At $500, you’re bound to get a sure showstopper of a ukulele. This price point certifies that you’re no beginner or neophyte to the craft, and that you’re sure to get a ukulele that’s not something you’d learn the instrument on. By this point, you may be looking at instruments good for performances or live shows – as the $500 mark proves that the ukulele you’re getting is a long term investment and not just a side-hobby from playing the guitar. The choices are more interesting this time around, as the tonewoods, build qualities, and inclusions have more wow factor than the previous lists. So if you’re wondering on what we got in store for you, here’s a quick list of the best offerings:
Top 8 Ukuleles Under $500
1. Kala Special Edition KA-SPMT-TRI Solid Spruce Tri-Back Tenor Ukulele – The Signature Choice
- Size: Tenor
- Material: spruce wood
- Thickness: 4 inches
- Weight: 1.9 pounds
- Outstanding feature: amazing aesthetic and wood color
This Kala entry easily proves it deserves the spot – from the Pau Ferro and Spruce materials, the GraphTech NuBone saddle and nut, and even up to it’s Grover Tuners. To top it all off, it boasts Aquila Nylgut Strings to maximize the performance the Spruce – Pau Ferro Body can deliver. It’s fretboard is made from walnut and neck is all Mahogany, overall making up for a ukulele that provides distinctly warm and full-bodied tones, familiar wood feel, and a guitar that’s just downright beautiful to the core.
- Great, one of a kind aesthetic
- Great tone and sound from rare tonewood\
- Might be too expensive for its kind
- Tone might not be for everyone’s preference
2. Gretsch G9112 Resonator Ukulele – The Peculiar Choice
- Size: Concert
- Material: laminated mahogany
- Thickness: 5 inches
- Weight: 0.0022 pounds
- Outstanding feature: It boasts a 6-inch biscuit resonator cone that gives it a distinct tone and volume
It’s atypical of Gretsch to put out a ukulele. But when they do, they make sure that it stands out and it’s one of a kind – but not in a popular person signature kind of way. This resonator ukulele is very proud of it’s 6-inch biscuit resonator cone that gives it quite a distinct tone and loudness. It actually sounds great for something built on laminated mahogany, but it’s rosewood saddle and neck, Grover tuning pegs, and Aquila Nylgut strings help in making ita fierce competitor in this price range for ukuleles.
- Loud 6-inch biscuit resonator cone
- Great peripherals and inclusions
- A classic by Gretschc
- Not everyone may like the sound it makes
- It’s too limiting and genre-specific of a ukulele
- Fret size may be too big for some players
3. Ortega Guitars Custom Built Series, 8-String Ukulele – A Non-Conventional Yet Convenient Choice
- Size: Tenor
- Material: ovangkol
- Thickness: 3 inches
- Weight: 4.62 pounds
- Outstanding feature: two necks: one eight-stringed and the other four
This Ortega guitar custom-built, ovangkol, double neck, 12-string guitar is a beast on it’s own, offering a range of sounds in the best possible tone from it’s ovangkol built body. It’s quite rare to see ukuleles being offered in a double neck fashion, but Ortega guitars manages to make it accessible and easy to avail. It’s a great addition to any collection not to mention the fact that it can make jaws drop easy!
- Two necks and twelve strings
- It’s ovangkol wood body gives it a distinct and resonant tone
- It offers quite a wide range of possibilities
- The others may not like the aesthetic
- The existence of two necks might be an overkill for some
- Too many strings to change at a time
4. Kala KA-SA-T Solid Acacia Series Tenor Ukulele – The Classic Choice
- Size: Tenor
- Material: Acacia
- Thickness: 4 inches
- Weight: 3.49 pounds
- Outstanding feature: it’s everything you want from a classic ukulele: superior sound and tone, great looks, and astounding feel
This solid acacia tenor entry from Kala further proves the point as to why Kala is the superior ukulele brand, offering amazing tones, great sustain, and sound projection finest as possible. This Kala offering offers deeper and fuller sounds that some concerts and sopranos, making it perfect for people looking a guitar that’s fit for bigger hands. To to it all off, this ukulele has the fair trade GraphTech NuBone nut and saddle that helps to retain that sustain as needed.
- It offers signature style and sound at a competitive price
- It’s perfect the way it is
- Kala has pretty much outdone themselves with this entry
- Great accessories!
- Might be too simple for some given it’s price
- Some might prefer a thinner sound
5. ROBDAE Ukulele 26 Inch Spruce Wood Ukulele – An Exquisite Choice
- Size: Tenor
- Material: Spruce
- Thickness: 4.84 inches
- Weight: 5.3 pounds
- Outstanding feature: great wood and great build quality
ROBDAE’s sole entry on this list proves it’s worthy of it’s position – offering a hefty build that can deliver great tones, amazing sound projection, and an overall pleasing aesthetic that’s quite hard to say no to. It offers an adequately-sized neck for any size of player’s hands, along with a great feel that one would keep coming back to. Overall, an interesting piece to try!
- Great build quality
- Amazing aesthetics
- Not everyone may like the tone quality
- Price may be too much for what the package is
6. Luna Guitars Vista Wolf, 4-String Concert Acoustic/Electric Ukulele – An Artsy Choice
- Size: Concert
- Material: Koa
- Thickness: 5 inches
- Weight: 3.29 pounds
- Outstanding feature: great aesthetic, interesting shape, sound to die for
Luna’s Vista Wolf entry is a super-aesthetic acoustic electric guitar that’s reminiscent of high-art painting. Pre-amped with a Fishman Kula and decked with a cutaway body reminiscent of a telecaster, this sole Luna entry competes well against its competitors on the price level. Only downside: not for lefties!
- Installed Fishman Kula gives it a great sound
- Great looks
- Great instrument quality, peripherals and build
- The aesthetic it bestows is not for everyone
- The cutaway makes it quite a one-handed guitar
- Nickel strings may be too weird for nylon users
7. Lanikai, 4-String Ukulele (MRSCET) – The Handsome Choice
- Size: Tenor
- Material: morado
- Thickness: 3.11 inches
- Weight: 1.41 pounds
- Outstanding feature: acoustic-electric set, great build and inclusions
This sole Lanikai entry is more than meets the eye – offering NuBone XB saddle and nut, solid morado body and neck, deluxe Grover tuners, and a acoustic-electric set up for wase of gigging. Gloss aside, Lanikai proves that they can compete with top guitar brands by pulling off the best they can in the offerings they have – exactly just like on this one.
- Great inclusions
- Great quality build
- Rare wood type
- The cutaway turns it into a one-handed guitar
- The finish might be too glossy for some people’s preference
- It could be better at the price point
8. Mrmai MD-T Tenor Blue Maplewood Ukulele – The Different Choice
- Size: Tenor
- Material: Blue Maplewood
- Thickness: 6 inches
- Weight: 3.6 pounds
- Outstanding feature: great build, cute aesthetic, well-made gig bag
A random Mrmai entry gets its place on the list by offering a blue maplewood made guitar that boasts a beautiful shape, a great tone, and a sound projection that’s quite astounding for what it is. This Tenor ukulele offers quite a unique looking cutaway that perfectly matches how unique its wood color is, not to mention the fact that it provides a comfortable neckfeel and a hard case to make sure it’s well protected.
- Peculiar shaped
- Great quality build
- Amazing hard case included
- The cutaway makes it one handed for a guitar
- The aesthetic may not be for everyone
The list above may prove intimidating – we understand. It’s not everyday that you get to cash out half a thousand dollars for a ukulele, so might as well make this one decision count, right? Well, we’re here to help you clear the air so here’s a quick rundown of what to consider before making your big purchase!
A $500 ukulele is as glorious and pristine as you’d expect it to be
The $500 price point proves to be the region wherein a great selection of guitars can be chosen from. All probable selections are unmistakably unquestionable, easily proving how shelling out half a thousand dollars for a ukulele could easily give you the cream of the cream of the crop for the given instrument. The usual offerings at this price point wander among choices that are obviously built to satisfy – rendering little to no room for probable questions and speculations over the product’s build quality and overall greatness of the sound it produces. At $500, you’re sure to get a ukulele that sounds great no matter how good the person playing is at the craft. The intonation would always be on point, the sound would always be warm, deep, and full, and the only difference one would be seeking are the small nuances in tone and feel that differs from one guitar offering or selection to another. At this point forward, the only way to find out how good the guitar you’re looking to buy is to check out how you like the sound it produces and how good it feels for you when you play it.
The choices at $500 are vast and surely amazing
It’s hard to go wrong at this price point, especially that the lineup you’re looking at are mostly premiums and high-ends of a certain brand. There’s no wrong choice at this level of price, as the only thing that would matter at the end of the day would be the user’s preference. To help you out with that is this guide, so you’re sure you’re getting that one specific ukulele that’s bound to fill you with eternal joy and happiness.
At the end of the day, it’s just a ukulele
As much as it seems that there are still a lot of things to weigh when it comes to choosing a ukulele, this price point is a place where it wouldn’t hurt to just trust your gut and go for something that intrigues you or sets aflame to your interests. At $500, you’re sure to get a magnificent piece of wood that sounds super great, so there’s no harm in just winging it!
Some more things to think about
If you’re looking to get somewhat technical with this, well, we got your back. We’ve made quite a definitive list of things to think about, starting with the tonewood. The wood is what makes up most of a ukulele, so it’s mighty intelligent to consider it with most weight when choosing a ukulele. It’s also what usually drives the price, with rarer and more solid tonewoods being more expensive. In this case, there’s the Mrmai MD-T Tenor Blue Maplewood Ukulele that’s made out of maple, a tonewood known for brightness and clarity. As it has a low level of overtones, the strings are heard brightly and the chords’ specific notes are distinct from each other. There’s also the Lanikai 4-String Ukulele made from morado, a heavy and hefty wood that’s known to dampen the brightness and offer quite a lot of overtones. It’s unique due to its ability to add its own distinct version of warmth, taking away the high ends the ukulele is most known for. Lastly, there’s the ROBDAE Ukulele 26 Inch Spruce Wood Ukulele that’s made from spruce, a tonewood known for allowing distinct notes to come through while playing. It’s perfect for players who have relatively softer touches when it comes to playstyle, as it doesn’t work well with punchy, aggressive-playing musicians.
Another thing you’d want to consider is the size. As a ukulele gets bigger, the sound gets deeper and fuller as the pitch also goes down accordingly. This means that the KALA Tri-Back Tenor Ukulele’s sound would be much higher than that of the Luna Vista Wolf Concert Ukulele.
The next thing you’d want to consider is the shape and form factor. Some ukuleles have cutaways that may seem intrusive for some play styles such as the Lanikai Ukulele (MRSCET) and the Mrmai MD-T tenor Ukulele. Aside from that, every other ukulele is almost always symmetrical, making it easy to switch from any handedness. There’s also the existence of a biscuit resonator cone to consider, as the Grestch G9112 Resonator Ukulele had decided to give it 6-inch one to help give it a different tone along with providing an extra kick to sound projection. Then there’s also double neck ukulele (which are actually quite rare!) that can be found on the Ortega Guitars Custom Built Series which offers a neck with 4 strings and another with 8!
The last thing you’d want to check out is the finish. Aesthetic is the last thing you’d ever want to take into consideration, as the sound is of top concern. This is an instrument primarily, and looking cool using it would only be secondary. A good example would be the Mrmai MD-T Tenor Ukulele’s peculiar cutaway and blue finish on the wood or the Luna Guitar Vista Wolf’s high-art looking finish.
After all the shenanigans, let’s talk about the top picks. The top 3 for this list from first to third would be the Kala Tri-Back Tenor Ukulele, the Gretsch G9112 Resonator Ukulele, and the Ortega Guitars Custom Built Double-Neck.
Let’s talk about the Kala Tri-Back Tenor Ukulele first. But on second thought, do we really have to? It’s Kala, how can it go wrong? The Spruce-Pau Ferro built makes up for a healthy part of how good the sound projection and tone the ukulele has, with the other inclusions such as the Aquila Strings, GraphTech nut and saddle only secondary on how this instrument is just flat out gorgeous.
Next up is the Gretsch G9112 Resonator Ukulele that features a 6 inch biscuit resonator cone for all your bluegrass and folk needs. It’s not everyday that Gretsch would make a ukulele, so might as well seize the moment when they do. The G9112 is far from disappointing, as it’s built only to be enjoyed by people like you who are probably looking for a more peculiar ukulele to play with.
Lastly we have the Ortega Guitars Custom Built Series Double-Neck Ukulele that offers versatility like no other. This behemoth of a creation offers a 4-string and an 8-string neck that allows for a lot of room to play with, especially that it’s ovangkol built gives out quite a peculiar tone that perfectly matches how peculiar the instrument itself is!
Owning your own instrument would always end with you deciding which iteration you’re most comfortable using in the long term. Comparing features and only getting what you actually need would also be a decision that would come into play, but it ultimately ends up with you going for something pretty that sounds great to your ears.