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View Full Version : Best mahogany soprano for that "vintage" sound?



NatalieS
09-18-2008, 02:46 AM
Hi everyone!

With Christmas just a few months away now, I've been thinking of getting a solid mahogany soprano but I'm not sure which brand (Pono, Ohana, Bushman, etc.) to go with. I'd prefer to keep my budget under $300, and I already have a koa so I'd like to go for that classic vintage sound with the solid mahog. Does anyone have any favorite brands to recommend? Also, I'd prefer something with a satin or matte finish. Thanks in advance for all the help!

deach
09-18-2008, 03:34 AM
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showpost.php?p=37832&postcount=1

SaxManiac100
09-18-2008, 04:19 AM
A true vintage sound comes from a vintage instrument be it guitar, uke, banjo, violin, or whatever. I spend lots of time researching this very thing. The Jenny, Hamano and Pono have been recommended for their sound, but as good as they might sound they may not have the same quality of sound as a 70-80 year old Martin that has been played a lot. Anyway, when we recoup some of the expenses we had helping folks relocate away from the Texas Gulf Coast before the arrival of Ike I may try to get a Pono or Hamano.

RON<>VA
09-18-2008, 09:32 AM
I have a tenor mahogany Hamano with matt finish. I put worth clear strings on it. Sounds really nice!

uke142464
09-18-2008, 09:47 AM
probably the martin SO, would be the best, they sound really good:D

Pete Howlett
09-18-2008, 10:21 AM
Chap in the UK called Ken Timms has just finished 10 - snap 'em up on eBay!

NatalieS
09-18-2008, 12:44 PM
Thanks for the replies! And deach, thanks for the link to the Martin S-O but I am flat broke myself. This would have to be something I ask for down the line from my family, and they can't get anything either right now. Such is the life of a student! :)

Are there any links to sound clips of the Hamano and other brands? Thanks...

seeso
09-18-2008, 01:01 PM
Thanks for the replies! And deach, thanks for the link to the Martin S-O but I am flat broke myself. This would have to be something I ask for down the line from my family, and they can't get anything either right now. Such is the life of a student! :)

Are there any links to sound clips of the Hamano and other brands? Thanks...

Try searching YouTube for those brands, there's bound to be a video or two that use those ukes.

deach
09-18-2008, 01:17 PM
... I'd prefer to keep my budget under $300,...


.... And deach, thanks for the link to the Martin S-O but I am flat broke myself. ...

He wants $300 + $20 for shipping. Pretty good deal if you ask me. I know it's over the original $300 you stated, but not much more.

NatalieS
09-18-2008, 03:51 PM
He wants $300 + $20 for shipping. Pretty good deal if you ask me. I know it's over the original $300 you stated, but not much more.


Yep, you're absolutely right it sounds like a fantastic deal. I just don't have any money myself and if this is for Christmas it'll be coming from my family and they're tight on $$ right now too, so it's just not the right time. Thanks for sending the link anyways...

deach
09-18-2008, 03:58 PM
Will it be for you?

NatalieS
09-18-2008, 04:31 PM
Yep it'll be mine-- I'd love it if other people in my family played uke too but alas it's just me!

raindog
09-19-2008, 05:06 AM
Kiwaya KTS-4. It's more than you want to spend ($419 on MGM, who says "this is the closest thing I have found in the Martin type sound soprano with lots of volume bright and clear yet with full richness."), but if you scrounge up some more dough it might be worth it. It sounds 1000 times better than a Martin SO.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGmJtqknxRk --clip of KTS-4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K7xj12Cy_Y --comparison of Martin Vintage style 0, Martin SO, Kiwaya KTS-4, and a Martin 5-K
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BN1DgGqgA_A --Ken Middleton's review

LoMa
09-19-2008, 08:15 AM
I own and have played lots of vintage Martin's, and I've also played all of the different Kiwaya soprano models (several ukes of each model), and none of them sound anything like a Martin - they're nice, but not at all like a Martin. If you're looking for a vintage Martin type sound, then I would NOT consider a Kiwaya. They don't have that brash, barking, LOUD sound full of overtones that my Martin's all seem to have. The Kiwaya's just do not have the richness that is at the same time very very punchy, that my Martin's have (though the Kiwaya's can be punchy - but they have a dry sound without those Martin overtones!!!). Mind you, I have 2 Kiwaya's that are keepers, as well as one that I'm letting go of. But they are not Martin's or even Martin-ish.

I have also played one new Martin S-0 and it also had a completely different kind of tone than a vintage Martin. It was also on the quiet side. It also felt heavier than my vintage ones.

To tell you the truth, the nearest new uke I've tried that had a Martinish tone was a cheapo Ohana mahogany soprano made in China... Nope it wasn't a Martin, but it was kinda Martin-ish. I almost bought it because of that, but then I thought, that's dumb... I already have the real thing... But that little Ohana was real punchy, had a lot of volume, and sounded rich too. Might have been that particular one, but I thought it was a real deal and a steal!

There are also other kinds of "vintage" tone besides the Martin sound. Martin's aren't the only ukes that have been around the block. Hawaiian made ukes from the teens and 20's do not sound like Martin's, in my experience!!!! They are also very very loud, but a real different kind of tone. Thes old Hawaiian ones don't have a raised fretboard and that limits the tonal palette, and control over the tone and volume (at least with my mediocre playing skills!!).

Honestly, I prefer more modern sounds, so now I have one mahogany 1920's Martin, one soild koa Kumalae from the 1910's, one solid mahogany unlabelled soprano from the 1960's (because it was my first ukulele), and all the rest in my uke herd are modern ukes that are not at all vintage sounding! And to be truthful, I don't play my vintage ones except the Martin at xmas time - I like to play Christmas carols on it because you can hear it so extrememly well over everyone's singing! And because it's my tradition and everyone expects it...

One of my best buddies, on the other hand, only plays his old Martin - because that's what a ukulele is supposed to sound like... well duh, he says!

And you know, everyone's ears are different. We hear and like the same things differently!

raindog
09-19-2008, 02:36 PM
And to be truthful, I don't play my vintage ones except the Martin at xmas time

Then can I borrow the Martin the rest of the year? :D

Howlin Hobbit
09-19-2008, 02:42 PM
And to be truthful, I don't play my vintage ones except the Martin at xmas time

Then can I borrow the Martin the rest of the year? :D

Ladies and gentlemen, raindog ftw!

NatalieS
09-20-2008, 05:30 PM
Thank you all for such useful information! I'm trying to find vids of each of these on youtube. I still realize there is a ton of variation in the tone of Martin S-O ukes, especially depending on when they were produced. I wish there were some local uke dealers but no luck there, so I have to rely on you all for advice. Thanks again so much. :)

SnakeOiler
09-20-2008, 06:40 PM
I love the old Harmony Mahogany Ukes from the 50s and 60s. They're usually a very good deal on eBay, I just got a Baritone from the 50s for $73 with shipping! They were also sold under other names back then like Regal and Silvertone.