Many musicians love the light, airy sound that the traditional ukulele is known for, and no one can deny the mass appeal of the acoustic guitar. The middle ground is the baritone ukulele, the perfect mix of the two instruments.
The baritone ukulele retains the feel of a smaller instrument even though it's about the same size as a travel guitar, but produces a stronger, more mellow sound than a ukulele.
In fact, if you are transitioning between guitar and ukulele, the perfect first instrument is the baritone ukulele. You can tune it either to standard uke tuning (GCEA), or, as the highest four strings of a guitar (DGBE).
Our favorite baritone ukulele is the Oscar Schmidt OU57 Spalted Mango. It is a phenomenal instrument for beginners or intermediate ukulele players.
To make sure we gave every price range and player a good option, we have picked out three other models that also are great choices and you'll be happy with!
Want more information before you make your choice? You got it! Below you'll find details as well and links to Amazon where you can read reviews and get specific prices!
Our choice for the best beginner baritone ukulele is the OU57 Spalted Mango made by Oscar Schmidt. It is the most expensive instrument on this list, and it's worth every penny (probably a few more!)
We honestly get excited when we see an instrument is made from Mango. It is a wood that you rarely find on anything but a Ukulele and it really holds true to the sound you'd expect.
While Oscar Schmidt is better known for their guitars, they have really put together a winner with the OU57!
Another superb offering from a guitar maker, the RU22B from Alvarez bridges the gap between uke and guitar perfectly.
The RU22B is constructed with a full mahogany neck and body, a rosewood fretboard, chrome closed back tuners, and Aquila strings.
This instrument is part of the Alvarez Regent Series. Designed to be a quality instrument in a student's price range this is the least expensive instrument on our list. This uke makes the Baritone size affordable on even a tight budget!
Don't worry, we wouldn't leave one of the most popular series of Ukuleles currently made off this list. The KA and KAA series of ukes from Kala are known for great value.
The bonus to getting your hands on a KAA vs the standard KA is it's a yearly limited production run. The KA and MK-B (The Makala version) are nice, the KAA is special.
We've linked to a bundle for this instrument that includes a bag, electronic tuner, polishing cloth, and instructional DVD! You can find this instrument alone, but if you don't have the tuner, bag, and other add-ons this is a perfect first Uke!
The final selection on our list leans a bit more toward the guitar than the Ukulele.
The most popular guitar tone wood is Spruce, and the Cordoba 22 series is equipped with a solid spruce top. Combine this with Indian Rosewood back and sides and you've got a very popular, and great sounding, tone wood combination.
As any guitar player will tell you, this combination of tone woods leads to a full, warm tone that has a solid base.
Lastly, because of the solid spruce top this instrument has a very traditional look and feel. Understated, yes. Great value, definitely!
We know that not everyone will agree on our choices, so in the next section we'll talk about the different pieces, parts, and factors that we took into account when making our selections.
There are some universally good practices, materials, and quality factors that all ukuleles, and most stringed instruments, share.... these are a few:
As you can probably imagine, plastic ukuleles don't tend to sound very good. They lack the crisp, bright sound that the wooden versions don't have.
We rarely recommend a plastic ukulele, in the best case scenario you'll quickly outgrow the instrument and have to upgrade, worst case you'll have an instrument that makes it harder to learn due to sound and tuning issues.
Most baritone ukuleles will be made from laminated wood variations. especially under about $500. But, you can also find a lot of high quality ukes that are closer to $100 that sound really good.
The quality of the laminate does vary quite a bit though as a lot depends on the type of additional wood used, the thickness of the base material, the manufacturing methods, and the sealant used to finish the instrument.
Take your time to play the laminated instruments you are considering, or at least spend a good amount of time researching both the brand and the instrument in question to make sure you don't see any reviews mentioning buzzing or other quality related issues.
Last but not least, are the solid wood instruments. It's unlikely that you'll want to spend the money as a beginner to get a full solid wood ukulele, but a solid top with laminated sides can be a great alternative.
Baritone ukes have a few more string options than the other sizes. They sound great strung with normal ukulele strings and tuned as their smaller counterparts. The ukes that we've put on this list all come strung this way.
To make sure that we gave a good recommendation, all of the beginner baritone ukuleles we picked come strung with Aquila strings, a industry wide favorite.
If you do want to play your Ukulele slightly more like a guitar, you can change the tuning to the deeper variation and you can play "baritone" strings, which are slightly thicker and produce a deeper sounds naturally.
Maybe the most important overall factor, and the one that relies on the other factors that we've already discussed.
Bad strings or a poor plastic ukulele will really make it hard to have a good sounding instrument. That, combined with a badly crafted uke can lead to a rather unpleasant sound.
We stand behind the instruments and the companies that we chose on this list, but it is definitely not complete. Thanks to the Ukulele boom of the last five years there are a lot of good models out there!
Baritone Ukuleles tend to be a little bit more expensive than their smaller counterparts but that does not mean the are out of most peoples price range.
Another thing that we factor in is value. A $50 ukulele isn't worth that much if it will fall apart or sound really bad after a few months. You'll just have to spend more money to replace it! The instruments on our list will both last and sound great for their price.
If you are looking at the lower end of the price range, you can find some really high value instruments for about $75-$100. On the other hand, we don't recommend new players spend more than a few hundred dollars, so you won't find anything too expensive on our list!
There you have it! The four best beginner baritone ukuleles based on a TON of research and time playing different instruments (not that we are complaining).
Not sure the baritone ukulele is right for you? Check out our full list of the best beginner ukuleles! You'll find all the different sizes and recommendations for each!