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.
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.
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)…
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.
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.
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…