Kanile'a K-1 B Baritone Deluxe Ukulele - REVIEW

23 Jul 2023

Kanile'a K-1 B Baritone Deluxe Ukulele - REVIEW

Following on with a series of dream ukuleles, I'm delighted to be able to get my hands on this Kanile'a K-1 B Deluxe Baritone.

Kanile'a K-1 B Deluxe Baritone Ukulele

Subjective disclosure alert!! I've gone on record several times in saying that Kanile'a are probably my all time favourite ukulele brand, so as such it's only right I put that at the start of the review. I still always approach things as objectively as I can though and in fact I have looked at a couple of instruments from this brand before where I have called out one or two things I didn't like.  Still, as the owner of a K-1 Tenor... well... you know. I was hardly going to turn SUS down when they kindly sent this over on loan!


The K-1 series from Kanile'a are essentially their core or foundation models made on the island of O'ahu, Hawaii. The 'main line' as it were. They are available in all scales and come in a either standard (with a natural silk finish) or deluxe (which employs their now famous UV gloss and higher grade tone woods). This is the 'big gun' in the series. It's also one made in their 25th year!

Kanile'a K-1 B Deluxe Baritone Ukulele body

It's a modern, rounded shaped double bout instrument made from all solid Hawaiian Koa. And lovely koa is is with lots of stripe and hints of flaming top and back. It's two pieces for each and the top and back edges are nicely chamfered off to avoid any harsh edges. It's just simple, but glorious looking Hawaiian instrument. About as 'up my street' as ukuleles get.

The bridge is the usual Kanile'a style pin bridge, often mimicked, but rarely done as nicely as Kanile'a do it. It's made of ebony, as are the pins and is extremely smooth and tidy. Sitting in that is a compensated top saddle which isn't specified but if anything like their other instruments will be NuBone. Spacing here is 45mm.

Kanile'a K-1 B Deluxe Baritone Ukulele bridge

There is no other decoration whatsoever, bar the wonderfully applied thin, yet mirror smooth gloss. Honestly, Kanile'a are renowned to be one of the best in the business at applying these finishes. It's flawless. I wouldn't WANT more decoration myself!

Kanile'a K-1 B Deluxe Baritone Ukulele finish

Inside is where the action is with most Kanile'a's as they are constantly developing their bracing system to reduce weight and impact on the vibrating tone woods whilst still doing their job. This uses an updated Tru-R system on the main upper braces to take it a stage further with even more of the top braces having pieces removed in an attractive lattice. It's another feature that is being regularly copied, but Kanile'a developed it and are the masters at it. The top is otherwise vertically braced with really thin strips. The kerfing linings are notched and reversed, and there is no mess whatsoever.

Kanile'a K-1 B Deluxe Baritone Ukulele inside

The neck is made of South American mahogany and is carved in a single piece. Naturally for a Kanile'a it tapers down to a shallow nut profile  and a roomy 38mm nut, 30mm D to E. I've always found Kanile'a necks to be about as comfortable as they get for my hand shape and dexterity and it's no different here. It's also finished in a satin not gloss which is another big plus!

The fingerboard is made of ebony and is in superb condition and even in colour all over. It's not edge bound but the 19 frets, joined at the 14th are dressed impeccably. Pearl position dots face out at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, double 12th and 15th and they are paired with dots down the side. Sorry for not talking about this on the video, not sure why I forgot, but was against the clock and didn't have time to re-record.

Kanile'a K-1 B Deluxe Baritone Ukulele neck

Beyond the nut is the usual Kanile'a headstock faced in more ebony and fitted with the K logo in pearl. I've always liked this 'not quite a crown' headstock. It's very tidy here too and very classy.

Kanile'a K-1 B Deluxe Baritone Ukulele headstock

At first glance I thought the tuners were Grover, but are actually branded Kanile'a. I wonder if they ARE Grover and made for the brand though as they certainly look like it! They work wonderfully.

Kanile'a K-1 B Deluxe Baritone Ukulele tuners

It comes with clear nylon string with two wound bass strings for low D tuning, and also the quite wonderful Kanile'a padded gig bag. And it's right up there with price too at £1,999. I shouldn't moan I suppose as cost of living, transport, energy has rocketed right around the globe, but when I bought my Kanile'a tenor (some years ago) it was quite a bit under £1,000. They've certainly gone up over the years... It's in the ballpark i'd expect, but i'm just sad that such things have moved out of the range of my wallet.

But what a build though - it's flawless on the fit and finish for me with nothing to complain about. I also can't get over just how light it is at 690g. I've played tenors heavier than that and even one or two concerts. It's light as a feather, helped by thin tone woods and that innovative bracing. Just wonderful. It balances perfectly too. 

Kanile'a K-1 B Deluxe Baritone Ukulele back

And now the sound... well, again, my playing standard can't do these justice, but it's just wonderful. The volume is terrific and the sustain pretty outstanding. It's just SO resonant and even the slightest tap on the body has the strings ringing.

Strummed to me it sounds like an acoustic guitar with great harmonising going on between the strings and a really rich full sound that is anything but muddy. The clarity is really noticeable and very pretty. It's incredibly full sounding and responsive as well with little effort on the strumming hand.

Fingerpicking is just divine with a bell like clarity and long sustain all over the neck and again a richness of tone with great breadth. I could play this for hours. I think this is a ukulele you could play whatever style you like on as it gives a bit of everything without leaving anything wanting. Rich, warm, bright, complex, clear, grown up. You name it - it's in there.

I think you can tell that I like this one.. OK, I am biased considering this is probably my favourite brand, but there's really nothing wrong here. From the classy simple look through the superb build and finish topped off with a wonderful tone and bags of resonance. You tell me what I missed?

I honestly think this is all the baritone you would ever need. Very highly recommended!


Model: Kanile'a K-1 B Deluxe
Scale: Baritone
Body: Solid Hawaiian Koa
Bridge: Ebony, pin bridge
Saddle: NuBone?
Spacing at saddle: 45mm
Finish: Gloss
Neck: South American Mahogany
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 19, 14 to body
Nut: NuBone?
Nut width: 38mm, 30mm D to E
Tuners: Kanile'a brand open gears
Strings: Clear nylon with two wound bass
Extras: Gig bag
Weight: 690g
Country of origin: USA
Price: £1,999


Superb build and finish
Classy simple looks
Wonderful neck
Great tuners
Excellent volume and sustain
Rich wide ranging tone
Crystal clear notes with nice harmonisation


Nothing really - all the baritone you would ever need


Looks - 9.5 out of 10
Fit and finish - 10 out of 10
Sound - 9.5 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10









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