Lanikai LU-21 Standard Soprano Ukulele

4.1/5 (18)

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The LU-21 is the ukulele that Lanikai is most famous for. It’s a huge hit with beginners, with good reason. It’s a well made uke with geared tuners (essential on a cheap uke).

It’s made of Nato wood – which is advertised as an alternative to mahogany but is a long way from it. Still it’s very suitable for a beginner uke and has the advantage of being much cheaper.

On Video

loungegecko plays that’s all on a soprano LU-21.

On eBay

On Musician’s Friend

Lanikai LU-21 – $59.00

On Amazon

LU-21 Standard – $59.00

Video Review


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


  1. Lindsey August 16th, 2010 5:22 pm

    I bought a Lanikai LU-21 after a lot of research and I’m in love with it. I’ve had it for about a month I and I always want to play it! It still has the original strings, and I need to replace those. Other than that, this is a great uke!

  2. Ben September 13th, 2010 1:08 am

    Very nice uke for beginner. Ive used it for about 5 month and I found this post while searching to buy tenor uke. Even after using for 5 month I still think it produces pretty nice sound, and keeping it even after getting a new uke.

  3. ordoy September 26th, 2010 7:32 am

    best starter uke i’ve seen, stands on its own when played with richer sounding ukuleles.

  4. Jonny b November 25th, 2010 3:11 am

    Im in the same boat as ben and am going to be switching the strings with new aquilas, but I love it anyways.

  5. Chris February 22nd, 2011 4:19 am

    I got the Lanikai LU-21C for x-mas, and I’m actually really disappointed. The sound is fine, but a few of the frets are poorly mounted in the neck, so they’re actually raised a bit. Once you start playing chords up past the fourth fret, the strings start contacting the raised frets and producing a metallic buzz and generally the wrong note. Will never buy one of these guys again.

  6. Abi February 22nd, 2011 5:52 pm

    The best ukulele ever seen.
    Im being serious, you have to be mad not to want one of these beauties.
    Great value and sound.

  7. J-Train April 16th, 2011 6:17 am

    This was the first uke I bought. It’s a good thing that this isn’t a bad instrument, because I did maybe an hour’s worth of research before I just went to my local music store and bought it. I only have the KA-15S and a Cordoba Tenor with Pickup to compare it to, but I really like this Ukulele a lot, almost the best. I like how it looks, I like how it plays, and it stays in tune pretty dang good. All in all a fun uke to start on and progress on.

  8. softdays May 27th, 2011 1:16 pm

    Mine has awful intonation just a couple of frets up the neck and keeps getting worse the further up you go. My $25.00 Rogue has perfect intonation, so it’s obviously not brain surgery getting it right. I would only buy this again if I could check the intonation before buying.

  9. Harim Chu June 5th, 2011 9:49 pm

    i got this ukelele just a few days ago and i already learned 3 songs its a great starting ukelele and if you wnat to buy one i highly recommend Starving Musician they have a great staff and they helped me pick the right one oh and i dont work there but i wish XD

  10. Dijonnaise June 6th, 2011 1:59 am

    I bought one from Amazon for ~$50, and I both love it and hate it – it looks good and the Aquila strings sound great, but the intonation is terrible and it hasn’t got much sustain. I guess at this price, it’s always going to be hit and miss. It might be okay as a 1st uke, but if possible, you should try before you buy.

  11. Nathanael June 8th, 2011 6:14 am

    I bought a LU-21C on an impulse. The only comparison I did was with the two higher up models sitting next to it. I chose it because I thought as a fun side instrument that I’d not be playing all the time, it was not worth it to pay extra for the spruce top. Especially since it was better then the old one I had and was only marginally not as nice as the next model up. The only issue that seems common to all the LU-21 I have encountered since I bought mine was that the nut is way too high which causes notes on the first fret to go sharp. I had nut files on hand and fixed that easily. That is what you get for buying a cheap instrument. All the issues I have read here could likely be fixed in a jiffy and with out much work. Overall I am happy with my LU-21C. There are better instruments out there, but there are also worse. I lucked out.

  12. Connor July 28th, 2011 9:35 pm

    I just got mine (soprano), already almost learnt a song!
    It’s my first uke so I have nothing to compare it to but I really like the sound and think it looks great!
    My only bother is the E string on mine buzzes, I’m sure it’s something that can be fixed so not a biggie really… =]
    Going camping next week so looking forward to playing it around a campfire on a beach…

  13. Jorge August 22nd, 2011 4:30 pm

    Thanks to reviews on UkeHunt, I bought this Lanikai Uke and I love it. Stays in tune pretty well, gotta tune it often for the first couple of days out of the box, but it stays in tune nicely. Love the sound. Check it out:

  14. Cenlaman September 20th, 2011 8:10 pm

    I have the Lanakai LU-21TE which is the tenor acoustic electric. I’ve had it almost a year and can’t put it down! I bought it sight unseen from Ant Hill through Amazon and lucked out with a real winner. It has a great mellow tone, holds tuning like a pro. I’ve tried an amp, but don’t really like it. And by the way, where are all the comments for intermediate or pro models? Seems like all you ever see is “great for beginners.” I’ll keep this ‘un for a while, but when I get ready to do a respectable set and advertise for gigs, what do I look for?

  15. steve September 28th, 2011 9:45 am

    I too have the LU-21,the action is too high, its intonation is off, and yet it has a very nice tone, and the sound projection is nice, and it appears to be slightly larger in the upper part of the figure 8 shape, I think that accounts for its tone and sound projection, and the strings dont feel stiff, the playability is also surprisingly good but could be great with lower action

  16. Courtney December 8th, 2011 5:10 pm

    I’ve had this ukulele for about a year and a half, and it still sounds pretty good (though I still don’t know much about other ukuleles). But now I’m wondering if I should buy new strings. To anyone who has changed the strings of this ukulele, what kind of strings do you recommend?

  17. Leona December 30th, 2011 12:10 pm

    I’ve just bought a new LU-21 CE a few days ago and it’s beatiful (there’s only a little bit of glue stuck at the upper edges of some frets), and it sounds really nice I think. It just keeps getting out of tune all the time (quite a lot!). I hope it will settle down eventually. I’ve already had a cheap no name soprano and I wasn’t able to tune it at all. So hopefully, this time it will get better. Any advice?

  18. Harrison April 4th, 2012 1:51 am

    I just bought my Lanakai LU-21 uke and i notice very slight problems but they are so small that they were fixed extremely quickly and for under $5 I see this uke as an amazing starter uke but would suggest getting a better one if your going to continue playing

  19. Steve b August 3rd, 2012 10:50 pm

    I own half a dozen uke’s including a Lu-21p, which for the money is not a bad instrument, most chords below the 5th fret have a nice ring and picked notes sound good. It does improve slightly with a string upgrade and once settled in, stays in tune quite well. I t won’t compete with a £200 instrument but if you are looking to spend up to £60-70ish then it’s worth a look.

  20. Dantes December 3rd, 2012 9:42 pm

    My first uke. I still play it now and then when I feel nostalgic. Great for playing at home. Excellent choice for a starter.

  21. ShinYoung Noh June 25th, 2013 12:34 pm

    I got this about a week ago and I totally love it. It’s so cute, I especially like the white binding. The sound is very deep for a ukulele, which is one of the reasons I bought it. The sound is louder than what you’d expect from such a small instrument. I bought it for $85.92. Turns out to have been a bargain!

  22. Bryan January 15th, 2014 4:22 pm

    I was really happy with the uke when I first got it but now I’m pretty disappointed with my LU21TE. It has really bad intonation and the chamber warbles on cords, even when it’s in tune. I hate that, a complete deal breaker; even cheap $200 saxophones from China are in tune. My strings are broken in and I played it 2-4 hours a day for 3 months straight now and as I run a capo up the fret board with a Peterson tuner the 12th fret is almost an entire half step sharp on all strings, there are still 7 more frets to go! This is unacceptable. Even the first fret is sharp by 6 cents. It’s loud and projects nicely. It looks really nice and feels solid. After I played my Ka’Ohana for 2 hours I picked this up and it felt like a big sloppy toy. The one thing I do like about it is the internal pickups. You can do a lot of cool James Hill stuff with it. I agree this is a good beginner’s uke for someone that is irresponsible or just wants a uke but doesn’t want to spend a lot of money or wants something for the mountains but honestly I would only recommend a professional instrument for a beginner, $500 and up minimum.

  23. Ellie November 18th, 2014 1:54 pm

    If you want to play melodies and have an ear for the right pitch, avoid this ukulele. The intonation is horrible!! I’m really disapointted. It’s badly built too – the nut doesn’t sit completely in it’s place, but is fitted in with an angle.

    Someone who only strums loud and doesn’t mind off key sounds might tolerate it. This is not an instrument anyone should buy before giving it a good play and inspection. Make sure you know what to check it’s a decent one of the bunch.

    Reviews reveal that the quality is not even. Sadly for Lanikai, one bad instrument tarnishes the whole brand. Many people buy another uke after they progress, but another Lanikai? Never!

  24. Pablo Domingo Montesinos June 20th, 2017 11:40 am

    Great review as always, clear and direct to the point.
    Thanks for the info!

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