5 Best Soprano Ukuleles – Finding the Top Standard Ukes
Last Updated: Jan-24-2018
Our soprano chart received a bit of an update to kick start the year. The beautiful Luna High Tide Soprano came in to replace the high-end Lanikai LK-SEU at top spot, while the Martin OXK was replaced with the newer Martin OX Bamboo.
Beginner? Small hands? Or just want that classic ukulele sound? A soprano ukulele is your best bet, as this traditional ukulele variety proves one of the most popular due to its compact size, price and tone.
Table Of Contents
- Top 5 Soprano Ukuleles
- What Makes a Soprano Ukulele?
- What Does a Soprano Ukulele Sound Like?
- Advantages and Disadvantages of a Soprano Ukulele
- Beware of Cheap Sopranos!
- What are the Alternatives?
- The Final Word
A soprano is the classic ukulele, also known as the ‘standard’ uke, as originally all ukuleles were soprano sized. Eventually bigger ukuleles – like the concert – arrived on the scene, but the soprano is the original and one that will never go out of style!
If you think of a famous face playing the ukulele – whether that’s George Formby, Tiny Tim or Ohta-San – they will all usually be playing a soprano.
If you’re in the mood for buying a new soprano uke, help is at hand – we’ve put together a short chart to highlight some of the best and most popular soprano ukuleles on the market today to suit any budget, ranging from around $50 right up to just under $500.
Of course, there are hundreds more models available, but this chart will give you a good snapshot of what’s hot at the moment.
Check out the chart below, then stick around to learn a little more about the cutest ukulele sizes.
Top 5 Soprano Ukuleles
|Image||Ukuleles / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
|+ -|| Luna High Tide Soprano |
Total of 4.67/5
Luna shines once again with this outstanding soprano.
|+ -|| Martin 0X Bamboo |
Total of 4.72/5
A soprano by Martin that offers a great tone variety.
|+ -|| Kala KA-PWS Soprano Ukulele |
Total of 4.72/5
Pacific Walnut gives this affordable uke its unique look.
|+ -|| Luna Honu Soprano Ukulele |
Total of 4.75/5
Great value and sound on offer with this sea turtle-inspired uke.
|+ -|| Kala KA-15S Soprano |
Total of 4.80/5
Looking for a soprano on a budget? Check out this Kala
|Body And Neck:|
The guys at Luna go all-out in the design department with their High Tide soprano electro-acoustic – a wonderful little model that shows great value, even for the mid-range price tag.
With their trademark eye-catching designs, the High Tide most notably features a lunar/high tide theme, with abalone waves acting as fretboard markers and a ‘full moon’ at the first fret. The top, back and sides of the body are made of satin-finished solid koa, with a beautiful grain, while the neck is crafted with mahogany.
There’s also a simple but effective piezo pickup and onboard preamp, while the natural acoustic sound is lovely – all highlighted in the full review of the Luna High Tide.
|Body And Neck:|
Replacing the original Martin OXK on this chart is another Martin – the higher-end OX Bamboo soprano, which sports a beautiful eye-catching pastel blue finish (although green, red and natural finishes are also available) and an attractive bamboo grain.
Interestingly, the grain is essentially a photo, as the body is made entirely of an eco-friendly high-pressure laminate instead of wood. However, the sound on offer is brilliant – not too dissimilar to a solid wood model, with a jingly bright tone, great sustain and ample projection.
The laminate neck is sturdy and very playable, while the hardware isn’t bad for the price either. You can check out the full review of the Martin OX Bamboo for all the details.
|Body And Neck:|
The first soprano ukulele on our chart, and another which falls into the sub-$200 category –although it looks like it could be priced much higher.
The KA-PWS features a body made entirely from Pacific Walnut, with a super grain and elegant detailing – the black binding and satin finish in particular enhance the look further. The hand-feel is great, with a mahogany neck, a rosewood or walnut fretboard, and 12 frets, all in the clear.
For a more affordable instrument, the craftsmanship is great, while the tone on offer is bright and clear – everything you’d want from a soprano uke. All the details you need can be found in the full review of Kala’s KA-PWS.
|Body And Neck:|
There should be no surprise to see two appearances from Luna on this list, as the brand really bring the spirit of Hawaii to life with their designs.. And this Honu soprano ukulele pays tribute to the beloved green sea turtle (known as ‘honu’ in Hawaiian), with a laser-etched turtle around the rosette, giving the instrument a very unique look.
As we highlight in the full review of the Luna Honu, the body is made of mahogany, and features a matching mahogany neck, with a rosewood fretboard that’s decorated with mother-of-pearl shark tooth inlays.
The sound, for such a small ukulele, is impressive, with nice warmth and vibrancy. With a gig bag, tuner and chord chart thrown in, the Honu also shows great value!
|Body And Neck:|
Kala are a brand well-known for making an awesome ukulele for both beginners and experienced players, but this entry-level KA-15S – with a small-hand friendly soprano body and a tiny price tag – will certainly appeal to those just starting out. For the price, the quality on offer is nothing short of fantastic.
The 21” long body is made of a lovely satin-finished mahogany laminate, with a comfortable mahogany neck, and a rosewood fretboard with 12 frets. It’s fun to play and, sound-wise, it’s really impressive.
While not particularly loud, it has nice warmth for such a small instrument. Make sure to check out all the details of Kala’s KA-15S in the full review.
What Makes a Soprano Ukulele?
The smallest of the popular ukulele sizes, a soprano typically measures around 21” in length, with a neck holding around 12 to 15 frets – usually 12 in the clear (i.e. fully accessible). With four strings, a soprano is usually tuned to the standard ukulele tuning, G-C-E-A.
What Does a Soprano Ukulele Sound Like?
While the woods will play a part in the overall tone, a soprano tends to have a lovely bright and happy sound – the typical tinkly Hawaiian ukulele tone.
However, due to the smaller body, it is certainly the quietest of the sizes, and can lack the projection and warmth you’d get from a concert or tenor uke. More often than not, a soprano ukulele will feature the traditional shape, but sometimes you’ll find the ‘pineapple’ uke, which is still a soprano in size, but it has a bigger waist and – therefore – a bit of a bigger sound.
For practice and small impromptu performances, a soprano is great, but for bigger performances, it may fall a little short – unless you invest in a soprano fitted with electronics (of which there are plenty!).
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Soprano Ukulele
With the smaller size and a scale length of 13”, a soprano ukulele is ideal for players with smaller hands, although those with larger hands can still master this tiny instrument. It’s also an ideal model for beginners, as you don’t have to reach very far to make chords, while the strings require less tension to make a note. With all this in mind, it’s easy to see why a soprano is also one of the best sizes for children learning the instrument.
Another benefit is that a soprano ukulele is generally around 10-15% cheaper than an equivalent model in a larger size. This is another reason why a soprano is often recommended for beginners, who may not have committed to playing the ukulele long-term and therefore want something a little cheaper to play around on. Finally, a soprano is a great ukulele size for travelling, as it’s so compact.
The main disadvantage of a soprano ukulele, as we’ve touched upon, is that the projection tends to be quieter than, say, a concert or tenor ukulele. It is also harder for those with bigger hands to play, as the neck is so short and the frets are closer together.
Beware of Cheap Sopranos!
As the one of the most popular ukulele sizes, you will find many sopranos on the market – many more than tenors and baritones, that’s for sure. This means you will find loads of cheap, $20 ukuleles that promise great value.
On closer inspection, however, these are little more than toys at best, and pieces of junk at worst. Your budget may not stretch further than $50, but these days – if you shop smart – you can find some very playable soprano ukuleles in this budget range, without having to waste your money.
What are the Alternatives?
While a soprano ukulele clearly has its advantages, you may be better suited to one of the other sizes. The next step up size-wise is a concert uke, with a typical length of around 23”. These can offer more playability for those with larger hands, as well as a richer, louder sound. They are a little more expensive, although not as pricey as a tenor ukulele, which is bigger again.
Check out this useful video showing the differences in size and tone in soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles:
The Final Word
If you end up with a soprano ukulele, you’ve made a decent choice – especially if you are a beginner. You can always upgrade to a concert or tenor at a later date, after you know that your relationship with the ukulele is more than a short fling.
Take a look at our chart, read some reviews, then create a shortlist of your favorite models. If possible, go try some out in your local guitar store. This way, you’ll also know if a soprano is the best fit for you, or whether you need something a little bigger.
Good luck with your soprano uke shopping!