Caramel Soprano Acacia Koa Ukulele Kit - REVIEW

16 Apr 2023

Caramel Soprano Acacia Koa Ukulele Kit - REVIEW

Got A Ukulele returns with my regular dip back into the 'Amazon offerings' of the ukulele world. This is the Caramel Soprano Acacia Koa Kit.

Caramel Soprano Acacia Koa Ukulele Kit

As I have explained before, it's only right that whilst I shout about the importance of buying from real ukulele specialists, the fact remains that Amazon remain a huge draw for many people in ukulele buying (sadly). On the plus side, in the UK at least, Amazon seem to have dropped the 'Amazon choice' recommendation (i'd NEVER trust Amazon to tell me what a good ukulele was based on past examples), but on the negative side with these brands, I'll find that this review may be very time limited - these sort of models go in and out of availability (and price) like yo-yo's.. (in fact this WAS on the US Amazon site last week, now it's unavailable...). All part of the pile 'em high sell 'em cheap mentality.


I've looked at Caramel once before too and it was distinctly average. I recall posting that review on a ukulele forum and facing the wrath of a couple of people who claimed that I was 'out to get the brand' and that I 'had it all wrong'. There's something Dunning Kruger going on there, but you do find that the more vociferous voices of challenge to my reviews are with some of the cheaper ones - people don't like their perceptions and choices being questioned. But, as with every review I've ever done, I am not in hock to the brands and it matters little to me whether it is cheap / expensive / good / terrible - just that I approach them all in the same way.  Of course, considering the source store this is, naturally, a cheap ukulele so any issues I find will be 'to be expected', but that isn't a reason not to mention them or that they should be normalised or accepted either..

Caramel Soprano Acacia Koa Ukulele Kit body

This is part of a trio of instruments from Caramel, from soprano through to tenor each largely with the same specifications. It's a standard shaped double bout soprano instrument made from all laminate acacia wood. Yes, my first gripe here is the word 'koa' because I would put my house on the line that the outer veneer here has never been anywhere near Hawaii (where the acacia growth is given that name), but they are not the only guilty party using that naming to create a feeling of something special. It's laminate acacia and there is nothing wrong with that per se. With this one though there is quite a difference in the colour of the wood compared to the product listing pictures. On Amazon these look deep, dark, stripey and chocolatey.. this looks.. well.. a bit more bland than that. It's much paler and whilst there's a bit of stripe on the top I've seen much nicer acacia.  The sides in particular are very bland. I'll come on to the quality and finish of it a little later.

The bridge is a generic tie bar style which I always thing looks well out of place on a soprano as it's too big. The wood is not specified so it's a stained generic wood, but to be fair to Caramel it's really tidily finished and smooth. I looked at a Kala last time that was far worse.  The saddle material isn't specified but is straight topped and looks like plastic. Spacing here is 39mm.

Caramel Soprano Acacia Koa Ukulele Kit bridge

The finish is a basic satin which is scruffy in several places with parts feeling smooth and parts feeling rough. The finishing of the wood also leaves something to be desired as there are a couple of scuffs and chips here and there. And there is no other decoration at all. Now I'm not against totally plain instruments, but if you are going to use a laminate as thick as this I think you'd do better to hide the cross section where the top and back meet the sides as these look ugly! The edge joints are also mightily severe to the point of being sharp and need a bit of dressing back. All in all though, you know what? I've seen much worse...

Caramel Soprano Acacia Koa Ukulele Kit finish

Inside is pretty tidy for an entry level ukulele with thin braces, notched linings and no real mess to speak of. I will say though - the top is mighty thick for a laminate which worries me.

Caramel Acacia Koa Ukulele Kit inside

The neck is unspecified with obvious joints in the usual places and is satin coated also. It tapers down to generic far eastern broom handle profile and skinny nut at 35mm, 27mm G to A. Perhaps that's more 'standard' though to be fair.

The fingerboard is not specified and is quite variable in colour too. I suspect it IS rosewood though.  It certainly needs an oil and some of the white polish buffing from the open grain. Again though, I have seen worse. It's, surprisingly, edge bound hiding the ends of the 15 frets (joined at the 12th) but despite that they are not dressed back enough that you can't feel them... Position dots in pearl face out at the 5th, 7th, 10th, double 12th and 15th and they are paired with side dots.

Caramel Soprano Acacia Koa Ukulele Kit neck

The nut looks like bone and the set up here seems fine to me. It's also well set up at the bridge and whilst that may more luck than judgement with the example I received, credit where credit is due.

The headstock is a Kanile'a-esque shape faced in a thin veneer of very pale acacia, so pale it's almost pointless. The Caramel logo is laser etched in the top. Inoffensive though also scruffy in places with some chips around the front tuner bushings. Not life and death of course, but ugly and slapdash.

Caramel Soprano Acacia Koa Ukulele Kit headstock

Tuners are black open gears with brass main gears and large-ish vintage style black buttons. They look too big on a soprano, and gears are never my choice at this scale. To be fair though they seem to work ok without any grinding or 'slop' in the turning and they look far better than chunky sealed chrome gears. They are still ears though and see below for another gripe with these..

Caramel Soprano Acacia Koa Ukulele Kit tuners

It's finished off with a couple of strap buttons, the usual sort of goodie bag of extras and a rather decent gig bag (take that Kala!!) too. In the goodie bag is a strap, clip on tuner, cleaning cloth, spare strings and a beginner booklet. Talking of strings, these are not named either but they feel like fluorocarbon which feel a far cry from poor quality nylon. Saying that though, the tension is much lower than I would like and I would still change them. And price wise you need to bear in mind these are dynamically priced and may change one week to the next. At the current time this is a shade under £45 in the UK which is not a lot of money at all though it does place in alongside a lot of competition.

Caramel Soprano Acacia Koa Ukulele Kit extras

So as you can see, for an 'Amazon Special' despite some cosmetic issues (that I have seen far worse with) and some subjective gripes, this is a basic ukulele, but not an absolute shocker from what I can see. I'm fully aware that I may have 'gotten a good one', but I approach every ukulele review the same way and deal with what is in front of me. For the same reason when I complain about a bad uke I get people telling me that 'others are better', I don't ignore issues just because of that. Likewise, I won't ignore the positives here just because 'others are worse'. What I AM saying though is if you choose to buy from a big box Chinese brand distributed by Amazon, that buying process IS hit and miss. I've seen far too many over the years that prove that to be true, so do be careful.

Caramel Soprano Acacia Koa Ukulele Kit back

But as I say, bar some cosmetics, it seems well put together and the setup has surprised me. I thought that top is too thick and bridge too large, both things that can kill projection and sure enough the volume here, whilst not pitiful is only average. I've played much louder sopranos. You will be heard, but i'd like a bit more punch. Sustain though is pretty decent and the whole instrument feels resonant, so it's not all bad.  It's not heavy at all at only 455g, but a lot of that weight is in the tuners as this is very neck heavy - a real red line for me with sopranos. It's totally off balance. 

Tone wise things become far more generic. The accuracy of the intonation / setup is helping me enjoy the sound and there is certainly clarity as opposed to muddiness but it's very bright, thin and almost brittle in sound. That's less of an issue when strummed as it has a typically rhythmical staccato bouncy edge to the sound that works well with sopranos. There is a touch of laminate echo though and a one dimensional side to the tone. But hey, it works. Fingerpicking shows the lack of character a little more and sounds far too thin for my tastes. I suppose string experimentation would change things up, but then a £45 instrument becomes a £55+ instrument.. All in all though, like the looks - it's not an offensive sound, but equally not very characterful either.  And that £45 is part of the key to this one I think - it's not a lot, but as I say it comes with a lot of competition and I think you can do better for that money (or less!) with other examples like Octopus, Donner, Bumblebee and Flight.

So, no, I don't think this is a stellar option and there are better ukes out there for even less money, but it's also far from the worst I have seen from the Amazon only ranks. I'm well aware that this may be a good example, but credit where credit is due. There's a lot of scruffiness here, but it works well enough as a beginner ukulele.  It's too thin a tone for me, but strummed it's bouncy and peppy. If you must choose Amazon and go for something like this, I suppose you are not going badly wrong. Just bear in mind the 'roulette' element to buying blind at this price and that you can also do better with others. 

A mixed view, but not a total dog.



Model: Caramel Acacia Koa Ukulele Kit
Scale: Soprano
Body: Laminate acacia
Bridge: Unspecified tie bar
Saddle: Plastic
Spacing at saddle: 39mm
Finish: Satin
Neck: Unspecified
Fingerboard: Unspecified
Frets: 15, 12 to body
Nut: Plastic
Nut width: 35mm, 27mm G to A
Tuners: Unbranded open gears
Strings: Unspecified
Extras: Strap buttons, gig bag, clip tuner, cloth, strap, spare strings
Country of origin: China
Weight: 455g
Price: (at review date) £45


Generally good build
Good sustain
Surprisingly well set up!
Jangly bouncy tone


Shabby finishing
I wish it looked like the press pictures!
Slot bridge please
Poorly dressed frets
Soprano 'ears'
Neck heavy
Loose tension strings
Overly bright brittle tone


Looks - 8 out of 10
Fit and finish - 7 out of 10
Sound - 7 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10









  1. I never fully understand the need for strap buttons on Sopranos. 🤔

  2. The intonation on Caramel's is hit or miss depending on whether the factory worker glues the bridge in the correct location. Built cheaply and they sound it.


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