Because it’s inexpensive and easy to carry, the ukulele is a great first instrument. Since it only has four nylon strings, it’s less of a challenge than a guitar and far easier than the violin. Ukuleles come in four different tones: baritone, tenor, soprano, and concert.
There are a variety of woods used to make ukuleles and you’ll usually find a combination of materials in a single instrument. In general, a solid body will sound better than a laminate. Bone from bovines is often used in the nuts and saddles, which helps transmit sound from the strings into the body better than plastic.
Whether you’re just learning to play or you’re on your fifth instrument, this list will help you find your next favorite uke. I’ve taken the guesswork out of ukulele shopping by putting together the best in one place.
Here are the best ukulele brands
This list is in no particular order since each brand is desirable for different reasons. If you want to skip straight to the very best on the list, scroll down to the Kala section. For the best kids’ ukes, check out Everyjoys and Diamond Head.
Huawind is a Chinese company that makes recorders, ukuleles, and acoustic guitars. Their ukes are very affordable and colorful, which makes them a great first instrument for kids. Huawind offers soprano, tenor, and concert sizes.
Their most colorful uke is the Soprano Ukulele for Beginners, which comes in pink, light blue, brown, and black. It’s got a basswood body with a hardwood fretboard and guitar-style tuning gears. Huawind’s guitars are very basic but very affordable. So, if you’re giving this instrument to a child, they can have fun with it without worrying about breaking the bank on a replacement.
The biggest complaint about the Huawind ukes is that the strings go out of tune quickly. A certain amount of stretching is expected for the first few weeks. Anything after that could be a problem. The tips of the frets are a little bit sharp, so double-check before handing this uke to your little ones.
Everjoys is another Chinese manufacturer producing harmonicas, percussion, recorders, and kalimbas, in addition to ukuleles. You can’t buy directly from Everjoys, since they only offer wholesale. The easiest way to get your hands on an Everjoys ukulele is through Amazon.
One of their best-selling instruments is the Soprano Ukulele Beginner Pack. You get ten different color options, most of which come with a matching colored case. The pack also comes with a strap, digital tuner, polishing cloth, picks, and a spare string.
Most of the instrument is made of basswood, which has a uniform color and is usually free of knots and imperfections. The neck is mahogany with a rosewood fretboard. The frets are nickel and the uke has guitar-style tuning.
The most perplexing issue with the Everjoys ukuleles is that they come with only one replacement string. That leaves you with a problem if one of the other strings breaks. If you get this uke, make sure to pick up an extra set of strings.
Cordoba is well-known for its guitars. Musicians like Gogol Bordello, One Republic, and the Gypsy Kings, perform with Cordoba instruments. Their ukuleles look like they belong on stage too. Every design is eye-catching and beautiful.
You can find all four sizes of ukes from Cordoba. They’re made of more exotic wood than most brands; woods like bocote, acacia, mahogany, Hawaiian koa, and striped ebony. One unique offering from Cordoba is their tenor cutaway designs.
Their Jade Green Flamed Mahogany 15CFM concert ukulele is absolutely stunning. It has Aquila Nylgut strings, pearl buttons, and an abalone rosette. The Jade is a beautiful new addition to the best-selling 15CM series. If you don’t like green, you can get Sapphire Blue, Granite Gray, or Rose Red instead.
The Cordoba ukes don’t come with any extras. Even the instrument listed as a “Player Pack” only comes with the instrument. Be sure to pick up your case and spare strings separately.
4. Diamond Head
Diamond Head is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Hawaii. It’s on the island of Oahu, visible from Waikiki. That’s likely why this ukulele brand christened itself with the moniker.
Although the brand doesn’t have much of an official online presence, you can pick one up just about anywhere. Amazon has them in more than ten different colors! They come with a matching bag for storage.
Diamond Head isn’t a brand most professionals turn to. Their ukes are well-made but use less-expensive materials. That can alter the sound quality. The ukuleles are made of wood, so you’re not getting a plastic toy. Diamond Head made this list because of their affordability and kid-friendly styling.
Their best ukulele is the DU-150 Soprano in mahogany brown. The body is stained to look like mahogany but the instrument is constructed of maple and hardwood. The strings are nylon.
While some ukuleles come with a kit full of extras, Diamond Head’s offerings are slim. The matching bag isn’t of great quality. However, if you don’t plan to put your uke on the shelf for a long time, you might not use the bag at all.
5. Hola! Music
Hola makes guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, and accessories. They’re a small, family-owned brand and you can find tons of detailed videos from Adam, the face of the company. They are perhaps the friendliest brand on the list.
The quality of Hola’s instruments is incredible for the price. Looking at the list of features like Aquila strings, fitted bone saddles, and free online classes, you’d imagine these ukuleles to cost hundreds of dollars. All of their instruments, however, are very affordable.
Most of their instruments seem to be concert size ukes. They do have a left-handed ukulele, which isn’t something I’ve seen from other brands. Their HM-21MG soprano uke has a maple body with a walnut bridge and fingerboard. It comes in 10 different colors. You get a drawstring tote bag, a strap, and three picks in the bundle.
Despite their high quality to cost ratio, there are some minor drawbacks to Hola! Music’s instruments. The extras that come with the ukulele are meager. You get a bag, three picks, and a strap. They also feature bone saddles, which might not sit well with vegan consumers.
In professional circles, Kala is a well-known brand. There’s a long list of performers who use Kala’s instruments. You don’t have to be a stage musician to appreciate their ukes, however. They make instruments for beginners and players at any level.
Every single one of Kala’s ukuleles is unique because they’re all made by hand in California. The wooden bodies come in mahogany, cedar, spruce, rosewood, and more. Different woods give each instrument a slightly different sound. Any one of them, however, will sound much better than an instrument with a plastic or composite body.
If you don’t like the traditional wood look, Kala has a range of other finishes to choose from. Their Sparkle Series features four different colors of concert ukes with a tastefully sparkly exterior. The Surf Series conjures visions of Endless Summer 60s surf culture.
Kala’s highest-rated ukulele is their KALA-LTP-S Soprano starter kit. It features a nice striped mahogany body with a GraphTech NuBone nut and saddle. The uke is pre-strung with Aquila strings. It has a tote bag but you’ll need to use their app to tune it.
Some of Kala’s ukuleles will run you a few hundred bucks. That said, you can also find models for around forty dollars. So, you can get a Kala uke that fits your budget. Kala hasn’t been around as long as some of the other brands – a mere 13 years – but they still know how to craft a great ukulele.
Lohanu is, by all accounts, a stellar ukulele brand. The Canadian company is consistently winning praise from music magazines and consumer reviews. They have the most 5-star reviews on Amazon for ukuleles, at 35,000 and growing.
They carry soprano, tenor, concert, and baritone models that have a nice wood finish. You won’t find any bright colors or graphic designs on these ukes. Although their style selection is slim, what they have are all nice-looking instruments.
The sound quality is much better than you’d expect from a uke in this price range. The Aquila nylgut strings are easy to tune and deliver a warm sound. Lohanu includes a huge pack of extras with their instruments, which includes picks, a tuner, a padded bag, and an extra set of strings.
Lohanu’s best offering is the oft-praised LU-C concert bundle. The uke is made from sapele with a rosewood fingerboard. Their unconditional lifetime warranty and superb Canadian customer service are strong positives.
If you’re looking for a cherry-red or rainbow-colored uke, you won’t find one from Lohanu. Their instruments are made from wood, but the spalted maple they boast is actually a laminate covering.
Donner is owned by a Chinese company called Rantion Limited, which has two other instrument brands. Eastar makes violins, wind instruments, and drums. Moukey makes microphones, headphones, and party lights. Rantion has been around since 2012.
They have soprano and concert ukuleles and even carry electro-acoustics. Their Donner DUS-10M comes in six bright colors to choose from. You also get a tuner, picks, polishing cloth, strings, strap, and a nice, padded case.
The body is sturdy and well-pieced together. It produces a clean, resonant sound. Donner may not be concert quality but it’s nicely built for the price and a solid choice for beginners and more advanced players.
The fluorocarbon strings are essentially like fishing line. Most other ukes use the Aquila Nylgut, which is much better quality. The kit also comes with four plastic pics. That may work for some players but felt pics are the standard.
Aklot is a California company producing instruments since 2012. That makes them a little young for a ukulele company, but they’ve had a lot of success in the past eight or so years.
Aklot’s full selection of ukes includes a 30-inch bamboo electric bass, a 23-inch concert, a 21-inch soprano, a 23-inch left-hand concert, a 23-inch low G, and a 26-inch tenor. Most of them are solid mahogany. They don’t seem to make an acoustic bass ukulele instrument.
Their ukuleles do have some nice details, especially for an instrument in their price range. The bone nut and saddles, reinforced necks, and rosewood fingerboard are nicely made. Bone transmits the sound energy from the strings to the body of the uke more efficiently.
Some of Aklot’s ukes have a bird-shaped bridge. It’s not unattractive, but some players might prefer a more traditional touch. The action is a little high, presumably to suit beginner players.
Hricane has been manufacturing instruments in China for over 15 years. They have some traditional style ukuleles and some unusual designs. The ukes are made from walnut, flame maple, mahogany, spruce, and sapele.
Most of what Hricane makes are concert-size ukuleles. Their travel ukuleles are all tenors. They also have a few sopranos, but no bass ukes. The concert collection features some unusually-shaped cutaway ukes with a teardrop body.
Their highest-rated offering is the UKS-2 23-inch Concert Ukulele. It has a sapele body with a maple fingerboard and an aguman neck. Because it has an arched back, it delivers deeper tones. You also get the standard accessories like picks, strings, and a strap.
The two minor drawbacks to this uke are the nut and the rosette. The nut sits a little wide and can snag on shirtsleeves if you’re not careful. It doesn’t affect the sound at all, but the rosette’s design is laser-carved and a little sloppy.
Most of the examples on this page come with everything you need to get started in one inexpensive kit. If you find that you need to accessorize your new ukulele, the most useful items are extra strings, straps, and a tuner.
For tuners, I recommend the KLIQ UberTuner. You can use it for guitars, mandolins, and violins if you have multiple instruments at home. It’s super easy to use, easy to read, and comes with a three-year guarantee.
Straps come in two basic styles: the neck strap and the shoulder strap. The neck strap goes around your neck, under the uke, and hooks into the soundhole. You can use this style with any ukulele without making any modifications. The shoulder strap style attaches to the instrument with button pegs.
The best straps I’ve found are the Hot Seal Linen Style adjustable shoulder strap and Cloudmusic’s Hawaiian Jacquard J Hook neck strap. Hot Seal’s strap is simple but strong, comfortable, and reliable. Cloudmusic’s strap is colorful without being too flowery.
The gold standard for strings come from the Italian company, Aquila. Their Nylgut strings are made of a patented synthetic gut material that holds up well to wear and tear. You can get a pack of their regular strings for under $10. A close second choice is the D’Addario titanium strings which produce a significantly different sound from your ukulele.
That wraps up our list of the best 10 ukulele brands. I hope this list has inspired you to try out a new instrument! Ukuleles are fun to play and come in a great variety of tones, shapes, colors, and learning levels.
I hope you enjoy your new uke! With a little bit of practice, these portable instruments can bring joy and harmony for years to come.