Hola HM-21 Soprano Ukulele Kit - REVIEW

2 Oct 2022

Hola HM-21 Soprano Ukulele Kit - REVIEW

Back again this week with a ukulele from the bargain basement end of the scale. This is the Hola HM-21 Soprano Kit.

Hola HM-21 Soprano Ukulele

I have always maintained that Got A Ukulele reviews should, fairly, cover all price points and there is no point in me solely looking at high end models. Some people's financial circumstances dictate that they may never be able to justify spending hundreds on an instrument and I consider it part of the job of a review site to try to steer them right in this minefield of a price point. So whilst I would always suggest that if people can find a way to pay more, that will be safest option, for some that is not possible. Sadly, as you will know the majority of the 'cheap brightly coloured' sopranos (of which this is one) are trash, but very occasionally I find something that breaks the mould (Dolphin, Bumblebee, Octopus to name three). I'm not suggesting they are 'diamonds in the rough' as they still don't stand up to more expensive instruments, but more 'passable for a first timer' kind of ukes. Sadly, they are infrequent, so let's see if Hola can add another positive to the small pile.

So what we have here is a very basic double bout soprano, offered as a 'kit' (more on that below) and, like so many others, in a range of bright colours. I chose this 'natural' offering and after last week's seizure inducing blue instrument I am glad I did. It's made from maple in the body and whilst they don't go to great lengths to point out it's laminate, it absolutely is. The top is left a pale maple colour and is made from a single sheet, and the single sheet back and sides are coloured in a pale orange. Both show the grain through them so are kind of semi translucent. I don't think this example is painted 'as such' insofar as it's not that usual gloopy gloss paint, rather I think it's a stain covered with a gloss varnish. Whilst is is over-applied and showing 'orange peel' ripples in the back on account of a bad application I have actually seen much, MUCH worse. It's actually pretty uniform all over despite the pooling around the fretboard. It's not an overall look I am that enamoured with but better than many I have seen at this price bracket.

Hola HM-21 Soprano Ukulele body

The bridge is a slot style (good choice - beginners uke - easy changes), made from walnut with some interesting shaping. Sitting in that is a plastic saddle with some end tapering to match the bridge. Spacing here is 40mm. You know what? This bridge is actually pretty tidy.

Hola HM-21 Soprano Ukulele bridge

There is no other decoration other than a sound-hole rosette black and white transfer under the gloss, but at least they applied it centrally.  Yes, the gloss finish is too heavy as I say, but it's even.

Hola HM-21 Soprano Ukulele finish

Inside is surprising insofar as it is actually braced and kerfed. Often with cheap ukes the body woods are so thick they just glue them together and that's it. This is actually built like a ukulele! Ok, it's basic and a bit scruffy, but still.

Hola HM-21 Ukulele inside

The neck is specified as nato wood finished in the same pale orange stain and gloss as the back of the body and in three pieces with well hidden joints.  Unsurprisingly for a Chinese made instrument it tapers to a broom-handle profile and a very average (narrow) 35mm nut and 25mm G to A. Not for me, but kids will manage it.

It's topped with more walnut for the fingerboard which is slightly dry looking and has some scuffs here and there.  It has as standard (for a soprano) 12 frets and none of them are sharp which is another surprise! Position dots are pearly inlays which face out at the 5th, 7th and 10th, but sadly there are no side dots.

Hola HM-21 Soprano Ukulele neck

Beyond the plastic nut (incidentally - the setup on this one is surprisingly good - in fact I don't think I would adjust anything at all) is a headstock which seems to have far too much real estate to me. The piece above the 2nd and 3rd tuners is enormous like somebody with a huge forehead. That is in the same glossed orange as the neck and has the Hola logo in silver under it. Some of the edges of the headstock are a little scuffy, not scratched as such, but a little thinly applied and noticeable. 

Hola HM-21 Soprano Ukulele headstock

Tuners are generic open gears with small cream buttons. They are clearly low end, but no lower than the ones I saw on the Ortega and Cordoba ukuleles I reviewed recently. They work.

Hola HM-21 Soprano Ukulele tuners

Finishing it off is a dust cover 'gig bag', a halter neck strap that hooks in the sound-hole, some picks and a set of Aquila strings. The omission of a clip on tuners seems a mistake, but it's a VERY low price as you can get these (Amazon of course..) for about £40.

Hola HM-21 Soprano Ukulele extras

Whenever I put a sneak peek picture up of a cheap ukulele like this, readers assume it will automatically be awful. Most of them are to be fair, but I think you will note at this point that despite some 'usual suspects' gripes, this is, on the whole, a far better showing than I have seen with some others. Yes it's basic, yes it's a bit over finished, but it's put together ok, evenly finished and is largely tidy in most departments. Colour me surprised! 

It's not heavy either at 430g, and balances nicely in the hands.

Hola HM-21 Soprano Ukulele back

The volume here is pretty average only. It's not quiet or feeling strangled, but I'd hardly call it a punchy soprano. You will be heard though so I suppose it's enough. The sustain is surprisingly good for such a cheap ukulele and whilst it doesn't go on and on, at least it has some!

Tone wise it's a little thin and reedy sounding to me and more bright than I would like, but again I have heard much, much worse. Strummed it's rather fun and bouncy like a staccato soprano should be. This works just fine as a simple ukulele for that purpose. Fingerpicked I find the thinner tone comes through too much making it sound a little feeble. There are also some intonation issues when playing up the neck, but that is not unusual at this point. Still, picking lower down is passable I suppose, but this is more of a strummer I think. Still, overall it works as a ukulele and is far from being a howler. This will likely suit any child or beginner just fine on tone.

So quite a few pleasant surprises here I think. No, I am not saying this is a dream uke or even a hidden gem, but it makes it's way onto that small pile of very cheap instruments that are a far cry from the worst offenders So, to repeat a theme I've mentioned throughout this review - I have seen much, MUCH worse.


Model: Hola HM-21 Kit
Scale: Soprano
Body: Laminate Maple
Bridge: Walnut tie bar
Saddle: Plastic
Spacing at saddle: 40mm
Finish: Gloss
Neck: Nato
Fingerboard: Walnut
Frets: 12
Nut: Plastic
Nut width: 35mm, 25mm G to A
Tuners: Unbranded open gears
Strings: Aquila 
Extras: Cloth bag, strap, picks
Weight: 430g
Country of origin: China
Price: Circa £40


Pretty sound core build
Pretty decent setup
Real wood bridge and fingerboard
Fairly good sustain
Low price


Gloss somewhat overdone
Scruffy fingerboard
No side dots
Thin tone


Looks - 7.5 out of 10
Fit and finish - 8 out of 10
Sound - 7.5 out of 10
Value for money - 9.5 out of 10









  1. Good review. The decent quality, okay sound and price point probably make it attractive for school programs and also social organizations that have ukulele groups where expectations are proportionately lower. Sometimes, it's more about having something decent to play now rather than saving up for something better later on. Because it's street value is minimal theft, breakage, etc. are of little concern especially for a school.


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