DJ Morgan Mahogany Soprano - REVIEW

1 Aug 2015

DJ Morgan Mahogany Soprano - REVIEW

Aside from the many factory made ukuleles I have reviewed on this site, it is always nice to get to test something handmade and bespoke. I've been doing that for the last couple of months with this mahogany soprano model from DJ Morgan.

DJ Morgan Soprano ukulele

Dave Morgan is a UK luthier, based in Dudley in the midlands who hand makes a range of instruments in a traditional style. He is a small volume builder so these are not available in huge numbers (another nice thing about them!)

This soprano is made from all solid woods, and comes in at a fantastic price of just under £300 in this spec. We have a traditional double bout shaped body made from reclaimed solid Brazilian mahogany and they really are some nice pieces of wood. Nothing gaudy (hey, this is mahogany) but nice, subtle and with a  lovely orange glow. The top and back are made from single pieces of wood and the sides are in two pieces with an unbound, yet still book matched, join at the butt. A closer look at the edges of the sound hole show that this is a nice thin top too.

The instrument also has a nice curved butt which I really like.

DJ Morgan Soprano ukulele top

Aside from an inlaid black and white simple sound hole rosette, the body is otherwise unadorned with no other inlay or binding. I like that. It looks simple yet classy and not over done.

DJ Morgan Soprano ukulele sound hole

The back is slightly arched both along its width and length to help with sound projection which is nice to see.

DJ Morgan Soprano ukulele back

We have a slotted style bridge made from ebony with a nicely cut corian saddle. Very reminiscent of original Martin mahogany sopranos and also really user friendly for the player.

DJ Morgan Soprano ukulele bridge

A look inside shows off one of the tidiest ukulele builds I have seen for some time. Absolutely no mess, delicately scalloped braces and hand made notched kerfing all applied extremely neatly. Aside from the simple makers label with serial number, there is not much more to say here!

The whole body is finished in a kind of semi gloss cellulose lacquer. I like it. It doesn't give the instrument a mirror finish, but it doesn't feel unfinished either. The other advantage is that it leaves the pores in the mahogany grain open so you feel like you are holding a wooden instrument rather than something artificial.

On to the neck this is all one piece of Sapele and joined to the body with a tenon joint.  Capping the neck heel is a small piece of ebony. I like the neck. It has a fairly flat D shaped profile that I know many traditionalists will like. I prefer a bit more chunk to a neck, but this is perfectly playable. What I really do like is that it has a decent width at the nut.

DJ Morgan Soprano ukulele fingerboard

The fingerboard is ebony and unbound, and fitted with 19 nickel silver frets with 14 to the body. On a soprano scale instrument this is a real bonus. None of this '12 frets is your lot' nonsense. They are all finished and dressed expertly with no sharp edges. The fingerboard has a nice pleasing curve to the end of it which I rather like too.

Position markers are provided via white abalone dots at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 15th with the 12th fret marker being a double spot. Thankfully these are repeated in the same abalone on the side of the neck for the player. The nut is Corian and cut perfectly.

Up to the headstock and we have a very simple unfussy shape faced with mahogany and inlaid with ebony curved stripes which are really distinctive. I have seen a range of Daves ukuleles and some others have that same stripe motif inlaid in less contrasting woods. I think I would prefer that, but don't get me wrong this still looks great and it's a motif style I have not seen before. With no makers mark on the headstock this IS your DJ Morgan design!

DJ Morgan Soprano ukulele headstock

Flipping it over and we have (thank you thank you thank you) friction tuning pegs. I sense some of you are recoiling in horror but you should know if you read Got A Ukulele more deeply that I am a big fan of friction pegs, particularly on sopranos. They get such a bad press, but really, that applies to the cheap and nasty ones. Thankfully, these are anything but. They are unbranded but clearly good quality and turn like butter. Similar to those used on Koaloha ukuleles with full metal collars and parts. Honestly - sticking mickey mouse ear tuners on a ukulele like this would be sacrilege!

DJ Morgan Soprano ukulele tuners

Completing the deal are (what else) Aquila Super nylgut strings. If this was my instrument I would definitely be experimenting with others.

So all in all a beautifully built and finished instrument. I can't find a flaw on it to be honest. So you are sensing that I rather like this one aren't you. Yep. Definitely, but that would all mean nothing if it played badly.

DJ Morgan Soprano ukulele neck heel

Setup was spot on for me at both the bridge and nut. In the hands it feels well made, nicely balanced and light. Ticks in the right boxes when it comes to a soprano!

Tone wise it is typically soprano, bright and bouncy but with a warmness that comes from a mahogany instrument. The clarity of individual strings is absolutely superb and when strummed every note of every chord has it's place in the mix.

Fingerpicked that warmth coupled with the soprano voice makes for a lovely mix, and the bonus of some extra frets give you a range you wouldn't normally find with many sopranos.

Volume wise, it is certainly not quiet, but I have played punchier and louder hand made sopranos. This may be down to the strings, and it's certainly not a criticism - just being honest. It's an enjoyable sound though but definitely a mellower soprano. If you want a soprano that delivers a punch in the guts, you may want to talk to Dave about other wood choices. Anyway - as I say, not a criticism - just have a listen to the video to get a better idea.

In summary, a delightful instrument and so good to see yet another quality hand made ukulele offering on UK shores. You may prefer more bling  - speak to  Dave to see what he has on offer. For me this one is understated and traditional and that makes it look classy enough. Oh, and that price. Under £300 - I would personally pay considerably more for an instrument of this calibre. Will be sad to see this one go back...

Check out my other ukulele reviews here!


Build quality throughout
More frets than expected
Quality friction pegs


Pretty much nothing!


Looks - 9
Fit and Finish - 9
Sound - 9
Value For Money - 9

Overall Ukulele Score : 9 out of 10

To understand my review scoring and see this result in context - visit my review page at



  1. I've played 6 of Dave's ukes now, and they are all brilliant, I've hugely impressed!

  2. Been a joy to have this one on test Phil.

  3. I have two of Dave's ukes, a mahogany concert and a soprano (14 fret to body) with solid spruce top and bird's eye maple back and sides. I love them both and now have no hankering for another uke! I took the Aquilas off the soprano and put Worth Browns on. - Beautiful sound, and LOUD.

  4. I am a lucky chap, I sit next to Dave Morgan most Thursdays at Sedgley Strummers and every now and then he brings in his latest uke so we can "test drive" it! I can honestly say he just has a knack of making exceptional Ukuleles, every one has been a gem to play, hold and gaze upon! But then I am biased I suppose? No! Credit where credit is due, these are stonking ukes!

  5. I own a DJ Morgan soprano and I live in TX. When I ordered it from him, he sent it to me so quickly I received it a day before it was expected. It's a great uke, and I really enjoy it--plus Dave did a fantastic job with the spruce top and the walnut back and sides; he's a true craftsman. American ukers--you should check out his site.

  6. I live in TX and own a DJ Morgan uke that I think is beautifully crafted and sounds lovely. Dave handles wood well and was great about shipping it--quickly--across the pond. American users should check out his site and consider one of the well-done ukes he builds. Mine is a soprano with a spruce top and walnut sides, and I love playing it.

  7. I now have two ukulele's from Dave, a Concert and a Soprano, both in solid Mahogany. They really are beautiful instruments and are a pleasure to play. I think it's great that we can get such well crafted ukes from a UK based Luthier rather than looking overseas for a maker - more power to your elbow Dave and good luck for the future.

  8. I've just taken delivery of a mahogany soprano from Dave - bought on the strength of the review on this excellent site. I can only say that have been blown away at the quality, sound and value for money of this instrument. And what a delight Dave is to deal with. A great craftsman and the nicest man in the world.

  9. Now I have had this lovely uke for a few weeks I am wondering about the strings fitted. I know you wise words, Barry, about the ear of the beholder etc but I re-read your review and note your advice that if this was your uke you would experiment with other strings. Could you offer any words of advice as to what I might try? I was thinking about some Martin strings which worked well for me (to my ear at least) on my Kiwaya concert but I don't have the experience to really know where to turn. All advice gratefully received.

  10. Martins will be very bright if that is your thing - but all I can really advise is get a few types of fluorocarbon strings and test them all - personally I use Seaguar fishing line!

  11. Thanks Barry. I'll have to take up fishing!

  12. Based on your review of Dave's Soprano, I have just bought a concert from him. As previously said, what a great guy, and what a great uke, beautiful tone, superb build, everything I had hoped for. (this is my third uke based on your reviews Barry, none of them have disappointed)


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