While you might not be budgeting $200-300 for your first ukulele, you probably do not want to end up with a “cheap” one either. And let’s make it clear, by cheap I do not mean the price but the quality. So when you are looking into bundles try not to get carried away by an abundance of the ones that offer 5-10 accessories. Chances are you will only use 3-4 of those accessories and forget about the rest. What you want to focus on are the price and quality. Or the balance between the two. The Hola! Music HM-21 Soprano Ukulele Bundle might not be the top notch quality instrument but in the entry-level category, it is an amazing option that delivers on construction and overall sound. You also get three functional accessories. I know three is not that much but all of them are good quality. AND that also allow for the price of the bundle to be under $60.
The HM-21 has an all-mahogany body which is a choice of a lot of manufacturers for their instruments. Mahogany produces a sweet and bright tone that is so characteristic of ukulele sound. The neck is made of nato and while it is not the top-notch material, nato comes very close to emulating the sound of mahogany. The walnut fingerboard on top of the neck is quite comfortable but there might be issues with frets. Some of the HM-21s do not have very well crafted frets, they tend to be sharp. Overall, this is a lightweight and small enough instrument (after all, soprano size ukes are a choice for most beginners) to be a perfect entryway into the world of music. Just a little side note: while a lot of websites still have rosewood listed as fingerboard and bridge material, most companies had to switch it for walnut.
Hardware & Bundle
When it comes to the hardware, the HM-21 is pretty basic. You get silver plated geared machine heads with black rubber pegs, bone nut and saddle, built-in strap pin and Premium Italian Aquila Nylgut strings. The tuners are pretty nice but unfortunately, as with most ukuleles, you will have to tune quite often in the beginning. This problem is pretty temporary and you just have to be persistent. As for the bundle, it contains 3 items: padded gig bag, strap, and picks. The gig bag in this bundle is surprisingly great and durable. Also, since you get a strap it’s pretty nice that Hola! added strap pin which will make the process of putting on the straps (if you choose so) so much easier.
The overall sound and tone of the HM-21 are pretty good. I would not go as far as saying that is compared to the $200 and up instruments, but for its price, it definitely does a good job. The tone is warm and sweet. While you might not get the same volume with a soprano uke as with baritone, it can be compensated with clean and bright tone. The Aquila string set that comes with this instrument does justice to the sound and is durable so you will not have to worry about changing the strings for a while.
Hola! Music HM-21 is a good beginner/affordable instrument. For the price you pay, you get a decent quality instrument with clear sound. The overall construction is pretty great. Sopranos are pretty comfortable generally, but the construction of this instrument makes it even more lightweight without making it sound toyish. This model (and bundle) is also available in 6 other colors so you can have your pick with that too.