Honsing Soprano Ukulele
This affordable ukulele is aimed at younger players, and as such has the compact size and easy playability to match. It is also available in many different colors that are meant to appeal to its target market, including multi-color variations that include circles, stripes and camouflage.
Not much info is provided about the specs, aside from it having a maple bridge, nickel silver frets, nylon strings and guitar style tuners. Some users describe the body as being made from a composite material. Finally, it ships with a gig bag.
Looks like its colorful charm works well for most who bought this ukulele for their kids. And while some of them admit that build quality is not perfect, many of them feel that it's well built considering its price. Being portable and comfortable to play also gets mentioned multiple times by satisfied owners.
There are some complaints regarding cosmetic imperfections, and it has the usual tuning problems that plague cheap stringed instruments. Some recommend changing the strings ASAP to enjoy it better. Obviously, its small size might be uncomfortable for those used to bigger ukes.
If you're looking for a colorful ukulele to inspire kids to make music, then this is it.
Hola! Music HM-21NT Soprano Ukulele Bundle
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Ukulele Under $50.
The Hola HM-21NT is a 21" soprano ukulele with its top, back and sides crafted from maple. And like most ukes in the price range, this one is meant to appeal to kid players given the many colors that it comes with.
For the price, you are getting a ukulele with walnut bridge and the fingerboard, and it also comes with Premium Aquila Nylgut strings pre-installed. Other features include silver nickel frets, and silver geared tuners. Finally, it comes bundled with two months free live video lessons where you can interact with the instructor.
At the time of writing this update, the Hola! Music HM-21NT is currently the top rated ukulele in this price range, although it beats the others by a small margin. Many of the positive comments about the HM-21BT are from either from young upcoming players, or from the adults who bought it for them. There are also plenty of teachers who share how pleased they are with its overall quality. Many appreciate how well each one is built, which also translates to good sound quality. There are even a few who report using this ukulele for years without any hiccups.
Tuning seem to be a common issue, although most users report that tuning stability improves after some time, or when strings are replaced and have been played for a while. There are also a few who note that the fretboard is not as smooth as they would like, although they are very few compared to those who are happy with its playability.
If you want nothing less than the best rated introductory priced ukulele, then this is for you.
Vizcaya Soprano Ukulele Mahogany
The Vizcaya Soprano is a compact 21" ukulele with its body and neck crafted from mahogany, which is quite a deal given that it ships with free stuff that includes a clip-on tuner, gig bag, a "hook and loop" ukulele strap, a set of nylon strings, and 3 picks.
In addition, the 15-fret fingerboard and the bridge are both made from rosewood, so it gives you the feel of a real wooden instrument. Other features include chrome-plated guitar style tuners, and a nice stain finish that easily separates it from the usual colourful ukuleles in this price range.
Overall response to the Vizcaya Soprano Ukulele is very positive, with most users alluding to its traditional look and sound. Many appreciate it's all mahogany construction, and even those who rate it slightly lower still approve of its tone. The extras that you get are also well appreciated by users, which ups its value for money even more.
There are a few complaints about the tuning pegs, while some are not too happy with the included strap, which is not as easy to use as regular guitar straps.
If you're looking for an affordable mahogany body ukulele, then this is the one to get.
Kala MK-S Makala Soprano Ukulele
The Makala MK-S is a great entry-level uke with a more traditional construction.
The top, back and sides of the Makala MK-S is crafted from agathis, following conventional 21" soprano shapes. It has a mahogany neck that is topped with rosewood fingerboard. It also feature brass frets, geared tuners, and a rosewood bridge.
The intonation (how in-tune the notes are when fretted) is a main selling point of this uke, as it’s considered to be significantly more accurate than many other traditionally constructed ukes. There are also quite a lot of compliments that point to its sound quality.
There are a few reports of playability issues, along with the need for regular tuning. But some do report that the issues mellowed over time, or after replacing the strings.
It's not reasonable to expect a ukulele in this price range to sound great, but most reviewers are convinced, if not impressed with the sound of the Kala MK-S.
Donner DUS-3 Spruce Soprano Ukulele 21"
In this price range, the Donner DUS-3 stands out with its spruce top, which together with its soprano body would give it a brighter tone.
Following conventional acoustic stringed instrument designs, the top is supported by mahogany back and sides. But what makes it easily standout are the graphic details on the fingerboard and around the soundhole. For the price, it also comes outfitted with strap buttons, which works nicely with the included strap. Other bundled accessories include a carrying case, picks, an extra set of strings and a clip-on tuner.
Positive market sentiments revolve around the Donner DUS-3's build quality and playability. Most users point out that it's a joy to play and while kids may not be as impressed with its wood finish, experienced users describe it as pleasing to look at. The quality of accessories also get a lot of thumbs up.
Some users describe it as being too small for an adult, but this complaint can be applied to all soprano ukuleles and isn't generally true - but if you have large fingers you may want to try a bigger concert sized uke. And as expected in this price range, there are a few who report tuning and intonation issues.
The Donner DUS-3's specs are impressive for the price, and that translates well in real world use.
Note: This video is for the concert sized version, but the tone should be similar.
Things to Consider When Buying a Beginner Ukulele
To make the process of buying a bit easier for you, we’ve collected a handful of things that can help you get the best ukuleles in this price range, ideal for beginners, and even for experienced players who are looking for a portable and affordable addition to their tool kit.
Geared vs. Friction Tuners
While friction tuners are becoming increasingly less common as building an instrument and its hardware becomes more and more automated, there are still cheaper instruments which utilize the design. Basically, friction tuners hold a string through friction. You pull the tuning peg away from the headstock a bit, turn the tuner, and then push it back down. This design is problematic since it’s really easy for the string to lose said tension.
All of the ukes we’ve collected in our product section have geared tuners, which hold the string’s tension with a gear. Should you choose to go with a different uke, make sure that it has geared tuners before you buy it. This is a really easy thing to check for, all you have to do is look on the back of your ukes neck and check to see whether or not there’s a gear (or a little metal box near where you tune your ukulele). Still, given the price range, don't expect cheap geared tuners to be as reliable as the ones on more expensive ukuleles. As you'll see above, tuning stability is a common issue among cheap ukuleles in general.
We went over different ukulele sizes in depth in our article The Different Ukulele Sizes Explained, so we’re just going to briefly gloss over the subject here. Basically, the bigger a uke is the warmer (more bass and mid frequencies) it will sound and the louder it will be. The two biggest sizes (tenor and baritone) don’t sound as traditional as the three smaller sizes. One thing to note is that soprano ukuleles dominate in the sub $50 price range, and rightly so, given that bigger ukuleles are expected to cost more.
The sizes, listed from smallest to largest, are as follows:
Soprano and Pineapple (these two body sizes are essentially the same in response)
While the ukulele may be more approachable than the guitar, starting to learn any instrument can be intimidating. It’s even harder if you’re not a musician who’s buying a uke on behalf of a child, because they’re going to need to get some help to get started.
Below we’ve collected a few videos that’ll help you get started. We’d recommend bookmarking this page and then referring back to it after your uke arrives. Happy strumming!
How to String a Ukulele
How to Hold the Ukulele
How to Strum the Ukulele
Must-Know Ukulele Chords
Cheap Beginner Ukulele Selection Methodology
We looked at all the Ukuleles, including bundles with added items, available from major online American retailers for $50 or less. For this May 2020 update, we ended up gathering over twice the number of reviews and ratings data compared to the previous version, exceeding 11,300, all of which were then fed into the Gearank Algorithm to produce the rating scores out of 100 you see above. This allowed us to further filter the list to just the highest rated qualifying ukuleles. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.