Baritone ukuleles offer a very interesting cross-section of guitars and ukuleles. While the instrument has only 4 strings like a ukulele, the strings are tuned differently from the other, smaller variations of ukulele.
Instead of being tuned “GCEA”, the strings are tuned “DGBE“. This DGBE tuning is the same as the bottom 4 strings on a guitar, and the size of a baritone ukulele is in between a ukulele and guitar as well.
Commonly a baritone ukulele will have the two upper string be nylon, and the lower two metal which is unique for a ukulele.
So who is a baritone ukulele best for? The baritone ukulele is great for players who want to do a lot of finger-picking, or who want a deeper sounding ukulele to better match their voice. Check out the video below to hear some baritone ukulele finger-picking in action.
Baritone Ukulele Sound
The baritone ukulele has a very unique and interesting sound. It’s not as loud or full-toned as a guitar, and it’s not as high pitched or crisp as a standard ukulele. Instead, it has a very laid back, mellow sound that lends itself well to soothing music. Here’s another video that exemplifies the unique sound of the baritone ukulele.
Differences from Smaller Ukuleles
The most obvious difference between a baritone ukulele and a soprano, concert, or tenor is the size. Both the body and the neck of the baritone are larger, which can make it easier to handle for people with large hands.
Another big difference is with how you form chords. Since the tuning is different, the chords are different. The nice thing is, you’ll still be using the same finger positioning that you’re used to, only the chord you’re playing will differ.
For example, playing an F chord on a soprano ukulele is the same fingering as playing a C chord on the baritone. A C chord on a soprano is the same as a G chord on a baritone. Here’s a good baritone chord chart in PDF format.
If you’ve played the guitar before switching to a baritone, you’ll be delighted to know that forming chords on the baritone uke is the same as a guitar – only without the top 2 strings. So if you want to play a C chord, place your fingers as you normally would for the bottom 4 strings on a guitar, and simply ignore the top two that are missing!
Best Baritone Ukulele Under $200
For our top of the line baritone ukulele, we went with the Cordoba 20BM. The 20BM comes has high quality Aquila Nylgut strings and a solid mahogany top, making it beautiful to look at. The great news is, it sounds just as lovely!
Cordoba is widely known and respected as a ukulele manufacturer, so it’s a brand you should buy with confidence.
Best Baritone Ukulele Under $150
Moving down the price range, the Kala KA-B comes in as our best baritone ukulele under $150. This ukulele also features a mahogany body and white bindings.
The volume and clarity of tones is superb with this ukulele, and it’s easy to play for beginner ukulele players and pros alike. In the video below you can hear how the KA-B sounds –
Best Baritone Ukulele Under $100
For musicians on a budget, check out the Kala MK-B. This is the cheaper baritone from Kala, you can compare it to the KA-B above. The main differences between the KA-B and MK-B is the MK-B doesn’t look as nice (notice no white bindings around the body).
Also, the MK-B comes with cheaper strings, though they still sound good as you can hear below –