As pioneers of the beginner ukulele market, Lanikai have been producing some of the best entry level ukes for quite some time now, and their LU-11 soprano sized ukulele is a perfect example of that beginner targeted quality. Don’t let the novice style qualities fool you – this is a fairly decent uke available at a great knock down price!
Okay, so, we all know we get what we pay for, and this ukulele is no exception to that particular rule. The LU-11 initially presents itself exactly as it should - as a low cost, budget, entry level ukulele – but this is possibly where Lanikai become their own worst enemy. Despite producing lower end ukes, and by no means being ashamed of it, their looks unfortunately betray their sound quality.
Out of the box, it’s obvious this uke didn’t cost much to make, not that the price tag gives that away already. The nato wood body construction doesn’t exactly have that premium overall feel to it compared to ukes made with harder woods such as mahogany, but despite this, it does feel like it could withstand some newbie thrashing.
Available at around $60, it’s clear this isn’t going to be the best quality uke out there, but that’s fine, because entry level Lanikai ukuleles tend to verge on being superb instruments, and the LU-11 is exactly that.
The nato wood construction of the LU-11 helps to produce a wonderfully bright sound, and although a little tinny sounding with hard strumming, this is of no hindrance to the beginner player.
Due to being a soprano sized ukulele – the smallest non-custom size available on the market – this uke imbues an almost toy guitar-like quality to the more advanced player, however, this somehow makes it ideal for those who have absolutely no experience with the instrument, providing a near perfect platform to begin tinkering and learning.
Coming with clear nylon strings as standard, the Lanikai LU-11 ukulele produces a reasonably full, well balanced sound for an instrument of its price. A pleasant, unexpected surprise to say the least!
Unfortunately for Lanikai, this particular model isn’t the most versatile of instruments, but they’re happy with that and so can you. They make no claims of incredible versatility, and aren’t shy of the fact that this model is aimed at the beginner market.
That being said, the LU-11 does present itself as a fantastic entry level ukulele, if you don’t expect anything spectacular of it. It does exactly what it sets out to do, and provides a reasonably well built ukulele for beginner players to start learning how to play, all available at a very low cost.
It’s probably pretty clear by now that this is a pretty basic ukulele, with none of the bells and whistles available on mid to high end instruments. Despite this, and the obviously low manufacturing cost, the LU-11 does still look very pretty. There’s nothing negative about it looks-wise, but Lanikai had to cut costs somewhere, and as it plays very well, overall looks are where they seemed to have saved a few pennies.
Value for the Money
Without a doubt, the Lanikai LU-11 ukulele is absolutely fantastic value for money. For mildly curious beginner players, this is a very low cost investment to dip into the world of ukuleles, and will likely last for years to come if looked after well.
- Good entry level ukulele – As shown by the price alone, this uke is only meant to be a starter instrument, but it does that very well indeed!
- Great sound – Obviously we can’t expect amazing sound from this, but for an entry level uke, it still produces a decent sound for new players.
- Aesthetics – Not so much of a con, but this isn’t the most exciting looking ukulele ever.
If you'd like to hear the LU-11 in action, take a look at this YouTube video.
All in all, the Lanikai LU-11 Soprano Ukulele is a fantastic starter instrument for anybody interested in taking the instrument up as a hobby. It serves its purpose well, producing a reasonably well balanced sound, and feels as though it could last for a few years if well maintained. For a ukulele aimed at beginners or those with a low budget, Lanikai have pulled off the LU-11 surprisingly well – it’s fantastic for a basic learner instrument – just don’t expect any miracles from it.