6 Concert ‘Ukulele Around $100

This video and review shows six laminate mahogany concert ukes in the hundred dollar range. This was recorded to be as uncompressed and “true” as possible. Listen with good speakers or headphones to really pick up the differences.

The first instrument is the Islander MC-4. The islander is an import line from local Hawaiian makers, Kanile’a. Their entry line or M series has a very simple look, yet a rich, sweet tone. Even though they are less than cosmetically perfect, it still has an elegance from the pin bridge and ebony appointments.
Next up is the Gretsch G9110. This is a well balanced uke with a vintage look and tone. Like the Islander, you can often find minor cosmetic blemishes on Gretsch ukes, but the tone is excellent and the uke has a rustic coolness.

Following is the Mino’aka from Fender. This uke has that hip telecaster headstock and excellent sustain. Less bass than some of the other models. Some prefer that, some don’t.

That’s followed by the Cordoba 15CM. This model from Cordoba is the highlight of their line, for me. Really punchy lower mids, more like what you get in a tenor.
Next is the Luna Mo’o. With it’s laser etched body, it has a unique style. The sound, IMHO, is warm.

We finish off with the Kala KA-C. This one has nice dynamics. It’s a model that has served many well.

Every single ukulele we ship goes through a time extensive setup from an experienced technician. These models greatly benefit from that. For this entry level price range it is hardly worth it for us in terms of what we profit, with the amount of time spent. But that is our biggest gift by far to the ukulele community. We are glad to perpetuate this wonderful instrument and share the aloha of Hawaii with our expertise.

SO what differences did you hear? Any sound similar? What would you take home? Thanks for tuning in and sharing you opinion with us.
From the North Shore of Oahu, A Hui Ho!

Comments 58

  1. Thanks for posting these videos! My opinion – to me, the Gretsch sounds the nicest, without any doubt. Maybe hearing them live, I might feel differently, but on these videos the Gretsch certainly comes over the best. It has a sweet tone and rings out like a bell.

  2. I have to agree with Leslie about the Gretsch. I have been really impressed with the tone of their entire series of ukuleles. (Apart from the Gretsch, I would go with the Luna)

  3. Islander MC-4, for richness of tone and balanced articulation across the whole range of frequencies.

    Am I biased? Yeah; I got my MT-4 at HMS and still get an aural rush every time I play it. I practice better, and longer, because it sounds so sweet. Maybe I’m becoming tuned to the Islander sound, but for me the MC-4 is it, here.

    For around a hundred bucks, though? They’re all incredible. At the end, the quick switching between models on a simple strum from Corey, I just kept smilin’…

  4. I have a tenor Islander and can hear the similarities with the concert. I however was really suprised at the Gretch. I like that one the best. There is an aged quality in tone.

  5. My 15 CM arrived 2 days ago. Can’t put it down!!! It is so comfortable to play and I love the warm easy tone!!! Thanks to Uke Site for posting the videos of all the new concert ukes. Would never have ventured to purchase if I hadn’t seen the demonstration. Going to get many years of enjoyment with my new Cordoba!

  6. I have been really happy with my Cordoba 15CM. It feels good in my hands, projects nicely, stays in tune and just all ’round sounds great. I have a few ukes now, and this is by far my favorite.

  7. I learned to play on a Kala KAT. Still go back and play it sometimes after collecting many other better ukes. Teaching my niece now with it. Kala makes very nice instruments for the money.

  8. It was a video like this that led me to your site to purchase my first uke. Just wanted you to know how effective the videos are for sharing the uke love. –Julie in Chicago

  9. Thank you for still thinking of the entry level market. I got my first properly set-up ukulele from you in January – a Kala KA-CEM. If I hadn’t got a good start with a decent, playable instrument I probably would have given up.

  10. Thanks for the overview of the budget concert ukes. I currently play a soprano (Kala KA-S), but I’d like my next uke to be a concert.

  11. I really like the way you constructed the video comparison! It’s good to hear all of them without breaks because you can pick up the differences. I would like to hear more of this type of comparison.
    As for this group of concerts, I lean toward the Islander and the Gretsch, but really I wouldn’t be disappointed with any of them.

  12. The Luna ukes are fabulous. I purchased the Mo’o
    Concert Cedar solid top. The sound and playability are so very, very good! Love it!

  13. Thanks for posting these reviews they are very useful in deciding my next uke purchase.

  14. Owning a Kala, I must say that stringed with Aquila’s sounds quite decent, ando for the price you don’t mind taking it everywhere with you.
    Nevertheless, I liked the Islander and would love to try it…

  15. This kind of comparison really brings out the differences in these ukuleles!
    I always like it when ukuleles are unique in the way they look so I had always liked Luna ukuleles. But it surprises me so much when all of these ukuleles sound so good when they’re only 100 bucks!

  16. I initially thought I’d go for the Islander, or the Luna, or the Cordoba (in that order), but I keep getting pulled back to the Gretsch. If budget isn’t a concern, I might lean towards the Islander because of its connection to Kanile’a…if not, then perhaps the Gretsch – you nailed it with “rustic coolness”. 🙂

  17. The other commentators are right. Although some may prefer the sound of one over another, these are all really nice sounding instruments for the money, especially once they have been set-up properly.

  18. My Cordoba Uke that I have has a nice feel to it as i play. Thanks for these tutorials!

  19. Thanks for the video! It definitely gives me somethings to think about before buying my next uke!

  20. I love how you guys spend the same time and care catering to customers in all price ranges. Hearing low-end ukes played by master players really helps amateurs understand the very best possible sound they can ever expect to get out of an instrument. Best balanced sounds for me are the Islander and Gretsch. Love the look of the Gretsch. Lunas never impress me beyond the looks.

  21. I have the Kala KA-C. I am a beginner ukulele player and I love it. It was a birthday present that my family got for me from The Ukulele Site and the set up was as great as advertised.

  22. It’s between the Islander and the Cordoba for me. Balanced, warm, and fullness of sound.

  23. i really enjoy that you have very well priced ukuleles and that if anybody needs one they can come to you for a great but very affordable one.

  24. Great method of review! Very easy to hear the differences. Of course, on my computer’s 2″ speakers, the sound I’m hearing is likely different from the live sound. I have the Islander MT-4, and love the balance, light weight and low action. After this review, I’m yearning for the Gretsch concert. Love the lively crisp but full tone.

  25. I got my wife the Islander for her birthday and she absolutely loves it. It’s got beautiful tone and she says it’s very easy to play.

  26. I first learned how to play on a Kala KA-T. Seeing the KA-C makes me feel all nostalgic. Sadly, I’ve already sold and replaced it.
    Thanks for the video! Great way to compare ukes.

  27. This comparison was excellent. I like thr looks and sound of thr gretsch 9110. My only concern is the friction turners which I have heard several neg comments. Is there an inexpensive gear turners for these?

  28. Last year I bought the Luna ‘great wave ‘ uke from you . I have ten ukes but now play the Luna almost exclusively .

  29. The Islanders are a terrific choice. I’ve got both laminate and solid Islanders and there is not that much difference in feel or playability at all. The solid concert does have a better tone and sustain than the laminate but it is not a huge difference.

  30. Loved the Islander MT-4 that I picked up last year, and from the video the concert size has the same great sound.

  31. I completely agree with Reece, the Gretsch and the Cordoba sound best to me. I’ve had some experience with my friend’s Cordoba uke and they truly seem to be an excellent purchase.

  32. I love my Islander M4T-GPU. So nice to see other Islander models available now, since they weren’t around when you first started carrying this brand.

    Love the comparison video. Considering the Cordoba 15CM for my 9yr old daughter after watching that!!

  33. Because of your videos I bought the Islander MT4-GPU for my husband’s birthday this year. Now I need one. Glad I have more choices around $100 thanks to this video.

  34. Great video. Thanks! Really appreciate the work you guys put into your ukes, even the entry level models. Really makes me confident buying my first from you in the near future. Can’t wait.

  35. I’m looking to get a Cordoba 15sm – I have been very picky about the sopranos I have looked at and that’s been my favorite so far.

  36. I would personally rank them as:
    1. Islander MC-4, a very balance and clean sound
    2. Gretsch G9110, I’m surprised how nice this one sounds – true underdog
    3. Kala KA-C, probably because I own a KA-S, it just brings you home with the familiarity
    4. Fender, not my cup of tea, but definitely the most unique sound of the lot
    5. Luna, thought I would have liked the sound more
    6. Cordoba, IMHO, not bad but it’s my least favorite

  37. Thanks for this review of concerts in the price range that many beginners in my club would call “reasonable.” It’s great to have a choice, even in this lower price range.

  38. Thanks for all your videos. They are so helpful. All of these sounded good to me. One was warmer. One was brighter. One was deeper. They are all great for the price.

  39. Truly a great review! Unfortunately all this great information makes it difficult to choose. I may just end up purchasing all six! Keep up great work!

    1. Post
  40. Just rec’d a shipment of three gretsch 9110 for some beginner uke students. Very pleased with the quality and setup for an inexpensive uke.

  41. my favorite was the cordoba also. near second was the luna mo’o and a not so close third place for me was the islander. had trouble finding the vid online but eventually did using google and vimeo in the description. Was very happy to find this vid since it compared many instruments in the price range and size that I desire. Was previously leaning toward getting the Kala ka-c. I will likely buy the mo’o within the month. thanks!

  42. Pickup a Cordoba 15CM this past week and have not been able to put it down. Anyone know the song that’s being played in the comparison?

  43. This is simply great way of comparison. You did a great job, guys.
    At first I was looking at and listening to Kala. Then switched to Cordoba.
    And after couple of more days of listening and reading I’m in love with Gretsch. 🙂
    So much, that I seriously consider to buy it. Living in Europe will probably prevent me from buying it from you, guys, as the postage could maybe increase its price considerably. I will have to buy it somewhere around here and I really miss the chance to have it set up by your technician.
    But reading of the on-line reviews gives me hope that I would be happy with this ukulele even without your setup. At least I hope so and also I will try to find someone who could do setup here as well.
    With many regards.

  44. Awesome video and beautiful music. They all sound so different it’s fun to hear. I have a Kala KA-C and my family loves it. Check out the Teton 50 willow. It’s a bit more, but has a solid Cedar top and has just the right sound in my opinion. Not to soft of tones and not to plucky. It has a beautiful rich sound.

  45. if you jump from the Islander to the Gretch you’ll find they sound very similar. I think I like the Islander best. But for more plucky sound for playful tunes the Kala would be nice. the Fender by far sounds the worst to me! just too brittle.

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