As somebody who has played the guitar for over 20 years, I don’t have many bad things to say about the instrument. It’s always been there for me when I needed it, and there aren’t many things that I would change about it. However, there is just one small thing—guitars are too darn heavy and big to carry around all the time.
Other than music, my main passion is traveling, and even travel-sized guitars are too much of a pain to carry around. For this reason, I purchased my first electric ukulele a few years ago, and it has been the ultimate addition to my traveling musician arsenal.
However, I can always remember the confusion when I was first buying this instrument. Am I supposed to be looking for similar qualities as when I purchase electric guitars or is it a completely different ball game? These are great questions, and I want to share the answers with you – read on to find out more!
Bottom Line Up Front: The Caramel CB207 Acacia Baritone Acoustic-Electric Ukulele is my top pick for electric ukulele purchasers looking for a high-quality bargain, but a tenor or concert option may be more appropriate for the traveling musician.
Why Should You Choose an Electric Ukelele?
When I talk to my friends about purchasing an electric ukulele, the first question they usually ask me is “why?” This is understandable – it’s not exactly the most common instrument in the world, and it comes with certain negative connotations such as being a novelty instrument.
Well, I couldn’t disagree more – let me explain exactly why you should choose an electric ukulele as your next instrument.
As I mentioned earlier, ukuleles are travel-sized instruments. I’m not just talking about being lightweight and easy to carry on your back like travel guitars. No, I’m saying that they can be put into a tiny case and fit into your backpack.
That’s right, ukuleles are the smallest form of guitar that you will find, so if you are a traveling musician that feels weighed down by bulky guitars, this is a prime reason to purchase a ukulele!
There is a huge range of benefits to this, particularly the comfort of simply being able to walk around or catch public transport with a ukulele and not have to worry about the instrument getting in the way.
However, my absolute favorite benefit is being able to take it on an airplane as part of your hand luggage. There is no freer feeling than stepping off that plane for a holiday, knowing that you can whip out your ukulele for some musical expression at any moment.
If you’ve been reading this guide so far and are thinking “I already own a Ukulele, why would I need an electric one?” then this section is for you. The clue is in the name really – electric ukuleles have electric pickups that facilitate the amplification of their musical output, meaning you can play both electrically and acoustically.
Sure, there’s something great about sitting around the campfire and hearing the acoustic strums of an acoustic ukulele, but what about when you’re at an open mic night or want to perform at a music festival? That’s when the microphone is going to have to come out, and let’s be honest – it’s just a complete pain in the butt!
With electric ukuleles, you will never be drowned out by a noisy crowd, and you will be prepared to play in any situation – no matter how loud it is. Trust me, if you feel liberated by the miniature nature of an acoustic ukulele, just wait until you have an electric one!
Learning Ukulele-specific Songs
The next reason why you should consider purchasing an electric ukulele is if you are a fan of music that makes use of the instrument.
This is what first inspired me to learn the ukulele – not only did I want an instrument that would fit inside my backpack, but I was also driven by my passion for Hawaiin music, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, and most importantly the theme tune to Spongebob Squarepants!
Sure, you could learn to play music like this on a regular acoustic guitar, but let’s face it – it’s just not the same.
There’s something about the miniature body, the nylon strings, and the electric amplification of all of this that just makes the ukulele timbre special. If you have any form of passion for this kind of music, what are you waiting for – get one ASAP!
The last point I wanted to mention is the undeniable increase in comfort that you get from using a ukulele. When I first began learning stringed instruments, it was on a jumbo acoustic guitar.
I was only around eight years old, so you can probably imagine how uncomfortable this was for me! My fingers hurt from the metal strings, and my arms hurt from trying to wrap them around the bulky body, it was awful.
If only I had a ukulele, it would have been so much easier. The nylon strings are soft and the body is tiny, it fits comfortably in your lap and it’s just perfect for children.
This certainly doesn’t mean that it’s an instrument only designed for kids – it can be played by people of all ages, and that is exactly why I love it so much. It’s an inclusive and comfortable instrument, with the added perk that it can be amplified through a guitar cable. Epic!
What to Look For In an Electric Ukulele
Now that we’ve covered the various reasons as to why you may want to purchase an electric ukulele, let’s take a look at the qualities that you should look out for when making your purchase.
I couldn’t find a guide like this when I was first in the market for an electric ukulele, so it took a whole bunch of research. Luckily for you, I’m sharing it all with you!
Cost Vs Quality
When it comes to learning a stringed musical instrument, there aren’t many cheaper options out there than ukuleles. Whilst most guitars will cost you anything from $500 to $2,000, it will be pretty difficult for you to find an electric ukulele that costs you anything more than $250, and even that would be an absolute beauty!
For this reason, I think it’s incredibly important to find an excellent balance between the cost and quality of your electric ukulele. Sure, it’s possible to find one online that will only cost you $50, but you need to realize that this is going to come at the cost of a compromise in quality.
When it comes to expensive musical instruments, this may be necessary for your budget, but you should ask yourself whether you need to cheap out on your electric ukulele purchase.
In my opinion, if you are serious about purchasing an electric ukulele, you should splash out on one that costs between $75 and $250. This will get you something nice built by a brand that hasn’t made any compromises in terms of quality.
After all, the last thing you want to do is cheap out, only to discover that you accidentally purchased a novelty electric ukulele instead of a proper one.
Comfort and Size
Whilst it is true that ukuleles are some of the most comfortably fitting stringed instruments on the market, this does not mean that you should not consider the comfort and size of the instrument.
There are four key sizes of ukuleles – soprano (being the smallest), concert, tenor, and baritone (being the largest), and they will massively affect the comfortability of playing them.
Soprano ukuleles are going to be more suitable for young children, whilst baritone products will sit more comfortably in the lap of a grown adult. However, comfort isn’t the only thing to consider here.
The size of a ukulele has a great impact on the sound of the instrument, with sopranos being focused around quieter and higher frequencies, with baritones being bassier, richer, and lower in frequency.
The best way to discover which of these will work best for you is to head to a music store and try out each size. Not only will you get an opportunity to try them out for comfort in your lap, but you will also be able to hear all of the different frequency ranges.
Because electric ukuleles are… well, electric, it is going to be essential that you consider the quality of this feature. It’s easy to assume that all electric instruments work the same – you simply plug it into an amp with a ¼” cable and you’re ready to rock, right?
That may be so, but something I have noticed is that ukuleles are notorious for having cheap electronics inside them. The reason for this is that they are cheap instruments and often considered to be novelty instruments, despite them sounding fantastic through an amp.
If a brand has this misconception, they are not likely to put much care into fitting the pickups and electronics in the instrument, so you need to watch out for this.
As long as you purchase your electric ukulele through a reputable brand, this should not be a problem. However, if you are unsure, why not check out the online reviews? Check for negative reviews regarding the electronics failing, and if you see anything like that, avoid, avoid, avoid!
The final thing that I would deem essential to investigate when looking for an electric ukulele is accessories. Much like other instruments, there is a wide range of accessories that you are going to need to consider purchasing to begin using your electric ukulele. These include:
- A ¼” audio cable
- An amplifier
- A soft case
- A ukulele strap
- Spare Strings
It’s very tempting to simply purchase a ukulele when it fits your standards, but imagine the pain of it arriving only to find out that it doesn’t include a ¼” cable! You’re going to need this to play it through an amplifier, so you would then have to wait another couple of days for this to arrive.
Luckily, a lot of electric ukuleles are sold online as bundles, meaning they will come with various accessories to ensure that you have everything you need to get started. You can also purchase these accessories from other sources, but you must make sure that you are at least aware of this obstacle before you start buying!
My Top 3 Electric Ukulele Picks
Wow, I sure have covered a lot of information – we’ve taken a look at the wide variety of reasons as to why you might want to purchase an electric ukulele, in addition to the criteria that you should consider when purchasing one.
So, do I have any particular recommendations? Of course, I do! Read on to find out the three products that I would recommend the most!
RANMING Electric Tenor Ukulele
The first electric ukulele recommendation that I have for you is the RANMING Electric Tenor Ukulele. This is an absolute classic ukulele bundle that I have seen many times online for under $100, and it’s an absolute bargain.
Not only does the instrument feel comfortable to play, but it comes with so many useful accessories. It includes a case, a ukulele strap, spare strings, plectrums, a tuner, and even a music book!
If I was on a budget, this would be a fantastic option, but it must be mentioned that the bundle does feel a little too cheap. I would be happy to purchase all of those accessories for a total of $100, so including the ukulele itself too seems crazy! It’s going to be cheap and cheerful, but if that’s all you are looking for, then it could be the electric ukulele for you.
- It includes tons of accessories including a strap, case, and tuner
- For everything included, it’s very good value for money
- The electric ukulele is a tenor, which is ideal for transporting around
- It even includes a music book, meaning you can get learning right away
- It does not include a ¼” cable, so you will need to purchase this separately
- The price feels somewhat too good to be true, so there is a slight compromise in quality
Caramel CB207 Acacia Baritone Acoustic-Electric Ukulele
The next electric ukulele I would recommend is slightly different as it is baritone, specifically the Caramel CB207 Acacia Baritone Acoustic-Electric Ukulele.
This means that as opposed to being the smallest size of tenor, it’s the largest. This makes this instrument more suitable for people who prefer a larger instrument as opposed to a smaller one, in addition to lower frequencies and richer tones.
On top of this unique characteristic, it is also absolutely stunning to look at. It has a gorgeous wooden finish and the general build quality is high just by looking at it, and whilst you may pay more than $100 for it, it’s going to be worth it. It even has a truss rod, providing more tuning stability than a run-of-the-mill ukulele.
On top of all this, the electric ukulele also comes with a ton of excellent accessories: a soft case, spare strings, a strap, a cable, a wall mount, and even a cleaning cloth! Fantastic.
- The baritone design is perfect for ukulele players who want richer and heavier tones
- Some of the accessories are unique, such as the cleaning cloth and wall mount
- Includes a truss rod, providing optimum tuning stability
- For just over $100, it’s an absolute steal
- The baritone design defeats the point of being small and transportable for many
- It doesn’t include a music book, is designed more for intermediate players
Luna Tattoo Concert Mahogany Acoustic/Electric Ukulele
Just take a look at an image of it online and you will see what I mean – it features a tribal style tattoo finish which looks cool, and the online reviews are extremely positive. However, if the mahogany look isn’t for you then don’t worry, because it also comes in Satin Natural and Spruce, something I appreciate in terms of customization.
In terms of aesthetics, this would have to be the best on this list, but this comes at a significantly higher price of almost $150. Furthermore, the instrument doesn’t have a truss rod, presenting a slightly lower build quality than other options on this list.
Despite that though, It also only comes with a gig bag which is a bit of a shame, but if it’s the aesthetic you are looking for, you simply cannot beat this ukulele.
- A gorgeous tattoo art style finish
- Comes with a handy gig bag
- The wood finish is customizable, coming in Mahogany, Spruce and Satin Natural
- A heavy focus on aesthetic over build quality and accessories
- Lacking in the accessory department, coming only with a gig bag
- Quite expensive for what it is
- Does not contain a truss rod
You should now know everything necessary about purchasing your first electric ukulele, including my top three picks. However, you may have some remaining questions – let’s take a look at some of my top guesses.
Question: Are All Ukuleles The Same Size?
Answer: No – contrary to common belief, there are four main sizes of ukuleles – Tenor, Soprano, Concert, Tenor, and Baritone.
Question: How Much Should You Spend on a Ukelele?
Question: What Is The Difference Between an Acoustic Guitar and a Ukulele?
Question: What Accessories are Essential for Electric Ukuleles?
This sure was a fun guide to write about – I love playing the ukulele so much, and I am jealous that you are about to begin your journey to purchasing your own! Don’t forget to carefully consider all of the criteria that I mentioned to find the perfect instrument.
I love all three of the electric ukuleles that I listed, but if I could only choose one, it would have to be the Caramel CB207 Acacia Baritone Acoustic-Electric Ukulele. It’s just such excellent value for money, and whilst the baritone design does make it bulkier, it’s worth it if you’re not worried about travel.
If you are, then the Luna Tattoo Concert or even the RANMING Electric Tenor Ukulele could be a better decision.
Well, what are you waiting for? Get online and do some research, and before you know it you could be playing the ukulele just like me. Good luck!