The Baritone ukulele is the biggest of the traditional sizes of uke. In this article, we’re diving into the best baritone ukulele options. You might find this size is a good choice if you have bigger hands. It can give a lot more space to maneuver around the frets. The baritone ukulele is also popular for guitarists transferring to uke. Be warned, however, that this uke is tuned slightly differently, so you won’t be able to transfer to other sizes as easily.
In a Hurry? Here Are the Best Baritone Ukuleles
Benefits of a Baritone Ukulele
Let’s start by looking at some of the best aspects of playing a baritone ukulele. Why should you choose this model over others? Though the baritone uke isn’t the best for everyone, it has its own set of pros and cons and gives a different option for beginners or experienced ukulele players.
- The tone of a baritone ukulele is fuller, with more mids and bass frequencies. If you are playing chords, they can sound a bit more rich and full, with a classical guitar sound rather than a high and sometimes thin uke sound.
- Baritone ukuleles can be easy to play if you know how to play the guitar. We’ve explained more on this below, but the tunings are similar, meaning that you can play chords more easily if you have guitar experience already.
- Baritone ukuleles have more space on the fretboard. You can move around with ease and have more space for finger movements. If you have bigger hands then this can be especially useful. Some people find smaller ukuleles tough to fret and play either chords or melodies.
Baritone Ukulele Tuning
Most ukuleles, including soprano and concert styles, are tuned to C-G-E-A tuning. The baritone follows a different pattern, which mirrors the highest four strings of a guitar. The strings are tuned to D-G-B E. A guitar is tuned to E-A-D-G-B-E by default.
If you play guitar and want to switch to ukulele, your skills may not be as transferable if you are playing a soprano, concert or tenor ukulele. Instead, you will have to learn different chord shapes. Though your guitar experience may help with fretting, it won’t help with knowing chords. A baritone uke, however, is like a classical guitar with the lowest two strings removed.
Plenty of people can play both guitar and ukulele, even if the uke is tuned to the classic C-G-E-A tuning. It isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker. A guitarist doesn’t have to buy a baritone ukulele, but it might be simpler in the short term. You can be playing songs very quickly.
How Does a Baritone Ukulele Sound?
A baritone ukulele does have something of a different sound. It’s definitely distinctive. A baritone ukulele sound could be described as being somewhere between a classical guitar and a ukulele. It is a bit brighter than a guitar, but certainly has the projection you would expect. Due to the tuning, it also has more of a guitar feel when playing chords.
Baritone ukuleles can sound really nice when played as a solo accompaniment to vocals, for a singer-songwriter, for instance. They can also sound great when paired with other ukuleles of different sizes. They can underpin the bright sound of a concert or soprano uke with a thicker, more bassy sound.
Baritone vs Tenor Ukuleles
A lot of people find themselves comparing Baritone and Tenor ukuleles as they are similar in size. Which is the best option for you?
Tenor ukuleles are usually 26-inches in size, whereas baritone are usually 30-inches. This extra size can be useful if you have particularly big hands, though tenor ukes are good for large hands, too.
A lot of it comes down to the depth of the sound. If you would like a tone with a bit more projection and a full sound, with plenty of bass frequencies, the baritone ukulele could be perfect. If you want to make sure you get used to the traditional ukulele tuning, however, you should go for the tenor ukulele.
This video can give you a good idea of the differences in tone between the two styles of uke.
Are there Downsides to Baritone Ukuleles?
It’s only fair that we give a balanced view of the baritone ukulele compared to some other sizes. If you have already decided to look for the best baritone ukuleles then you may have decided that this is the size for you, if not, it’s worth double-checking by comparing with other sizes. There are some slight downsides. Every type of ukulele has cons as well as pros.
The baritone uke may be more expensive than some of the other models. This is natural, as baritone ukuleles are bigger and require more tonewood. A mahogany body may help to keep the ukulele in an affordable price range, but generally speaking, they’re a little pricier than the other sizes.
Baritone ukuleles are bigger, of course. This can be positive for the sound, but also makes them harder to transport. Though 30-inches doesn’t make it a massive instrument, they are still around 50% larger in size than some other ukes. A full comparison of the average sizes can be found here. Some ukuleles do have slightly unconventional sizes, but this is rare.
Though it isn’t a downside as such, a baritone ukulele teaches you to play in a slightly different way to other ukuleles. If you want to be able to play a concert size, for example, in the future, it’s worth thinking about this style and whether you should opt for a tenor uke instead. A baritone ukulele won’t allow you to just pick up a ukulele songbook or check the chords online and play, as you will need to get specific tabs and chords for the tenor style, or work it out from the guitar tabs for a song.
Best Baritone Ukulele Reviews
1. Kala KA-BEM Exotic Mahogany Baritone Ukulele – Best Overall
There are usually multiple options from Kala on any list of the top ukulele options, as the brand is prolific, with a big and reliable range of instrument options. The Kala KA-B.E.M is one of the top ukes for a variety of reasons. The build quality is what we have come to expect, and you also get access to the huge community of Kala users who share uke tips and tricks on their website.
The mahogany tonewood is very sturdy. This is quite an affordable wood though, so many ukes have at least a mahogany top, and sometimes a mahogany top back and sides. Koa wood is more traditional for smaller ukulele sizes, but the mahogany wood complements the guitar like sound of a baritone model.
The Kala brand is big, and they have a flawless reputation in the world of ukuleles. They make ukes in a variety of sizes, but this is their best baritone uke. It has a solid design and plenty of accessories. One of the best things about this ukulele is the fact that it comes with such a good quality case. If you are spending a lot of money on an instrument you will want to protect it during transport, and the hard case is better than a gig bag for this.
2. Luna Baritone Ukulele, Vintage Mahogany – Best Looking Baritone Ukulele
Luna is another great brand when it comes to ukuleles, and they manufacture all sizes of the instrument. Their baritone ukulele has a fantastic look to it. The beautiful laser engraving around the soundhole has a lovely decorative look, but we know that looks aren’t everything when it comes to finding a uke. It needs to have the build quality to back up the appearance, and luckily, this mahogany uke is extremely well-made.
This is a great instrument that absolutely looks the part with the satin finish and etched design. If you are in the market for an instrument that has a great look to it as well as a reliable sound, the Luna could be for you. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with any accessories, but the sound of the uke is more than good enough, and you can always buy these accessories separately.
3. Oscar Schmidt OU52TAT-A-U Baritone Ukulele – Best Warranty
Oscar Schmidt is a brand manufacturing some brilliant models of guitar and ukulele. The OU52TAT has a fascinating look, with a traditional “tribal” tattoo inspired design and a quality satin finish. As well as a ukulele baritone sized they also offer models in other sizes in the same design. The brand clearly has a lot of faith in their instruments, as they offer a limited lifetime warranty on this ukulele.
The Oscar Schmidt uke is also a good choice within this price range if you are looking to find a good quality uke with brilliant accessories. It has all the accessories a beginner could need to get started, making it a good value option, even at a similar price to the Kala KA-B option we picked out as the overall best baritone uke.
It’s hard not to like the look of this ukulele. It looks like the sort of tribal tattoos you might expect a historic ukulele player to have. The quality case and accessories are a big bonus for this baritone model, and though you can buy a bundle with a gig bag rather than a hard case, we recommend getting the quality case to give more padding and protection. Oscar Schmidt is not the cheapest brand making ukes, but the fact that they offer this limited lifetime warranty is a big bonus.
4. Caramel Baritone Ukulele 30 inch All Solid Acacia – Best Electric-Acoustic Baritone Ukulele
If you are buying a baritone ukulele, electric designs allow you to easily hook up your instrument to PA systems or amplifiers. This can make it easier for performances and even assist when you come to recording your uke. If you are looking for an electric-acoustic baritone uke then your choices may be limited, but this option from Caramel is a good choice, with a rich tone as well as the inbuilt electronics.
The Caramel brand also makes an acoustic model that is almost identical. The only difference is that the electronics system, the pickups, and the inbuilt EQ are not included. This option is a bit more affordable and can provide a good option if you aren’t worried about electric functions.
This is the only model on our list of the best baritone ukulele models that is made out of acacia wood. This is a more affordable wood than mahogany, but a lot of guitar brands are using acacia as their tonewood. It’s a solid option and the sound of this ukulele is still just as high-quality as many of the others, but it is worth noting that acacia has its own tonal qualities that may be reminiscent of a classical guitar rather than a traditional ukulele. This acacia wood is combined with a low gloss finish and gives an impressive look to the Caramel uke.
If you are looking for an electric model then this is hard to ignore. Your choice for ukuleles with included pickups is relatively limited. Not many brands are making baritone ukuleles that have electric functionality, and your search for the best baritone ukuleles can be a struggle if you prioritize this feature. Luckily, Caramel has provided this model of uke with plenty of included accessories.
Another reason we have recommended this model is the value for money. Even if you aren’t worried about electric functions, it might be worth looking at the purely acoustic baritone uke that the brand offers. Affordable, easy to play and good for beginners due to the included tuner, strap and bag.
5. Kmise Mahogany Ukulele – Best Budget Ukulele
The Kmise brand keeps impressing with the decent quality they offer at a relatively low price point. As we’ve mentioned already, a lot of baritone ukuleles are quite expensive, so it can be worth trying to save a bit of money where you can. One option for doing so can be to choose a model such as the Kmise.
In spite of being affordable, this is one of the best baritone ukuleles for beginners, with plenty of quality, and many of the same materials used to make more expensive ukes. The solid mahogany body gives plenty of projection and a deeper tone than many other models of ukulele. It looks fantastic, too.
The neck of this instrument is very unusual, using Okoume wood. This wood doesn’t have a huge impact on the tone all-in-all. The mahogany back and sides are the main tonewood. The wood has a beautiful satin finish and if you didn’t know which was which, the Kmise would be hard to differentiate from a more expensive uke by a brand like Kala.
Like most of the options on the list, it comes with accessories. It is easy to see why getting a 30-inch baritone ukulele and a bunch of accessories for under $100 is appealing to people on a budget. Also, if you are a beginner looking to test the water, the Kmise might be an effective first ukulele.
In terms of looks, the Kmise model is impressive. This is no cheap and flimsy instrument, and although it is more friendly on the bank balance than some other models, appearances don’t suffer. The adjustable truss rod will appeal to those who like to tinker with their instrument and have a specific action in mind for their uke. It allows you to alter your ukulele and get the height of the strings to the level you are looking for.
This isn’t an elite instrument, and for recording an album, you might want to opt for a slightly more high-end ukulele. However, for beginners, or those looking to get a good ukulele to get them started without costing too much, the Kmise is a good choice.
Finding a ukulele that is suitable for you will be a matter of personal preference. The options on our list cover acoustic and electric-acoustic models as well as a variety of ukes for different budgets.
The Kala KA-BEM is a popular ukulele, and has made the top of our list as the best overall choice. It has a great tone, fantastic projection for playing live and even comes with a hard case rather than a flimsy gig bag. The rich sound of this ukulele is exactly what we’d expect from the prolific Kala brand and you also get access to a lot of Kala-specific resources.
For beginners, or those wanting something a little cheaper, the Kmise is a good baritone ukulele, too. It looks great, and has some accessories to get future uke players started on their journey, all at an affordable price tag.