|Body And Neck:|
Good-quality budget baritone ukuleles are few and far between, but this RU22B from Alvarez Guitars – part of their quality entry-level Regent Series – is a solid choice for the ukulelist who needs a wallet-friendly baritone instrument. In fact, this uke comes in at under 100 bucks, but promises more than a budget experience. Sounds too good to be true…
On the face of it, this baritone uke – with a total length of just over 30” – is very simple, and sports quite a no-nonsense, ‘naked’ look. There’s no body binding or purfling, just an attractive abalone rosette around the soundhole. The body itself – featuring a traditional non-cutaway style – is also quite subtle, using a standard mahogany laminate on the top, back and sides with an elegant satin finish.
Attached to the body with a strong dovetail joint is a very playable mahogany neck, offering 18 frets (14 in the clear) on the rosewood fretboard – again, there are no intricate inlays, just a couple of dot markers on the fretboard. For a mass-produced budget uke, the craftsmanship on offer out of the box is actually very good, with nicely-dressed frets and no rough patches.
Expecting electronics? You won’t find them on this affordable model. But you will find some decent hardware that complements the overall feel and tone of the RU22B. In particular is the inclusion of a real bone nut and saddle, which is a great addition at this price point and certainly helps with a consistent tone. The saddle sits on a rosewood bridge, while on the headstock you’ll find a set of chrome closed-gear tuners with attractive black buttons, which hold the tuning well. As for strings, it’s equipped with a set of Aquila Nylgut – the ukulele standard.
The sound on offer from the RU22B is not as complex or rich as some of the other baritones we look at on our chart of the best baritone ukuleles, but for the price it’s very good. The construction, size and fan-braced top really allows it to sing – the projection is very good, as is the sustain and intonation at the 12th fret. As for the tone, we found it was naturally deep, while the mahogany kept things warm and woody.
There’s certainly nothing fancy in the looks department, but you can’t complain for the quality and components on offer at this affordable price. It plays beautifully and sounds great for the price, whatever the situation. For a wallet-friendly practice instrument, or something to travel around with, you’d be hard-pushed to find a better baritone.