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Thread: Your Favorite Ukulele Woods Not Koa, Mahogany, Spruce or Cedar?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2019

    Default Your Favorite Ukulele Woods Not Koa, Mahogany, Spruce or Cedar?

    I'm thinking about my next uke and I realized that all my ukes that are made of wood are made (at least partly) of Koa, Mahogany, Spruce, or Cedar. So, I'm asking everyone, what is your favorite sounding uke costing less than $1,000 that is all wood and does not use one of these woods either for the top and/or back and sides?

    To help keep my question on topic, I realize:
    • Your opinion is totally subjective and that there is no such thing as "everything else being equal."
    • What someone who strums and hums likes may be different than someone who finger-picks and never sings.
    • Some builders could take my old shoes and make a great sounding uke (only a slight exaggeration).

  2. #2


    Mango comes to mind? How about a nice Mango Pono or something?

    Or how about one of those Koaloha "half n half" ukes
    Last edited by kissing; 04-24-2021 at 05:24 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Canada Prairies, brrr ....


    If I had my pick I'd go for walnut, heard a guitar with claro walnut top and it sounded fantastic. One of my guitars has a walnut neck and fretboard and it is my favourite. Also walnut can be found locally in the northern hemisphere so there is less of a burden on tropical deforestation.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Saratoga, CA


    The builder matters more than the wood. That said, solid maple ukuleles can be surprisingly sweet (not very loud) and sound like sweet butter..

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Michigan, USA


    Mango, hands down. I *love* the sound of mango.

    With the price constraint, I suggest looking at the Rebel Double Creme mango models. I know Mim has them (although she labels them as "Double Creme Brulee", but I am pretty sure that Rebel just calls them Double Creme) and I think The Ukulele Site also carries them.

    I have a concert one (from Mim) that is just delightful. As much as I love it, I may part ways with it soon, as I also have a KoAloha concert mango, and I don't really think I need both. You may recall that Rebel makes the KoAloha Opio line, so the sounds of the two is quite similar. To me, it is kind of a toss-up between the two on which sounds better, although the KoAloha mangos are above your price constraint.
    Mainly a concert player.

    Beansprout alto (myrtle) | Martin Konter | Kala Elite Soprano | Rebel Double Cream mango concert
    KoAloha Silver concert | Blackbird Clara | Kamaka HF-2 (special) | Kanile'a K-1 C | Bruko #6
    Anuenue UC200 Moonbird Concert | UkeSA Pineapple Sunday concert (acacia) | Pop's Pineapple Sunday (koa)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2020


    My experience with different woods is a bit limited, but so far I like abs...
    anything but spruce.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2019


    I would add acacia and rosewood to that list, although the latter is almost exclusively paired with either cedar or spruce anyway. Acacia is fairly similar to koa in terms of looks and sound so I would guess you don't want to consider that.

    Mango would probably be the next most popular wood choice. Some very nice mango ukes are made by Pono and Rebel at your price range, as already mentioned. Then again, I don't think they're necessarily that different sounding compared to koa or mahogany, for instance.

    Aside from the aforementioned woods, I have two ukes made out of different woods. One is a Cocobolo concert, very pretty and certainly sounds different than most other ukes. I don't know if it's the higher density of cocobolo or something else that makes these ukes sound like they do but the tone is very balanced, maybe slightly leaning to the warmer side, but it's still not muddy. Very peculiar in my opinion, and I like it quite a bit. The other is my custom soprano made out of alder. That's probably something that not many brands or luthiers offer, but then again the sound is fairly similar to mahogany or koa, at least with a soprano body.

    Other noteworthy woods might be walnut, as already mentioned, maple, cherry, or maybe a redwood top with some more conventional back and sides. I couldn't point you to a specific manufacturer for those however. Maybe it would be easiest to contact some luthier and ask for opinions.

    I'll give you one very specific example of a uke made out of non-conventional woods, the Maestro Guitars all Padauk ukulele:
    Maestro supposedly make really nice ukes, although I haven't tried them myself. I also don't know if they have a distributor in the US in case you live there.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Blaine, Washington


    Sycamore for me. Especially the ones made by Brian Griffin

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA


    Myrtle is a lovely wood. Brighter than mahogany. Works well as a solid build.

    I have a solid Myrtle tenor made by Mike Pereira that is terrific.* I play it a lot.

    MP Myrtle Tenor reduced.jpg

    And a Kala Elite Custom Spruce/Myrtle tenor that is very nice.

    Check out MyaMoe's website. It has good information about various woods and how they fall on the bright to warm scale. It's very general and there are always exceptions.

    Sinker Redwood, and others, has had some of the wood replaced by minerals. So it can vary considerably. Don't forget torrefied woods. Some makers and players swear by it.

    *Not sure why I can't delete the photo of the four MP ukuleles. I changed my mind and cropped the photo to show just the Myrtle one.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Kenn2018; 04-25-2021 at 10:56 AM.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don't begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    --Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2017


    My favorite ukulele is made of London plane which I understand to be in the same genus as sycamore. The last ukulele that I will ever bespeak is going to be a 100% North American build. I haven't settled on my woods, but I think if I had to commit right now I would say it will be myrtle. However obscurity is purity, and if my luthier could suggest something really special, I would completely go for that.

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