In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
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Last updated: June 16, 2021
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Ukuleles have been around since 1880, and though their use began to decline in the 1970s, these instruments have been gaining popularity again in recent years. This is likely due to the fact that they are smaller and easier to learn than their larger guitar cousins. What is more, baritone ukes produce the incomparable deep, rich sound attracting more and more learners all over the world.
Choosing a baritone ukulele depends on a few important features. One is which type you prefer. Acoustic ukuleles are most common, with hollow bodies and sound holes to capture the string vibrations for sound projection. Acoustic-electric models include built-in electronics that connect the ukulele to an amplifier, allowing you to plug in or play it acoustically, depending on the situation. The materials used can affect the sound, so they should also be considered. You may also want to see how much it weighs, especially if you plan to travel with it.
In order to help you decide on the best baritone ukulele for you, we spent hours searching manufacturer’s information, checking out product features, and reading hundreds of customer reviews. Then we chose the top models, created a comparison table, in-depth reviews, and even added a buying guide that details all of the features a quality baritone ukulele has to offer.
If you’re in the market for the best baritone ukulele under $200, this one is a great choice. The price is low, but it doesn’t skimp on the materials or features, giving you a nice rich sound in an attractive package that you’ll love to show off.
The top, sides, back, and neck of this instrument are all made of mahogany, with a red satin finish that works well with the wood grain and gives the whole piece a dark, sleek look that stands out from the crowd.
The fretboard and bridge both use walnut, which is also dark in color to match the rest of the piece. Chrome open gear tuners also blend in perfectly with the ukulele’s coloring, plus work well, holding the tune for fewer adjustments, adding some clarity and sustain to the ukulele’s tone. There are pearl triangle inlays as well, for an even classier look. The shape of this instrument is traditional, with a flat top and a C-shaped set neck. The fretboard is flat, with 16 frets along the 19-inch scale length. For the strings, Luna Guitars has added Aquila Super Nylgut, for a warm, rich bass sound.
Another reason this ukulele is so popular is the fact that it is easy to play. Whether you’re picking it up for the first time or have been playing the baritone ukulele for years, you’ll have no trouble getting started with this model. It is also light enough so you can take with you anywhere you go, without straining yourself.
Not only does this baritone ukulele have a great low price that fits into even the tightest budget, it includes a lot of extras that you would normally need to purchase separately with other models.
This includes the handy gig bag, a strap, some picks, a tuner, and some replacement strings, so you have everything you need to play your new instrument right out of the box. The gig bag has a tight fit, but this is to ensure it won’t be rattling around inside the bag while you carry it. The bag also has an outer pocket for storing the other included accessories for added convenience.
The body of the ukulele is mahogany, with a satin finish that brings out the natural grain of the wood. The fretboard is smooth walnut with a neat fretwire design for added comfort and lower action, which helps reduce fret buzzing when you play.
The KMU30B has 18:1 quality tuners that hold their tune while you play, so you don’t need to constantly stop and adjust the tension of the strings. The strings themselves are also high quality, with both premium metal and nylon strings used at the same time for a fantastic warm sound. There is an adjustable truss rod built right into the ukulele, so you can adjust the action as you see fit using the Allen key that comes with this Kmise baritone ukulele.
Why are we impressed?
Good sound quality
What negatives must you be aware of?
Gig bag is unpadded and a bit small
Kala KA-BG – Best Baritone Ukulele for Sound Quality
Back and sides: mahogany
Weight: 8 lbs.
More features: gloss finish; traditional white binding
There are many reasons why the Kala KA-BG is one of the best sounding baritone ukulele models around. First, it is constructed using mahogany for most of the body, which gives it that warm, balanced sound any baritone ukulele player is looking for. The spruce top adds a bright tone with a bit of warmth, as well as a little volume to the mix. When you’re playing in a group, your baritone ukulele will stand out a bit, so you’ll always be heard.
Over all of these wood pieces is a high gloss finish that brings out the natural wood color and adds some style to the instrument. There are also white bindings along the edges of the ukulele for an even more attractive appearance.
Of course, a great-looking ukulele also needs to play well, and the Kala KA-BG meets these standards. It has low action, which guitar players will be impressed by. This instrument is also easy to play for beginners and experts alike. The die-cast tuners hold the tune for weeks, so you don’t need to constantly adjust the string tension every time you pick it up.
Other features worth noting on this gloss mahogany baritone ukulele are the walnut fingerboard, GraphTech NuBone nut and saddle pieces, the standard headstock, and the Aquila Super Nylgut strings. The overall length of this instrument is 30.5 inches, which is a bit larger than some other models, but still comfortable and easy to play. The whole piece is well built and long-lasting for years of enjoyment.
An acoustic-electric baritone model offers the warm tones of an acoustic ukulele combined with the projection capabilities of an electric instrument. The Caramel CB103 baritone ukulele gives you a great sound plugged in or unplugged, so it can be used for almost any occasion.
This instrument has a zebrawood body, which has been mirror polished by hand to give you a smooth, glossy finish. The fretboard and the bridge are both made of walnut, which is durable and adds a nice color contrast with the ukulele’s body. The nut and the saddle are buffalo bone, with chrome tuners added for a bit of style. Altogether, this ukulele looks vintage with a few modern twists thrown in.
The body is the traditional 30 inches, with a 20-inch fingerboard that holds 18 frets. This model comes with Aquila strings, but these are a bit delicate, so be sure to stretch them a bit before tuning the ukulele for the first time, or you may be replacing some broken ones.
Other handy features are the closed geared tuners and the truss rod, which is embedded right into the neck. This makes it easier to straighten it out if it is bowed up or down.
For the electronics, on the side of the guitar are 3 Band EQ controls, giving you the ability to adjust the bass, middle, and treble, as well as the volume when you’re plugged in. Included with the ukulele is a chromatic tuner, which uses an LCD color display to make tuning it even easier.
The best baritone ukulele for the money should be kind on your wallet without sacrificing the quality of the instrument. The Kala MK-B baritone ukulele has a decent price but is still built to last. The body and neck are made of durable mahogany, with a smooth, satin finish that matches the grain of the wood perfectly, giving the instrument an eye-catching glow.
The other materials are all well-built as well, with walnut used on the fingerboard and the bridge, plastic for the nut and saddle, as well as for brass frets. The strings are Aquila Super Nylgat, which are great for beginners, but expert ukulele players may need an upgraded set to be sure the instrument holds its tune as they play.
Though the classic look may stand out from the crowd, a baritone ukulele needs to sound good as well, otherwise, you won’t want to play it. This Kala instrument gives you a balanced tone that is soft and warm. It is also a great entry-level ukulele since it is so easy to play, even for those picking it up for the first time.
This model is 30.5 inches long, with a scale length of 20.25 inches and 18 frets. It weighs less than 3 pounds, so using it for travel will be easy, even if you need to carry it by hand. There are no strap buttons on this model, but these can be easily attached at any time if a strap is needed.
What stands out?
Easy to play
What cons did we manage to find?
Some areas may need sanding or adjustments
Strings need replacement rather soon
Kala KA-BE – Best Acoustic-Electric Baritone Ukulele
Type: acoustic – electric
Back and sides: mahogany
Weight: 9 lbs.
More features: satin finish; chrome die-cast tuners
The Kala KA-BE is part of the Satin Mahogany line, which is Kala’s flagship collection. This model has a traditional design, with some modern twists thrown in in the form of the UK-300TR electronics with EQ and a built-in tuner, so you don’t need to carry an extra tuner around with you.
The best quality baritone ukulele needs to be made of decent materials that will last for years, which is why Kala uses mahogany on the top, back, sides, and neck of this instrument. There is a satin finish, which helps to bring out the natural color of the wood.
The fretboard is walnut, with 18 frets and dot fingerboard inlays. There are chrome die-cast tuners, which help you adjust the string tension and hold them in place as you play so that the ukulele will stay in tune for quite a while.
Other features are the GraphTech NuBone material on the nut and saddle, the 20.25-inch scale length, and the cream bindings on the top and back that accent the coloring perfectly and add a vintage look at the same time.
The strings that come with this instrument are GHS black nylon, which can bring out the natural sounds of the ukulele, though they are not the highest quality and may require replacement to really give you that full-bodied sound baritone ukulele is known for.
The Caramel CB500 has a unique look that isn’t found on most of the ukuleles on the market. It doesn’t have a regular sound hole positioned in the center, right beneath the strings. Instead, it has a leaf pattern above the strings on the top side, with a large hole and a few smaller ones next to it. This catches the eye long before you pick it up and start playing.
For the materials, this model uses rosewood for the majority of the pieces, including the body, neck, fretboard, and bridge. The nut and saddle use buffalo bone, which matches perfectly with the rest of the instrument. There is no satin or glossy finish, so all you see is the bare wood grain for a more authentic, traditional look.
It is 30 inches long in total, with a scale length of 20 inches. On the headpiece are closed geared tuners. There is also a truss rod embedded right into the neck, to make it easier to straighten out a bowed neck if needed.
For the electronics, Caramel has added 3 band EQ controls, so you can quickly set the bass, middle, and treble when you’re plugged in, as well as the volume. There is even a built-in tuner, so you can make your adjustments wherever you are, without carrying a separate tuner with you wherever you go. The electronics use watch batteries instead of the more standard ones, so you may want to keep extras in stock.
The Oscar Schmidt OU52-A-U is the lightest instrument on our list at only one pound. This makes it a great model for taking with you to gigs, camping, barbecues, or anywhere else you plan to travel where music is part of the setting. This ukulele also costs less than $100, making it one of the best value baritone ukulele models on the market, especially when you consider how well it is made.
The top, back, and sides of the ukulele are made of mahogany, with a satin finish that gives it a sleek, smooth feel. This finish helps bring out the natural color of the wood as well, so it looks as good as it feels. Mahogany also has the added benefit of giving you a rich, full sound, with warm lows and crisp highs.
The fingerboard and bridge are made of engineered tech wood, which is durable and strong, plus allows the instrument to be shipped to areas where the use of certain woods may be banned. The rosette and the bindings are both abalone, which is the perfect accent to the ukulele’s coloring.
The chrome tuners are durable, but they may fit a bit loose for some people, so upgrading them is always an option. The same goes for the strings. Oscar Schmidt uses Aquila strings, which are quality strings but may need changing if they’ve been on the guitar for a while before you buy it.
Why did it make our list?
Easy to tune
What is not ideal about it?
No truss rod
Tuners may need an upgrade
Things to Consider
Ukuleles are a great starter instrument for those who want to try guitar. They have a smaller frame, which is perfect for kids or older people who have some joint issues that make the larger instruments difficult to manage. Though there are a few other ukulele sizes to choose from, many people are opting for the baritone, for its warm tone, ease of use, and similarity to the guitar that make transitioning from one instrument to another a breeze.
Why choose a baritone ukulele?
There are a few reasons you may want to choose a baritone ukulele over the other smaller options. The baritone has a sound that is lower and mellower than the other ukuleles can produce. It adds some warmth to the sound when playing with other ukulele types as well. In fact, a baritone sounds more like a classic nylon-stringed guitar, plus it tunes more like a guitar than any of the other three types. These features make it a good option for those who are considering learning to play guitar. The ukulele is easier to learn, with fewer strings, so you’ll be playing songs much faster, plus learning the basics you’ll need to know if you want to play guitar at some point in the future.
Features to consider before buying a baritone ukulele
If you’re looking at ukuleles, you may notice that they come with different features. To help you decide which ones are right for you, check out the following aspects.
Acoustic vs. acoustic-electric
When ukuleles were invented, they were exclusively acoustic models. Even now, acoustic ukuleles are the most common type, which is why they are never called acoustic ukuleles. It is assumed that if you’re talking about this instrument, you are referring to an acoustic model. Like acoustic guitars, the ukuleles have a hollow body, with a sound hole in the front that catches the string’s vibrations and projects the sound out.
An acoustic-electric ukulele is similar to the acoustic models, only it has the addition of some built-in electronics that allow you to connect it to an external amplifier. This way, you can play it as an acoustic or plug it in for more sound projection, which is especially handy if you’re playing for a crowd. The sound you create will remain the same either way, you’ll just be able to adjust the bass, middle, treble, and volume when you’re plugged into the amp.
Materials used for body
There are a number of woods used for making the bodies of ukuleles, each with its own benefits. Koa is from Hawaii, which is why it is most commonly used in the instruments from this area. It has a lovely grain pattern and gives the ukulele a warm sound. This wood is quite expensive though, so if you want the best cheap baritone ukulele, you’ll have to choose one that uses less costly materials.
Mahogany is used in the majority of baritone ukuleles since the wood is cheaper to buy. It is strong and dense, creating a more focused sound that is a bit softer than koa, but still quite lovely.
Spruce is a softer wood, but still very strong when compared to some other wood options. It gives you a sound that is crisp, bright, vibrant, and loud, all at the same time. There is still some warmth to the tones, though, so your audience will hear the sounds they expect from a ukulele.
Cedar is another common wood for the body of some ukuleles. Though it is softer than spruce, creating a less pointed mid-range, it offers more bass, some complex overtones, and a sweeter sound.
Redwood is similar to cedar in many ways but produces a much larger sound that is quite unique when compared to the other body woods. This type of wood is rarely used, though, due to certain government protections on these trees.
Rosewood is used mostly on the back and sides, though you may find it on the top as well on some models, like the Caramel CB500. It isn’t as common as some of the other woods but gives you a decent mid-range, impressive low overtones, and it adds thickness to the higher range.
Another thing to consider with body woods is whether you’re getting solid wood or laminated wood. The solid wood is more expensive and needs more care than the laminate. The laminate uses cheaper woods on the inside of the body, with the better quality wood on the outside. Laminate may not sound quite the same, but it does improve the aesthetics and lowers the price significantly.
Fretboard and neck materials
For the neck material, the woods are chosen more for their strength than they are for their tone and how nicely they match the body of the ukulele. The necks are usually lighter and weaker than instruments like guitars since ukuleles usually use nylon strings. Even stronger materials like mahogany are made thinner, so stay away from steel strings, or high tensions could risk snapping the neck of your ukulele.
The fretboard is a long strip of wood that is attached to the neck right behind the strings. The most common fretboard material is walnut (like seen in the Kala KA-BG or the Caramel CB103) because it is hard enough to handle the pressure when you are pressing those strings down into the frets along the fretboard. This wood has a nice rich color, so it adds an attractive look to the guitar as well. Walnut is another popular choice for similar reasons.
When it comes to finishes, there are two main ones that you will find on baritone ukuleles. The first is the satin finish, like the one on the Kala MK-B. This creates a soft, matte look, which helps bring out the natural wood grain of the ukulele. It is easy to apply, so instruments with this type of finish are usually cheaper to buy. This is also an older finish style, so it is found on the majority of older models, as well as some new instruments.
A gloss finish (like on the Caramel CB103) adds a bit of elegance to a uke. It is brighter, almost mirror-like, plus is quite durable, so you won’t have to worry about it wearing away and leaving you with a dull-looking instrument. Another benefit of the gloss finish is that it enhances the natural colors and grain patterns of the wood used for the ukulele. It also adds some amazing tones and volume, so it is becoming more popular among ukulele enthusiasts. Applying gloss is a bit more difficult, requiring multiple applications and buffing to get it shining that bright, so it is more expensive than the satin finish.
Baritone ukuleles are generally quite light. In fact, the heaviest one on our list is the Kala KA-BE at only 2.9 lbs. This makes ukuleles a great instrument to hold in your lap and play for hours. Even if you are standing and using a strap, these instruments still won’t weigh you down and force you to take a break for quite a while.
As for portability, the lighter weight of the baritone ukulele makes them much easier to travel with, even if you plan on taking them on a plane. They won’t put you over any travel restrictions, so you can take it anywhere you go. Baritones are a bit larger than the other types of ukuleles out there but still light enough that you won’t dread carrying them around with you.
As with any product, there are the main features and then a few extras you may want to check out. One is the appearance of the ukulele. Do you prefer a lighter wood or a much darker color? There are also bindings and different types of hardware, all of which can alter the appearance. Looks are the first thing you’ll notice, long before you even pick up the instrument, so be sure you like how the ukulele looks before you decide which one to buy.
Another thing to look at is the strings. When you first buy a ukulele, you don’t know how long those strings have been on, so you may need to change them right away. Also, different strings create different sounds, plus have altering durability, so try out a few before deciding which ones are right for you.
If the ukulele doesn’t come with a strap, they may not have strap buttons on them either. If a strap is something you feel you need, check if the buttons are already there, and if not, see how easy they are to add.
Another important feature you don’t want to overlook is the warranty. If the ukulele shows up and isn’t sounding quite as it’s supposed to, there may be some sort of issue with it. A decent warranty will cover you for any damage caused during manufacturing or shipping, so you won’t be charged to repair issues you didn’t cause.
How to tune your baritone ukulele
Tuning a baritone model is different from any other ukulele. It is actually the same as tuning the four lower strings on a guitar, tuning the D, G, B, E strings from low to high. You can use a tuner for this, but if you don’t have one, there is another method you can use to tune your ukulele by ear.
First, tune the D string, or the top string on the ukulele. You can use a piano, a guitar tuner, or an app if you have one handy. If not, tune it by ear as best you can.
Once you have the D string tuned, press on the fourth fret, then match the G string to it.
When the G string is in tune, press the third fret, and use that tone to tune the B string.
For the E string, use the fourth fret of the B string, holding it while you strum the last string and matching them as best you can.
The baritone ukulele is the largest size, so whether or not it is good for a beginner depends on the person using it. Its larger size may be best for those with larger hands, so grown men and women may have little trouble with it. Children just starting out may need something smaller, making it easier for their little hands to grip the neck and manipulate the strings. In terms of general playability, the baritone is quite easy to play, so is a good model for beginners.
The baritone ukulele has a deeper tone than the soprano or concert ukuleles, due to its larger size. In fact, it sounds more like a nylon-stringed guitar than the other ukulele types, so is preferred more by guitarists than ukulele enthusiasts.
First, it is somewhat soft, so the constant pressure from your fingers will wear it down, making holes in it quite quickly. Mahogany also isn’t as smooth as woods like rosewood, lacking in the waxy feel of the grain. This reduces how smoothly your fingers will slide over it as you switch chords.
The advantage of an acoustic-electric baritone ukulele is that it comes with built-in electronics that allow you to plug it into an amplifier. For those who will be using their ukulele for public performances, the extra volume will likely be needed for their audience to hear the music throughout the venue. The electronics also don’t alter the sound at all, so you’ll get the warm tones, only at a higher volume.
Yes, there are a number of ukulele tuning apps available. These don’t just help you tune your instrument; many of them have videos, metronomes, chords, and step-by-step instructions on how to play the ukulele as well. These types of apps also reduce the amount of gear you take with you, so you no longer need to carry a tuner and batteries with you wherever you go, as long as you have your smartphone around.
With so many different models on the market, those looking for the best baritone ukulele have their work cut out for them. Of course, the ones we’ve reviewed here are all good options for anyone looking for a new instrument or just wanting to upgrade their old one. There are a few worth taking a second look at, though.
Our top choice is the Luna Guitars VMB RDS baritone ukulele. The mahogany body with the red satin finish looks spectacular, especially with the black walnut fretboard and the pearl triangle inlays added in. It is light, easy to play, and has a traditional shape for those who prefer the vintage look.
The Kmise KMU30B is another good option. It also uses mahogany for the body and walnut for the fretboard but maintains the wood’s natural color. This one is the cheapest on our list but is the only model that comes with a list of accessories, like the gig bag, picks, strap, tuner, and extra strings.
The Kala KA-BG uses mahogany for the back and sides but adds spruce to the top for a brighter sound. It also has a high gloss finish, white bindings, and a walnut fretboard. Low action, die-cast tuners, and the Aquila Super Nylgut strings round out the best features of this model.