Baritone ukulele recommendations?

May 15, 2024
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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.:

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:

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.
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