5 Best Ukuleles of 2018
Ever since Portuguese explorers in the 19th century brought the predecessors of the ukulele to the Hawaiian islands, this little powerhouse has left a lasting impression. A fun, portable, and easy to learn instrument, the ukulele has carved out its own unique space in the music world. But whether you’re searching for a portable alternative to a guitar, or you want to become a serious ukulele player, it’s important to get the right advice. That’s why we wrote this guide to the 5 Best Ukuleles of 2018.
Below you can find some of our favorite picks such as the budget-friendly “Best Buy ♥” and our high-quality “Best of the Best♠” models. Because music is important to you, and because you’ll be spending a large amount of time using and practicing with your ukulele of choice it’s critical you get the right advice. So take some time to digest the information below.
For a quick overview, below is our list of the 5 best ukuleles of 2018. For more in-depth information, scroll below.
Key Features to Look for in the Best Ukuleles
This is where Concert is a perfect alternative, because it keeps that classic sound but gives you a bit more room to play, and a bit louder sound from the ukulele, due to its slightly larger body.
Tenor has been gaining in popularity recently, and for good reason. Tenor ukuleles are a nice half way between an ukulele and a mini guitar. While it still can produce an ukulele sound, you can also get a deeper, louder presence. Sometimes almost giving a familiar guitar sound, while still remaining portable, versatile, and very ukulele-esque.
Baritone is the largest, deepest, and least popular ukulele on the market. Potential reasons for its unpopularity is at this size, it is getting really close to be the same size as some mini travel guitars. So in terms of a portable instrument, you’re left to beg the question why not go a few inches more and take a travel guitar? Another potential reason is a Baritone lacks that quintessential ukulele sound.
It’s important to note that cheaper models will usually be made of a laminate wood. This essentially means that a cheaper wood is used on the inside, and a thin layer of better wood is used on the outside. So typically laminate models will look just as nice but will not sound as nice as solid-body ukuleles.
Out of all the woods used, it’s safe to say Koa and Mahogany are the most popular, and best sounding. Koa is a Hawaiian wood, and is usually used on more expensive models, due to its beautiful sound and look. Mahogany is still a wonderful wood, but it lacks that extra ‘oomph’ of beauty from Koa. But either way, a solid body of mahogany or koa will always sound better than laminate.
Kala is a leader in ukuleles, so it comes as no surprise that the Kala KA-15S made our Best Buy Award.
Made with a Mahogany body and neck, a rosewood fretboard, and all at a low price, it’s hard to find a better budget friendly ukulele. Additional features include geared tuners, a rosette, and provided Aquila Strings.
The only downside to this Ukulele is the laminate body, but that is to be expected when you are in such a low price range. Despite this, the KA-15S easily has the same sound as a mid-ranged uke.
Martin is one of the best guitar manufacturers around, so it should come as no surprise they grabbed our Best of the Best with the Martin C1K Ukulele.
A solid Koa wood body, a hardwood neck, a provided gig bag, a high quality satin lacquer, all in a comfortable Concert body makes the C1K one of the best ukuleles around. The sound from the Koa body is incredible, and the tune holds very well.
A big win from Martin.
Luna Mahogany Honu
This 21″ Soprano beautifully pays homage to the ukuleles Hawaii’n roots with a Honu (turtle) etched around the sound hole. But such beautiful designs are pretty much standard when it comes to Luna.
But the pros of this ukulele don’t stop there. A mahogany solid body, rosewood fingerboard, and a satin finish lend itself to a warm, welcoming tone. Additional features include ‘shark tooth’ fret markers, and a provided gig bag.
The Honu is a beautiful looking ukulele that can also compete in terms of sound quality with some of the best ukuleles out there.
Makala Tenor Bundle
The Makala Tenor is potentially one of the my favorite ukuleles out there. The build, sound quality, and provided bundle just meets all of my needs.
Specs include: an agathis body, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, geared tuners, satin finish, a gig bag, tuner, polishing cloth, and instructional DVD. The sound quality from the Makala Tenor is a beautifully warm, strong sound. At times it plays just as a ukulele, but has the versatility to play a large range, sometimes just under a mini guitar.
With Cordobas high quality, and popularity as of recently, it’s not surprise they made our list for best ukuleles.
The Cordoba 20-TM-CE is a tenor body that consists of solid mahogany, a soft cutaway, rosewood bridge and fingerboard, Aquila strings, satin finish, a beautiful rosette, and an active 2Band EQ pickup so you’re always stage ready to plug in.
If you want the Cordoba, but aren’t interested in the electric feature, check out the Cordoba 20CM.