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Thread: Cellist's decision: Kala SMHC or Pono MC?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    New Zealand
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    Default Cellist's decision: Kala SMHC or Pono MC?

    I'm a professionally-trained cellist, and have fallen in love with the ukulele. It's small, light, and plays in the treble register—the opposite of the cello (though they go well together!).

    I have a Mahalo U/LTD2 (see review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZ_C4ZsIt-E), very generously given to me, and am now looking to get a good concert ukulele. I'm trying to decide between the Kala KA-SMHC or Pono MC. I could get the Kala reasonably soon, or save up for a few months for the Pono while practising on my Mahalo. Which would you recommend? I would like to be able to keep the instrument for a long time, and play it (for enjoyment) together with other professional classical musicians. I would be buying from HMS, and won't have a chance to try either of these beforehand as they're not widely available in my country.

    (In getting this far, I've ruled out the solid spruce or cedar top (with laminate back and sides) ukes from Kala, but if there's a reason they may be a better option, do let me know!)

    If there are other options in the under $400 range, feel free to share too. I would like to buy from HMS, which rules out Mainland and Martin.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by wherahiko; 11-09-2017 at 01:23 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    Default

    But the best you can afford. You'll save money in the long run.

  3. #3
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    Seems you have your mind set on all mahogany, nothing wrong with that. In your price range I think you have hit on the two best choices. The Kala has a shallower neck (top of fret board to bottom of neck), nut width is the same. The Kala might also be a bit lighter in weight. Both will have a nice sound, a friend has the Kala you listed and I was very impressed with the sound. I own Ponos and they are well made with a nice sound as well. I'm a tenor fan though that prefers a soft wood top ie. spruce, cedar or redwood, it's all personal.
    Ukuleles.............yes please !!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
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    under the palms in tempe, az
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    They're both good ukes, and you really can't go wrong. Close your eyes when you listen to them. Which one sounds best to you? Like Bill1 said, if cost wasn't an issue, which would you pick?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    CH
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    To me, it would clearly be the Pono. An honest instrument without any distraction.
    Enjoying instruments by - Beau Hannam - Jay Lichty - Jerry Hoffmann - John Kinnard - Luis Feu de Mesquita - Kala - Kamaka - Kanile'a - KoAloha - Ko'olau - Moore Bettah - Pono - Romero Creations - Toby Chennell - and others

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
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    From my own personal experience, I would go with Kala, (or Ohana).

    (Mim's ukes does Ohana, & is as well respected as HMS.)
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.
    Formerly known as uke1950.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    I would think that a loud voice on a ukulele would be important to you as a cellist. As such, don’t overlook the KoAloha line...ether the full Koa models or the Opio lines of Acacia or Spruce/Acacia. And whatever model you choose—consider a pickup installed—because of you do any recording, that ukulele (regardless of voice) is going to need some support against the volume of the cello.

    Incidentally, Ken Middleton has a wonderful duet for cello/ukulele of Dona Nobis Pacem on his site...not very difficult, but still beautiful to listen to. I had Notion generate the cello sound so I could play with it (I’m an operatic tenor and a tube player by training, not a string player by any means).
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

    Have you participated in the thread, "How the Ukulele Found You?" If not, please consider adding your story--they are just fun to read.

    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...lele-found-you

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Oakland, CA
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    Pono... Keep it Pono. They are solid, well-built, exquisite tone, no nonsense, not trying to be all things to all people.
    I purchased my Mahalo upgrade from HMS and the experience was great. At the time Koaloha was producing sapele/mahogany and my ear preferred mahogany. I was debating between that and the Pono. I spoke to music guy Mike and then Andrew. Talking over my preferences Andrew said "get the one that's in your heart." Aloha spirit all the way. I still love Pono but for me I preferred the lighter build of Koaloha. I think for a cello player you will really appreciate the substantial feel of the Pono. The neck is thick but that shouldn't be an issue for you. Come back and tell us what you decided. We love to live vicariously here.
    KoAlana Sapele Concert -- now known as the KoAloha Opio
    Mainland Mahogany Concert - my knockabout jam ukulele
    Mahalo Pineapple Soprano -- the one that started it all
    Kala Travel Soprano -- tiny profile with BIG sound
    Blue Frog Maple Soprano - Beautiful sonorous sound cannon

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    New Zealand
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    Thanks everyone for your comments and thoughts. I really appreciate the support of this community! After reading through the comments, I very much had my heart set on the Pono.

    Then just now, I've discovered that shipping a uke to from HMS to New Zealand will cost $80; with import duty on top of this, it means that the Pono will cost nearly double the Kala (which, I've just discovered, is available locally after all)! I think I'm going to defer this decision for a while, and in the meantime, get a Kala Travel Uke to practise on (I can get one of these locally for around $200 USD, and it will be useful too whichever other uke I decide on in the long run. Ah, UAS! ...

    Your opinions would be appreciated on this. Considering I can get a Kala ASAC-C here for around $300 USD, would this be a better option than paying around $555 USD to have the Pono shipped to NZ from HMS??

    [Yes, it's the acacia Kala, rather than the mahogany, which is available here at the moment; intriguingly, on HMS this costs considerably more than the mahogany, and is nearly as much as the Pono ...]

  10. #10
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    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
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    I have recently bought the Kala acacia concert, it's a great uke. I also have Ohana mahogany ukes, the acacia is a little brighter sounding but a very nice tone, & I like my mahogany.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.
    Formerly known as uke1950.

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