There was a time, not so very long ago, when getting hold of a decent ukulele was very hard. Unless you spent ages searching and sifting through small ads, or relying on word of mouth, you were unlikely to find anything other than vintage models by respected manufacturers (sometimes expensive), or attic-stored junk.
The internet changed all that; and the so-called ‘Third Wave’ of popularity for the uke that has grown over the past fifteen years or so means that newcomers to the instrument have never had it so good. Following on from the fine examples set by Stagg, Bushman, Mainland and others in the early days, many current manufacturers and importers feature perfectly serviceable beginners’ instruments in their rosters.
At the budget end are the brightly coloured instruments to be found in many high street music shops. There are two major brands: Mahalo and Makala (most manufacturers choose a Hawaiian name, despite nearly all of these instruments being made in Far East factories).