Soprano Ukulele

A complete guide to the soprano ukulele.

Best Soprano Ukulele

If you are looking for the very best soprano ukulele, the absolute top, it would have to be the Martin 5K (generally regarded as the Rolls Royce of ukuleles). Unfortunately, the best 5Ks (the vintage models) can fetch over $10,000 and even the new ones retail for over $5,000. Here are a few ukuleles that might be more in the price range of the average ukulele buyer.

Best Soprano Under $50

The best of the cheap soprano ukuleles is the Makala. As with any cheap ukulele you buy, try to find a seller who is willing to include set up and some good strings within the price of the ukulele (musicguymic on eBay offers this service on all his instruments). On eBay:

NEW MAKALA SOPRANO DOLPHIN BRIDGE UKULELE BY KALA BRAND - FACTORY FRESH
NEW MAKALA SOPRANO DOLPHIN BRIDGE UKULELE BY KALA BRAND - FACTORY FRESH
$44.99
Time Remaining: 17d 11h 12m
Buy It Now for only: $44.99

NEW MAKALA SOPRANO DOLPHIN BRIDGE UKULELE BY KALA BRAND - FACTORY FRESH
NEW MAKALA SOPRANO DOLPHIN BRIDGE UKULELE BY KALA BRAND - FACTORY FRESH
$43.99
Time Remaining: 17d 11h 12m
Buy It Now for only: $43.99

NEW MAKALA SOPRANO DOLPHIN BRIDGE UKULELE BY KALA BRAND - FACTORY FRESH
NEW MAKALA SOPRANO DOLPHIN BRIDGE UKULELE BY KALA BRAND - FACTORY FRESH
$43.99
Time Remaining: 17d 11h 12m
Buy It Now for only: $43.99

Best Soprano under $200

Most ukuleles you'll find for under $200 are laminated (i.e. there is a thin layer of expensive wood on the top and cheaper wood underneath) which affects the tone of the ukulele. The Ohana soprano ukuleles are solid wood which makes them good value for money. My personal favorite ukulele at the moment is my Ohana (although it's a tenor) so I can highly recommend them. On eBay:

Ohana Long Neck Soprano Ukulele SK-30L *B-Stock*
Ohana Long Neck Soprano Ukulele SK-30L *B-Stock*
$149.00
Time Remaining: 29d 14h 23m
Buy It Now for only: $149.00

MIM: Ohana Soprano SK-50WG Solid Cedar Top/ Willow Ukulele Uke x761
MIM: Ohana Soprano SK-50WG Solid Cedar Top/ Willow Ukulele Uke x761
$184.75
Time Remaining: 16d 7h 45m
Buy It Now for only: $184.75

MIM: Ohana Soprano SK-35G All Solid Mahogany Gloss Setup Ukulele Uke -682 Bstock
MIM: Ohana Soprano SK-35G All Solid Mahogany Gloss Setup Ukulele Uke -682 Bstock
$174.75
Time Remaining: 23d 5h 58m
Buy It Now for only: $174.75

Best Electric Soprano

The most popular electric soprano ukulele around is the Applause by Ovation. I don't know anyone who has one who doesn't rave about it. On eBay:

Applause Acoustic Electric Soprano Ukulele
Applause Acoustic Electric Soprano Ukulele
$150.00
Time Remaining: 6d 5h 59m

Applause UAE20 Soprano Acoustic-Electric Ukulele Uke - Adamas Red Finish
Applause UAE20 Soprano Acoustic-Electric Ukulele Uke - Adamas Red Finish
$169.00
Time Remaining: 10d 1h 30m
Buy It Now for only: $169.00

Applause by Ovation UA10 Soprano Ukulele with Bag, Tuner & Cloth - Natural
Applause by Ovation UA10 Soprano Ukulele with Bag, Tuner & Cloth - Natural
$126.99
Time Remaining: 19d 6h 32m
Buy It Now for only: $126.99

Kala Soprano Ukulele Review

I recently bought a Kala Lacewood soprano (which goes by the rather complex name of Kala KA-ASLAS-SP) and I love it. Kala ukuleles have been growing considerably in popularity recently and it's not hard to see why. They have a good coverage of low and mid price ukuleles and they are all well put together and good value. So picking one of them up for myself was a bit of a no-brainer.

Construction

It's not obvious from the name, but the top of the ukulele (the most important part for the tone) is made of solid spruce. Spruce isn't a material traditionally used for ukuleles - it is more common on mandolins - but it gives the ukulele a very punchy tone.

Most of the rest of the ukulele (back, sides and neck) is made of solid lacewood. The big appeal of lacewood is its spotty grain. Which gives this ukulele a great look.

The ukulele is well put together. The finishing is very good (although the glueing between neck and bridge is a little messy.

Sound

The Kala soprano has a great tone to it. It is loud and very forceful. It's sounds great when you're strumming it. I love the sound of it strummed at speed. Here's a clip of me doing just that.

Picking the ukulele doesn't give you quite the same force. It's not terrible, but I find it hard to give it enough force to get a satisfying tone and volume. Here's me doing some picking on the ukulele.

Playability

Again there's a divide between strumming and picking. Strumming feels great. In fact, it's already my favourite strummer.

Picking, however, I find to be more tricky. As with all sopranos, I find my fingers tripping over themselves when I try to fingerpick a soprano. It's definitely possible (as you can see in the video below) but this uke wouldn't be my first choice for someone wanting to concentrate on fingerpicking.

Overall

I'd highly recommend this ukulele - particularly for those of you who want plenty of bite and volume in your strumming.

Other Kala Soprano Ukuleles

Kala do an excellent range of soprano ukuleles. The lacewood model is more in the mid-range of prices. If you're looking for something on a budget, the Kala Makala soprano ukulele is probably one of the best entry level ukuleles around - you can find a selection of these currently for sale in the sidebar.

On Video

Here's an excellent performance of Andante by David Beckingham on his Kala KA-ASLAS-SP lacewood spruce soprano. He gets a nice, sweet tone out of it. Although the sound isn't anywhere near as punchy and forceful as that you get when strumming.

Is the Soprano the Best Size for You?

The soprano ukulele is the smallest and most common size of ukulele. It is the ukulele that almost everyone starts on. Why is it so popular? And is it the right ukulele for you? Here are some of the advantages of soprano ukuleles.

The Soprano Sound

I think the biggest appeal of the soprano is the sound it makes. It has the traditional ukulele sound. It can also be played in a very forceful and punchy way. The larger the size of ukulele, the more you lose this and the sound becomes more guitar-like.

Strumming

The soprano ukulele is the world's most natural instrument to strum. It feels exactly right.

Price and Availability

Most of the least expensive ukuleles for sale are sopranos (although there are certainly many expensive sopranos around). If you are on a tight budget (or don't want to spend to much before you know if you're going to keep playing) then you'll have a much greater choice of soprano ukuleles than you will any other size.

Size

With it being the smallest uke, the soprano is a perfect instrument for kids and is very popular in schools. But the advantages stretch to full size people as well. It makes it relatively easy to stretch for notes and to form chords.

Downside

There is the other side of the coin as well. The soprano might be great for strumming, but it is not quite so suited to fingerpicking. I find my fingers have a tendency to trip over themselves fingerpicking on the soprano. And sopranos tend not to have the sustain of the larger ukes.

And many players find the soprano a little too small. They find it easier to play with more room on the fretboard. Although this doesn't seem to be related to hand size as you might expect.

Is It Right for You?

The soprano ukulele is the perfect ukulele for many people. If you are a beginner, I'd recommend you start with a soprao. It is easy and natural to play, sounds fantastic and it's cute!

Soprano Ukulele Tabs

Soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles are all usually tuned the same. So tabs and chords for any one will work for the soprano ukulele. The best places to find them are:

Ukulele Hunt (Tabs and Chords)
Dominator (Tabs)

I am completely biased on the first one though. It's my site.

But there are plenty of other sites around. You can find a comprehensive list of them here.

How to Tune A Soprano Ukulele

Like most ukes, the soprano ukulele is tuned to the notes gCEA (going from nearest your head to nearest the ground). The G note is higher than the C note (this is known as re-entrant tuning). There are a number of different ways you can go about making sure you soprano is in tune.

Using Your Computer

If you have a mic on your computer you can use a program called AP Tuner. It's free an will show you when your string is in tune (when it points to the zero and says the name of the note).

Using a Tuner

Of course, there are probably going to be many times when you want to tune your ukulele but you're not at the computer. So it's very useful to have a portable ukulele tuner such as the Intelli Tuner. This has a display similar to the AP Tuner but works by clipping on to the headstock of your ukulele and detecting the vibrations as you play. That means you can tune even in noisy environments such as a uke group - a big advantage.

Using Your Ears

If you are confident of your ability to match pitches, you can tune a soprano ukulele to a piano, guitar or pitch pipes. Or tuning notes such as these:

Ukulele Tuning Notes in C (MP3)