Have you ever admired a ukulele performance so much that you ended up wanting to try playing the instrument? If so, the next question that you’re likely to ask yourself is, “how much do ukuleles cost?” The answer isn’t as simple as a single figure. After all, there are varying manufacturers, varying types of ukuleles, and even variable construction materials. The resulting price range is so broad that it may leave you confused. However, we can break it down into smaller categories, so you know what to expect with your current budget.
The term decent ukulele is relative to the intended owner of the device. One person may be satisfied with a ukulele that sets them back $60, while the other won’t feel fulfilled until they have a ukulele worth hundreds of dollars in their hands. Both are right since the motivation for getting the instrument, their needs, and their budgets differ. However, we can give budget estimations and what to expect from a ukulele in a particular price range. This should allow you to make your own conclusions on the matter.
Below is a list of the typical price ranges. Once you know more about the ukuleles in each range, you can decide if the instrument is worth your time or if you need to save a bit more for the purchase.
You can get a ukulele for as low as $5. However, one has to be left wondering about the quality of the instrument. Most of the ukuleles in this price range are toys and not exactly meant for musical proficiency. They might look good on the shelves in your kids’ rooms but don’t expect them to turn your children into musical geniuses. Consequently, if you want the kids to learn to play an instrument, you might need to raise your budget.
It’s not uncommon for the options in this price range to be themed after a kid’s show such as Frozen, Finding Nemo, Spiderman, or more. As such, they can easily fit the décor that you’re going for in your children’s rooms. Also, since they’re inexpensive, they will be easy to replace if your kids break them.
They are typically made from cheap plastic and wood laminate materials which makes them prone to damage. There’s also not a lot of craftsmanship that goes into these instruments. You can see that in the poor fretwork, rough finishing, and shoddy build quality. The strings and tuners are also low grades. Consequently, the instruments are downright unplayable, in addition to having a low sad tone.
The inexpensive toy ukuleles may not be good enough to get you hooked to the instruments, but the ones in the $35-$50 price range might. These are mass-produced options that are made of some fairly cheap materials. Some of them end up producing consistent sounds and are relatively playable. However, there are a lot of unplayable ukuleles in this budget range as well.
If you do end up loving the experience of playing ukulele in this price range, chances are you’ll upgrade to a different one within a few months. As such, if you’re sure about wanting to play the ukulele, we recommend raising your budget slightly and going for a beginner option. However, if you have about $50 to spare and you don’t know if you’ll stick with the instrument, in the long run, buying one in this budget range may be the only way to find out.
You may get a decent and playable instrument. Also, the price is affordable for most people.
The instrument is made of cheap materials, and if you don’t do your research well, you might get an unplayable instrument.
Beginner ukuleles priced at between $50 and $150 are usually the go-to picks for newbies committed to learning to play the instrument. Their main selling point is their affordability. However, there is usually no rush to upgrade from this to the mid-level options since they don’t hamper your playing capabilities in any way.
Closer to the $50 end of the spectrum, you find simple instruments, although the quality of sound and materials is nothing to complain about. However, if you’re willing to part with more money, you can get some extra features such as fancy inlays, electronics, and better quality construction. You may even end up with some good tonewoods, which allow for more resonant sound in your instrument.
They are reasonably affordable even to newbies. The sound is reliable enough to get you from beginner to intermediate playing skill levels. Also, their construction and craftsmanship are pretty decent.
You will likely need or want to upgrade after a few years with the instrument. Their designs and material construction are unlikely to blow you away.
Mid-level ukuleles that range from $150-$500 in price are the go-to options for those of you who have attained a certain level of playing proficiency and want to upgrade their equipment. That said, even expert players tend to own some mid-level ukuleles. There is such a wide range of ukuleles in this price range that it’s hard to put them in one category.
For example, some are just upgraded beginner ukuleles. You might not notice a difference in the sound or quality of the construction, but they tend to have a more exotic design. If this is all you want in an upgrade, you might not have any problems with the ukuleles on the lower end of the $150-$500 price spectrum.
Another category of ukuleles in this range is one where the instruments have cutaway bodies. This cutaway design in guitars is meant to allow easier access to the upper frets. It also serves the same purpose in a ukulele, and as a bonus, it makes it look better.
You even get acoustic-electric ukuleles in this range. If you intend to record your playing sessions and need direct input to your computer or an amplifier to carry the sound, the acoustic-electric ukuleles are the ones for you.
Most people rarely purchase the acoustic-electric option as their first pick. After all, you first need to get good at playing the instrument before you start thinking of recording yourself. The Hadean Acoustic-Electric Ukulele is, according to reviewers, an excellent option once you’re confident enough in your playing capabilities to start recording. It’s made from premium wood and comes with an inbuilt preamp that makes it easier to set it up in a studio.
Lastly, there are options that have full wooden bodies. Generally, string instruments tend to sound better and have more warmth, character, volume, and bass when made of solid wood rather than laminate.
The Kala KA-SA-T Acacia ukulele seems to live up to that billing and more. This is because the wooden construction is not the only notable aspect of the instrument. The Aquila Super Nyglut Strings is praiseworthy as well, according to reports by reviewers.
That said, in some cases, a top-quality laminate ukulele can have similar sound capabilities to the average wooden alternative. Ultimately you may have to test out your options to find out which one sounds better.
Also, while the wooden bodies and acoustic-electric ukuleles seem like different elements, there is no rule against having them in the same instrument. You can even see that in the Hadean Acoustic-electric ukulele we mentioned above.
The sound quality in almost all the ukuleles in this range is good enough to carry you through your music career. They feature better quality construction than ukuleles at lower prices. Also, most of the extra features such as cutaway bodies, inbuilt preamps, and more are in this category.
The biggest con is, of course, price. These are less affordable than some of their counterparts. However, this is to be expected when you consider better construction, quality, and extra features.
Any ukulele priced at above $500 is likely to be a high-end device. However, these are often from a select few manufacturers. Depending on the design, body size, wood grade used, and the finishing, the ukulele’s price can be as high as $2000. Also, custom ukuleles where you have a lot of say in the design of the final product fall into this category. That said, the playability is not much of an improvement from the options that are priced at $500 or slightly lower.
You get only the best quality materials in your instrument. This applies to the strings, body, fretboard, and even the neck. A custom design according to your needs is also on the table.
The high-end ukuleles are priced above most people’s affordability range.
Before you consider the price range, you should know more about four major ukulele types in the market. These include the soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.
How much do ukuleles cost? The write-up above should give you the ballpark figures to look out for before you even log onto Amazon to find one that matches your experience level and needs. Remember to consider the type, although most of you will still end up with a soprano option if this is your first time shopping for one.