Okay, you are saying, you have convinced me, I'm going to give ukulele a try, but how much do I need to spend?
This is a very common question and really, the answer depends on your personal circumstances. Even so, unless you are Mr Moneybags, there is little point in spending many hundreds on a first ukulele only to find you don't enjoy it.
At the other end of the scale, whilst it obviously seems tempting to spend as absolutely little as possible, as you are just testing the ukulele water, you should also be careful. As with guitars, if you purchase something so cheap that it is badly made, you will find the instrument working against you from the start. Learning a stringed instrument for the very first time does take some practice and time. Get a super cheap uke that is impossible to tune or has unplayably high action and you are just adding to the difficulty. In the worst case this could put you off forever, which would be a shame as you don't need to spend a lot to get a playable instrument.
Do a search on eBay and you will find a range of ukes in bright colours for anything from £10 to £20. My advice is don't. I've sampled ukes at this low end from the likes of Mahalo and Ashton and the plethora of new Chinese names and they are pretty shonky. I'm not just talking about finish, they can be badly (even fatally badly) put together making good setup nigh on impossible.
As cheap as I would go would be about £35-£40 for the makala ukuleles, particularly the dolphin that I have reviewed on this site. The dolphin is a remarkable uke, which when fitted with Aquila strings is remarkably loud, accurate and good sounding. Avoid trying to shop around at this price to save a couple of quid from a random eBay seller- dolphins need a bit of set up to work well so buy from a store who will set up for you. Highly Strung in Wantage will do this and they are also on the web. In the US places like Mims ukes will give you a setup. Ideally avoid Amazon!!
Moving up into the £50 to £80 range and you are still looking at makala as a great choice. Entry level Kalas appear and also great brands like Baton Rouge.
As you rise above the £80 mark you start to find better ukes from Kala and Ohana appear in your price point. Very good ukes, made in the far east.
Up to this point we are really only talking about laminate ukes only. These are not as sweet sounding as solid wood ukes, but for a beginner they are just fine. In fact, I'd rather a good laminate than a bad solid wood instrument.
About the cheapest quality solid wood ukes are probably the entry models from Bruko. These are (amazingly) handmade in Germany and start at around £100.
If you intend to start ukulele above the £100 mark, things get complicated as the range becomes huge. Sadly there are still plenty of bad eggs so how do you know where to go? Well if you are paying this much, I would definitely try to play before you buy to check intonation etc. If that's not possible, you need to try to play it safe.
About as safe as you can get is to buy a Flea uke. They are, due to their construction, pretty much guaranteed to be set up well and they sound great leaving you no worries and free to start learning. Ohanas and Kalas in this range are good ukes too, but I don't think they are likely to be as consistent as Fleas. Fleas can be found for around £130 ish. I understand that many dont like the look of Fleas though.
If you can push on towards £200 mark I would, without any doubt urge you to look at a Mainland uke. They are widely considered to be about the best value all solid instruments around and they sound superb. Set up is always spot on and they look great too! You can probably find a starter Mainland in the £200 mark
Beyond that you are on your own! Choose carefully, avoid bargain basement and read the ukulele forums thoroughly. They are full of friendly types happy to help.
For more information, I have expanded on this post HERE