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luvdat
08-21-2010, 12:24 AM
Decided to do a more proper review of the Mainland Classic Mahogany Soprano. Why? This uke deserves more love and respect.

First, I must admit, this is the uke I take out of the case 7 times out of 10 during the week. Is it louder than the red cedar? No. Simply less loud yet certainly loud enough especially in D-tuning and as I am forced to say "even with Hilos." To really "loud" lovers I say: big deal to your really loud ukes and even my louder red cedar! There are some for whom LoPrinzi and Big Island sopranos are not "loud enough." In D-tuning, even with Hilos, I didn't attempt to balance things out or make this uke louder with string choice but with tuning in the first place, and I can safely say I do prefer D-tuning on sopranos in general and on this uke in particular. In C-tuning with the Aquilas, this uke was at a times a little messy tonally blurred here and there (with less headroom esp. when strumming) which is why I understand if folks might say try fluoros. Instead I cranked it up in tuning (glad I did) and didn't fight the somewhat justifiable sense folks have that this uke can be a little "bassy" more towards the low end. What I got was a very balaced sound great with strumming, little solos (Ohta San Hawaii index finger-thumb stuff) and yes vocals. I also decided after doing side by sides with my wife listening and after recordings that this uke did have a classic uke tone esp. for 20's 30's songs. Bright banjo? No. Throaty banjo, as revealed with a nailhit at the 12th fret in rhythm play, a kind of metallic in the context of a well-modulated bark. I think listening to Baby Sugar Jazz Band in Washington Square Park and playing their CD all week (they have a dude who does their banjo rhythm in a very tasteful retrained way) helped me to realize that a really good banjo sound isn't the old Shakey's sounds cheap stuff or "Deliverance" but a fairly mellower tonal undergirding/context. I came to the conclusion that playing alone esp. and singing I would opt for the classic mahogany over the red cedar (but might use the red cedar more for playing esp. with other stringed instruments in a small group setting.) But as I go back and over this volume assessment I'm willing to say I'm probably wrong here LOL). I would probably use the red cedar for more melodramatic music, pathetic little guitar (as I say with affection) pieces, even renditions of some modern Muse tunes (which are, some of them, crooner pop/rock pieces any way). Yes, wrong in the midst of my own review, LOL: you can indeed use this mahogany to play with others, LOL...and it held up under my "outdoors test" which was conducted in Washington Square Park NYC with plenty of ambient noise.

The intonation on the mahogany sop I have is bettter above the 10th fret on this soprano than the red cedar with 12th fret quiet of course but still maintains a sense of effect. I do think the red cedar is slightly less forgiving in that thinner tone can more easily sound "off" even when it's fine. Neck? Some rough spots here and there, but will spend my money on food vs. fretwork. Have also come to really appreciate this more substantial Mainland neck more and more with D-tuning, higher tension and I anticipate, more stable, with same solid feel on a soprano.

Sound. Music box effects with fingerstyle. Hawaiian stum, chordal interplay solo. But also trad solid unobstrusive (few need to balance issues) more restrained rhythm and effects for 20' 30's (not bright here folks) but solid, dependable, an odd sense of "reliable" becoming beautiful. Can do blues and smokier jazz. Hey, even the paintings of Cezanne grow on you. IMO I think this is the point where the "need to be almost blown away" crowd can mistakenly underrate the Mainland mahogany. When it comes to sopranos, is the issue really C vs. D tuning in many cases? IMO, yes. There's a big difference between singing and gigging with an instrument and doing demos for a circle of ukeaholics. Can dig in with my too easily forgotten left hand nicely, which is what you have to do anyway. I can dig in better with the Hilos than any other string I've tried. In a sense, you have to with Hilos LOL but here's the good part: you can. And here comes heresy: I also feel inclined to experiment with a felt pick for SOME tunes not because of volume issues, simply for tonal/rhythm options. Just received permission from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, LOL...Overall: I think the Mainland Classic Mahogany soprano sounds more "complete" than the red cedar which,while having more dimensions in some ways still remains overall a thinner tonal experience ultimately more guitarish in a very good way while providing a hint of vintagey. For me, the winner of the workhorse competition between the 2 ukes I have goes to the classic mahogany.

Looks. At first I wished the mahogany on this uke was better matched in terms of darkness but I now love the variation in depth of color when comparing sides to top and back and headstock. The wood grain on the top and back not going for stunning or weird/exotic but classic grain, more restrained. But outside in the daylight at Washington Square Park I realize I really like the looks of this workhorse. A darker headstock would have highlighted the Mainland logo more, but a part of me at this point says "Knock it off!"

BTW, took this one to the office and did a brief demo for my colleagues (nursing clinical instructors): they loved it!!! Looks and sound! Unfeigned appreciation. Shouldn't we primarily do these previews for folks at the uke club? I generally avoid setting where phrases get tossed around like "leader of the group" when the "group" isn't a band or a choir. Have to say I really love this Mainland Classic Mahogany which with a little more time "I" was the one who opened up after a string swap and D-tuning. The Mainland Classic Mahogany Soprano: not simply my favorite of the 2 but the one which has cured for some time my UAS, made me post on "happy with what I got thread" and ask myself how much more do I really need.

byjimini
08-21-2010, 12:42 AM
My Ohana Soprano always used to be my main uke before I bought my Mainland, now I keep telling myself to rotate ukes but I'm always coming back to the Mainland!

Such a warm and loveable tone about it. I don't understand the issues some people are saying regarding the volume - I play it in a 3-part band with a guitar and fiddle, and it more than holds its own.

luvdat
08-21-2010, 01:05 AM
My Ohana Soprano always used to be my main uke before I bought my Mainland, now I keep telling myself to rotate ukes but I'm always coming back to the Mainland!

Such a warm and loveable tone about it. I don't understand the issues some people are saying regarding the volume - I play it in a 3-part band with a guitar and fiddle, and it more than holds its own.

Great post/reply which got me to revise my own review!!! And yes "lovable" is the word!!!

mm stan
08-21-2010, 01:12 AM
Thanks for the full in depth review, LuvDatUke....seems like the mahogany is your main playa!!
did'nt know that baby sugar Jazz Band had their own CD's....like their singer"Lake" too.
and I noticed that they have others join in too...How cool... MM Stan..

luvdat
08-21-2010, 01:15 AM
Thanks for the full in depth review, LuvDatUke....seems like the mahogany is your main playa!!
did'nt know that baby sugar Jazz Band had their own CD's....like their singer"Lake" too.
and I noticed that they have others join in too...How cool... MM Stan..

Their Jazz Roots Elixir is simply a GREAT 10 song album!!! I can't recommend their music enough esp. to ukers.

mm stan
08-21-2010, 01:35 AM
Do they have a website that sells the CD's???
A DVD would be even better...

luvdat
08-21-2010, 01:37 AM
Do they have a website that sells the CD's???
A DVD would be even better...

Check out their MySpace Music which also has some vid samples.

SailQwest
08-21-2010, 02:31 AM
Nice review!

Tifflery
05-18-2012, 07:46 AM
Nice review!

Agree!
Thanks!