The Hola brand is a small family owned business started in 2011 that manufactures guitars, ukuleles, and musical instrument accessories. Today ukuleles are so big that it’s easy to get lost in all the noise. Small makers like Hola stand out by creating rather unique looking ukes. If you happen to wonder, are Hola ukuleles good? Well the answer is about the same with all the well-known and even less established brands. Yes, they make decent lower end ukulele models, and with that comes potential issues. Like all brands laminated instruments are going to be the cheapest to purchase, it is up to you to make sure you get a worthwhile uke. When buying at super low costs you have to expect some potential problems. And if you are such a beginner that you can’t discern between playability problems, then you have to be very careful when purchasing cheaper models like Hola ukuleles.Read More
Author - Shawn Lockhart
The Lanikai company was founded in 2000 and has built a reputation of being one of the top ukulele brands. Among the myriad of ukulele makers out there two of the most popular are Lanikai and Kala. So if you are wondering, is Lanikai a good ukulele brand? Clearly many customers think so. Lanikai uses many different tone woods in their builds. Woods like flame maple, mahogany, koa, cedar, acacia, figured bocote, and spruce are used as laminates and solids. Many uke brands focus on the cheaper laminate models, while Lanikai has a decent selection of solid woods to choose from. In fact if you are looking to upgrade the best Lanikai ukuleles will be perfect for an intermediate or advanced player.
Along with plenty of wood choices they also have a variety of sizes and styles to suit your needs. First, they have models in all four major sizes; soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. As if that’s not enough they also make 5, 6, and 8 string ukuleles, pineapple shapes, and of course some are acoustic-electrics. Another model is the guitalele which is a cross between and guitar and ukulele. Depending on the style of uke you need, they will likely have you covered! Price wise we have quite the range of instruments with Lanikai, everything from super cheap laminates to beautiful solid wood tops that have amazing resonance and projection.Read More
Many ukulele makers stick to very basic wood grain colors and designs, if you want something a little more unique than the usual try Luna ukuleles. According to their website the Luna Tattoo concert ukulele is one of the most popular ukes in the world. Luna ukuleles are a part of Luna Guitars as the company makes both instruments. Luna Guitars have only been in business since 2005 but treating their instruments as artwork has clearly helped them breakout and also created many happy customers. As usual any instrument maker that manufactures multiple items will have a lot of woods on hand. Some of the woods Luna uses are mahogany, acacia, ash, spalted maple, spruce, zebrawood, and many more. In some ukes the wood is laminated and of course the higher end models and the best Luna ukuleles are solid wood and more expensive.
It is really not the wood varieties that attract a buyer to Luna, it is their designs, art, and colors that really stand out. Luna makes ukes in all sizes including the basic soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. However Luna also sells 6 strings, lefty’s, bass, and banjo ukuleles. (Banjo ukes used to be more popular years ago, Peter Sellers played a banjolele). For those who wonder, are Luna ukuleles good? Well if you like a large variety of models, colors, and designs, then yes, they are great. Having such a big selection to choose from will keep new and even existing customers coming back.Read More
Oscar Schmidt is by far the oldest instrument manufacturer we have discussed so far, starting way back in 1871. Besides ukuleles they make banjos, mandolins, acoustic and electric guitars, and of course they are well known for their zithers and autoharps. In fact, if you already own and enjoy the ukulele, give the autoharp a try. It is another easy to play and bright sounding instrument, and while that may seem like odd advice out of nowhere, we promise you will like it as much as the uke! Over the years Oscar Schmidt has changed hands a few times and they technically are now known as Washburn International. If you do buy from this company, it will be an Oscar Schmidt by Washburn ukulele. Which you see on the headstocks these days and is kind of clunky.Read More
Founded in 1997 Cordoba builds quality guitars and ukuleles. In fact Cordoba has a couple new models called the Mini and Mini II that are basically tiny guitars and a little larger than baritone ukuleles. Their instruments do not have amazing artwork or designs, they are just simply built for great tones. Being in the business of both nylon guitars and ukuleles show they know their way around acoustic instruments! They mostly use the woods mahogany and acacia, solid wood on the more expensive brands and laminated woods for cheaper models. Of course the best Cordoba ukulele is going to have solid wood for the most pleasant sound. Cordoba has a very classic style with basic wood grain colors, nothing too out of the ordinary. While they do carry the lower budget models to compete with other brands, many of their ukes are a little pricier (see Cordoba 20CM in our Best Ukuleles Under $200 article).Read More
Is Kala a good ukulele brand? Absolutely! They have clearly established their instruments among professionals and beginners. Kala ukuleles are made in California in all sizes; soprano, concert, tenor, baritone, and their own invention the U-Bass. For those who have never seen one, the U-Bass is the closest approximation of a ukulele bass! A bit of a novelty item, but worth the fun to the right ukulele enthusiast. Unique ukes aside Kala is a respected brand that will generally make a ukulele player happy! Many artists and groups like The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Hirie, and Twenty One Pilots play Kala ukuleles. If you purchase a Kala you will be joining a large group of ukulele loving fans.Read More
The original ukulele size over a 100 years ago was the soprano. Besides no other sizes there wasn’t much to choose from as they were relatively unknown to the world. And then kaboom the jazz scene exploded, and everybody wanted a ukulele! When musicians realised they needed larger ukuleles for better sound they invented the concert, tenor, and baritone. Each is a little larger than the next.Read More
In the initial heyday of the ukulele there was only one size to choose from, and that was the original soprano. As the popularity of the soprano peaked in the Jazz Age, musicians realized they needed a uke that could produce a little more sound. Keep in mind this was before we had fully figured out amplification with electronics, so the best method was to simply make the ukulele bigger! They added a couple inches and increased the body to make a concert size ukulele. This still wasn’t enough and so they added a couple more inches and made the tenor size. A couple decades later they mixed a tenor guitar and a ukulele to get the baritone, which is tuned differently than the soprano, concert, and tenor.Read More
Well you have reached that point in life where it is time to make THAT decision, you know, the big one. That life altering choice of whether you want a soprano or concert ukulele. Ok, so it’s not that big of deal, but clearly you have been pondering and here you are. There is good news and bad news in this decision, the bad being you have to make a choice now. The good news is that within a few years you will be so addicted to ukuleles that you will have a soprano, concert, tenor, baritone, and maybe even a bass uke (for the truly diehard ukulele fanatics!). In the meantime we will go over some of the differences that might help you in your decision.Read More
If you have the financial means or perhaps saved enough to have $500 to put towards a ukulele, then consider yourself very lucky. This is really the sweet spot of budget for some of the best value ukuleles. Of course you could spend way more than $500, like $1000 or even $1500 and on. If you have that budget then go ahead, but you will be hitting a high point where the ukuleles are really not getting any better. It’s a basic instrument and even solid woods are only X amount of dollars. When you get into prices above $500 you will likely be paying for more ornamentation, art, and maybe even precious metals or better pearl inlay. At that high of a price point it’s not the sound that’s really changing. (The main reason to be spending 1K or more on a ukulele will be if it is vintage and has some historical significance, as in a collector’s item. Otherwise too high a price is not justified.)Read More