Johnson Ukulele

3.61/5 (3)

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Johnson ukuleles are a budget range of ukuleles. They are made in China and laminated. Johnson’s most popular ukulele is their resonator. It’s very similar in look to the much sought after National Reso-phonic ukuleles. Obviously, the quality of the Johnson is not the same as the National, but it’s a good alternative for those who want a resonator ukulele but can’t afford a National (UPDATE: these ukuleles are now being sold under the name the Recording King resonator ukulele, but I have it on good authority they are exactly the same).

On Video

Rawuke busts out the blues riffs on his Johnson Resonator. Sounds really good to me.

On eBay

Johnson Ukulele Review

Download Michelle Flaherty‘s review of her Johnson ukulele here.

Johnson Baritone Ukulele Review

I have a Johnson Baritone (JUK-30). I’m not really a baritone player, I just wanted one to play around with so I went for a cheap one. The uke is sturdy and well put together. I’ve not been careful with it, but never had any problems. The tone is warm and rich for a laminated ukulele, but it isn’t that loud. It doesn’t feel that easy to play.

Considering the price, it’s a good ukulele. Despite its shortcomings, I enjoy getting my Johnson out now and then.

Review by Woodshed.

Johnson UK-120 Ukulele Review

I needed a inexpensive soprano ukulele to use as a travel uke to take on the plane back and forth to Florida to see my Granddaughters. They love to have me play and sing to them. The oldest, 5 years old, likes me to play “In the Good Ole Summertime”. She calls it the “Tootsie Wootsie” song. The younger one, 3 years, likes to strum and put the pick in the sound hole.

I bought the UK-120 for $40 and spent $10 for a gigbag. So far the ukulele has held together well. It comes with Martin Black nylon strings, after a few days of breaking in I was still having problems with the “C” string being to high. I did a little filing on the nut it is now settled in and is playing fine.
For a ukulele made in China it plays and looks good. There are a couple of cosmetic defects, but none that affect the playing ability.

So if you are looking for a uke to throw in the back set of the car, or in a backpack, or to take as a carry on bag on a flight to see the grandkids, this uke makes the grade. On a score of 1 to 10 I would give it a 7.

Review by Toby Russell


  1. TheViolentVicar October 2nd, 2011 6:14 pm

    I write about my Recording King RU-988 resonator. I find it quite fun to play, although the action out of the box was a little high for my taste. A little (careful!) filing of the grooves in the biscuit, or whatever that little thing is called that connects the strngs to the resonator, solved the problem.

    The tone is very pleasing to me, much more forward than your typical uke, with obvious tradeoffs in terms of warmth. Lots of sustain. I feel like Mark Knopfler’s incompetent cousin when I play this thing.

    The Grover (or look-alike) friction tuning pegs will try your patience, but are worth spending some time on to get set up right. The strings it came with were rubbish. Put some Aquilas on it immediately; you will feel much better.

    Predictably, it’s heavy. You will want to be careful where you put it down for fear of marring the beautiful nickel-plated brass finish. Get a cheap upright stand for peace of mind. And a microfiber polishing cloth; this thing shows every fingerprint.

    Overall quality of construction seems very good for the price. The Thick neck appears to be made of mahogany, the fretboard of rosewood. The head is covered in imitation mother of pearl. The whole unit seems pretty immune to flex.

    After the strings stretch out, it stays in tune pretty well through long practice sessions.

    Overall, I am very pleased with it. Until

  2. TheViolentVicar October 2nd, 2011 6:14 pm

    ….I can afford a National.

  3. Keithmj November 17th, 2011 3:20 pm

    I bought the Johnson K-150 Soporano ukulele just because it was named after my last name. I upgrade the tuners, 20.00 and installed Aurora Color strings, 10.00 and it sounds nice for a low cost ukulele. I would recommend this ukulele for someone just starting out even if you don’t upgrade it. But just changing the strings makes a difference. I would buy another one.

  4. harry May 27th, 2012 4:34 am

    Anyone know how or where to get a replacement cone for this resonator ukulele?

  5. Richard Bicksler September 16th, 2012 7:48 pm

    I Have a Johnson pineapple that I bought used from a person
    who hated it.($10.00) The trouble with it is intonation. The distance from the nut to the 12th fret is about 6.5 inches,from
    the 12th fret to the bridge is about 7.5 inches. My question is,
    “How do I get the bridge off without ruining the uke? If I could find out what kind of glue they used that would be a big help.
    Thank you for any information.
    Dick Bicksler

  6. Greg September 16th, 2013 3:12 am

    I got a Johnson Hawaiian Soprano Ukulele off of amazon because it got decent reviews and the price was great ($20 then, but running $65 now). The scale length was off and it’s unplayable.

  7. Don February 15th, 2015 6:42 pm

    I bought a UK-120 (soprano) as a cheap ($39 on sale) way to try playing a uke. Have played guitar for 40 years. Since then, I have been hit hard with UAS (Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome) and have gotten 6 more in various sizes. I still keep the Johnson as a travel/party/loaner. For a cheap uke, it doesn’t sound half bad and the build quality is surprisingly good. Being a laminate construction, it is pretty tough and less sensitive to humidity, etc. I made a few modifications to it, but nothing major. Changing the strings to Aquila improved the sound, and replacing the peg-type tuners with geared tuners (~$5 on eBay) made it easier to tune and keep in tune. Intonation is not perfect, but “close enough for jazz.” Of particular note is that the Johnson UK-120 neck is among the slimmest I have found, which makes the uke even better for kids or other small hands.

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