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View Full Version : Best cedar uke under $350?



flutinggnee
08-21-2011, 07:54 AM
Hello! I'm a fairly newbie to ukulele. I have a flea soprano, and am interested in getting a cedar top soprano ukulele. I like low action. I've read very good things about the Mainland cedar tops. I'd like any opinions on Mainland cedars, Ohana, or Makai? Also, I just saw that Hawaii Music Supply has a Kala cedar top soprano that I might be interested in.....

I'd like to hear from anyone with any experience with these cedar-topped sopranos, or some other brand. I read that the Ohanas and BUshman have slightly higher action than Mainland and Makai?

So, any feedback will be greatly appreciated! Thanks much, Jeanie

Gmoney
08-21-2011, 08:24 AM
So... Mainland, Ohana, & Makai are all made in the same factory in China. What distinquishes similar models is then the appointments & the care w/which each is setup before delivery. Mainland's owner, Mike Hater (Hoosierhiver on UU) sets up each instrument - he even puts the final finishing touches including geared or friction tuners. Mainland resellers like Mike McQueen of Uke Republic does setup as well & his Ohana's & Makai's get that setup; There's also dear Mim of "Mim's Ukes" who does setups too. Other vendors may also setup the instruments, but some just have them drop-shipped straight from larger distributers w/only factory setup. HMS setps up the ukes they sell as well from what I've heard. Ken Middleton is Ohana's rep & it is probably as much his personal integrity & respect from the UU community that gives Ohana an edge up over the Makai or maybe even Kala.

My first uke was a cedar top Kala concert & it was GREAT. Only sold it as I moved on to other ukes. I also owned a Mainland Red Cedar Tenor at the same time I had a Mahogany to compare it with... Cedar is a wonderful tonewood - great reasonance. I've played several other cedar top ukes including Haolejohn's cedar top Mele - all have a great ringing tone.

Mahalo & good luck on your quest

bornagainjeeper
08-21-2011, 01:15 PM
once you've moved into the quality of the +200 dollar range, i find most are fairy adequate and similar...Cedar is a wonderful choice for a uke, and i'd put my recommendation with mainland. Mike, as mentioned in previous posts, is amazing to deal with, very welcoming and proud of his line. They look AMAZING as well, especially his gloss cedars, the contrast in the back and sides doesn't show well in photos, but know they are remarkabe. The back is a deeeeep shade of blackish plurplish brown rosewood that highlights his rope accents...and the sound is really remarkable. at 219.00 you're WAY below your budget, and i don't think for less than about 500 dollars you could find a better uke. The action on mainlands in my experience is slightly higher than my preference, but i'm sure he would be eager to lower it a little to fit your preference. The number for mainland is the first thing on the webpage, clear evidence of his customer care. So give him a ring and see if he can meet your needs, and tell him the jeeper sent you...and No he doesn't pay me to say that! infact i payed him, i have 2 of his ukes and coudn't be happier, they are my workhorses, performed with live many times...I own all the other brands you've mentioned and mainland is my pick! good luck and enjoy whatever you choose!

flutinggnee
08-21-2011, 02:38 PM
Thank you both for your replies. Yes, I think I'm going to call Mike tomorrow at Mainland. I love the look of the gloss cedar with the rosewood. I can't wait to see it in person. I will definitely talk with him about lowering the saddle to lower the action. I'm leaning toward the amber tuners, though I saw a picture of one with the ebony and gold that looked fantastic, too. I've wanted a cedar topped instrument for some time. Had to stop playing guitar so much due to some carpal tunnel issues--too much pressure. But ukulele seems to be fine, as long as my action is low. I was on the verge of ordering a cedar topped Taylor guitar when I had to admit that I couldn't play as much. But now, I REALLY want a cedar-topped uke. Just love the sound quality of cedar. So, thanks again for your help, guys!

Skitzic
08-22-2011, 02:52 AM
Thank you both for your replies. Yes, I think I'm going to call Mike tomorrow at Mainland. I love the look of the gloss cedar with the rosewood. I can't wait to see it in person. I will definitely talk with him about lowering the saddle to lower the action. I'm leaning toward the amber tuners, though I saw a picture of one with the ebony and gold that looked fantastic, too. I've wanted a cedar topped instrument for some time. Had to stop playing guitar so much due to some carpal tunnel issues--too much pressure. But ukulele seems to be fine, as long as my action is low. I was on the verge of ordering a cedar topped Taylor guitar when I had to admit that I couldn't play as much. But now, I REALLY want a cedar-topped uke. Just love the sound quality of cedar. So, thanks again for your help, guys!

I have a cedar Mainland, and the amber tuners look really sharp next to the red cedar. I'm not a huge fan of gold, but I think the gold tuners really rounds out the whole look of the uke.

JM2C

RichM
08-22-2011, 07:03 AM
I have a Cedar-topped Pono on the way-- I'll let you know how I like it. However, I'm a big fan of cedar as a top wood for ukes. Cedar is a soft, very resonant wood which really seems to suit the smaller top of a uke. My cedar-topped Kala wasn't terribly expensive (and has laminated back & sides-- horrors!), but it's a consistently great-sounding uke, due in no small part to that cedar top.

olgoat52
08-22-2011, 12:02 PM
Go amber. Little hard to see them here but they look really great with this uke. I'm not a big fan of gold any more on instruments but it works pretty good with this guy. http://s813.photobucket.com/albums/zz51/olgoat52/ukuleles/?action=view&current=mainland-cedar-sop-1.jpg

flutinggnee
08-22-2011, 03:04 PM
That's a lovely uke (above). I ordered the cedar soprano today, with the amber tuners. I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for the advice, folks! Can't wait to play it!

chindog
08-22-2011, 03:14 PM
I've played a cedar Mainland. It was a nice little uke. That's the only cedar I've actually had my hands on, though. I think you'll like it.

bynapkinart
08-22-2011, 03:20 PM
...now I want a cedar uke...

olgoat52
08-22-2011, 04:13 PM
Honestly the sound is not very everyone. If you like a barky (dark with a bite) uke like a mahogany, the cedar will probably fill the bill. If you live the even tone of a koa, no way. Mango would be closer. I have never owned a Spruce top.


...now I want a cedar uke...

cletus
08-23-2011, 05:34 PM
So... Mainland, Ohana, & Makai are all made in the same factory in China.

I was unaware:wtf:, although if indeed that is true, it's not surprising to me. I worked in a factory that made three different brands of snowshoes in the USA.

Tantal
08-24-2011, 12:30 AM
...now I want a cedar uke...

Yeah, was gonna say...

MisterRios
08-24-2011, 01:48 AM
So... Mainland, Ohana, & Makai are all made in the same factory in China.

It's funny, yesterday I played a cedar-top Ohana at Leleland- the uke store here in Berlin- and noted that rope design all along the body. My first thought was that it suspiciously looked like a mainland uke with a different neck and head.

Had it not been for the design as well as my girlfriend standing right behind me, I totally would have bought it. I've been thinking about that little uke ever since. I've been looking at Ohanas in general, and all the ones I tried at the store were fantastic (even the SK-10).

zac987
08-24-2011, 02:13 AM
You couldn't go wrong with an Ohana or a Mainland.

ichadwick
08-29-2011, 01:31 AM
I've read very good things about the Mainland cedar tops.
A happy coincidence! I've written very good things about the Mainland cedar-top ukes!

flutinggnee
09-02-2011, 10:18 AM
Congratulations, JT, on your new Mainland cedar tenor! Sounds like a lovely instrument. I, too, have now received my new Cedar-topped Mainland soprano uke! I love it! The sound has such a resonance and ring. I also really like the low action. Thanks to all here who gave advice and references. That information helped me make up my mind. Now, I just have to get to know it thoroughly.

Happy camper, me! Jeanie