View Full Version : NUD - The Pono has landed

Trader Todd
09-03-2015, 03:16 AM
Fresh in from Wahiawa, HI and the good folks at HMS is my new MTSH(C)-PC (Mahogany/Cedar). I haven't had time for serious bonding yet, so I'll report back after a few more sessions. First impression are that it has a great build quality and finish. This is my first tenor and first wound C so there is a little bit of a learning curve for me (I've only been playing ukulele a few months but stringed instruments for 20 years). Finger picking and single note lines it has a lovely tone and punch. I'm not overly impressed yet with the sound when strumming. Could be a tenor thing as I've been getting a nice bark out of my cedar/rosewood Ohana soprano. I imagined it would have much more volume.

I did a couple things I don't normally do when spending more that $200 on a instrument. I almost never buy an acoustic instrument new and I never buy anything at this price point without touching, playing, smelling and hearing it.

Looking forward to it breaking in and I think new strings might help get the sound I'm looking for, so I'd love to hear your suggestions. At the moment, I'm using a high G, in a few months I'll probably go to a low G. It has the stock Ko'olau Alohi on it at the moment.

I really like it, but I don't LOVE it... yet. I think it is going to grow on me and in 3 months I won't be able to put it down. I wish it had a little more volume and when strumming I wish it was a little more dynamic. Just a quick pic, I'll post more pics and info after some bonding.


09-03-2015, 03:46 AM
I hope you'll love it in 3 mos., too! Usually when I get a new uke I can't put it down!

09-03-2015, 04:24 AM
Congratulations. Hopefully, you are a string change away from eternal bliss.

09-03-2015, 04:37 AM
Don't wait 3 months for a string change. Slap a set of Oasis warms, Worth CT or Worth BT on there ASAP and you will be in love in no time. Pono tenors do seem to favor a low G set up, at least the ones I have owned or played.

09-03-2015, 04:39 AM
Congratulations Todd, that looks stunning! Very nicely figured fretboard you got there.

As for the sound: You are right, a Tenor won't bark like a Soprano (usually), but has other tonal qualities, like long ringing sustain. I use my Tenors and Sopranos for very different playing styles.

I think you're right about the strings as well: Changing them will do a lot. As much as I like Pono, the Ko'olau strings they are using don't show the full potential of their ukes. I usually change them out for Southcoast HML-RW, or Worth, or Savarez.

Even compared to the custom ukes I have, I'm always happy to play a Pono, and I hope you will be, too.

09-03-2015, 04:45 AM
Tenors and sopranos are so different strummed, you can't really compare them. Tenors are much more guitar-like, though of course not totally.

I tried Ko'olau strings on a concert and wasn't too fond of them. I really like Living Waters with a Fremont Soloist low G on my Kelii concert. It has a big tenor-like sound and is very lyrical, so though mine's not a Pono tenor, that string set might be more of what you're looking for.

09-03-2015, 04:48 AM
I have a similar Pono and while it's not my favorite Pono it's a good one. I have Worths in low G on it and it's very nice. Fremont would also be a good choice and don't forget the South Coast strings which are my favorites on all my Pono's.

09-03-2015, 05:00 AM
Sometimes I know right off, but "Normally" it takes me a few weeks to decide.

Steve in Kent
09-03-2015, 05:40 AM
My Pono MCD, which I purchased 2nd hand, was only a couple of month old and hardly used.

It seemed down on volume too, but after nearly 9 months or so, (I think), it has now got a lot more volume and tone.

Don't know whether it's my playing that's improved or the ukulele though:confused:

I think it's probably a bit of both, but I do know that I can't last a day without picking it up and playing.

I use Living Water strings and they give the mellow tone of the mahogany a nice subtle bright lift, to my ears anyway.

09-03-2015, 11:21 AM
+1 on string change - Southcoast, Worth, Savarez.... Martin 620 in a pinch. I put the new DAddario JT99 fluro on my AT and they are good also. Pono....... gotta match the strings. Do it now, you will love the ukulele sooner.

09-03-2015, 11:28 AM
Congratulations Todd! I'm sure it will sound just wonderful in time.

Hippie Dribble
09-03-2015, 11:44 AM
Congratulations on the new uke Todd.

My advice would be to abandon the wound C. Too overpowering and can make for an unbalanced sound. Also try lessening the tension just a little...perhaps drop the tuning back a bit from C to B or Bb.

Enjoy mate!

09-03-2015, 05:20 PM
I agree with everyone about a string change.
Although I am not a fan of the Worth Browns, especially if you think the volume is low.
I have an extra set of D'Addario j71 that I would be willing to send send you if you want to try a sting set with some volume.(my 2 year old daughter opened the package and hid the plastic sleeve but I have all of the strings and she didn't open the individual string envelopes)

PM me if you want them, I would send them free of charge to a fellow Pono owner just so you can try something different.
FYI, my Pono MGT came with a wound c Mahana set and once I took them off I was very happy with the volume and responsiveness.

I have used the regular Mahana, which I like very much, and have two sets of those in reserve as well.
Please know that myself and another Pono owner with a MTD both hated the Worth browns on our Pono tenors.
Congrats on the new uke, btw.

09-04-2015, 02:11 PM
Congratulations on your new Pono! May the love grow.

09-04-2015, 02:21 PM
My advice would be to abandon the wound C. Too overpowering and can make for an unbalanced sound. Also try lessening the tension just a little...perhaps drop the tuning back a bit from C to B or Bb.

I'm pleased you suggested that. I noticed that nobody had, but not having tried B tuning myself - yet - I was a bit reticent about suggesting it.

09-04-2015, 03:33 PM
I have a Pono PKT-1, a solid Koa tenor. I liked the original Ko`olau Golds that came on it (8 years ago...), but I don't like the current Ko`olau Golds. I have used D'Addario J71 strings and I did like them. I used them re-entrant, and I also strung it up using the C string as a low-G, the G string as the E-string, and the E-string as the C-string. That worked pretty well too, but it did not really have enough volume with the lower tension on the bottom end to drive the pickup well, but acoustic was fine. I tried Aquila Reds but did not like the gritty feel and so did not keep them long. After trying Alohi and then Mahana strings, I eventually wound up with Worth clear, which I liked well enough.
I went back to HMS to pick up some more Worth Clears and they were out, so Andrew suggested Worth Browns. I have fallen in love with my Pono all over again, I really like them!

So, try a bunch, the strings make a huge difference in how the ukulele sounds and plays. May you find the perfect set for you!

09-05-2015, 03:30 PM
I have to agree with posters regarding the Worth a at strings. They are amazing!

I had Oasis bright with a wound C on it. Like Hippie Dribble said it was unbalanced and over powering. With the high G Worth ... I just love my RTC Spruce top again.

Try Worth CT or BT.

09-06-2015, 09:57 AM
I have that exact same model Pono. When I first got it, I was really disappointed with the sound for the price.

However, based on the suggestion of a fellow UU member, I put on South Coast Linear (low G) LL-NW. This is a low tension, low G set with no wound strings. It improved the sound of the uke considerably but the tension was actually too low for me.

I ordered and put on a set of South Coast Linear LML-NW strings. Same setup, low G with no wound strings but a step up in tension. This set is even better than the low tension set. Great sound and feel.

I do think the sound of an instrument is very subjective and I was really surprised at the difference the string change made. I would suggest trying several sets out until you find the sound and feel that suits you best.

Trader Todd
09-06-2015, 03:28 PM
Thanks for all comments and string opinions. On Friday I was ready to call HMS to return the uke. However Saturday I was able to play for about an hour in a quiet house with a full pot of coffee and great morning light and the romance began. It started out as a crush as each string responded with a nice round and chimey tone but by the end of the session it was an all out love affair. Then it turned to lust, because every time I walked past it, I just had to pick it up and and hear that creamy sound. So it's a keeper, buyers remorse has vanished and in 2065 it will be a valuable vintage collectors piece.

Played about another hour today trading back and forth with my wife my Ohana soprano and the Pono and I'm still a little disappointed in the over all volume (a guitar would drown me out completly) but hopefully strings and break-in will help.

I ordered some South Coast strings and Worths, can't remember which ones at the moment so let the experimenting begin. All with high g. I'm too new to Uke to give up that signature Uke sound, but the guitar player in me says it's only a matter of time before I'm an all out low G guy. After years of guitar string, pickup and tube for tube amp experimenting I'm kinda over the experimenting stage. I just want to find my set up and get to playing!

I didn't like the tension at first but have gotten use to it, but I like Hippie Dribble's idea of ditching the wound C and maybe dropping down to Bb. I play with my wife and kids a lot so that might be a hassle.

Thanks again for all the kind words and expert (and amatuer) opinions. I'd add more, but I should stop staring at this screen and go stum and hum a bit.

09-07-2015, 06:05 AM
The volume of a guitar is always going to be much louder than a ukulele. If I play my classical guitar first and then pick up my uke, I noticed that the volume on my uke seems much lower than when I play my uke first. Your ears get use to a volume.

I like the Worth Clear High Tension strings for volume. These may pair well with your Pono. I have a Pono MTD and it's not super loud but makes up for it in tone.

I find if I just listen to the uke carefully then I do not worry about the volume.