In addition to being a private violin teacher and having a degree in music from USC, Alecia started writing music-related articles and product reviews six years ago and has enjoyed this experience greatly. She likes to learn new instruments and write new compositions in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners can enjoy really good music.
Last updated: November 16, 2023
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The ukulele might be an excellent addition to your musical instrument collection, especially if you want a similar sound to that of a guitar without too much variation in the design. The small factor design might even make it easier for children to start playing. Also, you can choose from a variety of ukulele sizes that will produce different sounds from the soprano, tenor, concert, and a few more to go with each kind of music performance. On the list below, you can find some of the best ukuleles under $100.
While this list only consists of eight items, it is essential to note that the original list included 25 products with the ones presented here being the crème de la crème. Additionally, the Luna Tattoo Concert ukulele is the best out of the remaining eight options. Being a concert ukulele, it is easy to play for both newbie players and experienced ones as well. It is also made of mahogany wood, among other endearing qualities. The other seven options are not bad either.
A buying guide would assist you in choosing which option works for you and, as such, is included below. Also included are a table and an in-depth look into each product. Of course, the ranking of each product is dependent on the type of ukulele, size, weight, and material, among other features. Additionally, we wouldn’t be able to classify the items below as the best ukuleles under $100 if we hadn’t spent a lot of time looking into each option. This includes what both the manufacturer and other users have had to say about the instruments.
The mahogany body is a hardwood variation, and if nothing else, this at least offers a more durable frame to the instrument. Complementing the body is the Aquila Nylgut string set. You can get these strings independently so you know if one of them gets damaged, you can easily replace them. Nonetheless, they are made to last long, and not only that, but to have more sound projection. This is in addition to their ability to play consistently through moisture changes.
Another top feature is the fret markers included to help users play the right notes. These are stylized in a shark teeth look and are in addition to another design feature that makes the tool a joy to look at. This is the tattoo carvings in line with the instrument’s Hawaiian origins, where geometric shapes are incorporated into a tribal art outlook. You will also need to own a carry bag for this piece of equipment since you will no doubt be transporting it from time to time. Fortunately for you, the ukulele does ship with a branded carry bag. 1.3 pounds being its standard weight, you will no doubt have an easy time carrying it around as well.
What stands out?
Crystal clear sound
Durable and long-lasting wooden construction
Easy to find string replacements
Travel bag included
What cons did we manage to find?
Users don’t have much to complain about except the fact that it doesn’t have as many accessories in the package as other options
Another aesthetically pleasing option to feature on our list is the AKLOT Tenor Ukulele. The mahogany wood used in its making is exceptionally well polished, and you can expect the same level of resilience that other mahogany options offer. If you are insistent on top-quality tuning equipment, then this device comes with its own minimizing the need to spend extra. However, this is not the only accessory included. Others include a strap, gig bag, an extra set of strings and guitar picks.
Coming in at 3.09 pounds, the instrument is by no means weightless in comparison to other ukuleles. However, the device is still in a reasonable weight range and maybe touted by some as the best tenor ukulele under 100.
What makes it special?
Good looking design
Comes with a full set of accessories including a top-notch tuner
Free online lessons
45-day money-back guarantee
What cons did we find?
Needs to be tuned often
You may need to buy better strings to make the best use of the instrument
Tenor ukuleles are on the whole more significant than their concert counterparts, and thus, you will find that to be true for this model as well. This is evidenced by the dimensions mentioned above. Also true is the fact that this instrument is heavier than the Luna Tattoo Concert Ukulele by almost a full pound. Nevertheless, you would hardly compare it size-wise with acoustic guitars. After playing it, you will see the sound quality to be quite similar.
Construction-wise you will find a mix between different types of hardwood. Of course, the body is mitigated against the shock of a few bumps and bruises as you will no doubt experience some on your musical journey.
If you are only just moving to a tenor ukulele from a concert one, then you might experience a difference in string tightness. Nonetheless, this is a transition you can make quickly. The arched back on this device is not just for aesthetics but also so that it comes to bring out a fuller, deeper sound.
You should also appreciate the inclusion of strap buttons. The strap can be an additional purchase that won’t cost you much. Another benefit is you get a money-back guarantee along with a one year warranty.
Why did it make our list?
One year warranty
Comes with bag
Strap buttons included
What is not ideal about it?
Users may have to tune the uke often
The frets may also need to be filed due to their sharp, rugged nature
The Ranch Concert Ukulele comes with a lined fabric gig bag that is handy for not only when you go for a gig but also when you are traveling and need your ukulele with you. While the body is one of the more impressive aspects of this device, you should also take note of the digital tuner. If you make use of this accessory every time you go on stage, you are almost guaranteed to play all the right notes.
While this is a complete concert set, you would do well to note that it is also ideal for beginners. This is explicitly shown by the fact that buyers can get 12 free online lessons, as well. Included in the package are a cleaning cloth and an additional set of strings. However unlikely, you might still not find this device to be right for you, and hence, you get a thirty-day money-back guarantee.
Why are we impressed?
Comes with loads of accessories
30-day money-back guarantee
Clear cut sound
What negatives must you be aware of?
The device is heavier than most other options
The tuner may be a bit off requiring that you buy a third party one
The Oscar Schmidt OU2-A-U Concert Ukulele is another concert ukulele addition to our list. As such, it is only expected that the device is lightweight, and it does weigh in at one pound. The body is essential as well, with this one featuring full mahogany construction with a satin finish. Some people speculate that this is the reason for the warm low tones as well as the clarity of the high pitched tones as well. Unlike the editor’s choice, this instrument is relatively plain looking with no extravagant design inclusions on the body.
One factor that is impressive about the device is the geared chrome tuners. This being a ukulele, you may have to tune it as often as you play it, and these inclusions make it easier to do that. You can get the device for slightly less than 80 dollars, with the overall consensus being that this is a bargain once you have experienced the quality of the product. Additionally, a limited lifetime warranty comes to bear with this device.
The overall look of this device is different not only with other ukuleles but also with guitars as well. Nevertheless, the basics of making this device are the same. It has a mahogany body with no etchings on the body and hence, a rather simple outlook. This model uses an upgraded version of strings known as the Aquila Super Nylgut strings. A dominant characteristic of these strings is less stretchiness.
Overall this makes it easier for anyone to tune the device whenever they want to. They will also not need to tune it every single time since the strings allow for the tuning to be maintained a bit longer. As well there is cream binding and a walnut fingerboard. You can opt for one of two packages with this instrument. The first comes with a gig bag, and the other comes with a hard carrying case. However, the latter comes at a higher price point than the 100 dollars designated above.
What are its best features?
Comes with gig bag
Long-lasting and replaceable strings
Comes with instructional DVD
What could be improved?
The tuner might be a bit difficult to figure out
Not the most suitable tool for experienced players
Some people insist you get more value by spending more and getting the one with a hard case
Another addition to the list is the Lanikai LU-11 Soprano Ukulele. This one is unique in that it uses a different variation of hardwood to the ones you are used to. Nato hardwood is not very common in the west. However, it also comes as a bundle purchase with a few necessary accessories. These include the instructional DVD for beginners, the clip-on tuner, and a polishing cloth, so your instrument always looks pristine. All these can also fit in the gig bag that you are provided with.
What are its best features?
Comes with a gig bag alongside a select few accessories
Solid wood used in construction
Instructional videos for people just starting in the ukulele field
What could be improved?
Fretboard may need to be filled down
Some users have complained that it doesn’t stay in tune for extended periods of play
This particular instrument is one that you can get in a variety of color options. The body is made of laminated basswood, so there is little chance of there being any damage to the device from the bumps and bruises of everyday use. However, it is still quite light as compared to most of the other devices listed. Another benefit of owning this device is that it is easy to change strings due to the no-tie bridge. Beginners can use this as their training tool before they switch to more professional equipment when they get better at playing.
Why is it special?
Easy to change the strings when they get damaged
What are the flaws?
Doesn’t come with any accessories
Things to Consider
Buying an ukulele in the sub $100 price range is difficult since there are many options to choose from. As well more information on ukuleles will help narrow down options considerably; hence, the buying guide below.
What to expect from an ukulele under $100
The ukuleles within this price range are mostly beginner instruments. This is why you find some of the options provided above come with instruction videos, as well. They may come in DVD format or online courses so that the user can learn the basics before they start to fend for themselves.
Nevertheless, there are some things that you needn’t compromise on. These include the build quality of the body. Stronger bodies will generally tend to last longer. Also, other parts, like the strings, are replaceable and thus can be overlooked in terms of quality. Nevertheless, depending on how close to the $100 mark you are willing to get, you will see an increase in accessories and their quality as you go up.
Features to consider when choosing a ukulele
Choosing the right ukulele is not a matter of picking the first one you come across. It needs to be an information-gathering process where you can pit instruments against each other by their features. Of course, you also have to know what it means for each feature to be included in a particular instrument. As such, most of the features associated with ukuleles are listed and defined below.
The types of ukuleles available are somewhat similar to the types of typical guitars. You have the acoustic ukulele, which is what is seen on our list. Among the parts are the head, tuning pegs, fingerboards, neck, frets, a soundboard, and a soundhole. However, the sound carry is more often dependent on the size of the ukulele than anything else.
Acoustic-electric ukuleles are a bridge between the acoustic variation and electric instruments. They come with all the components of the acoustic devices, as mentioned above. However, they also come with the addition of amplifiers, electric tuners, and other electrical component pieces that may allow it to be plugged into an amp. On the other hand, you have a fully electric ukulele that doesn’t even incorporate a soundhole.
Another type of ukulele is the bass version. This one is similar to what a bass guitar would sound like but one with higher tones by a single octave.
Size also matters a lot in the sound output. This is even seen in the naming of the ukuleles.
The smallest ukulele is the soprano, followed by the concert ukulele. The third and fourth options are the tenor and baritone ukuleles respectively with the latter being the largest of the four options mentioned.
Currently, there are no baritone ukes mentioned on our list. However, the AKLOT Tenor Ukulele, as evidenced by the name, is a tenor ukulele.
Dimensions and weight
Dimensions are an excellent way to determine what instrument is right for you. Of course, bigger hands will find it easier to operate and use bigger models. However, children might find it easier to use the soprano and concert size ukuleles. Nevertheless, these are factors that affect the weight of the device. Most of the ukuleles mentioned above are under 4 pounds, and that makes them easier to carry around. The Ranch Concert Ukulele is one of the heavier ones weighing in at about 2.45 pounds.
Mahogany as a whole seems to be a popular choice due not only to durability but also to the fact that it produces clear sounds when incorporated into the soundboard. Another popular option is sapele. One not as common is laminated basswood found in the Fender Venice Soprano Ukulele.
Of course, having extra features along with accessories makes a product a more attractive prospect. These include gig bags, straps, an extra set of strings, tuners, and many more. The more extra features the ukulele has, the more you can do with it. An electric ukulele, for example, would be better suited to performing on stage because it can be attached to an amp.
The AKLOT Tenor Ukulele, on the other hand, prides itself on its ability to provide all the necessary accessories. As such the device is cheaper than other counterparts as it will require no additional expenditure. Also, beginners even get lessons on how to play the instrument.
Top points are awarded to the Hricane Tenor Ukulele for the quality wood, quality strings, bag, and strap buttons. The fact that it comes with a tuner as well doesn’t hurt. Now you have a list of affordable ukuleles. Price should therefore no longer be a factor in determining whether you can own a ukulele or not.