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View Full Version : UAS Intervention - Ohana Zebrawood or Mainland Mango soprano



xoukulele
02-15-2010, 08:07 AM
Okay, don't laugh. I just bought a ohana mahogony concert from mgm. I probably should have gotten the cedar top. Maybe it needs to settle in, strings, wood, etc or maybe my ear's need to be cleaned. Either way now I want another one to replace my Kala KA-S. This is what I was considering.

Ohana Zebrawood soprano
Mainland Mango soprano
Sprucehouse s-o soprano
Flea

I know all are great and will likely own all in time but i can't keep going further into debt and my small apartment can only handle one more or I have to get rid of roomate and then girlfriend. (consdered both). It is very hard to figure out what's what and there there by listening to youtube clips and no stores in my area remotely carry these and like my ohana I have to buy online hoping that it sounds like what I expected which is a lot to ask. So again, I defer to you all for input.

I do like the idea of the flea and sprucehouse being made in the USA but the Mainland and Ohana's are great companies as well.

Melissa82
02-15-2010, 08:28 AM
I have a Mainland mahogany and a Ohana ck-25. I love my ohana. So, i say the Ohana Zebrawood.

whatthekoon
02-15-2010, 10:56 AM
I have an Ohana Zebrawood and it was my first ukulele. I thought it was great at first but a few things started to bother me after a few weeks of playing.

1) Action was way too high on the nut causing it to play out of tune in the first position.
2) The sound started to annoy me ... a little too shrill and thin for my liking.
3) The bridge separated from the top even though it was protected in its case (cheap to repair though).
4) Would not stay in tune even though it was upgraded with geared tuners from the shop (this is after allowing time for strings to stretch).

Bear in mind that I've not played another Ohana Zebrawood so can't comment if my particular one was a dud.

Having said all that though, I've been playing other instruments for a long time before coming to ukulele and have a bit more of a discerning taste when it comes to instruments. I still have the Ohana as a sort of beater ukulele for travel and am playing around with different strings to find the right sound for me. I can't really help with the other ukes but have played a fluke and flea and find them to be better quality ukes compared to the Ohana. I got the Ohana as it was cheaper and I didn't want to commit to a Flea/Fluke as my 1st ukulele.

xoukulele
02-15-2010, 11:25 AM
Thanks whatthekoon and melissa82.

Did you contact Ohana or the store you bought the zebrawood from to get the problems addressed? I have contacted Ohana directly asking about availability of some things and they were very responsive. Sounds like you might have gotten a 'bad' uke. What kind of environement are you playing in? I live in a small studio apartment so my listening environment is about the size of a small recording studio and not a stage or auditorium. How would you compare the sound of the flea?

So far I have bought both ukulele's from mgm and though I have not fully accepted my current ohana mahogany I am not going to deal with shipping from ny back to hawaii. May try to find a stateside dealer who might be willing to exhange if I am not sold on the next uke. I could also ask MGM if he would exchange what I have. The case that came with it I had to rebuild and fortunately I am a contractor/carpenter and this was not a big deal but if my girlfriend had the case and the handle fell off I might be a little ticked off. Knowing me I would likely buy again from mgm as I know he is reputable but slow down before I press the buy it now button. (not likely)

Thanks...

whatthekoon
02-15-2010, 12:20 PM
Did you contact Ohana or the store you bought the zebrawood from to get the problems addressed? I have contacted Ohana directly asking about availability of some things and they were very responsive. Sounds like you might have gotten a 'bad' uke. What kind of environement are you playing in? I live in a small studio apartment so my listening environment is about the size of a small recording studio and not a stage or auditorium. How would you compare the sound of the flea?

I did contact the store where I got the Ohana from and they offered to repair it for free but I had to bear the cost of shipping the uke both ways. The store is in another state so I went with my local guitar shop to get it repaired. The cost was pretty much what it would have cost me for the shipping so no big deal. Like yourself, I live in an area where there isn't much choice in ukuleles and these are the sorts of issues you have to deal with if you get a dud instrument buying online. The problems I've had with the Ohana aside, I think the Zebrawood is a pretty decent ukulele for the price but I would pay a little more for the flea or fluke. It sounds slightly fuller to my ears and has a chunkier neck which I like. Of course, this is all personal taste and yours may be different. I'm fortunate enough to have a quiet room to myself to play. Hope this helps.

pdxuke
02-15-2010, 06:29 PM
OK, here's my two cents:

Sprucehouse SO is a GREAT uke with a terrific sound and luthier made. I own one.
I do not own the Zebra. However, I have an Ohana SK35 from MGM that is INCREDIBLE.
I have Mainland Mahogany, also incredible.
I would not buy a Mango if I had no Mahogany soprano as well. Since i have a fleet of mahogany ukes, I like my mango.
I sold my Flea. Others love them.

If it were me replacing the Kala KS, I'd go Sprucehouse, Mainland, or Ohana SK35. Of the three, the most unique is the Sprucehouse. If price is also a consideration, the Ohana from MGM wins, with Mainland a close second. Mike sold me the Ohana SK35 direct (no ebay, so call him) for $175 shipped with a case.

iDavid
02-15-2010, 09:06 PM
I have the Zebra soprano and it is the best sounding soprano I have ever hear. I have a Mahogany Bushman and it sounds like a to in comparison. I got mine Zebra from Uke republic and Mike made sure it was set-up well. I have a Mainland Mahogany tenor and it is really nice, but a bit bigger than I thought it would be.

The Zebra is warm, clear and has some bass to it as well, just perfect.

If you don't like the look, don't get it. I love the look!

Anyway, the Zebra is the way to go IMO. I can't believe how inexpensive they are....


david

dallas2ny
02-16-2010, 07:58 AM
+1 vote for sprucehouse.

I haven't played the other choices, but have had a sprucehouse soprano from MGM with peghead tuners for about a month. Love it! And it came with a great hardcase. Took it traveling and it will be my go-to travel uke for at least a while. One thing though, I did take it to a luthier to have the action lowered and evened out (the middle two strings sat a little higher than the side strings). After that, I cant put it down!

Ahnko Honu
02-16-2010, 08:46 AM
Mainland with rope binding, gloss finish, and MOP tuner buttons.

xoukulele
02-17-2010, 07:30 AM
I also just got a lead on a used Bushman Engelmann(sp?) soprano but do not know anything about them, sound, build, etc. I heard good things about older bushmans which I would consider but not the new ones after reading some recent posts. Sounds like they had a good thing going at one time. Life happens I guess. I've been there too well to know.

Again, all this is sight unseen and hears covered except for some youtube tracks. I am used to going to a local store to strum but there ain't nuthin' round these parts no more. Actually, there is but the uke supply is more token than supply.

Lori
02-17-2010, 10:03 AM
I don't have a Mainland Soprano, and I have never played the Bushman. If I were you I would go for the Mainland Mango (based on my experience with the Mango concert size). I have the Zebrawood Ohana, and it is a very different sound from the Mango. The Zebrawood tends to have more "bark" to it. Mellower strings work nicely on it (Worth Browns). I had the bridge problem too, but I was close enough to their warehouse to drive it there for repair.
I would say the Mainland Mango has a more pleasant tone. Fleas are nice. But to me, they are a different experience. Good if you have to knock it around a lot. But there is something about ukuleles... maybe it is the woodgrain and the gloss finish that is really satisfying to me. I like the novelty designs of the flea/fluke, but it is a different experience. They do sound nice, but the plastic surfaces are very dull looking.

–Lori

xoukulele
02-18-2010, 05:13 PM
I just bid and lost on a sprucehouse s-1 on ebay. I did not want to go any more than my high bid since I could get a new one from Sprucehouse including a great case (from what I hear) for the difference. Make sense? So know after listening and listening to sound samples and reading sound opinions here, it is narrowed down a bit to the Sprucehouse s-o and the mainland mango. I'm edging toward the Sprucehouse if only because it is luthier made in the USA which is somewhat appealing to me. I already own an Ohana cg-35gs. Again, if anyone comes up with any other ukes to consider by all means let me know. I don't need loud. Thanks, I really appreciate everyone's posts.

pdxuke
02-18-2010, 05:17 PM
Either are great choices, I have both. And yes, the Sprucehouse case is so classy I ordered one for my Ohana SK35.

And one more thing--the SO has the look of an old SO Martin. Plain Jane, sweet uke.

luvdat
02-19-2010, 12:49 AM
Matt Umanov's in the Village carries Ohana, Kamaka and Martin. They had 1 SK-35G left...2 weeks ago. East Village Music...Mainland and Kala. Feel free to PM me.

countrybumpkin
02-19-2010, 05:21 AM
Either are great choices, I have both. And yes, the Sprucehouse case is so classy I ordered one for my Ohana SK35.

And one more thing--the SO has the look of an old SO Martin. Plain Jane, sweet uke.

Have not seen sprucehouse's. Only the "new Martin". Must have missed something in the reading. Sorry to Sprucehouse and all.

Daughter has a zebrawood ohana which is fine for her. Doesn't hold it's tuning that well, but we're adjusting the tuners to find just the right tension.

xoukulele
02-19-2010, 06:23 AM
Countrybumpkin...I know the s-o's are plain in appearance, I kind of like that but how did it sound? How did the zebrawood sound? Is there another uke you really like the sound of?

Luvdatuke...I went to umanov...been there many times. I never really feel welcome there. I tried the inexpensive martin and was not crazy about it. They would not let me try the Kamaka. They had no ohana's. I alway get the feeling going in there that unless I'm a rocker or can play really well or spend the big bucks I'm just a poseur. Now that is just me. My buddy loves the place so to each his own. I think that is why I like guitar center. They don't care what you play and how good or bad you are or at least it seems that way. I have not been to East Village Music. Never heard of them.

So far I am leaning towards an S-O if only because Al McWhorter has been so responsive but I am also looking at a used Bushman Engelmann but cannot seem to find too much info about them. I had read that the older Bushmans were built better than the newer models. I'm a tinkerer also so I like the appeal of a small shop. Being in NYC if I need to find a Luthier to repair something it should not be a problem rather than sending it back. That is also why I would buy from MGM. I'm not sending it back to Hawaii for a repair when I could likely walk across the street.

xoukulele
02-19-2010, 01:17 PM
Well I pulled the trigger. Check is in the mail so to speak to Sprucehouse for an s-o. He makes them in batches of 6 so it may be a little while until I receive mine but will likely be worth the wait. Luthier built and made in the USA. I'll deal with it being laminate and I likely won't notice.

Hmmm whats next....maybe a black dolphin and a mainland pineapple. I think I will sell my kala when I get the sprucehouse. Also going to sell my acoustic guitar which has not seen light for a couple of years now. I love it but won't miss it.

Thanks for the help!

pdxuke
02-19-2010, 02:23 PM
Well I pulled the trigger. Check is in the mail so to speak to Sprucehouse for an s-o. He makes them in batches of 6 so it may be a little while until I receive mine but will likely be worth the wait. Luthier built and made in the USA. I'll deal with it being laminate and I likely won't notice.


Thanks for the help!

You will enjoy this uke. I think a great choice, very good value for the money. I don't think you'll notice the laminate either--it is attractive, light weight and sounds great.

Maybe we need to start a Sprucehouse club!

xoukulele
03-18-2010, 04:31 PM
The Sprucehouse arrived. A little glue cleanup where the fret and neck are joined letting me know it is a handmade instrument plus just a hint of a fingerprint in the finish. I like that in a craftsman sort of way. I hate the tuners and will swap them out for better ones soon...not sure which yet. Have heard the frictions that mainland sells are great and also considering Pegheds. The sound is sweet and mellow. Not loud, just nice. If I did not have to tighten the tuners to stay in tune all the time I would like it a lot more.

I bought a Ohana ck35g about 2 months ago that has not been played. It just does not feel right in the hand. I like the sound and the neck but not the body. Weird. I am likely going to sell it and try a pineapple or another soprano with a concert neck. Yup, I got the bug.

pdxuke
03-18-2010, 05:02 PM
The Sprucehouse arrived. A little glue cleanup where the fret and neck are joined letting me know it is a handmade instrument plus just a hint of a fingerprint in the finish. I like that in a craftsman sort of way. I hate the tuners and will swap them out for better ones soon...not sure which yet. Have heard the frictions that mainland sells are great and also considering Pegheds. The sound is sweet and mellow. Not loud, just nice. If I did not have to tighten the tuners to stay in tune all the time I would like it a lot more.

I bought a Ohana ck35g about 2 months ago that has not been played. It just does not feel right in the hand. I like the sound and the neck but not the body. Weird. I am likely going to sell it and try a pineapple or another soprano with a concert neck. Yup, I got the bug.

Give the strings a bit of time to settle before you bail on the tuners. I did with mine, and now I rarely even have to tune it.

Congrats. I love mine.

xoukulele
03-18-2010, 06:07 PM
Okay, Ill let the strings settle in and see what happens though I also don't like the look of them. For 20 bucks I could buy some nice ambered button tuners from Mainland that I read were really great.

I think I may have to dive in and join the dolphin club. I'm a fisherman so it just fits.

When I sell my Ohana and maybe even the beginner kala I will look at getting a pineapple or concert neck soprano. Saw a beautiful KoAloha pineapple with longer neck but out of my budget.

Raygf
03-19-2010, 12:47 AM
Okay, Ill let the strings settle in and see what happens though I also don't like the look of them. For 20 bucks I could buy some nice ambered button tuners from Mainland that I read were really great.

I think I may have to dive in and join the dolphin club. I'm a fisherman so it just fits.

When I sell my Ohana and maybe even the beginner kala I will look at getting a pineapple or concert neck soprano. Saw a beautiful KoAloha pineapple with longer neck but out of my budget.

You've got it bad! The KoAloha wasn't even in your opening post. Play what you have, curb your UAS (virtually impossible, I know), save your money and buy a long neck KoAloha pineapple. There is nothing more UAS gratifying than owning a KoAloha.

(Well, maybe owning two, three . . . .!)

Otherwise, buy a Flea or a Mainland. I just bought a surf flea with upgraded fingerboard and love it! Can't put it down and have recently started looking at the Mainland red cedar pineapple again (and have money set aside to make the purchase). I ruled it out when I purchased the Mainland mahogany pineapple. (Not to mention I just ordered an Ernest Instruments Concert neck Ceegar Box ukulele!) I'm in so deep!!!! Sorry, I know this is little help as far as an intervention is concerned. :D
Regards,
Ray

xoukulele
03-19-2010, 03:51 AM
Well Ray, Looks like you are ready to open your own shop!

I think I have a while before I get the koaloha. I am going back to school after 20 years, changing my life around a little, so this kind of expense will have to be kept in the 3 digits....buttttttttt I could sell my guitar that doesn't get used and and and.....

Looking at the Mainland Boat soprano as well. Now that I know I don't care for a bigger uke I can have some fun. The Dolphin is right there on the fun factor and in the 2 digits. Its almost selling itself. Either way, next 'big' purchase has to be kept under or around 300. I'm sure there is something out there.:iwant:

mailman
03-19-2010, 06:21 AM
Any idea what you'd be asking for the Ohana?

xoukulele
03-19-2010, 06:58 AM
Hi Mailman,

I guess I should think about that...well I will work it out as I write this reply. If I had acted quickly I would have returned it to MGM but I missed the return cutoff so shipping would have cost me 20$. There is no wear and tear but for S&G's lets say I'll knock 25$ off for keeping it humidified and stored and fixing the case so the handle and zipper work (don't get me started) and then I would have to ship it which increases my cost 20$ and I bought it for about 270 so I would say I would sell it for 225 with shipping but let me look at it again.........yup, looked at it on a sunny day and it is like new. I so wanted this to work for me because it is a beautiful ukulele and sounds great but if it don't feel right it won't get played and I am not likely to grow anymore and it is not likely to shrink. So there goes. If you are curious I have great ebay feedback fwiw and my friends like me...well they should, I pay them enough.

Raygf
03-19-2010, 11:14 AM
Well Ray, Looks like you are ready to open your own shop!

I think I have a while before I get the koaloha. I am going back to school after 20 years, changing my life around a little, so this kind of expense will have to be kept in the 3 digits....buttttttttt I could sell my guitar that doesn't get used and and and.....

Looking at the Mainland Boat soprano as well. Now that I know I don't care for a bigger uke I can have some fun. The Dolphin is right there on the fun factor and in the 2 digits. Its almost selling itself. Either way, next 'big' purchase has to be kept under or around 300. I'm sure there is something out there.:iwant:

I went back to school 20 some years ago and understand! My wife and I lived on less than 17K/year for several years. Thank God for family, state grants and scholarships. We are in a very diffferent place now and we have always lived simply, paid off our credit cards every month and we don't buy things we cannot afford. I teach some private and group guitar and ukulele lessons and that is my "Bank O' Ray" money that buys all things musical. Good luck with your decision.
Regards,
Ray

Chris Tarman
03-19-2010, 01:48 PM
Mainland with rope binding, gloss finish, and MOP tuner buttons.

How did you know what I wanted?