The ukulele is a very popular instrument that is easy to learn and fun to play. It can make virtually any song sound great and people love hearing their favorite tunes played on a ukulele.
The small size of ukuleles also means they are very portable which makes them the perfect option for camping or traveling.
But… did you know there are many types of ukuleles? The largest kind of ukulele is called a baritone ukulele. It is a great choice for anyone interested in a ukulele with a deeper and richer sound.
If the idea of having a baritone ukulele sounds interesting, you have reached the right place. This guide will share all of the information you need to know about baritone ukuleles and also share some of the best ukuleles available on the market.
In a rush? Here are the top picks!
What is a Baritone Ukulele
A baritone ukulele is bigger than the common “soprano” ukulele, at 30 inches (76 cm) in length and with a scale length of 20 in (51 cm). Most baritone ukuleles will have 18 to 21 frets, compared to a common ukuleles 12 to 15 frets.
Baritone ukuleles typically have a tonal range of D3–A♯5(C♯ 6) which means they can’t hit some of the highest notes of a soprano, concert or tenor ukulele. However, they can reach much lower notes.
The most popular tuning for a baritone ukulele is D3-G3-B3-E4, which is different from a soprano, concert, to a tenor ukulele. C3-G3-B3-E4 is also often used by many ukulele players on baritone instruments.
If you already know how to play guitar, you will find it simple to use a baritone ukulele because of the D3 G3 B3 E4 tuning.
This tuning is identical to the bottom strings on a E2 A2 D3 G3 B3 E4 tuned guitar. This implies that a guitarist can transfer the bottom sections of chords directly onto the baritone ukulele.
The lowest-pitched notes on a baritone ukulele sounds similar to a traditional acoustic guitar. Many players enjoy having these lower notes available as they add more tonal color to the song they are playing as your playing won’t all be twangy high notes.
The large size of baritone ukuleles also means that the instrument is more resonant and has more sustain than a concert, tenor or soprano ukulele.
Moving up in size, the baritone ukulele is larger in size and has a deeper-darker sound. The baritone ukulele is generally tuned lower than other ukuleles. The four strings are usually tuned the same as the lower four strings of a guitar.
Where are Baritone Ukuleles Played?
The baritone ukuleles have a very interesting sound. They do not sound like a normal ukulele, neither do they sound like a guitar.
The materials used to make the ukulele does have a huge impact on its overall sound, adding more bass or treble to its sound as well as changing its overall timbre.
Baritone ukuleles will have more sustain than a standard ukulele, but less than most guitars (sustain refers to how long a note will continue ringing out once struck).
You will also discover that baritone ukuleles have a richer sound with more warmth than the normal ukulele.
This is partially due to the larger size of the instrument, but the lower tuning also gives it a deeper sound. It’s “thicker” sound makes it suitable to be used in solo performances.
The rich tone of a baritone ukulele is often favored by jazz players and for bands, this type of ukulele can sit nicely in songs as a rhythm section instrument, playing chords and driving the track along.
Is Baritone Ukulele Good for Beginners?
There is no reason you can’t learn on a baritone model, but there are some areas to be wary of if you plan to go down this route.
If you are a complete beginner and plan to learn ukulele on a Baritone, you should definitely be careful with the tuning factor.
If you ever wish to move to a tenor or soprano ukulele, for instance, you will need to revert to the traditional GCEA ukulele tuning.
This will effectively be like learning your instrument all over again.
If you have large hands, you may find the baritone ukulele is easier to maneuver around, there is more room between the frets, which are naturally larger.
It will feel more natural to someone with a bigger build.
Sometimes the smaller models can feel like you are trying to contort your fingers to do something they’re not really capable of.
This makes baritone ukuleles a good choice for beginners.
How Much Does a Baritone Ukulele Cost?
It is a well-known fact that a quality baritone ukulele can cost over $500, but this is on the more professional end of the spectrum.
If you are in search of a cheaper ukulele, you can find products for around the $100 to $200 mark.
These are not always the best quality, hence our reviews, designed to weed out some of the products which may not do the best job for your needs.
Best Baritone Ukulele Brands
Whatever type of ukulele you are looking to purchase, there are certain brand names which crop up again and again.
Kala is a household name you will very quickly become familiar with, they offer more baritone ukuleles than any other ukulele brand on the market.
Kala makes some very good and affordable ukuleles that are perfect for beginner to intermediate players. They are the industry leaders with so many different baritones. The Kala KA-B is one of their most popular products.
Other brands seen regularly in the search for baritone ukuleles include Luna, a Hawaiian manufacturer, and Oscar Schmidt, an American company that has also developed a reputation for making very high-quality ukuleles in a variety of styles.
Believe it or not, the company started out selling door-to-door.
They have come a long way, offering some impressive baritone models.
There are much fewer baritone ukuleles on the market in comparison to concert, soprano or tenor ukes, due to the slightly more specialist nature of the product.
That said, we have compiled some of the best options in this list.
Top Baritone Ukuleles
6 of the best baritone ukuleles
If you are interested in purchasing a baritone ukulele, you will be happy to learn that there are lots of high-quality instruments available. Here are a few of the best!
Oscar Schmidt has developed a reputation for making high-quality ukuleles in a variety of styles. The OU57K is a beautiful baritone ukulele with a laminated Hawaiian koi body, nyatoh neck, abalone rosette and rosewood neck.
It has 19 frets and a cutaway to make it easier to access higher notes. This ukulele features its own preamp which can be plugged directly into an external amp. It is an excellent choice for a beginner or intermediate player looking for a well-made baritone ukulele.
Kala makes some very affordable ukuleles that are perfect for beginner-to-intermediate players. The Kala KA-B is one of their most popular products. It is a mahogany baritone ukulele with a walnut fretboard, cream binding, and a satin finish.
The hardware is also excellent quality, which is surprising for a ukulele that is so affordable. It’s a beautiful little instrument with a rich sound.
It also comes with a free gig bag, cleaning cloth, and tuner. Giving you everything you need to get started on the ukulele.
Ukulele shopping? It’s sometimes difficult to find enough of a difference between a ‘good’ and a ‘great’ model. That’s not a problem with the Kala KA-SA-B baritone ukulele.
From your very first glance at the luxurious satin finish enrobing a beautiful piece of solid acacia, this uke begs to be picked up and played.
A quick warning though, once you DO pick it up and start playing, the smooth playability and incredible tone will make it pretty hard for any true uke aficionado to put down!
But don’t take our word for it (actually, scrap that – yeah, you should!).
Selecting the right baritone for you can be a difficult choice, but you can’t go wrong with a Cordoba uke. It proves to be one of the best baritone ukuleles around today.
Being a baritone uke means it has a deeper and fuller sound than soprano and concert models, but it’s not just about reaching lower notes. It has to be done with clarity, particularly in the mid-range to low-range.
Cordoba are old pros at putting together beautiful handcrafted instruments and that precision is evident in the tone of the ovangkol 23B. It is distinctive at the bottom end, clear and impeccably articulate in the mid-range, with slightly more subtle highs. Delightful!
If you have a bigger budget, you could go for the Lanikai AC-B. It is a stunning baritone ukulele with acacia koa body (laminated top), maple nut, satin finish, NuBone saddle, and Aquila strings.
It comes with all of the accessories you would need including ukulele picks, a polishing cloth and tuner. You can expect to pay around $290 for this model, but it sounds fantastic and is guaranteed to provide you with many hours of fun!
Looking for a budget baritone? It’s hard to look past the super-affordable Caramel CB500, which comes in at well under $100.
There’s lots going on with the design, which gives it a very unique look, including a multi-soundhole and wooden leaf rosette which sits on a laminated rosewood body.
On the neck sits a rosewood fretboard and 18 frets (joined at the 14th), while inside is a truss-rod.
Even in this budget price range, this uke offers a basic pickup and preamp system, featuring 3-band EQ controls, allowing you to amplify the naturally warm tone. Great value.
Baritone Ukulele Accessories
Frankly, these days we live in a world with lots of options. With lots of different models and brands to choose from, how do we know which products rock and which products come up short?
Here are 5 best accessories that can stand the test of time and protect your Baritone Ukulele.
A must have accessory! This tool has 3 features:
- String Winder
- String Cutter
- Bridge Pin Puller
Changing strings on Ukulele takes time, because the strings are made of nylon and require about 1,000,000 winds around the peg. Ok, maybe not that many, but it requires a lot of wraps!
Don’t kill your fingers and hand, pick up this tool and use the winder feature to turn the tuning pegs for you. It also has a string cutter and a bridge pin puller.
The bridge pin puller is essential if you are playing a higher-end ukulele that uses pegs in the bridge.
Clip-on tuners became hot 6 or 7 years ago and are the industry standard now. It is extremely accurate and easy to use! The interesting thing about it is, it works off of vibration.
Wait… what? It senses your tuning by vibration, this means if other people are playing in the background or there is just noise in the background, it won’t affect you tuning your instrument (as opposed to a tuner that works via a mic).
Strap Button & Non-Strap Button Straps
If your ukulele includes a pickup, then the strap button type straps are exactly what you need. If you have a non-pickup ukulele, then you will either have to drill the included strap button into the ukulele’s body or purchase the non-strap button strap that features a hook that clips into the ukulele’s soundhole.
The standard strap is highly recommended over the “clip-on” model. It will provide the most comfortable feel when using a strap and will avoid scratching the ukulele’s body with that plastic clip-on hook. The standard strap features cotton for the strap and leather tipped ends.
Hand down my favorite gig bag. I have used the RB Continental gig bag with my Telecaster for over 5 years. This is how they sold me: They threw the gig bag (guitar inside) out of the second-story window and opened it up: unharmed!
The continental series (more expensive: $100) features shock absorbent technology that prevents damage if you drop the gig bag on concrete or hard surfaces.
If you are more careful, the RBX series (cheaper: $70 – pictured) is still a great gig bag, but with less padding. Both gig bags offer a large pocket on the outside for storing all your accessories and sheet music.
Essential if you live in an extremely dry climate (were periods of the year dip below 30% humidity). Humidifiers are effective in preventing cracking and shrinking of the wood. This humidifier features 2 unique aspects:
- The mounting system allows the humidifier to hang-in horizontally inside the ukulele rather than vertical like the guitar humidifier.
- The humidity output is about 45% of the Royal Blue Oasis guitar humidifier, to accommodate the smaller instrument size. This will also allow the humidifier to last twice as long between refills.
Should I get a Baritone Ukulele?
There are lots of perfect options for beginners, intermediates, and professionals.
As a rule of thumb, when purchasing a uke, or any instrument, the key thing is to evaluate your needs, wants and preferences and buy an option which suits these.
Deciding on the look, feel and tone you need will go a long way to informing your decision.
Spending a little extra time researching, going through other baritone ukulele reviews, and working out the best-suited ukulele can lead to a purchase you are much happier in the long run.