Updated 11/15 2018
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 baritone ukulele sounds fall somewhere in the middle. A baritone acoustic ukulele is designed to provide a perfect mix of the two musical instruments. If it makes it slightly easier to think about, you can equate the baritone ukulele to the bass guitar!
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).
This size had really gained popularity in recent years, and more and more ukulele brands have joined the party. This has given us a huge selection of laminate mahogany, rosewood fingerboard and bridge combinations, and even real zebra wood to choose from while writing this buyers guide! We are confident that any of the following instruments will leave you with a smile on face and music in your ears!
Best Baritone Ukuleles for Beginners
Our favorite baritone ukulele for 2018 is the Oscar Schmidt OU57 Spalted Mango. It is a phenomenal instrument for beginners or intermediate ukulele players. Not to mention the Spalted Mango gives this instrument a really unique and bright sound.
To make sure we gave every price range and player a good option, our buying guide includes three other models that also are great choices that we are sure you’ll be happy with! Finally, we’ve added an honorable mentions section to include a few Ukuleles that very easily could have made the list!
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. The Oscar Schmidt OU52 and OU53s also are very good instruments, but when given a choice between Mango and no Mango… well that’s not really a choice. Plus, vintage mahogony baritone enthusiasts have an offering for them soon!
While Oscar Schmidt is better known for their guitars, they have really put together a winner with the OU57!
- Mahogany Top / Gloss Finish
- Mahogany Back & Sides / Gloss Finish
- Fan Bracing
- Rosewood Fingerboard
- Chrome, Closed Back Tuners
As promised, a more vintage satin mahogany baritone ukulele with a rosewood fretboard comes in at our second pick. This is another superb offering from a company that traditionally is a guitar maker, the Alvarez RU22B baritone ukulele bridges the gap between uke and guitar perfectly.
Along with the full mahogany neck and body and rosewood fretboard the RU22B sports chrome closed back geared tuners, and Aquila nygut nylon 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!
- Baritone size
- Mahogany body and neck
- Walnut fingerboard
- GraphTech NuBone nut and saddle
- Satin finish
Don’t worry, we wouldn’t leave one of the most popular series of Ukuleles currently made off this list. The KA, KAB and KAA series of ukes from Kala are known for great value. This is the 2nd mahogany baritone ukulele to grace our list as well.
The Kala KAA-15B is only slightly more expensive than the Alvarez and comes with a baritone ukulele bundle, perfect for beginners. This starter pack comes with a gig bag, electric tuner, Austin Bazaar instructional DvD and polishing cloth.
The bonus to getting your hands on a KAA vs the standard KA is it’s a yearly limited production run. The KA and MKB (The Makala version) are nice, but the KAA is just a bit more special.
If you already have some of the accessories that come with the starter bundle you can grab the KA-15s for a little less money, which is a great option if you already have some of the pieces.
- Solid mahogany top
- Mahogany back and sides
- Rosewood bridge and fingerboard
- Natural satin finish
- Aquila Nylgut Baritone strings (DGBE)
The final selection on our list leans a bit more toward the guitar than the Ukulele as it comes equiped with the baritone version of Aquila Nylgut strings (best for tuning DGBE)
The Cordoba 2obm baritone ukulele is the companies first attempt at a baritone sized ukulele, and we have to say they nailed it. This is a truly beautiful musical instrument with its rosette wood pattern.
This is also the only instrument on our list that is an acoustic electric ukulele. It comes equipped with cutaway electronics, which means it has an active pickup. It sounds great played acoustically, but gives you the flexibility of plugging it in to an amplifier.
Every time we make a list like this, or update an older version, there is a lot of debate as to which ukuleles we want to recommend. This buyers guide is no different, so we’ve added links so you can check price on Amazon for a few other very popular models.
First up are the Caramel CB103 Zebra Wood Baritone Acoustic electric with Truss Rod and the Caramel CB500 Rosewood Baritone Acoustic with Truss Rod. These are both wood variations that didn’t get represented in our top four, and give a slightly different sound than mahogany.
The third and final mention is the Kala MK-B Makala Baritone ukulele bundle. If you are on a budget this is probably your best bet for this sized instrument that will carry that baritone sound and have high enough quality to last.
How We Chose the Baritone Ukuleles for our List
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 when putting together this buying guide.
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.
The Final Note
The Baritone Ukulele is such a great instrument for a wide variety of reasons. Not only do many people find it easier to play than some of it’s smaller cousins, guitarist can make a smooth transition from their other instruments.
In the end (after much debate), we ended up picking the Oscar Schmidt OU57 Baritone Ukulele as our top pick for 2018. We are confident that you have 4 (plus the honorable mentions) baritone ukes that will leave you with a great stringed instrument you’ll be happy with for years to come!
After you order your ukulele, check out all of our content for the instrument!
Last update on 2020-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API