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Cordoba have been crafting premium classical guitars and ukuleles with deluxe modern appointments since 1997. Their 15CM ukulele is one of their bestselling models, and the perfect entry point into the world of ukuleles for beginners and advanced players alike. Let’s break this uke down and explain why it’s currently one of the best ukuleles you can find under $100.
The 15CM is a concert ukulele – sitting somewhere between a soprano and larger tenor uke in terms of size, offering a great mix of portability, projection and tone. The instrument is just over two feet long (24.21”, to be precise) with an 11” body, meaning it’s easy to grab and take on the go.
The top, back, and sides are all constructed of layered mahogany and bound with cream ABS plastic. Fan interior bracing aids projection and tonal range. The slim C-shaped mahogany neck features a 19-fret composite fingerboard with pearloid dot inlays at the fifth, seventh, tenth and twelfth frets.
Overall, this is an extremely comfortable uke to hold and play. It’s exceptionally lightweight, sits comfortably in the player’s arms, and offers enough size to not feel cramped while remaining portable.
Cordoba have not only made this uke practical, they’ve also made it stylish. Deluxe touches like the beautiful abalone rosette around the soundhole and silver pearl button tuners make the 15CM appear far more expensive than its sub-$100 price tag suggests.
As the basics go, this uke features a composite bridge, saddle and nut. Intonation is generally stable across the fretboard, and after initially stretching out the strings, tuning is remarkably stable. Only minor adjustments are needed after days of thorough playing. The action does tend to be fairly high out of the box, especially on the upper frets. It’s playable without adjustments, but if you’d really like to maximize the playability, a setup from a professional would be great for this uke.
Concert ukuleles often prioritize chime and top-end pitch over depth and projection. Not the 15CM. This ukulele, while still favoring the treble range, projects a surprisingly loud and well-balanced sound. The Aquila NylGut strings lend a glassy, smooth tone and prevent any bite or shrillness at the extreme top of the range. Articulation on this uke is clear and distinct, though chords blend together a fair amount – the strings seem to ‘shimmer’ when strummed, especially higher up on the neck.
One thing to take into consideration is the sustain. The smaller body size and nylon strings limit how long each note rings, meaning a quicker decay time and shorter sustain on individually plucked notes. However, overall the 15CM offers plenty of breezy Hawaiian tones and a sweet, balanced range without any major flaws.
You can’t go wrong with the Cordoba 15CM – whether you’re a beginner looking for an affordable yet premium-sounding uke, or a more advanced player looking to experiment with a concert size instrument, this model fits the bill perfectly. The 15CM’s all-mahogany construction, flashy appointments, and full, smooth range all belie its budget-friendly price tag. Any player looking for a new uke should check it out.