Pono BE-ST Steel String Chambered Electro Baritone Ukulele
When I first tried this Pono BE-ST, I'd thought it was something of a novelty. Something for ex-guitarists to play to hark back to their axeman days. You do wonder if people who run ukulele companies sit in a room together, asking the question, 'what can we make that people haven't got already'. All of these thoughts were dispelled in my first few seconds of trying it out. It is superb.
What I really didn't expect was the quality of tone, even unplugged. With its solid, chambered body I thought it would be fairly muted, and only useful when plugged in - but while it is far from loud, somehow there's a lovely, growly, rich acoustic sound. When you plug in through the great quality passive pickup, the enjoyment is amplified too.
The body is fairly heavy with all that solid wood, but with a truss rod in the neck, it balances out well, and has a jack input that doubles as a strap button. The steel strings have a low G, that really resonates well without dominating the mix, and there's a set of good quality open geared Grover tuners too.
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a lot of money. But the sound... the sound! It is every inch the professional instrument.