Baritone ukulele recommendations?

electric_aurora

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I currently own a tenor ukulele (a Makai MT-70TR) which I love, but I am considering getting a baritone ukulele as well for those occasions when I would like to have a deeper sound, more akin to a very small classical guitar.

I am nervous to purchase an ukulele without having a chance to try it in person, but there aren't very many baritones around. My local music store (Dusty Strings) has a very good ukulele selection but only had three baritones in stock when I went to check them out. Two were made by Pono, one made of mango wood and one made of acacia- I loved both of their sound, but they were significantly more money than I want to spend. The other one was made by Kala and was a bit more affordable- seemed basically good but I noticed a slight but annoying buzz at one fret/string location near the top of the neck. I'd prefer an instrument that sounds good right away without having to do additional repairs or adjustments... I'm not sure how much different individual instruments of the same make/model are likely to to vary from one another.

After doing a little more research, I found that Pono also makes a more stripped-down (but still solid wood and supposedly good-sounding) series of ukulele called the Kalele series. They are still at the upper end of the price range I was considering, currently $367, but if they sound nice like the ones I tried in the shop it would be worth it.: https://theukulelesite.com/pono-kalele-series-mango-baritone-mgb-k-0150.html

I also found that Makai, the company that made my tenor uke, has a baritone that looks just like the "big brother" of my tenor, currently priced around $200, and I feel very tempted: https://www.makaiukulele.com/products/makai-solid-top-series-with-white-binding-baritone-ukulele

Do the baritone players here want to weigh in on the matter? Other ukes you'd recommend instead?
Thank you!
 
Greetings EA. So many great baritone choices out there at a reasonable price. Lots of factors to consider such as woods, new/used, neck/nut size and so on. You've made a great start trying three locally to hear and feel if right for you.

I have a Kala KA-B that I really enjoy now that I found strings that are right for me. Also have a Pono MB that is really well made and sounds wonderful but just doesn't feel as good in the fretting hand.

I've tried Makai bari and it wasn't for me. Also tried various Ohana's that felt good but didn't have the sound. Flight has some well reviewed under $500.

I recommend you check out the baritones online at Aloha City and listen to everything Matt demos. If you get a good idea on sound you desire then you can start narrowing your search and hopefully find a model or two somewhat close in specs to compare with those you tried.

Looking forward to reading how your search goes. Please keep us updated.
 
I second the notion of checking out Aloha City. I did so a few years ago and ended up with a Ohana 70rb from Matt. I like it a lot - but to each their own. It was set up perfectly. Matt offers a large selection and I probably listened to every video in my price range about 10 times. Eventually I decided on the one that had the tonal qualities I wanted. Granted, its not like playing one in person, but it is the next best thing.

If you have a chance to try a Kiwaya bari, give it a whirl. I don't own one, but I did get to play one a few months ago at a local store. I was very impressed by it. The Ohana was louder, deeper but there was something very nice about the Kiwaya. It really sang and came with its own case. If I were in the market for a $300 or less bari, it would be at the top of my list to try.

I will only add one other thing - at Dusty strings, did the Bari's you tried all have the same scale length? Most Bari's are 20 inches in length. The Ohana's are about 19 inches. To me, that's a plus.

Good luck with your hunt.
 
I have a Mainland cedar/rosewood baritone and a Flight Fireball (Mango). I play them interchangeably. They are both great ukes and I can't tell which I like better.
The Mainland was just a bit over half the price of the Flight.
 
The big river site, Kmise brand. Happy with mine. I did swap the strings for Martin 630s.
 
I currently own a tenor ukulele (a Makai MT-70TR) which I love, but I am considering getting a baritone ukulele as well for those occasions when I would like to have a deeper sound, more akin to a very small classical guitar.

I am nervous to purchase an ukulele without having a chance to try it in person, but there aren't very many baritones around. My local music store (Dusty Strings) has a very good ukulele selection but only had three baritones in stock when I went to check them out. Two were made by Pono, one made of mango wood and one made of acacia- I loved both of their sound, but they were significantly more money than I want to spend. The other one was made by Kala and was a bit more affordable- seemed basically good but I noticed a slight but annoying buzz at one fret/string location near the top of the neck. I'd prefer an instrument that sounds good right away without having to do additional repairs or adjustments... I'm not sure how much different individual instruments of the same make/model are likely to to vary from one another.

After doing a little more research, I found that Pono also makes a more stripped-down (but still solid wood and supposedly good-sounding) series of ukulele called the Kalele series. They are still at the upper end of the price range I was considering, currently $367, but if they sound nice like the ones I tried in the shop it would be worth it.: https://theukulelesite.com/pono-kalele-series-mango-baritone-mgb-k-0150.html

I also found that Makai, the company that made my tenor uke, has a baritone that looks just like the "big brother" of my tenor, currently priced around $200, and I feel very tempted: https://www.makaiukulele.com/products/makai-solid-top-series-with-white-binding-baritone-ukulele

Do the baritone players here want to weigh in on the matter? Other ukes you'd recommend instead?
Thank you!
I got my first baritone uke a couple months back; it's a Pono solid acacia with gloss finish from Aloha City Ukes. Set up is perfect and it sounds great. I chose Pono because they offer a 35mm nut width and that's just about the perfect nut width for my hands.

Aloha City Ukes (y)(y)(y)
 
I believe all the baritones I tried had a 20" scale length, but it didn't feel too long or difficult to fret, and seemed pretty intuitive coming from the tenor... it was not at all like when I've tried to play my mom's classical guitar (I thought, coming from the ukulele, that I knew 2/3 of the strings so it couldn't be that hard, but it was in fact much harder for me!)
 
Like Stoney Run, I really like my very cheap Kmise baritone (KMU30B, a different model from his). You won't be able to try before you buy, but at such a low price point, it's worth a gamble.
 
Here is a good video from Alex at SUS comparing some "affordable" baritones. Hopefully helps you in your search.



Another multi baritone video showing different Kala models (sadly not my KA-B).
 
Also have a Pono MB that is really well made and sounds wonderful but just doesn't feel as good in the fretting hand.
I second this! Yes the neck is a bit deep, but the tone is so sweet!

I also have one I don't feel as good about: AN Oscar Schmidt. Really hard to play and weak tone...
 
I picked up a Lanikai recently. Not too expensive and plays nice. All laminate so great for around the campfire. Has adjustable truss rod.
 
Check this link from the ukulele site. They have a Kala Travel series baritone on sale down to $260. I purchased an identical one direct from Kala for $350 and really really like it. Be sure to listen to the sample video. The deep warm sound and volume is well represented there. Just a suggestion for your consideration.

 
I still haven't pulled the trigger on getting a baritone... but yesterday before work I went back to Dusty Strings and played their ukuleles again. I think my favorite of the ones I tried is the Pono made of solid Acacia. I asked them to give me a call if they got any of the Kalele line in stock in the baritone size (they said they do get them in occasionally.)

While I was there, I noticed they had a solid mahogany Kalele model in stock in the concert size... I tried it, and it did have a very sweet sound and was very comfortable to play. It was strung with fluorocarbon strings by default, which had a very nice sound, brighter than the strings I am used to. There was a tenor on the wall that seemed to be strung with the identical string set, but at least to me, it didn't feel as comfortable to play in the tenor size. So that was interesting...
 
Sounds like you are definitely doing right by shopping and trying. Very interesting observation on the concert vs. tenor and how they feel. I don't know the difference in the actual neck width and depth as the nut size is the same on all three models. Keep on searching, the right uke will be in your hand one day.
 
In mid-June I will be in the SF Bay area visiting family/friends- I will probably be able to re-visit the shop where I got my tenor ukulele. (Lark in the Morning.) According to their website they have a couple of Makai baritone ukuleles, so I could find out in person how those feel and sound. Even if I don't buy anything, it is a cool little folk instrument shop to explore.
 
Hi friends- right now I'm seriously considering a couple of used baritones currently posted on Craigslist. One is a vintage Harmony (said to play well and to have been given a setup by a local music store.) The other one is a Donaldson baritone, which I gather was handmade by a one-man operation... it says that it is made of mahogany and spruce and that it is "very loud." Should I take the plunge? Either of these would cost less than the Pono that I was eyeing, but would cost more than the new Makai baritones that they have at "Lark in the Morning."
 
Hi friends- right now I'm seriously considering a couple of used baritones currently posted on Craigslist. One is a vintage Harmony (said to play well and to have been given a setup by a local music store.) The other one is a Donaldson baritone, which I gather was handmade by a one-man operation... it says that it is made of mahogany and spruce and that it is "very loud." Should I take the plunge? Either of these would cost less than the Pono that I was eyeing, but would cost more than the new Makai baritones that they have at "Lark in the Morning."
I’ve only heard great things about harmony baritones and people seem to hang on to them. I’m a big Pono person myself but love a deal.
 
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