Ukulele prices usually depend on the type of wood, size, strings, craftsmanship, and decorations. A good ukulele can cost between $50 to $150 for a beginner model, and up to $500+ for professional models, which offer exceptional sound and playability.
As ukuleles come at all prices, your experience and skill level is the most important factor in choosing a uke that’s suitable for you. You wouldn’t want a toy ukulele that can’t hold a tune, but you likely don’t want to splurge on an expensive ukulele only to leave it sitting in the closet.
So you might wonder, “How much does a ukulele cost?” In this ukulele price guide, we break down the ukuleles you can get across price ranges, without any of the technical jargon, so you can consider your budget and get the best model for you.
What Factors Affect the Price of a Ukulele?
Ukulele prices are influenced by two types of factors – the manufacturing, and the player’s experience level. Even though ukuleles come in different sizes, they are also made of different types of wood. This means that small, soprano ukuleles can cost more than large, baritone ukuleles.
The significant factors influencing the pricing of a ukulele are size, build quality, strings, type of wood used, craftsmanship, brand of ukulele, aesthetics, and playability.
Material and Wood
The material of any musical instrument is intrinsic to its quality. Cheaper toy ukuleles, made of plastic, are of the lowest quality. As the name suggests, these are toys and not proper instruments, which means that they are more susceptible to wear and tear and can’t hold their tuning.
The best ukulele for a beginner would be a solid-top laminate ukulele. Laminate ukuleles are built by sticking together several thin layers of wood, and their sound quality is not as rich as solid wood models. However, they’re affordable and provide decent sound for the price.
Most of the ukuleles in the higher price bracket are made entirely of solid wood. The graining and humidity levels of these ukuleles ensure incredible sound, and the expert craftsmanship that comes along with it is a bonus.
Other Factors that Affect Ukulele Cost
For musicians looking for pure functionality, decoration and fancy inlays may be of the least concern. However, if you’re looking for an aesthetically pleasing instrument, especially for performances, you have to be prepared to spend a little more on your ukulele.
An essential factor to consider in the pricing of any string instrument is bracing. In a ukulele, the bracing is on the top and the back, strengthening the joints of the instruments and enhancing its natural acoustics. A ukulele with good craftsmanship will not bow or warp over time and will be much more playable.
Cheaper ukuleles use quick methods to join the wood on the top and the back since these ukuleles are usually mass-produced. Over time, the instrument can fall apart, and although this is repairable, the cost of repairs over time can add up to a lot. A mid-range ukulele will likely save you this recurring expense.
Strings are a key component of any ukulele, and regardless of your expertise, it would be a good idea to invest in some high-quality ukulele strings. Good strings translate to a better tone from your ukulele, and they’re also much easier on your fingers and usually last longer.
How Does the Size of a Ukulele Affect the Price?
In simple words, sizing matters since a larger overall instrument would need more material and thus incur higher manufacturing costs. This is why you must figure out which size ukulele is the best fit for you before you buy the instrument. The best way would be to try out a few models at a shop, or at a friend’s house if possible.
Baritones are the largest size, which means they use the most wood (they are also tuned differently than standard ukuleles). However, smaller soprano or concert ukuleles can cost more than baritones based on the quality and playability factors we went over before, like craftsmanship or timber. Tenor ukuleles usually sit somewhere in the middle.
- Complete Guide to the Standard Ukulele Sizes
- What is the Best Ukulele Size for a Beginner?
- Soprano vs Concert Ukulele
- Concert vs Tenor Ukulele
How Much Does a Ukulele Cost? A Breakdown
Below we break down the price ranges for different categories of ukuleles, from cheap beginner instruments to top-of-the-line professional models.
These are the lowest-priced ukuleles available and are often made of plastic. Even though they cost less than $30, most toy ukuleles are poorly built, sound mediocre, and won’t last long. They’re suitable as gifts for children but aren’t a worthy learning instrument.
Buying a toy ukulele with the intention to learn the instrument can be pretty frustrating, since starting with a cheap ukulele as low-quality as this can kill the joy of learning. The fickle tuning pegs used cannot keep the instrument in tune for long, and the cheap strings can feel uncomfortable under your fingers.
It’s almost always worth spending a little more on a wood ukulele that is built to last you through the journey of learning your instrument. If you’re still considering a cheap toy ukulele to start with, check this video:
Beginner ukuleles usually come in two price ranges – $30 to $100 and $100 to $150.
$30 to $100
You’ll find decent build quality with better components in the lower range of beginner ukuleles compared to toy ones. You could play the ukuleles in this price range with much less difficulty than a toy ukulele, but they still won’t sound faithful to what the instrument is supposed to sound like.
Mass-produced cheap ukuleles in this price range tend to be more or less consistent with some variation in their playability. They’re good enough to start with, but you will want to upgrade as your skill level improves.
Unless you’re okay with the idea of having to buy another ukulele in the near future, we’d suggest saving up and waiting a little longer to get an instrument in the $100 to $150 ukulele price range. However, if you’re testing the waters and want to determine if you wish to continue with the ukulele, this price range might be for you.
$100 to $150
This price range features ukuleles that are affordable enough for players of all skill levels. There is a massive selection of instruments in this price range, and you will find an assortment of great ukuleles which offer reliable quality and make for good beginner instruments.
The consistent construction of the models in this price range offers the added benefit of a hassle-free online buying experience. Even though these instruments are often mass-produced, ukes in this price range generally have good quality control.
Some ukuleles in the $100 to $150 range are made from solid wood, a definite upgrade in sound from laminate ukuleles. Their tone is clearer, fuller, and richer since solid wood resonates more freely than laminate wood. If you notice, you’ll hear more warmth, volume, and bass from a solid wood ukulele.
Mid-range ukuleles are unique in that they offer several features, which are add-ons to beginner ukuleles. Most of the ukuleles in this price range provide a better sound than those in the beginner range, along with decorative inlays. If you’re looking for a gorgeous instrument and aren’t scared to spend a little more, this range could be the one for you.
$150 to $500
This price range is perfect for intermediate players and professionals on a budget. You could find yourself with a cutaway ukulele, which allows you to reach the higher frets more easily for melodies, and also influences the instrument’s sound.
In the price range, you can also get an acoustic-electric ukulele. If you’re someone who plays or wants to play in front of an audience or on a stage, an acoustic-electric ukulele gives you the option to plug your instrument into an output like an amplifier or a PA system. They’re also the ideal choice for people who want to record their instruments for studio work, as they’re more versatile and easier to record than a miked-up ukulele.
This price range is filled with great ukuleles, so it’s worth exploring to see what you can get. If you’re serious about playing ukulele and have a keen ear, you can get some true gems for under $500.
High-End Ukuleles – $500+
With prices starting at $500 and up, this price range is suited for people who play the ukulele professionally or don’t mind spending a lot for a top-of-the-line instrument.
Ukuleles in this category feature all solid wood construction. As the best-sounding ukuleles that you can find on the market, these instruments sound full, bright, and vibrant.
Along with rare tonewood, you can also find Koa ukuleles in this range. Koa wood is rumored to be the original wood used for ukuleles, so these instruments can provide you with the signature, classic ukulele sound.
Martin’s Koa ukuleles start at $500 for the C1K and T1K models. Hawaiian brand Kamaka begins at $900 for their soprano ukulele, and the prices only go up from there for both brands.
For $700 to $1000, you can find yourself a hand-made ukulele from Hawaii, which boasts impeccable craftsmanship and the highest quality of materials.
The four prominent Hawaiian ukulele brands are Kamaka, Kanile`a, Ko`olau, and KoAloha. All of these manufacturers make ukuleles with unrivaled sound and build quality, and their Koa wood models are sure to last you a lifetime because of their incredible durability.
If you’re wondering whether a thousand-dollar ukulele is worth it, check out this video!
Custom Ukuleles and Independent Makers
It’s no surprise that ukuleles now offer incredible specs and several shapes, but if you’re looking for something specific and can’t find it in a standard model, custom ukuleles might be the best choice for you.
Since custom ukuleles and independent luthiers do not mass produce their instruments, their prices can be high. We’re talking $2000 and up. If you’re serious about your playing, need an instrument that lives up to the sound you’re dreaming about, and have the money to spend, this is an option.
Custom builders and independent makers will often allow you the option of fully customizing your ukulele as you wish or go with one of their standard models with some tweaks here and there. Entirely custom ukuleles are certainly not cheap, but their uniqueness and artistry make sure that the instrument lives up to the price.
Most manufacturers who are dedicated ukulele producers will have an option to let you customize your existing ukulele or even custom-build one from scratch according to your preference. Hawaiian manufacturers like Kamaka, Ko`olau, and KoAloha offer custom building, but you’ll have to be patient to get the instrument of your dreams.
Custom builders often have a backlog of orders waiting to be released, and once you place your order, it could take anywhere from one to three months (sometimes over six months) for you to finally get your hands on the instrument. But once you do, you’re going to immediately understand that this is an instrument like no other and has been crafted specifically for you.
American-based custom ukulele manufacturers include Moore Bettah Ukuleles and DeSilva Ukulele Co, both of which make gorgeous high-end ukuleles.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ukulele Cost
Is a ukulele worth buying?
Yes, a ukulele is definitely worth buying. If you’re interested in learning a new string instrument but intimidated by acoustic guitars, mandolins, and harps, the ukulele is the perfect instrument to get you started. It’s also an excellent gift for your family and friends who are interested in music.
The approachable design and variety of price points ensure that there’s a ukulele for you no matter what your learning level is. Just keep in mind the factors influencing the price and proceed according to what you think is best.
How much should I pay for a beginner ukulele?
Ukuleles start for as low as $30, but these are toy ukuleles that are almost unplayable. If you’re on a budget, we recommend getting a lower-priced beginner ukulele for about $60 to $100, and if you’re willing to spend a little more, the best beginner ukuleles cost about $100 to $150.
Mid-range ukuleles are often fancy beginner ukuleles, so unless you specifically intend to go and play on the stage or record your instrument, you might not need the acoustic-electric or cutaway features in the mid-range. A lower-range beginner uke made with a solid top should last you a long time and sound good.
Which wood is best for the ukulele?
Ukuleles were initially made from Hawaiian Koa wood, so Koa ukuleles sound the most faithful to the “original” ukulele tone. However, ukuleles now come in a variety of woods like cedar, maple, mango, and mahogany, all of which sound different and unique.
There is no way to determine the “best” wood for a ukulele since all players have a different tonal preferences. We suggest going to a store and playing around with some of the models they have on offer, so you can understand the difference in their sound and select one that is best for you and fits your budget.