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View Full Version : Which Mainland Soprano would you choose?



donnyrums
10-18-2010, 08:13 AM
Mango, Mahogany, or red cedar?

I'd love to hear from some Mainland owners, as I've been agonizing over this choice.

I have a Kala Tenor (KA-TG) and I'm about to buy a Mainland soprano to diversify (as well as upgrade) my sound. I'm not sure which wood to get. No stores carry Mainlands near me, and the sound quality in youtube videos makes it difficult to really compare them.

In theory the cedar seems great (and looks amazing) but it always seems to sound really thin online and not nearly as nice as the mahogany.

Before I go ahead and order, I'd love some input or pros and cons.

(p.s. I have used the search function, but I'm looking for some additional input)

Thanks!

Mr Bill
10-18-2010, 08:26 AM
Hi Donny,

Purely subjective I like mohagany's looks, in my humble opinion.
If Koa were a choice then that it'd be the one.

Best of luck on your choice.

Cheers

Gmoney
10-18-2010, 08:31 AM
For me personally... it would be the Red Cedar because of the tonal brightness of the Red Cedar & the visually stunning Rosewood back & sides w/the Red Cedar top.

As my sig shows, I own both Mahogany & Red Cedar Tenors and have a Soprano Honeybee (Mahogany) that my daughter has claimed as her own.

byjimini
10-18-2010, 09:40 AM
I've never owned a Red Cedar or Mango uke before, so I speak solely from experience with my Mahogany Mainland - the amount of comments I've had regarding its tone and warmness would put me into a happy early retirement if they were all worth a Pound!

mm stan
10-18-2010, 09:56 AM
Aloha Donnyrums,
Welcome to the UU and our forums...and the ukulele....It's personal preference, if its possible for you...go into a music store and try some of them out and see which one pleases you in
sound, comfort and playability....I myself like a solid mahogany for it's warm sounds....Have Fun and Enjoy!!! Good Luck!! "Keep Strumming them strings" MM Stan....

donnyrums
10-18-2010, 10:27 AM
Thanks for all the replies so far.

@mm stan: unfortunately Mainland isn't distributed in Canada, so i can't try them out. In general, there isn't a great selection of different tonewoods here in Toronto, with the exception of maybe Kala (from what I've seen), but these are often laminates anyways. There are some better shops, but they are outside the city.

Thanks gmoney for the insight into cedar and to bill, stan, and jiminy for your thoughts on the mahogany. It's good (and not at all surprising) to hear that the cedar has a better sound than laptop microphones can convey over youtube. It also looks great. However, I'm still leaning towards the warmth of the mahogany, but I'll reconsider cedar.

In other news, mango is getting dominated in the poll, while mahogany maintains a tenuous lead over cedar. I suspect this is because mango is less familiar/popular. Are there any Mango apologists out there?

joeybug
10-18-2010, 10:28 AM
I don't own a Mainland, but I like the look of the Mango, so it's purely aesthetics to me, I can't say how it sounds...

Welcome to UU :D

mm stan
10-18-2010, 10:33 AM
Thanks for all the replies so far.

@mm stan: unfortunately Mainland isn't distributed in Canada, so i can't try them out. In general, there isn't a great selection of different tonewoods here in Toronto, with the exception of maybe Kala (from what I've seen), but these are often laminates anyways. There are some better shops, but they are outside the city.

Thanks gmoney for the insight into cedar and to bill, stan, and jiminy for your thoughts on the mahogany. It's good (and not at all surprising) to hear that the cedar has a better sound than laptop microphones can convey over youtube. It also looks great. However, I'm still leaning towards the warmth of the mahogany, but I'll reconsider cedar.

In other news, mango is getting dominated in the poll, while mahogany maintains a tenuous lead over cedar. I suspect this is because mango is less familiar/popular. Are there any Mango apologists out there?
Aloha donny,
I'd give MGM a call, and discuss what you want in your ukes, he has an excellent selection
and does all the set -up on ukes going out...worth every cent for the extra shipping..plus
he has an excellent customer service record..and very knowledgable too!!! Good Luck!!
Let us know what you decide to get....MM Stan..

Chris Tarman
10-18-2010, 02:22 PM
I have a Mainland Red Cedar Pineapple and a Mahogany Soprano. So I'd probably get the Mango, because I don't have one of those yet! But that doesn't help YOU any, now does it? My mahogany sounds really nice, but my red cedar sounds a little louder and fuller. Of course some of that might be because it's a pineapple shape and has a bit bigger body. A LOT of it may have to do with that, actually. Another factor in the volume of my two might be the pick-up in the mahogany. There are some wires in there, and not a big resonating chamber or surface area, so where those wires probably don't have MUCH effect, they might possibly have SOME effect.
I'm very pleased with both of mine, and I would expect them all to sound good. Not the same, but equally nice in their own way. So I say get the one you like the look of the best. Here are some pictures of mine to help you out (hopefully!).1683316834168351683616837

Jerlial Prophet
10-18-2010, 03:45 PM
I have a mainland concert mahogany (and I love it) and somehow I think I'll end up with a mainland cedar soprano someday. I played one at the Milwaukee Uke Fest and it was a very nice sounding instrument. Mahogany is warmer but the cedar was definitely louder and crisper. Also, while I love the beautiful mahogany on my mainland, I'd have to say the cedars I've seen look nicer with the rosewood back and sides and the binding (which I'm not sure what it was but was definitely nice, nicer than the binding on the mahogany). I also played a mango (I think) but didn't really get any impressions from it one way or the other. Anyway, I voted for cedar but you definitely can't go wrong with mahogany (or probably mango either I'd guess).

Chris Tarman
10-18-2010, 04:29 PM
I voted for Mahogany, but Red Cedar would be an extremely close second place in my mind. I could go either way on that one. I just happened to hit the "Mahogany" button first!

Lori
10-18-2010, 05:48 PM
I guess it comes down to what kind of sound are you looking for? My guess would be a Red Cedar should be more bright, a Mango would be more mellow, and the Mahogany would be somewhere in between. I have a Mainland Boat, which would be a Mahogany pineapple uke, and a Mango Concert. I don't have a Red Cedar ukulele in any size, so it makes it hard to comment there. But, in theory, it should have a more treble and less bass than the other two. You probably can't really go too far wrong, since they are pretty consistent as far as being quality ukuleles.
Mango, I have found, has a distinctive sound from the others. It should also soften the tendency that some sopranos have of getting too bright or harsh.
–Lori

Hippie Dribble
10-18-2010, 07:03 PM
I guess it comes down to what kind of sound are you looking for? My guess would be a Red Cedar should be more bright, a Mango would be more mellow, and the Mahogany would be somewhere in between. I have a Mainland Boat, which would be a Mahogany pineapple uke, and a Mango Concert. I don't have a Red Cedar ukulele in any size, so it makes it hard to comment there. But, in theory, it should have a more treble and less bass than the other two. You probably can't really go too far wrong, since they are pretty consistent as far as being quality ukuleles.
Mango, I have found, has a distinctive sound from the others. It should also soften the tendency that some sopranos have of getting too bright or harsh.
–Lori

Hi donnyrums

I totally agree with Lori. Like she said, it's all about what kind of sound you're after. I have a couple of mango ukes and love them to bits (just such pretty wood)...but then I would say the same re my mahogany ukes too!!! Both have a nice warm and mellow tone, the mahogany perhaps a give a little more treble...

but to your poll...I don't have any of those kind of mainlands...I have a model called a "Honeybee" soprano...is this not made anymore??? Anyway, I love that uke, it has a nice balanced tone as between warmth and brightness. It is made from mahogany so I picked that option in your poll.

donnyrums
10-18-2010, 07:09 PM
Thanks for all the comments. The pics are great too (thanks Chris).

I'm still undecided, but I am now confident that I can't really go wrong with mainland tonewoods (esp cedar or mahogany).

I did take a look at MGM and this added a bit of a wrinkle to my decision.

For about the same price as a Mainland with a case + shipping to Canada I could get either a Kala Solid Acacia Soprano or (an even more interesting idea) a Kelii Soprano Solid Koa top, solid Mahog sides (both incl cases).

Both get great reviews, but are very different. The Kala sounds great and is very pretty in a flashy sort of way, while the Kelii is more traditional with a very simple style showcasing the koa grain and has a "vintage," "woody" sound that is quite pleasant. It is miles away from the sound I get from my KA-TG (which is a good thing).

Since I already have a Kala, the Kelii has the best chance of drawing me away from the wonderful mainlands I have coveted for some time now.

Something to think about anyways....


The poll is still quite close, and mango is getting a bit of love.

jtafaro
10-21-2010, 02:32 PM
They were out of the red cedar sopranos so I got the red cedar concert and love it. They now have the red cedar sopranos in stock. You can get them from Mike at Mainland or Mike at Uke Republic. The price and service is great. I got mine from UR but he had to have Mainland set it up and ship it to me. It's a great uke. I really like the Concert size even though I have all three sizes.

Ukuleleblues
10-21-2010, 02:55 PM
It really depends on the sound you want. But...a soprano is punchy anyway (I like that) so the mahogany kind of smooths it out.

Kitsune
10-21-2010, 08:42 PM
I like mango, nice and mellow but as people have said, it's about the sound that you're looking for.

donnyrums
10-22-2010, 08:21 AM
Well I made my decision and I didn't end up getting a mainland after all. Don't get me wrong, Mainlands are awesome (and I will probably have one eventually). This thread was still really helpful and maybe it can be of use to other people who are uncertain about which mainland to get. (For the record, I would have got a mahogany, after reading all the comments).
I think MGM is to blame for my defection from mainland. He listed a Kelii solid Koa Soprano that I couldn't resist. I was able to try one out at a local music store, and it's got a really great island sound (warm and full without being dull. very pleasant) and a simple aesthetic showcasing a stunning woodgrain. I should receive it next week. (by the way, MGM is really nice and great to deal with).

ricksan66
10-22-2010, 09:02 AM
Mahogany, I already have a concert mango. Would hope the mahogany might sound warmer, mellower.