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View Full Version : NUD: HUGE Ukulele from Pono



Rakelele
09-08-2014, 03:40 AM
"Large" is a word seldom used to describe an Ukulele. Now Pono has built just that: An extra large Ukulele. At an overall length of 90 cm, the BN-10D (or TGN) is as big as a Guitar, but has only four strings, so you could consider it to be a Tenor Guitar, although instead of steel strings, the Pono has been designed for Nylon strings and can be tuned like a Baritone Ukulele, which is just like the bottom four strings of a regular Guitar (DGBE). So really, this is a crossover instrument which might appeal to Ukulele players as well as to those who favor Guitars.

This model has been announced a while ago:
http://theukulelereview.com/2013/12/12/new-pono-tg-model/

Apparently, only a few have been made so far. I ordered mine directly from John Kitakis at Pono Guitar & Ukulele, who always responded quickly to my e-mails. It took a while to get one, but now it has finally arrived and I am absolutely thrilled.

As with my other Ponos, the quality is excellent. Basically, it has all the features of their Pro Classic line, like Koa binding, Abalone rosette, Gloss finish, truss rod, radius fretboard, and a slotted headstock. This one is made of all solid Acacia with beautiful dark stripes, but from what I've been told, they will also produce a Rosewood/Spruce model. It comes in a stylish black case from Ko'olau/Pono.

The strings provided are the Mahana and Alohi from Ko'olau. Apparently, you can just use regular baritone strings, but I wonder if tension might be a bit high at this large scale? I suppose that you could also tune in Fifths like a real Tenor Guitar, although I am not sure if different strings are required for that.

Of course, at this size, the Pono BN is a lot louder than any other Ukulele and really sounds more like a Guitar. In fact, I hardly notice the two missing bass strings.

I think this would be great for people who'd love to play the Guitar, but can't handle six strings. And for Ukulele enthusiasts who enjoy variety, the baritone has just received a big brother.

To give you an idea of its size, the picture shows the Pono BN-10D in comparison to my Pono ETSHC Tenor Ukulele:

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kvehe
09-08-2014, 03:53 AM
Lucky you! I like it!

PhilUSAFRet
09-08-2014, 03:59 AM
Congrats, it's a "wowee" I normally like Ko'olau strings, but for this baby, I'd have to have a chat with Dirk at SouthcoastUkes to get the best strings for this scale length.

wickedwahine11
09-08-2014, 04:47 AM
That is really cool, congratulations! :)

Rakelele
09-08-2014, 06:42 AM
The strings of your new ukulele I don't understand. Help me. This are KoOlau brand strings made especially and only for this particular model?

It came with two additional string sets, one branded "Ko'olau 'Alohi Baritone" and the other one "Ko'olau Mahana Baritone". They are just the normal strings for regular baritone, so I guess Pono suggests that they will work fine with the BN/TG.

But I am sure that there are other options to try. From what I read, Southcoast is coming up with a set of strings that could be used on an instrument like the Pono BN/TG, according to their webpage:
http://www.southcoastukes.com/5ths.htm

The scale of the Pono is 23 inches, so one could probably just use some regular guitar strings, as Ubulele suggested. Thanks!

niwenomian
09-08-2014, 07:24 AM
I'm terrible with names, but the guy from MyaMoe..... interviewed ...... Rick something

I saw that interview, ubulele, Gordon from MyaMoe was interviewing Rick Turner, who makes Compass Rose ukes and Eric DeVine from Devine ukuleles. I didn't realize that octave uke was quite so big.

Teek
09-08-2014, 07:40 AM
SWEET! A tenor guitar with nylon strings instead of steel, and it's gorgeous! I agree with Pono that they can't really call it an ukulele, and it's not a traditional TG. Looks like a ton of fun and sounds great. Congrats! :cool:

Patrick Madsen
09-08-2014, 07:52 AM
Interesting instrument. I miss the steel string sound so am getting a baritone uke with steel strings tuned to D,G,B,E. Lots of innovations happening lately.

kohanmike
09-08-2014, 07:59 AM
Looks like candidate for converting to a bass uke. :-)

mds725
09-08-2014, 08:29 AM
Congratulations! Your new Pono tenor guitar looks really nice. I got an email from Andrew last week to let me know that the one I requested months ago was in, so I should be getting mine in a week or so. I already have a Blueridge steel string tenor guitar, and I think this will be a nice complement to it.




I'm terrible with names, but the guy from MyaMoe, in his last weekly YouTube video, interviewed two other uke makers, and one, Rick something?, had brought a new "octave" ukulele that looked to be between a guitar and baritone in size. It was designed to be played in reentrant C tuning, but an octave lower. I suspect the new Pono would also be well suited for that, and might could use the same string set.

Here's a link to that video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tggUlRFhB3o

I have one of the first octave Compass Rose ukuleles that Rick built. It's actually not much longer than a Kamaka baritone, but it has a mini-jumbo body style, which gives it a large lower bout (better for low notes). I'll post a comparative photo I took of the two instruments and I'll post it when I find it. (My UU photo library was wiped out by that crash from a few weeks ago.)

sam13
09-08-2014, 09:58 AM
Very cool.

Just trying to understand ... what would the difference beyond size between a Baritone Ukulele and a Tenor guitar?

mds725
09-08-2014, 10:21 AM
Very cool.

Just trying to understand ... what would the difference beyond size between a Baritone Ukulele and a Tenor guitar?

Tenor guitars were developed from the tenor banjo at a time (the onset of the Big Band era) when banjos were becoming disfavored and tenor banjo players thought they could get gigs by playing an instrument that was tuned CGDA, like a tenor banjo (so players wouldn't have to learn new chord shapes) but sounded like a guitar. DGBE tuning, also known in the tenor guitar world as "Chicago tuning," evolved later, as guitar players became interested in tenor guitars. Here's what Wikipedia says about tenor guitars: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenor_guitar

Rick Turner, who built me a Compass Rose baritone steel string ukulele tuned DGBE, believes that instruments should be classified by tuning, so that a steel string DGBE instrument, while similar to a tenor guitar with Chicago tuning, is nevertheless a baritone ukulele because it has baritone ukulele tuning. Functionally, I suppose my steel string baritone is very similar to my steel string Blueridge tenor guitar. The Blueridge has a narrower fretboard and the strings are closer together (from the tenor guitar's heritage as a tenor banjo), while my CR has a baritone-width fretboard and baritone ukulele string spacing. The Blueridge also has a bigger body.


There's a discussion about why some instruments are baritone ukuleles and others are tenor guitars tuned DGBE here: http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?94877-Octave-Ukulele&highlight=tenor+guitar+turner+compass+rose

hawaii 50
09-08-2014, 10:24 AM
Tenor guitars were developed from the tenor banjo at a time (the onset of the Big Band era) when banjos were becoming disfavored and tenor banjo players thought they could get gigs by playing an instrument that was tuned CGDA, like a tenor banjo (so players wouldn't have to learn new chord shapes) but sounded like a guitar. DGBE tuning, also known in the tenor guitar world as "Chicago tuning," evolved later, as guitar players became interested in tenor guitars. Here's what Wikipedia says about tenor guitars: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenor_guitar

Rick Turner, who built me a Compass Rose baritone steel string ukulele tuned DGBE, believes that instruments should be classified by tuning, so that a steel string DGBE instrument, while similar to a tenor guitar with Chicago tuning, is nevertheless a baritone ukulele because it has baritone ukulele tuning. Functionally, I suppose my steel string baritone is very similar to my steel string Blueridge tenor guitar. The Blueridge has a narrower fretboard and the strings are closer together (from the tenor guitar's heritage as a tenor banjo), while my CR has a baritone-width fretboard and baritone ukulele string spacing. The Blueridge also has a bigger body.


There's a discussion about why some instruments are baritone ukuleles and others are tenor guitars tuned DGBE here: http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?94877-Octave-Ukulele&highlight=tenor+guitar+turner+compass+rose

Hey Mark...I thought you just got one of these Pono tenor guitars?...how is it?

mds725
09-08-2014, 11:08 AM
Hey Mark...I thought you just got one of these Pono tenor guitars?...how is it?

According to the HMS website, it hasn't shipped yet.

hawaii 50
09-08-2014, 11:14 AM
According to the HMS website, it hasn't shipped yet.

oh yeah they are swamped....more orders than Xmas....I don't know why people say the ukulele slowing down...over there they so busy...:)
if you get antsy call our buddy Zach...he can give you up to date info....

mds725
09-08-2014, 11:24 AM
oh yeah they are swamped....more orders than Xmas....I don't know why people say the ukulele slowing down...over there they so busy...:)
if you get antsy call our buddy Zach...he can give you up to date info....


I don't want to bug them. it was nice of Andrew to remember I wanted one when they came in. I can certainly wait for it to get here.

Stuntman
09-08-2014, 12:41 PM
I am using a southcoast string set on mine (spruce-acacia version) and quite like these. I have also tried the d'addario nytech baritones (they just fit it your careful not to use to much string on your bridge knots), which were ok - for me they got better as they got worn in but not as good sounding as the southcoast set. I have also tried the new aquila supernygut classical strings but were a little floppy as I could only get a standard tension set at the time (using Chicago tuning DGBE) but these sounded good if if you don't mind having a plain 3rd. I plan to try a high tension set at some stage. (I have a set of high tension d'addario classicals I might try down the track also).

Hmmm do I have early onset SAS.

Anyway I love my TG. I also have a blueridge steel string - I really enjoy this size instrument.

iDavid
09-22-2014, 09:23 PM
Which southcoast string set did you try?

southcoastukes
09-23-2014, 09:33 AM
Which southcoast string set did you try?

Not sure what the stuntman has, but for linear G (Chicago style) I'd recommend any of the HMLs, or for a bit more tension, the HL-SWs.

iDavid
09-23-2014, 12:42 PM
Not sure what the stuntman has, but for linear G (Chicago style) I'd recommend any of the HMLs, or for a bit more tension, the HL-SWs.

Is Chicago tuning DGBE? What would I use to get dGBE... high D. I prefer lower tension.

Thanks Dirk!

Stuntman
09-23-2014, 02:12 PM
Which southcoast string set did you try?

I went with Dirks recommendations. I can't remember exactly at the moment but pretty sure it was a set of the HML-RW's (I will check when I get home). They are quite bright on my spruce/acacia TG. I have a set of the HML-FW's that I am going to try next - If I am interpreting correctly these should be a bit warmer/less bright (more "growly" perhaps).

I have a few other sets to try as including one for g c'e'a' (per Dirks latest newsletter - linear C - or "standard low g uke tuning") and a plectrum set.

Trouble is I like to play with a set for a while as I often find I like how they sound once they get a bit of wear in them (they seem to warm up and lose the harshness)

iDavid
09-23-2014, 02:30 PM
I went with Dirks recommendations. I can't remember exactly at the moment but pretty sure it was a set of the HML-RW's (I will check when I get home). They are quite bright on my spruce/acacia TG. I have a set of the HML-FW's that I am going to try next - If I am interpreting correctly these should be a bit warmer/less bright (more "growly" perhaps).

I have a few other sets to try as including one for g c'e'a' (per Dirks latest newsletter - linear C - or "standard low g uke tuning") and a plectrum set.

Trouble is I like to play with a set for a while as I often find I like how they sound once they get a bit of wear in them (they seem to warm up and lose the harshness)

Do you your current set tuned DGBE?

Stuntman
09-24-2014, 04:12 AM
Yes currently linear G - DGBE - or "Chicago" tuning.

iDavid
09-24-2014, 02:04 PM
Those look promising. I would also like to try a high-D set. Did you ask Dirk about those. I emailed, but he must be busy at the moment.

iDavid
10-10-2014, 07:37 AM
I am trying to decide on one of these or a standard sized baritone. I think the tenor guitar will have more volume, but more string tension. Advice?

NatalieS
10-11-2014, 05:33 AM
Thanks for your review of your new tenor guitar! I ordered one of the rosewood/spruce ones directly from Pono and it should be ready next month. I can't wait to get it. :)

Rakelele
10-11-2014, 06:33 AM
I am trying to decide on one of these or a standard sized baritone. I think the tenor guitar will have more volume, but more string tension. Advice?

That really depends on what you want. To me, a regular Baritone and this Pono are very different animals. The TG really sounds and feels and looks more like a Guitar. Tension is definitely high on the strings it came with. But on the other hand, strings on a standard sized Baritone may feel rather floppy.