Cheap Ukuleles: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Many beginning uke players have a simple goal: find the best cheap ukulele on the market.

Luckily, there are a lot of good cheap ukes available these days, but it’s important to know that not all budget ukuleles are created equal.

This article will help you steer clear of the junk and find the best budget ukulele for your needs.

If you’re interested in checking out some slightly nicer (but still affordable) ukuleles, check out my article on the best ukuleles for beginners.

Best Cheap Ukuleles

After scouring the web, these are three of the best cheap ukes I could find. All of these models are well-built, well-reviewed, and come from established brands with good customer service.

Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
Donner Soprano Ukulele Mahogany DUS-1 21 inch with Ukulele Set Strap Nylon String Tuner
Soprano Ukulele 21 Inch Solid Mahogany Ukele Ukelele For Beginners With Free Online Lessons 8 Packs Starter Kit (Gig Bag Picks Tuner Strap String Cleaning Cloth Instruction Book Gift Box) From AKLOT
Kala KA-15S
Donner DUS-1 21
Aklot AKS21
2,107 Reviews
845 Reviews
338 Reviews
$54.99
$49.99
$55.99
Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
Kala KA-15S
2,107 Reviews
$54.99
Donner Soprano Ukulele Mahogany DUS-1 21 inch with Ukulele Set Strap Nylon String Tuner
Donner DUS-1 21
845 Reviews
$49.99
Soprano Ukulele 21 Inch Solid Mahogany Ukele Ukelele For Beginners With Free Online Lessons 8 Packs Starter Kit (Gig Bag Picks Tuner Strap String Cleaning Cloth Instruction Book Gift Box) From AKLOT
Aklot AKS21
338 Reviews
$55.99
The models in the table above are all soprano-sized. As the smallest of the three main ukulele sizes, soprano ukes are usually the cheapest.

However, some players may find the larger concert and tenor sizes to be more comfortable and better sounding. If you’re interested in the larger sizes, you can find them in the tables below.

Kala KA-15S

I’ve already written an extensive review of the KA-15S so I won’t go into too much detail here.

The takeaway from the review is that the KA-15S is a well-made entry-level uke that looks good, sounds great, and is easy to play.

Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Concert Starter Kit, Light Mahogany – Includes online lessons, tuner, and app
Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Tenor Starter Kit, Light Mahogany – Includes online lessons, tuner, and app
Kala KA-15S (Soprano)
Kala KA-15C (Concert)
Kala KA-15T (Tenor)
2,107 Reviews
2,107 Reviews
2,107 Reviews
$54.99
$79.99
$99.99
Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
Kala KA-15S (Soprano)
2,107 Reviews
$54.99
Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Concert Starter Kit, Light Mahogany – Includes online lessons, tuner, and app
Kala KA-15C (Concert)
2,107 Reviews
$79.99
Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Tenor Starter Kit, Light Mahogany – Includes online lessons, tuner, and app
Kala KA-15T (Tenor)
2,107 Reviews
$99.99

The KA-15S is good cheap ukulele for beginners seeking a decent starter instrument, but it’s also a great option for seasoned players in search of an affordable second uke.

Kala is one of the most well-known and respected names in the realm of entry-level ukuleles, and for the money it’s tough to beat their budget-priced KA-15S.

However, the Donner and Aklot models I touch on below come with a better gig bag and include some nice extras like a clip-on tuner and additional strings.

This model is available in larger concert and tenor sizes, but they cost a lot more than the soprano-sized KA-15S. I think the concert and tenor ukes I cover below are much better values.

Donner DUS-1 21

I’m a big fan of Donner’s simple styling and clean craftsmanship. For the price, they make great no-frills ukes that play well and sound good. There’s not really much more you can ask for from a uke at this price.

Donner’s ukuleles come in a package that includes a gig bag, clip-on tuner, and more. Their DUS-1 21 soprano is the cheapest uke they build, but for just a little more you can get an equally nice concert uke.

Donner Soprano Ukulele Mahogany DUS-1 21 inch with Ukulele Set Strap Nylon String Tuner
Donner Concert Ukulele Mahogany DUC-1 23 inch with Ukulele Set Strap Nylon String Tuner
Donner Tenor Ukulele Mahogany Body DUT-1 26 inch Ukulele Kit with Tuner Strap String Case
Donner DUS-1 21 (Soprano)
Donner DUC-1 23 (Concert)
Donner DUS-1 26 (Tenor)
845 Reviews
845 Reviews
845 Reviews
$49.99
$65.00
$73.00
Donner Soprano Ukulele Mahogany DUS-1 21 inch with Ukulele Set Strap Nylon String Tuner
Donner DUS-1 21 (Soprano)
845 Reviews
$49.99
Donner Concert Ukulele Mahogany DUC-1 23 inch with Ukulele Set Strap Nylon String Tuner
Donner DUC-1 23 (Concert)
845 Reviews
$65.00
Donner Tenor Ukulele Mahogany Body DUT-1 26 inch Ukulele Kit with Tuner Strap String Case
Donner DUS-1 26 (Tenor)
845 Reviews
$73.00

Aklot AKS21

The Aklot AKS21 stands out as being one of the most affordable concert ukes available online, and the fact that it has a solid top makes it an even better deal.

Soprano Ukulele 21 Inch Solid Mahogany Ukele Ukelele For Beginners With Free Online Lessons 8 Packs Starter Kit (Gig Bag Picks Tuner Strap String Cleaning Cloth Instruction Book Gift Box) From AKLOT
Ukulele Solid Mahogany 23 Inch Concert Uke With Free Online Course 8 Packs Beginner Starter Kit ( Gig Bag Picks Tuner Strap String Cleaning Cloth Instruction Book )
Tenor Ukulele 26 Inch Ukele Ukelele Solid Mahogany Uke With Free Online Lessons 8 Packs Beginner Starter Kit (Gig Bag Picks Tuner Strap String Cleaning Cloth Instruction Book Gift Box) From AKLOT
Aklot Soprano AKS21
Aklot Concert AKC23
Aklot Tenor AKT26
338 Reviews
338 Reviews
338 Reviews
$55.99
$59.99
$64.99
Soprano Ukulele 21 Inch Solid Mahogany Ukele Ukelele For Beginners With Free Online Lessons 8 Packs Starter Kit (Gig Bag Picks Tuner Strap String Cleaning Cloth Instruction Book Gift Box) From AKLOT
Aklot Soprano AKS21
338 Reviews
$55.99
Ukulele Solid Mahogany 23 Inch Concert Uke With Free Online Course 8 Packs Beginner Starter Kit ( Gig Bag Picks Tuner Strap String Cleaning Cloth Instruction Book )
Aklot Concert AKC23
338 Reviews
$59.99
Tenor Ukulele 26 Inch Ukele Ukelele Solid Mahogany Uke With Free Online Lessons 8 Packs Beginner Starter Kit (Gig Bag Picks Tuner Strap String Cleaning Cloth Instruction Book Gift Box) From AKLOT
Aklot Tenor AKT26
338 Reviews
$64.99

Why is a solid top important? In general, a ukulele with a solid top will have a warmer, richer tone than a similar model with a laminated top.

In addition to a solid top, the AKS21 comes with a good gig bag, clip-on tuner, extra set of strings, strap, and more.

Aklot also makes a soprano (smaller) and tenor (bigger) size of this model, and as you can see in the table above they’re both very reasonably priced.

Best Super-Cheap Ukuleles

There are good reasons why some folks would want to spend as little as possible on a ukulele. Maybe they have a tight budget, are shopping for young children, or just want a semi-disposable uke for camping or travel.

The ukes below can be found online for $30 or less at the time of writing. None of them are amazing instruments, but they’re not terrible considering their low price.

Mahalo Ukuleles MR1BU Rainbow Series Soprano Ukulele
Lanikai Kohala Soprano Ukulele Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Song Book, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Diamond Head DU-150 Soprano Ukulele - Mahogany Brown
Mahalo MR1BU Soprano
Lanikai Kohala Soprano
Donner DUS-1 Soprano
679 Reviews
251 Reviews
754 Reviews
$22.99
$29.99
$22.00
Mahalo Ukuleles MR1BU Rainbow Series Soprano Ukulele
Mahalo MR1BU Soprano
679 Reviews
$22.99
Lanikai Kohala Soprano Ukulele Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Song Book, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Lanikai Kohala Soprano
251 Reviews
$29.99
Diamond Head DU-150 Soprano Ukulele - Mahogany Brown
Donner DUS-1 Soprano
754 Reviews
$22.00

The Mahalo MR1 is available in multiple colors.

Mahalo Rainbow Series Ukuleles - All Colors

Cheap Ukuleles: What to Avoid

The absolute cheapest ukes start at around $15-$20 online, and they’re basically just toys. Ukes in this price range are very low quality and often have a host of issues right out of the box:

  • Shoddy build quality, rough fit and finish
  • Low-grade tuners
  • Cheap strings
  • Poor, uneven fret work
  • Thin, weak, sad tone

I can’t really recommend these ukes for anybody, since for just a little more money you can get a much better instrument.

Most ukuleles with characters from kids’ movies aren’t very good, despite their higher price tags. If possible, steer clear of these cash-in ukuleles.

Have Realistic Expectation About Cheap Ukuleles

When reading customer reviews of inexpensive ukuleles on sites like Amazon, I see quite a few customers who I feel have unrealistic expectations from cheap ukes.

Some reviewers mention tiny imperfections in craftsmanship, frets that aren’t perfectly polished, tuning machines that are a little rough, and so on.

While I understand these issues can be frustrating, these are all normal with inexpensive ukuleles and shouldn’t be viewed as dealbreakers.

It’s important to remember that $40 or $50 is at the very low end of the ukulele price spectrum. As I discuss in my article on ukuleles prices, a high-quality, US-made ukulele can easily cost over $1,000.

This isn’t to say you can’t find a respectable level of quality in a budget ukulele, but buyers expecting master grade craftsmanship will be disappointed.