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CYN
03-24-2019, 11:05 AM
I just heard a video on the Black walnut uke by Mike Pereira. It happened to be a tenor but I fell in love with the sound. It has me completely now rethinking about getting a Kamaka. Anyone have the concert walnut of these? How is the neck to play? I love to play the Koaloha Neck on the Opio series and wonder how it compares. How is the action? It is so hard because comparing sound to a Kamaka H2 is like apples and oranges but I love the warmth of the walnut. Thanks for any help.

slackkey007
03-24-2019, 12:37 PM
Aloha CYN,


I own an older custom MP tenor uke and it looks, sounds, and feels GREAT! Mike has been building guitars and ukes for quite awhile. Mike's workmanship is outstanding.

A well known UU Forum member here is Hodge (Doc_J), who, like many of us, buy and sell all kinds of ukes from production to high-end custom builds because we like to try a lot of different instruments. He recently acquired a Cali Walnut Baritone MP uke made by Mike Pereira and posted a review here on the UU. Hodge has been gravitating towards baritone ukes the past year or so and the excellent review of his MP Cali Baritone uke includes pics and a sound sample. It would give you a general idea on how a Cali concert MP uke would sound. Here's the link:

https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?138283-Cali-Walnut-Baritone-from-Mike-Pereira

I hope it helps! :shaka:

Kenn2018
03-24-2019, 08:44 PM
This is a review I did of Mike Pereira's Cali solid walnut tenor I posted on ivegotaukulele.com about a year ago. In its entirety. It is anything but super bright. It's warm, tends towards the deeper bass end sound and is a real boomer. I have since purchased a few used customs made of other woods. And own three additional MP tenors. I think my review still holds up pretty well. I don't know how well it translates to the concert size, but I imagine it's pretty close. If you have any doubts or questions, email him or call. He's a great guy and really easy to talk to. He responds pretty quickly.

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Mike Pereira’s “Cali,” Solid Black Walnut Tenor

Wow! I now own a luthier hand-crafted ukulele!

And, I didn’t have to mortgage the house or sell my first-born to buy it.* Let me explain:

I was perusing Mim’s Ukes Reverb offerings when I came across two Tenor Cali Solid California Black Walnut Tenors. The description said it was handmade by Mike Pereira in California.

I read Mim’s listing description, checked out Mike Pereira’s website, read a couple of reviews of other ukuleles he created, and decided to take a chance. Boy, am I glad I did.

Mike is a luthier and his custom-made ukulele company is MP Ukuleles. Cali is a new budget line of ukuleles he is making that are stripped of all ornamentation or extras. The designs are pared down to the essential components that comprise a high-quality ukulele. No decoration, binding or perfing. No rosette. His only concessions to bling are MOP inlaid markers at the 5, 7, 10, 12 & 15 frets. White side markers are located at the same places. There is a Cali logo transfer on the back of the headstock. He has since added one to the front as well.

This does not mean that the instruments are lacking in build quality or uses cheap parts. Quite the contrary. The tenor I purchased is impeccably made and is a terrific sounding ukulele.

The black walnut body is a surprising tonewood. Until now, my only experience with instruments made from walnut were listening to dulcimers at folk festivals and Renaissance fairs. Nice, but they spoke softly with great restraint. Not this uke!

It’s definitely not Koa. There is no other tenor ukulele or tonewood that I can compare it to. But then my ukuleles are made of Koa, Acacia and Rosewood/Spruce. I need to start exploring additional woods. No other ukulele I have heard has a sound quite like the black walnut’s. It speaks with a deep, warm, rich and resonant voice. “Woody” is perhaps a good word for it.

The ukulele comes from Mike’s shop with re-entrant, gCEA tuned, High-g Living Waters strings. But I asked Mim to set it up with a non-wound, Low-G string. She used a Worth Clear. Which was good, but I have since replaced it with my preferred LW Low-G. I think the Living Waters fluorocarbon strings add a touch of brightness to the naturally deeper tones of the body. The uke sounds wonderful whether strummed soft and lightly or "boomingly" hard. And even my rudimentary picking is a delight with each note quite clear and sonorous.

The shape of the neck is a shallow-ish D-shape. (Perhaps, somewhere between a Kanile’a’s thinness and a Pono’s thickness.) It fits my hand perfectly. The satin finish makes movement up and down the neck an effortless glide. The nut is a comfortable 1-3/8” wide. (1-1/8” from 1st to 4th strings.) I had Mim lower the action a touch. The fret wires are a pleasant height that make fretting easy from the first to the 20th fret. The ends are nicely smoothed and rounded. The insides of the uke are neat & tidy as well, with no signs of glue runs. There is a Cali label inside with the serial number.

Other build details: Neck is Honduran Mahogany. East Indian Rosewood fingerboard & bridge. Bone nut & saddle. Grover 14:1 open geared tuners on the tenor with chromed keys. Very smooth. The pores and grain of the California Black Walnut body are prominently displayed by the hand-rubbed satin oil finish. I think it’s an excellent choice, for it would be a shame to hide this lovely wood beneath anything heavier than this. It lets the wood vibrate with an open sound that doesn’t get muddy.

This is how Mike describes his Cali ukuleles:

“I acquired this log of Walnut from a ranch in Tulare, California… They cut the tree many years before I got it, and been drying in my shop for the past five years. So, it is well-seasoned and a great sounding tonewood. …I have a pile of rosewood fingerboards that I’ve been sitting on for about ten years. I decided to pair these woods together to make a very simple and affordable model. …There is no binding, no rosette, no bling whatsoever. Just a great-sounding, booming ukulele.

“…They will be built in small batches, similar to a production setting. Therefore, I can keep the pricing down to under $1000 USD. [Listed for $830 USD on Reverb.]

“[All four standard ukulele sizes] will be made for a limited time. I have only enough wood for about 100 instruments.”

MP & Cali Ukuleles website:
https://www.mpukulele.com/

I don’t know whether Mim or Mike can ship to countries outside of the US since the fingerboard is rosewood, which is a CITES endangered wood. You’ll have to check with your country’s regulations & restrictions.

I think my Cali tenor is beautiful. The California Black Walnut is a marvelously full and rich-sounding tonewood. It works perfectly with the Mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. It is quite elegant in its simplicity, letting the grains and textures of the woods carry the design.

I am thrilled with my tenor. I think it can easily hold its own with its great sound and looks against much higher priced, mass-produced ukuleles.

At most, there will only be 100 of these Cali Black Walnut ukuleles ever made. And I am lucky enough to have one.


[I]*Don’t worry, I don’t have any offspring. No first, second or third-born child has ever been in danger of being sold, rented or leased.

Kenn2018
03-24-2019, 09:21 PM
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Kenn2018
03-24-2019, 09:23 PM
Final Cali Photos shown here:

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DownUpDave
03-24-2019, 11:54 PM
Excellent review Ken. I was hoping someone would jump in with real experience. I deleted my post as yours is more relevant. Now I want one, lol :p

Kenn2018
03-25-2019, 12:03 PM
Thanks Dave. You're right, Ken Middleton can make an old shoebox sound good.

This really is a very good tenor. But you have to be prepared for the deep booming voice it has. Especially with a Low-G string on it. In a group strum it really stands out.

I don't pick well enough to play with others (yet). The notes aren't super crisp because of the resonance of the wood. Its intonation is very good.

CYN
03-25-2019, 03:21 PM
Thanks so much Kenn. Great review which helped me out a lot. Thanks for taking the time and putting so much detail!

Nickie
03-26-2019, 01:48 PM
Very cool uke. Mim is just the best. Congrats!