So you want a cheap ukulele? What should you look for? How can you spend within your budget but not end up with a worthless, useless instument?
There are certainly some cheap ukuleles that are very playable and a great introduction to the instrument. But beware of very cheap, toy ukes that will be of little or no musical value!
Your main aim, in looking a budget ukulele, will likely be finding one that matches both your budget and your expectations.
If you are going for the cheapest product on the market, then searches will show up toy ukuleles. These can be picked up for as little as $10. Unfortunately these products are really disappointing, as you might expect. They are poorly built and not made for making music! They might be fun for half an hour but the sounds produced will quickly put you off!.
Usually such toys ukes come with numerous issues. Expect useless strings, poor workmanship and a waste of $10+. Such toys aren’t even recommended for children. Why not just spend a few dollars more for an instrument that is actually usable (see Mahalos below).
So the cheapest ukes are just a waste of money really!
Mahalo Ukuleles, The Best of the Cheap Models.
These ukuleles should be the first choice if money is really tight. Spend a little more than what you would on a toy and get one of these, for about for about $20. An example product that can be in this price range is the Mahalo U-30 pictured.
This model is a very popular introduction into ukuleles. For around $20 you get a well made, sweet sounding instrument! However the strings are not top quality. However you can always replace them yourself with Aquila Premium Uke Strings – Soprano. These have a very good tone and will greatly improve the sound on your uke.
One reviewer said of the Mahalo “This is my first ukulele, but of course I have seen many others that are probably more costly than this one. The wood is obviously cheaper, but overall it sounds exactly like a $100… Looks nice, and stays in tune. It also comes with a bag! I would recommend this for anybody thinking about starting to play…”
Remember that U-30 models are soprano-size, which means they are the smallest available size. They produce a tinnier sound than larger ukes (the next size up are concert sized, then tenor followed by baritone). Other than that you can consider buying this product as an intro to ukes. They are ideal for your children! At such a low price they are fine for beginners getting into the instrument.
Next Option – Makala Ukuleles
Makalas are made by the Kala brand. Kala are known for making high quality beginner models, and Makala is their budget line. But even though they are budget models, they are still fairly well made. The price variations come from the use of materials and components that are less expensive. The strings are made out of black nylon unlike Kala ukes that feature better quality, Aquila Nylgut brand, strings (but you can always upgrade the strings later).
In summary, if you are searching for a decent beginner cheap ukulele this is a great option. Better quality and sound than the Mahalos, for not a lot more money.
There are many instruments to choose from. A cheap ukulele will range from little better than toys to really nice quality budget options. These models offer a nice entry into the world of stringed instruments. They can help you determine if the instrument is you. If so you can trade this first one on ebay or the like, and upgrade to a better uke.
Finding the perfect ukulele for you and your budget can be a tricky process. But thanks to companies like Kala and Mahalo decent models are available at low cost and therefore low risk to your wallet.
Further reading: Have a look at our list of the top ten selling ukueles for more options. Most of the models on that list come highly recommended for the beginner.