulele Sizes

Currently, we enjoy the main four sizes of the Ukulele instrument. They differ by their neck length and their size overall. The four sizes are soprano, concert, tenor and baritone and here are some of their characteristics.

Soprano Ukulele

Soprano ukulele is the one which most of the people associate the ukulele instrument with. It is the most traditional ukulele and it is the smallest one at the size of 20 inches. This ukulele offers the most authentic traditional ukulele sound.

Soprano ukulele is more difficult to play because of the narrow frets but such is the instrument. It is good for a beginner to master this size of the ukulele.

Recently the sopranissimo, an even smaller ukulele is becoming popular but this type won’t be included in this review.

Concert Ukulele

Coming at one size bigger, the concert ukulele kept the original sound of the soprano size but it is louder. This is a great option if you need your ukulele to spread your sound further. The neck is longer making more space between the frets which makes it easier to play this instrument.

This is great for the beginners who are having a hard time playing at the soprano size and for people with big fingers too. The typical size of a concert Ukulele is 23 Inches.

Tenor Ukulele

This ukulele type is gaining popularity these days and the most professional ukulele players are known to go for this ukulele size (for an example James Hill). However, you should know that this ukulele size strays from the traditional ukulele sound and its sound resembles something like a deeper classical guitar.

The Tenor ukulele is 26 Inches long. But this isn’t the largest ukulele, which brings me to the last size.

Baritone Ukulele

The largest ukulele of them all is the baritone ukulele which is sized at 30 Inches which makes for the ukulele with the deepest sound. The Baritone Ukulele sound is similar to the classical nylon stringed guitar. This ukulele size is not so popular because many players chose ukulele for its small size, portability and overall the authentic ukulele sound and baritone ukulele sounds more like a guitar.

Still, there are players out there who love baritone and I will list a few of them in this guide as well.

The Wood

The choice of wood will affect the ukulele sound and there are so many woods used in the production of ukuleles today but I will cover those which are the most common for ukuleles.

The wood used for the most high-end ukuleles is Koa which is a type of wood from Hawaii. This wood has a beautiful grain and a warm sound. Many expensive and professional ukuleles are made from Koa wood.

Mahogany is the wood used on most middle range ukuleles but there are some professional ukuleles made from mahogany as well. The ukulele sound from this wood is a bit softer than of those made from Koa but this doesn’t degrade mahogany ukuleles so much. This wood is a very good choice because of its good sound quality and affordability.

The third most commonly used wood for ukuleles is the Spruce and it is found in the low-end ukuleles.

Here is a great video from youtube where you can hear the comparison of different wood types and differences in the sound.

Your budget and skills

This is another thing you should consider when purchasing the ukulele. Ukuleles are usually cheap when comparing to most other instruments like the guitar, drum sets or pianos. But don’t let their small price fool you, a ukulele is a wonderful instrument and money isn’t everything which brings me to my next point.

I believe that if you bound yourself financially that you will get more motivation to learn and play ukulele. Now let me explain that. Let’s say for an example you purchase the cheapest one there is and you get disappointed by the quality and the sound. You will probably miss the chance to enjoy this beautiful instrument in that case…

What I recommend is not going with any weak options but to go for the middle-end or high-end end ukuleles because ukuleles are generally cheap. There is a small price change between the horrible ukulele and a decent one.

If you are a beginner I would recommend to go for a decently priced ukulele but of high quality. And if you are a professional I would advise to check out some of the high-end ukuleles in the review below and chose one among them according to your budget.

Top 10 Best Ukuleles Reviews

In this review guide, I am going to list the ukuleles of various sizes and for various skill sets. You should read every review and decide which one works for you. However please note that each and every of these is the best ukulele for a certain artist needs.

Some of the criteria I used when choosing the top 10 best ukuleles are the following:

  • Price and quality ratio
  • Sound quality
  • Other people reviews who had a chance to use the instrument
  • The quality of the ukulele build

Now without further ado let’s dive into the reviews and find which ukulele is best for you.

1. Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

For the start of this review, I will go with this Soprano Ukulele from Kala, which is a well known brand in the ukulele production.

Kala KA-15S is an affordable ukulele which offers stunning quality. Made from Mahagony wood which will provide you with a beautiful sound while also making for a classy appearance. It comes with a satin finish which makes for an additional bonus when it comes to esthetics.

This is one of the best choices for beginners who want to start off right, but it is also a good choice for professional players who need to practice and don’t want to spend more money.

Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele Features:

  • Mahogany made body and neck
  • Pre-strings are premium high-quality AQUILA NYLGUT Strings
  • Satin Finish and Geared tuners
  • Changing strings is quite simple
  • Light weight
  • Provides a pretty powerful warm sound

This Soprano Ukulele comes pre-strung with Premium AQUILA NYLGUT Strings which is great as these strings will last you for some time without breaking. 

Another thing I like about this ukulele is that the sound is loud enough to entertain a wider group of people in the back of your yard, at a party or some smaller gig. But keep in mind that for any crowded wider area you will need a bigger ukulele if you want your sound to spread.

It comes with 12 brass frets and you should know that people who have big fingers stressed that it was difficult for them to play on this soprano model. But this is a problem many people face when using any soprano model. If this is you then you should consider going for a concert or bigger ukulele.

If you are reading this review of best ukuleles and you are looking for a first ukulele then this might be a choice for you. It is affordable and offers a great price and quality ratio, making it one of the best ukuleles for the money.

Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
  • Mahogany body and neck
  • 12 Brass Frets with Fret position Marks at 5th,7th and 10th frets on neck and top of fingerboard
  • Rosewood Fingerboard and Bridge
  • Satin Finish and Geared tuners
  • Pre-strung with Premium AQUILA NYLGUT Strings

Last update on 2017-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Luna MALU Mahogany Series Maluhia (Peace) Concert Ukulele

This is a beautiful Concert Ukulele from Luna which is a great option again for beginners and professionals alike but I think it is more suited for beginners who are looking to start off right.

This ukulele is made from mahogany wood and it has a really beautiful finish and the wood texture easily speaks about the quality of the build. This special series from Luna, the Maluhia, is the series that most traditional ukulele players will love.

The “Maluhia” is a Hawaiian word for Peace and the peace philosophy was embodied with this ukulele by a special engravement from Luna.

Luna MALU Mahogany Maluhia Concert Ukulele Features:

  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Changing strings is simple and easy
  • Comes pre-strung with quality strings from Nylgut
  • Features a beautiful and deep sound
  • Light Weight – Simple to transport

Since this is a concert size, it is the best ukulele for people who are looking for a great model which can provide with a more powerful sound.

The tone is deeper as is with concert ukuleles and is less pitched as opposed to soprano sizes.

The sound of this model from Luna is beautiful and warm as you can expect from a great wood quality. This is one of those high-quality ukuleles from mahogany. Most professionals would agree that this sound quality is what they were looking from a ukulele.

The model is pre-strung with high-quality strings from Nylgut and they should last you for a long time if you are treating them right.

The only problem I find with this ukulele is the price. I think that it could have been at least a bit less expensive. Still, if you like it you should feel free to go with it as it will satisfy all of the beginner needs and experienced players alike.

Luna MALU Mahogany Series Maluhia (Peace) Concert...
  • "Maluhia" means peace in Hawaiian. The Peace design on this concert uke is a very special one for...
  • The Maluhia Concert Ukulele features a laser cut peace sign at the sound hole and the word "peace"...
  • Rosewood fretboard. Open style tuners. Satin finish. Gig bag included.

Last update on 2017-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3.  Luna Honu Mahogany Concert Ukulele Bundle

Here we have another concert ukulele but this one gravitates towards professional ukuleles.

It comes as a bundle pack so it is ready for transport, regular cleaning and tuning and etc. This is great if you are a beginner and you wish to acquire a great to play ukulele along with everything else that you will need.

The sound of this ukulele is beautiful thanks to the mahogany build and thanks to the concert size this ukulele can have a wide sound spread.

Luna Honu mahogany concert ukulele Features:

  • The fretboard is from rosewood
  • Comes prestrung with Aquila strings
  • Comes with a ukulele tuner
  • Features a beautiful and deep sound
  • It has a beautiful engraving in the wood

Luna Honu mahogany ukulele is an excellent choice for experienced players who are not looking to spend top dollar but wish to get a fairly professional ukulele.

But this ukulele is also a great choice if you are a beginner and you are not afraid to spend a little bit more than on an average beginner ukulele.

The Honu model from Luna, comes with Aquila strings which is great since it is ready to play and these strings should keep you rocking for some time! 

But you should know that this ukulele will provide you with the beautiful sound after you break in the strings which will happen relatively fast, considering how often you are playing it.

The strings are relatively easy to change, in case they break and it is quite simple to tune this ukulele and especially with the tuner you get in this bundle.

This ukulele features a rosewood fretboard and a full body mahogany build. This is just another great example of what is Luna capable of. 

Luna Honu Mahogany Concert Ukulele Bundle with Gig Bag,...
  • Concert size
  • Quality laser-etched design
  • Nato/Mahogany neck and Rosewood fretboard
  • Comes strung with Aquila strings

Last update on 2017-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Lanikai LU-21 Soprano Ukulele Bundle

Here is a perfect example of a great beginner friendly ukulele. It is soprano size model from Lanikai, one of the best rated ukulele manufacturers, and if you are searching for a great soprano ukulele for a beginner then this is probably the one for you.

It comes as a bundle with gig bag included, DVD for learning, tuner for tuning (along with the batteries), the ukulele is pre-strung and you will also get a polishing cloth. Basically, if you are a beginner and you want to buy it all at once at a decent price you should check out this bundle. And now let us talk about the ukulele model itself.

This is probably the best soprano sized ukulele at this price range so it is great for those who wish to learn this noble instrument. But you should always make sure that the size is right for you since this is the smallest type of ukulele.

Lanikai LU-21 soprano ukulele Features:

  • Comes in a bundle
  • Beginner friendly
  • Made with Nato wood
  • Offers beautiful sound
  • White binding to increase durability
  • Rosewood bridge and fretboard

The main wood used for the Lanikai LU-21 is the Nato, also known as “Eastern Mahogany”. This wood delivers beautiful sound and is capable of producing pronounced mid-range as well as a mellow high-end.

This soprano ukulele features white binding which increases the durability of the model while also giving it a great esthetic detail. The bridge and fretboard are made with rosewood so this model doesn’t fall behind with its features.

The strings have to stretch and break in to the point that they will not require frequent tuning but this is the case with most new ukuleles. But keep in mind that after some time this model will start delivering its real and authentic sound, once the strings are ready.

All and all this is one fo the best ukuleles for a beginner and especially because it comes in a bundle. There are other great beginner options in this ukulele buying guide but this one deserves its space under the spotlight.

Lanikai LU-21 Soprano Ukulele Bundle with Gig Bag,...
  • Soprano size
  • Rosewood fretboard, 12 frets
  • Nato top, back, and sides
  • Chrome die-cast tuning machines
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Last update on 2017-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. Hola! Music HM-124KA+ Deluxe Koa Wood Concert Ukulele

Here is an example of a high quality professional concert ukulele made by Hola! Music. I would recommend this one to the pros who really love and have been playing ukulele for years. However, if you are a beginner and your pockets are deep then you might want to check out this beauty.

With its body made from Koa wood, it is easy to understand that the sound from this ukulele is going to meet everyone’s expectations. And considering that it is a concert sized ukulele you can expect that the sound is going to spread further while keeping the original ukulele sound.

Hola! Music HM-124KA+ Deluxe Concert Ukulele Features:

  • Koa wood body build
  • Nato wood used for the neck
  • Rosewood Fingerboard and the Bridge
  • High quality beautiful sound
  • Genuine Italian Aquila Nylgut strings

The instrument comes pre-strung with the high quality Italian Aquila Nylgut strings and this also contributes to the beauty of the sound originating from this ukulele.

The neck is made with the Nato while the Fingerboard and Bridge are crafted from high quality Rosewood.

The sound of this concert ukulele is one of the most beautiful I have heard. However, note that even if this ukulele is a professional one the sound is just a bit better than other buying options listed above because in this buying guide I only listed high quality ukuleles. But if you are a pro player and you respect every bit of quality then you should consider this instrument.

For the conclusion, I would like to state that this is one fo the best ukuleles when it comes to price and quality ratio. Professional ukulele players will love its beautiful sound, high quality build and the beautiful finish.

6. Cordoba 15TM Tenor Ukulele

This is one of the best tenor ukuleles for beginners who are looking into them. Coming from Cordoba, one of the best ukulele brands which has proven their price and quality ratio, this tenor sized ukulele will not disappoint you.

It is budget friendly considering its size and quality so it deserves its spot in this ukulele buying guide.

This tenor ukulele comes with mahogany top, back and sides which gives this instrument a beautiful sound. And as I mentioned above the tenor ukulele will provide you with a deeper sound and this tenor from Cordoba will do just that.

Cordoba 15TM Tenor Ukulele Features:

  • Mahogany build offering a beautiful sound
  • Great price and quality ratio
  • Abalone-Style Rosette
  • Fingerboard binding
  • Silver Tuners with Pearl buttons
  • Premium Aquila strings
  • Great for beginners

The sound from this tenor ukulele will spread further than with the concert size so if you need to entertain a larger audience or just want a stronger and deeper sound you should look into this or other tenor sized ukuleles.

Another reason for getting a tenor sized ukulele if you are a beginner is if the concert size is not big enough for you. The tenor ukulele will definitely provide you with enough room for your fingers on the fretboard.

Some of the things I love about this tenor ukulele are abalone-style rosette which makes a beautiful addition and ivoroid body and fingerboard binding. This tenor ukulele features a sleek satin finish, silver tuners with pearl buttons, and premium Aquila strings.

Cordoba 15M tenor ukulele will do great with beginners who need a size bigger than concert one and some professional players could also do well with this ukulele if they can’t afford anything more on the pro side.

Sale
Cordoba 15TM Tenor Ukulele
  • Mahogany top, back, and sides
  • Satin finish
  • Tenor size

Last update on 2017-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

7. Fender Tenor Ukulele “Nohea” – All Koa

This is one of the best Tenor Ukuleles for the money and that is because of great price and quality ratio. Coming from a well established brand in the stringed instruments industry, this Fender Tenor Ukulele will provide you with a beautiful playing experience.

Fender “Nohea” – All Koa ukulele is made of Koa top with fan bracing and Koa is also used for back and sides, providing you with a beautiful sound from this tenor ukulele. However, you should know that this instrument is not made entirely from Koa wood but it is the Koa wood over a composite.

This tenor has Acrylic abalone rosette and body binding which is understandable at this price range but I like how the binding gives the special look to it and if you are into such decorations then you should check this one out.

It comes with Nylon Aquila strings which are the same strings used in most ukuleles these days. This is not an advantage or disadvantage at this price range. The strings are of high quality and after they break in they will provide you with great playing experience.

It features the mahogany neck with 19 frets and one thing I specifically find attractive – Telecaster headstock shape. It really gives the unique look to it. This is one of the designs which Fender created over the years they have been creating stringed musical instruments and it is one of the beautiful things this manufacturer has gifted to the music world.

Fender Tenor Ukulele “Nohea” – All Koa Features:

  • Koa top, sides and back
  • Acrylic abalone rosette and body binding
  • Unique Telecaster headstock shape
  • Comes prestrung with the Nylon Aquila strings
  • Provides beautiful full Tenor ukulele sound

However, think before buying this instrument. Take a look at the headstock shape and see if this is something for you. Most people, including me, love that design but it doesn’t mean that you will too. The advantage of this Fender Telecaster design is that all of the ukuleles turning pegs will be on one side of the instrument, making it easier to tune but the disadvantage is that this design is not traditional to ukuleles.

This tenor sized ukulele will do great for advanced musicians, ukulele lovers and beginners who have a bigger budget. The sound quality is great, quality of the build is one of the best from this list and unique design of the headstock shape is something that would attract ukulele enthusiasts.

Fender Tenor Ukulele "Nohea" - All Koa
  • Koa top with fan bracing
  • Koa back and sides
  • Mahogany neck with 19 frets, bone nut and Telecaster headstock shape
  • Rosewood bridge with bone saddle
  • Acrylic abalone rosette and body binding

Last update on 2017-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

8. Oscar Schmidt OU57 Spalted Mango Baritone Ukulele

This is one of the best Baritone Ukuleles you can get today at this price range and the reason why I chose this one for this ukulele buying guide is the price and quality ratio of course.

Oscar Shmidt is famous stringed instruments manufacturer established in the 19th century with almost 200 years of manufacturing experience. However, this doesn’t mean by default that they are great so let’s talk about this Baritone ukulele and its features.

The beautiful look of this instrument is thanks to the spalting of the mango wood which is used for this baritone uke. Spalting is a process which changes wood coloration using special procedures in combination with fungi. This is a process usually done on higher quality ukuleles and acoustic guitars.

The mango wood used is hard, sturdy and overall of great quality, offering the rich sound and wonderful playing experience.

This ukulele from Oscar Shmidt is decorated with Acrylic abalone rosette and body binding which is of course expected at this price range.

Like any baritone ukulele, this one also has that unique sound to them. Something in between the ukulele and the guitar. If you are reading this part of the buying guide, then I presume you love that sound so you should know that this baritone will provide you with that deep and lively sound for which baritones are known for.

Also, baritone ukes are great due to DGBE tuning which will allow you to play most of the common guitar chords. So if you are a guitar player and you are unsure for which uke to go for, consider this when making your choice.

Oscar Schmidt OU57 Spalted Mango Baritone Ukulele Features:

  • Spalted mango wood
  • High quality deep, rich and mellow Baritone sound
  • Acrylic abalone rosette and body binding
  • Comes prestrung with the Nylon Aquila strings

This is a high quality baritone ukulele and it will do great for professional players and beginners alike. However if you are a total beginner to ukes and if you are looking into them for their authentic sound, maybe you should think about other options in this guide.

Oscar Schmidt OU57 Spalted Mango Baritone Ukulele
  • Baritone Style
  • Mango Top
  • Mango Sides and Back

Last update on 2017-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

9. Martin C1K Concert Uke – Koa

Now I am moving on to the best of the best when it comes to ukuleles. This is definitely a ukulele for advanced players and professionals. Don’t get me wrong, even a beginner can learn from this Martin ukulele but the fact that this ukulele is made of highest quality means that you need deeper pockets to buy it.

Martin is one of the world’s most famous guitar and ukulele manufacturers and they have been around for almost 200 years. They keep innovating and providing us with new and improved instruments and this ukulele is one of their finest.

Now what’s best about this ukulele is that it is made from highest quality Hawaiian Solid Koa wood, providing you with the best sound that a ukulele can offer. This Martin ukulele is extremely resonant and is very action low, making it very easy to play and to be heard.

It comes prestrung which is of course expected in this price range but it doesn’t take regular strings. Note that it requires (and comes with) Martin strings.

These are Martin fluorocarbon strings and are tuned GCEA. However, some players say that it can take regular nylon strings too but officially it uses Martin strings.

The sound quality is simply the best. The sound is rich and beautiful. Not to be biased and say something like “this is the best sounding ukulele”, but it simply is among the best ukuleles in the world and there is no arguing that.

Martin knows its job and they have always been providing only the highest of quality stringed instruments.

I personally don’t like the design, it is too simple. I wish it had body binding but that’s just me. The quality of the finish is great and one thing I do like is multi stripe rossete.

This is a concert ukulele created for professional players and people who are really enthusiastic about their ukulele.

You can easily buy a high quality guitar for the money of this ukulele but considering the quality of this instrument, no amount is too much for a true uke lover.

Martin C1K Concert Uke - Koa
  • Concert size body
  • Solid Hawaiian Koa top, back and sides
  • Select hardwood neck and dovetail neck joint
  • High quality satin lacquer
  • Includes gig bag

Last update on 2017-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

10. Martin T1K Koa Tenor Ukulele Natural

For the last uke in this buying guide, I am choosing this Tenor T1K ukulele from Martin. Now, this ukulele is pretty similar to the one above except that it is Tenor sized uke.

This Tenor ukulele from Martin is one of the best tenor options they provide. Made in the USA using only the highest quality Koa wood it is one of the best ukulele choices when it comes to build quality.

Even if its price is high the quality and price ratio is excellent considering how well it is built.

This ukulele is very loud and it will provide you with a very rich and beautiful sound.

Same story here applies as the ukulele above. The Koa wood body will ensure that the ukulele will provide you with the highest quality sound.

Martin’s T1K Tenor Ukulele also uses the Martin fluorocarbon strings which will take a few days to break in and afterwards will provide you with great playing experience.

Martin T1K Koa Tenor Ukulele Natural Features:

  • High Quality Koa Wood Body
  • High Quality rich sound
  • Martin fluorocarbon strings
  • Made in USA

This is a highly professional tenor ukulele which will provide you with amazing playing experience and its price and quality ratios are on the point considering that there are way more expensive ukuleles which simply bring less value and that is why I chose to finish this review with this instrument.

Consider this ukulele if you are a professional or a very enthusiastic ukulele player but if you are a beginner who doesn’t need every sound to be perfect and you are still learning then maybe some other more affordable options are better for you.

Martin T1K Koa Tenor Ukulele Natural
  • Full tenor ukulele sound
  • Solid Hawaiian koa back, sides and top
  • Dovetail neck joint
  • Select hardwood neck with solid morado fingerboard
  • 17" scale length with 20 frets

Last update on 2017-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Conclusion of this buying guide

In this article, I listed the best ukuleles you can get online by searching for only the best when it comes to price and quality ratio which means you get what you pay for. Musicians and especially beginners are usually not into wasting money so you should carefully take all the factors into consideration and make your ukulele choice.

Remember that you should only acquire a ukulele which is of decent quality for your needs. Never go for those lame instruments which were made by people who don’t even know what they are making and then sold for a few bucks. Those are not instruments but toys and if you are a beginner you will not experience a true value of playing an instrument in your life.

No matter your budget, you will surely find one ukulele in this buying guide that will be affordable since these instruments are not generally expensive. But it is also not easy to find quality for lower amount of money so check out all the beginner ukuleles I listed here.

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