Best Ukulele Under $200

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From Amazon to big box stores, ukuleles can be purchased just about anywhere and are more accessible than ever; however, how do you know which is Best Ukulele Under $200 to choose?

Our Top Picks:

Best Overall Ukulele Under $200: Cordoba 15CM

Cordoba 15CM
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There is a good reason why the Cordoba 15CM ukulele is one of the top picks from many ukulele buyer’s guides, blogs, and articles. The Cordoba 15CM is a handmade ukulele made of quarter sawn mahogany. Quarter sawn wood has a straight grain pattern that lends itself to design. With its beautiful tone and great projection, this ukulele is the perfect balance of tone for someone looking for something not too bright, yet not too deep. Decorating the soundhole is a hand laid abalone rosette giving the instrument an overall polished look..

Cordoba has even gone the extra mile to bind the sides and the fretboard with ABS binding, and I have found that bound fretboards tend to keep frets from sprouting when the weather turns cold and dry.

The only disadvantages to this instrument are the lack of accessories with purchase (ex. no gig bag or tuner) and the fact that not everyone has $100 to spend on an entry level instrument. Other than that, this ukulele is a no brainer.

Pros:

  • Great, classic design
  • Great sound
  • Solid construction

Cons:

  • No accessories with purchase
  • Higher price point

Best Tenor Ukulele Under $200: Kala Ebony Tenor Ukulele

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Kala is famous for offering quality ukuleles at surprisingly affordable prices, and the Kala KA-EBY-T is the perfect example of an outstanding instrument in the under $200 range. Made with exotic Indonesian ebony laminate, it features contrasting Maplewood binding.

The satin finish doesn’t pick up a lot of fingerprints, and the walnut bridge and fingerboard offer more natural warmth to the appearance. There are 19 frets, with fret position marks located at the 5th, 7th, 10th, and 12th frets, both on the fingerboard and on the neck, which is made of mahogany. The nut and saddle are made with graphtech nubone, and the ukulele is pre-strung with Aquila strings. The open gear tuners have simple black buttons that complement the dark, beautiful ebony wood.

Soundwise, this ukulele is just incredible. Punchy, rich, and sweet, it provides lots of resonance and plenty of volume. The sound is a shade warmer than Kala’s solid cedar top ukulele, which is another excellent choice in the event that you’d like to spend a bit more. If you’re looking for the best Kala ukulele money can buy, consider one of the 3KOA Kala Elite series ukuleles.

Pros:

  • Looks incredible
  • Has a very bright, sunny sound
  • Excellent quality overall

Cons:

  • Might need to change setup; as with many other ukuleles purchased online, string height may need to be adjusted to suit your preference

Best Baritone Ukulele Under $200: Oscar Schmidt OU58 Ukulele

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The Oscar Schmidt OU58 baritone ukulele features beautiful spalted maple throughout, along with a traditional rosewood bridge and maple binding to match the body. The gold covered geared tuning machines are a nice touch, and the nut and saddle are of NuBone.

This ukulele offers a bright, clear sound with plenty of depth and resonance that’s a bit surprising considering the fact that the maple is laminate rather than solid wood.

There are 19 frets on the rosewood fingerboard, and the nut is a spacious 1.5 inches. At about 20 3/8 inches, the scale is just a touch longer than average. Many players are surprised with the action, describing it as almost perfect before any additional setup steps are taken.

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Great price
  • Good action

Cons:

  • Unbound fretboard

Lohanu LU-T Tenor Ukulele

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We’re huge fans of Lohanu not just because they offer a lifetime warranty on their instruments and accessories, but also because they offer good quality and pretty amazing prices. the Lohanu LU-T tenor ukulele is one of the most popular tenor ukes on the market right now, and for good reason. This ukulele is simple but beautiful, with a sapele / mahogany top, sides, back, and neck, plus a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The ABS bindings are handmade, and strap buttons are pre-installed.

These fantastic ukuleles feature chrome die cast tuning machines, and they feature arched backs so every note has plenty of sustain and volume.

The sound is incredible, warm and smooth. It’s not quite the same as a high-end uke, but amazing nevertheless. Aquila strings are part of the package, along with a strap, a basic gig bag, a tuner, and a few other nice extras.

It’s worth noting here that Lohanu had some quality control issues in the past but the warranty inspires quite a bit of confidence in the company’s willingness to stand behind its products. The most recent reviews are mostly glowing, and the price is definitely right.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Innovative design

Cons:

  • Thin neck profile
  • Only available size – soprano
  • Thin gig bag

Best Concert Ukulele Under $200: Kala MK-C Concert Ukulele

Kala MK-C Concert Ukulele

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The Kala MK-C concert ukulele features a mahogany top, back and sides with a nice satin finish that doesn’t pick up a lot of fingerprints. The neck is mahogany, and the fingerboard is walnut. The nut and saddle are plastic, however there aren’t a lot of complaints about them and they can easily be replaced. The strings are Aquila super nylgut, great right out of the package.

This ukulele offers a scale length of 14.875 inches; just a touch shorter than average. It has 18 frets and it measures 1.38 inches at the nut. This ukulele has a sweet, pleasant sound that’s as it should be. It comes as part of a kit that includes some nice extras like a gig bag, a tuner, and a neck strap. For beginners or those on a tight budget, this is one of the best concert ukuleles around.

Pros:

  • Classic design
  • Great tone

Cons:

  • Unbound fretboard
  • No accessories with purchase

Here are some things to consider when purchasing a Ukulele Under $200.

Materials: Good, Better, or Best?

When you’re upgrading from a beginner ukulele to an instrument designed for more advanced players, better materials can make a difference in everything from the way your music sounds to the way you feel about presenting yourself and your instrument to others either in social settings or onstage. Pick an instrument that suits your personal aesthetic! You’ll be happier with your choice when you take appearance and overall quality into account.

Size

Ukuleles come in four main sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.  Although they all look very similar, each size will impact the playability and sound of the instrument.  First of all, the soprano, concert, and tenor sizes have strings tuned to G, C, E, A, while a baritone is tuned to D, G, B, and E. Generally, a larger ukulele will have a longer neck with more frets and more space between the frets.  Below is a general guide to fret to size ratio.

  • Soprano: 12–15 frets
  • Concert: 15–20 frets
  • Tenor: 15–25 frets
  • Baritone: 18 + frets; tuned DGBE

The general rule is the bigger the fretboard, the more space between frets.  The extra space will feel less crowded for people with larger hands, making it easier to play.

On the other hand, people with smaller hands might find a smaller ukulele more comfortable to play due to the fact that there is less space between the frets, thus making it easier to form chords.

The body size will also affect the playability and tone of the ukulele. Tone wood, bracing, and even strings will be factors in contributing to an instrument’s tone.

Typically, but not all of the time, the bigger the body, the bigger the tone. Some might find a smaller ukulele to be hard to handle or control while playing, so a larger model might make more sense in this case.

Some are looking for a brighter tone, thus making the choice to play a soprano might be best. Try as many models as you can to find the right fit.

Quality

Great news: Most left-handed ukuleles are of good if not great quality.

Mass producers who focus only on using the cheapest materials and the cheapest labor to make inexpensive ukuleles that are just “OK” aren’t motivated to spend the time and money it takes to produce left-handed instruments.

In our reviews, we get into things like materials, strings, frets, and tuners, plus we talk about cosmetic details that help make instruments more appealing.

Now is a good time to debunk the myth that only solid wood ukuleles are “good.” Laminates have gotten to the point where some sound absolutely wonderful, and in terms of durability and the ability to stand up to the elements, a laminate ukulele is going to serve you very well.

By all means, go invest in a solid Hawaiian koa wood ukulele if you can – nothing is finer than that. But for everyday bumming around, fun playing by yourself and with friends, and even playing gigs, there are quite a few laminate ukes that perform admirably.

Don’t get too hung up on strings. If a ukulele is great in every other respect and you prefer a different string brand, go for it!

Ukulele strings are generally pretty cheap, and swapping from bad strings to good ones is a great way to get the very best sound possible from your instrument.

Action

Action is an indicator of the amount of effort required to press the strings and form chords. Too high, and you’re expending a lot of energy.

Too low, and you’re probably going to hear some annoying fret buzz.

The good news is that most manufacturers aim for the middle ground – and action is something that can be adjusted if you’re not happy with it right out of the box. It does matter, but it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re hoping to relax and play some mellow tunes or if you’re hoping to take to the stage at some point, a quality ukulele is always the best choice. Not only does it sound great, it feels fantastic in your hands – you might even feel like it’s hard to put down! Unless you’re going with a custom instrument, you’ll find that the best concert ukuleles are quite affordable. Like us, you might not be able to stop at one!

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