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


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


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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28 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.

  7. I have a Bruko no 5 slimline and a Bruko ‘special’ made of wenge. The no 5, despite being a slimline, is the loudest ukulele I have (of about a dozen), not as loud but closer to my Martin D28 guitar, and can be played very loud without any banging and bashing of the strings (or fingers) against the fretboard. It also generates far less string noise than my other ukuleles, at least as a ratio to the intended notes. The tone is unique, and very suitable for blues, rock, country and some forms of jazz. It is a little different from your recording, even with the same Worth strings, but this is probably due to it being a slimline. They have the same ‘whatever’ that makes it a Brueko no 5. I keep five ukuleles next to my desk, and this is the one I grab most often.

    I think the high action above the 7th fret is responsible, in part, for this, as likely the unique bridge design. The Brueko special, which has fairly ordinary to low action (and a slotted bridge) is subjectively half the volume (somewhat louder than the Epiphone LP concert, but not much ).

    I would email the manufacturer, who is very helpful and dedicated to his art, and see about getting a spare/replacement bridge, and advice for replacement, so you can migrate backwards if need be.

    Or if you still want to sell it, I might consider buying it.

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your comment. I actually ended up selling the Bruko for a very low price. I miss the tone, it had a great tone – my son was a fan of it. I do dislike a high action though. I could easily see me buying another at some point and the slimline is tempting but I would like a lower action before I buy another.

    1. Hi Finn, you’re right that would be a fairer way but when it came down to it my main issue with this one was the action.

      Unless Bruko have made significant changes to the action on their ukes since they built this one I can’t see it changing my opinion. From what I’ve read around the web, that isn’t the case.

  8. I have a Bruko 6 and it’s brilliant! Action is’s a shame you have reviewed this uke and been so nit picking re the action? I have no problems with the action on any of my ukuleles! May I suggest you try electric guitars? As the action is very low on those instruments..much easier for you to play? I practice a lot and find any action ok..the Bruko 6 uke is excellent and very reasonably priced..fair weather ukulele players might stick to makala dolphins..nice easy low action..

    1. Well I have one and the action is high. As have others who state the same thing. It’s not nit-picking, its plain observation from multiple people. That’s why we read these comments.. to see others’ observations right lol.

  9. I have seen a number of reviews on both this model and the identical (apart from the headstock) No 6. They both receive very positive comments only for the reviewer to have then sold them somewhere down the line. I have a No 5, also purchased second hand. The action was high so I got my file out and started filing down the combined wooden bridge/saddle. I also filed down the bridge slots to get the strings to meet the saddle at a lower angle. I am really pleased with the result and I won’t be selling mine.

  10. Hi Dave.

    I just ordered a Bruko No. 2 (all maple) and I will be curious to see what the action is like on it as well. I will let you know, once it arrives next week. 🙂

      1. Just bought a Bruko no2 last week and the action was fine. I have 4 Brukos and 2 have fixed bridges, both types are fine. The one piece bridge and saddle have a slightly higher action than my ones with separate bridge and saddle. Remember there is a balance between low action and volume. Brukos don’t have a really low action but they are low enough for me. What is interesting is that all 4 play really well with a great tone and sustain, despite a £250 difference in price between the cheapest and most expensive. They are my favourite ukes, but of course everyone has different tastes.
        The strings play quite a part in the overall sound and mine have different strings on each, Worth Browns, Aquila and Clarity strings (excellent strings with a bright tone). Hope that helps.

  11. Just got my first uke, a Bruko nº6 soprano. Excellent build quality. The action at the bridge is a bit high, notes are slightly sharp at the 12th fret, the nut is perfect. This is actually normal for a new acoustic instrument- I’ll figure out what my favorite strings are over the next few months, then and only then will I sand down the bridge to perfect intonation. If it came perfectly set up and I didn’t like the strings, it could end up being too low for thinner guage strings.

  12. Well I have 2 Brukos I love em dearly the soprano and the tenor both have perfect setup, the action is where it should be. The sound is very good. Its amazing what you get for your money when you buy Bruko. IF you google Bjerke Bruko review youll find my demo of the soprano and the Tenor of the Bruko family – I really like em both.

  13. Hello! I have what looks like your Brunko No. 5, but it has the paper Hofner model 704 inside. Sounds just like mine. I have always liked the action on it but I’m sure there are better if you want to spend more. I bought in in Singapore when my old faithful broke while overseas. I have read that these are just Brunkos in disguise. No one has ever found any information on it I like the sound for what it is. Thanks for the review!

    1. This is interesting, I’d not heard this before Camille but I did just read a comment on Ukulele Underground saying the same.

  14. If you buy new you can ask for a decent action. In my experience, the older brukos had a pretty grim set up. You’re right about sanding the bridge, I ruined mine and now have to find a new bridge to glue in.
    A better bet by far is to file the nut slots. I got a cheap set of nut files from the bay and have made 2 brukos into solid players, without losing the beautiful tone.
    Good luck

  15. Great and honest review.
    I fell in love with Brüko ukuleles when I started to play ukulele seriousely last year.
    I have two old Brükos (no. 4 from maple and no. 6 from Mahagony like the no. 5, just the headstock dekoration is a bit different).
    I visited the workshop some weeks ago and gained some Dieser knowledge about the production (but I am a Player, not a luthier).
    The Action of older Brükos is “higher” with reason. There is nothing Wrangler with that.
    In tjose days ukes (at least in Germany) were strummed/picked with plectrums. The strenger attack and string vibration required a slightly higher Action to prevent the strings to pop too much. Older Brükos Sound a bit older (which can be described as “richer” or “warmer”) too.
    New Brükos are awesome ukes. With a slightly more modern but equal clear crisp Tone and wonderful playing action. The bridge now is adjustable because made of a bone like material.
    You could file down the wooden bridge Software anyways.
    On my next Album (“Ukumentals no. 2”) I will have some fingerstyle ukulele pieces with Brükos.
    Check my youtube channel too for sound samples and my music with them.
    The company sticks out with their ecologig oriented economic.
    Kind regards

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