We have good news and we have bad news. The good news is there are a TON of companies making Ukuleles right now. The bad news is not all of them make a quality instrument. We are here to separate the best Ukulele brands from the ones to avoid.
We know that you don’t want a cheap, poorly made instrument that will be impossible to tune. It’s no fun to have an Ukulele that starts to fall apart in your hands after you play it for a month. So one of the focuses of this ukulele buying guide is building quality.
Along with quality we are looking for a great sounding instrument and one that looks good is a bonus. Last, but definitely not least, is price. Or maybe better put, value. Regardless weather this is your first ukulele or your 10th, your brand new to the uke or you’ve a veteran, no one wants to spend more than they should on a ukulele.
What are the Best Ukulele Brands?
We have broken this article down into two sections. The first, the best ukulele brands for beginner to intermediate players. This is where you’ll find a mixture of low price and quality for that price. This uke brands will likely have good models for under $200, and some as low as $50.
At the same time, we know some of our readers are curious about high-end, authentic Koa, $1000 ukuleles that other musicians will be jealous of. The 2nd section of the article will touch on brands that make NICE instruments and have a price tag to go with it.
We should note, we left a few brands, like Oscar Schmidt, off this list because we feel they are more of a guitar brand. That doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t like their ukes, (in fact, there are several beginner ukuleles from Oscar Schmidt on our buying guides based on size of ukulele) but we wanted to focus on popular ukulele brands, not popular musical instrument brands.
By including both of these categories, we were able to make this list for a wide variety of skill levels. From beginner ukulele starters to a professional player, from laminated wood to high-end woods construction techniques, from starter kit to top ukuleles on the market, we give you a brand to look at!
There are some amazing Uke brands we left off this list to be honest. Either they had to small a selection, were to hard to find, or simply don’t ship out of Hawaii, we left them out because our average reader wouldn’t have the chance to purchase one if they were interested. For the average person, the best ukulele brands are ones that make great instruments at a reasonable price that are easy to get!
The Best Ukulele Brands for Beginners and Intermediates
If you found your way over to this article from our best ukuleles for beginners than this is the section for you! We have picked out a handful of the best ukulele brands that make really high-quality ukuleles for a good price. Many of these companies do a great job offering selections for those brand new to the uke and intermediate level players who are looking for an upgrade.
Most of the beginner ukulele models from these companies can be found for under $75, with some as low as the $50 ballpark. The models aimed more for intermediate players can range from about $100-$300.
We have listed the brands in a loose order from beginner to intermediate, but this is definitely not an exact science!
Donner is a music company that makes a selection of instruments, mostly in the string family, and mostly aimed for players looking for their first instrument. All of their ukuleles sell for under $100 right now and most models come with a starter bundle that has a case and other accessories that are nice to have!
At the time of this writing Donner doesn’t yet make a baritone ukulele, but you can get a soprano, concert, or tenor for them.
They also offer free online video lessons with almost all of their ukuleles! You will need to upgrade these ukuleles if you want to get more serious with the instrument, but by then you’ll gladly pay a little more to expand your collection!
Hola! Music is a small family owned business that has been making musical instruments since 2011! They have three series of ukuleles that range from a true beginner offering to one that many intermediates, or beginners looking for a slightly nicer first instrument, will love.
We are a huge fan of the look of most of Hola! ukes. They have a very stylish, but classic look to their wood tones that really make them stand out and appear to be a much more expensive instrument.
The first brand on our list that really offers nice intermediate offerings, Lohuna is a popular brand with a great reputation. Their lineup starts with the LU models, which are great beginner offerings with starter kits. All of these ukuleles bundles are under $100, which is a little more expensive than some of the other starter models, but we think the quality is worth it.
Lohanu is also the first brand we’ve mentioned to offer a baritone ukulele, so those transitioning from guitar may want to shop here first.
While Lohanu does offer a good beginner lineup, our favorite ukes from this company are the Glossy models. They have several Spalted Maple Tops that have amazing grains to the wood and the glossy finish really makes the instrument stand out. If you are looking for a solid intermediate instrument these would be two of our first recommendations!
Kala is one of the best selling Ukulele brands available currently. Unlike many companies that started with a more popular stringed instrument and transitioned to the Ukulele, Kala has always focused on it.
For beginners, Kala offers it’s Waterman and Makala line. The Waterman is a traveling mans Uke, designed to be durable and water-resistant. The Makala line is a great sounding beginner instrument. Both of these lines can commonly be found offered in a ukulele bundle, which is great to give a new player things like electric tuners and gig bags they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Kala also makes a rather unique instrument in the Solid body U-bass. The qualities of a bass combined with the size of a Ukulele make for a unique and fun instrument.
Finally, the Elite line is made with the highest quality standards and is shipped in a slick black alligator hard case. These Ukuleles are made with traditional Hawaiian Koa and are both beautiful and amazing sounding.
Combine Kala’s huge selection with the reputation for quality and you’re sure to love the instrument you end up with!
Read More About Kala in our full article about the brand!
Simply put, Luna makes some of the most interesting, and artistic ukulele instruments you’ll ever see. Almost all of their offerings have some sort of design on the top to make them look as good as they sound. This gives their line both an authentic yet original feel, and they were an easy choice for the best ukulele brand list.
Much like Kala, the Luna Ukulele line really nails the entry level and intermediate players needs and wants. You can easily get a great sounding, special looking Luna for under $100.
Luna offers a full line of Ukuleles, from Baritone down to Soprano. As a bonus, they offer some of the coolest Pineapple Ukuleles you’ll find, including our favorite, the Tattoo. One of our favorite ukulele starter kit includes the Luna Tattoo!
Both Luna and Kala do a great job offering a wide variety of ukulele sizes and shapes. For a new player this can be overwhelming, but if you see your favorite musician playing a particular instrument and you want to emulate them, you can probably get the same type and tone wood from one of these brands.
Read More About Luna in our brand review article!
Best Ukulele Brands for Intermediate and Advanced Players
These are not toys, folks.
These ukuleles will bring a bright, joyous music to your living room, dining room, or concert hall depending on where you choose to play them. They are made with the finest materials and with the utmost care.
These brands are also for musicians who have put in a little more time, effort and dedication to their play than the average beginner. This isn’t to say that a beginner can’t pick one of these up and absolutely love them, but some of the quality and nuance will be lost unless you’ve seen and played lesser uke.
Not all of the best ukulele brands for intermediates are super expensive either, several of these brands will have offerings for under $200, and the sky is the limit for some of the very nice, limited edition professional models!
Magic Fluke Ukulele
The Fluke Ukulele was created in 1999 with the goal of creating a great sounding, affordable, USA-made instrument. It is safe to say they succeeded.
The Fluke Ukulele (top image) was first produced in 1999. The Flea, their other ukulele style, was created in 2003 after the success of the Fluke. Both models have been popular from the very start!
The Fluke and the Flea both had very original, and non-traditional, take on the standard Ukulele shape and construction. The shape is fairly obvious, but the construction is another matter.
Both Ukuleles use a combination of a solid wood soundboard with a thermoplastic body. This creates a unique, bright, full sounding Ukulele that is more durable than a standard wood model yet produces a much better sound than a cheap plastic model.
One of the few drawbacks of this company is that you won’t find any soprano or baritone ukuleles from them currently. The Flea is manufactured as a Concert Ukulele size, and the Fluke is almost always found in a Tenor size. But, if you are looking for one of those two sizes this brand of ukulele gives you a body and neck design that will set you apart at your local musician gathering!
Many Ukulele players now swear by this companies instruments and we understand why. No conversation about great Ukulele makers would be complete without mentioning the Magic Fluke Company.
Read More About Magic Fluke!
Lanikai is a brand that does a bit of everything, as long as it has to do with the Ukulele. Not only does Lanikai make a full selection of sizes but they have every level of player covered as well. If you’re a beginner you’ll want to check out the LU series, while the experts in the crowd will be pleased with the Legacy or Makau series. Many of these beginner ukuleles feature full mahogany bodies with a beautiful satin finish.
Similar to Magic Fluke, another thing that Lanikai does extremely well is innovate (although in a completely different way).
The innovation starts somewhat basic. The Kula equipped models come with a three band EQ. These are the best electric ukuleles we feature on this list, and are something advanced players who perform in front of large audiences have shown interest in.
Want something a bit more cutting edge? The UkeSB series actually has a USB output at the tail of the instrument, allowing you to easily record yourself playing!
Finally, the TunaUke allows players an unlimited amount of customization with movable wedge saddles and specific nuts.
Regardless of what you’re looking for with your first (or next) Ukulele, No list covering the best ukulele brands would be complete without them, we bet Lanikai will have you covered!
More About Lanikai offerings and brand reviews!
Martin is known as one of the truly elite guitar manufacturers. Many probably don’t know that they also make Ukuleles. They do, and they are pretty good at it. While they have ONLY been at making Ukes since 1916 (They started making guitars in 1833), these are some amazing instruments.
We did try to keep this list mostly ukulele first brands, but the offerings for intermediate, advanced, and professional player levels was something we didn’t want to leave out of this buying guide.
Just like the guitars, Martin Ukuleles are all handcrafted using the finest of manufacturing standards and quality control checks. These are possibly the best Ukuleles made today and the building quality is second to none.
These are probably not going to be in the price range of many beginners, nor will they be able to appreciate the quality. This is a highend ukulele brand for the intermediate and expert players.
Read More About Martin Ukulele models!
Kamaka, Ko’olau, Kanile’a, and KoAloha
Kamaka, Ko’olau, Kanile’a, and KoAloha make up the legendary “Four K’s” of traditional Hawaiian ukulele makers. If you are looking for a traditionally built, Hawaiian Koa, professional level ukulele, one of these four brands is a very good choice.
These authentic Hawaiian based companies carry a price tag to match the quality and reputation that precedes them. Most models will cost at least $1000, with prices quickly escalating for certain models.
If you are interested in one of these instruments you’ll want to visit their website directly, they rarely will sell their instruments through a 3rd party.
Ukulele Brands to Avoid
As more and more instruments are sold online or in large retailers like Target and Walmart, more and more ukulele beginners are left with very poor, cheap instruments. When buying a ukulele make sure it is not made with a basic plastic, these instruments generally have weird vibrations causing sound distortion and an overall lack of that true ukulele sound.
We are not going to name any specific brands in this article, as many of the brands we’d name are simply heresay or what we’d gathered from reviews online. You are just as capable of that type research!
That being said, we can’t recommend Kala (or Makala) and Luna Ukulele for beginners enough for those who are very price sensitive. Both brands offer ukuleles right around $50 that will far exceed the musical instrument quality that you’ll find at any big box store and shouldn’t cost you much more.
The Final Note
There are hundreds of Ukulele manufacturers out there, but if you stick the five in our ukulele buying guide then you’ll be assured a high quality instrument from one of the best ukulele brands out there.
Kala and Luna are great options for your first instrument with some options for the higher end models, Lanikai and Fluke are great intermediate instruments, and Martin simply can’t be beat.
We also have specific articles for each of the ukulele sizes, and many that offer deeper looks into each brand. Finally, we have tons of articles to help the novice and intermediate player take their strumming to the next level, check them out!