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).
Best Beginner Baritone Ukuleles
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!
#1. Oscar Schmidt OU57 Baritone Ukulele
Image Courtesy of Amazon
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!
#2. Alvarez RU22B Ukulele
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!
Image Courtesy of Amazon
#3. Kala KAA-15B Baritone Ukulele
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!
Image Courtesy of Amazon
#4. Cordoba 22B Ukulele
The final spot on our list of great baritone ukuleles for beginners is the Cordoba 22B. This is a Ukulele that's roots are firmly planted in guitar tradition.
The combination of a top of solid spruce and sides of Indian rosewood are extremely popular with guitars and really make this instrument sing, especially at the lower note ranges.
The rosewood is carried on to the bridge and fingerboard while the neck is made of mahogany.
Last but not least, the very classical finish of this uke really gives it a traditional style that we are big fans of!
Image Courtesy of Amazon
A Note About Tuning Baritone Ukuleles
One of the best things about the baritone ukulele is that it's versatile. You can either tune it like a regular ukulele or like the highest (thinnest) four strings on a guitar.
To tune your baritone like a normal ukulele, you'll want to have your open chords be GCEA.
The guitar tuning for the baritone ukulele is DGBE.
You should check to make sure the strings on your ukulele can handle either tuning. In some rare cases we've seen problems arise, especially when going to the higher, traditional ukulele tuning method.
How We Graded The Ukuleles
Chances are, anyone who reads this list will disagree with at least one (if not all) of our choices. We are definitely not saying that there are no other good baritone ukuleles available!
We do, however, feel that these four ukuleles give you a great mix of price and quality. Baritone Ukuleles for beginners don't have to be expensive, yet at the same time you don't want a cheap piece of plastic! The four instruments we've chosen give you a great sound at a great price point!
If you have read through our selections and still aren't convinced we've added a little bit of information to help you choose your own baritone ukulele!
Plastic does not sound good (unless it's a Magic Fluke, which doesn't make a baritone size anyway). Solid Hawaiian Koa can cost more than your house payment. Knowing a little about the tone woods of your instrument can go a long way to finding something good quality!
Poor ukuleles are, more often than not, made from some sort of plastic. They tend to have poor intonation, tone, and projection. We really recommend staying away from these instruments in almost all situations.
Most Ukuleles that fall in the beginner price point are made up of some sort of laminated wood. Or, like the Cordoba 22B, have a solid top (more on that below) and laminated sides and bottom.
Maple, Hawaiian Koa, mahogany, rosewood, and spruce are all very common to find on a ukulele. At this price point, almost all of them will be laminated, though. Not to say that a good laminate can't sound great. In fact, every instrument on this list has part of the body laminated!
Common Ukulele Woods
On the other hand, stay away from really poor quality laminates. They tend to face many of the same issues as plastics and are a really poor investment!
These are generally the best of the best. Solid woods have a resonance and warmth of tone that is pretty hard to mistake. For a beginner, if you can simply get a solid top then you've probably found a good sounding instrument to start with!
Baritone Ukuleles very often have a different type of strings than their concert, tenor and soprano counterparts.
Many brands will actually make baritone specific strings, especially if you'll be using guitar tuning you'll want to find some of them rather than normal uke strings.
To help clear up a lot of the confusion on ukulele strings we put together a guide on great ukulele strings.
Especially if playing is just a hobby, or you just started.... price is probably a big factor in your overall decision.
Unfortunately, baritone ukuleles are going to cost you a bit more than most of the smaller sizes for the exact same set up. More material, more money. On the flip side, you can still find a good baritone for less than a starter guitar of the same quality!
To keep price in mind without sacrificing quality, we tried to keep the instruments on this list below $250. We struggled to find anything to recommend that was under $100, though, so that is probably the price range you are looking at.
We will update this list again next year, but for now these are our choices for the best baritone ukulele of 2017! If you have one you'd like to recommend leave us a comment below so we can take it into consideration!
Also, if you'd like to see our recommendation for the other sizes, you'll like our guide to the best beginner ukuleles!