For those that love the ukulele, the choices are endless. As this instrument comes in different shapes and sizes. It also comes in different price ranges you can choose from. There are pretty affordable budget ukuleles you can buy, some mid-range models, and you will also see the top of the crop premium ukuleles that deliver some excellent qualities and will make every ukulelist happy. While these premium ukuleles are available for everyone they aren’t the best option for everybody. These are pretty rare instruments as well, and some might think that you don’t need to spend that much on a uke, but for a true connoisseur, it is a price worth paying.
For that reason today we are going to take a look at the best ukuleles under $500. I put a list solely on high-end ukuleles available and not mid-range models. These are not the best options for the beginner or for those that are not serious about the craft. But for musicians that use this for performances and writing music, or if you want to get pretty serious with things and want the best in the market.
Of course, there are some interesting options out there that cost more than that and approach the $2000 mark, however, they are not the options you should consider because they are mostly collector’s items and are just for those that have more than enough money for that kind of things. We will take a look at the best premium options under the $500 price, what makes them good, and what you should consider before buying one. Now without further ado, let’s get a closer look.
Which Are The Best Ukuleles Under $500?
5. Luna Fauna Series Dolphin
We are going to start this list with a beautiful choice, the Luna Fauna Series Dolphin. Just by looking at it, you will see that it is Luna ukulele since it has a pretty unique and interesting design. This is a concert ukulele that is of the high-end range and delivers some excellent sounds besides its exceptional looks.
Like you might have expected te Luna Fauna Series Dolphin has a perfect design with an aquatic color scheme of translucent azure and abalone dolphins around the triangle-shaped soundhole. The top of the guitar is made out of maple solid wood and maple laminate on the sides and back.
It measures 23-inches in size and has 3-ply maple binding for style and added durability. The neck is of C-shape which is pretty playable and the fretboard is made out of rosewood. It has a pickup, a preamp, and volume control. The open geared tuners work great and they are super attractive overall.
4. Flea Ukulele Natural
Next up on our list, we have the Flea Ukulele Natural, which is kind of a wild card coming with the unusual pineapple shape. However, this concert-sized ukulele is one of the most excellent ukuleles under the $500 price, delivering unique looks, sound, quality and so much more.
The Flea Ukulele Natural like I mentioned comes with a pineapple-shaped body, somewhere cited also as almond-shaped with a flat bottom that is pretty cool and great looking. In the back and sides, it uses a pretty interesting injection-molded thermoplastic and a laminated birchwood on top with the natural finish that is extremely attractive.
It has a concert-sized scale with 15 frets and the neck is made out of polycarbonate fretboard with non-metal frets for durability and excellent playability. It has high-quality Grover tuners to add to the immense quality and despite being pretty uncharacteristic, the Flea Ukulele Natural delivers some beautiful sounds.
3. Gold Tone ResoUke
Nearing the top of the list we have the Gold Tone ResoUke, which is definitely one of my favorite ukuleles under the $500 price. It is exactly what you might have expected, a ukulele that doesn’t have a wood construction, instead, it is a morph between a resonator guitar and a ukulele which is pretty rad.
The Gold Tone ResoUke doesn’t look like your average ukulele, it is more resemblant to the last century’s jazz guitars and blues resonators that I love dearly. This is a great thing since it has a super durable construction made out of brass on the top back and sides. This ukulele rocks an American basswood neck that is extremely playable and the bridge is made out of walnut.
The Gold Tone ResoUke is also packed with some superb Aquila strings that work wonders here and the high-end quality of this instrument is apparent from every angle. Super durable and unique tones, what’s not to like?
2. Martin X Series 0X Bamboo
If you have had the slightest interest in guitars you already know that Martin is one of the brands that deliver the best acoustic guitars, the quality is top of the class always. It is no wonder why the Martin X Series 0X Bamboo is so good as it has all the qualities to make it one of the best under $500.
Based on the name you would expect this guitar to be made out of Bamboo, however, that is not the case here. As the Martin X Series 0X Bamboo is made out of environment-friendly high-pressure laminate that delivers some pretty exceptional tones and durability. The bamboo grain is added after to give a great look to this amazing instrument.
The neck of this ukulele is made out of birch laminate that is also dubbed as Stratabond delivering great playability with the sipo fretboard and 17 frets. Moving on, you will see the high-quality Tusq saddle and Grover nickel friction tuners.
1. Kala KA-SA-B
On top of the list, we have none other than the Kala KA-SA-B which comes as no surprise. This is actually a baritone ukulele that has all the right qualities and some exceptional tones that will make every ukulelist happy.
The Kala KA-SA-B has a classic baritone shape made out of solid acacia on top, sides, and bottom which is excellent in terms of resonance and tone as well. There is a herringbone purfling maple binding that delivers a beautiful look to the instrument with the satin finish.
The walnut fretboard delivers amazing playability in combo with the solid mahogany neck. The nut and saddle are made out of Graph Tech NuBone which is top of the class and the tuning machines are pretty much perfect. The definite best ukulele under $500.
Why Should I Invest in a $500 Ukulele?
Well, you should ask why you shouldn’t, these are beautiful instruments. But then again it is a bit too much of a price to pay in such an instrument. Yes maybe you have one or two Fender Americanas hanging around that have cost way more than that, but for a ukulele? To be honest, these are not the instruments that you would buy if you are just getting started, it is an overkill. They are designed specifically for those that know their thing, are experienced in playing the ukulele and are most professional musicians. These premium instruments have some interesting qualities in tonewood and such that only an experienced ukulelist can notice, appreciate, and take advantage of the intricate nature of the instrument in question.
I don’t want to say that a novice or someone who has played for a while can’t enjoy these beauties. As a matter of fact, a beginner can utilize some interesting advantages that come with premium ukuleles, as the tones would sound better, the playability is over the top and the looks are marginally improved. But then again do you want to invest $500 in a toy that you aren’t sure if you will like it or not. You can easily learn on a pretty affordable ukulele than advance to such an instrument if you want.
All I am trying to say is that you will not make use of the advanced features like the electronics or even the adjustable intonation. You just won’t need them, they are not necessary for your advancement. Kids ukuleles are perfect options to learn on as they cost pretty two McDonalds meals and some change, and you can learn all the basics and much more on that. But if you are a professional, an experienced musician, or an aged enthusiast these ukuleles are perfect options for you.
Things You Should Know Before Buying a Ukulele Under $500
If you are shopping around the $500 price, which is the premium or high-end price point in the ukulele market, you should know and expect some pretty high-end features and qualities from the instrument. For that reason, I will try to inform you as extensively as possible so you can make a better choice when it comes to buying such ukulele. For those that are experienced with such things, there are some qualities and features of each ukulele and they come in different shapes and sizes, with different constructions and such. Price is always a factor, but since we already have decided that we are going to shop in the $500 range, we shouldn’t discuss it further. So let’s take a look.
An experienced ukulelist and a musician might already know this, but it is beneficial to do a quick run over. Ukuleles come in different types depending on their size. There are 7 different sizes you might find, but there are four of them that are the most popular. Soprano, concert, tenor and baritone ukuleles. I have to say that in the last few years pocket or piccolo ukuleles have gained some immense popularity but still can’t be considered as one of the main types.
The most popular and also the traditional ukulele type is the soprano or standard as it is called in some circles. It measures 20 inches and it is pretty good for everyone. Next up you will see concert ukuleles which are a bit larger at 23 inches, which gives also more space for fretting and has a larger sound. Moving on you will see tenor ukuleles which measure 26-inches and have more of a classic guitar feeling to them. In the end, baritone ukuleles are more like guitars than ukes in my opinion since they have a deeper sound and even have the standard guitar tuning.
There are different kinds of tonewoods used in ukuleles. However, in the under $500 premium range, you don’t have to settle for lower quality tonewoods, just the very best. There are different choices including maple, rosewood, mahogany, brass, and even bamboo. The quality of your choice will significantly affect the sound of your instrument and also the durability.
Frets and Tuners
In this range, you don’t need to settle for anything less than exceptional. You should choose an instrument with a great fretboard that is very playable and has enough space for you to be excentric with it. Also, the material of the fretboard plays a large part in the durability and sound of your ukulele.
You should also check the tuners in these ukuleles, as it will determine the sound and reliability of the instrument. You need tuning machines that will stay in tune and will be effective all the time. Accuracy and strength are key here and you should not settle for flimsy tuning machines here.
Is It a Good Idea to Buy Used?
While there are some exceptions, for example, if you find a used instrument from the first buyer, or buy from a collector or a teacher, and if the instrument is in pristine condition. Yes, you might buy used. However, in 90 percent of the cases, you should probably not buy a used ukulele, especially at this price point. You need an instrument that is new and not abused, professionals tend to get a bit aggressive with their instruments and they might show wear and tear after a while, which will inevitably affect the sound of the instrument. For that reason, it is better to buy new and unused from a trusted manufacturer so you know exactly what you are dealing with.
I have studied hard and have had the first-hand experience with many ukuleles in this price range and I feel confident that after reading this guide you will buy yourself the best ukulele under $500. Besides that the options in the top pick section are fail-safe choices and are picked based on their performance, quality, sound, and value for the price, so it is beneficial to take a look. Have fun with your new ukulele.