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View Full Version : Anyone have a Vita-uke?



Jnobianchi
01-06-2011, 07:33 AM
Does anyone out there have a Vita-uke, either the original Roy Smeck signature model, one of the cool Ohana replicas, or some other make?

I sure don't need one, but I'm intrigued with the sound - which appears to be very bright and guitarlike, probably due to the spruce top.

If you have one, do you like it? What don't you like about it? And, what kind of music do you feel sounds best on it?

Thanks! I'm sure this has been asked before, but I couldn't relocate the thread.

pondweed
01-06-2011, 07:44 AM
I had a Clearwater Vita, which is identical to the Ohana and sells (soprano) in the UK at about 80. I'm presuming they are from the same Chinese factory, perhaps? Nice action, bright play, but I sold it on as I also (still) have a Clearwater Concert Roundback (identical to the CK 70RB...) which it "felt" a bit too similar to. I remember it well though. I still think they are bargains.
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/UKULELE-CLEARWATER-VITA-UKE-ELECTRO-SOPRANO-NEW-ucw7v-/230569769651?pt=UK_Musical_Instruments_Sting_Instr uments&hash=item35af077ab3#ht_2904wt_1139

Teek
01-06-2011, 08:29 AM
I have the Ohana. I love the feel of it, it's a wonderful player, and I think it sounds a little more like a concert that a soprano. It's very comfortable and well put together. I really like the shape too, that's part of the nice way it "fits" when held. I like the narrow top bout with the larger bottom bout. The shape is a winner and so is the uke.

My only issues were some finish imperfections. It has some minor popping or bubbling around the edges of the frets on the bottom side of the neck and some kind of light dirty smudge on the top that wouldn't come off between the soundhole and bottom of the neck. Looks like it's in the satin finish. But it might have been from the setup.

I had thought about selling it because I grab my Dolphin off the wall for quick stuff, and intend to move along some of my sopranos, and the Ohana is cased so I don't get to it as often. When I took it out and handled it again, I thought no way, this would be one of the sopranos I would have to keep.

GreatGazukes
01-06-2011, 09:03 AM
I have an Ohana Vita Uke. I like it. It is loud, used it for an outdoor chrisrmas carols recently and it projected well. No complaints re the finish, all my Ohanas are well finished. I dont play it regularly, but it is nice to have it as the spruce top in my collection. Is it guitar like in sound??? well that wasnt how I thought of it but having just played it, maybe yes. But It sounds really great tuned up to D tuning, A, D, F#, B. Here is sound bite in D, (my recording apparatus is crap...and I'd only been playing for a few months) Vita uke in D (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDkYx0jMZ_Y)

I think It has more of a banjo sound to it in this tuning which I suspect was the original intention, so if you want loud with an instrument that sits on your knee when sitting, and a bright plinky kind of tone, this one is worth considering.

(I'm now thinking a change of strings may be of interest, it has Aquilas at the moment,

Hope my review has been of use, ask if you need other info.

Cheers

Jnobianchi
01-06-2011, 09:14 AM
Thanks to all three of you!

Teek, thanks - that was something important to me - the ergonomics of it, since, let's face it - that's not the shape I'm used to! Very valuable info. Interestingly - in the Ohana catalogue, they call it a concert, but its clearly a soprano in terms of scale length. With that concert sized body, it's kind of a hybrid.

Thanks, GreatGazukes. Your YouTube posting is a great help. I'm already tuning nearly everything ADF#B as old sheet music tends to call for it, and I'm one of those who believes the higher tuning sounds better, at least for my ukes.

So, ok - it's loud, bright and plinky and a good player. Very cool! Any others?

RyanMFT
01-06-2011, 09:20 AM
I don't own one, but a friend of mine has an Ohana Vita and I have played it many times. I am always surprised how comfortable it is to play since, as you say it is not the shape we usually play. It also has a full sound, and yes, it too is pretty loud. I am surprised they can sell them for the price they do (meaning I think they are very reasonably priced).

That's it, Jnobianchi, I have decided that you need one! I think I might need one too! :)

harpdog
01-06-2011, 09:45 AM
Absolutely LOVED my Ohana Vita - sold in a charity auction, but I'd have another in a heartbeat. Great sound.

Jnobianchi
01-06-2011, 09:45 AM
:D Damn you, Ryan! In a nice way, obviously.

OK, we need them. If only I could find someone willing to take one of my many banjo ukes in trade...

Thanks, Harpdog. I finally found the old thread, from a year ago, in fact, and you seemed pretty durn happy with yours!

The verdict is pretty much unanimous so far.

cheekmeat
01-06-2011, 11:14 AM
I thought I had my next uke picked out here, but I looked and it only has 12 frets. Not working for me.

...Well I guess I only go beyond twelve on a few numbers...

RyanMFT
01-06-2011, 06:09 PM
:D Damn you, Ryan! In a nice way, obviously.

Ha! Of course I knew it was meant in a nice way! Sitting at my desk at work today....somehow, I just thought I would make the decision for you.....I just sense that you NEED a Vita! I secretly pine away for a vintage one since I am a vintage uke guy!

You deserve it, right?!?!

Jnobianchi
01-06-2011, 06:16 PM
Well - your luck day, eh? There are TWO vintage ones out there now - one on Elderly, and another that will come up in a Google search. It's my favorite looking uke Harmony made, except for the Aero Uke, which Elderly also has, or had. Not THAT expensive either, but the $150 price they have for the Ohana is certainly more in my price range.

:)

Oh, and I probably don't deserve it, but thank you for enabling me.

Chris Tarman
01-07-2011, 02:06 AM
Interestingly, when I looked at the new stuff on the forum this morning, the very next thread below this one is for an Ohana Vita Uke for sale... fate?

Jnobianchi
01-07-2011, 03:49 AM
:D Yes, and dangerous.

My wife my kill me, as I got a $$$ Ludwig in November...and a second Stromberg in September.

Uke Republic
01-07-2011, 05:22 AM
People are amazed by how loud it is when they pick this one up. Plenty big sound! Love the performing seals on the sound board.

hmgberg
01-07-2011, 08:27 AM
I have a Harmony Roy Smeck Vita. It's a great instrument. Very easy to hold and play. Also, the scale length is just perfect for me at 14". It is loud, but I think more impressive is the tone - guitar-like, because of the spruce top, and it sounds old-timey, if that makes sense. The Ohanas sound really terrific on Youtube. Pretty much the same as the Harmony, I must say. In fact, the Ohanas may even be a little brighter. I haven't played one myself, but folks at the local music shop ask me about ukes all the time. I told them they should order in the Ohana Vita (as well as the Ohana 35 series). I hope they arrive soon, so I can compare first hand. But, from what I can determine at this point, the Ohana is a great buy. Oh, and the Ohanas have geared tuners, which I know some people prefer.

Jnobianchi
01-19-2011, 06:49 AM
Well -

I got the Ohana last Sunday - Thanks, Dave!!

Everything you folks said is true. It's bright, has great volume range, it does sound old-timey and jazz guitar-like, and it's been a pleasure to play so far. My daughter pointed out it's lighter than her Lanikai soprano, and sure enough, its a very light ukulele.

Most important though - the tone is out of proportion to the price. For $150 list, this is a beautiful and rich sounding little uke. There is one construction issue - the neck is set slightly off-center on the body, if you can believe that - but it's hardly noticeable, and it has no impact at all on the tone or playability.

I can't recommend it enough and can't wait to play it when I get home. I can tell this will probably be the one I carry with me all over the place once the weather gets warmer.

marymac
01-19-2011, 06:55 AM
Sounds like a happy match - congrats John!

fitncrafty
01-19-2011, 07:03 AM
Well -

I got the Ohana last Sunday - Thanks, Dave!!

Everything you folks said is true. It's bright, has great volume range, it does sound old-timey and jazz guitar-like, and it's been a pleasure to play so far. My daughter pointed out it's lighter than her Lanikai soprano, and sure enough, its a very light ukulele.

Most important though - the tone is out of proportion to the price. For $150 list, this is a beautiful and rich sounding little uke. There is one construction issue - the neck is set slightly off-center on the body, if you can believe that - but it's hardly noticeable, and it has no impact at all on the tone or playability.

I can't recommend it enough and can't wait to play it when I get home. I can tell this will probably be the one I carry with me all over the place once the weather gets warmer.

We can't wait for the video!! Be careful of your daughter!!

Jnobianchi
01-19-2011, 09:14 AM
thanks, Mary!

Well, Carrie, I wouldn't mind if she 'appropriated' it, if it meant she played a little more! :)

GreatGazukes
01-19-2011, 09:57 AM
If you tune up to F, let us know how you like it then. :)

BTW I'd be tending to return it if the fretboard is off centre, it may be OK for you to play but should you wish to sell later, it's a defect that will affect price. Ohana should be very willing to accept it back if it was sold as an A1 instrument

Pippin
01-19-2011, 10:02 AM
The Ohana Vita copy is really a nice uke. It sounds great and it is loud.

pdxuke
01-19-2011, 02:31 PM
Hey, that's great, John. Which version of the Ohana did you get--mahogany or rosewood?

Jnobianchi
01-19-2011, 05:06 PM
I got the mahogany - Dave on these boards was selling, I was wanting one, and we live about 12 blocks from each other, so it was easy!

Thanks for the opinion, Pippin, and Gazzukes, I haven't tuned up a step yet, but I will have to~!

widespread
01-20-2011, 04:56 AM
I've got an Ohana Vita. My only other uke is a Hamano soprano, so please take this comparison for what it's worth.

As others have noted, the Ohana is bright and loud.
However, at least on mine (bought from MGM), the action is significantly harder than the Hamano's (also from MGM).
The strings are also closer together, which is good for strumming, but not so good for picking.
Its tone is more guitar-like, but also more muddled. The Hamano's tone rings clearer and purer.

Hope this helps,
David

Jazzyfemme
02-22-2011, 11:59 AM
Just in case anyone is looking at this thread, considering the Ohana Vita, i measured the dimensions in inches (not available on the Ohana website).
Ohana CPK 70 or 70R--- nut to saddle: 13 7/8; entire body length 21 3/4; number of frets 12

for comparison, from Kala's website:
Kala KA-S, Soprano--- nut to saddle: 13 11/16; entire body length 21; number of frets 12
Kala KA-C, Concert-- nut to saddle: 14 7/8; entire body length 24 3/8; number of frets 18

To re-iterate what others have mentioned above, this is really a soprano-sized instrument, with a beautiful sound.