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Ukulele: comparison of the best ukuleles by price and level

Outstanding Soprano

Fender Seaside Soprano

Featured Tenor

Kala MK T Makala Tenor

Featured Bass/Baritone

Harley Benton Kahuna

Which ukulele to buy? Comparison of the best ukuleles for beginners, intermediate and advanced players.

The ukulele is synonymous with Hawaii: it is impossible to listen to its magnetic chords and not think of a beach in these beautiful Polynesian islands. But the truth is that this small plucked stringed musical instrument hasone of the most characteristic sounds on the planet: quiet, very musical, passionate yet simple, fragile and brimming with tradition. Its notes also have the capacity to penetrate the deepest part of the soul, as demonstrated by Gabby Pahinui, one of its most renowned interpreters.

If you’re excited about learning to play the ukulele, you’re not alone. It is currently one of the most popular stringed instruments in the world. The reason? Despite its discreet size, it is a very noble and versatile instrument, which has been the icon of great musicians such as Elvis Presley or Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and is the basis of any hula or mele. It also has an advantage: it is relatively easy to learn to play, which is why it has become the choice of many young people who are starting out in the world of music performance.

Want to buy a ukulele but don’t know how to choose one according to your learning level and budget? To clear all your doubts, we have prepared this comparison of the best ukuleles for beginners, intermediate and advanced players, whether they are tuned as soprano, tenor or bass/baritone. You also have a guide on some basics that will be very useful: how to tune a ukulele, what classes exist, tips on how to learn to play it, among others. Shall we start?

Hawaiian ukulele parts

The composition of the Hawaiian ukulele is very similar to that of a Spanish guitar. It consists of:

  • Headstock: Upper part of the ukulele and where the pegs are located.
  • Peg: Piece usually made of steel used to adjust the tuning of the ukulele strings.
  • Neck: Arm that joins the soundboard with the pegbox and the headstock.
  • Fretboard: Upper part of the neck where chords and plucks are plucked.
  • Cutaway: Cut in the soundboard that provides access to the higher frets.
  • Hoops: Wood covering the sides of the soundboard.
  • Bridge: Wooden piece located on the soundboard. It is responsible for holding the strings and contributing to the stability of the sound vibrations.
  • ¼” jack input: Connector that allows the installation of an electric or electro-acoustic ukulele to a sound amplifier.
  • Bridge/saddle capo: Serves to raise the height of the strings and establish the distance to height ratio.
  • Mouthpiece: Opening through which the sound is filtered to travel through the soundboard and create the phenomenon of sound projection.
  • Soundboard: The most important sounding part of the instrument. It is primarily responsible for filtering sound vibrations.
  • Fret dividing rod: They are also called single frets, and are the ones that create the divisions on the neck to identify the notes of the ukulele.
  • Neck capo: Keeps the strings aligned in a fixed position and, together with the bridge capo, creates the distance-over-height ratio.

In our article on acoustic guitars, we describe more extensively the physical relationship of distance per pitch, which is vital to have a perfectly harmonized instrument.

How to tune a ukulele?

Like the guitar, the ukulele has a standard tuning which is the most common: G, C, E and A, numbering the strings from top to bottom. However, it should be noted that there are different types of ukulele, each with its own particular tuning:

  • Tenor: sol, do, mi, la.
  • Soprano: la, re, fa#, si.
  • Baritone: re, sol, si, mi.
  • Bass: mi, la, re, sol.

There is no secret technique for tuning a ukulele. There are only two ways:

  • 1. By ear, through practice
  • 2. With the help of a digital ukulele tuner. In our article on digital tuners we go into detail on this subject.

Types of ukulele

There are five types of ukulele: tenor, soprano, sopranino, concert and baritone/bass. There are three main differences between them.

  1. The tuning: In the previous section we told you that each type of ukulele uses a different tuning. However, if the musician needs it, he can use the standard tuning only if he has the appropriate strings, since each tuning requires a specific stringing.
  2. Scale: Refers to the distance between the bridge capo and the neck capo, which can be larger or smaller depending on the type of ukulele.
  3. Types of strings: Each kind of ukulele uses a certain type of strings. A baritone ukulele uses thick metal strings, like those of an electric bass. In the tenor, concert, soprano and sopranino ukulele, they decrease in gauge (thickness).

Types of ukulele strings

The type of strings used with the ukulele is a vital aspect. If you have a soprano ukulele, you cannot use tenor or baritone ukulele strings as it will not sound good and the instrument could suffer serious damage. Here are some of the best strings to use depending on the tuning of your ukulele.


Harley Benton Value Strings Ukulele:
The best strings for tenor ukulele

  • Touch.
    These strings have an excellent feel, are smooth and comfortable in both chords and phrases/solos.
  • Sound.
    They are mainly for tenor Hawaiian ukulele, but you can use them with a concert or soprano ukulele, as they are very versatile and of great quality.
    On a tenor ukulele the sound has body, a good reverb, the treble is balanced, as well as the bass, but the best are the mid and semi treble: simply excellent!


Aquila Regular Sopran Ukulele Strings
Aquila Regular Sopran Ukulele Strings : The best strings for soprano ukulele

  • Touch.
    These soprano strings are somewhat taut, but when they have a few days of use they acquire an impressive smoothness, both in chords and phrases.
  • Sound.
    The treble is very good. In strumming they sound great, they have a good volume and the phrases overflow with many harmonics that are pleasant in every way. You can also use them on a tenor ukulele if you want a powerful treble, which is ideal when playing songs like “La vie en rose”.


Aquila UBass Strings Thundergut
The best strings for bass or baritone ukulele

  • Touch.
    These strings designed for a baritone or bass ukulele are a bit harsh and require strength, like bass strings. But that doesn’t mean they are impossible to use, because they are the softest we have tested.
  • Sound.
    Sound
    iswhat we like the most. It is very good and crisp, and it is generally not easy to find bass strings of this quality. The bass is deep and the mids are fully audible. Undoubtedly the best bass/baritone ukulele strings on the market.

Chords for ukulele: major and minor

We know you are interested in learning the first chords to play your ukulele. Therefore, we are going to teach you not only the most basic ones, but also how to build them. What do you need to know?

  1. Learn the natural scale: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do. With this in mind, learn the grades.
  2. The degrees are the notes of the scale, where do is the first degree, re is the second, mi is the third, fa is the fourth, sol is the fifth, la is the sixth and si is the seventh. The do that follows si, is the octave.
  3. Once you have learned the basics, which are the scale and the degrees, you are ready to know which degrees make up a major and minor chord. In the case of majors, these are composed by the union of three degrees, such as 1-3-5. So for the C chord, the result would be: 1 = C, 3 = E, 5 = G. When you play these three notes on the ukulele, you have already played the C major chord.

In the following image the C major chord has been constructed. The numbers at the end of the lines represent the degrees and the number inside the circle is the only fret that is played with the third (ring) finger of the right hand if you are right-handed, or left-handed if you are left-handed.

ukulele C chord

Thus, all you have to do is to build the scale of each major chord, as follows:

  • Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do: the chord is do, mi, sol.
  • Re, mi, fa#, sol, la, si, do#, re: the major chord is re-fa#-la.
  • Mi, fa#, sol#, la, si, do#, re#, mi: the major chord is mi, sol#, si.
  • F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F: the major chord is F, C, A.
  • G, A, B, C, D, E, F, F#, G: the major chord is G, B, D.
  • A, B, C#, D#, D#, E, F#, G#, A: the major chord is A, C#, E.
  • B, C#, D#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, B: the major chord is B, D#, F#.

Now you may ask, where do the sharps (#) and flats (b) come from? They arise from the construction of the natural scale of C, where there are distances (tones and semitones) specific to the scale, as shown in the following image.

Difference between soprano, tenor and bass/baritone ukulele

The fundamental difference between these types of ukulele is the frequency of the notes they emit, for example:

  • Soprano: Works in ranges from G three (391.995Hz) to G five (1567.982Hz).
  • Tenor: Works in ranges from C3 (261.63Hz) to C5 (1046.50Hz).
  • Bass/baritone: Works on frequencies from E one (82.4069Hz) to (329.628Hz)

In addition, in some cases they differ in size. The soprano features the standard size of the original ukuleles and is also the smallest of the three (the sopranino is smaller but is not a common class and so we have not included it). It is followed by the tenor and then the bass or baritone, which is the largest of all.

The best brands of Hawaiian ukulele

Buying a ukulele can become a complicated affair due to the sheer number of manufacturers out there. But the truth is that only a few stand out for the excellent quality of the instruments they design to satisfy their users. Some of them are:

  • Harley Benton: This brand, which belongs to the Thomann family, has created ukuleles with a very good quality/price ratio. One of the ones we like the most is his baritone ukulele, which from our point of view provides one of the best sounds in this category.
  • Ortega: As a specialist guitar manufacturing company, Ortega has the expertise to design stunning Hawaiian ukuleles. Something curious that we have noticed is that in the ukuleles we do like the excessive brightness that this manufacturer gives to their instruments.
  • Fender: Fender is synonymous with excellence and their soprano ukuleles are impressive.
  • Luna: This manufacturer is the big surprise in the market, as they have gained a huge following with their series of tenor ukuleles.
  • Gretsh: This specialist jazz guitar manufacturer has jumped into the ukulele market with an interesting high-end proposal that we think is a good investment, if budget is not a problem for you.
  • Kala: Kala is one of the best ukulele brands and is also the one with the best reputation in the market. All its products are high-end and its prices are in line with the quality of manufacture.
  • Thomann: It is the most important music store in the world and also manufactures instruments of the highest quality, among them their ukuleles and those of the Harley Benton brand.
  • Leolani: It is a company that since 2010 has been dedicated to the construction of handcrafted quality Hawaiian ukuleles. They themselves claim that their greatest creation is the tenor ukulele which, be warned, is priced at over 250€.
  • Gold Tone: Gold Tone is a family of top quality banjo makers who have also ventured into the ukulele market, using banjo-like, metal-framed constructions. They are very good instruments but their prices are high end.
  • Lanikai: It is the third leading manufacturer of high-end Hawaiian ukuleles, after Kala and Gold Tone. They are handcrafted, beautifully designed and provide phenomenal sound.

To become proficient at playing the ukulele, there is nothing better than practicing. For this reason, we recommend the songbooks. Some of them, like this one prepared by the Bilbao platform ukelab, we really liked.

Best ukuleles in soprano tuning

  1. Ortega RU5MM-SO
  2. Fender Seaside Soprano
  3. Gretsch G9100 Std

Best tenor tuning ukuleles

  1. Ortega RU5CE-TE
  2. Kala MK-T Makala
  3. Luna Guitars High Tide Koa

Best ukuleles in bass/baritone tuning

  1. Harley Benton Kahuna CLU-Bass
  2. Kala U-Bass Solid Spruce

Best ukuleles in soprano tuning

Soprano ukuleles are most popular with children from the age of five and up. This is due to their small scale of only 28 cm (approximately, although there are some slightly larger ones) and the fact that they have a child-friendly feel and a very pleasant sound. In addition, they are usually cheap and versatile ukuleles ideal for beginners of any age who want to learn to play this instrument without investing a lot of money. In this article we present what we consider to be the three best soprano tuning models on the market. If you are thinking of signing up for a ukulele course, we recommend these online classes taught by musicologist Jorge Fernandez from Vitoria.

Ortega RU5MM-SO

Ortega RU5-SO
Pros

Wonderful shine.

Cons

None to highlight.

Technical Characteristics:

  • Woods: Mahogany, walnut.
  • Sound: Excellent brightness.
  • Touch: Soft.
  • Weight: approximately 550 g.
  • Tuning: A, D, F#, B.

Ortega is a Valencian company specialized in the manufacture of Spanish and flamenco guitars. They also build excellent ukuleles, such as the RU 5MM-SO, an instrument we love and one of the best options on the market in its price range.

Timber:

The Ortega RU 5MM-SO ukulele has a top, sides and back made of high quality mahogany veneered wood with a high resistance to breakage, withstanding pressures of more than 480 kg. This is a very important aspect, as soprano ukuleles are small and therefore tend to be fragile. Mahogany provides strength and also has a great flexibility that contributes even more to the sound quality.

The fingerboard of the Ortega RU 5MM is made of walnut, a wood that provides harmonics that are appreciated in this type of instruments. The headstock is made of chrome, a material with a higher resistance than iron and that wears less, while the nut is made of bone and the frets are low profile, medium size.

Design:

As far as the hardware is concerned, the Ortega brand has opted for high quality chrome-plated pins. They are accurate, keep in tune for quite a long time and the knobs are black, which gives the appearance of a high-end ukulele. The mahogany lid features a laser engraving of lilies, one of the most abundant plants in Extremadura and the protagonist of the lily garden in Alicante.

As for the frets to play the ukulele chords, the company has opted for the traditional 15, but with a notable difference in the scale, which is 35 cm. This is seven centimeters more than the scale required for a soprano ukulele, which is surprising, because Ortega has achieved a soprano sound with a tenor level scale.

Ergonomics:

Hawaiian ukuleles are usually taut and a bit hard, but Ortega has managed to make a comfortable instrument, where the chords are easy to play and the phrases don’t take much effort after you practice a bit. It is quite light (approximately 350 g) and easy to carry around, making it an ideal choice for children or those learning how to play the ukulele.

Sound:

Being a Hawaiian soprano ukulele, it has a high frequency vocal range that we like quite a bit. The glows are impressive: they have sustain, gain and good volume. The mids sound great in the chords and in open places they maintain their strength.

The phrases are the best thing about this ukulele. Finally, the company includes a top-of-the-line string in its stock: a set of Ortega UWNY-4-SO strings that sound like heaven.

Conclusion:

The Ortega RU 5MM-SO has true soprano sound: with great warmth and excellent volume. In addition, its feel separates it from the competition by being much more comfortable. It can be a great ukulele for children from the age of five who want to get started in the world of music, but we also recommend it for adults of all ages. Find the best prices at Thomann.

Fender Seaside Soprano

Pros

Excellent balance between treble and mid-range sounds.

Cons

Some buyers have complained that it has traces of glue in the joints, as well as a strong odor.

Technical Characteristics:

  • Woods: Laminated mahogany, nato.
  • Sound: Very good.
  • Touch: Soft.
  • Weight: approximately 600 g.
  • Tuning: A, D, F#, B.

With the Seaside, Fender offers one of the roundest sounding ukuleles on the market. But this instrument also has excellent design features that do not go unnoticed.

Timber:

Like the Ortega, this Fender ukulele features a high quality mahogany veneer top, sides and back with high resistance to breakage. The vibrations in this wood are very stable, robust, wide and contribute a lot to the sound.

Its fingerboard is made of nato, a very hard wood that has given great results in guitars because it strengthens the harmonics. One aspect we like is that the headstock is made entirely of chrome, a material that provides superb precision and is also a guarantee of eternity and durability. The frets are low profile, medium size, while the nut is made of bone.

Design:

Its chrome-plated pins are the most striking design feature: they are excellent and have an impressive polished finish. All woods are finished in a premium natural color and the fingerboard features a stunning white ABS inlay on the edges. This, together with all the aesthetics, gives us an instrument with a high-end finish.

The Fender Seaside Soprano has 16 frets and , although it may not look like it, all the possibilities are increased with those four extra notes. The company has also opted for a 34.5 cm scale, which is 0.5 cm smaller than on the Ortega RU 5MM and gives greater presence in medium sounds.

Ergonomics:

This Hawaiian ukulele is moderately tense, both in chords and phrases. But the quality of its sound is worth it. The same is true for its weight: it is 50 g heavier than the Ortega, but this difference is not significant and it is still a very light instrument. One aspect to consider is that as you get closer to the last frets, it becomes harder to hit the notes.

Sound:

This is a soprano ukulele and therefore its sound range is high. One of its strengths is that Fender has improved the sound and achieved a good balance.

On the strumming, it has a nice crunch that we really like for styles like country and blues. While, with good technique, the ballads will be warm and with excellent volume.

Conclusion:

This soprano ukulele is balanced, has strumming gain and sounds great with arpeggios. It excels especially in jazz and solo country because it has a very good sound. We recommend it for ukulele players who want to play more jazz or fusion songs, but if you’re into ballads, you can find some mainstream and free jazz ones. Interested? Find the best price at Thomann.

Gretsch G9100-L

Gretsch G9100-L
Pros

The touch is soft, like few soprano ukuleles.

Cons

The sound is a little opaque.


Technical Characteristics:

  • Woods: Mahogany, ovangkol.
  • Sound: A little opaque.
  • Touch: Excellent.
  • Weight: 900 g approximately.
  • Tuning: A, D, F#, B.

This leading company in jazz guitars has manufactured a very good quality soprano ukulele that has pleased many players of the instrument and this is due to its good features.

Timber:

For our list of soprano ukuleles we have only chosen models with a mahogany body. The intention is to offer you the most durable, since it is a small and delicate instrument and therefore requires a very resistant wood. The Gretsch G9100 ukulele also has a mahogany body, ideal for taking anywhere.

The fingerboard is made of ovangkol, an uncommon wood and much more resistant than mahogany. It is usually used in high-end cabinetmaking due to its resistance. On the other hand, the neck is reinforced in two pieces of mahogany, which gives a good guarantee of durability.

Design:

The Gretsch G9100 has a 32 cm scale, the smallest among the three soprano offerings in our comparison. However, the Gretsch company has designed it with 16 frets so that you have an almost concert ukulele, with a good volume.

The paint finish is in high quality polyurethane, transparent, and reveals the beauty of its wood, which is well treated and has a very uniform grain. This is something we value.

The tuning pegs for the ukulele are Grover type, something we don’t like. The price is higher than the other two soprano tuning models, so it is not justified that the tuning pegs are of lower quality. On the other hand, one detail that pleases us is that the company includes a padded ukulele case.

Ergonomics:

The Gretsch G9100-L is the smoothest ukulele we’ve ever played . The feel is great, chords are not heavy on the fingers and minimal force is required to play them, and the same goes for phrases/stitching. The only thing that does not convince us is its weight of 900 g approximately. Despite this, the feedback from buyers is flattering.

Sound:

Its sound is the one we like the least among the soprano ukuleles in this comparison. We think it is opaque, although if you look for comments on YouTube, you will see that many users like this aspect, so maybe it is something that depends on each performer: there is nothing written about tastes.

The rasgados have a good sustain, but with less crunch than others and the punteados have a certain absence of harmonics, which should not happen. We like harmonics, we need them. Harmonics are life, they stimulate the ear, make the heart jump, remind us of lost and found loves. The lack of harmonics in this ukulele leaves us with a taste of absence that does not convince us.

Conclusion:

The Gretsch G9100-L is an instrument that we like and is well above similar models. We recommend it for people who prefer less pasty, more sober sounds, with less strident soprano brilliance. We also recommend it if you want to sing while playing the ukulele, because with the Gretsch G9100-L your voice will stand out. Follow this link to find the best prices at thomann.

Our recommendation

If you want to buy a soprano ukulele, we think the best choice is the Ortega RU 5MM-SO. The reason? It has the full range of a soprano ukulele and that is something we value. The Fender is good if you want a less soprano ukulele, with more midrange. But if you are looking for the brilliance of a soprano, the Ortega is the best choice.

Best tenor tuning ukuleles

The tenor ukulele is the favorite of most musicians and the reason is that its range of sounds is the most versatile. We leave you with a comparison of what, in our opinion, are the three best tenor ukuleles on the market.

Ortega RU5CE-TE

Pros

Excellent quality/price ratio.

Cons

It is tenor and should not have such excessive brightness. We would say he is more of a tenorino/contratenor.

Technical Characteristics:

  • Woods: Spruce, mahogany, walnut.
  • Sound: A little strident for our taste.
  • Touch: Excellent.
  • Weight: 1.3 kg.
  • Tuning: Tenor.

Although Ortega’s specialty is guitars, the RU5CE-TE Hawaiian ukulele is a great instrument. On the outside it conveys quality, but its interior is where it really stands out. From our point of view it is one of the best tenor ukuleles on the market right now.

Wood:

The Ortega RU5CE-TE is made of three types of wood:

  • The top is made of spruce, a very resistant wood, with a good response in the mids and balanced with the treble.
  • For the sides and back , the company opted to continue with mahogany, an excellent material that gives solidity to the instrument but is not as good in terms of midrange response.
  • The fingerboard and bridge are made of walnut wood which has great acoustic properties and is one of the few unusual woods that have a good ratio of acoustic response and durability.

Design:

This ukulele has a scale of 44 cm, so it is slightly longer than the standard tenor size. However, it has a good inclination of the strings to provide greater sonority. In addition, it is designed with 18 frets that allow for greater possibilities of sound expression. With more treble, the Ortega RU5CE can give the impression of being a tenor ukulele (higher tenor), rather than a simple tenor.

Its design includes a nice cutaway that adds comfort and aesthetic beauty. Its headstock is of high quality, fully chrome-plated and open, just like its soprano version. One aspect we love is that it incorporates a good quality sound preamplifier system.

Ergonomics:

It is quite comfortable: the strumming is smooth and hitting the notes of the ukulele is not difficult because it does not require much effort. In addition, the phrases/solos are really flexible as the lower frets are played.

It weighs 1.3 kg, which is not much for a relatively large ukulele, making it suitable for children aged eight and up.

Sound:

Ortega has made the good decision to include a spruce top in order to take advantage of the means that this wood provides. The problem is that mahogany sides and backs cause the mids to be diluted and then everything becomes shiny, and we believe that a tenor ukulele should not have this degree.

However, if we focus on stability, this ukulele is very balanced, the sound is round, compact and with sustain. The strumming has a good reverb and a higher volume than other ukuleles.

One thing we love is the Ortega Magus Uke pickup system, which comes with a built-in high-precision ukulele tuner. This system features a volume knob and a tone that is just enough to handle the instrument’s sonic possibilities. One aspect we would change would be the factory string set, the Ortega by Aquila UWNY-4-TE. We would recommend instead those that provide more resources.

Conclusion:

This is an excellent electroacoustic tenor ukulele . The Ortega RU5CE has a rounded, balanced sound, although with a little more brightness that is not to our total liking. But this does not detract from the quality of an instrument that is widely recommended for beginners who want a great ukulele with a powerful sound that they can amplify without the need for external microphones. Interested? Find the best prices at Thomann.

Kala MK-T Makala

Pros

Excellent sound, aesthetics and price.

Cons

None.

Technical Characteristics:

  • Woods: Agathis, mahogany, walnut.
  • Sound: Round and good mids.
  • Touch: Excellent.
  • Weight: approximately 800 g.
  • Tuning: Tenor.

The Kala MK-T Makala ukulele is one of the great choices this family has to offer and all of its features attest to that. It has excellent characteristics, such as the real contribution of its woods, the projection of its sound and so many other aspects that we describe below.

Timber:

This musical instrument is of Kala quality and offers a balanced combination of woods, using agathis in the top, sides and back. We think this option is great because, in addition to having good resistance, it has excellent bass and midrange response, which is just what you need in a tenor ukulele.

The neck is made of mahogany for maximum resistance to breakage. We love this configuration of woods because they provide the best possible performance in the only two aspects that matter: tone and resistance. The fingerboard and bridge are walnut, a wood that completes this wonderful triad by providing the harmonics the instrument was missing.

Design:

At 43.1 cm, the Makala ukulele has a larger scale than standard for a tenor ukulele, but it seems to us to be the right design decision as this aspect complements very well the combination of woods used in the manufacture. In addition, it has 18 chrome-plated brass frets that have a good quality. The tuning pegs are geared and, although they are accurate, we would have liked the closed chrome ones better.

The finish of this instrument is satin and allows all the aesthetic and beautiful details of the wood to show through. As an extra, the company includes a tenor ukulele case to ensure your purchase is secure.

Ergonomics:

Kala has been known for the great comfort of its Hawaiian ukuleles and this one is no exception. In fact it is the smoothest tenor ukulele on the market that we have tested. The touch on the chords is of high quality, they are easy to press and the phrases are blissful. To top it off, its weight is excellent for a ukulele of this tuning.

Sound:

The sound of this Kala ukulele is the most rounded we have heard in this class and price range. It has body, sustain, the volume is excellent, the mids are just right for a tenor ukulele and the trebles are also very balanced.

As far as the strumming is concerned, it sounds great and in a relatively large room it is very well perceived. The same goes for the phrases, which have an excellent volume. Another fantastic aspect is its harmonics, because the configuration of the woods helps them to reach the right range.

Conclusion:

This Kala tenor ukulele is the most comfortable and well-rounded in this price range and we recommend it for those who want a good instrument to explore all the possibilities that a true tenor has to offer. The feel, sound and build quality are excellent in this wonderful musical instrument. Find the best price at Thomann.

Luna Guitars High Tide Koa

Pros

Excellent sound and built-in preamplifier.

Cons

It is expensive.

Technical Characteristics:

  • Woods: Koa, nato, mahogany, walnut.
  • Sound: Round, complete.
  • Touch: Excellent.
  • Weight: 1.1 kg.
  • Tuning: Tenor.

The four woods of this excellent ukulele seem to say everything about its quality, but this instrument goes far beyond its woods. The detailed features of this Luna Tide Koa allow us to see the full potential of one of the most versatile instruments on the market. It is perhaps the best tenor ukulele in this price range, because it offers everything you need in one instrument.

Timber:

This ukulele boasts the best combination of woods on this list. Its top is made of koa, a material that is not only beautiful, but has a higher strength than mahogany.

The neck is made of nato with mahogany reinforcement. You can’t ask for better than this, as these two woods together ensure durability and reduce the chances of breakage to a minimum.

The fingerboard and bridge are made of walnut, the wood that provides the harmonics needed to make this ukulele the best in its price range.

Design:

We find the longest tenor ukulele in our top. At 48.2 cm, we could say that this is the “giraffe” of ukuleles, but far from being a bad thing, this size helps the sound to be better. Due to its large scale, it has been equipped with 19 powerful frets that give it the characteristics of a concert ukulele.

A real beauty are the inlays in the form of abalone crescent waves embedded in the fingerboard. It is an aesthetic detail that is appreciated, as is the abalone rosette, because to the eye they are wonderful features.

One thing we don’t like is the open style Grover Uke tuning pegs. We believe that for this price the company had a duty to incorporate a closed, all-chrome mechanism. The ukulele and the buyers deserve it.

And finally, the company has chosen to give it the characteristic of electroacoustic ukulele so that you have in your hands a concert tenor ukulele, with the highest quality woods, but with 2€ pegs. The truth is that we don’t get over it, we don’t understand it, but we can live with it.

Ergonomics:

The touch is wonderful, soft, delicate and sensitive both in the strumming and in the phrases. In the last frets everything gets better. Comfort is a delight, because usually the hardest thing to do with the capos is to play with the index finger, but this tenor ukulele is comfortable all the way around. A great option if you want to learn to play the ukulele.

Sound:

The sound is simply great, we think it is the most rounded within this price range . The mids are stable, have a good volume and the brights have a great balance in relation to the mids. The strumming is excellent, there is a good presence and the echo it presents is something that very few ukuleles have. Everything gets better when you have the agility to use fingerstyle: it’s a blast and you can see it in the Sunga Young performance.

The icing on the cake is the integrated Luna pickup system with preamp that has a master for volume and two linear potentiometers for bass and brightness, which expands the EQ possibilities. In addition, the Aquila tenor strings are a great fit.

Conclusion:

This is a high-end electro-acoustic ukulele with an extraordinary combination of woods and high quality construction. Its sound is the most balanced for this price range and the cutaway, as well as the 19 frets, give it the characteristics of a concert tenor ukulele. Its best feature is its preamplifier and for all this, we recommend it for those who want a high-end instrument with the best price/quality ratio. Get the best price from thomann at this link.

Our recommendation:

This time it was not so easy to decide, because all three tenor ukuleles are very good. That is why we recommend the Ortega RU5CE-TE for those who want a ukulele with a rounded, electro-acoustic sound, while the Kala MK-T Makala ukulele is the best choice for those who want a tenor instrument with the best sound and the best price, but without a built-in microphone.

And finally, the Luna Guitars Tide Koa ukulele is our recommendation for those who want a concert tenor ukulele with high-end design and the best quality/price ratio.

Best ukuleles in bass/baritone tuning

One of the great choices in Hawaiian ukuleles are the bass/baritone tuning ukuleles. These instruments give us the possibility of having the quality of a bass but in ukulele format, in addition to providing a compact and diverse sound. The bass ukulele is one of the most widely used in modern music today and these are two of the best models on the market.

Harley Benton Kahuna CLU-Bass

Pros

The most balanced sound we’ve ever heard in a bass ukulele.

Cons

None.

Technical Characteristics:

  • Woods: Mahogany, granadilla.
  • Sound: Excellent.
  • Touch: Soft.
  • Weight: 2.1 kg.
  • Tuning: Bass/baritone.

Thomann’s Harley Benton brand has a lot to offer and among their baritone or bass ukuleles they deliver one that stands out for its clarity. It is the Kahuna CLU-Bass, which has ideal characteristics for all types of performers.

Timber:

This is abass ukulelewith an all-mahogany body, a wood that, as we already know, is one of the most resistant. It is also a good choice because low frequencies tend to damage the interior of fragile woods, but since it is mahogany, this is not a problem.

The neck is also made of mahogany, which is an excellent choice for its price. The fingerboard, on the other hand, is made of grenadilla, a wood that improves the resistance of mahogany, while adding a lot to the sound. Generally speaking, this ukulele has robust and good quality woods.

Design:

Bass ukuleles are big and the Harley Benton Kahuna CLU-Bass is no exception, with a scale of 53.4 cm. In addition, it has been equipped with twenty frets to provide the ukulele player with a full range of high quality bass and midrange sounds.

On the fretboard, the designers have incorporated pearlized inlays that add a lot to the aesthetics and, of course, help with fret placement, so it is an excellent ukulele for beginners. For the tuning pegs, they have opted for black with open gears and the grip knob simulates the pegs of a modern electric bass.

The most valuable aspect of its design is that it is an electro-acoustic ukulele, with a Pro pickup system that has a high-quality integrated tuner.

Ergonomics:

The Kahuna CLU-Bass comes with fairly thick ukulele strings, so the first thing we thought was that they would be hard to the touch, but that was not the case. In reality, this is a comfortable ukulele that is relatively smooth in every note. And we say relatively because, as expected, for a beginner it will be hard and uncomfortable at the beginning, as he/she will not be used to strings of this caliber. Nevertheless, its smoothness leads us to believe that it will not be difficult for a beginner musician to get used to it quickly.

Sound:

It is to be expected that a bass ukulele should not have an all-mahogany body, because it is a wood that brings a lot of shine, but the Kahuna CLU-Bass gives us a big surprise, proving that practice can defeat theory.

In theory, the mahogany should and does detract from the power of the bass, but at the same time it provides the perfect balance so that every note can be understood. Therefore, the entire bass sound spectrum is audible in this ukulele, there is no loss whatsoever and this is something we do not find in many other models, much less in this price range.

What a bass ukulele needs is balance between mids and lows, as well as crispness, and this bass meets both requirements.

Conclusion:

This is the most balanced bass ukulele we have found on the market: the sound is crisp, the construction is sturdy, it is electro-acoustic and for the best price you can find. In addition, it comes with a built-in ukulele tuner. We like it and recommend it for beginners who want a versatile, high quality bass ukulele. Find the best price at Thomann.

Kala U-Bass Solid Spruce

Pros

Solid woods.

Cons

The sound lacks clarity.

Technical Characteristics:

  • Woods: Solid spruce, mahogany, walnut.
  • Sound: It seems to us that it lacks more clarity.
  • Touch: Good.
  • Weight: 2.4 kg.
  • Tuning: Bass.

Kala has great deals on Hawaiian ukuleles and within their options they offer the low tuned U-Bass, which has the highest quality woods and other great features. Read on and find out what the Kala U-Bass has to offer.

Timber:

This baritone/bass ukulele has a wood configuration that in theory should work, with a solid spruce top, mahogany sides and back, black walnut fingerboard and bridge. All these woods are of the highest quality and provide weight in the low frequencies, but later we will see that in practice they do not perform as they should.

About the woods, we can say that being of the highest quality, they are much more resistant than the woods of the Harley Benton Kahuna CLU-Bass, but that’s all.

Design:

The company Kala has designed an electro-acoustic bass ukulele with four strings but without frets. Although in the pictures we can see some lines, these are for reference, so that for beginners it will be more difficult to execute the chords on this ukulele.

As far as the scale is concerned, the Kala family opted for a relatively short one, only 51.8 cm, and in a certain sense we believe that this decision has detracted from the volume of the sound. In the design of the nut they have incorporated the GraphTech TUSQ model, which is excellent and we like it because it provides a good reverb. Similarly, for the tuning keys (tuning pegs) they have opted for Custom Black Die-Cast mechanics that provide great precision.

Something not to love is the Shadow U-Bass NFX electronics, which have an excellent sound and, together with the Shadow U-Bass Custom pickup system, offer a high quality combination. The company has decided to include a Deluxe U-Bass ukulele case so that your investment is secure. And generally speaking, the aesthetics of this instrument are top notch, it is simply beautiful to look at.

Ergonomics:

The Kala U-Bass Solid Spruce has a nice feel, is pleasant and responsive when performing scales. Playing ukulele chords can be a bit awkward, but it is not difficult to adapt.

Generally speaking, not much can be said because, being a baritone or bass ukulele, it’s not like we’re allowed to slap either, because it’s not designed for that. But for scales and some chords, the feel of this instrument is fine.

Sound:

When describing the woods we said that, in theory, this combination should work because it adds so much to the bass. But from our perspective, it does not work as well as expected, because it is too low, until it is cloying and in many cases the notes are not understood. For this reason, you should not choose woods that only feed the low frequencies, but there must be a balance, in which some provide brightness while others strengthen the mids. The lid can do its best to boost the bass.

The sound is good with an excellent external setup, but the frequency of the woods does not do justice to the high quality of its preamp. The sound of the wood is opaque, it lacks punch, it needs to be more percussive, so that everything that is being played is understood.

However, the preamplifier is excellent. We love it because the basses take on an exquisite frequency and the mids are a dream, the best thing about this Kala ukulele.

The strings are awesome, Road Toad Pahoehoe Proprietary Polyurethane. If you have the possibility to buy any other bass ukulele, we recommend you to use these strings.

Conclusion:

This Kala ukulele is aesthetically beautiful, its finishes are of the highest quality and its woods are excellent, but they do not perform as well as they should. We love his preamp, it’s wonderful and every bass ukulele should have it.

However, there are many tastes in sound and we know that some prefer excessive bass. If you are one of those people, this is the right bass for you. Interested? Find the best price at Thomann.

Our Recommendation:

We believe that the best choice among bass ukuleles is the Harley Benton Kahuna CLU. If you could use it with Road Toad Pahoehoe Proprietary Polyurethane strings and the Kala Bass preamp, it would be the best Hawaiian bass ukulele in the world.

If you are interested in the world of music, on culturasonora you will find our comparisons of the best instruments, such as banjos, Didgeridoo, a clarinet, double bass, etc. For example, you can check out our review of the Yamaha C40 acoustic guitar.

Technical Characteristics Ukuleles

MODELS

WeightTuningMaterialsSoundTouch
Ortega RU5MM-SO550 gA, D, F#, SMahogany, walnutExcellent glossSoft
Fender Seaside Soprano600 gA, D, F#, SMahogany laminated, natoVery goodSoft
Gretsch G9100 Std900 gA, D, F#, SCaoba, Mahogany, ovangkolA little opaqueExcelent
Ortega RU5CE-TE1.3 kgTenorSpruce, mahogany, walnutA bit strident for our tasteExcelent
Kala MK-T Makala800 gTenorAgathis, mahogany, walnutRound and good midsExcelent
Luna Guitars High Tide Koa1.1 kgTenorKoa, nato, mahogany, walnutRound, fullExcelent
Harley Benton Kahuna CLU-Bass2.1 kgBass/baritoneMahogany, passion fruitExcelentSoft
Kala U-Bass Solid Spruce2.4 kgBassSolid spruce, mahogany, walnutH-S-H (Humbucker – Single – Humbucker)Special microphones dimarzio evolution 2

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