Best Ukuleles 2018: Top Ukuleles of the Year

best ukuleles

Looking for the best ukuleles?

Ready to bring out your inner beach bum?

The ukulele is a great little instrument that is perfect for beginners or musicians who are used to other stringed instruments such as the guitar.

Whether the instrument is new to you or you’re already a competent musician, ukuleles can offer a lot of fun in a small package. It’s also a great instrument for traveling with and is very portable.

If you’re looking for the scoop on the best ukuleles on the market today, look no further. Below we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the best ukuleles and how to choose the best ukulele for you.

Best Ukuleles of 2018: Quick View

Best Ukulele Brands

best ukulele

Before we get into our picks of the best ukuleles, we’ll give you an overview of some of the best ukulele brands out there.

While some great ukuleles are made by well-known guitar and instrument manufacturers such as Martin, Fender, and Gibson, in our opinion, the very top ukes are made by some of the manufacturers below.

Many of the brands below are lesser known but many specialize in creating ukuleles and offer some very high-quality instruments, often at very reasonable prices.

Cordoba

While Cordoba is known for their nylon string acoustic guitars, they also have a great range of ukuleles that are some of the highest quality around.

The company is based in California and was founded in 1997. The manufacturer offers some very attractive soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone uke options that are pretty hard to beat.

Kala

Founded in 2005, Kala is another excellent ukulele brand that offers a lot of great instruments that are great for beginners as well as more experienced players. Like Cordoba, Kala is located in the state of California and is becoming well-known for its quality instruments.

The ukes made by Kala are usually very high-quality but also come in at an affordable price.

Luna

Luna is another great instrument manufacturer that makes some of the best ukuleles around. The brand offers some excellent ukuleles that feature unique and attractive designs along with high-quality craftsmanship.

Luna was co-founded by Yvonne de Villiers, a stained-glass artist who eventually started making amazing artistically designed instruments that are also very affordably priced.

Lanikai

Lanikai, an instrument manufacturer founded in 2000, is another great option if you’re looking for the best ukuleles around. They offer some great ukulele options for beginners as well as some excellent high-end instruments that advanced players will love.

Lanikai ukuleles also come with some affordable prices, and mixed with their high-quality designs, make Lanikai another excellent ukulele brand to choose from.

Different Ukulele Sizes and Types

best ukuleles of 2018

If you’re a beginner to playing the ukulele, it’s important that you understand the different types and sizes of ukuleles. Most people think of the smallest size, the soprano ukulele when thinking about ukuleles. However, there are several other sizes as well including the concert ukulele, the tenor ukulele, and the baritone ukulele.

Below we’ll take a small look at the different types of ukuleles you can choose from so you’ll know what to expect when it’s time to make your purchase.

Soprano

The soprano ukulele is the smallest of all the ukulele sizes and it also offers the highest pitched sound. Many beginners will start out on the soprano ukulele before moving to one of the other sizes.

The soprano ukulele is typically about 20 inches long and has a smaller range than the other options. If you have small fingers, this size will be a great option, but players with bigger hands may want to look elsewhere.

Concert

The concert-style ukuleles are the next size up from the sopranos. Like the soprano ukes, concert ukuleles also make for excellent beginner instruments.

These ukes will typically have between 15 and 20 frets on the fretboard and will have a full length of about 23 inches.

The sound of the concert ukuleles will be a bit deeper and stronger than the soprano ukuleles, but they’re still relatively high-pitched compared to the tenor and baritone ukes.

Tenor

The tenor ukulele is another common size for the instrument and these ukes are usually about 26 inches long.

These ukuleles are pretty popular among professional musicians but can also be a good choice for beginners. Since tenor ukuleles have a larger and wider body, they can be a great choice if you have larger hands.

The sound of a tenor ukulele is, of course, a little bit deeper than the concert and soprano ukes.

Baritone

The baritone ukulele is the largest of the common ukulele types and is usually around 30 inches in length.

Baritone ukuleles are typically tuned DGBE, which is the exact same tuning of the top four strings of a guitar in standard tuning. This makes the baritone ukulele an excellent choice if you’re looking to make a very easy and simple transition from guitar to ukulele.

The baritone ukulele offers the lowest tones out of all the ukulele types.

Other Types of Ukuleles

While the 4 main ukulele sizes listed above are the most popular, there are some other options if you’re looking for something more exotic. Here are a few other ukulele options you may want to check out.

Guitalele

Exactly like it sounds, the guitalele combines the carefree sound of the ukulele with the playability of the guitar. The guitalele is usually tuned up a few steps from a guitar’s standard tuning but can be played with exactly the same chord shapes.

If you’re looking for a great guitar uke, check out the Yamaha GL1 Guitalele.

Ukulele Bass Guitars

The ukulele bass is about as deep as the ukulele gets and offers a much fuller sound than you would expect from a smaller instrument. These bass ukuleles often have only a 20 or 21-inch scale length.

Our favorite is the Kala Exotic Mahagony U-Bass.

Banjoleles/Banjo Ukuleles

Even more popular than guitaleles and ukulele basses are banjoleles. The banjolele combines two of the most distinctive instruments, the banjo, and the ukulele, into one adorable little package. The instrument never fails to turn heads and bring a smile to someone’s face.

The Oscar Schmidt OUB1 is our favorite banjolele, but check out our list of the best banjoleles for some more great options.

Best Ukulele of 2018: Our List

1. Cordoba 15CM Ukulele – Concert

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best ukuleles 2018

Our top ukulele pick comes from Cordoba and is a stylish choice that is well-built and easy to play. The ukulele has a lot to offer, and the package we’re linking to includes a gig bag, a tuner, a polishing cloth, and an instructional DVD.

This concert-size ukulele has a really nice look and features a solid mahogany top, sides, and back. The instrument also has an abalone-style rosette and has an Ivoroid binding to the fingerboard and the body.

This ukulele is great for maintaining its tuning and has a really nice sound that beginners, as well as more experienced players, will really appreciate.

Although you can find cheaper options, this ukulele offers the perfect mix of playability, great sound, and affordability. You can’t do much better than this.

2. Kala KA-S – Soprano

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best ukulele for beginners

The Kala KA-S is another excellent ukulele that is great for beginners. The ukulele is a lightweight, affordable option that retains a huge amount of quality for its price. The ukulele boasts high-quality construction and an amazing uke sound that is hard to beat.

The KA-S features a mahogany neck and body and has a great looking satin finish and cream binding. This instrument also comes with chrome die-cast tuners and holds its tuning without a problem.

This ukulele comes in the two smallest ukulele sizes, soprano, and concert, so you have a couple of great options to choose from.

Other Ukulele Sizes:

3. Luna UKE VSS Vintage Spruce Ukulele – Soprano

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best ukulele 2018

Luna UKE VSS Vintage Spruce is a really great looking uke that offers everything you need at an affordable price.

The ukulele features a spruce top along with a mahogany body and rosewood fingerboard and bridge. It also has a laser-etched rosette around the soundhole.

This vintage spruce ukulele also offers a powerful, bright sound that has the ability to cut through the noise. This uke has a bit more of a strong treble sound, though. If you’re looking for a fuller, deeper tone, you may want to look elsewhere.

However, depending on your personal preference, this Luna uke may be a dream come true.

4. Donner Concert DUC-1 – Concert

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best ukulele for the money

The Donner Concert DUC-1 is one of the best ukuleles you can get if you’re a beginner ukulele player. It’s very comfortable and easy to play.

The ukulele comes in at under $100 and may just be the best ukulele for the money you’re paying for it, especially considering that the package we’re linking to comes with an excellent ukulele gig bag, a ukulele strap, and a digital clip-on tuner.

The mahogany body and neck of this ukulele is more than acceptable. The uke also offers a full, resonant sound. One extra perk on this ukulele is that the fretboard is a bit larger than the norm, making it a bit easier for beginners or someone with large hands.

5. Kala MK-B Baritone Ukulele – Baritone

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best baritone ukulele

If you’re looking for a larger ukulele, the Kala MK-B Baritone Ukulele is your best bet. It’s a great choice for both beginners and advanced players.

The ukulele boasts an Agathis body with a gorgeous mahogany neck and a rosewood fretboard. The ukulele features 18 frets and has a great vintage look.

Despite its relatively affordable price, it features a great sound and is incredibly playable. If that weren’t enough, this uke also includes a tuner and a gig bag to sweeten the deal.

Additionally, if you’re looking for a smaller version of the same uke, the Mahala Classic Line also offers tenor, concert, and soprano options. It also is available in a pineapple shape.

Overall, this is another great ukulele to add to your list of options, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced ukulele player.

Other Ukulele Sizes:

Choosing the Best Ukuleles

If you’re ready to get started with playing the ukulele, there is no wrong time. There a lot of affordable options available. The options above are some of the best ukuleles money can buy and are great choices for all types of players.

Whether this will be your very first instrument, you’re a guitar player, or you’ve been playing the ukulele for years, all of the choices above will give you what you need to have an excellent musical experience.

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