When it comes to ukuleles, you can get them at prices that are unbelievably affordable. And the funny thing is, there are ukuleles that fall into a category that is even cheaper than what many would consider affordable.
These would be the ukuleles that are the most basic. They are dirt cheap and designed with the complete beginner in mind.
They have no special features and are there for learning purposes only.
The big ukulele brands don’t even bother to design ukuleles in this category. This is because they cater to a different user base who expects a certain level of quality.
While the chances of you finding an extremely affordable Kanilea ukulele are slim to none, this gap in the marketplace has opened up an amazing opportunity for budget oriented brands.
One budget friendly brand that has taken advantage of this opportunity is Diamond Head. You will rarely see one of their ukuleles going beyond the intermediate level.
Without the Diamond Head brand there would be far fewer beginners learning how to play the ukulele.
So shout out to Diamond Head for understanding, and filling a big need in the market.
One of their ukulele models that really stands out is the Diamond Head DU 150. When it comes to entry level ukuleles, the DU 150 is on the lower end.
It is very cheap and many of its features, or lack thereof, will depict that.
In this article we are going to be reviewing the Diamond Head DU 150. We will discuss its overall performance as well if it's worth the small investment.
Why Should You Choose The Diamond Head DU 150 Ukulele?
Those interested in playing the ukulele will usually fall into one of two categories. The first category is for people who know playing the ukulele is something they want to do for the foreseeable future.
The second category consists of people who have a little interest in playing the ukulele, but aren’t sure how far they want to take it.
If you are someone who falls into the second category, which most people do, it wouldn’t make sense to invest in an expensive ukulele. At least not at this point in time.
Since you don’t have much experience you won’t be able to appreciate the different tones that you only get with the more expensive models.
That’s why a cheap model is the best way to go. And the Diamond Head DU 150 is the perfect cheap model. Not only is it affordable, but it performs like a proper ukulele.
Which by the way is very rare with models this cheap.
With that being said, it's important you understand that cheap model ukuleles don’t have the aesthetics that are common with more expensive models.
You literally just get a plain ukulele that can only be used to help a beginner learn how to play. When it comes to cheap ukulele models, the Diamond Head DU 150 is one of the best on the market.
Body & Neck
One look at the Diamond Head DU 150 and you will see why it is one of the best cheap models. Unlike many ukuleles in this category, the DU 150 is the same shape and size as the standard soprano ukulele.
This is a good thing as most ukuleles in this category look like a toy.
Now, being that the Diamond Head DU 150 is priced so low, there were a few compromises that needed to be made.
The first compromise is with the type of wood that was used to make this ukulele. Everything on this ukulele, from the body, to the neck, to the fretboard, is made out of maple wood.
Maple is not the type of wood commonly used to make ukuleles. Its tonal properties make it a better option for guitars.
However, maple does a decent enough job to be considered satisfactory.
To give the Diamond Head DU 150 a texture and color similar to rosewood, the fretboard and bridge have a much darker stain.
The neck comes with the standard 12-fret, 13.625-inch scale with nickel silver frets. And for the most part, the neck is extremely comfortable to play on.
The level of comfort you get with this ukulele is quite surprising when you consider the category it is in.
Build quality and extremely affordable ukuleles don’t usually go together. After all, you can’t expect this type of ukulele to have top notch craftsmanship for such a cheap price.
However, just because it's cheap doesn’t mean it has to be a total piece of crap. There are still certain requirements that must be met regardless of price.
Overall, the Diamond Head DU 150 is a pretty decent ukulele. While it doesn’t have any awe inspiring details, it is still put together quite well.
Nothing on this ukulele has been put together in a rushed or sloppy manner. For the price you pay, the DU 150 is a solid ukulele.
One of the reasons you get a solid ukulele at such an affordable price is because Diamond Head simplified the components. They made the process so easy that manufacturing errors are very unlikely to happen.
One issue you may run into is with the action and the intonation. You will find that even the larger brands can mess these two things up from time to time.
The good news is, you can easily fix this yourself, or you can have someone with a little more experience do it for you.
If you are new to the world of ukuleles, we would recommend you have someone with a little more experience fix it for you.
Minimal would be the best way to describe the hardware found on the Diamond Head DU 150. As we stated before, with this type of ukulele there are going to be a few compromises made.
Generally speaking, the hardware is the first thing to get cut back on. For example, instead of using real rosewood, the designers simply painted the bridge to look like rosewood.
This alone should show you the frugal approach Diamond Head took when designing this ukulele.
The saddle and nut basically follow this exact same approach. Both are made using a generic plastic that is hard enough to handle the tension of the strings.
The headstock features run of the mill tuning machines. And yes, it is decent enough to get the job done. However, at some point you may want to upgrade the headstock.
As a beginner you may find the run of the mill tuning machines more than acceptable. Intermediate players who have a better understanding of pitch and key will find it unsatisfactory.
Last up are the strings. Keeping in line with their frugal approach, the DU 150 comes with a set of generic strings.
We would say the quality of these strings is decent enough to get you started. However, your experience will vary depending on which DU-150 you get.
Some units are shipped out with weaker strings that don’t last very long. Some units on the other hand will be shipped with a better set of strings.
The sound will usually tell you everything you need to know about a ukulele. And because the DU 150 was designed to be as affordable as possible, there are some shortcomings with the sound.
The maple construction coupled with the cheap factory strings gives this ukulele a very dull sound.
However, swapping out the factory strings for better quality strings is all it takes to improve the overall performance and sound.
The DU 150 is designed to give you that classic soprano sound. And while it doesn’t have a refined color, for a beginner it is more than adequate.
Pros and Cons
For a ukulele such as the DU 150, doing a pros and cons section is quite difficult. After all, you can’t throw out a lot of criticism when an instrument is priced so low.
However, there are a few benefits and drawbacks that we would like to bring to your attention. Let’s start with the pros.
- Very affordable. You probably won’t find one cheaper.
- A decent build for the price.
- Simple, very basic design.
- Solid build.
- Has the classic body shape and size of the soprano ukulele.
- Decent quality control.
- Decent sound.
- Comes with cheap, factory strings.
- Made using cheap tonewood.
- Produces a dull tone.
When you are able to easily see the pros and cons, you see that Diamond Head did indeed make a few compromises.
However, it is also easy to see that those compromises work in your favor.
When you consider the price you will pay for a DU 150, you see it's the best you will get in that price range.
And to be 100% honest, at this price, there aren’t very many options.
Our Final Thoughts
If your goal is to find the most affordable ukulele out there, please know you will need to keep your expectations in check.
If you find yourself disappointed in the DU 150, it's probably because you had unrealistic expectations.
Always remember you will get what you pay for.
The DU 150 is designed for the complete beginner who is just starting their journey. It is without a doubt the best value for your money when it comes to ukuleles in this price range.
Especially when you consider how toy-like other similar ukuleles tend to be. From a beginners perspective, the DU 150 is a low risk choice that gives them time to decide what path they want to take.
Even if you should decide the ukulele isn’t for you, it's not that big of a deal since you didn’t spend very much money in the first place.
The point is, you have to look at this in context. If your goal is to play the ukulele in a professional setting, this isn’t the ukulele for you.
You will need something that sounds better and performs at a much higher level.
When it boils down to it, the Diamond Head DU 150 is a bargain ukulele. This is a fact that cannot be disputed.
If you are looking for a simple ukulele that can be used for learning, this is the ukulele you want to try out. It is all you need to get the ball rolling.
Good luck on your ukulele journey!