The Best Acoustic Electric Ukuleles up to $300

The Highest Rated Acoustic-Electric Ukuleles

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Plugging in allows you to overcome the ukulele's low volume limitation, enabling you to perform for more people in bigger venues. Thankfully, manufacturers are making acoustic-electric ukuleles more available and accessible, giving you more options in terms of shape, size and price.

Here we feature the best rated pickup-equipped ukuleles in the sub $300 price range, based on the most recent review and rating data up to the end of January 2022. This guide is organized into three main categories based on the most popular ukulele sizes: Soprano, Concert and Tenor.

The Best Acoustic Electric Ukuleles

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

I've written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at my local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

The Best Soprano Acoustic Electric Ukuleles

Luna UKE-VMS-EL Vintage Mahogany

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$99
Luna Guitars Vintage Mahogany Acoustic-Electric Soprano Ukulele
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Soprano Acoustic-Electric Ukulele Under $300.

Luna is known for their aesthetically pleasing yet affordable instruments, and this combination applies to their ukuleles.

The Luna UKE-VMS-EL is an acoustic-electric soprano ukulele with Luna's distinct cosmetic appointments and their UK-T2 pickup and preamp system.

Speaking of cosmetics, this all-mahogany soprano ukulele comes with shark teeth inlays, sun rays graphic on the rosette, and brand specific graphic on the headstock.

The UK-T2 electronics include a piezo pickup, and a preamp with 2-band EQ (bass and treble), volume, and built-in tuner.

Specifications

  • Top: Mahogany
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Walnut
  • Frets: 12
  • Extras: None

Pros

Owners are pleased at the overall build quality of this ukulele, which also translates into it being a good buy. The amplified sound is described as clean yet loud, and many appreciate the fine tuning afforded by its 2-band EQ. It also gets commendations for staying in tune, which is a big deal given that most ukes in this price range suffer from tuning gear related problems.

Cons

There are a few who had out-of-the-box issues with its fretwork and string action, but they were in the minority.

Overall

If you want nothing less than the best rated acoustic-electric soprano ukulele, then this is for you.

The Best Concert Acoustic Electric Ukuleles

Cordoba 15CM-E Concert Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$149
Cordoba 15CM-E Concert Acoustic-Electric Ukulele
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Acoustic-Electric Ukulele Under $300.

Cordoba’s main focus is nylon string instruments, and this translates nicely in their 15 CM-E, a uke that's well received for its build quality and tone.

It features an all-mahogany construction, built into a concert-style body that meets Cordoba's quality standards and attention to detail.

Note that the it does not have active electronics - this means you'll either need to get an acoustic preamp or an amp that supports passive pickups. Cordoba has a good track record for producing quality electronics. The amount of amplification gear you can use will be slightly limited, but once you find something you can use you’ll get a better tone than you would out of similarly priced ukes.

Specifications

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

Pros

While the competition came really close, the Cordoba 15CM-E retains its spot as the highest rated acoustic-electric ukulele in the sub $300 price range. The 15CM-E continues to get a lot of thumbs up for its build quality, which many feel is much better than what they expect for the price - and this factors in to why many consider this a great buy. While it does sport a passive pickup, those who have tested it have mostly good things to report. Students and teachers alike give this ukulele their thumbs up.

Cons

The main point of contention is its lack of accessories, which can be a downer when compared to others in this price range. There are also a few who report tuning issues, thankfully most of them say that it gets better as you play the instrument more, or after replacing the strings.

Overall

The Cordoba 15CM-E is a great sounding instrument for the price, and while it does use a passive pickup the amplified tone is comparable to that of more expensive instruments.

Fender Fullerton Tele Uke

95
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$220
Fender Fullerton Tele Uke - Acoustic-Electric Concert Ukulele - Butterscotch Blonde

This ukulele takes full advantage of Fender's electric guitar legacy by taking the form of the popular Telecaster.

It comes in the same single-cutaway body shape with the familiar Tele headstock profile, while retaining the ukulele's 4-string design, tone and playability.

Speaking of body, it's hard to mistake its miniaturized Tele body for anything else, with Tele style pickguard and bindings completing its look. It comes in two popular Tele finishes, butterscotch blonde and black.

The headstock comes with Fender's label and is equipped with 4-in-line setup electric guitar style sealed tuners.

Other features include having a walnut bridge & fretboard, and the use of synthetic bone saddle.

Finally the pickup and preamp system comes with two knobs that let you adjust tone and volume, and it comes with a built-in tuner.

Specifications

  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Maple
  • Fretboard: Walnut
  • Frets: 19
  • Extras: None

Pros

As expected, the Fender Fullerton Tele Uke gets a lot of thumbs up from fans of the Telecaster electric guitar, describing this as a complimentary compact instrument to the Tele that they already have. Some even go as far as plugging this uke into guitar rigs and applying effects like overdrive, and they are happy with the results. Regular uke players are just as pleased with its familiar design, but their positive feedback focuses mainly on its good build quality and sound.

Cons

Some users complain about the lack of strap buttons, which should've made it stage-ready out of the box. It's also a bit pricy when compared to other concert ukuleles.

Overall

This is a great quality acoustic-electric ukulele that's well worth investing in, especially if you are a fan of the Fender Telecaster.

Luna High-Tide Koa Concert Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

95
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$299
Luna Guitars High-Tide Koa Concert Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

Koa is a tonewood that has both aesthetic appeal and tone that suits ukuleles nicely. And Luna effectively utilized its strength in the High-Tide Koa, with extra cosmetic details that you won't find elsewhere.

Speaking of aesthetics, this ukulele has plenty, most notable of which is its abalone rosette, abalone wave fret markers, and multi-ply maple/walnut binding.

It also comes with active electronics which include a piezo pickup, and a preamp with 3-band EQ.

Specifications

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

Pros

One thing that’s for certain is that this uke is a good value instrument, with virtually every reviewer appreciating its warm and traditional acoustic tone. Many are also impressed with its overall workmanship, which makes it easy to play. Its amplified sound also gets plenty of kudos.

Cons:

This uke has been received very positively, though there is some confusion as to whether or not it has a solid top, or if it is purely laminate. The Amazon storefront says “Solid Koa”, the website doesn’t state one way or another, and this forum features a post by a user who reportedly spoke with a representative of Luna who said that the ukulele was made entirely from laminated wood

Overall

The Luna High-Tide Koa Concert ukulele is a great choice for the stylish ukulele player.

The Best Tenor Acoustic Electric Ukuleles

Donner DUT-4E

90
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$90
Donner DUT-4E Acoustic-Electric Ukulele Tenor

The Donner DUT-4E sports a solid mahogany top with beveled arm rest, premium features that you will be hard pressed to find in its price range.

Supporting its solid top are mahogany back and sides that form its Tenor size body.

The neck is crafted from mahogany, topped by a rosewood fingerboard with bone nut. Interestingly, it joins the body at the 14th fret, much like a guitar.

The bridge is crafted from rosewood and topped by bone saddle.

The included pickup and preamp allows for more tone shaping, courtesy of its 3-band EQ controls.

Finally, it has a volume knob and built-in tuner.

Specifications

  • Top: Solid Mahogany
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 18
  • Extras: Padded Gig Bag, Strap, Picks, Cleaning Cloth, Extra Strings, Online Lessons

Pros

The Donner DUT-4E looks impressive on paper, thanks to its solid mahogany top. But more importantly, the specs translate well into actual playing experience, with users commending this ukulele for its quality build and tone. Even experienced musicians who have owned a good number of ukuleles give their kudos, describing this uke as a well built instrument. There are plenty of thumbs up for its accessories, adding to the already good value of the ukulele.

Cons

Some users are not too happy with its fretwork, while others have minor issues with the included accessories.

Overall

With its solid mahogany top, the Donner DUT-4E is already a good buy, add in all the good accessories included and you get a truly great value package.

Cordoba 25T-CE Tenor Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$269
Cordoba 25T-CE Tenor Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

The main distinguishing feature of the Cordoba 25T-CE Tenor is the use of solid acacia wood for the top, which gives this ukulele a premium look that matches its tone.

Figured acacia is used for the back and sides, and this tonewood is being marketed as a close relative to koa. While many do hear similarities in tone when comparing acacia with koa, not everyone agrees to this.

Speaking of looks, it also comes with maple/ebony rope-style top binding, and it matches the design of the rosette and tie-block. The neck is crafted from mahogany and is topped by an 18-fret rosewood fingerboard.

For plugging-in, it comes with a built-in active preamp and pickup system, with basic 2-band EQ and volume control.

Finally, both the nut and saddle are crafted from real bone material.

Specifications

  • Top: Solid Acacia
  • Body: Figured Acacia
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 18
  • Extras: None

Pros

Beautiful, amazing and pretty are just a few of the many positive ways that owners use to describe the Cordoba 25T-CE. Users mostly appreciate its looks, with commendations for minor details that include wood grain to those that love how it looks all in all. Tone is also well received, which many describe as lively and articulate. Cordoba is also known for playability, and this instrument upholds their reputation.

Cons:

There are a few complaints about fretboard related quality control issues. There are some who gave slightly lower ratings because they feel that they should get some extras for the price, like more preamp controls and free accessories.

Overall

With its impressive specs and quality, this is an acoustic-electric tenor ukulele that will not disappoint.

Fender Dhani Harrison Uke

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$290
Fender Dhani Harrison Uke - Sapphire Blue
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Tenor Acoustic-Electric Ukulele Under $300.

Fender teamed up with Dhani, a singer/songwriter multi-instrumentalist who loves the ukulele, to create this all-ovangkol signature uke. It meets the specific preferences of the artist, who has the same passion for music as his father, George Harrison.

It has a tenor size body crafted from ovangkol, and fitted with electronics for plugging in. The preamp comes with a built-in tuner, and controls for adjusting tone and volume.

The neck is crafted from nato, and features a 19-fret nato fingerboard, with a headstock that follows the iconic Fender stratocaster shape.

Wrapping up its features are detailed cosmetics which include laser cut back graphic, and fingerboard inlays that resemble moon phases.

Specifications

  • Top: Ovangkol
  • Body: Ovangkol
  • Neck: Nato
  • Fretboard: Walnut
  • Frets: 19
  • Extras: Gig Bag

Pros

Beautiful and lovely are adjectives that summarize market sentiment towards the Fender Dhani Harrison Uke. Owners are pleased with its overall appearance, including the appointments that Dhani approved of. It is also described as comfortable and easy to play. Even professionals at Guitar Player magazine arrived at the same conclusion as regular users, concluding that it has a "fabulous look, smooth playability and powerful amplified tone".

Cons

No noteworthy complaints to write about, aside from its substantially higher price and limited finish options.

Overall

You don't have to be a fan of Dhani or George Harrison to appreciate the quality of this signature instrument. Well worth checking out.

Things to Consider When Buying an Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

There are many factors that affect the overall quality and performance of acoustic-electric ukuleles, but for this guide, we narrow it down to three essentials, size, tonewood and pickup/preamp type.

Size

For this edition, we feature three of the most popular ukulele body types: soprano, concert and tenor. The general rule is that the smaller the size is, the brighter or more trebly it sounds. This means that soprano, is the brightest sounding of the group, while tenor being the biggest has more low-end than the other two. Finally, concert size ukes are expected to have a tone sits in the middle. For further details on all five of the most commonly found sizes, you can visit our dedicated guide about sizes titled: The Different Ukulele Sizes Explained. That way if you choose to purchase a ukulele that’s not on this list you’ll know the pros and cons of each body type.

Scale Length

Also under size is scale length, which is the distance between the nut and the bridge - it basically describes the length of the strings. It impacts both the tone of the strings and the force required to play them. The longer the scale length the more the top resonates (which increases volume), though a longer scale length can somewhat reduce warmth. Long scale length also means more space for bigger fingers, while short scale is ideal for younger players with small hands.

The scale lengths for the main body styles are as follows:

  • Soprano/Pineapple: 13-14 in.
  • Concert: 15-16 in.
  • Tenor: 17-18 in.
  • Baritone: 19-20 in.

Tonewood

One of the most important things to consider when looking at a ukulele is the wood it’s made from, as the acoustic tone of a ukulele is heavily influenced by the woods used in its construction. Most affordable ukuleles are made from mahogany, but should you choose to upgrade at some point in the future you should be aware of the pros and cons of different tonewoods.

The tonewoods below are commonly used in ukuleles, but it should be noted that there’s a variety of woods used by manufacturers and luthiers. So, if a uke is made from a wood you don’t recognize, look up the properties of the tonewood in question before you make your purchase. Note that the effect of wood on tone is not exact science, but the information provided below will help shed light on how each wood is generally perceived to sound.

Koa

Ukuleles have traditionally been made from koa. Because of this, if you’re looking for the quintessential ukulele tone you’ll most likely be pleased with an instrument made from koa.

The sound is considered to be very direct, with less overtones than other woods. It emphasizes mid-range frequencies. Koa is also regarded as one of the most aesthetically pleasing tonewoods, though this is of course a matter of personal preference.

Mahogany

Mahogany has a similar response to koa, though it’s regarded to have more warmth. While mahogany may not be as attractive as koa, some of the best ukuleles in the world are made from mahogany. A notable example of a high-end ukuleles made from mahogany would be those manufactured by Martin.

Cedar and Redwood

Cedar and redwood are both warmer than mahogany, though some consider this tone wood to be less focused. This means that they’re great for strumming, but they may not be the best choice for those of you looking to play more complicated music.

Another thing to be aware of is that ukuleles made from cedar or redwood won’t cut through a mix as well as those made from a tonewood with a more focused tone, so if you plan on playing in an ensemble you may want to look at ukes made from mahogany, koa, or rosewood, unless you are using an amplifier.

Rosewood/Ovangkol

Rosewood and ovangkol are closely related woods that offer a rich and clear tone. The woods are considered to produce very glassy (not piercing) highs and full-bodied yet articulate lows.

Rosewood and ovangkol have the potential to sound brittle when used in smaller instruments, depending on the construction. So be sure to play a rosewood/ovangkol ukulele before you buy it (or at least look up sound samples) to decide whether you’re going to like the focused tone of an instrument made from one of these woods.

Laminate vs. Solid Wood

A solid wood instrument is exactly what it sounds like: an instrument made from a solid piece of wood. Laminated wood instruments are made from thin sheets of wood that are glued and pressed together. Solid wood instruments resonate more than their laminate counterparts, which results in a louder and more harmonically rich instrument. Solid wood instruments also reflect the properties of the wood used to a greater degree than laminated instruments.

While laminate instruments may not sound as rich as those made from solid wood, they are more affordable. Laminate instruments are also more durable, which makes them a good fit for beginning musicians who may not yet know how to properly care for an instrument.

Type of Pickups

The two main types of acoustic pickups you’re going to encounter are: piezos and soundboard transducers. Piezo pickups are cheap to produce, though they do have a tendency to produce a quaky-honking tone unless they’re carefully EQ’d. Soundboard transducers create a more natural sounding tone, but they tend to be more expensive.

Both transducers and piezo pickups have their strengths. Piezo pickups have the capability to sound great while still being affordable, and while transducer pickups may offer a more organic tone, the difference between a good transducer and a good piezo (that’s properly EQ’d, of course) is negligible during a live performance.

Active vs. Passive Pickups

Two terms that you’re going to see while looking for an acoustic electric ukulele are: active pickup and passive pickup. Put in layman’s terms, passive pickups produce a weak electric signal while an active pickup produces a stronger one.

A passive pickup needs an external boost in order to produce a signal that’s strong enough for live applications, while an active pickup already has a power supply (a battery). Passive pickups can be plugged directly in to a P.A. or amplifier, but the results will depend on the features of the amp or P.A. in question. Passive pickups produce an anemic and flat tone when the signal isn’t boosted. Some amps do take passive pickups into account, though because many don’t you’re more limited. If you use an instrument with passive pickups - you will need an acoustic preamp unless it already sounds good through your PA or acoustic amp.

Best Acoustic Electric Ukulele Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2017 and the current edition was published on February 1, 2022.

We re-examined the most popular, widely available, sub $300 soprano, concert and tenor acoustic-electric ukuleles, and we ended up shortlisting 30 of the most promising ones for further analysis - you can see them in the Music Gear Database. We then collected and analyzed relevant information from reviews and comments in forums, online stores and videos, including the most recent user feedback up to late January 2022 - which added up to over 4,300 sources. All these data were processed via the Gearank Algorithm to produce the rating scores out of 100 that you see above. Finally, we selected the best rated among them and divided them into three main categories based on popular sizes: Soprano, Concert and Tenor. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

I've written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at my local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Drawing from his experience in performing and recording, he teaches guitar and bass and mentors young artists to be better musicians. And when he is not busy playing or tinkering with musical gear, he puts on his entrepreneurial hat, which helps fund his passion for collecting guitars, mecha figures and Gunpla kits.

Contributors

Mason Hoberg: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Supplemental research, Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Created by Gearank.com using photographs of the Luna UKE-VMS-EL, Luna High-Tide Koa, Cordoba 15CM-E, Cordoba 25T-CE and Fender Fullerton Tele Uke.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

The videos above have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

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