View Full Version : Ohana SK-38 or Mainland mahogany soprano? (or something else entirely?)

11-06-2011, 08:23 PM
(oops, if a mod could move this post to the "Buying Tips" section that would be great. sorry)

Hi everyone,

I've been craving an all solid mahogany soprano for a long time, and these two ukes fit my price range perfectly (around $200).

I realize the Ohana is trying to be as vintage as possible while the Mainland is not, so there are some inherent differences there, but any opinions on the the two would be greatly appreciated.


11-06-2011, 09:45 PM
A fairer comparison for the Mainland would be the SK-35(G), which is an excellent instrument!

I would personally choose the Mainland, as I find friction tuners to be a PITA to tune with... especially on such a short scale. But since it's for you, and not me.. then I would say choose whichever instrument you prefer the looks of. Also, are you looking for a vintage sound? Bear in mind... the 38 uses an ebony nut/saddle and will have a bit more "bark", but less sustain than the bone nut/saddle used for the Mainland. These are generalizations of course, and I haven't personally tried one of the Mainlands.

One final thought: the Ohana is a 12-fret model and for me, that just wouldn't cut it. I only play sopranos and there are many tunes that extend beyond the 12th fret. The Mainland has 15 frets, so it scores another point. If you can live with the ugly rope binding, then I say go for the Mainland! If not, pick up an Ohana SK-35G. You really can't go wrong either way.

11-07-2011, 02:40 AM
Oh my, I must disagree. It all is opinions however. I prefer friction tuners, they are lighter weight, particularly on the soprano size. I have never heard a Ohana SK 38 so hopefully folks that have both will comment. Many of us do not find the Mainland rope binding to be ugly. It is quiet attractive actually. They are both good choices. I have played and loved the Mainland so that would be my personal choice, and the extra frets are good to have.

11-07-2011, 04:15 AM
I agree completely, it's all a matter of opinions. There's no right or wrong choice as they're both excellent options. It all comes down to what works best for you and what you prefer.

11-07-2011, 04:19 AM
I've had a Mainland mahogany soprano (is sold now), and with Aquila strings, I still prefer my Martin S-O (maybe mine is a good S-O) The sound is more resonant and the wood timbre seems more beautiful to strumming. For fingerpicking, perhaps the Ohana or Mainland is really better.

11-07-2011, 08:48 AM
Thanks for the input!

I personally don't mind the 12 fret limitation, I rarely play above it. And in my opinion the rope binding is very classy. Dang, this doesn't help me make a decision at all. LOL.

And as for the Martin S-O, I had really bad luck with one recently, due entirely to shipping though. I ordered one off ebay at it was severely damaged in transit. To the point I couldn't even try it out before shipping it back. I see them pop up on ebay every so often, so I'll keep an eye out for one.

Jason Paul
11-08-2011, 04:13 AM
I actually just started the same debate in my head a couple of days ago - Mainland mahogany soprano or SK-38. I would also consider the SK-35.

Personally I prefer friction tuners, and don't actually have a soprano with them. Both of my sopranos have geared tuners and their too head-heavy.

I have a Mainland mahogany concert which I really like. It's a little quiet, but not bad. I really like it in general though. I agree that the rope binding looks better in person than it does in the photos - on my concert at least.

Anyway, I did some searching through the forum here, and didn't find much on the SK-38. A few people posted that they got one and love it. However, it seems that I've seen more than I'd like to see being sold (telling me people don't love them that much). Another issue I've seen posted is that the action is high on the SK-38.

So, I'm beginning to think I'd personally prefer the Mainland or the SK-35 over the SK-38. I have seen a comparison or two on YouTube between the Mainland and the SK-35, and it seems the Mainland generally wins. One point I've seen more than once is that the tuners on the Mainland are better - again, the opinion of a few reviewers I've seen.

My only thought on the Mainland is that I already have a Mainland concert. So, do I really want two Mainlands? Then the other question is, would I get another Mahogany, or go with the cedar/rosewood? Seems I should get the SK-35, but am still checking reviews on it. If I end up getting one of these, it will probably be for Christmas anyway, so I have a little time.

Also, I know these are all just opinions, but guys, when we're trying to decide on a purchase, that's often all we have to go on. For most of us, we can't simply drive to a music store and compare them back-to-back. So please, put your opinions up here. If ten people have the same opinion, then it carries some weight.

Anyway, I actually started posting this because I'm in the same boat as the OP. So, I'm just looking for more thoughts and opinions on these sopranos. Or, what others are available in the $200 range? I don't think I want a Kala, especially if it doesn't have friction tuners. I also don't want to buy used right now.


11-08-2011, 04:23 AM
If you are vigilant, you may catch a Pono soprano for just a hair over $200

11-08-2011, 04:54 AM
I have had all the above. To me, the SK-38 has a very classic soprano Uke sound with a very cool vintage (ie: not perfect) finish. Has a ton of character and a great bark. I love my Mainlands as well but if you want the classic uke sound and the very cool vintage look, I think the SK38 is a winner.