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View Full Version : Pono Acacia or Mainland Red Cedar Concert?



mikelz777
08-23-2013, 04:44 AM
I've been playing my starter (set-up) Lanikai LU-21C for about 1-1/2 years now and I'm hoping to step up into a solid wood uke before the end of the year. Right now I'm weighing my options in case other options don't work out and I'm hoping someone can provide some feedback comparing the Pono AC Acacia concert and the Mainland Red Cedar concert.

I've heard sound samples of both but it's hard to compare them because the sound quality of the videos varies so much. If you've had personal experience, how do they compare sound-wise? I love the look of the Mainland's red cedar paired with the rosewood and the mahogany binding. The rope binding seems a bit bold. I really like the look of the grain on the Pono's acacia but the overall look is a bit plain. The price difference (before shipping) is less than $50.00 so that's not really a factor for me.

What are your thoughts? I don't plan on having a stable of ukes so this would pretty much be it for me and I want to be all-in (ship/uke/case) for less than $400.00.

PhilUSAFRet
08-23-2013, 07:09 AM
Pono!......unless you like the Mainland better. A solid acacia a good one to start with. With string changes, can have more flexibility I think.

allanr
08-23-2013, 08:22 AM
I won't be much help to you with the Pono, but my wife owns a Mainland (mahogany) and I am blown away by how good it sounds and how nice it looks. I feel certain that you would not be disappointed if you were to choose a Mainland.

Ideally you will find an opportunity to try before you buy. Especially if the price/sound/build quality ratio is so similar.

vanflynn
08-23-2013, 08:55 AM
I think either would do you right. I haven't tried a Mainland but I did get the Pono AC (satin concert) and really like it. You can get it shipped from HMS with a Oahu hard case for $369 (I had them install a K&K pickup for another $64).

Hope this helps and happy hunting

mikelz777
08-23-2013, 09:54 AM
Pono!......unless you like the Mainland better. A solid acacia a good one to start with. With string changes, can have more flexibility I think.

Interesting! I haven't heard this before. So the acacia will show more sound variety with string changes than the cedar/rosewood combo would? How do the sound characteristics of acacia differ from the sound characteristics of cedar/redwood? Do you know if either one of these models has a notably better sound than the other or are they pretty close in sound? (Or maybe both good sound but different sound profile?)


I think either would do you right. I haven't tried a Mainland but I did get the Pono AC (satin concert) and really like it. You can get it shipped from HMS with a Oahu hard case for $369 (I had them install a K&K pickup for another $64).

Hope this helps and happy hunting

Thanks! I see the Pono AC got a lot of positive reviews on the HMS site.


I won't be much help to you with the Pono, but my wife owns a Mainland (mahogany) and I am blown away by how good it sounds and how nice it looks. I feel certain that you would not be disappointed if you were to choose a Mainland.

Ideally you will find an opportunity to try before you buy. Especially if the price/sound/build quality ratio is so similar.

That's the thing here. I won't have the opportunity to try either. Both seem to be well regarded so odds are good I could be happy with either.

PTOEguy
08-23-2013, 11:06 AM
In my research and experience - Ponos work best with a higher string tension. This means they fret a bit harder in exchange you get a clean sustained tone. Check out the commentary on theukulelereview.com for $500-$700 ukes (not your price range, but it shows the differences btw high and low tension stringing).

TG&Y
08-23-2013, 12:13 PM
I've never laid eyes on a Pono, so can't speak to them, but if you read here you know they are well and enthusiastically regarded. As are Mainlands, of which I've purchased three and love them all. Chiming in here just to say that the rope binding put me off too until the first one arrived here - I was sold from that first look and now I'm all over the rope. Looks great! I admire your patience in acquiring the next ukulele step up. My collection happened much more quickly and haphazardly. And no regrets.

PhilUSAFRet
08-24-2013, 12:54 AM
I'd say they both sound good, but have different sound profiles. Hard to describe without hearing. The Acacia, depending on strings, should capable of a more "bell like" tone than the cedar/redwood. The Mainland a bit sweeter. Be nice to have both. I just favor the acacia for your first decent all around uke, but you can't really make a mistake here. I agree that the rope binding grows on you once you see it on that Mainland. May have to just "eeny meeny, miney, moe" it............LOL

mikelz777
08-24-2013, 03:46 AM
... I admire your patience in acquiring the next ukulele step up. My collection happened much more quickly and haphazardly. And no regrets.

I wanted to take the slow, cheap starter uke approach because I had dabbled with the guitar for over a decade which I was enthusiastic about it at first, but lost interest and would go months or a year+ without playing it at times. I wanted to make sure the uke wasn't going to be the same thing. Over the last year and a half, I've maybe gone over a week without playing the uke but I'll usually play several times a week if not every day. I abandoned the guitar years ago. I've had much more fun playing the uke than I ever did with a guitar.


I'd say they both sound good, but have different sound profiles. Hard to describe without hearing. The Acacia, depending on strings, should capable of a more "bell like" tone than the cedar/redwood. The Mainland a bit sweeter. Be nice to have both. I just favor the acacia for your first decent all around uke, but you can't really make a mistake here. I agree that the rope binding grows on you once you see it on that Mainland. May have to just "eeny meeny, miney, moe" it............LOL

Having to eeny meeny it and not really making a mistake choosing either is a good spot to be in! I could go either way. I love the look of the red cedar paired with the rosewood and the mahogany binding on the Mainland. I like the look of the grain on the Pono and I like a satin finish more than I do a gloss finish. If neither stands out over the other sound-wise then it's going to come down to the smaller things. Ahhh......choices, choices, what to do? (Without buying both which I can't do.)

PhilUSAFRet
08-24-2013, 04:09 AM
It's the nature of UAS that no matter which one you get, you'll wonder if you should have gotten the other. I am a big fan of "the law of diminishing returns" and would tend to get the one that seems to be the better value for my buck at that time.....very subjective, but it's your money.

As I apply this law to ukes, it means that at some point, you are no longer getting more uke for more money. A bit subjective, but as I said, it's your money and you get to apply this principle to each purchase you make, or not! :music:

mattydee
08-24-2013, 05:10 AM
I've owned a cedar Mainland and an Acacia Kala (and a mahogany Pono). Acacia is a much mellower wood than cedar. The Mainland will likely be louder and have more attack. The Acacia will likely be a sweeter, more bell like sound. I'd put both woods on the 'warm' side of the spectrum, though.

vanflynn
08-24-2013, 05:38 AM
Hey Mike, where in MN are you? I'm outside of Mankato and would be willing to drive up to a StrumMn get together or something to let you try out my AC

mikelz777
08-25-2013, 06:05 AM
Hey vanflynn, that's very cool of you to offer! Sending a PM.

kaizersoza
08-25-2013, 06:18 AM
I have heard great things about the Pono, I own a couple of Mainland Red Cedar's and for the price they are a fantastic buy, I also own a Kala Solid Acacia Tenor which is nice but not the loudest uke I own, the acacia produces a sweet sound though and I like it, you have got a tough choice there man

Paul December
08-25-2013, 06:36 AM
IMO cedar on anything smaller than a tenor sounds too twangy.