If you're considering buying a ukulele, or can't decide which size to get, we feel your pain. Today, we are going to give an in depth view into concert ukuleles, the big sister of soprano ukuleles. They may not be the biggest, or the smallest, but for you they may be just right.
Best Concert Ukuleles
Best Uke Under $100
Best Uke Under $150
Best Uke Under $300
What should I know about concert ukuleles?
Concert ukuleles are also sometimes called alto or super sopranos. Concert ukes were developed in the 1920s as an enhanced soprano. They are just a couple inches bigger than a soprano ukulele. This extra two inches (or so) can have a big impact on a few things.
First, a concert uke typically has 15 to 20 frets. This is five or so more compared to the 12 to 15 on a soprano. The extra frets can help you reach new notes that you wouldn't have accomplished with a soprano ukulele.
The length of a concert ukulele is usually around 23 inches compared to a soprano uke at 21 inches, and because of this you can project sound better. Those extra two inches can make a slight difference if you are worried about your ukulele being too quiet. I like the larger version because it creates a warmer, richer tone.
The bigger size creates more tension on the strings, which also creates a louder sound. Do you ever find yourself pressing your fingers down on the strings and bending the strings out of tune? The extra tension on the concert uke makes it a bit more difficult to do so when you hit the frets.
I find myself struggling with the tight space between the frets on the soprano ukulele. The frets on the concert uke are just a little bit bigger, which I find easier to play. The first five frets are where we play the ukulele the most.
The average space between frets on the soprano uke is 3/4 inch, where a concert ukulele is 7/8 inch. I find that that little bit of wiggle room, 1/8 inch, makes it easier to play, but not too much that I'm stretching my finger span. I like the extra space near the nut.
If you want to know more about the difference between a soprano, concert, and tenor ukulele, watch this video by Gig Gear. You can hear the difference in tone between the three, plus it's a good comparison of the body styles.
How should I tune a concert ukulele?
There are two options to tune a concert ukulele. The common G-C-E-A tuning, which I personally prefer, or a low A-D-F#-B, or Canadian tuning. Canadian tuning is popular in concert and tenor ukuleles. I find the chord shapes of the Canadian tuning awkward.
Some ukulele players will argue that using the same soprano tuning on a concert ukulele makes the string tension too tense. This creates a restricted sound, instead of the classic "plinky" sound you associate with a ukulele.
If you can't decide which tuning to go after, why not try both? You could buy a low G-string set and a standard set. I would suggest trying the low G first. After a couple weeks, switch to the standard set.
Concert ukes are set to the same re-entrant tuning as the soprano and in the same octave. You'll most likely see concert ukuleles (and soprano ukes) with nylon polymer strings, which is best for the size and tension of the instrument.
How much dough am I looking at spending?
Concert ukes are still in the relatively cheap end of the uke spectrum. In fact they are the second to least expensive model, with the soprano ukulele being the cheapest. You will pay a little bit more for the extra material, but the price difference compared to a soprano is minimal.
If you already have a soprano ukulele and are looking at also buying a concert uke, you are in luck, because the two instruments share a lot of the same resources, like music. There is music that is concert uke specific, but you'll find most is interchangeable between the soprano and the concert.
What concert ukulele should I buy?
We have our top 3 Coustii recommended concert ukuleles. Each are in a different price point, so depending on what you are wanting to spend you can find a good quality uke to jam out with!
What should I buy for under $100?
If you are looking for a budget ukulele, I would recommend the Kala KA-MK-C Makala concert ukulele. I have my reservations about buy cheap ukes, but the Kala brand consistently creates quality products.
The KA-MK-C is very similar to it's more expensive KA-C model, but Kala has added a few cost saving measures. The frets are made of brass and the uke body is unbound to save a few pennies.
If you are on a tight budget, but still want a quality concert uke, look no further than the Kala KA-MK-C. This is a great beginner concert ukulele. You can also shell out a few more pennies for the gig bag package, which comes with a hard case, clip on tuner, instructional DVD, and polishing cloth.
What should I buy for under $150?
If you are willing to make a slightly bigger investment, I suggest the Oscar Schmidt OU5 concert ukulele. The tone and quality are amazing. Plus it's a real beauty in person.
The top has a nice glossy finish and shiny chrome tuners. The abalone binding and rosette around the sound hole are also noteworthy.
The Koa version also comes with the gig bag option, which is great for those needing a case and a handy instructional DVD to go with it.
The OU5 is a great investment, because it comes with a lifetime warranty. If you want a uke that you can play for the rest of your life and looks stunning, the Oscar Schmidt OU5 is a great choice.
What should I buy for under $300?
If you have the extra cash to spend and want to invest in a jaw dropping concert ukulele, the Kala KA KCGE-C concert cutaway uke is the ticket. This is the perfect instrument if you are ready to take a step above the beginner ukuleles and start riding with the big dogs.
The Kala cutaway makes this instrument unique and is guaranteed to turn heads. The koa laminated finish is rich with deep tones. The sound is sweet and bright, plus you'll always be in tune with the built in tuner.
A Few Runner Ups
Without going into a full review, we thought it was also important to mention a few of our runner up concert ukuleles. These fine contenders include the Kanile hand-crafted ukuleles, Lanikai LU-21C, and the Luna High Tide Series Koa uke.
Congratulations! You've passed Concert Ukuleles 101! By taking a step up from the soprano, a concert ukulele can give you a louder, brighter sound without completely breaking the bank. Make sure you've taken the next class TunAUke to ensure your uke is properly tuned!