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View Full Version : Got my Mainland Cedar Pineapple Today



Paul December
04-12-2012, 01:08 PM
...well, I actually got it yesterday, but didn't have a chance to play it until today. Since I'm a teacher, I'll make my observations in a grade format:

Sound = B
The brighter notes are quite nice, except for the open A string that is a bit "plunky". I'm hoping this will improve as the Aquila strings stretch. I do wish it had a bit deeper tone, possibly I'll just have to change the strings entirely. Suggestions?

Neck = B
Narrower than I expected, but not a problem for me. Fret ends do not stick out, but many feel sharp. Shouldn't be a big problem to fix up.

Fit & Finish = B-
The stain is uneven in some small spots, the rope binding is a bit messy in some parts, as is the glue where the fretboard meets the body. OTOH the the gloss finish is very even over the entire uke.

Overall Grade at this point = B , with the potential of moving up if I sort out the string issue.

mds725
04-12-2012, 01:17 PM
Congratulations on your new ukulele! I've heard that pineapples sound a little different than other ukuleles because of the body shape. I'm actually going to build a tenor scale pineapple ukulele from a kit in a class given by Rick Turner. I decided to take the class in part because I wanted a pineapple uke.

Gwynedd
04-12-2012, 01:18 PM
Get some advice on emery paper or whatever they use to smooth frets on the edges. Mine were a tad sharp but not bad on my Mahogany tenor.

The strings--try South Coast. Aquilas are ok, but I prefer South Coast.

I'm surprised the purfling is sloppy. Mine is practically perfect.

Paul December
04-12-2012, 01:23 PM
Get some advice on emery paper or whatever they use to smooth frets on the edges. Mine were a tad sharp but not bad on my Mahogany tenor.

The strings--try South Coast. Aquilas are ok, but I prefer South Coast.

I'm surprised the purfling is sloppy. Mine is practically perfect.

How is the tension on the SouthCoast strings? Do then have a bit more tone on the low end?
As for the rope, it isn't terrible, just could be neater especially where the ends meat around the sound hole. OTOH this only a $200 uke, so I may be expecting too much.

Paul December
04-12-2012, 01:27 PM
Congratulations on your new ukulele! I've heard that pineapples sound a little different than other ukuleles because of the body shape. I'm actually going to build a tenor scale pineapple ukulele from a kit in a class given by Rick Turner. I decided to take the class in part because I wanted a pineapple uke.

I wish Mainland would put out a Cedar Concert scale!
Odd that they came out with a concert body with a tenor neck first (mahogany).

Paul December
04-12-2012, 01:33 PM
Oops, I forgot to mention...
...I absolutely love the MOP friction tuners, they are beautiful! I am a hard core geared tuner fan, so this was a very pleasant surprise.
I have a Mainland mahogany concert that I now wish had the same tuners on it.

One final observation is this is a tiny uke, especially compared to my Kala novelty pineapple that has a wider neck and deeper body. I'm a bit disappointed that the cheap Kala sounds better on the low end, but hope a string change will fix that. BTW the Kala has Freemont blacks on it.

benjoeuke
04-12-2012, 01:40 PM
congrats, that's a beaut! Hang in there, my Mainland tenor began to open up after just a couple days of playing, sounds much better now.
Mine also has the sharp fret edges... razor sharp... not kidding, I cut my hand on one! When I get a chance I plan on smoothing them out a bit, just too busy lately.
Play the heck outta it, I bet you start noticing the difference in a few hours :)
Enjoy!

Paul December
04-12-2012, 01:43 PM
congrats, that's a beaut! Hang in there, my Mainland tenor began to open up after just a couple days of playing, sounds much better now.
Mine also has the sharp fret edges... razor sharp... not kidding, I cut my hand on one! When I get a chance I plan on smoothing them out a bit, just too busy lately.
Play the heck outta it, I bet you start noticing the difference in a few hours :)
Enjoy!

Same here...
...it is not that the frets stick-out (like on my FireFly), just that their edges are literally razor sharp.

Patrick Madsen
04-12-2012, 01:47 PM
It takes time for the wood to open up. For myself, It's all about the action and fretboard. The wood will sing the more it's played.

benjoeuke
04-12-2012, 01:48 PM
ya, literally razor sharp :(
How bout the corners of the bone nut on yours? That was a quick fix for me but each fret will require some valuable spare time...

Gwynedd
04-12-2012, 02:21 PM
Talk to Dirk of Southcoast, multiple tension and tone options available. Get the bridge bone beads --great for restringing. As to $200, my tenor is so beautiful I can't believe it. Really gorgeous work.

Paul December
04-12-2012, 02:32 PM
How bout the corners of the bone nut on yours?

Like broken glass :eek:

Paul December
04-12-2012, 02:33 PM
Talk to Dirk of Southcoast, multiple tension and tone options available. Get the bridge bone beads --great for restringing. As to $200, my tenor is so beautiful I can't believe it. Really gorgeous work.

Thanks, I really prefer the feel of high tension.

benjoeuke
04-12-2012, 02:40 PM
Like broken glass :eek:
Paul, my nut was not glued in so watch out when you loosen the strings, it falls right out but this also made it very easy to round the corners...
If the nut is glued in, then I have some pics you can look at showing the process on my KoAloha...
It was not sharp, just very high... stuck up about 5mm above the strings so I took it down with a file and cardboard shield

OldePhart
04-12-2012, 03:06 PM
I have or have had Mainlands in red cedar, mahogany, and mango. The mahogany tenor was the only one I liked Aquila strings on. The others were way to "bright" or "twangy" with the Aquilas. Try some Worth or Martin fluorocarbon strings (Martin would probably be the better choice if you're looking for a little more lows). You'll lose a bit of volume with the Worth strings, and maybe with the Martin, but it's worth it to get away from the Aquila twanginess.

Mainland doesn't glue the nuts in which I kind of like because it makes it easy to switch if you experiment with low-g and decide to go back and what have you. I think it does surprise a lot of people on their first string change, though! BTW, what I've done on my Mainlands is use just a dab of clear nail polish under the nut to secure it so it doesn't fall off when I change strings and whatnot. It holds the nut but is easy to tap free with no damage if I do need to change later.

I'm surprised about the issues with the bindings and sharp frets, though. The bindings are all but perfect on all three of my Mainlands (one of which was a second) as well as the one I let go and out of the four ukes I had just one fret that was sharp and/or overhanging (it was the g-side of the first fret though so it was pretty annoying until I took a bit of 400grit wet'n'dry sandpaper to it).

John

Paul December
04-12-2012, 03:15 PM
Paul, my nut was not glued in so watch out when you loosen the strings, it falls right out but this also made it very easy to round the corners...
If the nut is glued in, then I have some pics you can look at showing the process on my KoAloha...
It was not sharp, just very high... stuck up about 5mm above the strings so I took it down with a file and cardboard shield
Nut height is pretty good on this one.

benjoeuke
04-12-2012, 03:24 PM
Ya, I just mean when if you take all the strings off the nut will fall out so get ready to catch it :)
I took it out to file/sand the corners round.

Paul December
04-12-2012, 03:26 PM
Ya, I just mean when if you take all the strings off the nut will fall out so get ready to catch it :)
I took it out to file/sand the corners round.
Thanks! :)

Kayak Jim
04-12-2012, 03:51 PM
I have similar issues on my mahogany concert, sharp fret ends, sharp nut edges, action a bit high. I expected these would have been addressed in "set-up".

Paul December
04-12-2012, 04:05 PM
I have similar issues on my mahogany concert, sharp fret ends, sharp nut edges, action a bit high. I expected these would have been addressed in "set-up".
I got my mahogany concert a couple years ago and requested a low action and it too showed up quite high...
...I was happy that this one was on the low side :)

coolkayaker1
04-12-2012, 04:14 PM
Thanks, PDec, for posting about your new ukulele. It's helpful. It means a lot to hear your take on it.

I guess the bottom line--keep a box of Band-Aids next to you when you play it. lol

cheers!

mm stan
04-12-2012, 04:25 PM
Congrats Paul,
On your new mainland...it is east to file the frets...do it man...yes try some martins...oh yeah you like high tension...happy strummings..

Freeda
04-12-2012, 04:34 PM
Thank you for the detailed review! That uke is on my short list, but if I do buy from them I will probably go to Nashville to get it to be sure it is right. (We are down there a couple times a year anyway.)

Paul December
04-12-2012, 04:36 PM
Thanks, PDec, for posting about your new ukulele. It's helpful. It means a lot to hear your take on it.

I guess the bottom line--keep a box of Band-Aids next to you when you play it. lol

cheers!

I went back-n-forth before posting my QC observations because it is only a $200 uke...
...on the other-hand, I've had cheaper Kalas and Ohanas that were better finished and set-up. OTOH they all had satin finish, and that may be easier/cheaper to do.
It is still early, but I think this particular uke could benefit from 1/4" extra depth to the body and a slightly wider neck. Additionally this one (and others I've read about) need a bit more work on the frets and better attention to the finish staining. A few years ago much of this could be forgiven but the competition has gotten so much better. Very recently I got a Kala cedar tenor and it has an absolutely perfect finish, and the frets are smooth-as-butter...it came straight out of the box from a big reseller without any extra set-up.
Mainland gives back to the uke community and has a presence here so I do not mean any harm to them, so any criticism is strictly meant to be constructive.

Freeda
04-12-2012, 04:56 PM
I went back-n-forth before posting my QC observations because it is only a $200 uke...

$200 may not be much to many people but it is to a lot of people. I don't think a lower budget should mean that you have to sacrifice basics like non-sharp frets!

Paul December
04-12-2012, 05:10 PM
$200 may not be much to many people but it is to a lot of people. I don't think a lower budget should mean that you have to sacrifice basics like non-sharp frets!
I don't want to over-state that part, the fret ends are finished-off but simply an extra 5min on the edges would remove their sharpness. But you are correct, at this price-point IMO it should be taken care of.

coolkayaker1
04-13-2012, 03:01 AM
This, along with the video review of boozolele, and similar are important. Clearly they are well intentioned, and constructive. It is evident that there's a QC issue here, and as Freeda mentions, $200 or not, it shouldn't be.

I have a quilted maple Ibaneze--yep, an Ibanez, the one that gets routinely lambasted here on UU as a "guitar maker making a low end uke." Well, guess what---the $179 Musicians Friend Ibanez quilted maple concert is so freaking well made and not overbuilt enough to detract fro its tone that it's scary how good it is. Gorgeous (I should take photos sometime) maple fretboard binding, cutaway body, it's simply awesome. Mother of pearl body binding and rosette, Grover tuners, the works. Someone has a photo online, dark as the photo is...I will take my own sometime.

36281

If I took the head label off, one would think it was a custom. Sure, the sound is "quieter" than my KoAloha solid---the Ibanez is a laminate. But the sound is sweet and great intonation and I have nothing bad to say about it.

So, in the end, I know it can be accomplished, a sweet and sassy and pretty and well-made laminate uke for under $200.

guitarsnrotts
04-13-2012, 04:18 AM
Oops, I forgot to mention...
...I absolutely love the MOP friction tuners, they are beautiful! I am a hard core geared tuner fan, so this was a very pleasant surprise.
I have a Mainland mahogany concert that I now wish had the same tuners on it.

One final observation is this is a tiny uke, especially compared to my Kala novelty pineapple that has a wider neck and deeper body. I'm a bit disappointed that the cheap Kala sounds better on the low end, but hope a string change will fix that. BTW the Kala has Freemont blacks on it.

I currently have Fremont Blacklines on mine. I been trying different strings on different ukes and have decided I like the sound of Worth Medium Browns best on the pineapple. Best balance in tone.

hoosierhiver
04-13-2012, 04:57 AM
I'm surpised by your complaints, we spend alot of time setting up each uke. You are welcome to send it back.

Mandarb
04-13-2012, 05:32 AM
Sorry to hear that you are unhappy with your uke especially after posting how anxious you were to order one in these threads....

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?61657-I-Can-Never-Buy-a-Mainland!

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?62064-Mainland-Uke-Shipping-Yet

Nice to see Mike's great customer service of offering to take the uke back.

Paul December
04-13-2012, 03:01 PM
Sorry to hear that you are unhappy with your uke especially after posting how anxious you were to order one in these threads....

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?61657-I-Can-Never-Buy-a-Mainland!

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?62064-Mainland-Uke-Shipping-Yet

Nice to see Mike's great customer service of offering to take the uke back.

Please let me point out that I gave it an overall grade of "B"
I know grade inflation is a problem nowadays, but overall isn't that a decent grade?
That being said, if return shipping isn't overly expensive I may take Mike up on his offer to return it.

Bucky
04-13-2012, 04:31 PM
I absolutely love my Mainland Cedar Pineapple. I think the size, neck width, sound, etc... are ideal. I did recently change to Worth browns and that made it sound just the way I want it. Mine was a second with a crack in it yet it is my favorite and my "go to" everyday ukulele. Personal preferences have a lot to do with satisfaction and I guess mine is just what I had hoped it would be. Is it possible the frets are offensive because the wood is dry?

Mandarb
04-14-2012, 11:45 AM
Please let me point out that I gave it an overall grade of "B"
I know grade inflation is a problem nowadays, but overall isn't that a decent grade?
That being said, if return shipping isn't overly expensive I may take Mike up on his offer to return it.

All I said is that I am sorry to hear that your unhappy with your uke after posting how anxious you were to order one and I said something about Mike's great customer service.

Thanks pointing out that you gave it an overall grade of "B" - I had read that. It doesn't matter to me if I think it is a good grade or not - if you are thinking of returning it....it appears that you do not think it is a good grade.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

benjoeuke
04-14-2012, 03:02 PM
Hey Paul, I was just kickin' it on the front porch with my Mainland on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, pulled out my tiny Swiss army knife, you know the kind with the little scissors and nail file. Well after about a half hour I filed all the fret ends along the lower side of the neck, then hit them with some oooo steel wool. Nice and smooth now, I'm lovin' it. I do wish I had a fret dressing file, probably do a better job quicker, but hey, I did it and now this thing is playable! I don't even think I will bother with the top edge, that is until I cut my thumb on it someday ;)

coolkayaker1
04-14-2012, 05:15 PM
Somewhere on here it said that an emery fingernail board will work well. Is that true?

OldePhart
04-15-2012, 09:15 AM
Somewhere on here it said that an emery fingernail board will work well. Is that true?

It should but it might take two or three of the boards because they aren't designed for attacking metal. A better choice is 320 or 400 grit wet'or'dry sandpaper (the black stuff) wrapped around a hard narrow object like a metal or wooden ruler. You may also want to put some thin tape on the side of the neck between the frets to avoid sanding on the binding and or fretboard (though generally with the 400 grit paper even if you do scuff the wood it will shine up with some good paste wax).

I've had more problem with sharp fret edges on guitars than on ukes. I had one guitar that had a fretboard so dry when I bought it that it was like playing a package of single-edged razor blades. I sanded them down, then, later, after about six months of regular oil treatments restored the fretboard, there was actually a bit of space between the fret ends and the edge of the fretboard. It's amazing how much even hardwood shrinks when it is dry.

John


John

benjoeuke
04-15-2012, 09:42 AM
the thing that made it so tricky was that it wasn't exactly the ends of the frets, it was the sides of the ends of each fret... instead of tapering in and round at each end, they sort of splayed out to the sides like a butterfly wing and came to a right angle at the end making two sharp corners on each fret right on the top of the fingerboard flush with the edge... not really sticking out.
anyway, I played it all night after the kids went to bed and I've been playing it for the last hour today... it's just fine now, I love it :)
It's a great instrument and even if you're not a 'do-it-yourselfer' the price is so low that it's still probably worth spending a few more bucks to have a shop set it up.
a big thanks to Mike at Mainland!

ejnovinsky
04-15-2012, 12:52 PM
Please let me point out that I gave it an overall grade of "B"
I know grade inflation is a problem nowadays, but overall isn't that a decent grade?
That being said, if return shipping isn't overly expensive I may take Mike up on his offer to return it.


I just bought a Mainland cedar as well, and Im quite happy with mine. Is it flawless? Absolutely not, but its pretty close, totally worth the price. I didnt have any issues with sharp edges anywhere, and the neck dimensions were very close to the lanikai I was playing before which made it a very comfy transition. Im bummed to hear you didnt like yours, in fact I think yours is the first post Ive ever seen where someone didnt like their mainland when they got it. I saw as well you gave it a "B" but as was said before it cant even be that good to you if youre going to return it. Would a teacher send a B graded term paper back to be rewritten?

guitarsnrotts
04-16-2012, 04:05 AM
Somewhere on here it said that an emery fingernail board will work well. Is that true?

I used a fingernail shaping tool which is more or less a heavy duty emery board to smooth the rough fret ends on my Kamoa E3 pineapple. Took all of 15 minutes with great results.