One of the most well-known ukulele brands in the world, Kala is a fantastic brand for many reasons. Not only do they offer a wide selection of ukuleles that range in price from as low as $30 to well over $1,000, but their ukuleles are all handmade in the United States.
Uke fun fact: The ukulele is a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese cavaquinho, a four-stringed instrument.
Why Kala is Awesome
- They offer a wide range of unique ukuleles ranging from electric sopranos to waterproof models and more!
- They're often revamping, designing, and introducing new additions to the collection.
- They began in 2005.
- All of the models are built by hand in the Kala shop in Petaluma, California.
- They come in a variety of different materials, shapes, sizes, and colors!
You can find the Kala Store on Amazon here.
A brand that got its start by manufacturing guitars, Cordoba has made quite a name for itself in the ukulele game by combing the traditional crafted styles of Spanish guitars from the 1880s and the 1890s and the lightweight, albeit sturdy, methods, and materials that are enjoyed by modern guitars and ukuleles.
The Great Depression brought a wave of ukulele popularity because a uke was cheaper than a guitar.
Why Cordoba is Awesome
- They offer a variety of classically designed ukuleles.
- A touch more expensive, with prices ranging anywhere from $80 to $825, these ukuleles closely resemble a more classical instrument.
- They're all crafted from wood.
- The majority of their ukuleles are made in Portugal, despite the company operating out of Spain.
You can find the Cordoba Store on Amazon here.
Lanikai is a brand that is known for its playability and style and offers a collection of uniquely colored instruments that will fit any aesthetic. They feature a wide variety of ukes ranging from soprano to baritone to bass to 8 string ukes and more.
Ukulele is pronounced "oo-koo-lay-lay" and not "you-ka-lay-lee."
Why Lanikai is Awesome
- Lanikai offers a massive rangeof ukuleles—11 in total according to their website.
- Their ukuleles are made from many different types of wood.
- They're frequently designing new instruments to fit a wider selection of needs.
- Lanikai ukuleles are made on the Hawaiian island O'ahu.
You can find Lanikai Ukuleles on Amazon here.
A brand that boasts selling the world's #1 selling ukulele, Luna Guitars crafts concert ukuleles only. Concert ukuleles are slightly larger compared to the classic soprano ukulele, making it slightly easier to play for anyone with longer limbs, larger hands, and a larger frame. Luna features instruments with a more expensive price point, but they have a wide selection of unique and exotic woods to choose from.
Concert ukuleles are more popular than soprano ukuleles.
Why Luna is Awesome
- Luna designs are created by two people: Yvonne de Villiers in the United States and Alex Morgan in the United Kingdom.
- They feature ukes with unique etches in the wood for an eye-catching design.
- Some of the bodies also feature unique paintings like their Starry Night model.
- Some of the woods they craft with are acacia, bamboo, mahogany, spruce, maple, and more!
You can find Luna Guitars on Amazon here.
Considered the oldest ukulele brand in the world, the Kamaka brand is named for Samuel Kaialiilii Kamaka who crafted ukuleles from Koa wood in the basement of his home in Kaimuki, Hawaii. The craftsmanship of his ukuleles established a solid reputation for making incredibly high quality, classic Hawaiian ukuleles.
The word ukulele means "jumping flea" in Hawaiian.
Why Kamaka is Awesome
- Kamaka's one-man store opened up in 1916.
- Kamaka is responsible for the pineapple-shaped ukulele which was created in the 1920s and the design was patented in 1928.
- The company focuses on creating ukuleles that aren't mass-produced, so you won't find them on Amazon.
- In fact, you can only order these ukuleles by contacting the company directly and they will create it from scratch to fill your order.
You can find the Kamaka Ukulele website here.
Headquartered in Long Beach, California the Ohana brand is focused on providing quality, playability, and value. The company has been open since 2006 and they combine traditional crafting methods with modern, ethical material sourcing and designs. They feature a large collection of instruments (including the elusive banjolele) as well as colorful accessories that will help to keep your uke safe.
Strings were originally made from sheep or catgut. Modern strings are made of nylon.
What Makes Ohana Awesome
- Ohana features a wide range of instruments in many different shapes, sizes, and styles.
- They're affordable if you're on a budget.
- They're one of the few brands that offer starter kits. Ohana starter kits are a build-it-yourself ukulele that includes all of the pieces you need to assemble your own instrument (which is helpful if you need to make repairs or want to play around with some upgrades down the line).
Ohana doesn't have an established page on Amazon, but you can find their instruments there. I recommend starting with this [Ohana Sopranino SK-21 Ukulele] (ymq3yzhhmwr!) and clicking around to the different Ohana brands you see.
Established in 1933 as just a guitar parts manufacturer, Ranch Guitars is a company that provides quality gear for a price point that won't break the bank. They often have sales, too, making their ukuleles an even better deal.
Jason Mraz "I'm Yours" was released in 2008 and is still the top-selling ukulele song to date!
What Makes Ranch Awesome
- Many of their kits include neckstraps, extra strings, a cleaning cloth, and a tuner for just a few extra dollars.
- The cases their instruments come with are reinforced for extra protection without adding extra weight.
- All of their ukuleles offer a classic figure-eight wooden design, some of which are finished in different colors for bright additions to the ukulele landscape.
- I play a tenor Ranch ukulele and I love the tuner that was included.
You can find Ranch Ukuleles on Amazon here.
Now that you have an idea of what brands to look out for when shopping for a new ukulele, check out this guide Best Ukuleles for Beginners 2021 for some specific model recommendations.