The 15 Best Ukuleles Under $500

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You’ve been taking lessons for a while and you know that you plan to stick with the ukulele. To celebrate – and to enjoy your playing even more – you’ve decided that it’s time for an search for the best ukulele under $500 budget.

The good news is that you have plenty of amazing instruments to choose from. And in a way, that’s bad news too: There are so many great ukuleles on the market now that can be tough to make a decision.

Top Picks Explained

Rebel Double Creme Long Neck Concert Ukulele Mango “Mango Magic”

Rebel Double Creme Long Neck Concert Ukulele

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SPECS:

  • Brand new “super concert” or “long neck concert size
  • All solid mango body
  • Finish is a rich gloss on a distinctive look
  • Tenor Scale 17 3/32 Inches
  • Fantastic sound
  • Ebony fingerboard and bridge
  • Gotoh UPT 4:1 tuners
  • Mahogany neck

An absolutely gorgeous ukulele with a stunning sound that will instantly bring on thoughts of warm, island days! Made with solid mango wood, this ukulele features a clear, glossy finish that shows off every detail. The ebony fretboard features inlaid maple fret markers, and the Gotoh UPT 4:1 geared vintage-style tuners are a really nice touch. You’ll want to try this one on for size after you hear Terry play it. 

Ohana TK-35GCE Tenor Ukulele Solid Mahogany with Cutaway and EQ “Stinger”

Ohana TK-35GCE Tenor Ukulele Solid Mahogany

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SPECS:

  • Top: Solid Mahogany
  • Back: Solid Mahogany
  • Sides: Solid Mahogany
  • Sound-hole: Rosette in black/ white/ black
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Body Binding: Wood w/ white/ black purfling
  • Body Length: 10-15/16″

As the saying goes, Treat yourself! This incredible tenor ukulele from Ohana will tempt you to do just that.

Made with solid mahogany for a gorgeous, rich sound, this uke features a cutaway body that gives you complete access to the entire fretboard, which is equipped with a total of 19 frets.

Fit and finish are fantastic: this ukulele features wood body binding with black and white purfling, and a black and white rosette surrounding the sound hole. A glossy finish completes the look. 

This uke is stage ready! It’s fitted with an active pickup and grover open gear tuners, and it comes pre-strung with Aquila strings. It features a real bone nut and saddle, along with pearloid side markers on frets 5, 7, 10 and 12. Be sure to take a listen to Terry’s demo – you’ll want to try this ukulele for yourself! 

Kala Solid Flame Maple Tenor Cutaway Ukulele (KA-ASFM-T-C) “Purple Heart”

Kala Solid Flame Maple Tenor Cutaway Ukulele

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SPECS

  • SIZE: Tenor
  • TOP: Solid Flame Maple
  • BACK & SIDES: Solid Flame Maple
  • BINDING: Purpleheart
  • FINISH: Satin
  • NECK: Maple

Solid flame maple? Yes, please! This is a stunning tenor ukulele by Kala, with a solid flame maple top, bac, and sides, plus gorgeous purpleheart binding and a striped ebony fingerboard.

A satin finish keeps your fingerprints from showing quite so much while showcasing the tonewood beautifully. A Florentine cutaway gives you full access to the entire fretboard, which is fully supported by the solid maple neck. 

Great looks are just the beginning. This ukulele sounds amazing, with plenty of projection, clarity, and richness. As you can hear from Terry’s demo, every note stands out. 

KoAloha KCO-10 Opio Concert Ukulele Solid Acacia “Tiberius”

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Specs:

  • 14-15/16″ Concert Scale (Distance from Nut to Saddle)
  • 23-11/16″ Overall body length
  • 10-11/16″ Body length
  • 5-3/4″ Upper Bout
  • 8″ Lower Bout
  • 4-3/4″ Waist

This gorgeous concert ukulele will make you wonder where it’s been all your life! Here’s something you might not already know: Acacia wood is in the same family as Hawaiian koa wood – and when used to build instruments, the sound is nearly identical. 

As you might have guessed, this uke’s body is made with solid acacia, with a solid spruce top that adds just a touch of visual contrast while lending lots of sunny brightness to the sound.

The light gloss finish shows the wood off to its best advantage while giving this stunning instrument a classic appearance. Those who prefer friction tuners will appreciate this instrument for yet another reason: It is equipped with traditional friction KoAloha tuners. 

Despite the incredible sound (be sure to take a listen to Terry’s demo!) you’ll find that this uke is surprisingly affordable, as are most KoAloha ukuleles. Inside and out, it’s an amazing addition to your ukulele collection. 

KoAloha KoAlana Tenor Trembesi Ukulele KTA-00TR

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Specs:

  • Tenor Scale Length 17 Inches
  • Nut Width 1 1/ 2 Inches
  • 19-Fret Fretboard, Joined at the 14th Fret
  • Overall Length 26 3/8 Inches
  • Body Width 3 1/8 Inches

Brand new for 2020 and at a price that will give you sticker shock (that’s the good kind of sticker shock, by the way!) This KoAloha KoAlana Tenor Trembesi is part of KoAloha’s most affordable line, designed specifically for people who want a nice instrument that they won’t worry too much about ruining with trips to the beach or boozy singalongs by the campfire. You know, the usual “stuff” we tend to enjoy! It’s also a great ukulele for beginners.

Even though the price on this instrument is ridiculously low, it sounds fantastic and it looks incredible. Check out Terry’s demo video for a closer look.

This tenor ukulele is made with Trembesi (monkey pod) wood that has been treated to a high-gloss finish. The ABS binding offers a nice contrast, and it goes all the way up the neck, which is something that you don’t see in a lot of lower-priced ukuleles.

The Nato neck has a glossy finish to match the top, back, and sides. The fretboard and bridge are made with merbau, and a nice set of Grover open-geared tuners keeps the D’Addario titanium strings in tune. Koloha’s signature 5-pointed crown headstock is a beautiful finishing touch.

There’s more: This ukulele features a wider nut than average. At 1.5 inches across, it offers that little bit of extra space that can make for a more comfortable playing experience.

One last note: This ukulele is factory setup. If you want something different, such as lower action, you can choose custom setup and the luthiers at Uke Like the Pros will take care of it for you.

Not sure tenor is the right size for you? This Koaloha KoAlana ukulele also comes in concert size.

Kala Solid Spruce Top Striped Ebony Baritone Ukulele

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SPECS

  • SIZE: Baritone
  • TOP: Solid Spruce
  • BACK & SIDES: Striped Ebony
  • BINDING: Mahogany
  • FINISH: Satin
  • NECK: Mahogany
  • FINGERBOARD: Striped Ebony
  • NUTS & SADDLE: GraphTech NuBone®
  • STRINGS: Aquila Super Nylgut®
  • PICKUP: Fishman® Kula Preamp & Tuner

You’ve always wanted a baritone ukulele, but you don’t want to pay a lot for it: Don’t give up! This baritone ukulele comes in at well under the $500 mark, and it even comes with a padded gig bag. You can take a closer look at this Kala solid spruce top baritone ukulele in Terry’s video (and hear it, too!) but for now, here’s a quick rundown of its features.

Besides the solid spruce top, which lends outstanding sound clarity, this ukulele showcases a striped ebony back and sides, all in a nice satin finish that picks up fewer fingerprints than glossy finishes do. The fingerboard is also made with striped ebony, which contrasts nicely with the mahogany neck and binding. This is a really pretty instrument, particularly if you’re someone who loves the look of different woods!

Last but not least, this ukulele offers a cutaway body style that makes it easier to form even more chords, plus it’s outfitted with a Fishman Kula pickup, equalizer, and tuner. Give it a listen.

KoAloha KSO-10 Opio Soprano Acacia Ukulele “Capricorn”

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SPECS:

  • Solid Acacia Top, Sides and Back
  • Semi-Gloss Finish
  • Solid Mahogany Neck
  • Solid Sapele Fingerboard and Bridge
  • Maple fretmarkers
  • 13-15/16″ SOPRANO Scale (Distance from Nut to Saddle)
  • 21-3/16″ Overall body length
  • 9-3/16″ Body length
  • 5-3/8″ Upper Bout
  • 7-1/16″ Lower Bout
  • 4-1/2″ Waist
  • 1-7/16″ At Nut
  • KoAloha friction tuners
  • Premium Flourocarbon Koaloha Strings
  • Setup with High G

You don’t have to be a Capricorn to appreciate this fantastic little uke – in fact, it’s one that just about everybody appreciates. This KoAloha Opio soprano ukulele features a gorgeous acacia top that offers a sound and feel that’s somewhat similar to koa wood. Appearance-wise, it’s incredible-looking, with highly apparent wood grain, beautiful maple fretmarkers that contrast with the sapele wood fingerboard, and a lovely semi-gloss finish.

Looks aren’t everything, so be sure to listen to Terry’s demo. This ukulele has a sweet, classic sound that’s surprisingly rich when compared with the instrument’s size. It might just transport you far from your troubles (or at least make you forget about them for a while!) We have the uke’s acacia top to thank for that, and the fluorocarbon strings (also from KoAloha) don’t hurt. KoAloha signature friction tuners are a fantastic finishing touch.

Ohana CK-35CG-CL Cynthia Lin Concert Ukulele with Cutaway “Aloha”

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SPECS:

  • Top: Solid Mahogany
  • Back: Solid Mahogany
  • Sides: Solid Mahogany
  • Headstock: Cynthia Lin signature
  • Sound-hole: Rosette in black/ white/ black
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Body: Cutaway
  • Body Binding: Wood w/ white/ black purfling
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Frets: 14 to body; 19 total
  • Fretboard: Hardwood; Pearloid Side Markers on Frets # 5, 7, 10 & 12
  • Scale Length: 15 Inches
  • Nut Width: 1 3/8 Inches
  • Headstock: Mahogany
  • Tuners: Grover open geared
  • Strings: Aquila
  • Nut & Saddle: Bone

First, a shoutout to Cynthia Lin, a singer/songwriter and creator of what’s easily one of the best ukulele channels on YouTube! When Ohana named this fantastic concert uke after Cynthia, we knew it was going to be great – and playing it was confirmation that it’s an outstanding instrument. Let’s take a closer look.

The Ohana Cynthia Lin concert ukulele is made with solid mahogany, and is protected by a beautiful gloss finish. That’s just the beginning: This ukulele has details galore, including a beautiful black and white rosette surrounding the sound hole, wood binding with black and white purfling, pearloid side markers to help frets 5, 7, 10, and 12 stand out, and of course, Cynthia Lin’s signature on the headstock along with her hibiscus logo on the 12th fret.

You’ll notice the cutaway body style, which is a really nice touch, plus the Grover open-geared tuners. Aquila strings are pre-strung. All in all, it’s a gorgeous instrument at an amazing price!

Kala KA-ASZCT-ST Super Tenor Ukulele “King Arthur”

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SPECS:

  • SIZE: Super Tenor
  • TOP: Solid Spruce
  • BACK & SIDES: Solid Ziricote
  • BINDING: Flame Maple
  • FINISH: Satin
  • NECK: Mahogany
  • FINGERBOARD: Striped Ebony
  • NUT & SADDLE: GraphTech NuBone®
  • HEADSTOCK: Slotted
  • STRINGS: D’’Addario Clear Nylon
  • ELECTRONICS: NA

A solid wood super tenor ukulele for under $500? We thought we were dreaming when we found this one but luckily, it’s the real deal!

If you’ve ever wanted to try a super tenor, or if you’ve shied away from playing ukulele in the past out of concern over size, then here’s your chance to enjoy something completely different. This Kala super tenor ukulele sounds just incredible thanks to a solid spruce top paired with ziricote wood back and sides. These contrasting woods are set off by flame maple binding, a striped ebony fingerboard, and a mahogany neck, all protected by a gorgeous satin finish.

This uke projects very well. It comes pre-strung with D’Addario strings including a wound low G that adds even more richness and warmth to the tone. Open gear tuners accentuate the Kala headstock.

In case you’re curious, super tenor ukuleles have the same body size as standard tenor ukuleles, but their necks are longer, with more room to play. Be sure to take a look at Terry’s demo for a closeup look and a great sampling of this super tenor’s unique sound.

Best on Amazon:

Luna High Tide Koa Acoustic/Electric Soprano Ukulele

Luna High Tide Koa Acoustic Electric Soprano Ukulele

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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

If you’re thinking about playing for an audience at some point, then you’re probably going to want an acoustic/electric ukulele. This one from Luna is incredible, with a koa wood top and body, rosewood binding for a touch of contrast, beautiful abalone inlays, pearloid open gear tuners, and 12 frets on the walnut fretboard. The bridge is walnut as well, and the neck is made with strong mahogany wood. The satin finish brings out the wood’s natural richness beautifully.

Soundwise, this ukulele is full and rich, with plenty of sweetness to keep you playing. There’s plenty of clarity and lots of sustain whether you’re playing acoustic or plugged in. High-quality electronics including a Luna RD-0904TL preamp make for a pleasant audience experience. An onboard tuner adds convenience. The nut measures 1 5/16th inches, and scale length is 13.5 inches. A gig bag is included, along with Aquila Super Nylgut strings.

Oscar Schmidt OU5 Concert Ukulele

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A beautiful instrument from every angle! The Oscar Schmidt OU5 concert ukulele is made with select Hawaiian Koa wood, and offers a glossy finish, which is easily maintained using the accompanying polishing cloth. Grover chrome tuning machines add convenience. The nyatoh neck supports a contrasting rosewood fingerboard, and the mustache style bridge is also made with rosewood. An abalone rosette and abalone binding add to this uke’s visual appeal.

This ukulele offers a 15 inch scale length and 16 frets. The nut and saddle are made with durable ABS. The Oscar Schmidt OU5 nut width is 1 7/16 inches. This ukulele offers a rich, deep tone with plenty of volume and all the sweetness you’ve come to expect from a quality concert uke. Overall, this is one of the best concert ukuleles available in the mid-range department, and it’s one of the prettiest at this level as well.

Pros:

  • Good Value
  • Exceptional quality for the price
  • True Hawaiian sound

Cons:

  • Not quite as nice as a Kamaka or a KoAloha

Fender Montecito Tenor Ukulele

 

Fender Montecito Tenor Ukulele

 

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Pros:

  • Looks great and creates beautiful tone
  • Unique sound, ideal for playing different music styles
  • Fun to learn, and you can create some very interesting effects

Cons:

  • Best for medium to slow songs; fast ones can sound a bit fuzzy

Fender fans, rejoice! The Fender Montecito tenor ukulele is sure to please, from its shapely telecaster-style headstock complete with vintage-style tuners to its genuine bone nut and saddle. This incredible uke will make you look twice, not just because it’s so pretty, but because of its solid koa top, koa wood back, and koa sides.

Did we say koa? Yes! The no-tie bridge is a nice touch, and the abalone binding and rosette lends an added bit of island distinction.

Aquila strings are included, but you’ll want to upgrade to a better bag if this is your choice.

This ukulele is easy on the eyes, but how does it sound? The genuine bone and saddle make for excellent intonation but that’s just the beginning.

Expect applause, because it offers ample sustain, plenty or richness and warmth, and enough projection to please audiences at your favorite acoustic venue. All things considered, this is probably the best tenor ukulele we’ve seen lately, particularly at this price point.

Kala Ziricote Ukulele

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Pros:

  • Beautiful, unique appearance
  • Rich sound with good projection
  • Best-in-class components

Cons:

  • Glossy finish looks amazing but does pickup fingerprints

Looking for something different? Kala’s Ziricote ukuleles are incredible in terms of appearance, sound, and overall quality particularly considering the prices, which hover around the $200-$300 mark depending on the size you choose. These ukuleles are made with exotic ziricote wood, which offers a dramatic appearance with fine grain lines, occasional swirls, and other visually pleasing patterns. The most interesting thing about this wood is the contrast between the dark, mature wood and the pale sapwood at the center. This gives every ziricote ukulele a gorgeous, distinctive appearance that never fails to fetch compliments.

Kala’s ziricote ukuleles feature glossy finishes that make the most of the wood’s characteristics. All have walnut fingerboards, GraphTech NuBone® nuts and saddles, and attractive black binding. They come with Aquila Super Nylgut strings, which contribute nicely to the full, rich, resonant sound. Soprano, Concert, Tenor, and Baritone.

Flight NUB 310 Baritone Ukulele

Flight NUB 310 Baritone Ukulele

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Pros:

  • Built to last a lifetime
  • Exquisite sound

Cons:

  • Best for medium to slow songs

The Flight NUB 310 Baritone Ukulele is fairly new to the U.S. market, but don’t let that stop you from adding it to your shortlist! This gorgeous uke is made with reddish-brown sapele wood, which is closely related to mahogany.  Hand-drawn, laser-engraved rosettes add a touch of artful interest.

This ukulele features a rosewood bridge, an okoume neck, and a walnut fingerboard for stable intonation and a fantastic feel. The nut and saddle are made from real bone instead of plastic. It offers fairly low action right out of the box, and the geared tuners add even more value. A padded gig bag is included.

The Flight NUB 310 has 19 frets, and it measures just a touch over 1.49 inches at the nut. We’re impressed by the number of position markers on this uke: You’ll find them at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 15th, and 17th frets. An arched back lends even more fullness to this ukulele’s beautiful, rich tone.

What Should You Look For When Buying a Ukulele Under $500

Playability

A good ukulele offers easy playability once it has been set up. This means that the frets are level, any sharp edges have been filed off, and the action as been adjusted to the correct level for the player.

Even average ukuleles can be rendered playable with some careful attention; better ones feel amazing in the hands and let you relax into the music. The less work you have to do to make your new ukulele playable, the better!

Type of Materials Used

Materials contribute to a ukulele’s sound, quality, and durability so it’s important to take construction into consideration instead of relying on appearance alone.

The most expensive custom ukes are often made with fine woods such as Hawaiian Koa. This wood rarely makes its way into mid- to lower- priced ukuleles.

These are typically made with mahogany, acacia, cedar, maple, walnut, and other more common woods. Some ukuleles are made with laminate, which improves aesthetics but doesn’t help with sound.

Still, you can get a nice sound from a laminate ukulele – this shouldn’t be a dealbreaker, particularly if the rest of the components are of good quality. If you love a certain ukulele and you think it’s the one for you, go for it!

Laminate does resist cracking, so this might even be a desirable characteristic depending on how you plan to handle and store your ukulele.

Check out the neck, the fretboard, the bridge, the tuners, the frets, and the binding/purfling as well as any inlays, too.

Most ukuleles use a hard, durable wood for the neck, such as mahogany. Many manufacturers opt for traditional rosewood at the bridge and fretboard as it produces a pleasant sound, and chrome tuners are the norm.

You may already know if you prefer geared tuners or friction tuners. Both have positive aspects to offer, but most players have a preference. You may want to do a little bit of research and try both varieties if you’re not sure which type you like best.

Overall Quality

Many mass-produced ukuleles are “pretty good” and they can be improved by adding better strings or adjusting the setup.

In case your budget can’t quite support one of the best baritone ukuleles on the market, you can easily weed out the terrible ones by checking for common problems like warping, splitting, incorrect fret positioning, faulty bridge position, and other obvious defects. Music stores must protect their reputations and won’t normally carry low-quality ukuleles.

If you’re buying online, look to see what reviewers have to say about the instruments they’ve tried, and check to see whether the seller or manufacturer offers a warranty or a quality guarantee of some kind. Even if you’re buying a cheap baritone ukulele, you don’t want to waste your money on something you won’t be able to play.

Scale Length

Baritone ukuleles normally have scale lengths between 18 and 23 inches. Vintage models tend to be a bit shorter while newer ones typically land a touch over 20 inches. The scale length matters because it contributes to the ukulele’s sound as well as its overall size.

In general, a longer scale length will ring out quite a bit more than a shorter one.

Scale length is a matter of personal preference rather than a marker of quality. Most players prefer more ring, which is why most baritone ukuleles have a longer scale length.

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