Baritone ukulele is one quite interesting instrument which can be observed as a cross-section between ukuleles and guitars. This instrument features 4 strings like a regular ukulele, but the strings on a baritone ukulele are tuned differently than they are on the regular smaller ukuleles.
Here are our top picks of the best baritone ukuleles:
- Solid mahogany top
- Mahogany back and sides
- Rosewood bridge and fingerboard
- Baritone Ukulele with Mahogany Top
- Walnut Fingerboard - Satin
- Mahogany Back and Sides
- Agathis Body
- 18 Brass Frets
- Rosewood Fingerboard and Bridge
- A great baritone size Ukulele by a Leader in Ukulele's, the OU53S features a solid Spruce top
- Rosewood back
- Sides for great tone, easy playing and a quality known from a company with over 125 years history of producing musical instruments.
- All Zebra Wood body
- Mirror polished by hand
- Adjustable Truss Rod inside the neck - wrench included
What is a Baritone Ukulele?
As we’ve said, a baritone ukulele is an interesting cross-section between guitars and ukuleles. The size of the instrument is, as you might have guessed, in between a guitar and ukulele.
The strings on the regular, smaller ukuleles are tuned “GCEA”, but on the baritone ukulele, we tune the strings “DGBE” which is the same tuning as on the bottom 4 strings on the guitar.
In most cases, the baritone ukulele has two upper strings made of nylon, and the two bottom ones made of metal. This is a quite unique combination for a ukulele.
The baritone ukuleles are ideal for players who prefer the fingerpicking technique and for those who need a bit deeper sounding instrument in order to match their voice better.
The Sound of a Baritone Ukulele
These instruments have a quite interesting and unique sound. The sound is not really as loud nor is it as full-toned as it is on a guitar and it is not as crisp and high-pitched as it is on a standard ukulele.
The sound of a baritone ukulele is very mellow and laid back and it’s perfect for a soothing and tender music.
Main differences between baritone ukuleles and smaller ukuleles
If you put a baritone, tenor, concert and soprano ukulele side by side, the most obvious difference you will notice is the size. Both the neck and the body of the baritone ukulele are larger and this makes the baritone ukulele much easier to handle for the people who have larger hands.
Another difference is the tuning which changes how you form chords on a baritone ukulele. The finger positioning is basically the same, but the chords are different. For example, the F chord on a soprano uke has the same fingering as the C chord on a baritone. The C chord on a soprano uke has the same fingering as the G on a baritone.
If you are a guitar player who is switching to a baritone ukulele, you will be happy to know that the chords on a baritone uke are formed the same way as they are on a guitar just without the top 2 strings. So, basically, if you want to play a certain chord on a baritone uke, just play it the same way you do on a guitar and ignore the top 2 strings that are not there.
How to Pick the Best Baritone Ukulele
When compared to tenor, concert, and soprano ukuleles, the baritone ukulele gives us a distinct range of sound. The baritone ukes are known to have an increased number of frets (18 to 21) and a larger fingerboard.
The larger fingerboard makes this instrument a golden middle between a classical guitar and a tenor ukulele.
Furthermore, the baritone ukulele is a bit smaller and a bit lighter than a classical guitar, making it easier to travel with. If you are in constant motion for your gigs or in your everyday life, this is a big plus.
Materials and Set-Up
The materials used for the construction of the ukulele will most definitely have an impact on your instrument’s tone. Some of the high-end ukuleles are made of acacia or deep mahogany.
When it comes to inexpensive baritone ukuleles, they are usually made of laminated wood. The laminate wood is not so sensitive to temperature changes and humidity and it’s more durable.
However, you will not get the same good resonance with the laminate wood instrument as you will get from the instrument made of wood. With that being said, as long as the material is not too cheap you will get the good sound.
Most of the inexpensive baritone ukes come equipped geared tuners. These are excellent at holding your strings in their place and they prevent the most of the string slipping. They are accurate and easier to use than peg tuners.
However, some are better than the others and you want to choose the uke that has tuners that are easy to use, have a tight grip, and don’t get in the way while you play.
Pitch and Strings
The baritone ukulele is usually tuned a lot lower than the tenor uke. The stability and the durability of your instrument’s tuning over time are quite an important factors to consider.
Because of this, it is very important that you pay attention to the strings that come with your baritone ukulele. Most of the models will be accompanied by the Aquila Nylgut strings which are the most commonly used strings for ukuleles.
Reviews of the best baritone ukuleles
Although it’s a bit heavier, this instrument is still manageable. The top of this model is made of solid mahogany while the sides and the back are made of laminate mahogany. The 20BM comes with Aquila strings and it sounds very warm and sweet.
No doubt, the construction, and the sound are influenced by the classic Spanish guitars.
The neck of this baritone ukulele is made of a single piece of wood and the center of gravity is perfectly balanced. The instrument is ready for use straight out of the box, but a little set-up could improve the string action a bit.
Cordoba 20BM Baritone Ukulele is equipped with the geared tuners that will always stay nice and tight and they completely compliment the instrument’s perfect straight neck with their perfect intonation.
Some of the players might want to change the tuners after a few months of playing because of the buzzing that occurs after the tuners lose some grip.
We would recommend this model to serious beginners.
Classic Spanish guitar influence
Single piece neck
Tuners may need to be changed after some time
The intonation is great too. Every next fret on each string is always in tune with a clean half step. The sound resembles the acoustic guitar sound more than it resembles ukulele sound.
When it comes to the string action, it’s low and easy and there is no need for lowering the bridge or the saddle. The instrument comes with the Aquila Nylgut strings and the buzzing is minimal.
When it comes to design and the finish, it’s pretty basic and minimal, but the look of the instrument doesn’t affect the playability or the sound of the instrument.
It is quite easy to transfer from guitar to this baritone ukulele because it has the same tuning and the sound is solid and deep. It also has high-quality tuners that always stay in tune.
Once your strings have settled down, your uke will stay in tune forever.
The only downside is that some of the users have reported a buzz on the third string from first to the sixth fret. Other than this little problem, this is a perfect uke for beginners and intermediate players.
Full and warm sound
Resembles the sound of an acoustic guitar
Easy and low action
Buzz on the third string (1st-6th fret)
The uke is light and a comfortable size and it holds the tune properly. The intonation of the instrument is vibrant and rich and quite bright. The tuner that uke is equipped with works perfectly.
The string action is a bit high, but it can be lowered so that’s not really a deal breaker. One of the downsides is the fasteners on tuning pegs that are completely decorative and have no function, but they sometimes rattle while you play. This should probably be replaced.
However, the rattle is not loud enough to ruin your sound.
Many users have been complaining that this uke is not set-up properly by the manufacturers, which is why it’s recommended for absolute beginners.
Comes with a bundle of useful items
Vibrant and rich sound
The uke comes with Aquila Nylgut strings that stay in tune perfectly with just a little adjustment. When it comes to sound, the instrument has a great acoustic, although some of the players claim that it is not the best uke to play solo on.
The neck is straight and the action is perfect, however, the frets are a bit sharp and they need to be filled. The instrument requires some adjustments which is a bit difficult for the absolute beginners.
The G and the D string can be in reversed positions which can be a problem for beginners that are new to the baritone ukulele. Also, there is one weird problem. There is a fret buzz that comes and goes and it’s totally unpredictable.
Overall, it is not really user-friendly ukulele for the beginners.
Straight neck and perfect action
Not user-friendly for the beginners
Weird unpredictable fret buzz
The intonation is perfect and the tone is phenomenal both amped and unplugged. The instrument comes with Aquila strings that produce clear and loud sound.
The instrument has a gloss finish which makes it a bit slippery and hard to hold, but that problem is easily solved with a strap.
It does require small adjustments because the action is a little bit high but not too high to affect the playability. Also, the frets are a bit sharp and you might want to fill them a bit or sand them.
The tuners are chromed and they hold the tuning perfectly. Some of the tuners might be a bit uncomfortable under the fingers but a file will solve that problem easily.
Great electronic features
Easy to use
Great tone both amped and unplugged
Needs small adjustments
We came to a conclusion that the best baritone ukulele on the market is the Caramel CB103 Baritone Ukulele. It’s very light and quite easy to use and it represents the perfect balance between ukulele and guitar.
Furthermore, it features great electronic features that are proven to be very helpful when you play your uke plugged in. it does require some adjustments but that can be expected from any instrument.
It’s also a very affordable instrument and it has an exceptional value for the price.
In our opinion, the Caramel CB103 is an excellent baritone ukulele for beginners, intermediate, and advanced players.