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View Full Version : Mango vs Cedar



Captain Simian
06-19-2013, 06:48 AM
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OldePhart
06-19-2013, 07:39 AM
Mango is quite bright. Both of my mango ukes (tenor and soprano) are strung with Ko'Olau Gold strings to mellow out the brightness a little. The tenor was usable with clear fluorocarbon strings but the soprano was really too bright, almost brittle, with them.

I've never been able to warm up to cedar-topped ukes although I've never tried a soprano. I know that the cedar ukes are quite popular and many people love them but every time I hear one it just shouts guitar to me - but that may be because I played a cedar-topped dreadnaught guitar for years.

One thing to keep in mind, though - you are comparing two different ukes from two different makers so differences in construction could make as much or more difference in the end result than does the difference in wood.

John

ichadwick
06-19-2013, 08:04 AM
I happen to like both cedar and Mainland. Aside from Mike being a great guy to deal with, Mainland makes some fine instruments for a great price.

I play tenor and baritone, so I can't speak for these woods on smaller scales. However, as an owner of both in tenor instruments, I much prefer the sound of cedar. Lots of resonance and sustain. mango can be bright and prettier, but flatter (less sustain and tonal range).

coolkayaker1
06-19-2013, 08:08 AM
I have both. Cedar is better.

kenikas
06-19-2013, 08:15 AM
I agree with what OldePhart said about mango, I have a Mainland mango concert that is one of my favorites. I've played several cedar tops and really loved an Ohana cedar and willow but hummed and hawed to long and someone else bought it. I've heard that many of the Makai, Mainland, and Ohana models are made in the same factory with just the finishing touches different. Set up on both you are looking at should be great coming from Uke Republic.

guitarsnrotts
06-19-2013, 10:12 AM
IMO the cedar is similar to spruce and the mango similar to acacia, if that helps.

insula
06-19-2013, 12:50 PM
I have the Makai MC-90 (concert size) mango uke and I love it. Everyone who hears it comments on how the new Chinese-made instruments rival the much higher-priced prestige instruments. Bought mine from Elderly, set-up just right, looks great too. I have Koolau Mahanas on it right now, for a change from Aquilas. Don't hesitate to get one if you have a chance-this is a case where a bargain really is a bargain.

Telperion
06-19-2013, 02:00 PM
OldePhart said everything very well in his first post. Personally, I don't get hung up on whether it has a guitar sound or not. I have a feeling that a soprano would not anyway. My goal is generally to find a uke that sound great to my ear, and I love cedar. The part of OldePhart's commentary that I can't agree more with is the 'two different manufacturers vs two different tone woods.' The two instruments you listed will likely exhibit as much difference from design as they do woods. If it were my call, I'd go Mainland cedar.

-Steve

OldePhart
06-19-2013, 02:39 PM
In a weird way you guys aren't helping. lol I tend to play a bit percussively and don't play any single note type things unless I'm aimlessly playing while watching TV so the Makai not having a lot of sustain isn't necessarily an issue for me. But I do love the sound of cedar tops; my Seagull parlor has a cedar top which has just broken in nicely after 12 years of abuse. Hmmm...

Heh, heh. Small world. For me it was a Seagull cedar dreadnaught (S6, as I recall) that I played for years. It was one of two instruments I've owned that obviously and very clearly "opened up" and improved very rapidly the first few months I owned it. Anyway, I think that it's because of playing that that cedar tenors, at least, just sound like a small guitar to me - even when strung reentrant.

The Mainland ukes are great - most of my ukes are Mainland, including both of the mango ukes I talked about and the one cedar tenor that I owned (and re-homed with my son-in-law since I never warmed up to it).

I was listening to a Pono tenor wood comparison video from HMS recently (planning on ordering my "last" tenor once Andrew finds exactly what I'm looking for) and I think I finally may have nailed down the "difference" that keeps pushing me away from spruce and cedar ukes. While many spruce and cedar ukes I've heard sound lovely, and the one I owned was certainly loud with good sustain, I think maybe they have more sustain than the hardwood (i.e. varieties of acacia/koa/mango and mahogany/sapelle) ukes do and when strummed that causes them to lose some of the "lilt" that, for me, identifies the traditional ukulele sound. On that comparison video, the Rosewood/Spruce model fooled me a couple of times when picked, but when strummed I never failed to pick the acacia and mahogany ukes with my eyes closed.

If I was primarily a picker I might actually prefer a spruce top - but I mostly strum and do fast pattern picking and for that I like the tighter definition of the acacia and mahogany ukes.

BTW, another thing that HMS video illustrates - there isn't as much difference between tone woods as you would expect, with all other things being equal. You have to listen pretty carefully to notice the difference between a spruce top and an acacia, for example.

John

Paul December
06-19-2013, 03:06 PM
In a weird way you guys aren't helping. lol I tend to play a bit percussively and don't play any single note type things unless I'm aimlessly playing while watching TV so the Makai not having a lot of sustain isn't necessarily an issue for me. But I do love the sound of cedar tops; my Seagull parlor has a cedar top which has just broken in nicely after 12 years of abuse. Hmmm...

Percussive/Strumming = Mahogany

Nickie
06-19-2013, 03:19 PM
I don't know a darn thing about Makai ukuleles....but I've seen some beautiful Mainlands. A friend who visits here (JT) has one, and I like it a lot.

OldePhart
06-19-2013, 05:27 PM
Percussive/Strumming = Mahogany

:agree: - I have to agree with Paul. Out of all my ukes I've found that the mahogany ones strung with heavy gage strings give the most percussive strums. CH-gage clear fluorocarbon strings on both my mahogany soprano and mahogany tenor (both Mainlands, BTW) are very percussive. The mango can be percussive, too, but it's a brighter percussion and might not be your cup of tea (it wasn't mine). I suspect that the red cedar, while a lovely sounding uke, would be the least percussive - at least that was true of my tenors, but, as mentioned before, I've not played a cedar soprano other than a few minutes in a store a couple of times.

John

coolkayaker1
06-19-2013, 05:34 PM
i, too, agree w/ paul and now john. 'hog

guitharsis
06-20-2013, 01:15 AM
No experience with mango but just received a Kamaka cedar top Ohta San from HMS. Incredible sound. Full and rich.

My first classical guitar in 2000 was a LaPatrie Motif, a smaller size guitar with a standard fretboard. It was cedar top and was open right from the start.
I eventually switched over to spruce top, Brazilian rosewood b/s guitars which had sharp note definition and projected well.

The Ohta San makes me feel like I've come full circle. Do love the warm, full rich sound.

Hippie Dribble
06-20-2013, 01:26 AM
I think mango has a lovely, smooth and sweet tone, especially through the mid range though usually is not overly loud. Yes, I think a cedar top will probably give you more volume, punch and dynamic. For myself, I would choose mango because I have no probs sacrificing some volume for sweetness.

But, like others have said, a mahogany soprano - even better, a vintage one - will give you it all.

Rodney.
06-20-2013, 05:15 AM
Smart choice, the guy who fixed my fence pushed me towards buying an Islander, they do know their ukes.

13down
10-28-2016, 07:00 AM
I was listening to a Pono tenor wood comparison video from HMS recently (planning on ordering my "last" tenor once Andrew finds exactly what I'm looking for) and I think I finally may have nailed down the "difference" that keeps pushing me away from spruce and cedar ukes. While many spruce and cedar ukes I've heard sound lovely, and the one I owned was certainly loud with good sustain, I think maybe they have more sustain than the hardwood (i.e. varieties of acacia/koa/mango and mahogany/sapelle) ukes do and when strummed that causes them to lose some of the "lilt" that, for me, identifies the traditional ukulele sound.
John

I think this quote is really on to something!

johnson430
10-28-2016, 08:36 AM
I think this quote is really on to something!


It really depends on the build and the player's abilities. My spruce tenor is a great finger-picker but I can strum the heck out of it and get a very nice percussive sound with a lith.
There was a similar thread about this recently and it was agreed that sustain can be controlled with proper technique. On that note, I would rather have the sustian and control it rather than wanting it and not having it.

Mivo
10-28-2016, 09:04 AM
Well, at least to my ears the "traditional ukulele sound" can't really be achieved with a tenor anyway, so you might as well capitalize on the sustain potential that a larger body offers.

johnson430
10-28-2016, 09:50 AM
Well, at least to my ears the "traditional ukulele sound" can't really be achieved with a tenor anyway, so you might as well capitalize on the sustain potential that a larger body offers.

But there are always exceptions to the rule. Certain strings can bring out a strong attack and quick decay which mimics the sound of a traditional uke.
I have also heard highly glossed tenor ukes that have that "traditional uke bark" when strung high g.