DJ Morgan Vintage Style Soprano Ukulele - REVIEW

17 Sept 2023

DJ Morgan Vintage Style Soprano Ukulele - REVIEW

It's always important to look at the work of ukulele luthiers in these reviews and not just factory brands, so I'm pleased to feature this one. A DJ Morgan Vintage Style Soprano.

DJ Morgan Vintage Soprano Ukulele

The 'D' in DJ Morgan is Dave (Morgan) from the Midlands in the UK who I have featured before on this website as a fine ukulele builder indeed. It's low volume stuff with Dave and as ever with luthier reviews these are, somewhat strangely, less about the instrument in the review and more about reviewing their skills more generally. And that's because with a lot of luthier built stuff they are not production line models and can even be bespoke instruments. That's kind of the case with these as I think Dave only recently made a couple of them, and I bought one for myself personally! That's not to say he won't make them again, but as it stands this is a review of something you can't immediately go and click to buy. Where a luthier review IS positive though, I hope it's an indication for you to put them on your radar and keep an eye on their output. You get the idea.

I first need to get the 'subjective / bias' out of the way. It's well known that I have a big passion for very traditional soprano ukuleles, so when I saw Dave had made these I immediately took a closer look. Then when I saw the detail that went into the build (which you will find on his Facebook page) I couldn't resist and bought one. The specs simply ticked all my boxes. So with that out of the way, i'll now try to be as objective as I can!


In making this instrument Dave was inspired by both the looks and build on a vintage instrument he'd taken a look at - a 1920's Royal Hawaiian brand soprano to be precise. I will point out those details as we go through the review.

DJ Morgan Vintage Soprano Ukulele body

As you can immediately see this is a very traditional shaped double bout soprano ukulele and is made from all solid mahogany with single sheets used for the top, back and sides. As for body looks this is exactly what I want in a soprano - simple wood, simple shape. The wood isn't boring though and has some nice shiny grain stripes to it which add a bit more interest, but it's still simple. There's not much more to say here, but the interest and vintage modelling comes more to the fore when I discuss the construction further on.

The bridge is a simple slot style made from Macassar ebony and is extremely smooth and tidy. Sitting in that is a very traditional saddle choice as this is made from ebony wood too. Spacing here is 43mm. This sort of saddle is 'just right' for a ukulele like this.

DJ Morgan Vintage Soprano Ukulele bridge

The finish and decor is very much in keeping with the vintage look. The decoration on the body is limited to a sound hole rosette inlaid from pieces of cherry, maple and walnut in a rope style which is both done exquisitely but also carries the right old time / Nunes type vibe. The body is then hand finished in a natural cellulose open pore finish which feels great and will age naturally over time. Naturally, being hand made, there are no sharp or severe edges here either and the top and back joints are nicely smoothed off to create a more comfortable instrument, particularly as sopranos are more likely to be hand held when played. This is simple but very effective decoration and don't underestimate the work that goes into a hand inlaid rosette like this!

DJ Morgan Vintage Soprano Ukulele decor

Inside is where things get very interesting. It's braced normally, has un-notched kerfing in line with vintage instruments and is extremely tidy. A nice touch is the signed and dated bridge plate which, of course, will never be seeen! But the way this is put together is very traditional too. Rather than building a body then screwing and glueing a separate neck in place, Dave built the body around the end of the neck block with the body sides slotting onto this part first. The top is fitted next and then the back last which you can see as the heel cap is integral to the back wood. This makes for a very secure build something akin to a dove-tail or a Spanish heel. It also allowed Dave to make another adjustment to the neck which I will come on to below.

DJ Morgan Vintage Soprano Ukulele inside

The neck is made from walnut in a single piece and tapers to a nice shallow nut profile and wide 37mm nut (30mm G to A). Again, very traditional and how I think all sopranos should be. That is satin too and feels great.

The fingerboard is made from a wood called Tambooti (a new one on me - a decorative hardwood from the southern parts of Africa) and is flush to the top of the body in a very vintage style. Dave advises that on the original 1920's instruments this led to a very high action which was countered in later developments with the introduction of the raised fingerboard. To counter this he has set the angle on a neck inside that integral body joint. It's actually hard to spot as the fingerboard still runs flush with the top, but you can see it more looking at the ukulele in reverse as the back has a taper. Clever. That board comes with a very traditional 12 almost bar style frets and no other fret markers (the originals didn't have them!). Simple and clean.

DJ Morgan Vintage Soprano Ukulele neck

The nut is ebony too and beyond that a crown headstock inlaid with more rope marquetry to match the sound hole.  This really sets it off, though I suppose some more of this detailing down the middle of the fingerboard would have been the ultimate! Either side of the rope-work are curved wooden inlays which add some of the DJ Morgan usual decor to the headstock.

DJ Morgan Vintage Soprano Ukulele headstock

It comes with friction pegs made by Der Jung which are on a par with good Grover tuners so are just fine with me. Gears would look ridiculous on an instrument like this! If you must have gears, UPT style pegs would be an easy swap.

DJ Morgan Vintage Soprano Ukulele tuners

It comes with unspecified clear fluoro strings and this was listed at £395. I never suggest paying too much regard to the pricing score in luthier reviews as it totally depends on the specs of the instrument, but considering the build and finishing on display here (and the time that will have taken), I consider that to be a bargain whichever way you slice it. Turn that into man hours...

Back into the subjective for a moment. When I saw images of this ukulele and knowing what a good builder Dave is, I was immediately hooked. This is pretty much the perfect trad soprano for my tastes. Taking off the subjective hat again, there is still no denying the build quality, detailing and finishing craft here which is just wonderful at every turn. I get that not everybody will like the ultra traditional ukes, but you can't argue with the quality here. It's also one of the lightest build sopranos I think I've ever had in my hands (including the Ken Timms) which is something Dave was going for. It's only 310g and you almost don't know you are holding it for that reason. It balances wonderfully too and just feels right to hold unsupported. Light as a feather.

DJ Morgan Vintage Soprano Ukulele back

So.. a very light build, thin woods, accurate construction - this all bodes well for the obvious and sure enough the volume here is absolutely stellar. Dave said it's the loudest soprano he has built and his other instruments are no slouches. This punches like a cannon and is certainly one of the loudest sopranos I have ever played. Heck it's louder than some tenors I have  Sustain on sopranos is always more compromised than other scales due to the smaller body, but a resonant body can certainly help. And so it is here as the sustain is decent meaning it's not going to be a totally staccato one trick pony. 

Things are looking good here and, thankfully, it doesn't fail to deliver on tone either. Being a soprano it certainly has that jangly, peppy, bouncy tone when played strummed for rhythmical patterns. In fact it delivers exactly how a soprano should on that score. But unlike some that can sound a little nasal and whiny whilst this has a peppy tone there is a woody warmth to the background too. It certainly cuts through (with no notes getting lost or sounding muddy), but has a tonal balance through the mids which work wonderfully and keep it to an almost mellow edge that I love.

Some people claim sopranos are not for melodic play (which I call nonsense on - take a look at Andy Eastwood playing one) and here it shines too with great clarity and chiming tone no matter where you play it on the neck. Sure, you have a limit to your register with the twelve frets, but then it wouldn't be in keeping with the vintage uke it is inspired by with any more. Never mind that though - for chord melody type play this won't let you down as the comments I made about the strummed tone still apply - nicely balanced, not whiny and a nice woody edge. Really characterful.

I knew of Dave's work before buying this so knew that he doesn't turn out rubbish, but I didn't have any idea how this one would work on account of the more trad construction - it was the looks that lured me in. I need not have had any concerns as this ticks every soprano box for me in spades. A truly wonderful instrument! Is he going to make more? You'll have to ask him, but as I say with all luthier instrument reviews this is more about reviewing their skills rather than an individual instrument. And he's hit the target with three out of three reviews on here.

I think therefore you can take it from me that whatever he puts out next will be worth a look!


Model: DJ Morgan Vintage Style
Scale: Soprano
Body: Solid Mahogany
Bridge: Macassar Ebony
Saddle: Ebony
Spacing at saddle: 43mm
Finish: Cellulose open pore satin
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Tambooti
Frets: 12
Nut: Ebony
Nut width: 37mm, 30mm G to A
Tuners: Der Jung friction pegs
Strings: Clear fluorocarbon
Weight: 310g
Country of origin: United Kingdom
Price: £395


Wonderful trad looks
Superbly clean build and finish
Supremely light weight
Great neck feel
Volume off the scale
Great sustain
Textbook bouncy, jangly soprano sound
Balanced tone
More than fair price




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









  1. I was so intrigued by this little guy that I had to read the whole review. Such a refreshing change from crappy, horrible sounding soprano ukes that are so common. Glad you purchased it!

  2. I bought one and completely agree with the review. I was anxious about buying but completely agree with the review. It is an astounding uke with so much volume and gorgeous tone. I love mine. I also have one of his pineapple sopraninos which has a really spacious neck, which is quite a feat with such a small scale. Dave is an incredible builder and worth checking out.

  3. I’ve put worth Browns on mine and changed the the tuner keys to black ones. Looks and sounds amazing.

  4. Just received mine and it is definitely well worth the cost and probably more, thanks for your review Baz fantastic Uke.


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