Leolani Ukulele

Leolani have long been associated with the cheap and cheerful, highly decorated tourist ukes. They have, however, moved to making more legitimate ukuleles and both AJ Rafael and Prescilla Ahn use Leolani ukuleles. Just be sure you're buying one of their decent ukuleles rather than one of the junkers.

Leolani on eBay

Leolani On Video



Prescilla Ahn performing Find My Way Back Home with her Leolani ukulele on Later with Jools Holland.

24 Comments

  1. maggie March 15th, 2010 5:24 am

    i have a soprano leolani ukulele and i absolutly love it! it’s my first ukulele but it’s so easy to learn on! it has a great sound and is so fun to play. everytime i play it i end up in a great mood with its happy sound! it has aquilla strings and holds it’s tunes great! I’d reccomend it to anyone! :)

  2. Matt June 15th, 2010 7:09 pm

    I am a guitar major, and I didn’t know, but I already knew how to play the ukulele when I got it a little over a year ago. For me, I didn’t have learning time, I had adjustment time. I know nothing about ukuleles so I can’t give a very well rounded opinion, but my soprano Leolani ukulele, my first and only ukulele, was bought for me when my mother traveled to Hawaii. She paid a little under $300, and it is extremely gorgeous. Its dark stained koa works wonders, and its turtle inlay on the headstock looks great! For me, it is very easy to play and took no time to adjust, I just dove into playing. It sounds great, looks great, plays great, and stays in tune! What more could I ask for?

  3. Gon July 4th, 2010 3:19 pm

    I have Leolani Uke and it seems nice :) i love it.

  4. Dave July 20th, 2010 3:55 am

    Been playing guitar for 45 years and picked up the Uke a year ago. Just bought a Leolani in Honolulu. It’s the Zebra wood model and is very well made. I love the sound of the “Dancing Flea” anyway, but this uke has a nice mellow tone with plenty of volume. Tuners are great quality and I’m already in love with this instrument. I never expected to find a ukulele with such quality construction and fine finish. Get one! You’ll love it.

  5. andrea August 16th, 2010 8:03 am

    I bought a leolani Ukulele in Hawaii payed 160 dollars (maybe a little expensive)in a shop that sell only Leolani brand….It is a Traveller Model (more thick than others) but his sound is great, good sustain, and the refinements are great!….A wonderful purchase ;-)

  6. Jordan September 10th, 2010 11:01 pm

    I’ve been playing guitar as a hobby for a few years now. During a recent trip to Hawai’i, I was visiting the Wednesday “swap meet” at the stadium in Honolulu. I saw that there were several vendors who specialized in selling ukuleles, and some of them had very nice examples for sale. I decided to pick up a decent starter model, but I didn’t want to spend a lot. I settled on a Leolani with a laminated (not veneer) top. It’s all mahogany, with ivoroid binding and a koa inlay. It’s not flashy, but has an understated elegance. The tuners are decent, and it sounds pretty good to me. Certainly not top of the line but I only spent $100 including a soft case and a book full of chord diagrams. It’s good enough to learn on and decide if I want to spend more on something nicer.

  7. cliff September 20th, 2010 3:55 pm

    Brought a leolani saprano at the swap meet also, paid $50 and got a gig bag also. Changed the strings and put a pickup in it. Sounds good and I’m still learning how to play it.

  8. James September 30th, 2010 8:35 pm

    My wife brought me home a leolani zebra wood ukulele from Honolulu
    In 2006. I think she paid about $150 for it. I have to say it’s been a
    Great instrument.

  9. Dan November 17th, 2010 12:27 am

    Bought an acacia concert Leolani Uke at a dedicated Uke shop in Honolulu last year. After trying many models – this one really stood out as far as playability and sound quality of all the models in the sub $300 range – highly recommended.

  10. Zach November 29th, 2010 12:29 pm

    Just picked up the Leolani Thin Body Tenor a week ago and I cant say enough about how pleased I am with it! It has a wonderful sound and its projection is unreal for the size (the body is less than 2 inches thick!) I paid $185 for it and it was worth every penny, great uke!

  11. Chris January 15th, 2011 5:58 pm

    Recently bought a Leolani Koa Tenor Deluxe for $239 with case, tuner and an uninstalled set of Aquila Nylgut strings with no set-up. This is a very nice looking model with a sweet mellow tone. Action set-up from the factory was too high…had to adjust both saddle and bridge height lower. Replaced the factory nylon strings with the Aquila strings. Tuning gears appear to be imitation Gotoh-like gears of lesser quality. Intend to replace those with real Gotoh SG381 higher quality 16:1 tuning gears. After action adjustment, I am very happy with the look, sound quality, and playability of this uke at this price point!

  12. Chris February 16th, 2011 6:32 am

    One additional point on the Leolani Koa Tenor Deluxe. The top, sides, and back are made from Koa laminate. My point is, just because a ukulele uses laminate doesn’t mean that it is inferior in tone quality to a uke with a solid wood body. This Leolani Koa Tenor Deluxe is a case in point. I love it sweet mellow tone with plenty of sustain. The sweetness of its sound continues to grow on me day by day. (By the way, I highly recommend the upgrade I did to Gotoh SG381 tuning gears… huge difference in quality!)

  13. jeffrey March 13th, 2011 5:35 am

    I have a zebra wood concert size Leolani and I love it. I switched up from a soprano Hilo which is also a great little instrument. The sound from the Leolani is certainly not what I expected…Beautiful

  14. Greg March 22nd, 2011 1:51 am

    @Chris

    Is it easy to switch out the tuning gears? Just bought the same model from Hawaii Music Supply.

  15. Chris May 28th, 2011 7:52 am

    @Greg

    Yes, the switch to the Gotoh SG381 gears is very easy. They are exactly the same size as the originals on the Leolani Koa Tenor Deluxe, so you can use the same tuner holes and screw holes. I bought my set from http://www.hanalimastore.com

  16. Bryce May 30th, 2011 7:03 pm

    Some people say that Leolani’s range of ukes are just junk. I disagree. I have a soprano made of rosewood and it’s very nice. Its easy to play with its black nylon strings and a deal for only $60! I’m looking forward to getting the Tenor Koa or Acacia. Their deals are great and so are their range of ukes. They have little wider necks because they are handmade.
    And I’ve read that the bodies are made in China as the products are shipped their and the necks and headstock are made in the U.S.A.

  17. UkeGuy June 30th, 2011 9:32 pm

    the Uke is just too much fun, and once you’re been to Hawaii and experienced the music, sounds and sights you cannoy say no !

    I am a guitar player and after an hour long lesson – free in the hotel lobby – there is no turning back … chords are easy and you can play many songs once you have 5 or so under your belt.

    Aloha !

  18. alan December 9th, 2011 2:49 am

    @Bryce

    I have the same exact uke :D

    leolani is a very good brand and i enjoy playing mine. at first i thought this uke was a tourist uke considering the low price i got it for but it sounds like any other uke. this rosewood leolani uke is my first one and it keeps me happy :)

  19. uku 1956 December 30th, 2011 4:21 pm

    I got my Soprano Leolani last summer. Bought it on line from Hawaii Music Supply. I’ll tell you the kid
    Jason that does the setup on Every Uke that leaves the store is Awesome. The action is Perfect, Aquilla strings, frets, neck, All done with care.
    I have 5 different Uke’s and this one of my favorites. Solid and fun to play.

  20. chinese January 23rd, 2012 12:35 pm

    my friend has one. its an extended neck soprano and has beautiful sound quality. it was one of the high end ones. mines a handlei.

  21. Eduardo March 8th, 2012 3:26 pm

    I have a Leolani Ukulele (the most cheap) and it sounds great. The only problem is the tuning at the most high notes. Here are a video that I made using my Loelani. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSvgbH9zDa4

  22. William T. April 29th, 2012 1:12 pm

    An HD version of Prescilla Ahn’s song can be found here: http://youtu.be/CBs1QoiEXqA

    I started out with two Leolani ukulele, but will be reviewing them separately. This is a review for the Leolani Soprano.

    I paid $75 for the kit (ukulele, gig bag, tuner, and
    extra Aquila strings).

    It sounds great, light, comfortable. It has a laminated mahogany top (as expected for price). However other features you don’t expect from an ukulele in this category is a rosewood fret, open geared tuners, Aquila strings, bone nut and saddle.

    It holds the tune well, with the A/#1 string needed to be retuned once a week or so.

    I ran into issues that the soprano only goes up to 12 frets, but otherwise I love having this ukulele lying around to just pick up and play on a whim. I would highly recommend the soprano as a great beginner ukulele.

  23. William T. April 29th, 2012 1:23 pm

    This is a follow up review of the Leolani tenor ukulele.

    I paid $100 for the kit (ukulele, gig bag, tuner, and extra Aquila strings).

    Like the soprano, it has a laminated mahogany top (as expected for price). Other features include a rosewood fret, closed geared tuners, Aquila strings, bone nut and saddle.

    This is where the soprano and tenor begin to differ.

    Unlike the soprano, the tenor includes a simple inlay and binding.

    As expected from a bigger ukulele, the fret board goes up much higher.

    One drawback is that the outside strings (#1/#4) sit very close the edge and tend to slide off when playing. My ukulele teacher and others have commented on the same issue. I am not sure if I have an anomaly or if this is a design error.

    I’m not sure if this is related to all tenor sized ukuleles, but I had a lot of trouble with the A/#1 string.

    First of all, the #1 string needed to be retuned every few days. The second issue is that the string is extremely tight. I’m unable to reliable hold a Bb on this ukulele because of the string’s stiffness, but do not have this issue with other ukuleles.

    If you’re looking for a cheap tenor, I’d probably look elsewhere.

  24. Peter Cooke February 1st, 2013 9:08 am

    I bought an Leolani at a shop in Waikiki, a long neck zebra soprano ($140) – as I already owned EIGHT ukes, I couldn’t resist this, I wouldn’t swap this baby for a Stradivarius. It’s awesome. Everyone eyes it off at my monthly uke club!

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