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Best Electric Ukuleles

The 5 Best Electric Ukuleles: 2022 Buyer’s Guide

A ukulele is an instrument with a highly recognizable look and sound. While they are commonly considered to be purely acoustic instruments, there are a sizable amount of options that are acoustic-electric, or simply, electric.

The electric ukulele offers something different that its acoustic counterpart does not, the ability to be played through an amplifier. Not only does this help live performers play louder without having to externally mic their ukulele, but it also enables the player to connect to effects pedals and other technology as well. This gives you much more control over your ukulele’s sound.

This article will cover what to look for in buying an electric ukulele as well as give you a list of models to consider when making your purchase.

What Factors Should You Consider When Buying An Electric Ukulele?

Size

Size is a major factor when it comes to ukuleles as a difference in size greatly changes the sound and feel of the instrument. There are three common sizes and a fourth, rarer size: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.

Their pitch correlates with their size, meaning a soprano ukulele is both the smallest and highest-pitched ukulele, and a baritone is the biggest and lowest-pitched ukulele.

The baritone size is less common due to it being almost as big as a guitar and having a different tuning style than a normal ukulele.

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A concert and tenor ukulele will sound noticeably less trebly and tinny than the soprano. The soprano also has a smaller neck, and thus a more condensed fretboard. This means the frets are closer together and may be difficult to learn on as your first ukulele if you have larger fingers.

Wood Material

There are many different woods used in ukuleles that sound great, you will see a lot of the usual suspects in the list of ukuleles later in the article: mahogany, maple, koa, spruce, cedar, rosewood and ebony are all extremely common.

Although pricier, the ukuleles that have solid wood bodies will sound noticeably warmer and better than without.

The differences in these woods are subtle, but they can be heard. Mahogany and koa tend to highlight the mid-range frequencies while maple and spruce are more higher-pitched. Cedar has a rounded tone that doesn’t change over time while rosewood is strong, heavy and expensive.

Here is a video that demonstrates the sound differences for several types of wood:

This school of thought rings true with all woods used in instruments: you get what you pay for.

If you are trying to find an impossibly good deal and are looking at the lowest priced ukuleles, be cautious of the wood and other materials used in it. If you don’t recognize the wood, research it before making your purchase. A poorly made instrument is a waste of money and time.

Electronics

Like any other stringed instrument that connects to an amplifier, an electric ukulele uses pickups. Electric ukuleles use either active or passive pickups. Active pickups have an internal preamp that boosts and balances the signal before it reaches the amp and will usually need a battery. Passive pickups are the raw signal and do not require any additional power.

Something to look for that many electric ukuleles have is an onboard EQ.

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This interface will typically have controls for bass, treble and volume, as well as a built-in chromatic tuner. EQs can be useful for adjusting your tone while playing live or in a venue with a less than ideal sound system. So if you plan to play out often, you’ll likely want a ukulele with an EQ.

The Best Electric Ukuleles

ImageProsFeaturesPrice
Kala KA-CGE Concert UkuleleKala KA-CGE Concert Ukulele
  • Reasonably priced
  • Solid mahogany body
9.5
Check On Sweetwater
Ibanez UEW15E Acoustic-Electric UkuleleIbanez UEW15E Acoustic-Electric Ukulele
  • Quality Ibanez pickups
  • Solid mahogany body
9.5
Check On Sweetwater
Gretsch G9121 Tenor Acoustic-Electric UkuleleGretsch G9121 Tenor Acoustic-Electric Ukulele
  • Beautiful design and color
  • Bag included
9.5
Check On Sweetwater
Lanikai ACS-CET Tenor Acoustic-Electric UkuleleLanikai ACS-CET Tenor Acoustic-Electric Ukulele
  • High quality electronics and wood materials
  • Bag included
9.5
Check On Sweetwater
Kala KA-BE Baritone UkuleleKala KA-BE Baritone Ukulele
  • Highly competitive price point
  • Mahogany body and neck
9.5
Check On Sweetwater

1. Kala KA-CGE Concert Ukulele

Kala KA-CGE Concert Ukulele

Pros:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Solid mahogany body

Cons:

  • Minor intonation issues

Kala is one of the big names in the ukulele market and rightfully so, as they regularly produce ukuleles that both look and sound incredible. The KA-CGE is not an exception to this rule. This electric ukulele is beautiful with its solid mahogany body. It is a concert ukulele, meaning it is larger than a soprano but smaller than a tenor. It sounds warm and bright.

Additionally, it has a built-in EQ which allows you to control the bass, treble and volume while you’re playing and it has a tuner as well. The strings it comes with are also known for lasting a while.

Key Specs

Body: Mahogany
Fretboard: Rosewood
Size: Concert (2nd size)
EQ: Yes
Color: Natural light brown gloss
Warranty: Sweetwater’s 2-year total confidence
Accessories: None
Dimensions: 25.9 in. W x 15.2 in. D x 12.4 in. H (657.86 mm x 386.1 mm x 314.96 mm)
Weight: 1.88 lb. (0.85 kg)

2. Ibanez UEW15E Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

Ibanez UEW15E Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

Pros:

  • Quality Ibanez pickups
  • Solid mahogany body

Cons:

  • No accessories

Ibanez isn’t a name many people would associate with ukuleles, but they really do make a quality one here with the UEW15E. It has a gorgeous natural wood finish with a strong mahogany build that looks and sounds lovely.

It also contains a well-made EQ with control knobs and a tuner and is assembled with good, active Ibanez pickups. The tuning knobs are made with chrome and add a shiny, striking element to the instrument. This ukulele will not disappoint.

Key Specs

Body: Mahogany
Fretboard: Purpleheart
Size: Concert (2nd size)
EQ: Yes
Color: Natural light brown
Warranty: Sweetwater’s 2-year total confidence
Accessories: None
Dimensions: 25 in. W x 10.5 in. D x 4 in. H (635 mm x 266.7 mm x 101.6 mm)
Weight: 2.5 lb. (1.13 kg)

3. Gretsch G9121 Tenor Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

Gretsch G9121 Tenor Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

Pros:

  • Beautiful design and color
  • Bag included

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than the previous models on this list

Gretsch is one of the premier brand names in musical instruments and this ukulele does not fail to live up to expectations. It has a beautiful, honey colored, solid mahogany body that sounds warm and rich in its tenor size. It has a great onboard EQ and a Fishman Kula preamp, making the pickups active, that helps the ukulele sound amazing through an amplifier.

As if the quality of the instrument wasn’t enough, it also comes with a very convenient and durable gig bag for safe travel. It also has a cutaway design in the body, helping you easily reach the higher frets on the fingerboard.

Key Specs

Body: Solid mahogany
Fretboard: Ovangkol
Size: Tenor (3rd size)
EQ: Yes
Color: Honey
Warranty: Sweetwater’s 2-year total confidence
Accessories: Gig bag
Dimensions: 29.5 in. W x 9 in. D x 5 in. H (749.3 mm x 228.6 mm x 127 mm)
Weight: 2.5 lb. (1.13 kg)

4. Lanikai ACS-CET Tenor Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

Lanikai ACS-CET Tenor Acoustic-Electric Ukulele

Pros:

  • High quality electronics and wood materials
  • Bag included

Cons:

  • Rather expensive compared to other models

This Lanikai tenor electric ukulele is a wonderful instrument. It has an excellent design using acacia and maple with a natural finish on the body and a stellar rosewood fingerboard. Like the previous ukulele, this model has a cutaway in the body giving you access to the high-pitched frets.

It has a great EQ built into the side of the body and its active pickups use an awesome Kula preamp. Gig bag included, this ukulele is a good deal despite its relatively high price.

Key Specs

Body: Solid mahogany
Fretboard: Ovangkol
Size: Tenor (3rd size)
EQ: Yes
Color: Honey
Warranty: Sweetwater’s 2-year total confidence
Accessories: Gig bag
Dimensions: 29.5 in. W x 9 in. D x 5 in. H (749.3 mm x 228.6 mm x 127 mm)
Weight: 2.5 lb. (1.13 kg)

5. Kala KA-BE Baritone Ukulele

Kala KA-BE Baritone Ukulele

Pros:

  • Highly competitive price point
  • Mahogany body and neck

Cons:

  • Not as finely made as the pricier ukuleles on this list
  • Baritone sound may not be for everyone

Rounding off the list with another ukulele from Kala, we have the KA-BE. This is a dark brown baritone ukulele that sounds as robust as it looks. It also features a walnut fingerboard that looks and feels great as well.

This ukulele is a baritone and is thus bigger and deeper sounding than the other types of ukuleles, which isn’t what everyone is looking for, so make sure you know which sound you are going after for your ukulele. While the KA-BE may not have the intricate designs or upscale electronics the pricier ukuleles use, this instrument is a well-made product that is perfect for any beginning to intermediate player.

Key Specs

Body: Mahogany
Fretboard: Walnut
Size: Baritone (4th size)
EQ: Yes
Color: Natural dark brown
Warranty: Sweetwater’s 2-year total confidence
Accessories: None
Dimensions: 32.28 in. W x 12.2 in. D x 3.94 in. H (819.91 mm x 309.88 mm x 100.08 mm)
Weight: 1.88 lb. (0.85 kg)

The Best Amp For Electric Ukuleles

Fender Acoustasonic 40 – 40 Watt Acoustic Amplifier

Fender Acoustasonic 40

Pros:

  • Great design and brand at a fair price
  • Vintage style with a warm and clean sound

Cons:

  • Not ideal for an extremely big/loud venue

The Acoustasonic 40 is a wonderful amplifier by Fender. It is the perfect amplifier for acoustic singer-songwriter gigs and other small venue situations. It’s 40 watt size is powerful and loud enough for pretty much any ukulele scenario, while also being plenty portable at just 17 pounds.

It has a gorgeous vintage brown color and your ukulele will sound crisp and natural when playing through it. Additionally, it is very well priced and is a very affordable piece of gear given its quality.

Key Specs

Watts: 40
Inputs: 2 x XLR/1/4” combo, 1 x ⅛” (headphones)
Outputs: 1 x XLR (line out)
Reverb: Yes, Digital Hall Reverb
Color: Vintage light brown
Warranty: Sweetwater’s 2-year total confidence
Accessories: None
Dimensions: 17.6 in. W x 15.5 in. D x 9.8 in. H (447.04 mm x 393.7 mm x 248.92 mm)
Weight: 17 lb. (7.71 kg)

Runner-Up: Fishman Loudbox Mini BT 60-Watt Amplifier

Fishman Loudbox Mini BT 60-Watt Amplifier

Pros:

  • Shocking amount of power given its compact size
  • Vintage style and can easily fill a room

Cons:

  • Nearly double the price of the Fender Acoustasonic amplifier

This Fishman Loudbox is an amazing piece of technology. It is shockingly powerful at 60 watts, 20 more than the Fender amp, yet is smaller and extremely compact. It weighs slightly more, which makes sense given its beefier electronics, but only by three or four pounds.

This is a great amp to gig with as it is both portable and will reliably fill a room. And it even has Bluetooth connectivity so you can play backing tracks or other music through it.

Unfortunately, with any upgrade comes a rise in price and the Fishman amp is nearly double the cost of the Fender, which is the main reason it’s a runner up. Though the Fender Acoustasonic may be the better deal, the Fishman Loudbox is the more impressive amplifier.

Key Specs

Watts: 60
Inputs: 1 x ¼”, 1 x XLR, ¼” and ⅛” aux, Bluetooth
Outputs: 1 x XLR (DI out)
Reverb: Yes, Digital Reverb
Color: Vintage brown
Warranty: Sweetwater’s 2-year total confidence
Accessories: None
Dimensions: 13.7 in. W x 12 in. D x 9.7 in. H (347.98 mm x 304.8 mm x 246.38 mm)
Weight: 21 lb. (9.53 kg)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

What is the best ukulele to buy?

Any electric ukulele on this list would be a good purchase to make, but as to which specific option to choose, that is up to your own preferences. The main deciding factors are going to be size and price. What size and sound do you want (soprano, concert, tenor, baritone) and how much are you willing to invest?

Are electric ukuleles any good?

Electric ukuleles are versatile and awesome. Just like acoustic ukuleles, how good they are will depend on the brand of the instrument and the materials used to build it.

What are the top ukulele brands?

The brands covered in this list are some of the most common and highly regarded ukulele brands: Kala, Ibanez, Lanikai and Gretsch.

Can electric ukuleles be played acoustically?

Yes. While they are commonly referred to as electric ukuleles, they are technically acoustic-electric ukuleles and can be played normally without an amplifier.

Are all ukuleles tuned the same way?

Not necessarily. Just like a guitar there are many alternate tunings. In terms of standard tuning the soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles all are tuned to G-C-E-A, while a baritone ukulele’s standard tuning is D-G-B-E.

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