Are you familiar with a ukulele? Do you know how to play it? Are you planning to buy a ukulele? Whatever your purpose is, I know you are here, reading this article, because you are somewhat interested in ukulele.
Read on to know what a ukulele is and what you should examine/consider before buying a new one. You will also know the list of 5 best ukuleles under $500. Shall we get started?
10 Best Ukuleles Under $500 in 2023
Ukulele is a musical instrument often associated with the lower end of the market. Because they are smaller in size and have only four strings, many believe that they are overrated. The fact is, it is not.
There are good ukuleles under $500 that you can buy. Good, meaning handy to use, durable, and can really give you satisfaction. To help you find the great ukulele that will suit your needs, here is the list of the 5 best ukuleles under $500.
- Kala KA-KTGE-C Tenor Ukulele
- Lanikai QM-BLCEC Concert Ukulele
- Oscar Schmidt OU55CE Baritone Ukulele
- Cordoba 32T Tenor Ukulele
- Martin 0X Bamboo Soprano Ukulele
- Kala LTP-S
- Lohanu LU-C Concert Size Ukulele
- Donner DUB-1
- Amumu AM-SPFM-C
- Luna Dolphin Ukulele
Elegant, simple, great sound – three adjectives that best describe the KA-KTGE Tenor ukulele from Kala. The top, back, and sides of this musical instrument are purely made of beautiful Hawaiian koa build.
In addition, it also has a straightforward look, although a few stylish appointments, including the high-gloss finish and accented maple binding.
Kala’s electro-acoustic uke sounds really great and pleasing to the ear. It really possesses a good tenor ukulele, thanks to its warm and mellow ‘island sound’ vibes. There are better-looking ukes out there, but this one is really a good buy for its price.
- sounds great
- perfect tenor
- not eye-catching
- no accessories when bought
The first thing you will notice with this concert ukuleleis its eye-catching design. Its finish is a glossy stained quilted maple on the top, back and sides, all finished with a distinctive glossy translucent blue stain – aka, the ‘Surf’ finish. Red (sun), natural (Sand) and Blue (surf) with a pickup, a very good vibes for stage or recording.
This electro-acoustic ukulele model has 18 frets that sit on the rosewood fretboard. QM-BLCEC produces a robust acoustic tone which is bright and clear, which is what a concert ukulele should offer.
Overall, this instrument is a good buy since it has reliable electronics, plays brilliantly, and brings a wow-factor in the design.
- great design
- good for beginners
- produces a nice sound
- no accessories inclusion
This four-string acoustic-electric baritone ukulele from Oscar Schmidt is made up of Nyatoh neck and Abalone inlays. It possesses good value and proves a popular choice with its long baritone size, D-G-B-E tuning, and distinctive cutaway.
OU55CE is crafted from covered select Hawaiian koa on the top, back, and sides, showing off a beautiful grain that’s complemented with a sleek gloss finish, and a nice abalone rosette and binding for some extra flair.
It can produce an acoustic vibe combined with a warm balanced tone that will surely tingle your ears.
- higher-end baritone
- with accesses when bought
- attractive design
- expensive for beginners
Cordoba ukuleles are somewhat known for is poor tuners, but for the 32T model, it is kind of bearable. Actually, it gives you some solid components which keep things running smoothly, including Aquila strings, a rosewood bridge, and a black Tusq nut and saddle.
Aside from that, it also comes with the Cordoba polyfoam case, which is very protective, looks good, and fits this ukulele perfectly.
The tonewoods of 32T ukulele really complement each other, which gives us a very great and well-balanced sound. In addition, this uke is very durable and easy to bring with. The top is made from solid Sitka spruce, while the back and sides are solid Indian rosewood.
- with accessories when bought
- produces good sound
- expensive for beginners
- poor tuner
Not a disclaimer but truth, Martin uses an eco-friendly high-pressure laminate instead of bamboo for the 0X Soprano Ukulele. The material consists of wood particles pressed together with resin under high heat to make it more durable and lightweight.
Martin’s soprano ukulele features a minimalist design, with a simple soundhole rosette and the iconic Martin logo on the headstock providing the only real decoration aside from the colors. In terms of sounds, even though it is not made up of solid wood, it still gives a very good crisp sound.
- sounds great
- with accessories when bought
- no bamboo used
The brand Kala is no stranger to the world of ukulele enthusiasts. In fact, to say that Kala is one of the most popular brands today is an understatement, as it is the most sought-after ukulele brands around the world.
Additionally, a lot of ukulele schools swear by the quality of Kala instruments that it has become their brand of choice when introducing ukuleles to students.
That being said, the Kala LTP-S is one of the brand’s bestsellers. This soprano ukulele comes in the common size of ukuleles. It is the smallest as well as the shortest scale length with the tightest fret spacing, accurately tuned to G, C, E, and A.
Appearance-wise, there’s a lot to love about the Kala LTP-S. This beautiful ukulele is made with mahogany with a traditional Hawaiian laser-etched rosette, topped with a satin finish. It also comes with a Graphtech NuBone nut and saddle and Aquila Super Nylgut strings from Italy.
- Affordable and great for beginners
- Features nicely built fretwork
- A reflection of Kala’s superior craftsmanship
- Promises comfortability and easy playability
- Frequent tuning may be required
If you’re looking for a ukulele that inspires and supports first-time players, then the Lohanu LU-C is the one for you. This concert ukulele is a 24” piece of art. It wears a sapele body with a mahogany top, back, and sides.
It also has a matching mahogany neck with a technical wood fingerboard that, despite its more compact size, plays smoothly and comfortably. It uses Aquila Strings and features handmade ABS bindings. And to finish the whole look, it also comes with good quality chrome die-cast tuning gears that keep your ukulele in tune.
The Lohanu LU-C is 3 inches bigger than soprano size, making it a better option for those with bigger hands. It also has wider-spaced frets which may be more comfortable for adults and for kids aged 9 and up. And complementing its bigger size, the Lohanu LU-C also produces bigger, fuller sounds.
It plays beautifully and its sound is comparable to more higher-end ukulele options – all thanks to its arched back that gives it a longer sustain.
- Comes with very useful tools
- The free Kala app for lessons
- Songs and also a tuner
- Sports a wider fretboard and a bit bigger in size
- Making it more suitable for adults and older kids
- Made with high-quality materials and great craftsmanship
- Tuning the guitar may need some time getting used to
Are you an advanced player looking for a professional ukulele that truly represents your years of hard work and dedication? The Donner DUB-1 is a limited edition professional 30-inch professional that understands your needs.
It is a bass ukulele with EQ, offering only the best quality of sounds. And to accompany its great ambition of being one of the best ukuleles in the market, the Donner DUB-1 wears only top-quality woods.
It has a mahogany body that promises to deliver nothing but the richest and brightest sounds. It also comes with a matching mahogany neck that is comfortable enough to play for hours.
The Donner DUB-1 also comes with a preamp for amplified use and it comes with the following controls: volume, bass, mid, and treble. Plus, the integrated tuner comes in really useful for easy and accurate tuning.
I also love how this ukulele has 18 brass fret position marks at the 5th, 7th, 10th, and 12th frets on the neck and at the top of the fingerboard. These details make the Donner DUB-1 a viable ukulele for those who are still learning how to play.
- Made with good quality tonewoods and components
- Provides easy and accurate tuning
- Easy and playable making it friendly for beginners
- A bit of buzzing can be heard
- Durability of the stripped tuner needs improvement
Still confused about which ukulele to get? If you’re sure to get a concert-sized ukulele, I highly recommend the Amumu AM-SPFM-C. This stunning ukulele is all about delivering great sound, excellent projection, and unique style. No need to think twice about this one as it has everything a user needs and more.
Just from the looks alone you can already tell that this ukulele is high-quality. It has a solid spruce top with an exotic spalted maple back and sides, giving it a distinct style.
The neck is mahogany, accompanied by responsive and playable walnut fingerboard. As for the finer details, the Amumu AM-SPFM-C has a cattle bone nut and saddle, a chrome machine head, and a beautiful Paua Abalone Purfling rosette – it’s basically the star of the whole show.
- The bundle comes with useful accessories such as a ukulele strap
- Clip-on tuner and gig bag
- Made with high-quality select woods and features beautiful detailing
- Produces rich and full sounds and excellent projection
- Its volume isn’t as loud as other ukuleles on this list
There’s plenty of reasons to fall in love with the Luna Dolphin Ukulele. The very first thing I noticed was its stunningly attractive design. Purple is not a color you’d see everyday on a ukulele but the Luna Dolphin wears the color perfectly, giving it more personality to its style.
But it’s not just the color that makes this ukulele a head-turner. A closer look at the uke and you’ll find that the background is actually trans-azure over flame maple waves. And true to its name, it also features mother-of-pearl dolphins swimming around the soundhole.
Apart from its unique color, this ukulele is also made with high-quality select woods. The Luna Dolphin has a maple body, back, and sides, accompanied by a flame maple top – it’s basically 23 inches of high grade wood, giving the ukulele fuller and richer sounds.
It also has a matching mahogany neck but with a walnut fretboard that ensures easily comfort and an easy hold.
However, this uke isn’t just about the looks – it makes a great companion for those who like playing with an amp. The Luna Dolphin comes with an onboard preamp that supports quick and simple amplification. If you’re looking for a ukulele that has both style and function, the Luna Dolphin is an easy pick.
- Sports a stylish and unique design
- Made with high-quality tonewoods
- Stays in tune thanks to its well-crafted machine
- Comes with an onboard preamp for simple amplification
- Significantly heavier than most ukuleles
- The strings are set high above the fretboard making it a bit difficult to play
What is a Ukulele?
A ukulele is one of those musical instruments that are quite unique with regards to its characteristics and sound produced. Originated in Hawaii, the ukulele has played, and still plays an important role in the culture of this country.
The name ukulele means “jumping flea” meaning small size, and vibrant, cheerful, and exuberant sound.
As time goes by, the ukulele has spread out from Hawaii and eventually managed to reach every continent of the world.
Nowadays, it’s actually an instrument that brings joy to thousands of people around especially to those who want a unique and relaxing sound.
The ukulele is a four-stringed musical instrument made from wood that resembles a small classical guitar. It produces a distinctive sound that instantly takes us to tropical environments.
This cute musical magic was born in Hawaii but has its roots in Europe, specifically in the western part.
Also called as uke, the ukulele is a handy instrument, and is often played and heard in a broad range of musical genres, such as jazz, country music, pop, world music, as well as rock. It is also the musical instrument that best represents surfing and surfers.
Unlike the usual guitars, ukeleles have four strings and the standard tuning is G – C – E – A. The ukulele strings of the ukulele is not easy to find since you can have alternatives. Note that they can be made of fluorocarbon, titanium, wound nylon, wound metal, and steel.
Kinds and Sizes of Ukulele
Before purchasing a new ukulele, you have to consider many factors. Of course, first of all, is your budget. Ask yourself: how much money should you set apart for a good ukulele?
Aside from money, there are also brands you might want to consider. There are also factors or elements you want to check in a ukulele. This includes the kind, size, finish, and woods.
Ukulele has many kinds, which depends on its size. There are four main sizes in ukuleles. Soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. Nowadays, the sopranissimo is also gaining popularity, this one is the smallest of all, which measures16 inches or 40 cm.
The most traditional size of uke is 20 inches and you will find this in a soprano ukulele. This size is what most people associate the ukulele with and makes the typical classic ukulele sound.h Next is concert ukulele at 23 inches.
The body is bigger and the neck is longer with more room between the frets, thus making it a little bit easier to handle.
The third size is tenor sized at 26 inches. It turns a little bit from the ukulele sound and sounds deeper like a classical guitar compared to soprano and concert ukuleles.
The largest of all is at 30 inches and is called the baritone. It has the deepest tone and sounds even more like a classical nylon-stringed guitar.
Of all the kinds and sizes of ukulele, the least popular is the baritone. Take note that many players choose the ukulele for its size, portability, and, of course, the sound.
The baritone ukulele has kinda a guitar sound because it is the biggest of all. The tuning also differs from the other sizes since it has a more guitar-like tuning.
A ukulele sells for between $20 and more than $1,000, depending on the type, quality, and of course brand. High-quality ukuleles are made of acacia koa or mahogany while the cheaper models are built using plywood, plastic, or laminate woods.
Buying your own ukulele is a really good point especially if you are planning to learn how to play it. However, choosing the best one that will suit what you need is the hard part. It will be better if you have someone to guide you to pick the right ukulele for you.
For experienced or professional players, buying a ukulele shouldn’t be too difficult. But when dropping up to half a grand on a single instrument, you want something that will not let you down. If money is not the issue, then you have to see other elements before purchasing one.
Before anything else, make sure you don’t rush your decision. Think a hundred times, especially if this will be your first musical instrument. But if I were to suggest, our rank one would be the Kala KA-KTGE-C Tenor Ukulele.
Create a shortlist of your favorites, review each of them then compare. You can also watch videos -demos and reviews so that you will hear their produced sounds.