How much would it cost you to strum the most expensive ukuleles in the world?
The world of music is chock-full of premium and valuable instruments. Whether it’s an antique violin or a custom Louis Vitton guitar, you’ll find instruments worth more than three houses. The ukulele might not be the first instrument that comes to mind when you think of luxurious collectibles, but there is a market for premium ukes.
The first ukuleles date back to Hawaii during the 19th century. It was the native Hawaiian version of the Portuguese machete, a small guitar-like instrument. Over the next century, the ukulele became tremendously popular throughout the United States. People across the globe were soon strumming a ukulele, and its popularity continues to grow to this day.
Continue reading below to learn more about the world’s most lavish ukuleles. If you’ve got thousands of dollars burning a hole in your pocket, then you might find the right ukulele for you.
Here are the 13 most expensive ukuleles in the world
Table of Contents
- Here are the 13 most expensive ukuleles in the world
- 1. The “Elia” Ukulele by John D’Angelico
- 2. DeVine Hawaiian Koa Tenor Hibiscus 2003
- 3. Ko’ Olau CS Tenor Custom Spruce/Jacaranda
- 4. D’ Angelico S1300024 Mu 1 Ukulele
- 5. Martin 5 Daisy Ukulele
- 6. Koaloha KCM-02 Black Label Concert Longneck Spruce
- 7. Acoustic World Martin Soprano 5k Ukelele
- 8. Kamaka Ukulele x-179
- 9. Kamaka SOP Pine “Blue Crest Decal”
- 10. Martin Style 3k Ukulele
- 11. Kanile’ a 2016 Platinum Rare Premium Curly Koa 4 String Tenor Ukulele
- 12. Mint Kanile’ a Island Tenor Premium UV Gloss
- 13. Graziano Custom Concert Ukulele
1. The “Elia” Ukulele by John D’Angelico
This is, by far, the most expensive ukulele ever sold. The Elia ukulele was crafted by music legend John D’Angelico sometime around 1930. John named the ukulele after Elia Pappalardi, who was the woman who commissioned the instrument.
The timeline of this ukulele is quite interesting. After the death of Elia, the ukulele was passed onto her son, Felix Pappalardi. If you’re heavy into the music scene, especially classic rock, you might recognize him as one of the producers for the band Cream. His girlfriend murdered Felix Pappalardi in 1983, and the whereabouts of the ukulele became unknown.
Then in 2007, it resurfaced on the popular online marketplace eBay. A private collector got their hands on the ukulele for a whopping $26,000.
What makes this ukulele the most expensive ukulele in the world? For starters, John D’Angelico is a noteworthy luthier who was no stranger to luxury. Combine that with the unique story and rarity of the Elia, and you’ll understand the hefty price tag of this instrument.
2. DeVine Hawaiian Koa Tenor Hibiscus 2003
People in the music world (especially ukulele players) know DeVine for their beautiful handcrafted Hawaiian guitars and ukuleles. All of their ukuleles are specifically for slow melodic playing, which brings a different feel to ukulele music’s international idea.
The Hawaiian Koa Tenor Hibiscus 2003 is one of their flagship products. The detail of the sound alone is enough to justify the high price. Advanced ukulele players who take their music seriously would know how important it is to achieve that crisp sound while playing, and that’s exactly what you get with this incredible instrument.
3. Ko’ Olau CS Tenor Custom Spruce/Jacaranda
This is a beautiful myrtle wood tenor ukulele crafted with Hawaiian perfection. The koa binding frame makes this instrument look elegant while maintaining a conservative appearance. Its most noteworthy feature has to be its tone. The amazing crisp sound from this uke is ethereal.
Noa Bonk is a master craftsman who’s worked with strings since the age of 10. He got his first start working at a guitar repair shop; handling warrantied Gibson and Martin guitars. You can hear the decades of experience in the sound of the Ko’ Olau CS Tenor Custom, and that’s what makes it so special.
4. D’ Angelico S1300024 Mu 1 Ukulele
Another D’Angelico creation on this list, the S1300024 Mu 1 ukulele, is nothing less than uke heaven. Since D’Angelico instruments are so expensive, not many musicians ever get their hands on one. If you are ever lucky enough to try out the S1300024 Mu 1, don’t pass up that opportunity.
D’Angelico instruments aren’t exactly known for their beauty or fancy aesthetic appeal. Instead, it’s all about the rarity and collectible buzz that give these instruments their impressive price. However, John D’Angelico was a well-renowned luthier, so the quality of sound matches up.
5. Martin 5 Daisy Ukulele
Straight out of the custom shop of C.F. & Martin Co., this well-crafted soprano ukulele is limited edition. The “Daisy” ukulele was named after C.F Martin’s wife, Daisy. This beautifully handcrafted ukulele is one of the 100 ever personally made by Martin himself.
Both the front and the back contain flame mahogany and ivory binding. The abalone trim adds the right finish touch to its classy yet humble design. Tonally, the Martin 5 Daisy sounds great. It’s not as crisp as the Koa wood ukulele above, but it still holds up well.
6. Koaloha KCM-02 Black Label Concert Longneck Spruce
This Koa is slightly newer than others on this list. The Koaloha KCM-02 Black Label Concert Longneck Spruce ukulele is 100% Hawaiian made. The body is regular size, but as the name suggests, the neck is longer and is suitable for concert playing. The sound is a hybrid between soprano and concert, but this depends more on your playing style.
The high gloss finish is one of the best features of this uke. Combine that with the ebony fretboard and bridge, and you have one stunning ukulele.
7. Acoustic World Martin Soprano 5k Ukelele
The Martin 5k is a soprano ukulele a part of the style 5 series. Martin was a well-known ukulele producer during the Hawaiian music boom during the 1900s. This particular ukulele you would see at a folk concert or Hawaiian music festival. The 5 style ukuleles are considered to be top-shelf in terms of sound and overall appearance.
The body consists of flamed Koa wood from Hawaii and a mahogany wood neck. It also features an abalone shell inlay and ivory finish. You’ll find abalone diamonds along the sides of the ebony fingerboard. Its stellar design makes the Martin Soprano 5k among the finest ukes on the market today.
8. Kamaka Ukulele x-179
The Kamaka Ukuleles date back to the 1920s and 1930s and still hold their reputation as well-crafted ukes. Kamaka’s founder, Sam Kamaka, was an apprentice for one of the first-ever ukulele producers Manuel Nunes. The two of them were seasoned uke makers whose efforts survived through World War 2.
Almost all the instruments from Kamaka are exceptionally high-quality, and the x-179 is no different. That’s why you’ll always find this uke attached to a high price tag.
9. Kamaka SOP Pine “Blue Crest Decal”
Without a doubt, the Kawaka family in Hawaii is currently dominating the ukulele world. You can find numerous of their high-quality instruments online. However, the SOP PINE “Blue Crest Decal” is one of a kind.
The distinctive oval body and vibrant pineapple design beneath the strings would make any ukulele fanatic go wild. Tonally, the instrument sounds great, but what makes this ukulele so valuable is how it’s unique and original to the famous Kamaka family.
10. Martin Style 3k Ukulele
If you haven’t noticed already, Martin, Kamaka, and D’Angelico are high-quality ukuleles leaders. The Martin Style 3k is another perfect example of why Martin instruments are among some of the most expensive ukuleles in the word.
The Style 3 was a delightful reintroduction of Martin instruments to ukulele aficionados worldwide. This soprano ukulele contains 100% flamed Hawaiian Koa wood along with glossy finishing on both sides. The tone is nothing less than beautiful and is easy to play. If you have the budget for this pricey uke, it might be worth the investment.
11. Kanile’ a 2016 Platinum Rare Premium Curly Koa 4 String Tenor Ukulele
The Kanilea 2016 tenor ukulele itself is an outstanding instrument. This rare edition consists of all the same features; only it’s a custom. The body is made from premium and expensive Koa wood straight from Hawaii. The binding is a combination of maple and rosewood, which adds a unique flavor to this uke’s design.
What really brings this whole instrument together is the U.V. gloss finish. Tonally speaking, this is a very player-friendly ukulele that sounds great no matter what playing style you have. Kanilea produces fantastic ukuleles, and the 2016 Platinum Rare ukulele is a perfect example of their craftsmanship.
12. Mint Kanile’ a Island Tenor Premium UV Gloss
Another premium ukulele from Kanile’ a, the Island Tenor Premium UV Gloss, is a beautiful (and expensive) instrument. The natural finish and crisp sound give this uke the right to be on the list. The Koa wood mixed with the beautiful ebony neck looks fantastic and adds to the instrument’s rich design.
Seriously, strumming one of these on the beach in Hawaii and possibly enjoying a bottle of 1800 Coleccion tequila valued at $1800 a bottle is the ideal luxurious island experience.
13. Graziano Custom Concert Ukulele
The custom Graziano Concert ukulele looks bold but sounds super soft and melodic when playing. Unlike most of the other ukuleles on this list, the Graziano Custom Concert Ukulele wasn’t crafted in Hawaii. This ukulele actually hails from Santa Cruz, CA.
Anthony “Tony” Graziano has been producing top-quality instruments since the late 1960s and early 1970s. He got his hands on ukulele making around 1978, and one of his best works has to be his custom concert uke.
The body consists of elegant Brazilian rosewood, along with a bit of mahogany. The fretboard is made of ebony, and the entire instrument has a high gloss lacquer finish.
That concludes our list of the most expensive ukuleles ever made. If you love the uke and have a taste for expensive things, consider getting your hands on one of these premium instruments. Not only are they rare collectibles, but they also sound amazing.
Some of the characteristics you’ll notice in a high-end ukulele, like on this list, is the materials and wood they use. Almost all of the ukuleles above are made from 100% pure Hawaiian Koa wood, mahogany, and rosewood.
Also, the producer plays a huge role in the value of a ukulele and any musical instrument on the market. Of course, you can’t forget history, either. More than a song to share, many of these ukuleles also have a story to tell!
Remember, playing a high-quality ukulele is fun. However, nothing beats playing one of the most expensive ukuleles in the world. We hope you found this post helpful, if not entertaining.