8 Superior Electric Ukuleles for Even the Largest Audience to Be Impressed
Last updated: May 02, 2020
65Hours of Research
Electric and acoustic-electric ukuleles are popular with vocalists, ensembles and live performers in large arenas who want maximum amplification of the sound, longer sustain and high gain settings without the feedback issues common in acoustic-electric ukuleles. You may also be interested in the best electric ukulele if you enjoy quiet practice since the solid body makes little sound when unplugged.
Some of the most important features you should consider for maximum value are the type of ukulele, size and weight, body and fretboard material, and the accessories included. The two main categories of electric models – electric and acoustic-electric – vary in design, volume, resonance, tone, and sound. Inspect the size and weight of the ukulele for playability and portability, and the type of wood and laminates used in the body and fretboard construction because it influences the tone and sound. Lastly, find out the accessories that come with your intended model. These may include tuners, picks, extra strings, adjustable straps, cleaning cloth, gig bags, and storage cases.
Top 8 Electric Ukuleles Review 2020
To help you identify the best electric ukulele on the market, we researched several models and feedback from verified buyers and authoritative review sites and narrowed down to the list below. The comparison table ranks the top-rated ukuleles and indicates their most outstanding qualities. This is followed by detailed reviews of each model and a comprehensive buying guide which examines the key features extensively. We have also included a helpful FAQ segment and an overview of our top three picks at the end of this review.
Going by online reviews, our Editor’s Choice is regarded as the best electric ukulele by verified buyers on Amazon and other reviewers. Vorson FSUK-1 stands out in many ways, both in aesthetics, features, and pricing. For starters, it is probably the most affordable electric ukulele with a solid body. The body which sports two cutaways and the neck are made of candlenut which has been the official state tree of Hawaii, the place where ukuleles gained prominence, while the fretboard with dot markers is made of maple. Maple is a homegrown American species whose denseness and stiffness produces clear and targeted bright tones with minimal decay and provides good separation which increases playability for distinctive chords.
This electric tenor-sized instrument has two passive single coil electromagnetic pickups that rely on the induction produced by the steel strings to produce a signal that is amplified by an amp.
It produces warm well-balanced tones, thanks to the three-way toggle for the pickups, volume, and tonal control and sealed gear tuners that have been die-cast for strength and longevity.
The ukulele comes with a cable and a canvas gig bag for convenient storage and transport.
Customers recommend replacing the included steel strings with higher quality ones and filing the sharp fret edges before playing the instrument. Otherwise, they like the amplified sound, sustain, shredding ability, strap buttons, the black glossy finish, and the variety of intonations facilitated by the 19 frets.
Ellen Electric Concert Ukulele with Amp boasts of diverse features and playing options and multiple accessories in an all-encompassing kit, making it the best acoustic-electric ukulele for beginners and one of the top-rated models on Amazon.
The body is made of mahogany for longevity and solid tones with punchy and pronounced overtones while the fingerboard with embedded cross inlays is made of rosewood.
The 23-inch instrument has a built-in chromatic tuner with LCD backlit display and 5-band equalizer controls for bass, middle and treble tones.
After connecting the ukulele to the amplifier, press the tuner button to activate tuning mode and press the button again for amplifier mode. The LCD will light up in the former mode and turn off in the latter mode.
The starter kit consists of an audio cable, padded storage case, strap, tuner, a spare set of nylon strings, three Hawaii picks, an amp, AC adapter and batteries for the amp and the tuner; one 9V Lithium metal battery and two 3V CR2032 batteries.
Customers like the extra goodies, especially the built-in tuner, the batteries and adapter which allow you to play the ukulele wherever, even on the move. You can play it plugged or unplugged with headphones or without.
Although the amp is a convenient addition which is suitable for practice, it distorts sound on higher settings.
The 23-inch Vangoa acoustic-electric concert ukulele is the best cheap electric ukulele for beginners who enjoy the acoustic sound and seasoned players looking for an affordable option, and it comes with an extra instrument – a kazoo.
It is equipped with a built-in tuner and three-band equalizer controls for bass, middle and tenor.
Zebrawood has its own natural pattern which is embodied in this model with eye-catching wood grains on the body. The fretboard is made of walnut that produces bright and clear tones.
Sound vibrations are converted into electrical impulses which are then amplified into audibility through a simple plug-and-play process. As an acoustic-electric model, it works both when unplugged and when plugged into power.
Tuning it is easy because the featured Aquila strings are made of nylon which has a great amount of elasticity. Your humidity will play a role on the period that the ukulele will stay in tune. It will typically last or a week to one month before requiring adjustment if your environment has 40 to 60 percent humidity levels.
We like the attractive natural finish of zebrawood and the wide range of accessories included in the package; a gig bag, tuner, strings, strap, pick container, three picks, cable, finger shaker, kazoo, and a booklet. Please note that the picks would be sent in random colors.
Some customers had to file the frets due to the rough edges.
Baritone ukuleles typically have lower tones and more sustain and resonance. Since they use DGBE tuning which is similar to the four highest guitar strings, you will find the learning curve much shorter if you have prior experience with guitars.
Notable features in Caramel CB904 Ebony Baritone Acoustic Electric ukulele include onboard chromatic tuner with LCD color display and 3-band equalizer controls for bass, middle and tenor, an adjustable truss rod, low battery indicator, closed gear tuners, and 18 frets spaced out along a scale length of 20 inches. Instead of the traditional sound hole, this model has a patterned multi-soundhole on the upper right side.
Different materials are incorporated in the construction of various parts; laminated ebony body, walnut fretboard and bridge, and a buffalo saddle and bone nut which secures the truss rod embedded in the neck. A wench is included to straighten out neck curvature by adjusting string tension.
In addition to the ukulele itself, you will get extra accessories such as gig bag, spare strings, felt pick, three guitar picks, cleaning cloth, wall hanger, capo, strap with pegs, two bridge pins, nail drawer, cable, and instructions to guide you on the features and functions of this instrument.
Considering the useful features, accessories, and the budget-friendly pricing, you will find this the best electric ukulele under 200 dollars for a rich, deeper sound. The only minor flaw we could find with this model is its usage of laminated wood instead of solid wood, although this appears to have no negative effect on output.
Cordoba is known for making affordable nylon-stringed instruments such as guitars and ukuleles. Cordoba 15CM-E Acoustic-Electric Concert Ukulele features all-laminate mahogany construction top, back and sides, satin finish, ivory binding, and an abalone-styled rosette.
This is the first Cordoba’s concert model to include electronics. It is similar to Cordoba 15CM with the main difference being the incorporation of finish and the passive piezo pickup which has discreet sound hole controls.
Being acoustic-electric, it generates decent intonation, both on its own and when amplified. On the side is a jack socket for plugging in an external preamp to produce a sizeable level of volume and projection.
The fingerboard with inlay dots is made of rosewood which generates a warmer and softer tone because it mellows out the sound. It deepens lower tones and brightens higher ones to generate a well-balanced acoustic sound. Other features include 19 frets, silver tuner with pearl buttons, Aquila strings and gig bag.
This handmade model is the best acoustic electric ukulele for beginners looking for an instrument with easy controls, accessible price tag, great playability and an accessible price. The elongated 14.75-inch scale length provides more room to play all the chords, making this model particularly appealing to players with large fingers and guitar lovers who are transitioning to ukuleles. The only limitation is the lack of a strap button.
Often compared to Gibson SG, this soprano model features a solid body of deep wine red color, gloss finish, rosewood construction in the fingerboard and bridge, Aquila nylgut strings, and a ten-foot long cable.
It has 15 frets for a variety of tones, two knob controls for volume and tone, and a passive pickup under the saddle. A passive pickup sends raw signals from the strings to the amplifier, thus yielding a more natural sound with a greater dynamic range. Fans of passive-style ukuleles like the myriad of sound options provided by external preamps since they can accommodate complicated circuitry and, unlike built-in preamps, are not limited by size or weight. There is also less chance of the fret buzzing that occurs when wires touch the wood. Lastly, you don’t have to worry about batteries, and the fewer electronics reduce the overall weight of your ukulele.
Aileen SG Style Electric Ukulele is suitable for beginners who are looking for a low-end option that offers playability, durability, and amazing sound output on a budget. Customers describe it as a fun and beautiful instrument which sounds as good as it looks and is worth every penny. They also like the sturdy build and the quiet, unplugged sound, which is convenient for late-night practice.
However, a number of them expressed a preference for an adjustable bridge which can be removed, replaced or repositioned to correct intonation. Some also reported malfunctioning of the tone knob.
The first thing that will draw your eye is the exotic wood grain pattern of spalted mango on the top, back, and sides of this ukulele. Mango generates warm tones with deep bass and wide range. Instead of reverberating, the bright tones are dry and crisp, similar to those produced by Hawaiian Koa. Normally, laminates suppress the tonal properties of the wood underneath, but this is not an issue in this model because mango is soft. Instead, the gloss satin lamination enhances mellow tones and accentuates the wood’s pattern.
This model also features a binding and rosette adorned with abalone, nut, and saddle made of synthetic bone and deluxe grover chrome tuners with ebonite buttons. Grover tuners are durable, offer more precise tuning, and keep the strings in tune. The tuners sealed with chrome lock the Aquila Nyglut strings in tune to avoid slippage and enhance sustain and intonation.
To amplify the sound for live performances, the Oscar Schmidt Ukulele OU7TE comes with an integrated electric pick-up for volume, treble and bass and an amp cord which doubles up as a strap button for additional support.
Buyers who rate this model as the best electric tenor ukulele are impressed by the fantastic finish, the smooth and precise tuning, low action and comfortable neck. They say it looks, plays and sounds great.
One drawback is the absence of a tonal equalizer. There are also complaints from a few customers who received ukuleles that had cracks near the pickup box.
This electric model has an integrated preamp and control knobs located on the front side, which give you more control of the tone and volume. An auxiliary output jack at the bottom allows you to connect the ukulele to an amp for maximum amplification and the adjacent headphone jack enables you to enjoy music quietly. You can crank up the volume without worrying about any hissing sound.
MAHALO EUK-200 features a body made of solid mahogany with a cutout design and satin finish, a neck made of Okoume which is similar but lighter than mahogany, and rosewood construction for the fretboard and bridge.
What makes this model one of the best electric ukuleles is its superior ability to stay in tune once the strings settle in. This saves you the time and effort that would otherwise be spent on constant adjustments.
Upon purchase, you will also receive a gig bag, a 9V battery for the amp and an instruction sheet guiding you on how to use the jacks and knobs and how to tune a ukulele. Unfortunately, the sheet is written in Japanese. Some of the ukuleles also reportedly malfunctioned after a while, which the seller attributes to technical issue that should be addressed by the manufacturer.
Quiet and amplified play
Stays in tune for long
Gig bag and battery are included
Foreign language instructions
This comprehensive guide covers all the significant features and components you should consider before choosing the best electric ukulele so you can be in a better position to make an informed decision. It also explains the different types available as well as the accessories you need to start playing your ukulele. The FAQ section addresses questions regarding amplification and comparison to the guitar sound.
Difference between electric and acoustic-electric ukes
No electronic components
Active or magnetic pickup
Optimizes projection and sustain
Best for amplified sound
Plugged and unplugged play
Nylon or gut strings
Built-in passive pickup
Best for acoustic sound
Features to consider before buying an electric/acoustic-electric ukulele
Before you whip out that credit card to buy the best electric or acoustic-electric ukulele, there are important features you should consider for a playable instrument with high output at an affordable cost.
Electric ukuleles are available in two different types: solid body electric and acoustic-electric.
Acoustic-electric like the Oscar Schmidt OU7TE and the Cordoba 15CM-E feature a hollow body with more resonance and are equipped with electronic components and a built-in pickup which detects sound and converts it to electrical impulses which can be amplified with an external amp or PA. Since they have a pickup integrated in the instrument and a soundhole for acoustic sound and resonance, you can play acoustic-electric ukuleles with or without amplification.
On the other hand, solid body electric models such as the Mahalo EUK-200 and the Aileen SG Style Electric Ukulele need to be plugged into an amp for audibility because they don’t’ have soundholes and rely on pickups instead. Otherwise, the sound is minimal when unplugged, which could actually be advantageous for quiet practice.
Most pickups are made from piezo which converts string vibrations to an electric signal without a magnet and can work with nylon-stringed ukuleles, as opposed to magnetic pickups which require steel strings for induction to create an electric signal. The Vorson FSUK-1 uses the latter kind of pickup.
Pickups can be active or passive.
An active pickup has an integrated preamp powered by batteries to balance and boost the electric signal for a plug and play sound. Active pickups include a battery, auxiliary input, and headphone jack for versatile play. The preamp may come with volume control and tone equalizer for bass, mid-range, and tenor so you can tweak the sound to your preference before amplification.
A passive pickup sends a raw signal from the strings to the output jack to produce a more natural sound with wider dynamic range. It needs an external power source to boost this signal. The external preamp in passive-style ukuleles provides more sound options because, unlike built-in preamps, it is not limited by size or weight and can, therefore, accommodate complicated circuitry. There is also less chance of wires touching the wood and causing fret buzz. Lastly, you don’t have to worry about batteries for the preamp, and the fewer electronics reduce the overall weight of your ukulele.
Ukuleles mainly come in four sizes, which dictate the scale length and the range of tones. These are soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.
Soprano models like the Aileen SG Style Electric Ukulele are the smallest, cheapest and most popular type among ukulele players because they are the closest you can get to the traditional ukulele sound. They measure 21 inches long with a scale length of 13 inches and 12 to 15 frets.
The next size up is concert which features an overall length and scale length of 23 inches and 15 inches respectively. It has a similar sound to soprano but is deeper, fuller, and louder with 15 to 20 frets providing a wider range. Examples on our list include the Vangoa UK-23ZE and the Cordoba 15CM-E.
Featuring a scale length of 17 inches and a minimum of 15 frets, the 26-inch long tenor ukulele is not only larger than soprano and concert models, but it also provides more room for you to extend your range and learn complicated chords. The best electric tenor ukulele models like the Vorson FSUK-1 and the Oscar Schmidt OU7TE include a lower G string in addition to the high G string used in soprano and concert models to produce a deep, rich sound.
The largest type is baritone, which features DGBE tuning similar to the four highest guitar strings, unlike the standard GCEA tuning used by the other types of ukuleles. This makes it the most suitable type for guitarists who are making their foray into ukuleles. With a scale length of 19 inches and at least 20 frets providing an extensive range of tones, the low registers of the 30-inch baritone ukuleles such as the Caramel CB904 produce deeper and warmer tones with more resonance.
Various types of wood are used in ukulele construction for their tonal and decorative properties. Their individual composition affects the tone just as much as the ukulele size and shape, type of string, soundhole, bracing pattern, and tuning. Wood used for aesthetic purposes sports unique natural patterns and hues, which also adds character to the ukulele.
The popular types of wood found on the body of ukuleles are mahogany, rosewood, maple, spruce, koa, cedar, walnut, and ebony. Mahogany, featured in the Ellen Electric Concert Ukulele with Amp and the MAHALO EUK-200, is light, stable and loud with an emphasized midrange which produces darker and warmer tones with even resonance. The stiffness and low weight of spruce makes it a favorite tonewood for ukulele tops because it generates a dynamic range of tones which are vibrant, consistent and articulate. Strummers and fingerstylists prefer the responsive cedar in steel-stringed ukuleles for warmer and more controlled amplification. It is often used in larger ukuleles which require more depth and fuller sound. Ebony, featured in the Caramel CB904, produces sharp and bright tones, and the smaller-sized grain creates a smooth appearance which increases playability. Lastly, the iconic Koa initially produces bright crisp tones which develop more richness and resonance as the wood ages. Since it is becoming scarce, you will typically find it in expensive, customized, and professional models.
Inexpensive ukuleles also incorporate laminate wood and plastic because they are less likely to warp or crack and also reduce the cost. However, they produce a dull and hollow sound and are best suited for children.
Ukuleles either use one type of material on the entire body such as the all-laminate mahogany construction of the top, back and sides of the Cordoba 15CM-E, or different types of material for various body parts.
Saddles and nuts are made of rosewood, walnut, graphite, ebony, bones, brass and plastic. The type of material used for nuts will influence their weight and texture, and subsequently, the tuning, sustain, and resonance of the sound.
Usually, gloss and satin are used for ukulele finishes to protect the wood underneath from moisture and other natural elements, improve the appearance, and in low-quality ukuleles, mask inferior wood and other defects.
Satin finish reflects more light than it absorbs, therefore letting the wood retain a natural appearance. Since it does not require polishing and buffing, satin finish is more affordable because its application takes less effort. On the other hand, gloss reflects light, and the shiny shimmer accentuates the color, texture, and pattern of the wood. It is durable and more protective than satin but prone to fingerprints.
Finishes may affect the overall tone by suppressing the tonal properties of the wood underneath and limiting vibrations and volume. However, satin and gloss finishes have minimal effect on tone as long as the applied layer is thin.
The number and type of accessories included with your ukulele vary according to the individual model. For instance, the Oscar Schmidt OU7TE does not come with any accessories, the Cordoba 15CM-E includes a tuner and gig bag, and the Ellen Electric Concert Ukulele comes in a package with a comprehensive starter kit comprising of an audio cable, padded storage case, strap, tuner, spare set of nylon strings, Hawaii picks, amp, AC adapter and batteries for the amp and the tuner, as well as one 9V Lithium metal battery and two 3V CR2032 batteries.
Generally, the most common accessories are tuners, extra strings, cables, batteries, picks, straps and gig bags, and cases.
Money back guarantee: This is usually a 30-day offer which allows you to test your ukulele before making your final decision. It is included as an incentive in addition to the warranty which varies from one model to another.
Design: Even the best cheap electric ukuleles come in various colors, patterns, and various adornments which add to the aesthetics. This may be in the form of the natural hue and pattern of the tonewood used, inlays of dots and other shapes for easy navigation and differentiation of notes, and a rosette around the soundhole and binding.
Built-in tuner: They are integrated into the preamp to allow modification of sound before it is sent to the amplifier. The Ellen Electric Concert Ukulele and the Caramel CB904 acoustic-electric ukulele feature are equipped with onboard chromatic tuners with volume and tone controls, and LCD backlit display which shows the sharpness and flatness of the note playing. Some tuners allow silent tuning which is convenient when performing live.
Cutaway: A cutaway design allows easier access to high notes and complex chords for advanced play.
Smooth frets: The edges should smooth and filed to avoid hurting your fingers as they slide along the fingerboard.
Adjustable saddle height: Look for a bridge saddle which can be removed, replaced, or repositioned to raise and lower action for correct intonation.
Adjustable truss rod: The Caramel CB904 comes with an adjustable truss rod and a wench to straighten neck curvature by adjusting string tension, and a
Strap button: It offers additional support when playing the ukulele. The amp cord for the Oscar Schmidt OU7TE doubles up as a strap button.
What will you need to play an electric/acoustic-electric ukulele
For a successful live performance, you will need to plug in your ukulele to project sound that is well-balanced and free of background noise. To achieve this with an electric or acoustic-electric ukulele, you will need a pickup, preamp, tuner, and amplifier or PA system to tweak, boost, and amplify the sound.
Pickups: Pickups convert string vibrations to electric signal which can be amplified. Built-in pickups are available in form of passive piezo which transmits raw signal to the output jack and is the most common, active pickup which includes an onboard preamp to boost and modify the electric signal before it is amplified for a better sound, and electromagnetic pickup which is compatible with steel-stringed electric ukuleles.
Preamp: In addition to boosting the signal, the battery-powered onboard preamps also have controls for volume and tone, and may include a built-in tuner and 3-band frequency equalizer. Built-in preamps are convenient in shaping sound before amplification, and the pickup prevents feedback but if you prefer the authentic acoustic ukulele sound, consider an external preamp pickup which attaches to your ukulele.
Tuners: They enable you to configure the sound to your liking by adjusting the volume and tone of various frequencies and displaying the pitch of the note playing. Some allow silent tuning, which is convenient when performing live.
Amplifier: They have features that are designed to optimize output in a specific instrument such as guitar, acoustic instrument or keyboard. These features include tuners, output jacks for microphones and headphone, and sound effects such as delays, distortion and reverbs. Look for an amplifier with more headroom for a clean signal, so you crank up the volume without worrying about distortion. An amp with higher wattage will usually be louder and more powerful.
Cable: To connect the pickup output jack to the amplifier.
Plugged in, electric ukuleles are much louder than their acoustic-electric counterparts because they can play at higher gain settings without producing feedback. When unplugged, they are barely audible compared to acoustic-electric ukuleles which can be played acoustically and amplified.
Yes, an acoustic amplifier is compatible with piezo and magnetic pickups as well as microphones, and has features specifically designed for low and high frequency sounds to reflect a natural acoustic ukulele sound. You can use a guitar amplifier with solid body electric ukuleles with built-in pickups, but you will lose some of the ukulele sound.
Our Editor’s Choice resonates with a lot of customers according to their online reviews which praise the shredding ability of the Vorson FSUK-1 and its longer sustain. It features 19 frets and two cutaway designs which provides a wider range and convenient access to the high notes on the top frets, making it the best cheap electric ukulele for intermediate players who want to advance to more complex chords as well and novices who prefer a shorter learning curve with easy controls for pickups, tone and volume.
The Ellen Electric Concert Ukulele with Amp is our Best Value ukulele because it comes with an impressive kit which includes all the accessories you need to start playing the best acoustic-electric ukulele right away, even on the move.
The Vangoa UK-23ZE is just as generous with accessories consisting of a tuner, picks, extra strings, strap, and two exciting accompaniments to your ukulele: a kazoo and a finger shaker.