7 Best Soprano Ukuleles – Finding the Top Standard Ukes

156-Best-Soprano-Ukes

Last Updated: May-07-2019
In our most recent reshuffle of this soprano-focused article, we didn’t need to remove anything from our chart. However, we added two cool new models to offer even more choice. These comprised the cute Martin S1 and the eye-catching Kala KA-PWS.

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.

Although you can find smaller ukes – such as the piccolo or ‘pocket ukulele’ – a soprano is the smallest of the four main size categories, which also comprise concert, tenor, and baritone sizes.

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 7 Soprano Ukuleles

ImageUkuleles / RatingSummaryCheck Price
+ - Martin S1 Soprano Ukulele Martin S1 Soprano Ukulele

Total of 4.53/5   4.5 out of 5 stars

This Martin delivers vintage tones and flawless construction for its premium price.

+ - Luna High Tide Soprano Luna High Tide Soprano

Total of 4.67/5   4.7 out of 5 stars

Luna shines once again with this outstanding soprano.

+ - Martin 0X Bamboo Martin 0X Bamboo

Total of 4.72/5   4.7 out of 5 stars

A soprano by Martin that offers a great tone variety.

+ - Fender Grace VanderWaal Moonlight Soprano Ukulele Fender Grace VanderWaal Moonlight Soprano Ukulele

Total of 4.65/5   4.7 out of 5 stars

Quite possibly the best-looking soprano ukulele under $100

+ - Kala KA-PWS Soprano Ukulele Kala KA-PWS Soprano Ukulele

Total of 4.72/5   4.7 out of 5 stars

Pacific Walnut gives this affordable uke its unique look.

+ - Luna Honu Soprano Ukulele Luna Honu Soprano Ukulele

Total of 4.75/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

Great value and sound on offer with this sea turtle-inspired uke.

+ - Kala KA-15S Soprano Kala KA-15S Soprano

Total of 4.80/5   4.8 out of 5 stars

Looking for a soprano on a budget? Check out this Kala

Martin S1 Soprano Ukulele

Martin S1 Soprano Ukulele

Body And Neck:4.9 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.6 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:3.8 out of 5 stars

Since 1833, the Martin brand has been synonymous with quality stringed instruments. If you’re looking for a top-tier soprano ukulele, the S1 fits the bill. As we highlight in our full review, this no-frills instrument delivers quintessential ukulele tones and a flawless build quality for its premium price.

The S1’s all-mahogany body features a satin open-pore finish to accentuate the natural wood grain and maximize comfort for players. The 17-fret sipo fingerboard is short, but roomy with a 1.5” nut width.

This soprano also projects exceptionally well for its small size. Gigging players and uke aficionados alike will have no problem getting jangly, breezy Hawaiian tones out of this instrument. If you’re looking for the best, you can’t go wrong with a Martin!

Luna High Tide Soprano

Luna High Tide Soprano

Body And Neck:4.8 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.6 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.5 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars

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.

Martin 0X Bamboo

Martin 0X Bamboo

Body And Neck:4.7 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.7 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.9 out of 5 stars
Value:4.6 out of 5 stars

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.

Fender Grace VanderWaal Moonlight Soprano Ukulele

Fender Grace VanderWaal Moonlight Soprano Ukulele

Body And Neck:4.8 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.5 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.5 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars

The Grace VanderWaal Moonlight ukulele by Fender is one of the most stylish ukuleles you will find in this range. Inspired by the young American artist’s debut album, it looks like it belongs in a price category far above this entry-level range.

In addition to the stunning midnight blue finish, Fender has made this ukulele extremely playable by adding some solid hardware and nice touches like the pull-through bridge that makes re-stringing much easier.

This uke is ready to go straight out of the box and, once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down. Check out our full Grace VanderWaal Moonlight ukulele review to see everything this uke has to offer.

Kala KA-PWS Soprano Ukulele

Kala KA-PWS Soprano Ukulele

Body And Neck:4.8 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.7 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.6 out of 5 stars
Value:4.8 out of 5 stars

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.

Luna Honu Soprano Ukulele

Luna Honu Soprano Ukulele

Body And Neck:4.7 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.7 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.7 out of 5 stars
Value:4.9 out of 5 stars

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!

Kala KA-15S Soprano

Kala KA-15S Soprano

Body And Neck:4.8 out of 5 stars
Hardware:4.6 out of 5 stars
Sound:4.8 out of 5 stars
Value:5 out of 5 stars

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?

While the woods will play a part in the overall tone, a soprano uke tends to have a lovely bright and happy sound. This is the typical tinkly Hawaiian ukulele tone you may be accustomed to.

However, due to the smaller body, the soprano is certainly the quietest of the sizes. It 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 will find the ‘pineapple uke’. This is still a soprano in size, but it has a bigger waist and – therefore – a bigger sound.

For practice and small impromptu performances, a soprano uke is great. 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 buy a concert or tenor uke at a later date, if you feel you need more room to play or more projection.

What’s next? 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 straight away.

Good luck with your soprano uke shopping!


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Comments

  1. Eric Hoodman says

    Am a teacher and serious uke player and play exclusively on soprano ukuleles. My latest acquisition is a wide nut custom soprano built for me by Graham Mc Donald ( Australia). I find it hard to figure that soprano ukes are good for beginners and that moving on to a concert or tenor is some form of upgrade. If you listen to the late John King or Samantha Muir, you will understand my point of view. There are some pieces that require stretches that are very difficult to handle on a uke other than a soprano….at least for me. I prefer to consider the different sizes as different instruments on their own that would suit players according to their preferences and totally agree that some players are more comfortable with bigger sizes. Happy strumming to all.

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