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Top 5 Best Electric Concert Ukuleles

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The concert ukulele is possibly the most popular size of ukulele out there, and there are many great electric options. The fretboard is less cramped than a soprano, and it has more sustain and a richer tone. Yet it’s more compact than a tenor or baritone, with an easier reach.

With so many great electric concert ukuleles to choose from, it can be hard to pick the perfect one. Luckily, we’ve got a guide to the best on the market! All of these are great for a first-time ukulele, or for someone looking to step up into the world of electric ukes.

KA-CE

Summary: A sturdily built no-frills electric concert ukulele with a great sound

Best for: Someone who wants great tone without the bells and whistles

The Kala KA-CE is everything you need in an electric concert ukulele and nothing you don’t. Kala’s KA series values function over form, and features some great-sounding ukes for not that much money. While it doesn’t come with the visual flash of some of the other ukuleles on this list, the KA-CE is a great choice for anyone who just wants their ukulele to sound good, acoustically or plugged in.

The KA-CE is made out of laminate mahogany, with a fairly plain design. Traditionalists may actually like the simple look, without cutaways, inlays, or other complications. The one aesthetic touch is the white binding along the edges. The construction feels very solid. A lot of people are looking for an acoustic-electric they can play out, whether at gigs, open mics, or jams. This is a great ukulele to take along, since it’ll withstand the knocks and bumps that come in crowded bars and on the road.

For a laminate concert ukulele, the KA-CE has plenty of volume. Acoustically, it’s bright without sounding tinny or brash. This is a particularly good ukulele to fingerpick, since it has a great balance of volume and tone between individual strings.

The KA-CE is outfitted with an active pickup system that sounds brilliant when plugged in. The signal is strong and noise-free, and the pickup produces a very natural-sounding tone. The control panel features sliders for treble and bass, a volume knob, and a built-in tuner. The tuner works very well, and is particularly useful in noisy situations where phone apps or external tuners may get confused.

Pros

  • Sturdily built
  • Great acoustic tone and volume
  • Great active pickup system

Cons

  • Plain looks

Luna Tattoo Series Acoustic-Electric Concert Ukulele

Summary: A concert ukulele with a unique look and a traditional sound

Best for: Someone who wants their ukulele to look as good as it sounds

Luna is known for making visually arresting ukuleles, and their Tattoo series is one big reason why. This electric concert ukulele features a Polynesian-inspired pattern laser-etched onto the wood. There’s also a cutaway that helps the player get up the neck a little more and give it a more guitar-like look. It’s the kind of design that some people will love and some people won’t. But it certainly stands out from the crowd. Plus, importantly, the look has no effect on the tone.

The Luna Tattoo electric concert ukulele is made of laminate wood, and has a heavier build than other similar ukuleles. As a result, the ukulele doesn’t have the volume or sustain that others like the KA-CE have. This may not be an issue for those who mainly want to plug in, but it won’t cut through a noisy jam quite as well. The sound is more mellow, and very traditional in its tone. For a ukulele with such a unique look, the sound is much more in line with many other laminate concert ukuleles out there.

This ukulele has an active pickup system that puts out a strong, natural tone. There’s a bit more noise in the signal than the Kala KA-CE, but it’s really only noticeable if the gain is cranked all the way up. The control panel is slimmer than on other similar ukes, and does not feature a built-in tuner. It does, however, have the usual sliders for treble (“presence”) and bass, along with a volume slider. These give plenty of room to play around with tone, and you can go from jangly to bassy very easily.

Pros

  • Unique look
  • Traditional sound

Cons

  • No built-in tuner
  • Quieter than other concert ukes

Makala MK-CE

Summary: A great value electric concert ukulele that delivers good tone on a budget

Best for: Someone who wants the best bang for their buck

Makala is the budget-minded sister brand of Kala, and makes some incredible ukes at great prices. They strip out all the extras and give you just what you need. The Makala MK-CE is the perfect example of this ethos. It’s a very basic electric concert ukulele that still sounds great both acoustically and plugged in.

The MK-CE is essentially a budget version of the KA-CE. It’s made out of laminate agathis, a tonewood very similar to the mahogany used in the KA-CE, but cheaper. The tuners feel a little cheaper, but still turn smoothly and hold their tune well. Otherwise, it feels very much like the KA-CE.

Acoustically, the tone is a little duller, with less volume. This is probably due to the difference in tonewood. Still, you’d really only notice the difference by playing the two side-by-side. There’s still plenty of volume, and the Makala MK-CE has a nice mellow tone that brings out some of the lower tones more than its cousin. That being said, if you’re going to playing acoustically a lot, the upgrade to the KA-CE is definitely worth checking out.

The MK-CE is fitted with a passive pickup system. This puts out a lower signal than the active systems found on the other ukuleles on this list. But it’s still a great pickup, and two sliders for tone and volume give you control over your sound. Being a passive pickup does mean that you don’t need batteries for it to function. This is a big plus for anyone who might go long stretches without needing to plug it in.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Mellow tone

Cons

  • Passive pickup produces weaker signal
  • No built-in tuner

Cordoba 15CM-E

Summary: A more mellow electric concert ukulele great for strumming

Best for: Someone who wants a rounded, balanced tone

Cordoba has built a name for itself in the world of classical guitars, and it brings that same commitment to quality to its ukuleles. This is one of their most popular ukuleles, and one of the most popular electric concert ukuleles out there, period. It’s easy to see (and hear) why. It has a fairly traditional look, with a few nods to the classical guitars Cordoba is known for. There’s a lovely inlay around the soundhole, and the laminate mahogany used has a nice subtle grain.

Acoustically, the Cordoba has a nice warm tone. It’s about middle-of-the-pack when it comes to acoustic volume, neither particularly loud nor particularly quiet. There’s still enough volume for jams or other noisier environments, but this is by no means a powerhouse ukulele. To my ears, it sounds better strummed than fingerpicked, since it has a punchier, plunkier tone with more attack but less sustain than other ukes.

Unlike the other ukuleles on this list, Cordoba 15CM-E does not have any tone controls. Like the MK-C, it has a passive pickup system, meaning that it doesn’t need batteries but produces a somewhat weaker tone. If you’re going to be gigging or plugging this into a PA system, you’ll probably want an external preamp or DI box. However, it does work great with an amplifier, and you’ll have no problems getting a great tone out of the pickup.

Pros

  • Mellow tone
  • Understated but nice looks

Cons

  • Passive pickup produces weaker signal
  • No built-in tuner or tone controls

Ibanez UEW15E Electric Concert Ukulele

Summary: A ukulele that looks and plays like a miniature acoustic guitar

Best for: Someone who wants that guitar-like look and sound in a smaller package

Ibanez is another company known more for its guitars, but it makes some very impressive ukuleles as well. The UEW15E comes in a variety of exotic tonewoods, some of which have a very striking look.

Speaking of looks, the UEW15E looks a lot like a miniature version of Ibanez’ guitars. It has a rounder, fatter body than other concert ukuleles. It also has a cutaway that swoops down on the right side. The shape does make it feel a little bulkier than other concert ukuleles, but not by much.

Acoustically, the Ibanez UEW15E has a pleasant, mellow tone. It is in the middle of the pack volume-wise, but has great sustain and punch. Since they’re all made of laminate wood, I wouldn’t expect the different tonewoods used to have a huge effect on tone, but there will probably be some small differences. The one we tested was made of mahogany.

The Ibanez UEW15E features a very similar active pickup system to the Kala KA-CE. They may well be getting their electronics from the same factory, because it looks and sounds almost identical. Most of the sound variations can, I’m sure, be traced to differences in the ukuleles themselves. There’s the same strong, natural tone, clean of any kind of noise. And the same bass and treble sliders on the control panel, alongside a volume knob and a built-in tuner. It’s a great pickup, and works very well when plugged into a PA system or amplifier.

Pros

  • Unique looks
  • Great active pickup system

Cons

  • Bulkier than other concert ukuleles

Published in Acoustic Electric Ukulele Buying Guides Electric Ukulele

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