The Best Concert Ukuleles - Up To $300

Concert Ukulele

Original photograph by Joe Bielawa, modified by Jason Horton and available under Creative Commons license.

The ukulele has experienced a resurgence in popularity, and with that has come a huge wave of people trying to figure out which ukulele is right for them. If this sounds like you, check out our recommendations below! If after reading through them you’re still not sure which uke is right for you, jump down to the section “Things to Consider When Buying a Concert Ukulele” to get more info about the instrument.

Contents

The Best Concert Ukuleles

The Best Concert Ukuleles Under $100

Donner DUC-1 Mahogany Concert Ukulele

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$65
Donner DUC-1 Mahogany Concert Ukulele

While not as visually impressive as more expensive instruments, the Donner DUC-1 is a great instrument for beginners looking for a functional entry-level concert sized ukulele. The instrument sports a mahogany body (laminate) and neck. The uke also comes with a rosewood bridge and fingerboard.

The mahogany used in this instrument gives it a warm tone, though it does lack the volume you’d find in an all-solid instrument. It isn’t bad enough to dissuade a beginner from practicing, but it probably wouldn’t be the best choice if you’re looking for an instrument you can record with.

Specifications

  • Top: Mahogany
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 18
  • Extras: Strap, Bag, Tuner, Strings

Something that separates this uke from those that are in a lower price tier is that it actually comes with geared tuners, as opposed to the cheaper tuners you find on most sub-$40 instruments. Geared tuners do a lot to help keep your instrument in tune, which is important if you plan on gigging or practicing regularly.

Another cool thing about this uke is that when you buy it you get all of the key accessories you’ll need as a beginner. The package includes: a strap, an extra set of strings, as well as a digital clip-on tuner.

Donner DUC-3 Spruce Concert Ukulele

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$62
Donner DUC-3 Spruce Concert Ukulele

Like the DUC-1 above, the Donner DUC-3 is a viable option if you’re looking for an entry-level uke that won’t break the bank. The instrument comes outfitted with a laminate spruce top and laminated mahogany back and sides, geared tuners, and a rosewood bridge and fingerboard.

The cool thing about this uke is that while it is intended for beginners it’s generally considered to have a pretty musical tone. It’s described as being both warm and focused, which is likely due to the combination of its spruce top and mahogany back and sides.

Specifications

  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 18
  • Extras: Strap, Bag, Tuner, Strings

While the instrument probably won’t be loud enough to play unamplified in an ensemble setting, it will likely cut through a mix better than a similarly priced all-mahogany uke (like the DUC-1 above). The reason for this is that the spruce gives it a brighter tone (more treble), which will help it be heard above mid and low-range (guitar and bass guitar respectively) in a recording.

Lastly, the Donner DUC-3 comes with a gig bag, an extra set of strings, a strap, and a clip on digital tuner.

Hola! Music HM-124MG+ Deluxe Mahogany Concert Ukulele

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$65
Hola! Music HM-124MG+ Deluxe Mahogany Concert Ukulele

The Hola! Music HM-124MG+ Deluxe is a very similar instrument to the two Donner’s above in regard to build quality. The main differentiating feature is that the Hola uses a bone nut and saddle, which helps to increase the instrument’s resonance and volume.

A lot of companies use a plastic saddle and nut (the little white parts the strings pass over). Plastic isn’t as dense as bone, and because of this doesn’t resonate as well as bone. As stated above, this results in more volume and a higher representation of different frequencies when compared to a similarly built instrument with a plastic nut and saddle.

Specifications

  • Top: Laminate Mahogany
  • Body: Laminate Mahogany
  • Neck: Nato
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 18
  • Extras: Padded Bag, Strings, Strap, Picks

The Hola HM-124MG+ features an all mahogany body. As with the instruments above, the all mahogany body gives the instrument a very warm (if unfocused when compared to spruce) tone. It’s great for accompanying a vocalist, because the warm tone blends well with the voice.

Like the two instruments above, the HM-124MG+ comes with a few extras. The package comes with the instrument, a few picks, a padded gig bag, as well as a strap.

Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele

While at first glance the Cordoba 15CM may appear similar to the ukes above, odds are that in the majority of situations this ukulele will be a step up from the previously mentioned ukuleles.

Not a huge one of course, because the materials are very similar, but as a general rule instruments from well established companies perform better than those from companies that are considered to be exclusively for beginners. Instruments from established companies benefit from the R&D their high-end instruments and the experience they’ve gained.

Specifications

  • Top: Laminate Mahogany
  • Body: Laminate Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 18
  • Extras: None

With that in mind, this ukulele still really wouldn’t be a good fit if you’re looking to play unamplified in an ensemble or record. It’s still an all laminate instrument, and because of this it just won’t have the tone or volume you’d look for in these situations. Another consideration with this uke is that you can upgrade to a model with a pickup, so if you’re interested in this uke but still want to regularly gig that is an option (this uke is actually featured below).

Lastly, unlike the ukes above the Cordoba 15CM doesn’t come with any extras. If you want a case, strap, and/or tuner you’re going to have to purchase all of those separately.

The Best Concert Ukuleles Under $200

Luna Guitars Maluhia

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$140
Luna Guitars Maluhia Concert Ukulele

Luna Guitars are known for their innovative designs and affordable instruments, a design philosophy that is well reflected in the Luna Guitars Maluhia Concert Ukulele. The Maluhia Concert features a striking peace symbol sound hole as well as laser etchings of the word piece in different languages across the top of the instrument.

As far as materials are concerned, the Luna Maluhia is representative of what you’d expect from a ukulele in this price range. The uke comes with an all mahogany body, giving it a warm tone. It also comes with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The only possible concern in this department is that the uke ships with a graphite nut as opposed to bone.

Specifications

  • Top: Laminate Mahogany
  • Body: Laminate Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 20
  • Extras: Gig Bag, Tuner, Strings, Polishing Cloth

When it comes to tone, the Maluhia performs admirably for its price range. It doesn’t compare to a high-end ukulele, but it would be a good option for open mics (so long as you’re playing without other instruments, or you’re miked individually).

Lastly, the Luna Maluhia comes with a padded gig bag, an extra set of strings, a polishing cloth, as well as a digital tuner.

Lohanu LU-C

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 1050+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$115
Lohanu LU-C Concert Ukulele

The main feature of the Lohanu that differentiates it from similarly price concert ukuleles is that it’s made from laminated Sapele as opposed to the more traditional mahogany. While Sapele isn’t as widely used as other tonewoods, it actually has a tone that’s really similar to mahogany. However, there is a subtle difference between the two.

Specifications

  • Top: Laminate Sapele
  • Body: Laminate Sapele
  • Neck: Not Specified (Most Likely Mahogany)
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 18
  • Extras: Gig Bag, Strap, Tuner, Picks, Strings

The main thing that separates mahogany and Sapele is that when compared to mahogany Sapele has a stronger high-end response. This doesn’t have as much of an impact when Sapele is only used on the back and sides of an instrument, but there is a noticeable difference when Sapele is used on the top. The use of Sapele in this uke gives it a bright character, which will do a lot to help it cut through in a mix. It won’t sound as bright as spruce, but it also won’t sound as thin.

Another interesting feature of this uke is that it actually has a slightly arched back. When you arch an instrument’s back it helps to direct the tone outwards, resulting in a louder instrument that will project farther.

The hardware of the Lohanu LU-C seems to be in line with what one would expect from a uke in this price range. The bound body and fretboard is a nice addition, as are the pre-installed strap buttons. The uke also comes with: a gig bag, an extra set of strings, picks, and a tuner.

Oscar Schmidt OU5 Koa Concert Ukulele

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$171
Oscar Schmidt OU5 Koa Concert Ukulele

The Oscar Schmidt OU5 is the first ukulele on this list to be made from koa, which is the wood traditionally used for ukuleles. Besides having an aesthetically pleasing grain pattern, koa has a tone that lends itself well to the size and playing style of the ukulele.

Koa is similar to mahogany, but as a general rule has a stronger mid-range focus and a bit more separation. It’s not quite as mellow sounding as mahogany, but it does cut through a mix better. It’s also a better choice for more complicated pieces, as the separation helps different notes stand out from one another.

Specifications

  • Top: Koa
  • Body: Koa
  • Neck: Nyatoh
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 16
  • Extras: None

This uke also seems to have a bit better hardware than the ukuleles that proceeded it in this list, using Grover branded tuners as opposed to no-name generics. The difference between Grovers and off brand tuners isn’t huge (this is largely due to the fact that ukulele strings don’t exert a ton of pressure) but it is noticeable. It’s worth investing a bit more to get better tuners if you’re planning on gigging, though if you only plan to play at home it’s not a necessity.

The only downside to buying this uke is that it doesn’t come with any of the extras you get with the ukuleles above, though you can upgrade to a bundle package for roughly $50 more.

Best Acoustic Electric Concert Ukulele Under $200

Cordoba 15CM-E Concert Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 325+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$130
Cordoba 15CM-E Acoustic-Electric Concert Ukulele

The Cordoba 15CM-E is essentially the same as the 15CM, with the only real differences being the inclusion of the pickup and the finish. So to quickly reiterate the features of the 15CM, the uke has an all mahogany (laminate) body.

It has a sweet and warm tone, though it won’t cut through a mix as well as a spruce or koa ukulele. It also has a quality of tone that is considered to be impressive for its price, though of course this is pretty subjective.

Specifications

  • Top: Laminate Mahogany
  • Body: Laminate Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 19
  • Extras: None

So the real question you have to ask yourself when looking at this ukulele is: “Do I need an acoustic-electric instrument?” The price difference between the acoustic and acoustic-electric versions of the 15CM isn’t huge, so even if you don’t plan on gigging at the time you purchase it you may end up in a situation where having an acoustic-electric instrument could be pretty handy. If you’re sure you’re never going to gig the 15-CM would likely be the better purchase.

The electronics in the Cordoba 15-CME are good enough to gig with. They are passive, though they do include a volume control. It’s not specified where its placed, but it’s most likely inside of the soundhole.

Unfortunately, this ukulele doesn’t come with any extras. So if you want a case, strap, and a tuner you’re going to have to buy all of those things separately.

Best Acoustic Electric Concert Ukulele Under $300

Luna Guitars High-Tide Koa Concert Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$279
Luna Guitars High-Tide Koa Concert Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

The Luna High-Tide Koa Concert Acoustic-Electric Ukulele is the first ukulele on this list to feature solid woods. It’s not specified whether just the top is solid or if the entire body is made from solid wood, though in reality so long as the top is solid wood the ukulele is still going to be a step up from the instruments featured above.

Since this ukulele is made from koa, it has a very full tone yet still projects very well. It’s a good ukulele for playing in an ensemble or recording. It’s still not incredibly loud, but you’ll most likely still be heard so long as the musicians you’re playing with play at a reasonable volume.

Specifications

  • Top: Solid Koa
  • Body: Koa (Not Specified If It’s Laminate or Solid)
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 20
  • Extras: Gig Bag

The ukulele also comes with active electronics and an onboard preamp. The preamp allows you to sculpt your tone from your ukulele, which is going to be a huge asset if you’re playing at a venue without a readily available soundman (like most open mics).

While the uke still has a really good unplugged tone, if you’re sure that you’re not going to be gigging you’d most likely be better off spending the same amount of money on an acoustic instrument. The preamp adds to the total cost of the ukulele, so the same amount of money will buy a better acoustic instrument.

Lastly, the instrument does come with a gig bag. Unfortunately, that’s all it comes with. So a tuner and a strap will both have to be purchased separately.

Things to Consider When Buying a Concert Ukulele

If you’re looking for the best concert ukulele for your situation, there are a few things you’re going to need to know. If after reading through the recommendations above you’re still not sure which uke is right for you, or if you skipped through the recommendations to learn more, check out the sections below. We’ve laid out some information that will give you all the information you need to make in informed purchase.

  • Concert Ukuleles Compared to Other Sizes

    There are three commonly found ukulele sizes which have that traditional ukulele size. They are, ordered from smallest to largest: soprano (21” scale), concert (23” scale), and tenor (26” scale). The smaller the uke the thinner and brighter the sound, with the inverse being true of larger ukuleles. The concert uke is a middle ground between the soprano and tenor, having the almost plinky tone of the former with the warmth of the latter.

    The concert body size is the most flexible body size if you’re looking for a traditional ukulele tone. It has plenty of volume, but it also has a traditional sound.

  • A Brief Primer on Tonewood

    Tonewood is kind of a contentious subject, because a lot of the differences between how one species of wood’s tone compares to another is subjective. The objective fact is that no one quality tonewood (this excludes things like white wood and NATO) are objectively superior to one another.

    Below is a list of some more commonly found tonewoods, though as implied by the heading don’t consider this a definitive word on the subject.

    • Mahogany:
      Mahogany is a warm sounding tonewood, commonly used in ukuleles. It has a strong representation in the low end, decent mids, and glassy (though understated) highs. Koa has a similar response.
    • Spruce:
      Spruce is very high-end focused, with a bright tone with plenty of punch. It can sound a bit brittle at times, depending on the body size and the other woods used in an instrument’s construction.
    • Cedar:
      Cedar is warmer than both spruce and mahogany, and is described as being very bass heavy. Great if you’re looking for a soft-sounding instrument, though it does lack some punch.
    • Rosewood:
      Rose wood is a mid-range focused wood, great if you’re looking for clarity and volume. It does a phenomenal job of cutting through a mix, though like spruce it can sometimes sound brittle.
    • Maple:
      Maple, like rosewood, is renowned for its clarity. It’s similar to rosewood, but brighter. When used in a well-built instrument it’s arguably going to be one of the most defined instruments in a mix.
  • Solid vs. Laminated Wood

    Something a lot of beginning musicians don’t know is that the wood used in instruments falls into two categories, laminate and solid. Laminate wood is thin pieces of wood glued together, while solid wood is literally a solid piece of wood.

    Laminate wood doesn’t resonate as well as a solid wood, so it has a lower representation of frequencies as well as less volume. Solid wood is louder and in virtually every situation will sound better.

  • Acoustic vs. Acoustic-Electric

    A term you’re going to hear thrown around while you’re looking for a uke is, “acoustic-electric.” Put simply, an acoustic-electric instrument is an acoustic instrument with a pickup in it (which allows it to be amplified). When you’re not using the pickup the instrument still has a good acoustic tone, but you also have the option to easily amplify it.

    With that being said, there is a tradeoff inherent to getting an acoustic-electric instrument. When you get an instrument with a pickup in it you’re paying for the pickup in addition to the instrument itself, so you’ll get less acoustic tone relative to the money you put in.

    If you’re pretty sure you’re never going to play live, an instrument without a pickup may be the better option. Likewise, if you’re planning on gigging regularly you’re definitely going to want an acoustic-electric instrument.

Best Concert Ukulele Selection Methodology

We looked at all the concert ukuleles available from major American music gear retailers and selected 43 of them for closer analysis - you can see them in the Music Gear Database.. We then collated over 4,700 reviews, ratings and comments about them and processed those data with the Gearank Algorithm to produce Gearank scores out of 100 for each of them. Finally we selected the highest rated ukes in each price tier to recommend above. For more information about this process see How Gearank Works.

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