Bruko No 5

Bruko No 5 Soprano Ukulele Review

The Bruko No 5 is a german made solid mahogany soprano ukulele with a reputation for exceptional quality at a bargain price (around €130). Here’s my thoughts…

I bought my Bruko second hand from eBay and I was a little underwhelmed when it first arrived as it was in need of a little clean up. I happened to have some spare Worth Browns so I took the strings off, gave it a clean up and popped the new strings on. It was quite the transformation and it looked like a completely different ukulele.

Bruko No 5 Top

Look and feel

I have to say I love the way the Bruko No.5 looks. The Maple neck contrasts really well against the mahogany body and the craftsmanship is excellent, there’s clearly a lot of love that goes into the construction of a Bruko. It’s so refreshing to see a ukulele that doesn’t have a rosewood fingerboard. I’m a big fan of friction tuners too, they keep a headstock looking really clean and there’s something about turning a friction tuner that makes you feel a little bit more connected with your strings.

In the hands it feels fantastic. It’s much lighter than my other sopranos which is surprisingly nice (I thought I’d found the perfect weight in ukulele prior to this) and the maple neck feels great and is a joy to hold.

Bruko No 5 Headstock

Sound

In all honesty I kind of expected to like the way the Bruko looks, it was the sound that I didn’t expect to like. I’ve mentioned before that they seem to divide opinion. I’ve read before that they have a plonk like sound to them (I can’t remember where I read this) which is probably not what you’d want from an instrument. If it does make a plonk sound, I didn’t hear it – either that or my ears like that sound. I really like the tone of this ukulele, there’s something really warm about it. The sound to me seems to fit it’s image really well. It sounds equally great fingerpicked or strummed, most ukuleles I play seem to favour one of the other, I couldn’t say that about the Bruko.

One thing I really like about the sound is the note separation. You can really hear the individual notes as you strum chords, there’s a real clarity there.

Here’s a very quick sound sample recorded with my Blue Snowball ICE (I’ll update this when I get a little more time)…

Bruko No 5 Bridge

Action

On to my first major gripe and unfortunately it’s a biggie. I cannot get over the action on this thing, it’s way too high in my opinion. Once you venture up to around the 7th fret and beyond it becomes very difficult to play. For me, it’s too difficult. I really don’t enjoy playing it up the neck.

It’s a massive shame because aside from the action I love pretty much everything about this ukulele.

Ordinarily this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, I’ve sanded saddles down before to get an action that I like. Unfortunately the Bruko has a one piece bridge/saddle. There’s no real margin for error on this one if you do want to get sanding – and I think it would damage the finish of the bridge. It’s a no go for me.

Bruko No 5 High Action

A tough ukulele to review

This one problem has made this a very difficult ukulele for me to review. I know there are players out there that love Brukos and I was so close to being one of them. I love the look, I really like the feel – it’s surprisingly light and I’ve got a lot of time for the sound. I just can’t play the thing like I can with my other sopranos.

Bruko No 5 Back

I’m going to caveat this review a little though and that’s because I bought this ukulele second-hand. I have no idea how long ago it was made and whether Bruko have changed any of the spec since. It is possible and I’ve not really seen anyone elsewhere complain hugely about the action.

I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on this review, particularly if you own a Bruko No 5 and how playable you find it to be. I’m expecting a little bit of a backlash from the Bruko fans (I know there are a lot) out there…

Bruko’s website 

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9 thoughts on “Bruko No 5 Soprano Ukulele Review

  1. I can’t tell from you pics, but since this is second hand – there might be some damage or warping where the neck meets the body. Check to see if it’s pulling up there (or any cracks/warping inside where the neck is) making the action too high. You can also sand down the bridge – it would take some work un-stringing, sanding (put masking tape and/or thin cardboard down on the body around the areas you’re sanding first!), then stringing/testing again – do a little at a time. I’ve rescued really nice damaged guitars from pawn shops before doing stuff like this. If you screw it up, it’s not too difficult to pop it off and start fresh with a new one. Guess it all depends on how worth saving it is, and how much time you want to spend.

    1. Hi Jeff, it doesn’t seem damaged to be honest. I guess I might have to sand it down. It’s either going to be that or let it go from my collection. It’s a shame as I like the uke itself a lot.

      1. That’s a bummer. The one instrument I ever bought off of eBay (learned my lesson quick) was an old sax. I expected to put some amount of work into it, but it was way beyond repair. It now adorns my wall in my office :)
        Too bad this is one piece, and not the removable bridge that most acoustic guitars have – much easier to pop those out, scrape the bottom flat on some sand paper, then replace. You don’t even have to remove the strings.
        The way I would attack this (any woodworkers or luthiers out there want to correct me, please do) would be measure string height down the neck, undo strings from keys + push out of the way, carefully sand the bridge flat a little at a time (use fine grit sandpaper wrapped around a small block and try to keep everything level – smooth strokes away from you). Once you have the desired height, sand the angle back in so strings don’t buzz. A tiny bit of varnish or tung oil and you’re back in business. Hopefully.
        Sounds really nice btw – I’d spend a bit of time trying to save it, assuming you have the time. It sucks, because once you’ve bought a lemon on eBay it would be really awful to unload it on the next unsuspecting customer…

        1. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great instrument and I’m sure the action wouldn’t bother some people at all. I do tend to wander a bit with my playing though so I like to get as much of the fretboard playable as possible – that’s part of the reason I prefer a 15 fret soprano.

          I think in all likelihood I’ll have a dig around some ukulele forums, on the luthier boards in particular and will eventually have a blast at bringing the action down. It isn’t so long back that I wouldn’t even have attempted to file a saddle down!

  2. I have a similair experience with a pre-loved Brüko no. 6.
    Because these ukes are virtually indestructable, I have decided to make it my holiday uke.

  3. I loved the one I had. I thought the action was ok/good, but I never play above the fifth fret. Wish I hadn’t sold it! I need to get another one

  4. Firstly I must say I bought a Bruko soprano ‘special’ which comes with a slot in bridge. I am considering a ‘slim’ as a travel Uke, as I love my other one. On to your issue. It is a simple or may sound like a simple job but I have ‘over cooked’ sanding a slot in bridge so would suggest finding out how much a luthier would charge, it should be a quick and easy job for a pro. They can also ensure its right with regard intonation as well. Action is so subjective and if it’s too low it can affect things like volume, again through bitter experience. A luthier may be able to cut a slot to take a bone or plastic bridge which is what is fitted to the Bruko ‘specials’. I totally love mine and I would suggest sticking with it as the sound is unique. It is my only soprano, in a collection of mainly tenors, and wouldn’t be without my Bruko.

  5. Hi Dave,

    If the uke is that nice otherwise, why not just spring to have a professional luthier fix it for you instead of viewing it as a DIY project?

  6. Thanks for the comments guys. I’m on the fence really with this one. Part of me thinks I should just sell it – I have too many sopranos already but it has the potential to be the best of the bunch. If I had a decent luthier near me I’d take it along for an opinion but they seem to be few and far between.

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