The Best Soprano Ukuleles - Regular & Pineapple Shaped

Ukuleles

Just like any other instrument, ukuleles come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. And in order to find the best ukulele for you, you have to know what it kind of you tone you’re looking for. So if you’re not sure which ukulele is going to work best for you, check out the recommendations below!

Contents

The Best Soprano / Pineapple Ukuleles

Fender Venice Soprano

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 60+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$60
Fender Venice Soprano Ukulele

A member of Fender’s California Coast series of ukuleles, the Fender Venice Soprano is an affordable beginner’s instrument that benefits from the quality control and experience of a larger manufacturer. Though entry-priced, the Venice Soprano has an impressive tone and attention to detail.

Key Features

  • Top: Basswood
  • Body: Basswood
  • Neck: Nato
  • Fretboard: Laminated Hardwood
  • Frets: 12
  • Extras: No Tie Bridge

The standout feature of this uke, and arguably the feature that’d be most beneficial to beginning musicians (children especially), is the “no tie bridge”. The bridge allows you to simply pass the strings through its slots, removing the need to actually tie the strings (which can be difficult when you’re first learning how to do it).

The Fender Venice is made from laminated basswood, which while not a traditional ukulele wood is still of a high-enough quality that you shouldn’t feel held back playing it. It offers a more balanced tone than spruce or mahogany, so the instrument won’t sound to “high” (too many treble frequencies) or “muddy” (too many bass frequencies).

Note that this video covers the entire Fender Venice range and not just the Soprano version we have featured:

Kala KA-15S Satin Mahogany

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 1650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$55
Kala KA-15S Satin Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

Nine times out of ten, a ukulele player’s first uke is a Kala, and there’s a good reason for that. The ukes produced by the company have a great tone, are very reasonably priced, and as a general rule have excellent quality control. And the Kala KA-15S Satin Mahogany Soprano Ukulele is no exception to this trend.

Key Features

  • Top: Mahogany
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Walnut - some retailers have Rosewood versions while stocks last
  • Frets: 12

The key selling point of this ukulele is that it’s going to give you a very traditional tone at a price that the vast majority of people can afford. As you’d guess from the name, this uke is made from mahogany. Tonally, mahogany and koa (the traditional ukulele wood) are actually really similar. Because mahogany is generally more affordable than koa, many entry-level ukes choose to use it to cut costs. However, the tone between the two woods are similar enough that you’re not going to notice a huge difference between the two unless you’re actively looking for one.

Lastly, the Kala KA-15S Satin Mahogany Soprano Ukulele also comes with geared tuners. Geared tuners, as opposed to the cheaper friction tuners found on lower-end ukes, do a great job of keeping an instrument in tune.

Cordoba 15SM

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 50+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$90

Cordoba, though known more for their nylon guitars than ukuleles, have an excellent track record across the board when it comes to nylon string instruments. The company has solidified its reputation through the variety of great nylon instruments they’ve produced. Case in point: the Cordoba 15SM Soprano Ukulele.

Key Features

  • Top: Mahogany
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 17

The 15SM is made from mahogany, likely laminate. As a general rule, when a company doesn’t specify that an instrument is made from solid wood the instrument is likely made from laminate. Though while solid wood is generally more desirable, laminated wood’s strength makes it a good choice for beginning musicians who don’t know yet know how to care for a solid wood instrument.

Beyond that, Cordoba’s 15SM is generally considered to be a step-up from the ukes already featured in this list. The instrument is said to have a better sound quality than those featured above, and even features a bone nut. A bone nut helps to increase the resonance of an instrument, giving it a higher frequency production (this is a bit of an oversimplification, but as a general rule a higher frequency production equals a better tone overall).

Kala KA-S Satin Mahogany

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$75
Kala KA-S Satin Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

The Kala KA-S Satin Mahogany Soprano Ukulele can be thought of as the neck step up from the Kala KA-15S. According to the manufacturer, the specs between the two instruments seem to be really similar as they’re both made from the same tonewoods and are built to the same dimensions.

Key Features

  • Top: Mahogany
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Walnut
  • Frets: 12

The two main upgrades with the KA-S is that the KA-S has nickel frets and binding around the edges, two features which offer slight improvements in stability. Nickel frets tend to last a bit longer than brass frets, and binding helps to strengthen the edges of an instrument.

You’re not likely to hear a big difference in tone between the KA-S and the KA-15S. Though with that in mind, the nickel frets and binding may make the upgrade worth it depending on your preferences. The price difference between the two models also isn’t so dramatic as to make the instrument unaffordable when compared to the similarly outfitted KA-15S.

Kala MK-S Makala

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$50
Kala MK-S Makala Soprano Ukulele

The first thing to know about this uke is that the specifications on the Amazon page and the company’s store page differ. The company states that the uke is made from mahogany, while the store page states that its made from agathis.

Key Features

  • Top: Mahogany
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Walnut
  • Frets: 12

The potential exists that there was a mix-up when the uke was being listed on Amazon, but there’s also the chance that earlier models of the instrument were made with agathist while the current models in the line are made from mahogany. This is actually the case with the fretboards of the company’s instruments, with models made pre-February 17th (2017) sporting rosewood fretboards and post-February 17th (2017) having walnut fretboards to regulation.

Agathis is very similar to mahogany, and instruments made with the wood can still have a really good tone. It’s less desirable because it has a muted tone when compared to the more common mahogany, though the difference isn’t likely to be too extreme.

Apart from that, the hardware of this instrument is still really good. You’re not going to run into any issues with this instrument that you wouldn’t encounter in any other uke in this price range, and judging by the user consensus as a whole the tone is on par with the similarly priced ukes from the Kala series (ukes which are a generally a step up from Makala, though there is some overlap between the two lines).

Kala KA-PSS Pineapple

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
Kala KA-PSS Novelty Pineapple Soprano Ukulele

Aside from their distinctive shape, pineapple ukuleles (like the Kala KA-PSS) actually offer a pretty unique tone. Generally, the more surface area an acoustic instrument has the warmer its tone is going to be. Because of this, a pineapple ukulele is essentially a very warm sounding soprano uke.

Key Features

  • Top: Mahogany
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Walnut
  • Frets: 12

The combination of the extra warmth of the pineapple body style and this instrument’s mahogany construction gives this instrument a very pleasing tone when played solo. It’s great for strumming around the house, and works excellently to accompany vocals.

The scale length (the distance from the nut to the saddle), the nut width, and the overall length of the instrument is the same as the Kala ukuleles featured above. So while the width of the body and its dimensions may be different, the instrument is still very manageable for beginning ukulele players.

Kala KA-SEM Exotic Mahogany

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 40+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
Kala KA-SEM Exotic Mahogany Series Soprano Ukulele

The Kala Exotic Mahogany series, of which the Kala KA-SEM is a part of, uses a visually distinctive wood. The mahogany used features a variety of grain patterns, ranging from a more aesthetically interesting wavy grain to a sharp and defined straight grain. Many of the instruments are going to be relatively unique, which is a selling point if you like your instruments to have a bit of flair.

Key Features

  • Top: Exotic Mahogany
  • Body: Exotic Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Walnut
  • Frets: 12

While the wood itself is stunning, don’t expect the Exotic Mahogany line to have a tone significantly different from other mahogany ukuleles in this price range. The overall response of the wood in this series and standard mahogany is going to be similar, so expect this uke to be as warm and full as any other mahogany ukulele.

The Kala KA-SEM Exotic Mahogany Series Soprano Ukulele also comes with nickel frets and black body binding.

Luna Guitars Tattoo Mahogany Pineapple

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$99
Luna Guitars Tattoo Mahogany Pineapple Ukulele

One of the cool things about Luna instruments is that they’re one of the few companies who really pumps out distinctive designs. While looks may not make an instrument sound better, a beautiful instrument can definitely help inspire you to play more.

Key Features

  • Top: Mahogany
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 12
  • Extras: Gig Bag

Like the pineapple uke above, the Luna Guitars Tattoo Mahogany Pineapple Ukulele is going to have a warmer tone than soprano ukuleles built with the same depth and scale length. This is great if you’re looking for an instrument to play solo, as a warmer instrument generally sounds better than a brighter one when you’re not playing with other people.

Beyond that, the uke compares really favorably to other instruments in this price. It’s warm, has plenty of volume for its size, and even comes with a gig bag.

NOTE: Luna is currently unable to ship this item internationally due to regulations on Rosewood.

Kala MKA-S Limited Edition Makala

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$55
Kala MKA-S Limited Edition Makala Soprano Ukulele

The Kala MKA-S Limited Edition Makala Soprano Ukulele is a model exclusive to the online retailer Austin Bazaar, and is very comparable to the Kala KA-S series of ukuleles. The uke features a mahogany neck, an agathis top and body, and a rosewood fretboard and bridge. Currently, it does not seem that the model has been relaunched with a walnut fretboard and bridge. This means that it likely won’t ship internationally due to recent regulations.

Key Features

  • Top: Agathis
  • Body: Agathis
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 12

With that in mind, the uke is very similar to more expensive instruments. Agathis is essentially the poor man’s mahogany, though when used in a well-built instrument the lower cost does help to offset the slightly more sterile tone.

The uke does have brass frets, but in nylon instruments this isn’t going to significantly reduce the life of the instrument’s frets. The instrument also comes with black hardware and gold hardware, which could be a plus if you’re looking for something different than the standard nickel color hardware generally found on instruments in this price range.

Editor's Pick

This is where we sometimes offer an additional item that didn't quite fit the requirements of the guide, but which you might find interesting, and in this case it's a complete starter pack bundle with very high ratings.

Lohanu Soprano Ukulele Bundle Kit

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
Lohanu Soprano Ukulele Bundle Kit

There are two features of the Lohanu Soprano Ukulele that make it distinctive from the ukes above, it’s made from Sapele and it has a slightly arched back. These two factors give it a noticeably different tone than the ukes featured above.

Key Features

  • Top: Sapele
  • Body: Sapele
  • Neck: Sapele
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 15
  • Extras: Gig Bag, Picks, Strap, Tuner

Sapele is a lot like mahogany. It has a warm tone with a strong mid-range presence, making it a more versatile than the tonewoods like cedar, spruce, or rosewood. However, Sapele has a slightly brighter presence and a greater presence of overtones. This is an oversimplification, but think of mahogany as having a “woodier” tone while Sapele has a more piano-like sound.

This uke also has an arched back. When you arch an instrument, it helps to focus the tone. This makes you perceive the instrument as louder than a flatback or topped instrument. It also gives it a stronger mid-range and treble response, which helps you to be heard more easily over other instruments.

Lastly, this instrument is also a part of a bundle. This means that in addition to getting the ukulele itself you also receive a gig bag, picks, a strap, and a tuner.

Things to Consider When Buying a Ukulele

If you’re not sure which ukulele is going to work best for your needs, or if you want to brush up on your knowledge before making a purchase, check out the sections below!

A Quick Primer on Tonewood

Tonewood is a controversial subject because everyone’s ears are different. One person might hear mahogany as a warm and darkly voiced wood, while others might think it sounds relatively bright. The most important thing to remember is that you need to listen to an instrument, because if you like the tone of whatever uke you’re playing the wood it’s made from doesn’t matter.

With that in mind, collected below are some of the most commonly found tonewoods and the general consensus on how they sound. Your experience may vary, but the information below will give you enough information to start the process of making an informed decision.

Spruce

Spruce is the brightest tonewood commonly used in ukuleles, making it a good choice if you’re looking for an instrument that can easily cut through a mix. The only bad part about this wood is that because it lacks the warmth of other tonewoods it generally won’t sound as good when playing by yourself.

Mahogany

Mahogany is a very warm tonewood, though it has a strong enough mid-range response that your tone will still have some “punch”.

Koa

Koa is often described as having a “woody” tone, sounding warm and full. The wood is still focused, but it rarely sounds overly bright. The response of the wood pairs well with the ukulele, as it retains a warm tone but has a slightly more focused tone than mahogany.

Cedar

Cedar is arguably one of the warmest tonewoods commonly used, with a strong low and low-mid response. It’s great for solo play, but has the potential to sound a bit muddled when played in an ensemble setting.

Laminate vs. Solid Wood

When shopping for a uke, something you’re going to hear a lot are the terms “solid” and “laminate(d)”. Laminate, or laminated wood, is several thin pieces of wood glued together. Laminate wood resonates less, so you get a less complex tone (fewer frequencies are produced) and less volume. Solid wood is exactly what it sounds like, a solid piece of wood. Because it’s one solid piece, it resonates more than laminated wood. This gives you a tone that contains more frequencies, giving you a more complex and “musical” tone.

The soundboard, which is generally called the “top” of an instrument, creates the majority of your tone. This is why many instruments use a solid top and laminated back and sides. An entirely solid instrument still gives a better tone overall, but an instrument with a solid top and laminated back and sides can still give you a very respectable tone. Even better, these instruments are generally very affordable compared to their all-solid counterparts.

Size and Its Relationship to Tone

You can think of instruments that are different sizes as occupying different ends of a tonal spectrum, with small instruments having a bright and focused tone while larger instruments have a warmer tone with more depth. For more information on the different sizes of ukulele, check out our article “The Different Ukulele Sizes Explained”.

Methodology

We began by looking at all the soprano sized ukuleles available from major American online music equipment retailers and selected 24 to put on a short-list for closer examination. We then collected ratings and reviews from 5 star ratings, forum discussions and videos and processed that information with the Gearank Algorithm to produce a rating out of 100 for all the short-listed ukes - over 4,600 sources were used during this process Finally, we selected the highest rated ones to recommend above. For more information about this process see How Gearank Works.

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