The Best Soprano Ukuleles - Regular & Pineapple Shaped

Ukuleles

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The soprano ukulele is the smallest standard size and it produces the trademark bright ukulele sounds we've come to know and love. If you're looking for the classic, traditional ukulele tone then this is the size you are looking for. Coming in at about the same size is the lesser known "pineapple" ukulele. With a larger surface area it has more resonance and produces a fuller, more mellow tone with more volume than the figure eight shaped concert variety.

For this 2020 update, we've organised our recommendations into sections for both concert and pineapple shaped ukuleles. Without further ado, check out our recommendations below.

The Best Soprano / Pineapple Ukuleles

The Highest Rated Standard Shape Soprano Ukuleles

Hola! HM-21 Soprano Ukulele

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 1950+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$40
Hola! HM-21 Soprano Ukulele

The Hola! HM-21MG is a soprano ukulele with maple being its main tonewood, this includes the top, back and sides. Combined with the compact soprano shape, the resulting tone is bright with more emphasis on the higher frequencies.

The neck is crafted from nato, while the fingerboard and the bridge are made from walnut. Finally, it has 12 silver nickel frets with matching silver geared tuners.

Key Features

  • Top: Maple
  • Body: Maple
  • Neck: Nato
  • Fretboard: Walnut
  • Frets: 12

Pros
"Crisp" and "clean" are two words that nicely summarize how most users describe the sound of this instrument. Others are more appreciative of its overall value for money, especially when considering its good build quality and playability.

Cons
There are a few who report tuning issues, some of them caution that the strings and tuners may need to be broken in for a while before the tuning stabilizes.

Overall
The Hola HM-21 is ideal for those who are looking for an affordable maple body soprano ukulele.

Kmise KMU21S 21 Inch Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$26
Kmise KMU21S 21 Inch Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

Boasting a body crafted from AAA mahogany, the Kmise KMU21S has quite the specs for the price, and this added value of having quality mahogany tonewoods make it a good buy for discerning players who prefer mahogany over the other tone woods.

It has a C shape neck with a walnut fretboard that is paired to a walnut bridge. Another important feature of this ukulele is its 18:1 ratio tuner, that helps improve intonation. Finally, it comes with accessories which include a gig bag, a tuner, a strap and an extra set of strings.

Key Features

  • Top: Mahogany
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Not specified
  • Fretboard: Walnut
  • Frets: 24

Pros
A common theme among reviewers is their appreciation of the Kmise KMU21S' value for money. They are happy with the extras that it comes bundled with, which include extra strings, a strap, a clip-on tuner, a padded gig bag, and an instruction book. Of course, it also gets a lot of kudos for its sound quality, which can be summarized as clean and clear. Build quality also gets thumbs up, even from experienced musicians.

Cons
Ironically, there are some who aren't that impressed with the quality of the accessories - prompting them to lower their ratings even when they are happy with the ukulele itself. There are also a few who are underwhelmed by its compact size, a somewhat common issue among first time buyers of soprano ukuleles.

Overall
You are getting quite a lot for the money with the Kmise KMU21S, hard to pass on a great deal like this one.

Kala KA-15S Satin Mahogany

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 1600+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$57
Kala KA-15S Satin Mahogany Soprano Ukulele

Often a ukulele player’s first uke is a Kala, and there’s a good reason for that. The ukes produced by the company have 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.

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. 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.

Key Features

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

Pros
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.

Cons
While there are plenty who are happy with the extras, there are some who rated it lower because of the freebies. There are some who caution that the free lessons are actually trial lessons and that you could eventually need to subscribe for more.

Overall
All in all, this good value ukulele continues to be popular and highly rated for good reasons, and it is easy to recommend, especially for those who are not sure what type of wood they want on a ukulele.

Donner DUS-3 Spruce Soprano Ukulele

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$50
Donner DUS-3 Spruce Soprano Ukulele

Here is a ukulele that follows traditional specs while keeping a distinct look, thanks to its unique fingerboard design, which features Chinese Auspicious Clouds.

Following classic acoustic instrument design, the back and sides of the Donner DUS-3 is crafted from mahogany, while the top is crafted from spruce. This result in a punchy and woody tone that's expected from good quality ukuleles. Finally, Donner equipped it with chrome-plated guitar style tuners for improved intonation.

Key Features

  • Top: Spruce
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Frets: 15

Pros
The Donner DUS-3 continues to get good ratings from users with different backgrounds, from young upstarts who receive it from their parents to musicians who bought the DUS-3 as a portable uke. It is described often as great sounding, and many like the distinct design in its fingerboard.

Cons
There are a few that report intonation issues, and they recommend replacing the default strings ASAP. Its 21 inch size gets a few thumbs down from some as being too small, although the size is specified clearly.

Overall
With its flashy appeal and good specs, its hard to find fault with this soprano ukulele.

Lohanu Soprano Ukulele Bundle Kit

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$80
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.

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.

Key Features

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

Pros
Thanks to its arched back, this ukulele has a more focused tone and improved projection. This mid-range focused tone is appreciated by many users, especially when jamming with other musicians. There are also many who appreciate the extras which include a gig bag, picks, a strap, and a tuner.

Cons
There are a few reports of build quality inconsistencies, which may be due to shipping/handling issues. Tuning issues also come up, mostly from musicians who expect more from this Uke.

Overall
With its very high ratings, it's a no brainer for us to recommend this ukulele for those who want nothing less than what the market considers as the best soprano ukulele.

Cordoba 15SM

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$89

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.

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.

Key Features

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

Pros

Cordoba’s 15SM is generally considered to be a step-up when compared to other beginner ukes. It is well received for its good resonance and overall sound quality, some even claiming that it is the best sounding in its price range. Build quality is also appreciated by many, and it catches the attention of prospective buyers with its simple yet elegant design.

Cons
There are a few reports of minor quality control issues, and like most ukuleles in this price range, it has its share of users who complain about tuning stability.

Overall
With Cordoba's penchant for visual appeal and value for money, this soprano ukulele is well worth considering, especially for beginners.

The Highest Rated Pineapple Ukuleles

Kala KA-MK-P Makala Pineapple Soprano Ukulele

87
GEARANK

87 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$50
Kala KA-MK-P Makala Pineapple Soprano Ukulele

The Kala KA-MK-P is an entry-level "pineapple" shape soprano ukulele with mahogany body. Given its price range, this one has a more streamlined appearance, with the most basic specs.

The neck is also crafted from mahogany, and is fitted with a 12-fret walnut fingerboard. And being an entry-level instrument, the action and tension of the strings are meant to be beginner friendly.

Key Features

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

Pros
Many are surprised by how good this ukulele sounds, some even comparing it positively against ones that are priced two or three times higher. But the best thing about it is its affordability and beginner friendly size and playability, which makes it ideal for younger players.

Cons
There are some who take issue with its tuners, while a few report minor quality control issues.

Overall
For the money, it's hard to beat the value of the Kala KA-MK-P.

Kala Watermelon Pineapple Soprano Ukulele

88
GEARANK

88 out of 100. Incorporating 20+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
Kala Watermelon Pineapple Soprano Ukulele

Here's an interesting twist to the soprano pineapple design, Kala simply painted it to look like a watermelon - and based on reviews, people love this fruity look.

On the inside, it is very much the same as the other Kala Pineapple ukuleles, so the expected sound should be the same. The top, back, sides and neck are all crafted from mahogany, while the fingerboard is crafted from rosewood.

Key Features

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

Pros
Owners responses to the Kala Watermelon are generally positive, and it gets most of its high ratings from users who feel that they got more than what they paid for. Most are happy with how it sounds, from parents who bought it for their kids, to older players who just want an affordable couch instrument. It's watermelon look also gets a lot of praise, not just from the players, but also from their listeners, who took a liking at its unique design.

Cons
Intonation related issues came up a few times, with users recommending replacing the factory-installed strings for improved playing experience.

Overall
If you want an affordable yet standout ukulele, then check out the Kala Watermelon Pineapple Soprano.

Kala KA-PSS Pineapple

91
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$100
Kala KA-PSS Pineapple Soprano Ukulele

At publication time this was the highest rated Pineapple 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.

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 soprano ukuleles. So while the width of the body and its dimensions may be different, the instrument is still very manageable for beginning ukulele players.

Key Features

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

Pros
The combination of the extra warmth of the pineapple body style and this instrument’s mahogany construction gives this instrument a very pleasing tone which many users love. There are many reports of it being a good grab-and-go instrument at home, and many appreciate how nice it sounds when accompanying vocals.

Cons
There are a few who dislike the uke's extra resonance, describing it as thin sounding. Other issues that were brought up point to intonation and inconsistencies with build quality.

Overall
Being the top rated instrument in this section, the Kala KA-PSS should be at the top of your list if you're looking into pineapple ukuleles.

Things to Consider When Buying a Soprano 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”.

Best Soprano Ukulele Selection Methodology

This guide was first published on November 29, 2017 written by Mason Hoberg and the latest major update was published on January 13, 2020 written by Alexander Briones.

We began by looking at all the soprano sized ukuleles available from major American online music equipment retailers. And for this update, we ended up with a short list of 40 ukuleles for closer examination. We then collected and analyze ratings and reviews from retailers, forum discussions and expert recommendations, including the most recent ones up to January 2020. The data piled up to over 23,700 sources, and all of it are processed via the Gearank Algorithm. This resulted in a rating out of 100 for all the short-listed ukes, finally, we selected the highest rated ones to recommend above, along with a special section for top rated pineapple soprano ukuleles. For more information about this process see How Gearank Works.

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