We showcase some superb ukuleles on GuitarFella, although not all of them are as unique in design as Lanikai’s QM-BLCEC, which sits comfortably in our chart on the best ukuleles under $500. This delightful concert uke is part of Lanikai’s ‘Sun, Sand and Surf’ series – and it should be obvious which aspect this represents, with its striking aquatic vibe. Let’s see what’s on offer.
The first thing we need to address is the gorgeous color and grain that immediately draws the eye to this uke. It sports beautifully figured quilted maple on the top, back and sides, all finished with a distinctive glossy translucent blue stain – aka, the ‘Surf’ finish. Note that a red (Sun) and natural version (Sand) are also available. The attention-to-detail is lovely, with an abalone soundhole rosette and black multi-ply binding giving the uke a protective edge.
It’s a concert-sized ukulele, with a single cutaway giving ample access to the highest of the 18 frets that sit on the rosewood fretboard. The generous width of the neck makes this concert uke very playable indeed. In its sub-$500 price range, you’d expect quality in the craftsmanship and build, and the QM-BLCEC doesn’t disappoint – it just feels like a high-end uke.
We’ve mentioned that the QM-BLCEC is an electro-acoustic model. It’s loaded with a quality pickup and versatile preamp system in the Fishman Kula, with volume controls, 3-band EQ (bass, middle and treble), and a built-in digital tuner.
It’s pretty hard to fault the rest of the hardware either, which impresses even at this higher-end price point. On the slotted headstock (which matches the body paintwork) is a set of Grover chrome open-gear tuners. The rosewood bridge features a ‘no-tie’ system, allowing for super-fast string changes. You’ll also find a Nubone XB nut and saddle, chrome strap buttons, and D’Addario strings, while it all comes packed in a protective Lanikai foam case. Top marks!
As far as sound goes, the QM-BLCEC once again impresses. While the woods are laminated, there’s a robust acoustic tone which is bright and clear – exactly what you want from a concert uke, while the bass response is enhanced thanks to the nut and saddle material. Through the Fishman system, this uke’s amplified tone is even and naturally replicated, with the 3-band EQ perfect for shaping the tone as you want it.
Lanikai’s QM-BLCEC is undoubtedly a winner. While beginners would appreciate its playability, for the experienced gigging ukulelist it has everything you’d need – reliable electronics, brilliant playability, and a wow-factor in the design. For the price, it shows really good value.