The simplicity and portability of the ukulele in intriguing to most musicians, but some worry that the volume will be too low for performances. Another possible drawback for some people will be that they wish to play an instrument with a heavier rock/metal sound to the instrument instead of the sweet tones of a regular ukulele.
For people that fall into these categories, you can get the best of both worlds! Electric ukuleles offer you the 4 string ukulele you already know and love with a pickup that can be plugged into an amplifier for that louder volume!
These ukuleles can be either Electric ukuleles, which have solid bodies (no sound hole) and look/sound similar to an electric guitar, or an acoustic electric ukulele, which sounds more like a regular ukulele but has the ability to amplify the sound.
How Do Electric Ukuleles Work?
Electric ukuleles have some additional components on them to capture the vibration of the strings. These vibrations are converted into an electric signal, which is them passed to the output-jack that you can plug your amplifier into. For a more detailed explanation on the electronic components, check out this How Stuff Works article.
When you look at your electric or acoustic electric ukulele and if it has an active pickup, you’ll notice a few knobs or sliders. These are used to control the volume and adjust the levels of the sound such as the bass, treble, and mid range using a pre-amplifier that does some adjustments to your sound before sending it to the amp.
This helps you capture the exact sound you’re going for and gives you a lot of control over what comes out of the amplifier.
The only drawback of this is your ukulele will be a tiny bit heavier and require a 9V battery. The alternative is a passive pickup, which does not require any batteries but simply sends the sound to the amp as-is with no ability for pre-amplification adjustments.
Our Top Electric Ukulele Picks
Best Overall Acoustic Electric Ukulele – Luna Tattoo
With all things (including price) considered, our top choice for the best acoustic electric ukulele is the Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo. This ukulele has an active-pickup so it requires a 9V battery. This is a concert-sized ukulele made with a mahogany body. The uke also comes with a gig bag for easy transportation.
The Luna Tattoo is simply a great sounding instrument for the price and is built durably to last you many years. Luna is one of the most popular ukulele brands for their commitment to making instruments that musicians love to play.
With the Luna control panel below you can adjust your sound and volume as needed. This ukulele comes with high quality Aquila Nylgut strings, so you’ll be ready to rock as soon as you receive it.
Best High-End Electric Ukulele – Cordoba 20TM-CE
If you’re ready to go all-in on an electric ukulele that you’ll never grow out of, then look no further than the Cordoba 20TM-CE. Cordoba makes some of the best ukuleles in the business, and their sound is always amazing. The 20TM-CE is a tenor-sized ukulele featuring a soft cutaway for a distinctive style and Aquila Nylgut strings.
In the below video you can hear this ukulele is capable of capturing both the sweet tones of an acoustic ukulele as well as powerful electric riffs you may be craving!
The Cordoba 20TM-CE is available either with or without a gig bag, with the cheaper option usually running around $200. We understand this isn’t suitable for most beginners, but if you’re an experienced ukulele player looking to venture into the acoustic-electric world, you’d likely find a lifelong friend in the 20TM-CE.
Best Passive Pickup Acoustic Electric Ukulele – Epiphone Les Paul Ukulele
If you’re looking for a ukulele to really shred some rock jams with a classic “electric guitar” feel, check out the Epiphone Les Paul Acoustic Electric Ukulele. This uke comes with a gig bag and comes in a comfortable concert-scale fingerboard that should be comfortable for musicians of all ages.
The pickup on this ukulele is passive, which means it doesn’t have any volume or tone controls which can be a bummer for some people.
Epiphone’s Les Paul series of guitars is one of the most iconic in American history, so for them to place that name on an electric ukulele, you know it must be held to a high-quality standard. It doesn’t hurt that the Les Paul Ukulele looks beautiful as well with a trademark sunburst paint job.
Best Solid Body Electric Ukulele – Vorson FSUK1
If you’re looking for something that really looks and sounds like an electric guitar, then you need to check out this Vorson FSUK1 Electric Ukulele. This ukulele has a sold body, tone control, and adjustable bridge so you can get any sound out of it you can dream of.
The first time you hear the FSUK1 played, it’s a bit jarring because it sounds like no other ukulele you’ve ever seen. This uses passive pickups so no battery required. Check out the video below to hear how this ukulele shreds and you’ll understand what it’s capable of.
Electric Ukulele Amps
One last topic we’ll cover, buying a ukulele amplifier to go along with your new electric uke. The truth is, you can really use any standard guitar amplifier and it will work great with your electric ukulele.
If you’re looking for something small and portable, check out this cool retro HoneyTone Mini Amp. It’s small enough to clip onto your belt and runs off of a 9V battery which is included. You can also use this amp for quiet-time by plugging in a set of headphones to it.
Another cool option is the Luna Suitcase Amp which can run off a 9V battery or an AC adapter. The “suitcase” design is very unique and charming. The amp opens up and allows you to store the AC adapter inside, making traveling with a ukulele a breeze.
Finally, if you’re looking for something more serious and powerful, check out this 20-watt Fender Champion Amp. While it’s not as portable as the two above, it gives you much more volume and control over your sound. If you’re planning on performing in front of a group or playing along with other musicians, you’ll want an amplifier that can hold its own which is just what the Fender Champion does.
If you’ve decided all these electroncis aren’t for you and you’re more interested in a standard ukulele, check out our best ukuleles for beginners article, or you may be interested in our best travel ukuleles which are made to be mobile and tough enough to withstand a long journey.