8 String Ukulele: Ultimate Buying Guide

8 String Ukulele_ Ultimate Buying Guide

Feeling ambitious or adventurous? The 8 string ukulele might be right for you…

They might not seem so familiar, but in Hawaiian culture, you’ll find them at kanikapila and ukulele jam sessions or a hula halau, used for their driving rhythm sound.

Although still not as popular as the standard 4 string, the 8 string ukulele has started to become more and more popular.

Because there are quite a few different options to choose from, I’ve put together this list of the best 8 string ukuleles on the market today, to help you arrive at a decision you’re happy with.

Best 8 String Ukuleles In 2020

At the end of the day, you want to pick the best 8 string ukulele that’s right for you. To do that, you have to understand the different features and aspects that make a particular ukulele a good choice. That’s why I created this guide 🙂

Oh, and a heads up! There may be some products which I recommend for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. All recommendations are genuine and/or verified by myself!

1. Luna High Tide Series 8-String

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Product Specs

  • Shape: Tenor
  • Top: Koa
  • Body/Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard/Bridge: Walnut
  • Finish: Satin
  • Abalone wave fret markers
  • Aquila Strings

The Luna High Tide Series 8-String Ukulele is visually unique and offers quality sound as both an electric and an acoustic ukulele. If you’re looking for an instrument that is eye-catching and trustworthy, this uke is worth considering.

In general, Luna is one of the best ukulele brands, and they often have signature builds and appearances. Beautiful wave decorations are carved into the fretboard, along with a full moon design at the top. This immediately gives a sense of the sea and draws in anyone looking for a unique design.

The ukulele body is constructed from mahogany and has a sturdy build. With other Luna models, they’ve had problems with using wood that is too thick and prevents sound from resonating smoothly.

Unlike those models, Luna’s 8 string ukulele is built with the ideal thickness, creating a very full and warm tone.

The resonance is not as strong and powerful as other options, however, it’s a good, measured volume that anyone can appreciate.

For players who tend to play towards the higher notes on the fretboard, this ukulele has a useful cutaway, not too common amongst ukuleles.

The pickup system that Luna uses with this model is very sufficient. Some slight drawbacks may be the noisy turnup and the slightly weaker signal. But aside from that, the pickup works smoothly and offers a natural sound from bass to treble.

The outfitted volume, treble, and bass sliders provide flexibility due to their sensitivity, allowing for perfect control of the tone. Overall the pickup complements the ukulele well to produce a bright, round sound.

As a whole, this is the best 8 string ukulele on the market today, although it’s not the most beginner-friendly, it’s beautifully made, the strings hold their tone, and it produces a beautiful tone at an adequate volume.

Pros

  • Useful cutaway
  • Signature design and look
  • Lovely warm tone

Cons

  • A bit quiter than other options

2. Oscar Schmidt OU28TE Tenor 8 String Ukulele

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Product Specs

  • Shape: Tenor
  • Body/Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard: Rosewood
  • Bridge: Walnut
  • Finish: Satin

This tenor 8 string ukulele from Oscar Schmidt is reliable in its sound and quality, but it’s notably much more affordable than other models on the market. If you’re new to the 8 string ukulele party, you’ll have a great time experimenting with this instrument, without breaking the bank!

The OU28TE maintains the right amount of features and quality while being the most affordable instrument on my list. This is great for those who aren’t ready to commit to a high-end 8 string ukulele but still want to try out the style.

The reason this model is more affordable than others is due to the laminate mahogany and having minimal decorative features. Even though it’s not as premium in its appearance, there is still much to be appreciated about its sound and playability.

The Oscar Schmidt is slightly overbuilt, meaning that the wood used is a bit too thick, resulting in some muffling with the sound. However, this isn’t the case when plugged-in.

At most, you’ll detect that the tone is softer than other, more powerful 8 string ukuleles. It still beats a 4 string ukulele in terms of volume though and the tone is bright and sweet, as well as showing subtle variation in timbre.

The OU28TE comes with a pickup and UKE-2000 preamp installed. If you don’t want this option its cousin, the OU28T, is similar in build but doesn’t have this feature, making it slightly cheaper.

Even if you prefer acoustic instruments, I think that getting the electric version is a better option in the long term, as it gives that added flexibility.

The OU28TE maintains a loud, round tone with minimal feedback, and still sounds like a regular acoustic ukulele. Its volume controls and dials are sensitive enough that you won’t have a hard time finding your desired levels.

On the whole, this is the best 8 string ukulele for those on a budget, but don’t be put off by its price tag, it’s extremely playable, has a big, full, and colorful sound, and is well made.

Pros

  • Sounds good when plugged in
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Plain design

3. KALA KA-ASAC-T8 SOLID ACACIA

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Product Specs

  • Shape: Tenor
  • Body: Acacia
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard/Bridge: Walnut
  • Finish: Satin

This 8 string ukulele is another stunner in both sound quality and visual design. If you want a real, resonant acoustic sound, this ukulele is likely your best bet.

The Kala KA-ASAC-T8 Solid Acacia 8-String Ukulele is made from acacia, a wood type that is known for the incredible sound it delivers. With this choice of wood, the ukulele gives a pure acoustic tone.

Among the other 8 string ukuleles on this list, the Kala KA-ASAC-T8 Solid Acacia 8-String Ukulele has the loudest acoustic sound which can carry you through live gigs and jams. The solid acacia wood only gets better with age, so you’re sure that this ukulele will last you a long time, quality, and performance-wise.

Unfortunately, this ukulele model does not come with built-in electronics, and neither does it have a version with one. If you want to install a pickup onto it, you’d have to either make use of an external one or simply install one yourself.

But I don’t find it necessary to do so. That’s simply how good the acoustic sound quality of this is. If you want to amplify the volume, bringing a microphone to its sound hole does just the job.

Aside from being well-made for its sound, it has a signature look just like the Luna model. Vine inlays decorate the beautiful fretboard and the edges of the body are embellished with white piping.

The acacia that it’s made from has a gorgeous natural grain that offers visual texture and variations in color as it goes from light to dark brown.

Overall, if you want an 8 string ukulele that produces quite possibly the best, if not loudest acoustic sound, this is the ukulele for you!

Pros

  • Great decorative design
  • Solid wood
  • Produces resonant acoustic sound
  • Sounds improves with age

Cons

  • Needs more care than laminate ukuleles
  • No pickup

4. Kala KA-8

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Product Specs

  • Shape: Tenor
  • Body/Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard/Bridge: Walnut
  • Finish: Gloss

The Kala KA-8 is more affordable than the previous Kala model but still produces an excellent sound. If you’re happy with a simple and traditional looking ukulele that sounds solid, the KA-8 is a great model.

This particular KA-8 model is among the lower end of the KA line, but only because the pricier ones come with more bells and whistles. The KA-8 is an excellent basic 8 string ukulele because it places a premium on the tone rather than its appearance.

This is not the best instrument if you’re interested in flashy designs. But if the sound is your priority, you’ll be happy starting with this one.

Like many other models on this list, the KA-8 uses laminate mahogany for its body and neck. Although this typically results in a quiet, muffled sound, the KA-8 produces a louder, rounder tone.

It doesn’t quite reach the level of an acacia ukulele, but it comes close. This ukulele has a strong body, great for years of wear and travel.

If you travel frequently, this would make a great travel ukulele, while leaving your more expensive, delicate uke at home.

Its sister model, the KA-8E, is built in the same way but uses a shadow active system as a pickup. Its dials are only concerned with the volume and tone, but its plugged-in sound is worth mentioning.

The dials are not the most sensitive, but they still allow you room to navigate between treble and bass tones. The KA-8E will serve you well in gigs where you need to be plugged-in. It will also save a bit of money and time compared to fitting the KA-8 with a shadow active pickup yourself.

Depending on whether you want an acoustic 8 string ukulele or acoustic-electric, the Kala KA-8 or KA-8E both create a great sound without putting a hole in your pocket!

Pros

  • Durable and solid
  • Louder than other laminate ukuleles

Cons

  • Plain design

5. Lanikai MA-8T

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Product Specs

  • Shape: Tenor
  • Body/Neck: Mahogany
  • Fretboard/Bridge: Walnut
  • Nut/Saddle: Bone
  • Finish: Satin

The Lanikai MA-8T is a traditional ukulele that gets all of its features right. This 8 string ukulele is for anyone who is looking for a well-rounded ukulele that you can rely on for its sound and flexibility.

The Lanikai MA-8T does a great job of balancing quality and features at a reasonable price. For instance, one feature that you’d usually find on higher-end ukuleles is a slotted headstock, which looks great on the MA-8T.

Combined with a single-ply white ABS fingerboard, bone nut and saddle, and a wide nut and neck profile, they give the Lanikai a classic and timeless look and sound.

As it’s made from mahogany, it provides a loud and pleasantly warm tone. While it’s not the flashiest looks-wise, it remains a reliable and classic ukulele, offering the best of both worlds.

One particular thing you might notice about this model is that it comes with strap buttons. A lot of ukulele players don’t opt for a strap, but I appreciate that the Lanikai comes with that option, especially useful when performing.

Overall, if you’re seeking a traditional-looking 8 string ukulele, with an authentic sound, the Lanikai MA-8T is a great option.

Pros

  • Classic appearance
  • Solid, standard tone
  • Comes with strap buttons

Cons

  • Volume is not the loudest

Final Thoughts On The 8 String Ukulele

There you have it. I hope my list of the best 8 string ukuleles has helped you come closer to choosing the right one for you and your musical needs!

It’s quite a step-up from the conventional ukulele, but if you put in the time and effort to master the 8 string ukulele, your musical repertoire will not only be all the more impressive, but the sounds it creates will be enjoyed by many.

Happy strumming! – Will