Learning how to play an instrument comes with a price, literally. And for a string instrument such as the ukulele, the cost depends on different factors. But generally, the average amount you will spend on a new ukulele range between $50 and $500.
For a first-timer like you, on the other hand, a ukulele that costs around $50 to $100 should work just fine. It would be a waste of money anyway if you would straight purchase a high-end ukulele while you are not accustomed to it yet.
That being said, this article can help you choose what type of ukulele you should buy and how much you would spend on it.
Factors that May Affect the Price of a Ukulele
There are a number of elements that influence the overall cost of an instrument. And for a ukulele, it involves the instrument’s overall quality, its strings, fit, as well as its decoration.
- Overall quality. While partly not true, everybody knows that a higher cost means better quality. And such a rule applies to instruments like the ukulele as well. A ukulele can be made of different materials. If you are eyeing cheap ukuleles, expect them to be made of plastic and laminated or substandard wood. Such types of materials may be affordable, but they are also susceptible to damage. A laminated ukulele, for example, falls apart easily falls specifically when exposed to high humidity. The frets and necks are often poorly aligned too. Apart from that, the sound it makes is inferior to what a real wood can produce too.Overall, if you prefer to purchase a long-term ukulele, then it is best to get one that is made of real wood.
- Strings. Another thing that could affect the price of a ukulele is the strings. A ukulele, when bought, naturally comes with strings. But professional musicians highly recommend buying and replacing it with a new set of high-calibre strings. It is because fresh strings produce brighter and better sound compared to old ones.
- Fit. Aside from material, a ukulele comes in different shapes—or what musicians call the “fit”—too. And it is an important factor since it influences the way you will play as well as how comfortable the instrument would feel against your body. That said, these differences will cost around $25 to $75 or more.
- Decoration. Lastly, decoration may also affect a ukulele’s price. Manufacturers often add it to attract customers, particularly beginners. But the catch is that ukuleles with decorations are often substandard. And rather than the instrument’s quality, you are actually paying for the decoration alone. That said, if you want to spend more on a ukulele with decoration, make sure that is excellent in terms of playability as well as quality.
Cost of Ukulele in Different Levels
Aside from the mentioned factors above, a person’s ukulele skills and knowledge will greatly influence the amount of money one will spend on the instrument. To put it plainly, you should opt for a suitable ukulele for you, especially if you are a beginner.
Having said that, I enumerated below the type of ukulele for each level and how much each of them would cost you.
Ukuleles for Beginners
The cost of ukes for beginners falls under the $50 to $150 range. And for many—even advanced and intermediate players—find this range quite a deal as it offers both quality and affordability. Unlike cheap and budget ukuleles.
Ukulele for beginners, however, comes not only with several selections but a wide array. And the type, quality, as well as physical appearance changes depending on the price. Standard ukes, for instance, fall under the affordable side while those features such as fancy inlays and exotic tonewood cost higher.
What to Expect
There is a good number of reasons why even advanced players find ukuleles in the beginner bracket a great start compared to cheap and budget ukes. Here are a few:
- Good playability
- Better sound and tone
- Quality materials and hardware
- Great craftmanship
Ukuleles for Intermediate Players
Mid-level ukes or ukes for intermediate players cost between $150 to $500. These are like those standard ukes that fall under the beginner bracket with the exception that is better in terms of quality, fit, and aesthetic.
Moreover, mid-level ukuleles come in three different classifications. You can get a solid wood uke, an electronic and cutaway boy, or simply a fancy beginner-like uke.
Here is how each of them differs:
- Fancy Beginner-like Ukes. As its name suggests, fancy beginner-like ukuleles are those that are of the same quality as beginner ukes. The only difference is that it has a fancier or upgraded appearance.That said, this one is great for those who want some aesthetics for their ukes. But if you are the type that prioritizes function overlooks, then it is best not to spend a lot of money on this type of ukulele. Instead, can a “real” mid-level uke such as the solid wood and electronic.
- Solid Wood Ukulele. Mid-level ukuleles often come in solid wood. And this type of wood, if compared to laminated ones, is significantly better in sound as well as durability. Theoretically, it has more bass, volume, and warmth compared to uke that is made of laminated plywood.
- Electronics and Cutaway Body. Another mid-level type of ukulele are the electronics and cutaway body. If you planning to be a professional uke player as well as to perform using an amplifier, then an acoustic-electric ukulele is the best option.The cutaway body, on the other hand, may not be suitable for beginners. However, if the ukulele is truly something you want to learn, then it would be an excellent long-term investment. Specifically, a cutaway body uke is handy for playing complicated melodies as it allows easier access to the higher frets.
Last, but definitely not least, are high-end ukuleles. Cost-wise, it is much more expensive than beginner and mid-level types. On average, expect to spend at least $500 or more.
But the thing is ukes in this price are much better in terms of quality and sound compared to cheaper ukuleles. And aspects like the body, grade, size, as well as finish can accordingly and significantly affect the overall price.
Typically, you will find high-end ukes—and even those in the beginner and mid-level types—made by huge manufacturers. However, if you wish for a customized high-end uke, then I recommend inquiring with independent builders.
Independent builders, as its name suggests, are people that independently make instruments. And rather than mass production, their productions are fewer. Independent builders allow customized ukulele as well. But don’t expect its price to be the same as the one made by large manufacturers.
In fact, it can easily cost you as high as $2,000 or more.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.