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Hawkshaw
10-17-2012, 11:29 AM
I have a friend with a new Mainland cedar top soprano and I like it very much. Can someone please give me the background on Mainland ukuleles - where they're made, something about the company, etc? Thanks to all.

RichM
10-17-2012, 11:36 AM
Lots of info here:

http://www.mainlandukuleles.com/

Mainland ukes are produced primarily overseas. They are imported by Mike Hater in Indiana, on UU as HoosierHiver. He performs setups and offers options such as choosing which tuners you want. I have found in general that the extra level of QC and TLC that Mike provides really makes a difference. I have two Mainlands and I am very pleased with them, and find them to be at least as good in many cases superior to comparably priced ukes. My red cedar soprano is one of my favorite ukes, regardless of cost (although the cost was quite reasonable!).

OldePhart
10-17-2012, 01:11 PM
What Rich said.

I've found that the Mainland ukes are a good value, largely because every one I've purchased, whether used or from Mike himself, hasn't needed any set up work to play well and intonate properly.

I own six of them right now. Both of my sopranos are outstanding and the mahogany one doesn't give up anything to my KoAloha longneck soprano, it's really that good since it has opened up. The mango soprano started out way better than did the mahogany, but didn't "play in" as much as the mahogany so it gives up just a little in volume and tone to the KoAloha. Curiously, both of the Mainland sopranos have nicer tone high up the neck than does the KoAloha. The KoAloha gets a fair amount of "thud" with picked notes high up the neck and not a lot of sustain where the two Mainlands have less thud and nicer sustain and more "bell like" tones up the neck.

The Mainland tenors and baritone that I own/have owned are more in the "really good value" than the "stunning at any price" category - but both of the sopranos are in the "you'll get them over my dead body" category. :)

BTW, re: the great debate around "playing in" - the Mainland mahogany soprano is only the second instrument I've owned (out of dozens) that very clearly improved over the first few weeks of play (the other was a Seagul S6 guitar several years ago). When I picked the mahogany soprano up in Mike's shop during UWC it was just a decent uke (though better than a new Martin I tried in a music shop on the way home) and didn't hold a candle to the Mainland mango soprano I'd received from him a few weeks before. I didn't use it much at UWC because I didn't get around to waxing it and changing the strings (I'm still not a fan of Aquila strings on the Mainlands, or any other really nice uke). Anyway, a few weeks after I got home I realized that the mahogany had far surpassed the mango in volume and tone and was every bit as loud as my KoAloha longneck soprano! It's an amazingly loud and "toneful" little package and even more so when I realize that it was a blem (for a tiny dark spot in the wood on the top that I wouldn't have noticed if Tookta hadn't pointed out to me) that cost me well under two bills!

John

Paul December
10-17-2012, 03:09 PM
They're basically the same as Ohana.
If you like the checkered boarder, buy Mainland...
...if not, get an Ohana.

cb56
10-19-2012, 12:28 PM
Sure they may be made in the same factory but I doubt that the owners of Ohana would do a personal set up for you like Mike and Tootka do.

Paul December
10-19-2012, 12:35 PM
Sure they may be made in the same factory but I doubt that the owners of Ohana would do a personal set up for you like Mike and Tootka do.

Got to compare apples-to-apples...
...buy the Ohana from a seller like Mim who sets-up all her ukes.
As for Mainland, my last uke from there wasn't set-up all that well.

ukemunga
10-19-2012, 12:50 PM
Hi Paul,

I understand you had a less than pleasant experience with your red cedar soprano and I can see how that would make you feel, especially after reading all the positive comments regarding Mainland in general here.

I'd just like to give an account of my recent experience with Mainland. I emailed Mike to let him know I wanted one of his new long neck red cedar sopranos. He responded same day saying he'd pick one out and hold it for me. He asked my preference in tuners and buttons and i replied. Next day I let him know I was ready to make the purchase and he sent back the amount including shipping. I paid, he shipped it the next day.

I received the uke 2 days later and it is gorgeous and plays and sounds like it cost 2 or 3 times as much. Setup is spot on and the fret ends are absolutely smooth. Everything I expected and more.

But that's MY experience. It wasn't yours and it may not be everyone's. Just sayin'.

Pippin
10-19-2012, 09:57 PM
Most factory-made imports are setup a little higher at the plant to enable the shops to lower the action, if need be, to the taste of the purchaser. That is planned by Ohana. I have discussed this with both Louis Wu and (via e-mail) and Ken Middleton (via telephone). With shopkeepers like Mim, you do get personalized attention and if you state your preference for high action or low, you get what you want. Mike at Mainland will do the same. The key to satisfaction is communication. Like the old saying, "Ask and you shall receive."

OldePhart
10-20-2012, 11:14 AM
Most factory-made imports are setup a little higher at the plant to enable the shops to lower the action, if need be, to the taste of the purchaser. That is planned by Ohana. I have discussed this with both Louis Wu and (via e-mail) and Ken Middleton (via telephone). With shopkeepers like Mim, you do get personalized attention and if you state your preference for high action or low, you get what you want. Mike at Mainland will do the same. The key to satisfaction is communication. Like the old saying, "Ask and you shall receive."

Even KoAloha ships them pretty high at the bridge end - I don't have any problem with that and it does accomodate both pickers and strummers. I have a big beef with manufacturers that ship $300 ukuleles with actions so high at the nut that it adversely affects intonation at the first few frets - and I think we know who they are. ;) (Edit to add - just realized this is in a Mainland thread and folks who haven't read the whole thread might think I'm talking about Mainland with that jab - I'm not!)

It's no different in the guitar world, though. You've got to pay about a grand before you can be reasonably sure that a guitar you order or buy from a big retailer will be set up right at the nut. That's not to say you'll never find a cheaper one that is set up right, it's just that when you break over that price point you can be pretty sure of not needing to adjust the nut, while very much under it you're playing the luck card.

John

salukulady
10-20-2012, 11:34 AM
I own a slotted headstock mahogany (non checkerboarded) Tenor. I received it from Mike and Tootka. I have visited their shop on 3 different visits to Indiana and played many different ukes there. I also own several Ohanas and have played many more at NAMM. I am also a personal friend of Mims.

I would never hesitate buying from Mim or Mike or MGM (when he had his own business) for that matter. I have also heard stellar stuff about uke republic. They all stand behind their sales.

But to me, Mike and Tootka are very special people. They had a dream and made it happen, (as did Mim). They are very good honorable people that are truly genuine. Perfect example, UWC. They put it on every year, not to sell anything, but to promote the good stuff ukuleles, music and people bring together. And they produce a wonderful product.