View Full Version : Spruce vs Mango - Did I just Screw Up?

07-23-2009, 03:48 AM
Hello all. I am a new member but have been playing the ukulele sporadically (or should I say spasmodically?) for a few short years.
I bought a Pono mango tenor, which I had to send back for a few minor problems - including the push pins that many are having trouble with. John Kitakis and Dean at Ko'alau have been great however, and they are shipping a new ukulele with a tie bridge.
At the last minute I decided to ask them to send a spruce top tenor instead of the mango, hoping it would have better projection, volume, and a bit brighter tone. The mango sounded beautiful, but a bit muffled.
They are sending the spruce top, and I am hoping I made the right choice on two levels: 1) sound, and 2) value. If I'm not mistaken, the mango costs more than the spruce top, so I will have paid too much for the spruce, but I'm not positive.
Did I screw up?

07-23-2009, 04:01 AM
Probably not.

The spruce will most likely have a brighter sound and better projection from what I've gathered on these boards. You spent a certain amount of money for a uke you'd be happy with. It's very likely that you will have done exactly that.

07-23-2009, 04:25 AM
From all I've read, Spruce gives a brighter tone than most common woods. But looking at MGM's store, it looks like there is up to a $150 or more price difference depending on the model you originally got ad the new model you're getting. So maybe you can ask them about that and they might give you some money back?

I'm sure you'll like the spruce more than mango if you're going for brightness and projection though.

07-23-2009, 05:48 AM
I can't comment on spruce vs mango. But, I do have a mango that I absolutely adore (the Kala mango).
I was told by tons of people not to get it because its resonance sucks (but they were all guitar players who have never played a uke before and wouldn't know the differences of wood).
I bought it none the less and have to say I love its bright and warm tones. Mine is not very bright but bright enough to compete with other players volume wise, plug it in though (I have the model with pickups) and its a whole different playing field with rich bottom end and bright golden tones.
Who knows, maybe for once in my life I didn't buy a lemon lol
I keep wanting to buy another uke and start a nice collection but my mango have never done me wrong yet!

07-23-2009, 05:52 AM
Spruce has proven itself in the guitar world for centuries. Mango has a lot of catching up to do. If you pay more for mango it's probably due to the novelty and color patterns in the wood as much as it is for sound quality.

You'll be happy with spruce.

07-23-2009, 06:27 AM
Thanks to those who have posted responses thus far. I am feeling more comfortable with my choice... even if it involves paying a bit too much. Without wishing to offend anyone, I can't help but feel that mango is a bit of a fad, and I don't see why it should warrant a higher $. Also, the somewhat funny part of this is that I kind of suck on my Fluke... so right now the instrument is not my limitation - it's 100% me!

07-23-2009, 06:48 AM
I think you will like the spruce top fine. It will sound different than the mango, more uke-like I think, while the Mango tends to sound more guitar-like.

I think one reason I like my mango so much is that it looks different than the guitar I have been playing for so many years. They have to be more careful with the aesthetics of the wood grain on the mangos, and that takes more effort (and higher cost) than choosing a soundboard for a spruce uke. Each offers a different look and sound. That is part of why ukuleles are so much fun to collect!


07-23-2009, 09:36 AM
I have a Kanile'a Mango. I absolutely love it, but Spruce is a GREAT top wood. I think you will be very happy.

07-23-2009, 09:57 AM
...I am hoping I made the right choice on two levels: 1) sound, and 2) value. If I'm not mistaken, the mango costs more than the spruce top, so I will have paid too much for the spruce, but I'm not positive.
Did I screw up?
Mango is a lovely wood, but has a lower tonal range and projection than spruce. I have spruce, cedar, mango and some other tops. I prefer the brightness of spruce/cedar over mango, but mango sure looks great.

I changed the saddle on my Pono mango for a Tusq saddle and that certainly brightened it up.

Mine has traditional tied strings at the bridge. I like bridge pins from my guitar days and wish mine had had that option.

07-23-2009, 10:19 AM
I agree with Ian. The Kala Mango is laminated top, back, sides. The spruce is a solid top and there will be an appreciable difference in volume. As for the price difference, you might ask about installing a pickup for the difference.

07-23-2009, 05:03 PM
The original mango Pono was fitted with a pick-up, as is the spruce-top-swap (say that 5 times fast.)

08-02-2009, 01:22 AM
Just as a follow-up, I received the Pono PTS-CE spruce-top tenor last Wednesday. I did not screw up...the sound is great. As I was hoping it is significantly brighter than the mango, and the volume is a bit better as well. I have not put it down since it arrived - hopefully I will be posting some songs soon.

08-02-2009, 06:49 AM
congratulations on your instrument

Spruce has been the wood of choice for all stringed instruments except ukuleles for centuries, and I have to think it would have been that way for ukes too if Hawaii had spruce trees.

Having said that, I tried some spruce and cedar ukes at a store and didn't really like them for ukes, I guess I like the island woods.