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Anyone who has dipped their toe into the wonderful world of music has probably come across the ukulele.
If you’ve been searching far and wide for the most affordable option to kick off your time with this fun instrument, then you’re in the right place.
We’ve gathered all the most important information so that you can choose the best ukulele under $100 for your specific needs.
Whether you’re into sopranos or baritones, there are options for everyone and we are here to suggest nothing but the best from each of those categories.
Quick List: Top 5 Ukuleles Under $100
- Kmise KMU30B – Best Baritone Ukulele
- Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele – Best Concert Ukulele
- Ranch Tenor 26 inch Ukulele – Best Tenor Ukulele
- Kala K-15S Soprano Ukulele – Best Soprano Ukulele
- Luna Tattoo Concert Mahogany Ukulele
Researching Ukuleles Under $100
Owning a ukulele can be such a gift, not only for its unique and quirky sound but also for its convenient size. When researching the best ukuleles on the market, we considered the four main variations. Those being soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone so that you have a true variety of pitch to choose from.
Most people get super excited at the thought of saving money, and while we are all for budget-wise musicians, sometimes the low price can equal low quality. So, we have put together a list that takes both the price as well as the quality of the ukulele into account to give you the best quality at the most affordable prices.
Other aspects that we paid close attention to are the type of material used to make the instrument and how it sounds. The playability of the ukulele is something to consider, as well as the hardware choices. The hardware can impact the intonation and will often be the reason you need to keep tuning your uke. We also looked at string quality and any extra features of the ukulele, to give you a cohesive list of the very best options that won’t hurt your wallet.
The Best Ukulele Under $100 in 2020
1. Kmise KMU30B – Best Baritone Ukulele
This Kmise 30-inch baritone is an awesome option for anyone looking for a budget-friendly choice. It also includes a bundle with some extra accessories, so you are fully equipped to dive into your ukulele journey.
✔️ What we like: High-quality strings & good volume
❌ What we don’t like: Some customers experience rough edges on the fretboard
👌 Standout Features:
- Adjustable action
- Compensated saddle
- High-quality mahogany body
- Premium metallic & nylon strings
This Kmise ukulele packs a real punch in terms of value for money. Many people are pleasantly surprised to find that it has a compensated saddle, which gives better intonation.
The KMU30B is not only for beginners but it does have a nice low action, making it easier to play for musicians of any level. In addition, this guy has an adjustable truss rod, which means that you can adjust the action to meet your preference. It even comes with an Allen key to make immediate adjustments. Now that’s attention to detail!
Any owner of the Kmise KMU30B can proudly say that it sounds amazing. It’s got a mahogany body that gives that lovely warm tone and the Pro-Arté Titanium EJ87B strings add some superb brightness. It may be made with a laminate and not solid wood but what you lose is resonance, you gain in its durability. This means that you can relax, knowing that your new ukulele won’t be very susceptible to any temperature or humidity changes.
You don’t even need to worry about constantly tuning your ukulele. The KMU30B is rigged out with some 18:1 geared tuners, which do a great job of holding their tune. On top of all the features of the actual instrument, the bundle also includes a gig bag, extra strings, a few picks, a tuner, and a strap.
Unfortunately, there were some mentions of rough or sharp edges of the fretboard, which is just something to look out for. Besides that, this ukulele has some great reviews and you really can’t go wrong with that kind of value for money.
2. Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele – Best Concert Ukulele
If you’re looking out for the big names, this is hardly one you would miss. Cordoba comes in full swing with this impressive 15CM concert ukulele which will surely make any customer feel over the moon.
✔️ What we like: Very comfortable to play
❌ What we don’t like: Can sound boxy if played too vigorously
👌 Standout Features:
- Abalone rosette
- Satin finish
- Trusted craftsmanship
- Good volume output
The Cordoba 15CM is a beautifully made instrument with a mahogany top as well as mahogany sides and back. It is made with layered mahogany. In other words, it is made with laminated wood which is not the best for resonance and the overall sound. However, laminated materials are standard for ukuleles under $100 so we’ll give Cordoba a break on this one.
This ukulele is soft on the eyes as well! It features a gorgeous abalone rosette and some pearl button tuners, all accompanied by a satin finish. The looks may be distracting but don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the most important part. You will find that this Cordoba isn’t just pretty on the outside, it also creates some gorgeous tunes.
Despite the laminated wood, the 15CM offers an awesome sound that doesn’t disappoint in the volume department. It can sometimes start to sound a bit hollow if played too hard and the sustain of the notes may not be the best but don’t let that put you off. For the below-$100 bracket, the Cordoba sounds fantastic.
The 15CM is a joy to play, with its mahogany c-shaped neck and rosewood fretboard. Its size fits very comfortably in most people’s arms and its lightweight structure makes the whole experience very enjoyable. This ukulele is fitted with premium Aquila Nylgut strings that give a wonderfully smooth sound. You won’t want to put this beauty down!
3. Ranch Tenor 26-inch Ukulele – Best Tenor Ukulele
Ranch Guitars may not be a household name but that doesn’t mean that they can’t come in swinging with an excellent deal. The Ranch Tenor 26-inch ukulele is both aesthetic and wonderfully functional, plus it includes a generous bundle of accessories.
✔️ What we like: Arched back to ensure longer sustain
❌ What we don’t like: Does not hold its tune very well
👌 Standout Features:
- Polished Sapele wood body
- Aquila strings
- Easy to play
- Well finished and seated frets
You wouldn’t look at this ukulele and guess that it cost under $100. Its body is made from polished Sapele wood and is matched with a mahogany neck. Ranch has also designed this tenor with an arched back. This means that you’re going to get better resonance, longer sustain and you won’t miss out on those deep woody tones anymore.
It’s fitted with Aquila strings which are fairly standard in the industry. However, the standard does not necessarily mean bad. You can rest assured that you aren’t getting some low-quality strings, but instead, you are getting just what your money is worth. Also, you can easily replace the strings if you want to improve the overall sound of your uke.
No one wants to hurt themselves while they’re playing and unfortunately, that can happen quite easily if the edges of the frets are rough or sharp. Thankfully, you don’t need to be concerned about the well-being of your fingers since Ranch promises properly seated frets that are well-finished.
This Ranch Tenor is an impressive instrument for its price, but there is more good news. This ukulele comes with a bundle of accessories that includes a digital tuner, a gig bag, extra strings, a microfiber cloth, and a strap. Now that’s one heck of a deal.
Overall, you can count on this Ranch tenor delivering some rich tones. You may just need to keep an eye out for tuning issues. Some people report the ukulele not holding its tune for very long but that may just be from the strings still settling in. However, even if you do have these issues, Ranch will replace or refund within 30 days with no questions asked. That is some impressive service!
4. Kala K-15S Soprano Ukulele – Best Soprano Ukulele
Kala is one of the most well-known leaders in the industry, despite only being around since 2005. This Kala K-15S is very popular and we can tell you that the rumors are true, this is an exceptional ukulele.
✔️ What we like: Phenomenal quality and excellent craftsmanship
❌ What we don’t like: May require some adjustments upon arrival
👌 Standout Features:
- Aquila Super Nylgut strings
- Laser engraved rosette
- Comfortable and lightweight
- Walnut fingerboard
If you’ve been looking into ukuleles and haven’t come across Kala, then let me be the first to tell you that your internet is broken! Kala is a popular brand that has built a reputation for giving the ever-elusive balance of good quality and affordability. Without a doubt, this K-15S falls in line with that reputation. It may not have all the extra features that one may appreciate, but all that effort has been funneled into giving you an instrument that does the basics very well.
The K-15S is rigged with Aquila Super Nylgut strings which may not be anything outstanding, but they sure do a great job of giving a beautiful warm tone and are among the best in this price range. This beauty has a mahogany body and neck, with a walnut fingerboard. With this combination, you will still get that signature soprano sound, but the K-15S boasts a wonderful resonance with slightly more bass than expected.
The build quality for this Kala is off the charts, considering the below-$100 price category. The finish is better than you would receive from most other brands at this price. Sometimes cheaper ukuleles can fall into the trap of having heavier builds and less refined finishes, but the K-15S dodges those issues with incredible finesse.
Beyond its impressive functionality, it also looks the part. It flaunts a satin finish with a laser engraved rosette to top it all off. Almost everything about this ukulele exceeds our expectations of an instrument at this price. Another nice touch is the inclusion of metal washers instead of plastic ones on the tuner posts. We could go on but really all you need to know is that the Kala K-15S is an exceptional option if you’re looking for a soprano ukulele.
5. Luna Tattoo Concert Mahogany Ukulele
Luna is another name that is widely known in the industry and is a popular choice for beginners all the way through to veterans. With their characteristic artistic designs, this Luna Tattoo Concert ukulele is one to grab the eye, as well as the heart with its fantastic sound.
✔️ What we like: Unique laser tattoo design inspired by Hawaiian nature
❌ What we don’t like: Tuners are not the best quality
👌 Standout Features:
- Shark tooth shaped fret inlays
- Satin-finished mahogany body
- Lightweight and easy to play
- Great tone & rich sounds
This Luna Tattoo is hugely popular as an entry-level ukulele. With that beautiful Hawaiian design on the top, can you really blame us? It truly is a beautiful-looking instrument and it is sure to make you stand out among the masses. If the laser engraved tattoo wasn’t enough, they have also spiced up the fret inlays with a shark tooth inspired shape. Talk about attention to detail!
Beyond just the looks, this Luna Tattoo also has a great tone. It has a mahogany body and neck, with a walnut fretboard. With this combination and design, you can indulge in a warm and full sound. It may not be the loudest ukulele on the market, but its projection is more than sufficient at this price point.
Luna’s ukuleles are mass-produced, much like most brands, which can often affect the build quality and the feel. However, the Luna Tattoo succeeds in still maintaining a comfortable fit and a lightweight body to make the whole experience more enjoyable. Some modifications can be done to improve the playability but for the most part, it is easy to play and pretty much what you would expect at the sub $100 mark.
The Luna Tattoo is fitted with some Aquila Super Nylgut strings which is a standard in this range. They are neither good nor bad, and considering the price, they are on the upper end of quality that you could receive. Luna has also chosen open-gear tuners that hold their tune fairly well. Also, the Pearloid buttons are a nice look on the ukulele as a whole. All in all, this is a solid option in terms of functionality and hold a good sound standard. Furthermore, there are few options that can beat the Luna Tattoo with its incredible looks!
A Guide to Choosing the Best Ukulele Under $100
When searching for the perfect ukulele, there are certain features that you can look out for. Here are some guidelines on how to assess your options.
In this price range, you are going to be looking at laminates instead of solid wood. This isn’t all bad given that laminate woods tend to be more durable and less vulnerable to temperature and humidity damage. What you want to do is pay attention to the quality of the laminate to ensure that you are getting the best resonance and sound out of the lower quality material.
Unfortunately, when you are looking at more affordable ukuleles, you often run into poor build quality. When the companies mass produce, the quality control can slip, and you often see untidy craftsmanship. Another common sight is glue squeeze-out and one can sometimes get an instrument with rough edges. While the poor build quality is a common sight with cheaper ukuleles, you can still find options that have a decent build quality. You may be disappointed if you expect perfection here, but you can still lookout for relatively good quality construction. Alternatively you can up your budget, ukuleles under $500 have a vastly different build quality and you may want to check them out in the future.
The strings in this price range are rarely anything exceptional. However, some ukuleles will be fitted with strings that are acceptable given the cost. If you can, choose the ones that have better strings but with that being said, you can always replace the strings so this is hardly the most important factor.
A common downfall of cheaper ukuleles is the lack of attention to playability. If you’re trying to cut costs to offer a more affordable product to your customers, it isn’t completely unreasonable to have to compromise in some areas. Sometimes this means that the ukulele will have high action, making it more difficult to play. This can often be improved by doing some adjustments to the instruments but if you find the few models that provide good playability, they are worth remembering.
The tone will be unique to every design as well as to every size of the ukulele. However, if you can, try your best to avoid ones that sound empty and weak. You want to aim for ukuleles that give you richer and more balanced tones.
Finding Your Perfect Fit
Finding the perfect ukulele relies a lot on personal preference and how the instrument makes you feel but there are some unanimous opinions on what makes a good or bad ukulele. The instruments on this list tackle those objective aspects to give you reliable information on the best ukulele under $100. With this information, you will be in the best position to choose the perfect fit so that you can get jamming as soon as possible. Soon enough, you will be surrounded by those wonderful Hawaiian sounds!