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View Full Version : Ohana SK 38: First Impressions



pdxuke
02-23-2011, 12:46 PM
It's here!

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20926

Me like, mostly!

A couple of haggles:

The "rosette" decal(?) is uneven, slightly. It bothers me,(see photo at about 11 o'clock) but what the heck.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20927

The snow white pegs seem out of place with the yellowed binding. I have half a mind to soak some pings I have in tea and see if I can ivory them up!

But these are little things.

They come with Aquila strings, which are going through the normal, horrible break in period. (Is it my imagination or do Martin fluro strings hold their tuning sooner?)

Much has been discussed about the tone of the SK35 and this 38. People seem to think it's about the same. I hear a difference, and here's my logic:

I have Martins on the SK35. It is supposed to make the sound more mellow over the bright Aquilas. I like the Martins very much, especially the feel of them.

But the 38, with Aquilas, is not brighter; it sounds warmer, which I would not expect. It will be very interesting to see if Martins on both instruments make it sound as different as it does now.

I think Ohana did a very nice job on these, at a great price. The tone is very rich--vintage sounding! As a self proclaimed Museum of Mahogany, I really am happy this is in my permanent collection!

As soon as strings settle, I'll record a song. Working on BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE.

WestPhillyUke
02-23-2011, 12:57 PM
You can try rubbing some brown shoe polish on the buttons to "age" them a bit. Just be aware that the seams, being more porous, may pick up more of the color. If that happens, you can work off the edges with some 600 grit sandpaper...

SweetWaterBlue
02-23-2011, 01:17 PM
Glad you like the tone so far Thom. I went back and forth on my review about how different or similar it sounded to the 35. I think it sounded very similar when finger picked, but different when strummed.

I had some of the same minor concern about the rosette, where it looked like they intentionally did not fill all the holes around the inlay - presumably to make it look old. You can see it in this still shot from my review

http://www.box.net/shared/5lob140fp4

The thought occurred to me that I would probably fill those with something (Briwax?) if it were mine. I would probably do the same just under the scallop of the fretboard. None of it was enough to make me not want one, and to me it is a beautiful instrument, but people should not buy one expecting a flawless finish like my 38G has - it would not look old then.

I think for the price and considering what Ohana's goal was, it is as you say a bargain.

I really look forward to some of the new owners' sound samples.

pdxuke
02-23-2011, 02:57 PM
Glad you like the tone so far Thom. I went back and forth on my review about how different or similar it sounded to the 35. I think it sounded very similar when finger picked, but different when strummed.

I had some of the same minor concern about the rosette, where it looked like they intentionally did not fill all the holes around the inlay - presumably to make it look old. You can see it in this still shot from my review

http://www.box.net/shared/5lob140fp4

The thought occurred to me that I would probably fill those with something (Briwax?) if it were mine. I would probably do the same just under the scallop of the fretboard. None of it was enough to make me not want one, and to me it is a beautiful instrument, but people should not buy one expecting a flawless finish like my 38G has - it would not look old then.

I think for the price and considering what Ohana's goal was, it is as you say a bargain.

I really look forward to some of the new owners' sound samples.


It's really not the fill in that bothers me, but on mine, the circle isn't a circle. It's off. Just a bit, but enough to notice.

SweetWaterBlue
02-24-2011, 09:59 AM
I finally broke out of the Aquila box today and put some Martin Flouros on my SK-35. So far, I am loving them. It seems more balanced with them.

joeybug
02-24-2011, 10:04 AM
Yay! Congrats on your new Uke!!! My UAS is :drool: at that! I need to get saving for my next Uke investment, or the Uke Festival...ah, either way, it looks beautiful, looking forward to the sound sample!

Derg
03-01-2011, 01:20 PM
Thought I would jump on this thread rather then starting a new one. I just got my SK38 and so far I'm feeling good and bad about it.

The Bad:
It came with a freakishly high action which I have gone some way to fixing by sanding down the little bit of ebony that is the saddle. This is now way more playable, but I will need to get some files out and cut the groves lower in the nut.
Whilst I get the whole "old age finish" thing (and like it in some places), the neck feels kinda messy. The fact that it is satin makes it feel very fast, but it is a long way from smooth and it feels pretty lumpy when you run your hand up and down.
Two of the tuners were not set properly in the headstock when it arrived. So I had to take them apart and take a hammer to the uke on day one, which was slightly unnerving. Still, now they feel solid and are working well.

The Good:
It's very, very loud. In fact it is louder then my other soprano by a long way and is getting very close to my KoAloha. It doesn't have as complex a tone as the KoAloha, but for the money it sounds amazing. I have some Worth BM strings on it now (as I had to take the aquillas off when repairing it) and I love the sound of them as well as the fact that the colour of the strings suits the dark brown look of the Ohana.

All in all I think I'm pretty happy with it. It feels like the attention to detail on leaving the factory was pretty poor, but once I have filed down the nut a bit I think I will have a very playable little ukulele on my hands. One thing is for sure and that is the materials are top notch even if the craftsmanship was not.

Mouthy1
03-01-2011, 07:22 PM
Love the reviews on these. You don't know what a service you guys are doing by giving us all a glimpse before we buy. Quality issues are a wee bit concerning but everyone is on board with the sound. Thank you everyone so far and the hoards that will jump on soon hopefully with their new uke reviews.

superfaron
03-14-2011, 06:42 AM
I absolutely love mine. I play every week at an open mic night and up until now I have always plugged in either my Ohana CK-20CE or my boulder creek riptide UT-5NS tenor, both with active pickup systems. This past week I really wanted to use my "martin" so I played the SK-38 into a house mic, and I loved it. It is gonna be my main player now for sure, at least when I'm solo and don't need the extra volume control to compete with other instruments.

Ken Middleton
03-14-2011, 08:59 PM
Love the reviews on these. You don't know what a service you guys are doing by giving us all a glimpse before we buy. Quality issues are a wee bit concerning but everyone is on board with the sound. Thank you everyone so far and the hoards that will jump on soon hopefully with their new uke reviews.

I am going to be a bit defensive here. I really don't believe that there are any major quality issues. I think the previous comment by Derg was unfair. The feel of the instrument was important. It is designed not to feel new. The nut was an exact copy of the 30's Martin style 2 that we used as a template. The action is not ultra low and that is a good thing because we wanted it to get close to the volume and tone of a real Martin.

Don't be concerned about it. If you want a uke that looks, feels and sound old, this is a good choice.

pondweed
03-14-2011, 10:49 PM
so are these comparative to the Hamano...but a lot cheaper?

Ken Middleton
03-14-2011, 10:57 PM
so are these comparative to the Hamano...but a lot cheaper?

Not really. Hamano ukes are also made in China though. The SK-38 is designed to look feel and sound like a 1930's Style 2 mahogany Martin.

pondweed
03-14-2011, 11:21 PM
I only made the point as that they are both mahogany and both attempting to produce 1930 Martin-ish-ness (styling aside), from what I'd heard about both.

Ken Middleton
03-14-2011, 11:30 PM
I only made the point as that they are both mahogany and both attempting to produce 1930 Martin-ish-ness (styling aside), from what I'd heard about both.

Yes, you are right, Hamano are good ukes. And as you say, both are solid mahogany. Didn't mean to contadict you. The point I was making though, is that Hamano make a new-looking instrument that is a generic Martin in styling. Ours (the Ohana) is an old-looking instrument that is an interpretation a specific Martin (style 2). That's what makes it different.

Derg
03-14-2011, 11:31 PM
I am going to be a bit defensive here. I really don't believe that there are any major quality issues. I think the previous comment by Derg was unfair. The feel of the instrument was important. It is designed not to feel new. The nut was an exact copy of the 30's Martin style 2 that we used as a template. The action is not ultra low and that is a good thing because we wanted it to get close to the volume and tone of a real Martin.

Don't be concerned about it. If you want a uke that looks, feels and sound old, this is a good choice.

Look, I don't think you need to be defensive. I have said how great I think the ukulele sounds. In fact as I have used it more I am slowly falling in love with this little guy. The high action is mostly subjective and I get that, but to be honest it made the inotation pretty weird on the first two frets.

Like I said my initial thoughts we both good and bad. I wouldn't question the value of these as for the money they are great, but Ken it did seem a little strange that I had to take apart and straighten out two of the tuners. Or were they like that on the Martin?

Ken Middleton
03-14-2011, 11:41 PM
Look, I don't think you need to be defensive. I have said how great I think the ukulele sounds. In fact as I have used it more I am slowly falling in love with this little guy. The high action is mostly subjective and I get that, but to be honest it made the inotation pretty weird on the first two frets.

Like I said my initial thoughts we both good and bad. I wouldn't question the value of these as for the money they are great, but Ken it did seem a little strange that I had to take apart and straighten out two of the tuners. Or were they like that on the Martin?

Sorry. Fair point.

pondweed
03-15-2011, 01:23 AM
Hamano make a new-looking instrument that is a generic Martin in styling. Ours (the Ohana) is an old-looking instrument that is an interpretation a specific Martin (style 2). That's what makes it different.
All important points visually and for the marketing team, but I must admit I'm just interested in what they sound like! If it is as rich as some Martin aficionados say of the Hamano, then that's something that will influence me into buying the SK38!

Huna
03-15-2011, 02:59 AM
My hamano is sorta clanky sounding and it looked old when I bought it so idk lol.

Uke Republic
03-15-2011, 04:20 AM
I really like the sound, the wooden nut and saddle give a classic tone. Ohana made an instant classic with this model. Bravo!
You can hear it here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5RfUuj3Xmc
All important points visually and for the marketing team, but I must admit I'm just interested in what they sound like! If it is as rich as some Martin aficionados say of the Hamano, then that's something that will influence me into buying the SK38!

pdxuke
03-15-2011, 05:10 PM
I really like the sound, the wooden nut and saddle give a classic tone. Ohana made an instant classic with this model. Bravo!
You can hear it here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5RfUuj3Xmc

Ohana seems to be in the classics business, IMHO:

SK-35: A modern classic
SK-38. Ditto.
Sopranino: The same
Vita: A modern take on a classic, itself a classic.

If I could set up a street table on the upper West Side on the city on a sunny weekend with a table of Ohanas, I'd sell them in two days. That's how much I believe in this product.

DidI mention I like them?

This company is in and of itself enough to keep my UAS alive. Even after two Kamakas.

SweetWaterBlue
03-15-2011, 05:27 PM
Not to get too OT, but my you've been busy on SoundCloud since I was there last, Thom. What a wonderful voice and talent playing the piano you have been hiding from us.

pdxuke
03-15-2011, 05:37 PM
Not to get too OT, but my you've been busy on SoundCloud since I was there last, Thom. What a wonderful voice and talent playing the piano you have been hiding from us.

That voice is 35 years ago! Haha. That was a senior recital, the piano was my accompanist. I found the recording last week, thought it was lost. I posted for my children--my son is a German speaker who works in the German division of Amazon, my daughters sing, so I wanted to show them what the old man could once do :-)

SweetWaterBlue
03-15-2011, 05:39 PM
Aha - very impressive nonetheless. I enjoyed them all.

pdxuke
03-20-2011, 01:02 PM
I have to update this thread for two reasons:

1: Changed strings out to Martin 600s. These strings are a huge improvement. The instrument just mellows out with these strings. Lovely. I would suggest that Ohana consider shipping both the SK 35 and 38 with Martin strings, and doing the factory set up with these strings.

2: I had a close up look at a real live, Martin 2 yesterday, c. 1930s. It made me appreciate even more how well Ohana has reproduced this instrument. Well done, Ohana!

SweetWaterBlue
03-20-2011, 01:18 PM
I'm thinking that calls for a quick sound sample on Sound Cloud.

Eric Blooduke
03-21-2011, 02:12 AM
I'm thinking that calls for a quick sound sample on Sound Cloud.

seconded :D

pdxuke
03-21-2011, 04:54 AM
I'm thinking that calls for a quick sound sample on Sound Cloud.


seconded :D

Haha. Later today.

SweetWaterBlue
03-21-2011, 05:59 AM
I look forward to hearing it. I was about to put M600s on my SK-70, but decided to try the old Low_G of my SK-35 on it first. The SK-70 spruce top with a low G makes a nice contrast to the SK-35's bell-like tones with the M600s, and the I am working on some soprano self-duets where its nice to have the low G for finger picking those melodies.

Uke Whisperer
03-21-2011, 06:26 AM
I am more in love with mine everyday! It's very playable on "both ends". Martin M660s strings are much better to my liking than the originals.