In this Diamond Head ukulele review, I’ll be looking at the DU-150 soprano ukulele. This ukulele is one of the best-selling budget ukes online, but is it any good? Keep reading to find out!
Diamond Head Ukulele Review Summary
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The Diamond Head DU-150 ukulele isn’t terrible, but it’s not great. The build quality is just OK, the playability is so-so, and the sound is thin and plunky.
To be fair, the DU-150 is much better than many of the ultra-cheap ukes for sale online. Still, I don’t recommend it for anybody who is serious about learning the ukulele.
For just a little more money, you can find a number of beginner ukuleles that are leagues ahead of the DU-150 in terms of craftsmanship, playability, and tone.
However, if you simply want an inexpensive ukulele for your kid to play around with, the DU-150 is a decent option. It’s a real instrument, not just a ukulele-shaped toy like many products in this price range.
The Risk of Buying a Cheap Ukulele
I understand that some people are on a tight budget or are buying a gift and don’t want to spend a lot of money. I also realize that many people don’t want to invest a lot in a new instrument if they’re not sure they’ll stick with it.
The problem is that cheap ukuleles aren’t fun to play and don’t sound very good. As you can imagine, this can quickly lead to discouragement.
The trick is to find a good quality beginner uke that doesn’t cost a fortune but will still be enjoyable to play.
Recommended Beginner Ukuleles
The models below are some great entry-level ukuleles that I’ve played and personally recommend. If you’d like to learn more, you can also check out my full article on the best beginner ukuleles.
I will say that the Diamond Head DU-150 I purchased is reasonably well-built. I didn’t notice any glaring issues or rough spots that made me nervous.
The DU-150 isn’t poorly made, but it is cheaply made. The body is laminated maple with a painted-on brown finish. The fingerboard is some sort of unidentified hardwood that has been painted black to mimic ebony, which is a hallmark of inexpensive instruments.
The DU-150’s tone is probably its biggest weak point. My DU-150 sounds weak and thin, with very little volume or sustain.
As I played higher up the neck, the notes became more and more hollow sounding. There’s also an unpleasant snappy quality to the tone that’s especially noticeable when strumming.
Part of the DU-150’s sub-par tone is probably due to its strings, which felt cheap and oddly floppy. A better set of strings would might improve the sound, but if you’re going to spend another $7 on strings and take the time to put them on, why not just upgrade to a better uke?
Even though I’m trying to grade this uke on a curve due to its ultra-low price, it’s really hard to look past the poor tone. If the DU-150 sounded great, I could forgive many of its other issues, but the sad, wimpy tone is impossible to ignore.
The string height (action) on my DU-150 is on the high side, but it’s playable. I’d like to see the action at about half of where it is right now.
One thing I’ve noticed is that the action height on cheap ukes tends to be high, but it can also vary a lot from instrument to instrument. If I had ten DU-150s in front of me right now, there’s a very good chance the string height would be different on each of them.
Of course, you can always pay to have the strings lowered at a music shop, or you can try to do it yourself. I think that’s way too much effort (and money) to put into a ukulele that costs this much, but it’s an option.
I will say that the fretwork was nicely done. There were no sharp edges sticking out, and I couldn’t find any high or low frets as I played up and down the neck.
Hardware, Nut, and Saddle
The open-gear tuners on my DU-150 worked fine. They felt a little gritty and had some tight spots here and there, but this is pretty common for the tuning machines on budget ukes.
According to the factory specs, the nut and saddle are ABS plastic. Nicer ukes usually use a harder material like bone or TUSQ, but I don’t think it would make much difference with the DU-150.
The DU-150 comes with a thin zip-up slipcover. It appears to be made out of nylon or a similar synthetic fabric.
The cover will protect the uke from dust and the lightest of scratches, but that’s about it. I almost wonder why Diamond Head bothers including one at all.
Yes, you could always purchase a decent quality gig bag for $20 or $30. But why not just get one of the high-quality uke packages I mention above that already includes a nice bag?
Accessories & Extras
The DU-150 is doesn’t come with any extras or accessories, unless you count the hangtag with four ukulele chords.
Even though the DU-150 isn’t terrible, it’s not good enough for me to recommend it. This is especially true considering that there are so many amazing budget ukes on the market right now.
Unless you’re just looking for something to give to a musically-inclined 3-year-old, I’d try to scrape together an extra few bucks and go for one of the higher-quality ukes in from the table below.
You may also want to consider reading some of the related articles at the end of this post to learn more about buying a quality ukulele.