Ukuleles! Once the dominion of Tiny Tim and George Formby, have become one of the most popular instruments around. From school children to hipsters to professional musicians, few have been able to resist falling in love with this versatile little instrument.
And who makes some of the best ukuleles around? Lanikai, of course! Since their foundation in 2000, Lanikai have become the watchword in reliable, affordable, quality ukes.
So let’s take a look, and find out which are the best Lanikai ukuleles! And maybe find the perfect one for you?
- 1 Top 9 Best Lanikai Ukuleles In 2020 Reviews
- 2 Best Lanikai Ukuleles Buying Guide
- 3 Need More Choice?
- 4 So, What Is The Best Lanikai Ukuleles?
Top 9 Best Lanikai Ukuleles In 2020 Reviews
1 Lanikai ukulele (QMBLCEC)
Let’s kick things off with this combination electric-acoustic concert ukulele. Weighing in at just 2.93 pounds, this nifty little instrument is light and easy to carry. It has a wide neck and features a roomy 37.4 mm nut, ideal for those who struggle with fiddly chords!
Well, the tone is beautiful. Whether plugged or unplugged, this uke evokes the sounds of the islands. And unlike many others, its onboard preamp system has three bands of EQ, meaning you can make adjustments to suit your taste and style without relying solely on the amp.
This ukulele is also lucky enough to have an inbuilt tuner, so you will have no problems trying to find the right note! Plus, it has Grover open-back tuning pegs, which allows it to stay perfectly in tune whilst the headstock remains light.
And we can’t talk about this ukulele without mentioning its look. Available in Sun (red), surf (blue), or sand (natural), it is simply gorgeous. Its quilt maple gloss finish is sure to turn heads, whether you’re playing for fun, recording, or on the stage.
It’s expensive compared to others on this list. Unfortunately, all these awesome features listed do bump the price up a bit!
- Preamp with three bands of EQ.
- Beautiful gloss finish.
- Pricier than others in this review.
2 Lanikai Ukulele (ACST)
So here we have an acoustic tenor ukulele. This also has a wide neck, nut, and saddle for your comfort and ease of playing. It comes with standard chrome strap buttons, which allow you to attach a strap and safely hang it around your neck and avoid it slipping through your fingers.
With a solid Acacia top, this uke offers an updated look to the traditional ukulele. The stunning gloss finish over the natural wood gives it an old school feel, but without becoming dated. It also has maple binding, which offers a pleasing, warm contrast to the rest of the body.
Want a louder uke without going electric?
This is a tenor instrument. It has a richer, fuller sound than the smaller concert or soprano ukuleles on the market. Plus, its reliable D’Addario strings give an attractive, pleasurable tone.
Like some other Lanikai ukuleles, it has deluxe Grover open-back tuners. These tuning pegs are some of the most dependable out there, meaning you can sustain your tone for long periods with less need for adjustments.
- Rich tenor sound.
- Classic look and feel.
- Reliable tuners.
- Solid top only. The back and sides are Acacia laminate.
- Acoustic only. If you want the option of going electric, you’ll need your own pickup.
3 Lanikai Ukulele (MAC)
Have you ever dreamed of playing music on a beach in Hawaii while sipping Pina Coladas? If so, this could be the uke for you!
This is a classic. If tradition is what you are going for, then this surely is one of the best Lanikai ukuleles around! Made from time-honored mahogany, it has a sweet, warm tone and some awesome retro vibes!
Though this is a concert ukulele, it has a slightly wider neck than many other ukes. This makes it easier to handle and offers a degree of comfort that can sometimes be missing. We also get this comfort from the frets, which are easy on the fingers with no sharp edging.
Another great aspect of this model is its weight. At only 1.89 pounds, it’s easily transportable and can be effortlessly carried. It also has those standard chrome strap buttons, for maximum convenience.
All this for a great price…
A cool, old-school look, a classic, quality sound and top levels of comfort… what more could you want? Well, how about a great price? This model is much more wallet-friendly than many others on the market.
There has to be a drawback, right? Well yes. It is a little basic. Perfect for beginners, it’s also a fantastic instrument for a jam with your friends. But experienced players might want something a bit more high-end.
- Made from traditional mahogany.
- Convenient for transport.
- Comfortable and easy to play.
4 Lanikai Ukulele (QMBLCET)
Here we have another electric-acoustic uke, perfect for the stage! This instrument features a Fishman’s Kula onboard preamp system, which was designed especially to suit a ukulele, meaning you can find the perfect tone for you.
Another bonus of that preamp system? It contains a built-in tuner. No more messing around trying to find the right note by ear!
As it’s a tenor uke, we get to hear a deeper sound than can be found in smaller models. Its D’Addario strings complement the natural timbre of this instrument perfectly, giving a rich, full-bodied tone. The top-quality nut and saddle also add to this strong, dynamic sound.
This ukulele is not for the fainthearted!
It weighs a whopping 3.3 pounds, making it less convenient and more difficult to carry than many others. So start building up those muscles if you think this is the uke for you!
What else? Well, despite its massive size, it is quite comfortable to play. This is another model with a wider neck, giving your fingers much more room. Makes that awkward E major chord a piece of cake!
And we really have to talk about the look of this uke. It is one of the most eye-catching we’ve ever seen! OK, it isn’t exactly traditional. But its glossy, stained, quilted maple finish is seriously striking!
- Preamp system with built-in tuner.
- Rich tenor sound.
- Stunning finish.
- Heavy compared to other models.
- Expensive – this is not a budget-friendly option!
5 Lanikai CDST-C
Another great ukulele if you enjoy a traditional style, but also like to mix things up a bit! Why? Cedar, of course!
While the body is made of reliable mahogany, it has a solid cedar top. This changes the tone to give us a really interesting balance of sound. It projects its notes clearly, giving us a quality not always found in other ukes.
How else does that Cedar affect this model?
How it looks! It has a much lighter hue than traditional mahogany ukes. It also has really delicate maple binding with a very effective wooden inlay. Subtle but stunning!
Another ukulele with a more ample neck, this also features a classy, walnut fingerboard. It’s comfortable and practical but does not sacrifice its great look or sound for simplicity. All in all, we have here a very dependable instrument.
But wait! Can I afford such a superb ukulele?
Yes, you can! This is an extremely wallet-friendly option, considering the high standards it offers. We like this uke a lot!
- Great balance of tone.
- Beautiful maple binding.
- Won’t break the bank.
- Acoustic only.
- Solid Cedar top is not for traditionalists.
6 Lanikai LU-21C
Smaller than a soprano, bigger than a tenor, we have here another concert ukulele. This is the perfect size for someone new to ukulele playing. It is not so big that it becomes difficult to hold but is not so small that it is fiddly and awkward.
Unlike the others on our list, this is made from Nato wood. Also known as Eastern Mahogany, it has very similar properties and looks to normal mahogany. In fact, with its deep red finish, it looks pretty great!
Is there a downside to using Nato?
Unfortunately, yes. It’s much cheaper than normal mahogany. And while this is good for the bank account, it does mean that we lose some of the sound quality in this instrument.
But it’s not all bad! This is a pretty nice little uke. OK, it does not sound quite as good as some of the others in this review. But it still has that sweet tone we can expect from the best Lanikai ukuleles.
The white binding contrasts strikingly with that burnished, red wood. Plus, its rosewood fretboard with smooth dividers is both practical and beautiful. Want to learn to play, and look cool at the same time? This could be a good option for you!
Of course, another positive, if you’re a beginner, is the add-ons that come included with this model. A clip-on tuner, an Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, a polishing cloth, and a gig bag! What more could you possibly want?
- Gorgeous deep red body.
- Great for beginners or casual players.
- Slightly lacking in sound quality.
7 Lanikai Ukulele MAS
The only soprano ukulele on our list, this tiny model weighs just 1.52 pounds. That, combined with the chrome strap buttons we find in most Lanikai ukes, makes it one of the most convenient to handle ukes we’ve seen.
This is another uke with a high level of tuning accuracy. Its quality tuners, along with the NuBone XB nut and saddle, keep the strings tight and sustain their tone for long periods. No more re-tuning after every song!
What is this uke made of?
We’ve gone back to our old favorite, mahogany. With a satin finish over smooth wood and walnut fingerboard, we’re once again treated to that classic Hawaiian look.
This instrument is different from the others, not just in its size but in its sound. It has a brighter, lighter, more cheery aspect to its tone. In fact, it’s hard to play this uke without a smile on your face! It’s sure to bring joy to both musicians and audiences alike.
And as always, we have to think about budget. Well, good news! This is an extremely affordable option that does not sacrifice quality for the price.
- Bright, cheery, soprano sound.
- Classic, vintage look.
- Small and lightweight.
- Soprano ukuleles can be more difficult for bigger hands to manage!
8 Lanikai Ukulele FBCETT
The third tenor ukulele we’ve looked at, this fine model, is made from Bocote wood.
Well, Bocote has an extremely unusual grain pattern, meaning your uke will be covered in a unique combination of swirls, lines, and shades.
Another unusual aspect of this uke is its thin body design, 42 mm at its widest, and just 34 mm at its thinnest. It is so much less bulky than many others out there, so it’s portable and probably one of the best travel Lanikai ukuleles around. However, at 3.3 pounds it certainly is not the lightest uke we’ve ever seen!
As well as being the third tenor, it is also the third electric-acoustic ukulele on our list. The preamp system this time is a Shadow SH-3V pickup. Shadow Electronics are well known and highly respected, so you can be sure of a superbly enhanced sound while rocking out on the stage.
But what about that sound?
Well, the NuBone nut and saddle, along with D’Addario strings, combine to give it a seriously well-balanced tone. And it has a really good acoustic projection, which can sometimes be a problem for skinny little instruments like this.
Obviously, it’s not perfect. Nothing is! Being electric-acoustic, it is on the pricier side of things. But maybe here with this uke, we get what we pay for.
- Electric-acoustic with great preamp system.
- Unique Bocote wood body.
- Excellent projection.
9 Lanikai LU22CGC Concert Ukulele Natural
Popular and affordable…
Great for musicians from seasoned professionals to beginners, the LU22CGC is THE sound of the islands. This makes the LU22CGC Concert Ukulele, one of Lanikai’s most popular and affordable ukes. It produces an incredibly sweet sound from its pedigree of choice woods and high-quality construction.
The classic ukulele design and construction from beautiful tonewood are improved further by the attention to detail that has made Lanikai the preferred name in ukuleles. The LU22CGC is an in-betweener, being just a bit bigger than a soprano uke, and smaller than a tenor. This is excellent for players with larger fingers, as well as the slightly larger body emitting a louder and deeper tone. Quality materials…
It is solidly crafted with the top, back, sides, and neck, all being made from Mahogony for a well-balanced tone. The bridge and fretboard are Rosewood to add clarity to the notes, and the die-cast tuners keep you in tune as you go through your repertoire. With its gold hardware and soft satin finish, the Lanikai LU22CGC ukulele will definitely turn some heads.
Excellent construction ensures the beautiful sounds that this dynamic and versatile little instrument is capable of.
- Sweet sound.
- High-quality construction.
- Attractive design.
Choosing which ukulele to buy depends on your needs. Are you a beginner dreaming of filling Madison square gardens or hoping to jam with friends? Perhaps you’re a seasoned player looking to move up to a different model? It’s important to think about this before you decide which one to buy.
A new enthusiast probably shouldn’t look for something super expensive or high-end. Yes, your interest may turn into a burning obsession. But, you can always upgrade, instead of spending lots of money only to have your uke collecting dust in the corner.
If you’ve been playing for a while and think it’s time to level up, decide if you want the option of playing electric. These ukes can be more expensive, so it’s worth thinking about whether or not you want to spend all that money. If not, it is possible to buy a separate pick up instead.
Right! Now we need to choose which type of ukulele to buy. So let’s look at the three most common types of uke…
- Usually 21 inches long.
- 12-15 frets.
The tone of this pocket rocket is high, with a cheerful quality. In fact, it’s probably the sound most people think of when they see the word ukulele! Many people consider this to be the original, standard ukulele.
- Typically 23 inches long.
- 15-18 frets.
A concert uke is more versatile than a soprano. It retains that classic sound while also adding a little more depth. Plus, its size makes it accessible for a wider range of people and gives an extra degree of comfort.
- Around 26 inches long.
- 17-19 frets.
Like Pavarotti, this is a bigger, bolder, instrument! The tenor is for those who want a more sonorous tone. Their sound tends to be richer, with a warming quality.
Next! How Can Different Woods Affect a Ukulele?
Mahogany is probably the most common wood used for uke production. There’s a good reason for this; it gives a fantastic tone. Not too hard or soft, mahogany offers the best of all worlds without too much expense.
How about Cedar?
We do not often find an instrument made completely of Cedar, but this wood is commonly used for the soundboard. It delivers a soft, warming sound with sweet overtones.
Nato has a lot in common with Mahogany. Whilst it does not have the same standard of sound, it’s far more cost-effective than other materials. Plus, it looks awesome, with dazzling, almost scarlet, hues!
Then there was Acacia wood…
Acacia offers a woody, complex, timbre. An Acacia solid top can work to balance the instrument’s ‘jangliness’ and leaves a more balanced sound.
And lastly, we have that unusual Bocote wood. Honestly, we love this! Its extraordinary wood grain patterns mean you’ll always stand out in a crowd, and it sounds truly amazing too.
Wow! That was a lot of information! But hopefully, we’ve given you an idea of what to look for when choosing the best uke for you.
Need More Choice?
We’ve covered some great ukuleles in this review, but maybe you want even more choice? If so, no problem, check out our reviews of the Best Concert Ukuleles for Beginners, the Best Tenor Ukuleles, the Best Baritone Ukuleles, and the Best Bass Ukulele currently available.
So, What Is The Best Lanikai Ukuleles?
This was a difficult decision! But we’ve picked the…
This is a great all-rounder. Concert sized, it’s comfortable for everyone and is not as hefty as a tenor. The mix of wood types gives it a more interesting sound, and we love those dulcet tones!
No, it does not have a pickup. While it’s nice to have one, we do not need it. And not having one really brings the price down!
So best of luck in your quest to find the best Lanikai ukuleles! And maybe we’ll see you on the cover of Rolling Stone soon!