While plastic ukuleles are generally better choices for younger players due to their durability, any player choosing a new instrument will find that ukuleles produce different tones depending on the type of wood the instrument is built from. Are you interested in something with a deep sound? Brighter? Warmer? More mellow? Knowing what you want will make picking out which type of wood you want much easier. The most popular species of wood used to build a ukulele include koa, spruce, cedar and mahogany.
Koa — Is dense tonewood taken from the tropical forests in Hawaii. A uke built from koa will produce a balanced tone with a focused midrange.
Acacia — Acacia ukes have similar properties to that of a koa instrument. The sound is often described as "woody" and the balance between the deep sounds and the bright sounds make it great for fingerpicking.
Mahogany — For a warmer or softer tone than what is produced by a koa instrument, a mahogany uke is the way to go.
Spruce — A ukulele made from spruce will produce bright tones with a lot of ‘zing’ as well as a more dynamic midrange profile.
Cedar — Looking for more mellow or rounded tones? A cedar uke is for you. This material also puts a noticeable emphasis on low notes.
Maple — Dense hardwood with good projection. Maple ukes don't have as much sustain as a koa instrument, but it has plenty of brightness and clarity.
Bocote — If you take the warmness of mahogany and mix it with dark, well-rounded tones, you will get bocote, a dark wood from Mexico.
It’s important to remember that regardless of which wood suits your playstyle best, wooden ukuleles will need some additional care as opposed to plastic models. Because wooden instruments are more prone to cracking and warping under climate change, players should consider purchasing humidification kits, like the Boveda 2-Way Humidity Control Starter Kit.
This humidification kit is extremely easy to use. Simply tear open the plastic wrapper on the outside of the pack and remove the Boveda. Put the Boveda in one of the provided fabric holders and place it in the instrument case. It’s important to remember to keep the case closed, even when you’re playing your ukulele. This will keep the case humidified for the longest time possible, for up to three months.