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View Full Version : Ohai Pono Review (another)



Boozelele
07-08-2009, 08:59 PM
I added my comments about the new Pono Ohai Ukuleles to another thread but thought maybe my review warranted it's own so as to not piggy back on someone else's thread.. A lot has been said on this forum about these ukes, but there are a few of us who have a sightly different opinion, and in fairness to all, I would like to share it...

First this uke is really nice to look at. The color and grain are of the wood are stunning (it reminded me of the beauty of oak cabinets). Unfortunately the sound board seems as thick and heavy as oak furniture as well. The sound is pleasant when you are close to it, but I'm afraid the face is so thick that it doesn't resonate very well. It is apparent as soon as you take it from the case...this thing is heavy. The finish was nice, I like the matte. It feels good in your hands...but.... ...and I wont even go into the tuners, bridge, nut, binding, etc...it simply doesn't make enough of a difference to get past the resonance, or lack there of.

Deach has the version with the pick-up, and I wont speak for him, but I can understand how his could be better. Maybe it's a lot like a solid body electric.....not something to be played without amplification. He can speak to this better than I.

I bought the Pono Ohai with the idea that it would be a major step up from my Kala Solid Mahogany Tenor...It wasn't. My trusty $200 Kala is a much better sounding and playing uke. I wrestled for a couple days with what to do, and ended up shipping the Pono back to MGM.

On a side note I was also not a fan of the wound C string. I could not keep it from buzzing. I don't know how much of that was the instrument, and how much was my crappy playing, but it annoyed the hell out of me. I ended up replacing that string with an Aquila un-wound C string.....and the buzz persisted. I thought well hell, I wonder if my Kala does that too, and I just never noticed it.....nope, just the Pono.

So, long story short...the Ohai is on it's way back to Hawaii. It was beautiful to look at, but that's about it (much like my second wife).

molokinirum
07-15-2009, 07:48 AM
Thanks for the honest review. Too many people seem like they are spokesmen for a particular uke!! I am buying a uke in a couple of months and have been leaning towards either Mele or Pono. It had appeared that the Pono was a very good uke, for the $. Know I do not know!
Anyway, mahalo for the honest review!!! ;)

HaileISela
07-15-2009, 08:33 AM
Thanks for the honest review. Too many people seem like they are spokesmen for a particular uke!! I am buying a uke in a couple of months and have been leaning towards either Mele or Pono. It had appeared that the Pono was a very good uke, for the $. Know I do not know!
Anyway, mahalo for the honest review!!! ;)

I think the Ohai series isn't typical for all Ponos. I got a Pono Mango Tenor and cannot think of a better Uke...

Uke Republic
07-16-2009, 11:04 AM
We have sold quite a few of the Ohai series and people seem to like them including myself.It is a solid built ukulele with all the quality of other Pono's. An amazing value on a solid wood ukulele.As we all have read on this forum a ukulele is a personal thing. Some love the sound of mahogany others koa etc. I have customers that love one product and hate another because of the finish etc. I don't know about the buzz on the C string. A bad fret may have went under the radar? Anyway Pono has a wonderful reputation and wouldn't ruin it on making a full line of bad ukuleles. Its still no fun getting something you don't like.
That solid mahogany Kala is a very nice ukulele as well.

russ_buss
07-16-2009, 11:24 AM
the pono ohai is definitely a good looking "solid wood" instrument. however, what good is a solid wood uke if it's heavier and quieter than a laminate uke? that was my own experience. i'm not slamming pono. i've played and heard some of their other models (mango and mahogany) and they were fine sounding instruments. if you're looking for a good solid wood instrument along the lines of any of the K models, this one doesn't come close. it does look nice though.

Opherman
11-29-2009, 12:53 AM
when dealing with student model classical guitars that have a thicker top, using a high tension string can help get the top moving (this same high tension would be too much on a more "sensitive" top)... i dont have any experience with ukulele strings but if they offered a high tension string... it would help with the problem created by a thick or muffled solid top... ive been lurking here for quite a while... so i guess this is my "de-lurk" thread

dirk.li
11-29-2009, 05:46 AM
...The color and grain are of the wood are stunning (it reminded me of the beauty of oak cabinets). Unfortunately the sound board seems as thick and heavy as oak furniture as well. The sound is pleasant when you are close to it, but I'm afraid the face is so thick that it doesn't resonate very well.

I have a Pono Ohai Tenor with passive pickup. I totally agree with Boozelle, the soundboard really seems to be too thick! When you play it in front of a microphone or through the pickup, the sound is ok. However the acoustic projection is bad indeed. I kept the uke anyway, because it is so sturdy. I guess it makes a fine travel uke (even though it's heavy) - it looks nice and seems to be "unbreakable".

dirk.li
11-29-2009, 05:50 AM
I think the Ohai series isn't typical for all Ponos. I got a Pono Mango Tenor and cannot think of a better Uke...

I also agree with you, Richard! I have other Pono instruments, a mango tenor, a mango baritone and a mahogany baritone - all three are great instruments and I'm very happy with them! The Pono mango bari is amongst my favorites and I play it a lot.

parker coleman
01-09-2010, 10:38 AM
I have a Pono PTS Tenor and also feel that the top is too thick. Much less projection than my cheap, laminate Kala. I am in contact with Pono and so far they are being really great! They (John Kitakis) have said hey would work with me until I am happy. I am tempted to sand the top and back down a little to create more volume, but it seems a little labor intensive. Has anyone attempted this?

guitharsis
01-10-2010, 01:41 AM
The top is pretty thick on my Pono Ohai soprano too but it is still loud, responsive and resonant. It also is gorgeous to look at.
Of course, it isn't a Koaloha . . . .

obxtom
01-10-2010, 06:14 AM
I have the soprano and concert ohai ponos and have really enjoyed them since buying them in August and September. They look good and sound good. I am just beginning to learn to play, but I have practiced every day since I began and I love handling and playing these ukuleles. Of course, the only other ukulele I ever tried was a green Laminate $30 job. The criticisms of the ohai line are somewhat of a downer, but if I've learned anything from reading what people say in this forum, it's that playing the ukulele is something one does as an individual and, therefore, what ultimately matters is the satisfaction we each get from playing our respective ukuleles. The only objective criticism I can muster on my Ponos is that the a string on the soprano doesn't seem to sustain notes very well/long, but that could well be me. Don't pity me: am awaiting delivery of a Ko'Olau Mahogany T-1.

Paul December
01-10-2010, 02:45 PM
When I got my Mainland mahogany tenor I immediately noticed its thick top and heavy gloss finish. Fortunately it is surprisingly loud and has great sustain.
Could there be some other problem with the Pono causing the problem like bracing?

deach
01-10-2010, 03:09 PM
I have the soprano and concert ohai ponos and have really enjoyed them since buying them in August and September. They look good and sound good. I am just beginning to learn to play, but I have practiced every day since I began and I love handling and playing these ukuleles. Of course, the only other ukulele I ever tried was a green Laminate $30 job. The criticisms of the ohai line are somewhat of a downer, but if I've learned anything from reading what people say in this forum, it's that playing the ukulele is something one does as an individual and, therefore, what ultimately matters is the satisfaction we each get from playing our respective ukuleles. The only objective criticism I can muster on my Ponos is that the a string on the soprano doesn't seem to sustain notes very well/long, but that could well be me. Don't pity me: am awaiting delivery of a Ko'Olau Mahogany T-1.

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on the Ohai after you get your T-1.

parker coleman
01-12-2010, 08:56 AM
the pono ohai is definitely a good looking "solid wood" instrument. however, what good is a solid wood uke if it's heavier and quieter than a laminate uke? that was my own experience. i'm not slamming pono. i've played and heard some of their other models (mango and mahogany) and they were fine sounding instruments. if you're looking for a good solid wood instrument along the lines of any of the K models, this one doesn't come close. it does look nice though.

I agree.... i am starting to realize Pono ukes are made well, but thick and sturdy, (easier for factory) and are thus quiet instruments.... all of my laminates are much louder....

parker coleman
01-12-2010, 09:01 AM
When I got my Mainland mahogany tenor I immediately noticed its thick top and heavy gloss finish. Fortunately it is surprisingly loud and has great sustain.
Could there be some other problem with the Pono causing the problem like bracing?

I will let you know... Pono very nicely agreed to send me another one if I wanted, but I (perhaps stupidly)have decided to sand down the top, sides, and back... Took off the beautiful high gloss finish (ahhh) and sanded the wood thinner. The gun oil finish is drying... now it is not nearly as pretty, but lets hope it has some volume. I will post the results... If it is the bracing, then I have just thrown away $500.

parker coleman
01-12-2010, 09:05 AM
when dealing with student model classical guitars that have a thicker top, using a high tension string can help get the top moving (this same high tension would be too much on a more "sensitive" top)... i dont have any experience with ukulele strings but if they offered a high tension string... it would help with the problem created by a thick or muffled solid top... ive been lurking here for quite a while... so i guess this is my "de-lurk" thread
tried in on my Pono PTS...didnt make a difference.

parker coleman
01-16-2010, 07:03 PM
So I decided to sand down the top, back, and sides of my Pono PTS uke. I was convinced that there was a wonderful instrument lurking under the beautiful laquer coat. Well, I was correct. I took the top down as far as I safely could, as well as the back and sides, and then apllied two coats os amber shellac for a grain filler, and about four coats of Tru Oil gun finish for a thin but durable outer coat. The instrument isn't quite as pretty to look at, but she does sing out sooo much more. I am comfortable with it and for $450, I can live with it. In hinesight, I would not order an instrument on line again, and would make sure it has the sound I am looking for....

parker coleman
01-19-2010, 11:29 AM
I have a Pono PTS Tenor and also feel that the top is too thick. Much less projection than my cheap, laminate Kala. I am in contact with Pono and so far they are being really great! They (John Kitakis) have said hey would work with me until I am happy. I am tempted to sand the top and back down a little to create more volume, but it seems a little labor intensive. Has anyone attempted this?

Sanded it down. Check it out... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkqmkM99oww