10 Best Ukulele Brands
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Looking For The Best Ukulele Brands
Whether it’s your first or fifth ukulele, if you want a smooth, enjoyable tone like the ones the instrument is typically known for, quality matters. We’ve put together this best ukulele brands list to introduce you to some of the most iconic ukulele makers out there, but also so you can get to know the instrument better.
There are many different types of ukuleles, but in its traditional sense, the instrument is made with a small, wooden body and four nylon strings. Light in sound but rich in tone, ukuleles produce an uplifting tune and are easy to play.
Though heavily associated with Hawaii, the instrument actually originated in Europe. It was only introduced to Hawaiians after Joao Fernandez, a Portuguese immigrant, made his way to the island and started playing his branquinha, the Portuguese equivalent to the uke.
The best ukulele brands on this list make both classic and modern styles of the instrument, and we’ll kick off in this guide with one that plays around with a rock n’ roll aesthetic.
10 Best Ukulele Brands
We can think of quite a few music greats who play(ed) Fender guitars, like Jimmi Hendrix and Eric Clapton to name just two. The brand has become synonymous with stringed instruments, and its Stratocaster design is loved and owned by many who want a solid, dependable electric rig.
Founded in California in 1946, Fender is the namesake brand of Clarence Leonidas Fender whose first guitar was the Esquire, outfitted with the iconic black and white detail.
It turns out that guitars aren’t the only thing Fender makes, though its ukuleles do closely resemble its most-loved guitar designs. Offering a range of 12 different styles, you’ll find mini uke Stratocasters, Jazzmasters, and of course standard styles for the classic at heart.
Its range includes both acoustic and electric versions, along with some made in collaboration with popular artists like Billie Eilish. Its least expensive model is the Venice Soprano for $100, while its Strat series hovers around $250. Artist collections are $350+.
- Offers acoustic and electric styles
- Small collected but inclusive range
- Great-looking styles modeled after classic guitar designs
- Collaborations with artists
- Dependable, high quality
- Mid-range prices
While we made our way around the web for this best ukulele brands list, Kara was a name that popped up a lot. Regarded as a great choice for beginners or anyone looking for a fail-safe ukulele, Kala’s collection bursts with variety, life, and quality.
In fact, it has more unique models than any other brand and its instruments are played by musicals around the world including Twenty One Pilots and the bassist for Prince, Nik West. Kala views each instrument as its own thing. Hand-picking wood and choosing well-fitting structural pieces, its selection is thrilling to look through.
Kala was founded in 2005 after musician Mike Upton grew particularly fond of the ukulele while living in Hawaii. After he came back to California, he launched his brand and it quickly grew to one played in over 50 countries around the globe.
It offers a true mix of styles, designs, and aesthetics, including classic originals, inspired shapes (like the avocado uke), and new-age materials like see-through neon plastic. Simple models go for $70 while professional, classic styles sell for just under $2,000.
- Handmade in California
- Tons of unique models
- Free online sessions
- Styles for all levels of musicians
- Free app to tune & teach
- Affordable prices
- Includes higher-end models
Cordoba ukuleles are known for their gorgeous details and lovely tone. With 49 different styles and designs, there’s a Spanish aesthetic that runs through them. The collection features lots of natural lacquered wood with a few color-stained options.
Offering both acoustic and electric styles, you’ll find a wide selection of wood in its line including spruce, acacia, and mahogany, which is known for its incredibly rich tone. And speaking of wood, Cordoba sources theirs sustainably.
The brand is compliant with regulations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, ensuring that where it harvests from does not traumatize the natural environment. Founded in 1997 by Tim Miklaucic in California, you can get your hands on a Cordoba ukulele for $170-$885.
- 49 different options
- Has great tone
- Variety of woods
- Sustainably harvested wood
- Free tutorials available online
Martin seems to be a dependable go-to in the music world. It’s known for its superior craftsmanship, quality, and rich tone, but treasured for its commitment to environmental sustainability.
The brand says that its instruments aren’t just instruments—they’re history. Founded back in 1833, Martin guitars were incredibly popular, played by Civil War soldiers and held on stage by music greats like Jimmie Rodgers.
Today, Martin guitars are still popular in the professional music realm, strummed by pop artists like Ed Sheeran and John Mayer. C.F Martin & Co is a family-owned and run brand, each generation passing down the skill and craftsmanship that make this brand so loved.
When ukuleles began getting popular in the early 1900s, Martin began producing its designs. With 10 ukulele options, you’ll discover a few different styles like concert and tenor, the 5K Uke being the brand’s highest-quality pick in soprano size.
Made in classic shapes with attractive finishes to make the wood grain pop, you can get one of these iconic instruments for between $300-$4,500.
- Sustainable & responsible manufacturing
- Supports non-profit music, arts, and education
- Incredibly well-made
- Range of prices (affordable to expensive)
5. Luna Guitars
It’s all about affordable options and a unique look at Luna Guitars. Ideal for those who want a great-looking instrument but don’t need it to be too serious, this modern brand was founded in 2005 by a stained glass artist and features instruments with artwork from prominent artists.
The brand brings a new approach to well-loved instruments and seeks to express an appreciation for culture, nature, and art. First starting off with just guitars, Luna started making ukuleles in 2014, offering laser-etched designs and gorgeous features like abalone inlays.
The Luna Uke Tattoo Mahogany Concert is the world’s #1 selling ukulele, and the company offers a ton of different concert designs, as well as soprano, tenor, baritone, and bass. You’ll find spruce, koa, ash, and mahogany woods in its collection, along with unique others like bamboo.
For the most part, it offers classic ukulele shapes but has some pineapple styles as well. Prices start at around $100 and go up to about $430.
- Offers a wide range of ukuleles (concert, soprano, tenor, baritone, bass)
- Best for creative individuals
- Features artwork from popular artists
6. Oscar Schmidt
Oscar Schmidt is an iconic, historical name in instruments and one of the oldest on this best ukuleles brands list. Founded in 1871, within just 19 years, the company had five European factories and one in Jersey City.
It produces all kinds of stringed instruments including guitars, banjos, mandolins, and ukuleles, all made from rich, premium wood and fitted with high-quality hardware to last through the ages. But even though Oscar Schmidt is known for its outstanding upscale designs, its prices reflect the needs of the entry-level and mid-range musician.
With smooth fret ends and low-action, resonant sound, Oscar Schmidt’s ukuleles are revered for their quality and comfort. Its collection includes a lot of mahogany options, as well as some spruce and koa wood.
With a traditional shape and look, its designs are a mix of all styles including soprano, bass, and concert. Prices range from $60-$500 depending on where you buy them.
- Great quality for the price
- Wide range of styles & woods
- Made from premium materials
- Traditional look & sound
“Ohana means family,” a line from animated favorite Lilo & Stitch that’s engrained in every Disney lover’s brain. Named as a tribute to the family spirit, Ohana was founded in 2006 in Long Beach, California.
The brand has ever since been associated with consistent quality, its staff inspecting each of its instruments by hand before getting them ready for delivery. The folks behind it think that everyone should be able to pick up a ukulele and play it with ease and believe that’s accomplished by creating a well-made, thoughtful instrument.
What do its ukuleles sound like? The tone is described as rich and comes from the quality woods the brand uses. From laminate to vintage-style mahogany, its collection includes pineapple, solid top, and long scale styles, as well as obscure models like banjoleles. Styles typically range from $100-$400.
- Tons of variety
- Easy to shop website (categorizes types)
- Inspected by hand before delivery
- Produces rich tones
- Range of affordable prices
Lanikai has made a reputation for itself as a brand that creates for musicians who are serious about their music. Known for being easy to play, its ukuleles are made on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii, and blend high-quality sound with sturdy, durable construction.
The brand offers a total of 78 different styles of ukuleles, some in color, others in simple lacquered wood. Part of the Hohner music company founded in Trossingen, Germany in 1857, Lanikai is part of this iconic German brand flocked to for its folk instruments like harmonicas and accordions.
You’ll find a mix of styles and materials in its collection, along with both acoustic and electric designs. Said to be warm in tone, all of the brand’s ukuleles come with Aquila Nylgut Strings and you’ll find simple soprano styles in its collection for $100 to electric models for $500.
- Massive range of ukuleles (soprano, bass, baritone, 5-string, 8-string, etc.)
- Many different wood options (oak, mahogany, maple, acacia)
- Acoustic & electric options
- Made in Hawaii
Lohanu represents love, family, and unity, its concise collection one that delivers on high-quality sound for an affordable price. Founded to provide the best quality of ukulele that won’t break the bank, you’ll find just four ukulele kits in its line sold directly through Amazon only.
A brand with off-the-chart reviews for its ukuleles and customer service, all Lohanu instruments come with a lifetime warranty. Offering a range of baritone, concert, soprano, and tenor options, the brand uses a mix of woods including maple and mahogany with rosewood fretboards.
Each kit comes with the ukulele, a strap, two picks, a tuner, a case, a part cord hanger, and an extra set of Super Aquila Strings. Prices range from $70-$170.
- Great quality for the price
- Comes with an accessory set
- Offers all signature ukulele styles
Kamaka ukuleles are created today under advice passed down from the brand’s founder Samuel Kaialiilii Kamaka. The simple but impactful message is: “If you make instruments and use the family name, don’t make junk.”
It’s something that rings true in the quality and integrity of Kamaka ukuleles today which use traditional Hawaiian Koa wood for all of the bodies of the styles, finished brilliantly with lacquer. Mahogany is used for the neck, and rosewood makes up the fingerboard and bridges.
The brand, founded in 1916, was launched under the name Kamaka Ukulele and Guitar Works and quickly grew a reputation for quality and design.
The original creator of the pineapple ukulele, Kamaka patented the design and made history. You’ll find pineapple models across some of the best ukulele brands on this list and at many instrument companies in general.
Its collection includes all of the basics, including standard, tenor, concert, and baritone as well, with several models within each of the categories. With a traditional look, Kamaka ukuleles are known for their quality and well-made design that only gets better with age. You’ll find its ukuleles ranging from $1,200-$3,000.
- Very high in quality
- All made with Hawaiian Koa wood
- Good variety of styles
- Historic brand
How to Shop For The Best Ukulele
We’re all musicians of different levels, and what may be a top priority for someone else may not even make your list. To help you streamline the process and find the best ukulele brand for you, we compiled a list of what you may want to look out for as you make your way through our top picks.
The name behind a brand can be super important and something that some musicians won’t take a chance on. The name that’s written across an instrument helps you understand the kind of quality it has and also tells you the kind of support you’ll get throughout your playing career.
For example, many people choose Fender because it’s established itself well with popular musicians. Though not many of them play their ukuleles, you may feel more comfortable buying from them considering their reputation.
Ukuleles are mostly made of wood, and you’ll find that some of the best ukulele brands on this list mention sustainable sourcing practices. If what it’s made from is a deciding factor of whether or not you bring an instrument into your home, be on the lookout for brands that mention this.
Buying a new ukulele without talking to a musician who knows their stuff can be a process of trial and error. That’s the realization we must face when shopping online. Thankfully, the majority of the best ukulele brands listed here provide tons of knowledge about instrument types and help you choose one that’s right for you.
You’ll find an array of ukulele types mentioned throughout this best ukulele brands list, including soprano (also known as standard), concert, tenor, baritone, and bass ukuleles. You’ll even find some electric models with built-in preamps as well as specialty types like banjoleles.
The differences between these types all have to do with sound and size—though, some have a difference in the number of strings as well. If you’re looking for a classic, travel-friendly ukulele, choose soprano.
Want something deeper? Opt for baritone or bass. Tenor is about mid-range while concert ukuleles are larger in size and thus produce more sound. Electric ukuleles have a non-resonant body and produce louder sounds when plugged into an amp.
Think about what it is you want your uke for and then choose accordingly.
Ukuleles that stay true to tradition will be made from Hawaiian Koa wood. You’ll find a few of the best ukulele brands using Koa, but also many that make theirs with mahogany, teak, acacia, oak, and a variety of other woods.
Though from a traditional standpoint a ukulele should be constructed of wood, you will find some made from plastic. These will produce a less authentic sound but are generally less expensive and are a fun, modern addition to an existing collection.
Construction and Durability
Some ukuleles are made by hand, but the majority of them use special cutting machines to get precise lines and curves. The next part of the construction process involves gluing and clamping, and this is the standard across all ukulele production.
The quality of a ukulele depends heavily on the wood that each instrument is made from, as well as the craftsmanship that goes into making them. You’ll notice that some of the best ukulele brands mentioned here use higher quality materials than others, with sturdy hardware that’s made to last.
If you’re serious about buying a ukulele that will last for years, you may want to pay attention to what they’re made from and consider paying a few extra bucks.
To play sweet-sounding, cohesive music, your ukulele must be in tune. Frequent use, temperature, and time will all cause your instrument to go out of tune. It’s inevitable. But with that said, some cheaper models will go out of tune faster than more expensive models. It’s just the way they’re wired.
If you want to prevent constant re-tuning of your instrument, choose a quality option and make sure you take care of it properly.
Many of the best ukulele brands we recommend offer an accessories section on their website. You’ll find maintenance and cleaning kits within this category, as well as some that offer the kit along with its ukuleles.
Taking proper care of your ukulele is important to help it look and sound good and last for years. If you don’t already own a kit, it may be worth purchasing one with your new uke. Proper maintenance includes frequently cleaning your instrument, so be prepared to pull out your special cloth after every session.
As you’ve probably seen, the best ukulele brands make instruments with a range of prices. The least expensive option we’ve seen is around $60 while the most expensive is upwards of $4,000.
There’s no doubt that investing in a more costly ukulele will mean your instrument sounds better (most times), but surprisingly, there are also a lot of names on this list that promise rich sound and great prices. Depending on your needs, consider what kind of quality you’re getting for the price.
Just want something to strum on for fun? A less expensive model will do. You’re a serious player? Well, we don’t have to tell you that it’s worth investing, but it’s still smart to look out for quality materials and a reputable brand when settling on a price you’re comfortable with.
What is the best ukulele for a beginner?
As a beginner, you’re just getting into the groove of playing the ukulele. You most likely are drawn to it for its light, sweet sound, and to replicate that, you’ll want to go with a soprano style. This classic style is the one people associate with the instrument.
Smaller in the body with four strings, sopranos are great for playing classic ukulele tunes. Every one of the best ukulele brands on this list makes soprano models, so you have a ton of options. Kala comes highly recommended for beginners.
How long does it take to learn the ukulele?
A ukulele has proven to be much easier to play than a guitar. With nylon strings, it’s softer on your fingers and makes it easier to move around the fretboard. Ukes only have four strings, so it’ll also take less time to learn how to play one than it would a 5-string guitar—and a little less coordination.
Some say you can grasp the basics of a ukulele in 10 minutes. Were not all built with musical aptitude though, and that’s why professionals say that it takes between 3-6 months to know how to fully and fluidly play songs on the instrument.
How long it takes you to learn how to play the ukulele successfully depends on how much time you put into practicing it.
What are the 3 main parts of a ukulele?
There are many different areas on a ukulele, but they’re divided up into three main parts. These are the headstock, the neck, and the body.
Within these parts, you’ll find the tuning keys, frets, soundhole, strings, bridge, and saddle, all key in helping your little uke sound a certain way. All found on acoustic ukuleles, electric models will not have the sound hold as its sound comes from amplification and not resonance.
How often should you clean your ukulele?
The way an instrument performs is only as good as the care you put into it. After each session, you should wipe off its strings and fretboard with a cotton cloth. Even if your hands are clean, the oil in your fingertips can rub off on the strings and create dirt over time.
If your fretboard looks dirty, take the strings off and rub it with 0000 steel wool, then condition it with mineral or lemon oil. Experts say that if your ukulele is super dirty, you may need to repeat this process.
To make sure you have the right supplies on hand, consider picking up a ukulele maintenance kit or at least ask someone what the right supplies to clean your instrument with are. You don’t want to use something that will damage the wood.
You’ve made it to the end of this best ukulele brand guide, and we hope you’ve not only zeroed in on a pick you can’t wait to try out but are leaving with a sense of confidence and knowledge about the stringed instrument in general.
Your decision will come down to your unique needs as a musician and what you want to get out of your instrument. Some of the best ukulele brands we’ve mentioned here are known for their beginner-friendly styles, while others are made with historical craftsmanship and promise one of a kind sound.
The purpose of this list is to save you frustration and money. Take your time and feel each brand out. At the end of the day, no matter which brand you pick, you’ll walk away with a quality ukulele.
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