View Full Version : Pono compared to Opio, thoughts.

03-20-2018, 06:06 AM
I am in the market to buy a Pono tenor ukulele. I have held and heard two different models and I liked them very much. However, I've been looking at the Opio ukes on HMS, as well. Any thoughts? preference?

03-20-2018, 06:13 AM
I think your best bet would be to consult Hawaii Music Supply. They are quite intimate with the instruments that interest you. If you can tell them what you're hopng for, not only would they be able to point you in the right direction, but they'd be happy to share their knowledge.

03-20-2018, 06:55 AM
In my experience Ponos have a thicker, heavier neck, Opio probably thinner, lighter overall...

03-20-2018, 07:39 AM
I debated between these two brands as well, but Pono just seemed to offer more value (Pono AT came with a hard case) and the Opio fell right outside my price point for a tenor. My research found Opios are louder than Ponos. My sister has a soprano KoAloha and that thing is indeed loud.

Both beautiful ukes and I think you’ll be happy either way you go.

03-20-2018, 08:15 AM
Being stuck in the middle of nowhere, in the Midwest, with few music stores around, it's difficult to buy a ukulele by sight alone. This is why I'm looking for input or suggestions. The two Ponos I've seen were absolutely beautiful. I'm ready to make the jump to a little higher-end uke than I have, and I've been drooling over the HMS website for quite a while. Right now, the site seems to be a bit picked over with available ukes, and I'm trying to narrow down my choices.

Croaky Keith
03-20-2018, 09:11 AM
Personally, I preferred the sound of the Opio to that of a Pono, but we are all different, if the Pono sounds right to you, then that is likely the one for you. :)

Uke Don
03-20-2018, 09:14 AM
I have one Pono with a spruce top. It is easily as loud as any uke I have ever played.

03-20-2018, 09:35 AM
I had the same choice and called Hawaii music supply. I wanted tenor scale with a more traditional Hawaiian sound and was advised to definitely go with the opio. I have not regretted the decision. Hope this helps.

03-20-2018, 10:21 AM
I have several Ponos and a KoAloha Opio tenor. I like both brands very much. They are comparable in that they are both made from all solid woods and that they are both launched by knowledgeable Hawaiian companies branching out to offer a more affordable product. To me, they are the one true upgrade from the entry level stuff and very close to what you get with instruments that cost a lot more, so I think you've narrowed down your search to two great choices. Can't really go wrong with either one, but here are a couple of thoughts on them.

I have measured all of my ukes and what I found is that my Pono AT has the exact same weight as my Opio tenor. Moreover, the neck profiles on the two are very similar, both perfectly round and definitely not thin. The difference might be larger in the concert or soprano size, bot not with the tenors I have from these two brands.

As for the sound, I would argue that a lot depends on the strings. KoAloha ukes come with Worth Clear fluorocarbon strings and they ring out like bells. Compared to that, the factory strings from Pono feel stiff and sound dull to me. This is a factor I wouldn't neglect when comparing demo videos. And it's an easy fix after all, since strings are relatively inexpensive and there are lots of different sets to dial in to a voice you like. Both have a rich and full sound, but the KoAloha might indeed sound a bit more open and louder right from the start.

On the other hand, I would have to say that I think Pono is a slightly better value overall, considering that they offer the same type of solid wood, but at a lesser price, with a smoother finish and the additional benefit of a truss rod to make sure your instrument will be playable for decades to come.

My two cents.

03-20-2018, 10:32 AM
Thanks to all the great replies. I've wanted a Pono for some time now, but want to be as sure as I can in my decision.

What is the difference, truly, between lower priced pono models and Pro Classic. Are the differences merely cosmetic?

For instance, the MTD-SP and the MT(S)PC seem to be very similar. Is the PC a noticeable difference?

Uke Don
03-20-2018, 11:40 AM
Thanks to all the great replies. I've wanted a Pono for some time now, but want to be as sure as I can in my decision.

What is the difference, truly, between lower priced pono models and Pro Classic. Are the differences merely cosmetic?

For instance, the MTD-SP and the MT(S)PC seem to be very similar. Is the PC a noticeable difference?
When I bought my first Pono, I called HMS and asked what I would be getting for more money. I believe I talked to Corey. He was upfront and said mostly it's cosmetic, but with the Pro Classic having the radiused fretboard and nice case. He expected the sound to be the same.

I decided on the Pro Classic because I liked the wood better on the all acacia model, wanted the radiused fretboard, gloss finish, and better case. I also wanted a slotted headstock because, well, I have a thing for slot heads.

Top wood is going to have the greatest impact on sound. I'd say it makes up 80% or better of the difference in sound between models. I also find that the tonal differences are similar to the differences between guitar top woods so if you have experience there that may help inform your choice. Pono gives you a wide choice of top woods.

03-20-2018, 11:55 PM
I just took the plunge and ordered s Pono tenor with cedar top, acacia sides and back, and a cut away. I am so excited!! I, too, was all over the HMS site comparing models and had this same question. A few of the newer deluxe models have the same radiused fret board as the PC. Read the fine print in the description! 😊 I did not end up going with the pro classic model as I couldn't justify the huge dollar difference for the abalone inlays.

03-21-2018, 02:43 PM
Thanks, everyone, for the insights and advice. I’ve been working with Andrew from HMS. Talk about great customer service. He even sent me a photo of the actual uke that I will receive. He was open and honest and at no time did I feel he was trying to sell me a pricier uke. However, I did choose the PC level, cedar-top acacia. Now the anticipation and waiting begins.

03-21-2018, 08:33 PM
Congratulations, great choice. Looking forward to your NUD (New Ukulele Day) post!

03-23-2018, 12:57 AM
After speaking with Andrew at HMS, he told me he'd upload a video of pono and opio comparisons. https://youtu.be/wM24RVBa7UI?t=27m39s I had also asked about the difference in sound that the strings made on the ukes, and so he also strung them identically- with BOTH of the sets that originally come with the ukes. I now know that I would be equally happy with either :drool:.