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View Full Version : Mainland Red Cedar Soprano



luvdat
08-02-2010, 12:10 AM
14869




Looking for a soprano that can go loud yet really (and I mean actually) cover a range? Consider the Mainland red cedar soprano.

First, the neck. Yes, this is a wider neck (about 1.5 inches) with string spacings that make a D chord easier and yes, a thicker neck, but I really like it. Originally I had considered the neck width a dealbreaker. I was wrong. For someone like myself coming out of years of guitar I never sought narrow low profile options and when I played them over a period of time they actually became LESS comfortable to the point where in doing my stuff I would jam my hand at the thumb joint. These were guitars I borrowed, or bought then sold. Having played the Flea neck for awhile the magic of a substantial neck (with zero fret) wore off at least for me with this ongoing sense that I was being instructed by the flattened back surface. Not here. Feels solid and organic, in short, real. The 4th and 1st string are indeed closer to the neck's edge but IMO this is easily "learned" and accomodated.

Action, playability. A smoothe ride all the way without requiring lame string floppiness to get there. A kind of lower medium action, at least on mine which is good for voicings even above the 7th fret Intonation BTW, very very fine through the 10th fret though requiring more care. No need for me to sit there with a clip on tuner and hope today's weather brings things back to an acceptable drift. The fretwork? 2 slightly rougher edges noted while playing but that's about it. This is to be distinguished from some roughness revealed by a fingerslide alone both edges of the neck. Nothing that makes me run over to the tech at Lark Street Music in Teaneck, NJ. In short, I'm OK with this, does not impact me while playing. For newbies out there, you could buy an American made Fender Tele for over $1000 requiring more fretwork (one vintage frets not done so well really on '52 Reissue) How do I know? I once did such a thing.

Sound. No doubt about it you can crank this uke up even before it's broken in. The cedar top gives you more out of the box of that broken in quality, but this uke has a genuine range, not simply less decibels of the same thing. Can be strummed hard and also responds to fingerstyle with both nail and flesh for several colors with distinct not overbearing 4th and 1st string line play options as well middle string 3rd and 2nd string rounder tonal options that I can get a hint of something like a mellow jazz/blues organ effect. Yes, sounds crazy but that's what I get. Add to the crazy list something out of honky tonk tinkling the ivories. I don't just get "banjoey" (as in only) out of this thing (which I think the slightly wider string spacings helps to avoid) but a variety of colors and to rip off a phrase applied to older Teles a kind of "warm treble" a brightness undergirded by warmer tones and overtones (already). A pretty balanced sound overall: suprising for me at this price point. Also, and suprisingly, this uke does not lead me into string options ruminations and obsessions even with the Aquilas. Perversely maybe, the only string alternative that I'll probably try are the underrated and even despised Hilos, a string which for a very few? can be the door out of string choice Hell. Not looking for "more refined" but happy to vary....playing style. It's nice to have a real nut and saddle...for the first time. Worse for me than ears on a soprano: tied ends. Not here, straight lines...or should I say strings which widen (correctly) at the saddle...

Appearance. Just look at it. These things are personal. The finishing at this price point BTW is quite good. A look through the soundhole tells me my June 2010 soprano is glued and put together well. Not searching for perfect tiddiness here, just solid, defined. This uke has a certain 'tude that I like, in one shot antique, pretty, yet vulnerable and "trying" only slightly too hard to please in more of an Old World look kind of way, very human. Fans of Plain Jane, Zen austerity will probably go elsewhere.

The Mainland red cedar soprano for me was intially a hard sell probably because I'm not a fan of most less expensive solid wood options (yes, biased, too easiliy irritated) and in a lot of cases would prefer some kind of a lam. But this uke works, aside from looking pretty in its assembly of contrasting, disparate colors, touches and textures. And yeah I appreciate the geared tuners. This uke makes me want to apply the Guild guitar slogan to a uke: a uke "made to be played." That's what I bought it for. And it makes ME start to sing.

Just to add: this uke is like a little guitar. I say this in the best sense appreciating this and play it with this awareness and pleasure.

mm stan
08-02-2010, 01:00 AM
Aloha LuvDatUke,
Mahalo for the in full in depth review of your Mainland Red Cedar Soprano. I have been thinking about one for a long time about Red Cedar tops,
and now with this review I may be trying my hardest to fight UAS ...Yup it's pretty bad now....
And you've now gone back to the soprano, at this stage ....what is the main reason for you falling back and rediscovering it?
MM Stan...

cletus
08-02-2010, 02:51 AM
Great review. I want a Mainland!

Mandarb
08-02-2010, 05:01 AM
Glad to hear you are happy with your new uke. Congrats - Enjoy!

Chris Tarman
08-02-2010, 06:14 AM
I totally agree with all your tone comments. That's pretty much how I would describe my Red Cedar Pineapple. "Warm treble" is a perfect description.

Jake DPR
08-02-2010, 06:17 AM
I ordered the Cedar Concert on Thursday, I can't wait

portlandjosh
08-02-2010, 06:34 AM
Great review. I love my concert Mainland mahog. Post some more pictures, if you get a chance!

luvdat
08-02-2010, 03:57 PM
Aloha LuvDatUke,
Mahalo for the in full in depth review of your Mainland Red Cedar Soprano. I have been thinking about one for a long time about Red Cedar tops,
and now with this review I may be trying my hardest to fight UAS ...Yup it's pretty bad now....
And you've now gone back to the soprano, at this stage ....what is the main reason for you falling back and rediscovering it?
MM Stan...

Where I started with uke and probably why I started and what I hands down most like to sing with.

mm stan
08-02-2010, 04:24 PM
Where I started with uke and probably why I started and what I hands down most like to sing with.
My luck has just arrived...My friend called me yesterday and asked if I wanted to buy a Kamaka soprano for $175.00..Of course I
said yes...And when he came over with it and opened the case, my mouth almost dropped....It was a Gold Label Black tuners Kamaka soprano.
It was just refinished and fixed and look stunning...it had two large cracks on the top and one on the back but was expertly repaired
and if you didn't look real close you'd think it was the grain of the wood....and it the second best sounding gold kamaka that I've heard(I heard
quite a few). sometimes you get lucky and things just fall in you lap, and yesterday was mine...Aloha MM Stan...

luvdat
08-02-2010, 11:02 PM
My luck has just arrived...My friend called me yesterday and asked if I wanted to buy a Kamaka soprano for $175.00..Of course I
said yes...And when he came over with it and opened the case, my mouth almost dropped....It was a Gold Label Black tuners Kamaka soprano.
It was just refinished and fixed and look stunning...it had two large cracks on the top and one on the back but was expertly repaired
and if you didn't look real close you'd think it was the grain of the wood....and it the second best sounding gold kamaka that I've heard(I heard
quite a few). sometimes you get lucky and things just fall in you lap, and yesterday was mine...Aloha MM Stan...

Great news and I'm happy for you!!!

Sambient
08-03-2010, 12:24 AM
Fantastic review. Of course now I want to experience tonewoods of Mainland beyond the mahogany. I'd been leaning toward mango, now you've got me thinking cedar. Hmm.

luvdat
08-07-2010, 12:39 AM
With regards to right hand playing, I've gone back to just fleshy part of fingertips for picking with some back of nail strums here and there...this uke is that responsive...

callmemario
02-27-2014, 12:17 PM
Hi, This is 2014... I'm curious. How is your Mainland red Cedar Soprano holding on? On another thread, some were saying that the bridge has this tendency to pop off. Are you still playing this ukuele? and are you still adjusting to it's "thick neck?" Thanks!
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14869

Looking for a soprano that can go loud yet really (and I mean actually) cover a range? Consider the Mainland red cedar soprano.////
Just to add: this uke is like a little guitar. I say this in the best sense appreciating this and play it with this awareness and pleasure.