The Beatles Soprano Ukulele - REVIEW

2 Jul 2023

The Beatles Soprano Ukulele - REVIEW

It's important for Got A Ukulele to cover all bases in the ukulele market, and for some time I have been looking at these and considering a review. This is The Beatles™ Soprano Ukulele.

The Beatles Soprano Ukulele

Some of you may be saying 'oh come on, that's just a toy, that's not a real uke', and I know where that sentiment is coming from, but let's just look a bit closer. First up, this is  part of a series of officially licenced instruments carried by the John Hornby Skewes music distribution group. That's the very same business that carry brands like Lava ukuleles and Danelectro guitars. They are not a toy distributor. Second up, these are stocked by a great many actual music shops. Whilst I have no doubt you may also see them crop up in novelty shops, these are hanging on the wall in real high street music stores. So I don't fully buy the 'toy' angle here. Admittedly I suspect they are aimed more at Beatles fans and kids, but they are very much pushed as actual musical instruments too. More on that later. And so because they are in music shops and because people do browse across this site when starting out it has a place on my reviews list. A lot of beginners may well come across these and may find this helpful. Got A Ukulele can't only be about the 'good stuff'.


This comes as one of a series of four soprano instruments, all made from laminate wood and each carrying some Beatles imagery on the top. The series includes an Abbey Road model, a 'Love is' model, a 'Help' model and this one, the Rubber Soul using the lettering imagery from that oh so perfect Beatles album. My first confusion is that JHS also carry another Beatles line of instruments called the 'Yellow Submarine' collection, that appear to be the exact same specs, but are a bit cheaper for reasons I haven't worked out. They also make a range of 'Cavern Club' ukuleles but only the first two lines are official Beatles 'merch'.. Anyway - you get the idea, let's look closer.

The Beatles Soprano Ukulele body

So this is a soprano ukulele and when you ignore the Beatles imagery, is essentially just another 'off the shelf cheap laminate, thickly painted ukulele' which are ten a penny online and usually for quite a bit less than this one costs. The wood isn't specified but looking at it through the soundhole it's clearly something cheap like Linden or Basswood.  It's cheap thick plywood!  Maybe, in fact, it's Norwegian Wood.... (geddit?)..

The bridge is made from some sort of painted wood and is a simple tie bar style screwed in place. Come on, if you are putting something out that is clearly a 'beginner' instrument, you'd make that a slot bridge, surely? Oh well. Sitting in that is a straight topped plastic saddle. Very basic, rather scruffy, rather ugly. Spacing here is about 43mm.

The Beatles Soprano Ukulele bridge

As I say, the finish here is the sort of generic thick paint that is so common on these brightly painted ukuleles, but with the Beatles imagery on the top and gloss purple back and sides. You know what though, I rather like the Rubber Soul look to this one, and the imagery is tidy. Maybe i'm biased as it's an album I like so much but compared to the other models in the range, this one stood out to me. I like the purple too if I am honest. I'm not getting carried away here, the finish is still awfully thick and gloopy and the gloss is lifting off the top as you can see around the bridge! On the back and sides you see how it was poorly applied as it has turned into an 'orange-peel' ripple, but hey, i'm a Beatles fan and it's a bit of fun I guess.

The Beatles Soprano Ukulele finish

Inside is incredibly basic and quite messy. There are un-notched linings, but I can't actually see any braces at all. No need with thick laminate like this I guess. A very cheap plywood box.

Beatles Soprano Ukulele inside

The neck wood is not specified but will be another cheap material I guess. Naturally it's glossed in more purple paint which stops me looking at the construction. It tapers down to a totally generic 35mm nut, 28mm G to A with broom handle profile. That's a very subjective point of course, but regular readers will know that is not to my taste.

The Beatles Soprano Ukulele neck

The fingerboard isn't specified either, but it hardly matters as it's painted in an ultra thick matte black paint. This is where the quality control really shows how it is lacking as this is without a doubt one of the scruffiest fingerboards I have ever seen in all my years. Gouges, chips, overpaint, paint build up in lumps, it's just horrid. The frets look like they are made of brass and you get a standard 12 of those. Amazingly there are no sharp edges here, and the sides are painted black, though so are parts of the frets themselves! There are no outward position dots, but it comes with small white side dots at the 5th, 7th and 12th. It's just horrid here.

The Beatles Soprano Ukulele fingerboard

Beyond the plastic nut (setup here needs work with both a high nut and a high saddle, but, to be fair is not the worst I have seen) is a generic crown headstock with the words 'The Beatles' printed on. Nothing more to say here.

The Beatles Soprano Ukulele headstock

The tuners are parts-bin generic open gears which are cheap, but at least they have small buttons. Naturally they are all different tensions and grind on turning and are pretty awful.

The Beatles Soprano Ukulele tuners

It comes with nothing more than a colourful box,  flabby nylon strings (Rubber Soul, Rubber strings...) and a JHS 'start to play' guide with care instructions, chord shapes and the like. I told you this wasn't sold a toy. Oh, and it has a tail strap button - a cheap plastic one but a strap button all the same. That's a first for one of these cheap beginner ukes for me. And these have a price of £49 in the UK. OK, I am seeing a bit of discounting on these if you shop around, but bearing in mind this IS just one of those ten a penny brightly painted ukes, that's expensive. The Octopus soprano is much less.  Heaps of unknown brand sopranos are on Amazon with the kitchen sink thrown in for less. Heck even the Fender Venice can be had for less. I think that price is shameful and would question how much of that is going on Beatles licensing money...  No, not good value, and especially not when you see how shabby it is.

The Beatles Soprano Ukulele back

It feels rather chunky in the hands, and not particularly resonant, but was never going to be heavy and comes in at 395g.  It balances at the 12th ok too, but there isn't much going on with this that was likely to throw that off.

The first surprise is that when I finally got the strings to hold tune, the tension of the nylon is actually not too bad. Still too stretchy for my shonky fretting, but I've played far worse. Volume too is not too shabby with a barky punch that is certainly passable. Sadly sustain is poor and this is very much in the 'staccato box' category. Again though, i've played worse I suppose.

The tone though is a real let down, and very typical of many of these cheap plywood boxes. It's very  echoey and muddy which very much is more towards the sound of elastic bands on a tissue box than a ukulele. Yet, like some other points I have mentioned, I have actually heard worse and it 'kind of' functions at a basic level. Strummed it's a very staccato sound (and also very easy to bend out of tune on account of the strings) and sounds like laminate plywood without much character. But it plays as a ukulele and finally held on to the tuning. Despite the low sustain the fingerpicking is actually a bit more pleasing to my ear. It's still very one dimensional but very direct and much clearer played this way. But I really should question myself here as I'm trying to be more positive than it deserves. Put simply, it's not the worst sounding cheap brightly coloured soprano I have played, but it's far from the best. Just extremely average.

Summing up, no I didn't expect this was going to blow me away, but the days when this sort of cheap ukulele were ALL terrible should be behind us (and they largely are). Brands, both well known and more fly by night have shown that you can actually make a ukulele in this style, even making one for less money and make them work reasonably well. No, it's not as bad as an Ashton or a Martin Smith, but it's far from a  Bumblebee, Donner, Hola, Octopus, Makala etc. As I say, this is not the worst cheap uke I have seen or even the worst sounding, but it's still easily beaten for less money on all fronts. As such, this has to go into the box marked 'avoid' and I think it's an crying shame that a brand name like 'The Beatles' or a well known music distributor like JHS would take ownership of this. Imagine if they approached these lines properly rather than just for novelty.

I'd 'Run For Your Life' from this one.. Nope. (Unless you MUST have Beatles tat I suppose)..


Model: The Beatles Ukulele 
Scale: Soprano
Body: Laminate wood
Bridge: Unspecified painted wood, tie bar
Saddle: Plastic
Spacing at saddle: 43mm
Finish: Gloss paint with Beatles logos on soundboard
Neck: Unspecified
Fingerboard: Unspecified painted wood
Frets: 12, brass
Nut: Plastic
Nut width: 35mm, 27mm
Tuners: Unbranded open chrome gears
Strings: Nylon
Extras: Strap button
Country of origin: China
Weight: 395g
Price: RRP £49


Beatles artwork is genuine, licensed and quite fun
Decent enough volume
Not much else


Poor finishing in most departments
Narrow nut (subjective point)
Flabby strings
Awful fingerboard finishing
Grinding gears
Limited sustain
Poor, muddy, echoey tone
Over priced 


Looks - 7 out of 10
Fit and finish - 6 out o 10
Sound - 6 out of 10
Value for money - 5 out of 10









  1. Hello Barry, thanks for the interesting review. Yes, it is good that you take the time to review entry level instruments. But you always seem to give a bad score for narrow nuts. 35mm nut, 28mm G to A is too narrow only if you have large hands. It is perfect for me, and many other players with small hands. I don't think it should be listed as a con, IMHO.

    1. I do and I am very sorry - I usually make it clear in reviews that is a 'subjective' not 'objective' view - it's just me - I will edit this review to make that clearer. I am not saying a narrow nut is wrong. Just not for me!


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