Makala-SD Dolphin Ukulele Review

Nowadays, ukuleles are becoming more popular than ever, and they are selling at their best rates. This is because they are small, portable, and trendy. Furthermore, they’re suitable for all age groups and make wonderful gifts for most occasions. 

However, with the many options and models on the market, this leaves you with a tough call to make regarding the choice of the best ukulele. What you probably know for sure is that you don’t want to spend a fortune, and you’re looking for a budget-friendly option.  

We feel you, and today we will review one of Kala’s best selling budget ukuleles, the Makala-SD Dolphin Ukulele. Aside from Kala’s name, which already earns the Dolphin Ukulele some points, a lot of beginner ukulele players buy this particular model as their first ukulele due to its easy usability and strong build while being offered at an affordable price.

At a Glance:

The Makala-SD Dolphin soprano ukulele is one of the best entry-level ukuleles that provides tremendous value for its price. It enjoys both a beautiful design and sturdy build while being comfortable to play and producing magnificent sound. 

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly
  • Perfect for beginners
  • High-quality build
  • Harmonious sound
  • Ideal string height
  • High-quality Aquila strings

Cons:

  • Volume is not optimal
  • Rattling tuner covers
  • Relatively heavy
  • Requires frequent tuning

Makala-SD Dolphin Ukulele In-Depth Review

1. Sound

Most budget-friendly ukuleles have a reputation of not providing the sound quality one would expect from ukuleles. Surprisingly, the Makala-SD Dolphin Ukulele proves otherwise. 

While its heavy construction tends to lower down its volume, it still manages to produce some fine tones through its arched back that boosts the projection and clarity of its warm sound. Therefore, you’ll be surprised when you hear how resonant its sound actually is. 

Unfortunately, however, the tuners of the ukulele have loose plastic washers on top of them, which certainly affects particular tones, resulting in a somewhat buzzing sound.

2. Playability

As a beginner, you won’t find any difficulties when playing the Makala-SD Dolphin Ukulele. The playability is really good, but depending on your preference, you may find the string height (action) relatively high. However, generally, it’s ready to play right out of the box.

As you play higher up the neck, you will barely notice any buzzing or disturbing sounds. In fact, whichever notes you choose to play, they’ll come out clear and neat.

Addressing the action issue, its settings could be adjusted, whether manually or at a music shop.

3. Build

The Makala-SD Dolphin Ukulele will undoubtedly exceed your expectations when it comes to build! For starters, it features a unique arched back, which is uncommon among budget-ukuleles who usually have flatbacks. It’s worth noting that arched backs add to sound projection.

Design-wise, the ukulele comes in a variety of colors that appeal to all preferences, whether pastel or bold. You’re probably wondering about the name, right? It gets its name from its signature dolphin-shaped bridge!

Its back and sides are made of composite polycarbonate, and the whole body has a thick glossy finish, giving off a very premium look. As for the fretboard and bridge, they’re made of walnut, like all the other Kala ukuleles, which is a signature statement of their unique designs. 

In addition, the top and neck are made of mahogany, while the nuts and saddle are made of plastic. The strings are the high-quality Aquila Super Nylgut, which are not a common feature in any of the budget ukuleles, so you’re getting value for money big-time.

The fingerboard is made of rosewood, which is ideal for acoustic instruments like ukuleles, and it serves its job correctly. As for the frets, they’re made of brass, which copes very well with the soft ukulele strings.

Moving on to the tuners, they’re open-geared tuners, and they have side and front fret markers along with plastic covers over the openings. Unfortunately, the tuners are quite demanding and require frequent tuning since they occasionally unloose, so you may need to consider buying a clip-on tuner

4. Size

The Makala-SD Dolphin Ukulele is a soprano size ukulele, which is the smallest in size among the three common ukulele types: the soprano, concert, and tenor. Sopranos are generally ideal for beginners, but if your hands are relatively bigger and you don’t feel comfortable, you can upgrade to a larger size.

The scale length of the Makala-SD Dolphin Ukulele is 13.5 inches, with an overall length of 20.875 inches, while the body length is 9.3125 inches. 

The width of the upper bout is 5.0625 inches, and the width of the lower one is 6.8125 inches. As for the waist, its width is 4.4375 inches, and the body depth is 2.375 inches.

The fingerboard width at the nut is 1.375 inches, and is 1.6875 inches at the neck/body joint.

The overall package dimensions are 22.6 x 8.5 x 3.1 inches, and it weighs around 1.1 pounds. All in all, the ukulele may feel a bit heavy for its type, but it’s acceptable given its price.

What’s Included in The Box 

The Makala-SD Dolphin Ukulele package includes the soprano ukulele and a basic nylon gig bag for easy transportability.

Users’ Reviews on Amazon

The users’ reviews for the Makala-SD Dolphin Ukulele are predominantly positive. It has gained an overall rating of 4.5 stars with no ratings under 3 stars from over 1000+ users. In fact, most of the reviews recommended the Makala Dolphin Ukulele as an entry-level uke purchase option.

It has repeatedly been praised for its glossy physical appearance that gives it a sleek look. Not to mention, the quality of its build has received numerous positive reviews. 

On the other hand, some reviews remarked on the gig bag, describing it as useless, which may lead you to consider buying another gig bag.

Others complained about the tuning and its repeatedly loosening strings. They mentioned that some chords are challenging to play for beginners because the tuners are often out of place and that the tuners’ covers are also loose, which results in some rattling noise while playing.

Final Thoughts 

The Makala-SD Dolphin Ukulele has to be on your list if you’re looking for an affordable beginner ukulele. It will certainly meet and even exceed your expectations when it comes to both build and sound quality. 

When it comes to searching for a budget-friendly ukulele, the options are many, but only a few actually provide a hybrid between quality and price. Remember, your first ukulele experience will determine whether you will continue or not, so don’t make hasty decisions with this purchase!

About Noah Theodor

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