Makai Ukulele

Makai ukuleles seem to be strikingly similar to other ukuleles such as Hilo and Ohana. As I write, there’s a Makai concert and a Hilo concert on eBay. The only difference I can spot is that the Makai is more than $20 more expensive (both are ‘Buy It Now’s). So it’s definitely worth you checking out the Hilos before you buy a Makai.

On eBay



Makai Ukulele Review

UKISOCIETY is ‘amazed by the sound’ of his Makai ukulele.

18 Comments

  1. gman March 19th, 2010 1:34 pm

    I purchased a Makai TK-55 out of curiosity and I along with my friends are truely amazed with the sound that it puts out. It sounds pretty much identical to my Kamaka. Good job Makai!

  2. Jon January 5th, 2011 11:25 pm

    One of my friends just got a Makai concert uke for Christmas. When I tried it out, I was blown away. It’s very playable; the tone is bright & crystal clear, and it’s louder than any other uke I’ve played (except possibly Flukes). Definitely a quality instrument in my opinion.

  3. Randy January 14th, 2011 2:05 am

    I just purchased a Makai LK-80R with hard shell case for $200 and this is one of the best ukes I’ve seen in this price range. Solid ceder top with solid rosewood sides and back and looks, plays and sounds great. Unlike my Ibanez UEW20SG and Oscar Schmidt OU3 I didn’t need to do any setup, this Makai was setup correctly from the factory. Worth every penny I paid for it.

  4. Steve May 10th, 2011 4:54 pm

    I just purchased a Makai TK-55 and I’m amazed at the quality of construction of this uke. I wasn’t expecting this attention to detail on such an inexpensive instrument, it’s flawless. It sounds great too!

  5. Travis November 24th, 2011 4:26 am

    I had a chance to compare the Hilo and Makai ukuleles back to back. First I tried the Hilo 2652 soprano laminate mahogany ukulele priced at $38.99. This ukulele, like the Makai is very basic. My ratings are for the MAKAI UK-55.

    The biggest aesthetic difference you’ll notice right away is that the Hilo has black binding. Whereas the Makai has none. I usually like this feature on any stringed instrument (especially as inexpensive as this one) but on the Hilo ukulele it left much to be desired. The binding was crooked and the joints where the binding meets the laminate were extremely sloppy. Imagine the router bits on the machines are dull and it’s causing the ply to chip in small bits around the binding.

    Secondly you’ll notice the stain on the Hilo is blotchy and uneven. The standard of quality control is inferior to the Makai line. The Makai is uniform and the laminate is a much more accurate simulation of mahogany. It just looks less like slap dash than the Hilo.

    Unfortunately Makai strings the UK55 with GHS strings. Just when you thought GHS strings were the worst you’ve ever heard, you are introduced to the strings on the Hilo. I’m not sure what they are. Akin to thick floppy fishing line, these strings are just plain dull and wont intonate. In either case, the strings on both these ukes should be immediately swapped out for Aquila’s upon purchase.

    The frets on the Hilo are just plain garbage. It’s bad all around. They come pre-oxidized! The Makai has nice polished frets and they obviously put a focus on the fretwork.

    The tone of the Hilo was a huge let down. I expected the Makai and the Hilo to sound very similar. The tone of the Hilo was reminiscent of those painted ukulele’s you find on the web for $14.99. Thin, quiet, and muted. The laminate is too thick and I think they’re trying to do to much with this basic model. Makai has the right idea. No frills, just good craftsmanship with focus on clean lines and good tone. The Makai has a very strong high end response. It also has great clarity and has plenty of throw to boot. The ukulele is responsive and has a strong attack.

    In conclusion. The Makai is a far superior instrument in every way sans the price. Though in my opinion, if you can’t afford the extra 7 bucks to get a better instrument, maybe choose a different hobby. Though you’ll have a hard time finding one as cheap and easy as the ukulele!

  6. Lola March 22nd, 2012 7:40 am

    I purchased my Makai LK-70 solid spruce top gloss soprano with laminate lacewood back and sides from Mim (mimsukes on eBay), and I’m very happy with it.

    The sound is bright and fairly punchy, comparable to other spruce tops. A friend calls the Makai’s sound “girlier and prettier” than my “bold, ringing” cedar/rosewood Mainland. It has very good sustain and volume, and the larger lower bout gives it a bit of bass-y oomph. I play a lot of Tin Pan Alley stuff and it doesn’t sound too out of place tonally, but there is a “guitar” quality to it that might turn off some traditionalists.

    This Makai seems comparable with other ukes in the $150-$220 range, but I deliberately purchased from a vendor who performs a full setup. Ukuleles at this price point often need some attention out of the box. Nonetheless, it seems sturdily constructed and free of flaws like globby glue or uneven finish. The laminate back/sides make it lighter than it looks. It’s currently strung with Worth Clears.

    A few guitarists I know were favorably impressed to learn this is a sub-$200 instrument, and that included the setup and the “bling factor.” It’s certainly comparable in construction to my Mainland soprano (and there are rumors the two companies share manufacturing sites.) Between the highly figured lacewood and the abalone binding around the top and soundhole, it’s a visually striking ukulele. My utilitarian side says that’s unimportant, but I love that it looks as beautiful as it sounds.

    Were I shopping for a ukulele in this price range again, I’d consider another Makai.

  7. Richard April 2nd, 2012 4:28 am

    I bought a hilo ukulele by taking the advise of this website, it was a terrible mistake. The sound and quality of instrument were so bad!!
    My wife bought me a Makai UK-55 last week .The price was under $60.It is a much nicer instrument. I love it. I will never take any advise of this website anymore!!!!!

  8. GL April 2nd, 2012 5:17 pm

    I recently bought a Makai LK-80W – it is a well built instrument, the solid cedar top has a loud and clear sound, the willow back+sides have a nice pattern. I can absolutely recommend this instrument to anyone who is looking for a good sounding, well built and nice looking soprano. You can get one around 100 US$ – a very similar Ohana SK-50WG costs considerably more. Makai offers ukuleles in every price range, I would always prefer instruments with a solid top like their “Limited Edition” series.

  9. Danielle Seward June 15th, 2012 6:55 am

    I just purchased a Makai LK-80W and I am amazed by its projection and tone for a soprano ukulele. This is a very good quality instrument for $100.00. I really don’t care for Aquila strings, so I immediately switched to a set of South Coast Light strings which made the ukulele sound even better. If you have never tried these string sets, you should. I also have a set on of Soft Lights on my Lanikai Monkey Pod tenor. I probably tried 8 sets of strings before I discovered Dirk Wormhoudt’s strings. They have great playability and wonderful sound. I highly recommend these strings. The website is http://www.southcoastukes.com

  10. LC August 11th, 2012 8:42 pm

    I work at a uke shop and I may only have a year or so of real experience but I was completely gobsmacked that this site said check out a Hilo before a Makai. Hilos are pretty much cheapo toys, that descrip is really just bad advice. Even if Makais have some QC issues occasionally, it’s still better than a Hilo.

  11. JOAN September 12th, 2012 11:10 pm

    I HAVE A MAKAI MK 90 (MANGOWOOD SOPRANO), AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. I WORK AT A MUSIC STORE, SO I PLAY WITH UKES ALL DAY. THE MK 90 HAD THE BEST SOUND QUALITY AND COMES WITH AQUILA STRINGS. WELL WORTH $160.

    :)

  12. Sonny Khor December 20th, 2012 8:47 am

    I bought a Makai MC – 70 TODAY (20.12.12)as a Christmas present for myself (having compared with some other brands for a few hours.)The price is reasonable but the tone and sound quality do sparkle and the chords are well balanced. As an elderly person of over 70 years, I have decided to spend my twilight years to enjoy some nice music. God bless.

  13. Sonny Khor December 22nd, 2012 6:41 am

    Further to my e mail dated 20th December 2012 (Date I purchased my Makai MC 70,) my Ukulele friends were taken aback by the sound produced by the instrument!!. These guys are not amateur musicians but have been in a POPULAR LOCAL band for many years. In other words they know what a quality musical instrument should sound. They have given me the assurance that my choice in purchasing the Makai MC 70 was a good decision!!!!! These friends are all retirees and will speak their minds if the sounds produced are not up to THEIR HIGH EXPECTIONS. Gosh, my instrument passed with flying colours. GOD BLESS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS.

  14. Sonny Khor January 2nd, 2013 5:48 am

    This week, I changed the top or high “G” string with a LOW G string on my Makai MC 70 (my recent Christmas present”) and now it is possible to “finger pluck” some classical pieces on this Makai ukulele. Some Aquador studies and even Bach’s Prelude and Fuge in C (Well-tempered clavichord!!) Of course popular pieces can be played solo now with a better “OOMPH” like Over the rainbow, sentimental journey etc. Even a flamenco “Sevillanas” can even be well executed. Perhaps may consider purchasing a Makai tenor model later.

  15. Billy April 30th, 2013 4:43 am

    I bought a Ukulele Tenor Makai. Just fantastic.Congrats to the producers.I’ve been playing the guitar formerly, but now I’ll stick to my Makai.Beautiful sound.I pampered myself with this present and NEVER regretted.I’d recommend this brand to my friends.I never knew how nice it sounds, until I bought it.I’m contemplating to buy a Makai Baritone.Keep up the good work.

  16. Chris July 10th, 2013 6:36 am

    I have the Makai tenor in mango wood. I bought it from Ukulele Mike in Haleiwa. This uke has a beautiful sweet and bright sound and plays nicely. I prefer it to both of my other ukes.

  17. teryy October 19th, 2013 8:30 pm

    I have makai mkt- 60 love it can’t do without it top looking tenor gr8 sound gr8 ukulele

  18. Peter Jones October 29th, 2013 11:52 pm

    I bought a Makai concert uke3 months ago on ebay because it had good reviews and sounded good on the video. The build quality and woods used were well matched, cedar top and willow back and sides. Came with Aquila strings and a free tweed case. Action was a bit high, I removed the bone saddle and replaced it with a carbon fibre one I made. The sound now is very bright, I love it!

Got something to say?