How Much Should A Good Ukulele go for?
When you first get into a hobby, it’s tempting to go for the cheapest option. After all, you’re not sure how long you’ll stick with something. Sometimes this works with things that are typically inexpensive to begin with.
But that’s not really the best value and will cost more in the long run.
Let’s think about it another way. I recently bought a pair of Reebok workout shoes. They were a little pricey at $80 compared to what I generally buy for shoes. If you're familiar with cross-trainer or running shoes, you know this is on the lower side of quality shoes.
Now, if I found a similar pair of shoes for $30, every red flag I own would be waving in my face. Most of the time when something sounds too good to be true, it is. I have those $30 shoes too, by the way. They left my feet and ankles sore and didn’t last long.
And I had to buy the $80 shoes anyway. So now I'm in $110 for a decent pair of shoes.
How Much Should A Quality Ukulele Cost?
Ukuleles, like most instruments, can run the gamut for price ranges. The same brands that make $120 ukuleles will often make $1k ukuleles. And of course everything in between.
If you’re just starting out you’ll more than likely want to get by with the least expensive option. If this is you, a quality ukulele will start around $120 or so. This varies by brand, but I wouldn’t go less than this for reasons we’ll get into shortly.
The higher end of a first or second ukulele is around $250, or even $300. The higher you go the better value you’ll get. You can find so many awesome ukuleles in the $120-300 range from brands like Bondi, Kala, and Cordoba.
What Goes Into The Price Of A Ukulele
Good ukuleles use quality woods called tone woods. These are essentially woods that builders agree sound good on acoustic instruments. These woods are aged and kilned down to a low moisture level. That keeps the wood from shifting as much with temperature and humidity changes.
They use better bracing on the top (the part with the sound hole), which provides better tone and projection. The build construction is also better. This not only makes the ukulele last as long as you want it to, but it enhances resonance and sustain.
The last big thing is the overall playability. The frets are level and filed, intonation is set, and components like the tuners are better quality.
When a ukulele meets all of these criteria, it’s a quality instrument. When you find these criteria in a ukulele that is relatively inexpensive, you get a good value.
Those $50 jobbers you see have none of these characteristics, by the way. When you buy them:
1) You’ll need to replace them after a couple months. It’s my $30 shoe mistake. And,
2) They actually make learning the ukulele more difficult.
It’s true. Cheap ukuleles are miserable to play. Quality ukuleles are inspiring, but in what you can achieve and how they sound.
Here’s a quick breakdown of price points to get excellent first or second ukuleles:
- First ukulele on a budget: $120-190
- First ukulele with a higher budget: $190-300
- Second, third, and even fourth ukulele: $350-450
What ukulele do you have your eyes on? Let us know in the comments! If you’re unsure about what size ukulele to get, check out this article.