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Sayyadina
07-03-2008, 05:16 AM
Hi everybody. I just wanted to know if anyone here owns one of the Pono models mentioned in the title? I think they are among the best looking Ukuleles out there and I would love to buy one. But before buying I'd like to hear how they sound or at least get opinions from other people concerning playability etc.

Anybody here able to help me out?

UkeNinja
07-03-2008, 12:18 PM
You probably already saw this, but the reviewer of the concert model (http://ukuleleunderground.com/ukereviews/viewReviews.php?modelID=156&manufacturerID=4) seems to be very happy about his.

Craig
07-03-2008, 06:05 PM
Hi everybody. I just wanted to know if anyone here owns one of the Pono models mentioned in the title? I think they are among the best looking Ukuleles out there and I would love to buy one. But before buying I'd like to hear how they sound or at least get opinions from other people concerning playability etc.

Anybody here able to help me out?
My wife owns a Pono tenor - PKT - their no frills all -koa with pickup. They're made by Ko'olau in an overseas factory...Guam? Anyway, John Kitakis and his boys oversee the production and set up the ukuleles in their home shop in Hawaii. Also, other than the radiused fretboard, my wife's Pono feels nearly identical to my Ko'olau.

My wife is a professional musician who plays over 250 gigs per year. She used and was pleased with the Pono until the recent arrival of her Ko'olau, "Cali Rose" M400. You can get more information from their website and I believe MGM sells and gives good deal on the Ponos:

http://www.koolauukulele.com

Sayyadina
07-03-2008, 08:28 PM
Thanks for the info guys, that already helped me with the decision. I think I rather need one of those babies.

Craig, would it be possible that your wife recorded a short sound sample? As I live in Germany, this is the only chance for me to hear how it sounds.

ichadwick
07-04-2008, 02:24 AM
I have a couple of Ponos now - cedar/rosewood and mango models. They're really nice - the cedar in particular has a stunning sound. Great intonation, too. But the cedar-top had some build quality issues that made me less than 100% satisfied. I bought the mango after I got the cedar, so I wasn't deterred enough to keep them off my wanted list. And the mango has no issues at all (except the open-geared tuners that really should be sealed for that price).

My comments on Pono are on my ukulele review page (http://www.ianchadwick.com/essays/ukuleles.htm).

Craig
07-04-2008, 04:11 AM
For Sayyadina:

If you go to the Ko'olau page, then to the "endorsement" section, you'll see my name: Craig Brandau, listed. There's an, albeit poor, arrangement of, "If" that I play on Cali's Pono, although it's listed as a Ko'olau tenor. Also, in the music section, there's a bunch of people who have recorded songs with Ponos. And finally, I've linked our first video where Cali is playing her Pono.

http://www.koolauukulele.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-Oh7TmPzGA

GX9901
07-04-2008, 09:50 AM
I think I'd have problems paying $1k for a Pono because I think the money on these "Pikake" models are probably mostly on the adornments. I love bling-bling on ukes as much as the next guy, but for that kind of money it needs to sound something special regardless of how much bling it has. Of course, I've never played one of these, so perhaps they sound great. But I've never played a Pono that I thought was in the "special" category (they are very good, just not "special"). So, I would personally spend the money elsewhere. Unless, of course, I have a lot of extra cash burning a hole in my pocket, then I'd go for one of those babies.:D

Craig
07-04-2008, 11:43 AM
I think I'd have problems paying $1k for a Pono because I think the money on these "Pikake" models are probably mostly on the adornments. I love bling-bling on ukes as much as the next guy, but for that kind of money it needs to sound something special regardless of how much bling it has. Of course, I've never played one of these, so perhaps they sound great. But I've never played a Pono that I thought was in the "special" category (they are very good, just not "special"). So, I would personally spend the money elsewhere. Unless, of course, I have a lot of extra cash burning a hole in my pocket, then I'd go for one of those babies.:D

I too am not one for bling. My wife's new Ko'olau M400, with the MOP inlay, is almost a bit too "wild" for baldheaded, bowtie wearing me...;) I agree that the price difference between the Pono models is for adornment and not for sound. Outside of the wood choices, there's not much sound difference between the models. What I like about the Ponos is their consistency, unlike Kamaka or Koaloha, whose sound and intonation varies greatly between instruments. I also believe the Ponos are a great deal for their price. However, they don't compare to the Ko'olaus...but then, neither does their price.

For 1K, I'd go for one of Ko'olau's T-1 models.

Plainsong
07-04-2008, 06:21 PM
I thought Koaloha had a very solid reputation for consistency out-of-the-box. Not to say ANY wooden instrument is subject to sounding different than another wooden instrument of the same model.

The Pono tenor is darn nice, but it's not in the same league as either of my Koalohas. In fact, if you read up on some of issues coming out of Ponos of late, I'd say they're the opposite of consistent. Mine also had gummy stuff around the heel and such, things that don't affect sound, but make you go "hmmmm" for the price paid.

But Pono can still put out something really nice of course. Unlike some here, mine didn't have an off-center rosette, and certainly it sounded nice. Part of the defense against these issues is buying from a store that bothers to check what they're selling. ;)

Sayyadina
07-04-2008, 09:01 PM
Thank you guys for the comments, especially to Craig and ichadwick for the links. I am really pleased with how the Pono sounds on these recordings and albeit it might be unreasonable the looks are also very important to me. Those endorsements are just so beautiful...
What worries me a bit are the above mentioned imperfections and flaws some of these Ponos seem to have.
I'll just have to think this through carefully and wait what kind of deal Rigk will offer me. (I'm going to buy from the german distributor for Ko'lau RISA and he said, that if I'm not pleased with the instrument he'll take it back)
It sucks living in europe when you want to buy an Uke since shipping and tax make all those import models a great deal more expensive...

Craig
07-05-2008, 04:10 AM
FYI, except for the "If" arrangement that I recorded, the recordings are done with the optional Dean Markley preamp. Just something to consider if you plan on recording.

Plainsong
07-05-2008, 08:53 AM
Rigk's a good guy too. Have you checked out the Risa acoustic tenor he's got on sale? I think that would be a better instrument IMO.

Sayyadina
07-06-2008, 08:37 AM
Rigk's a good guy too. Have you checked out the Risa acoustic tenor he's got on sale? I think that would be a better instrument IMO.

Hmm, why do you think a 299 RISA would be better than a 1000 Pono? I know the price doesn't 100% reflect the quality but somehow I just can't believe that's true. But still you probably know better than me as I really don't know much about different woods, brands and so on... What really got me interested in the Pono in the first place was the stunning looks and as it's such an expensive instrument I figured that it probably is of a very high quality too.

But still, taken all the comments I received together so far you guys would rather not buy the Pono... This is really a tough decision. I really hate living in Germany as far as Ukes are concerned. There is no chance to try different brands and just take the one you like the most because there are virtually no stores selling anything better than a 50 soprano...

Plainsong
07-06-2008, 02:51 PM
Risa - handmade in Germany, Pono - factory made in Indonesia. You're paying for the bling only. I wouldn't drop that kind of coin on an instrument made that way, not when you can get a luthier-built or a Hawaiian brand made uke.

I'm not saying the Pono will suck. It's just that you're paying €300 for the sound, and €700 for the bling.

I don't know if that statement will anger people, but I think more will agree than not.

And sure you have a chance to try different brands. Risa is a hell of a good brand, it just doesn't get mention here because of the strength of the Euro against the Dollar. I mean it's really really really excellent.

But besides that Musicguymic (UU member MGM) on ebay (don't let the "on ebay" fool you, this the world's best online uke shop) ships worldwide. With the weakness of the dollar, even paying customs fees and shipping, you STILL get a great deal.

Have you tried YouTubing Risa Ukulele? Hear for yourself what they can do. It's absolutely a great brand. Just because Rigk is German doesn't mean he's not very well respected in uke circles. They're not ALL in Hawaii.

Sayyadina
07-06-2008, 08:17 PM
Risa - handmade in Germany, Pono - factory made in Indonesia. You're paying for the bling only. I wouldn't drop that kind of coin on an instrument made that way, not when you can get a luthier-built or a Hawaiian brand made uke.

I'm not saying the Pono will suck. It's just that you're paying 300 for the sound, and 700 for the bling.

I don't know if that statement will anger people, but I think more will agree than not.

And sure you have a chance to try different brands. Risa is a hell of a good brand, it just doesn't get mention here because of the strength of the Euro against the Dollar. I mean it's really really really excellent.

But besides that Musicguymic (UU member MGM) on ebay (don't let the "on ebay" fool you, this the world's best online uke shop) ships worldwide. With the weakness of the dollar, even paying customs fees and shipping, you STILL get a great deal.

Have you tried YouTubing Risa Ukulele? Hear for yourself what they can do. It's absolutely a great brand. Just because Rigk is German doesn't mean he's not very well respected in uke circles. They're not ALL in Hawaii.

I know RISA is excellent as I own one of the RISA Koa concert Ukes and I am very very pleased with it. But apart from RISA there doesn't seem to be much choice (maybe Brueko). I'm doing some inquiries concerning Mike Pereira ukes now as people across the board seem to be very fond of his ukes.

Plainsong
07-07-2008, 09:29 AM
Pete Howlett (http://www.uklectic.com/ukulele.html) is also on this side of Euroland. His name made it into the Headstock Lust (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WFvBpcLMu0)song. ;)

drubin
07-07-2008, 07:53 PM
Great reading on this thread, folks! My advice, in that price bracket, would be to go for custom instrument from one of the many small shop luthiers. Of course, YMMV. :)