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View Full Version : What do you think of the Pono Ukulele?



EleoCasil
04-02-2008, 05:31 PM
What are some of your thoughts on the Pono Ukulele?

strongergodzilla
04-02-2008, 05:40 PM
Alot of the people on this board, myself included, are playing pono's or have them in their collection. the consensus seems to be that they are some of the best ukulele's in their price range, because they are solid wood, have very good craftsmanship and tend to be a good in between from starter uke, to hand made in hawaii multiple thousand dollar ukes haha. But for the money, you are hard pressed to find a nicer uke!

I have the pono PTE, the deluxe mahogany tenor with pickup and its great.

EleoCasil
04-02-2008, 05:42 PM
Alot of the people on this board, myself included, are playing pono's or have them in their collection. the consensus seems to be that they are some of the best ukulele's in their price range, because they are solid wood, have very good craftsmanship and tend to be a good in between from starter uke, to hand made in hawaii multiple thousand dollar ukes haha. But for the money, you are hard pressed to find a nicer uke!

I have the pono PTE, the deluxe mahogany tenor with pickup and its great.
Awesome cuz! Thanks! I'm thinking bout getting one for my birthday and I've played it once or twice and it sounds beautiful!

Ukeguy510
04-02-2008, 06:07 PM
Anyone have a Mango or Koa Pono? I'm thinking of picking one of these up but not sure about the sound. I believe these have maple tops with mango or koa back and sides. What is the difference in sound between these two?

brokenwing
04-02-2008, 06:20 PM
koa and mahogany are similar sounding. dunno about mango except it's delicious. Maple's only used for back and sides in the acoustic guitar world but is known for it's clear, fundamental tone.

I bought a mahogany Pono Tenor recently and it's pretty nice but also very mellow without much punch - should probably switch out the strings that came with it.

Dino
04-02-2008, 07:46 PM
I have a Koa Pono and love it. Like the last post, my koa pono is also mellow in sound. i have Aquilla strings on it. Its the only strings I had changed to from the origiinal Ko'olau Golds that were originally on it. I don't know what worths would be like, but back to the Pono. Its a great ukulele for the money. The mahoganny will be little cheaper than the koa. Mango might be around same price as the Mahoganny. I like the mango wood. Really nice....if you like light colored woods.

david98116
04-02-2008, 09:29 PM
The Pono ukes have been getting lots of love lately. The bang for bucks factor seems to be the biggest draw. I passed one up for the Kanile'a but am thinking of picking up a Pono as well.

mako
04-02-2008, 11:24 PM
I own a PTO Mahogany.
It's realy good... for the price.
Perfect crafting, plain wood, shell logo dots and rosace.
It sounds good with Ko'olau or Aquila strings.

mwalimu
04-03-2008, 06:35 AM
I have a cedar top (I don't think they make them any more) and I love it. It sounds beautiful. I recently spent big bucks for a Maui Music concert and frankly, I like the Pono better.

Esy
04-03-2008, 09:37 AM
I ahve curly Koa Tenor and it is a good piece of hand craftmanship

julie
04-03-2008, 11:03 AM
I love mine. I have a review on my site with pix and some sound clips if you're interested.

Regards,
Julie Strietelmeier
http://ukulelereview.com

UKESTAR
04-03-2008, 12:48 PM
Honestly, at first I was sold on Pono. Lately, I feel like their quality control has totally fallen apart. I think they might just be growing too fast. I have owned 3 Ponos and the last 2 have been "lemons"! On one, I had to pay my local luthier $75 to make it right (fixing a rattling pick up, that by the way didn't even work until fixed and a split in the tail wood!! next to the pick up)

I just got a koa cut away and man....it is a joke as far as workmanship goes on a $600 uke!!:mad:.
1. The pick up rattles really loud at the lightest movement AGAIN!
2. The pick up wire is super long and sits loose inside the uke and vibrates when it touches the soundboard
3. The rosette is TOTALLY off center from the fretboard by almost 1/4"
4. The "A" sting tuner barely even turns
5. There is a large overspray lump of gloss coat on the fretboard....
** This one is going to be returned for sure. No more Ponos for me. I have the one I had to fix that I like and the old original that is nice...just to be fair.

I ordered my first Pono when they had just started making them and it was perfect. I just think they are growing too fast and they can't control the manufacturing because the owner is in Hawaii and they Ponos are made in Java. I know the owner goes out there to Java a lot, but being there and visiting a two totally different things.

If you get one that is not a lemon, I think you will love it. Just a gamble in my opinion right now.... I hope for Ko'olau (Pono) that they are just experiencing "growing pains" and will return to a higher quality control.

NukeDOC
04-03-2008, 01:01 PM
Honestly, at first I was sold on Pono. Lately, I feel like their quality control has totally fallen apart. I think they might just be growing too fast. I have owned 3 Ponos and the last 2 have been "lemons"! On one, I had to pay my local luthier $75 to make it right (fixing a rattling pick up, that by the way didn't even work until fixed and a split in the tail wood!! next to the pick up)

I just got a koa cut away and man....it is a joke as far as workmanship goes:mad:.
1. The pick up rattles really loud at the lightest movement AGAIN!
2. The pick up wire is super long and sits loose inside the uke and vibrates when it touches the soundboard
3. The rosette is TOTALLY off center from the fretboard by almost 1/4"
4. The "A" sting tuner barely even turns
5. There is a large overspray lump of gloss coat on the fretboard....
** This one is going to be returned for sure. No more Ponos for me. I have the one I had to fix that I like and the old original that is nice...just to be fair.

I ordered my first Pono when they had just started making them and it was perfect. I just think they are growing too fast and they can't control the manufacturing because the owner is in Hawaii and they Ponos are made in Java. I know the owner goes out there to Java a lot, but being there and visiting a two totally different things.

If you get one that is not a lemon, I think you will love it. Just a gamble in my opinion right now....
wow that says a lot. i hope my pono doesnt turn out to be a lemon. i dont think we were too far apart in terms of when we ordered ours right? awe man.

strongergodzilla
04-03-2008, 01:35 PM
Honestly, at first I was sold on Pono. Lately, I feel like their quality control has totally fallen apart. I think they might just be growing too fast. I have owned 3 Ponos and the last 2 have been "lemons"! On one, I had to pay my local luthier $75 to make it right (fixing a rattling pick up, that by the way didn't even work until fixed and a split in the tail wood!! next to the pick up)

I just got a koa cut away and man....it is a joke as far as workmanship goes:mad:.
1. The pick up rattles really loud at the lightest movement AGAIN!
2. The pick up wire is super long and sits loose inside the uke and vibrates when it touches the soundboard
3. The rosette is TOTALLY off center from the fretboard by almost 1/4"
4. The "A" sting tuner barely even turns
5. There is a large overspray lump of gloss coat on the fretboard....
** This one is going to be returned for sure. No more Ponos for me. I have the one I had to fix that I like and the old original that is nice...just to be fair.

I ordered my first Pono when they had just started making them and it was perfect. I just think they are growing too fast and they can't control the manufacturing because the owner is in Hawaii and they Ponos are made in Java. I know the owner goes out there to Java a lot, but being there and visiting a two totally different things.

If you get one that is not a lemon, I think you will love it. Just a gamble in my opinion right now....

I also have that problem with the rattling pickup wire, but its not nearly as bad as your problem. i only notice it every once in a while.

UKESTAR
04-03-2008, 02:34 PM
wow that says a lot. i hope my pono doesnt turn out to be a lemon. i dont think we were too far apart in terms of when we ordered ours right? awe man.

I knew right out of the box. You are fine I think if nothing shows right away. You probably got a "good" one...and the "good" ones are great. Just never know now.... I mean 2 out of 3 = "lemons" for me.....makes you raise your eyebrow a bit...hmm??

I am a very fair person, and I really did not want to even mention this, but I feel an obligation to be honest....

Again...these are only my opinions..

dajoka
04-03-2008, 03:41 PM
i got a PTC, cedar top mahogany sides. I love it. no electronics fo me, and da sound wit da ko`olau golds is loud and mellow. really sweet sounding. Ukestar, sorry to hea da you got 2 lemons. Regardless, for a mass produced, solid wood uke, noting can beat it.

UKESTAR
04-03-2008, 03:45 PM
i got a PTC, cedar top mahogany sides. I love it. no electronics fo me, and da sound wit da ko`olau golds is loud and mellow. really sweet sounding. Ukestar, sorry to hea da you got 2 lemons. Regardless, for a mass produced, solid wood uke, noting can beat it.

I agree, for a mass produced uke, there really isn't any other company that offers competition for the 400-600 dollar Pono uke. Pono better capitalize on this time while they have the market cornered. It is just a matter of time before other great companies step up to compete..

I am looking forward to seeing companies such as Koaloha and Kamaka and Kanilea's "answer" to the Ko'olau's Pono....

uumember
04-03-2008, 06:16 PM
About a month ago when I walked into the only store around here that's got a decent selection of ukes I was excited to see they were now selling Pono's. They had a tenor, concert, and soprano.

I was disappointed. When I first saw them hanging on the wall I was thinking, oh no...there goes my bank account again. They were beautiful. But when I played them they didn't have true tone up the neck, a serious no-no. And their tone was simply nothing special. I've played $148.00 Kala's that outshined Pono's tone and clarity.

I think the Uke makers are so used to thinking that paying $500 or more for a ukulele is "normal", they simply take advantage. I was a little relieved that I wasn't even tempted to buy a Pono that day. I'm beginning to think that some Uke makers know how to make their ukes appealing to the eye, but that's about it, and if a person doesn't know the difference....

tripl3thr33
04-03-2008, 09:48 PM
ooo wow, makes me wanna think twice about getting a pono now... its honest and informational reviews like those that are important to consider about companies. thanks guys

Esy
04-03-2008, 10:37 PM
I have the pickup problem too.

UKESTAR
04-04-2008, 07:49 AM
About a month ago when I walked into the only store around here that's got a decent selection of ukes I was excited to see they were now selling Pono's. They had a tenor, concert, and soprano.

I was disappointed. When I first saw them hanging on the wall I was thinking, oh no...there goes my bank account again. They were beautiful. But when I played them they didn't have true tone up the neck, a serious no-no. And their tone was simply nothing special. I've played $148.00 Kala's that outshined Pono's tone and clarity.

I think the Uke makers are so used to thinking that paying $500 or more for a ukulele is "normal", they simply take advantage. I was a little relieved that I wasn't even tempted to buy a Pono that day. I'm beginning to think that some Uke makers know how to make their ukes appealing to the eye, but that's about it, and if a person doesn't know the difference....

I totally agree. I am not so concerned about the look as the performance of the uke. What good is a beautiful Ferrari if the wheels don't turn...eh?

uumember
04-04-2008, 05:13 PM
It's HIGHLY unfortunate that probably 99% of us can't possibly try out the ukes we buy before we buy them. If we could, we would know we're getting an acceptable uke for the money we're spending.

Probably 99.999% of all ukes are mass-productions, and range in price between what...$50 and $1,000? I'd give my eye-teeth to be able to put them all side-by-side and try them all out. And I believe that most of us buy the ukes we do based on 2 main senses, sight (appearance) and hearing (sound). Cost comes into play only when we can't justify the expense of the one we want. Otherwise, what matters most is the appearance and sound of the instrument. Subjective judgments, based one's own personal opinion. So if we could try them all out, we may just all end up with an inexpensive, attractive, good sounding uke. :) But because we can't, too often our buying experience is a matter of trial and error, and UAS.

Unless you've got money to burn, you're not ever likely to buy a Custom-made Uke. You want a Custom-made Uke? Will you get to see it in person and play it first (try before you buy)? Good luck.

Well, what's the point of all this.... I must concede that one of the most common questions on these forums is, "I'm new to this, which uke should I buy?" And reputation does matter. Generally, we can come close to knowing which ukes are okay and which to stay away from just by reading all the opinions we can on these uke forums.

I wonder what conclusion the original poster here will come to about Pono Ukes after reading this thread. Pono might wonder too, ya think?

Plainsong
04-06-2008, 02:03 AM
Second post here, so hi everybody!

I just ordered a Pono mahogany tenor (PTO) from MGM, and this thread makes me worry. I know with wood instruments, this kind of thing can happen, but how did those ukes make it past Ko'olau's setup process?

I'm telling myself that Musicguymic wouldn't sell a bad uke, but I guess I'll find out when he gets back the NYC Uke Fest and is able to send it out. :(

brokenwing
04-06-2008, 10:19 AM
Well, look, if you bought a standard Pono (as I did) you shouldn't expect a top uke. You get what you pay for in this world. It is a reasonable entry to intermediate instrument. The finish looks nice, but the sound is in the build and the Pono I have is adequate. Really nothing more.

All that said, I have heard good players pull out great tone from mediocre instruments. Guitarist fingerstylist extraordinaire Ed Gerhard did an entire album on cheap, pawn shop guitars - one was even made of plastic. And you know what - they each had their own voice.

So refine your playing and you'll find that even a very average instrument has its charms.

Dino
04-06-2008, 10:32 AM
Second post here, so hi everybody!

I just ordered a Pono mahogany tenor (PTO) from MGM, and this thread makes me worry. I know with wood instruments, this kind of thing can happen, but how did those ukes make it past Ko'olau's setup process?

I'm telling myself that Musicguymic wouldn't sell a bad uke, but I guess I'll find out when he gets back the NYC Uke Fest and is able to send it out. :(

You can trust in Musicguymic. He is a personal friend. Besides...how can you dispute 100% positive feedback. I can tell you that he checks and works on every uke he sells....they make sure the action is good, puts on good strings when advertised. He doesnt just sell anything he can get his hands on. You get good value for your money.

Plainsong
04-06-2008, 12:38 PM
You can trust in Musicguymic. He is a personal friend. Besides...how can you dispute 100% positive feedback. I can tell you that he checks and works on every uke he sells....they make sure the action is good, puts on good strings when advertised. He doesnt just sell anything he can get his hands on. You get good value for your money.

That's why I went with him. I've gotten a Koaloha soprano from him and strings and such, and I know he's one of the good guys. I don't think he'd intentionally send you something that didn't quiet work.

Regarding the whole not expecting miracles from a budget instrument, for my part, I don't. I expect a decent sound and enjoyable playability, but not perfection. I was just wondering out loud what a few others had been wondering out loud. The newbie always causes the controversy. ;)

Dino
04-06-2008, 01:06 PM
Sorry....got off track. As far as the Pono line, if I'm not mistaken, John Kitaki's son takes care of the Pono line. He runs the Hawaii Music Supply store in Wahiawa. I bought my Pono from MGM so long ago that my koa tenor is just a PKT...which I dont see anymore....I think they have the PKT-1.....maybe it was a prototype....nah, I dunno.....anyway, I like it. I dont know how those made now are, but I would guess same or even better.

uumember
04-06-2008, 02:29 PM
You'll like the looks of the Pono, and as for sound, I think you can trust mgm to send you one that plays well. Don't worry, be happy. :)

When you get it, let us know what you think.

Plainsong
04-06-2008, 03:32 PM
My aim is to get a solid uke with a decent sound that you always tend to keep around even when you go further up the chain. Sadly I've gotta wait until MGM gets back from NYC. In fact until then I'm almost ukeless. I have my trusty Risa stick, but my Fluke is with my brother-in-law. I hadn't intended to leave it with him, but he's so good at it, and he'd never played the thing before that. Maybe he'll buy it, I don't know, but in the meantime, I'm playing it forward even if I did miss Julie's contest. :)

nikolo727
04-07-2008, 05:35 AM
i hear they are great ukuleles.


i have heard a couple of them and i really like the sound that they make.

its full and rich.


you can also tell how nice it is just by looking at it.


it looks warm, beautiful, and solid.

i would get one if i were you.

they seem really nice.

bof
04-07-2008, 06:15 AM
I think if you're shopping in that price range you should try to hear or play as many of the ukes in question. I have heard not so good things about ponos. In my eyes they are quite expensive, especially the Mahoganys. I bought my solid wood Mahogany Uke, no cheap fabrication or anything (the only critique i have is that it has no real fretboard made out of anything like rosewood but the maple neck serves as fretboard, but thats just a minor point) for 80 €. For a Pono Mahogany I would pay 300 €, and I'm really not sure if it sounds better or doesn't trouble me with any defects (, reading reports and reviews from Pono inhabitants).

Well if you want to shop in the Pono price range, just don't only look at the look of it or at the brand name. Watch other Ukes as well, Ko'aloha, Risa, Martin etc...

Plainsong
04-07-2008, 07:12 AM
What not so good things have you heard? This thread is the only one on a range of uke forums where I've heard a peep of any huge problems.

It's frustrating when the answer is always to audition as many ukes as possible, when no music store in your country caries any range of ukes at all.

I agree about Risa. They are underrated hugely, but it's more expensive than the Pono by over €100. Rigk just can't compete with the USD falling so much right now.

UKESTAR
04-07-2008, 07:43 AM
What not so good things have you heard? This thread is the only one on a range of uke forums where I've heard a peep of any huge problems.

It's frustrating when the answer is always to audition as many ukes as possible, when no music store in your country caries any range of ukes at all.

I agree about Risa. They are underrated hugely, but it's more expensive than the Pono by over 100. Rigk just can't compete with the USD falling so much right now.

What are people saying about the newer batches of Pono on other forums?

Plainsong
04-07-2008, 08:14 AM
Nothing, we're the guinea pigs. I'm confident that MGM has tested or will test it before sending it on out, but I guess it's gonna be luck of the draw.

PDXuker
04-07-2008, 11:33 AM
I've had my Pono uke for about 2 weeks now (solid mahogany concert) and it sounds great. The strings have stopped stretching and the sound is loud and bright. The case is included and is sturdy and attractive. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to stay under $300.

Plainsong
04-07-2008, 11:40 AM
That's what I'm hoping for, a nice little uke for the money. Something that I'm not afraid to take outside (within reason, this ain't my first wooden instrument) and yet still sounds decent, feels nice to play. Oh it's a long wait until MGM gets back to the shop!

uumember
04-07-2008, 03:30 PM
You have the same problem the rest of us have. If you buy a nice uke from mgm rather than one that everybody says stay away from, chances are you're going to get an acceptable uke.

Every time we buy online we take a chance. What if you were in a position to get a vintage Martin for $2,000? You think you'd ever get to try it out before you bought it? No way.... You'd buy it online and trust the seller. If worst comes to worse, you can resell any ukes you don't like and try another one. It's just a real inconvenience.

You're smart to be at least a little patient with all this. I'm usually guilty of being too hasty and paying the price. But I am learning. :) Pono does not have a bad name. Let mgm know how important a good set-up is to you. Do talk with him and get his opinion, he's got other brands in the same price range. Just be sure when you do make your decision, that you're happy with it, because if you wanted a Pono all along, then at the last minute, get something else, you might be disappointed. And then remember... this is not an end of the world type decision. Just order the one you want and enjoy the anticipation of getting it like all the rest of us do. I'll betcha money you'll be very happy! :D

Plainsong
04-11-2008, 06:54 AM
Thank goodness for good guys like musicguymic. He found a bit of a buzz up the neck, and is going to get one that doesn't have such problems.

It's folks like him that make buying instruments online less of a risk. :) It's one of those times that I'm really really thrilled there's been a delay. Much better that than a buzz that doesn't go away. :D

NukeDOC
04-11-2008, 07:25 AM
I've had my Pono uke for about 2 weeks now (solid mahogany concert) and it sounds great. The strings have stopped stretching and the sound is loud and bright. The case is included and is sturdy and attractive. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to stay under $300.
where did you get a pono concert for under $300?

PDXuker
04-11-2008, 01:13 PM
OOOPS...my bad I should have said under $400. In my opinion still an awesome deal for the quality.