The 11 Best Ukulele Brands (2020 Guide)

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We’re Breaking Down The Best Ukulele Brands Out There!

Want to buy a new ukulele but unsure where to begin? There are many different types of ukuleles you can buy. To make matters more difficult, there are loads of ukulele makers that produce ukes. And while these brands might seem to produce good quality ukuleles to the naked eye, a deeper dive will tell you much more about the brands and the ukuleles they produce for you to buy.

So what is the best ukulele brand? It’s hard to say. There is a wide range of ukulele brands that create everything from high-end ukuleles to ukuleles that you should pass on. It also depends on the buyer – since the best ukulele brand for beginners might be slightly different from the best ukulele brands for professionals.

So, to help you out on your quest of buying a ukulele (whatever type), we’re going to dive into the best ukulele brands on the market today. What is a good ukulele brand? How can you tell a good ukulele brand apart from bad ones? Here’s our list of the top ukulele brand recommendations – known for their expertise and craftsmanship of high-quality ukuleles.

Kala

Kala is a California-based music company formed in 2005. They specialize in a variety of musical instruments and accessories but their bread and butter are ukuleles. Kala’s founder has musical roots and experience in the musical instrument industry that go back further. Those influences led him to pursue Kala as a standalone company.

Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
  • Kala’s KA-15S came into the world in 2005 as the answer to a high-quality, affordable, entry-level ukulele and still remains the unrivaled ukulele in its class.
  • The KA-15S is well-suited for classroom use, practicing, and acoustic performance. It is the instrument of choice for schools - More people learn to play on a Kala than any...

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They have a line of handmade Kala Elite USA ukuleles which are specifically created in the USA and are among the top of the line ukuleles at a medium and high-end price range. Their soprano mahogany ukulele above is easily among the top ukulele recommendations if you’re a beginner and looking to get into playing ukes.

Cordoba

Another very popular brand to turn to for some of the best quality ukuleles is Cordoba. Also based in California, Cordoba started out – and still is – a powerhouse in the nylon string market producing high quality, traditionally made nylon string and classical guitars. Their style of master craftsmanship is inspired by the original Spanish flamenco guitars – which are important when trying to understand the history of guitars, in general.

Cordoba 15CM Concert Ukulele
  • PERFECT FOR STUDENTS AND BEGINNERS: Designed specially to suit new players while maintaining high quality, the 15CM offers the perfect point of entry for those looking to pick...
  • RICH, BRIGHT SOUND: The mahogany top, back, and sides, give this small bodied ukulele a rich, clear, and high-quality sound

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With a vast knowledge of nylon string guitars, they started producing ukuleles and have achieved similar high-quality products and remain among the to uke makers around. A slight difference with some of their ukeleles is that they are made with a wider neck – a trait they carried over from their expertise in flamenco guitar necks.

Luna

Founded back in 2005, Luna Guitars specializes in stringed instruments and they have a thing for crafting good quality ukuleles. The company is out of Florida and was co-founded by a stained-glass artist. This helps to explain why their ukuleles usually feature unique designs that you don’t find from many other ukulele brands!

Sale
Luna Tattoo Concert Mahogany Ukulele with Gig Bag, Satin Natural
  • This Tattoo Concert Uke takes its design from traditional Hawaiian body ornamentation
  • The designs were monochromatic, tattooed in black against brown skin

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Luna is the maker of the Tattoo Concert Uke which incorporates traditional Hawaiian designs onto the ukulele body. It has a pretty, distinguishable design and a lovely sound that resonates from the mahogany. That said, Luna is known for ukuleles with cool designs so if you are searching for a ukulele with design (compared to a more traditional-looking ukulele) then a Luna is likely for you.

Lanikai

Based out of Tennessee, Lanikai is a company that specializes in ukuleles of all types, tones, makes, and models. Fun Fact: Lanikai is actually a small ukulele brand under the larger company Hohner Music Company. Hohner is a very old (1850s) and reputable German musical instrument manufacturer so you can trust their craftsmanship and knowledge of high-quality instruments.

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Lanikai Ukulele (MACEC)
  • Smooth action good quality Chrome open back tuners for tuning accuracy and a light headstock for player comfort
  • NuBone XB nut and saddle for maximum Sustain and best tone

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This means that if you are a professional ukulele player looking for a professional ukulele, Lanikai might be for you. Not only does Lanikai have the basic types/sizes (soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone) but they also have 5,6, and 8-string ukuleles as well as rarer types like bass ukuleles.

Oscar Schmidt

Keeping on the theme of European-based musical instrument brands and manufacturers, have you heard of Oscar Schmidt? Founded back in 1871, the company is known to produce a variety of stringed instruments to a very high quality – like ukuleles and the Autoharp!

Oscar Schmidt OU53S Baritone Ukulele
  • A great baritone size Ukulele by a Leader in Ukulele's, the OU53S features a solid Spruce top
  • Rosewood back

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These days, you can find Oscar Schmidt making nice ukuleles which come in a variety of sizes and in a variety of body shapes (like pineapple!). Oscar Schmidt ukuleles are generally affordable and of high quality but you can also find higher-end ukuleles for a higher price!

Fender

For those of you already familiar with guitars/stringed instruments, Fender needs little introduction. As one of the – if not the – most iconic guitar brands in the world, this American company branched out and applied their knowledge into producing ukuleles. Having said that, just because a company has guitar and bass knowledge doesn’t always mean it translates into a perfect product.

Fender Grace VanderWaal Signature Ukulele - Walnut
  • Concert-sized ukulele; Dark Walnut gloss finish
  • Fishman Kula preamp system

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Fender only started making ukuleles in 2009 and has a smaller offering but the ukuleles that are on the market are well-made. A fun point to note: When Fender makes ukuleles, they create ukuleles with one of their signature headstocks (the same one as on the Telecaster®).

Gretsch

Speaking of Fender, Gretsch is another high-quality instrument brand with loads of history. Founded back in the 1880s by a German immigrant in the USA, Gretsch has had a number of ups and downs over the century. The one thing that has remained is a dedication to produce instruments at high quality as was originally intended.

Gretsch G9120 Tenor Standard Ukulele
  • Mahogany body
  • 17" scale mahogany neck w/19 fret ovangkol fingerboard

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Today, Gretsch makes a number of ukuleles which are generally in the upper price range – a result of their craftsmanship, sound, and overall quality. In fact, Fender actually handles the manufacturing and distribution for Gretsch (they bought them) so that’s a strong combination when it comes to producing quality stringed instruments.

Flight

If you want to branch away from American-based companies, you might want to check out Flight Music. Based in Slovenia, Flight has made a name for itself by making a really wide offering of ukuleles from beginner and entry-level ukuleles all the way to pretty pricey, top-end ukuleles. Likely the biggest thing that Flight is known for is the fact that they produce popular travel ukuleles.

Flight, 4-String Travel Series Soprano Ukulele, Dark Blue (TUS-35DB)
  • The Flight travel ukulele is truly an innovative product — never has a ukulele with such outstanding sound qualities been so affordable
  • The rounded plastic back Combined with Aquila night strings produce loud tones and clear projection

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Travel ukuleles are good for doing just that – traveling. They are generally made from ABS plastic which means that they can take more of a beating for those going form place to place.

Plastic might be more durable but can have an impact on sound quality and tone so keep that in mind – we’ll talk more about ukulele material types in another post. For now, check out Flight for a passionate ukulele company with a great community behind them.

Ohana

For yet another California-based ukulele company, look no further than Ohana. Founded back in 2006 by a family man with a background in engineering, Ohana has its headquarters in Long Beach and has been making ukuleles ever since. They started off small but now they have grown to create a full range of ukuleles from beginner level all the way to what a professional ukulele player would require.

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Another key aspect of Ohana is that they only make ukuleles. The founder was mesmerized by the ukulele and sought out to produce only that instrument to a high standard.

Lohanu

With a name meant to represent love, unity, and community, Lohanu is a Canadian-based company that manufactures their ukuleles overseas. That said, they are known to produce decent quality ukuleles (and the related kits for full set-up) for beginners and intermediate level ukuleles players.

Ukulele from Lohanu Cutaway Electric With 3 Band EQ & Pick Up With All Accessories Included!...
  • Electric Cutaway Version of one of the BEST SELLING Concert Ukulele on Amazon! Cutaway body and head, Electric pickup, 3 band EQ with Built in Tuner
  • UNCONDITIONAL LIFETIME WARRANTY for Ukulele & All Accessories!!! BEST Customer Service from a Canadian Company!! FREE Bonus Ukulele Video Lessons!

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For the price point, Lohanu makes a great option if you are looking to buy your first ukulele and don’t have a massive budget. Buying your first ukulele is something we’ll cover in another article.

Kamaka

Last – but certainly not least – we have Kamaka. This well-known Hawaiian brand was founded back in 1916 and is credited with producing the signature pineapple-shaped ukulele body in the 1920s. These days, Kamaka stands among the top Hawaiian ukulele brands.

Due to limited supplies (Hawaiian-made ukuleles generally take longer to handcraft), these types of authentic Hawaiian ukuleles come with a much higher price tag than a beginner might be willing to spend. That said, it’s always worth having a look at what the true Hawaiian ukulele brands are crafting.

Some of the other best uke brands are Ko’olauKanile’a, and KoAloha. These Hawaiian ukulele companies represent the best Hawaiian ukulele brands out there today. As such, you might expect an authentically made ukulele to be of very high quality and authenticity.

And there you have it – a rundown of the best ukulele brands you’ll find on the market today. There are a number of other brands that we researched – and they didn’t make the list after we did our research. Just remember: The price range of the ukuleles they produce, company location, and the years in business are generally strong indicators for what makes up the best ukulele companies!

As always, Happy Strumming,

-E