Lanikai Kohala HU-212 Ukulele

3.89/5 (7)

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An ultra-cheap beginner’s ukulele from Lanikai.

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Gaengsta96 strums a few tunes on an HU-212

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Lanikai HU-212 – $34.00

Lanikai HU212 Ukulele Review

Model: Lanikai HU212
Cost: £30
Wood: nato
Tuners: Geared
Frets: 12

Having begun my ukulele playing career on what was effectively a children’s toy, I decided to aquire myself a new uke of a higher quality, there was however a major limitation in funds on my part so I was forced to look for a ukulele under £40.

For this price you can buy a lot of basic ukuleles (hell you could buy two and play ukulele tennis!) but the quality of sound on these cheap ukuleles is often lacking and the sound is clumpy and soulless this is why Lanikai’s Hu212 should be held in such high regard.

The Ukulele is made of Nato a wood found in the Caribbean and south America, often used in acoustic guitars for a cheap alternative to mahogany as such it has a gorgeous dark brown colouring with light red tinge, the grain is also slightly pronounced which is highlighted nicely by the finish which was faultless, the fret markers are a subtle pearlescent plastic.

Initially getting it to stay in tune was a challenge to say the least and following spending a considerable period, pleading, threatening and swearing at the uke I was able to get all the strings in tune at the same time and once the strings had set it held tune remarkably well seldom dropping out of tune which was a pleasant surprise considering the price paid.

the Frets are brass and the string nuts are plastic all are well aligned and give a sweet and bouncy tone to the uke, however one does find that on the higher frets (from the 7th up) it does become slightly buzzy.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the uke was strung with GHS black nylons from the factory which saved me on replacing them however upon closer inspection and a little confused counting I was somewhat confused to find the fret markers to be on the 5th, 7th and 10th frets which takes some getting used to.

The action of the uke is nice and there is no buzzing or muting, the tone is surprisingly rich for such a price and it plays very well.

This uke is definitely worth the extra money for any beginner who thinks they might be sticking to the instrument as its quality far outstrips the price mark as well as more experienced players and is well worth waiting a while before you perfect ukulele tennis.

(I’m seriously considering uke tennis anyone up for doubles?)

Review by Cardboard Frog


Size: Standard Nato Ukulele
Construction: Nato top, sides, and back
Fretboard: Nato
Frets: 12
Tuners: Chrome/Ivoroid Geared
Binding: White


  1. Emmy April 29th, 2010 12:19 am

    This review is totally accurate as the Kohala HU212. It’s my first good (read not totally cheapo) uke and I decided on it not by the price or anything like that but by the sound when I was looking for a uke. In the shop where I went there were maybe 5 other ukes some of which were tenor, some concert, and of course soprano. I tested out each one (seriously annoying the sales rep) and the sound quality coming out of this uke was the best by far (even though it was one of the cheapest…. I guess they had really bad quality tenor and concert ukes). To add to that, it looks really nice and after breaking it in (aka playing for hours out of tune because the darn thing needs to get used to being in tune like most other instruments I tried) it produces a really nice sound always. I think the wood is fairly soft as compared to the other ones I tried so it feels nice. It’s totally fun to play! GO UKES!!
    ps. Can someone PLEASE write up the tabs for moonriver?!?!?!?!?

  2. Natasha January 31st, 2011 6:36 am

    Got this Ukulele almost a year ago and haven’t put it down!

    It is my first (and only) Uke and I love her to bits. Sounds lovely and I think it is a lot nicer to play than a cheap Mahalo.

    In my opinion everyone should have one!

  3. RodriU December 3rd, 2011 3:30 pm

    Aloha! I bought this Uke around 4 month ago (it´s my first and only uke for now) and I really love it. It´s cheap and the quality of the sound is not bad at all so I think it is a perfect uke to start with. I would buy it again!. I just changed the Ghs strings for an Aquila one and I got a very good improve in the quality of sound.

  4. Erx-Or September 28th, 2012 9:59 am

    I received this uke as a christmas gift 20 months ago. I really started to play with it 17 monhts ago. During 3 months (17 to 14 months ago), the uke needed to be tuned very frequently, as chords losen a bit during play.
    From the 12 months, uke tune is stable, the wood is smooth and looks nice, so are the chords (black original ones).
    I’ve been buiying some Aquila chords, but did not dare to mount it as I considered that original black chords sound has its charm and it would need some time once again to get a stable tune.

    The cons of this uke comes from bad higher frets. The uke feels out of tune when you use a capo or come out with high chords.

    All considered, this is a very good value for money, I recommend it. It allows me to discover and make some nice progress on uke. I am now looking for a better uke, and this old one will fall in the hands of my little sister. I hope she will be seduced by this nice little instrument.

  5. Megan February 15th, 2013 10:13 pm

    I’m currently studying abroad in Ireland for a semester and didn’t want to deal with having to travel with my own ukulele from home (which is a Lanikai LU-11, and I love her and didn’t want her to possibly be damaged during travel) so I bought the Kohala HU-212 to have something to play while I’m here.
    Without a capo, she has surprisingly rich, clear sound, although it definitely took a little while to break in the factory strings. The main problem I have is that a lot of songs I’ve been playing recently use a capo, and with the capo, it just sounds out of tune half the time, which is disappointing. When I was still having trouble with the strings I thought it was them, but by now I’m pretty sure it’s the uke itself, and I’m not sure there’s any way to fix that. But it was this or a Mahalo and I definitely prefer this! (I played a friend’s Mahalo once, she got it as her first uke, and I was just not a fan of the sound)
    So overall, a decent uke, especially for beginners, but beware if you plan on using a capo that it might not sound great!
    [For reference, I’ve been playing ukulele for about two and a half years]

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