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View Full Version : Pono MCD vs. MTD Question



Splash81
12-30-2013, 04:21 PM
I had an Ohana CK-35GS, which was and still is a wonderful sounding instrument, in my opinion. I ended up giving it to my father, actually, because he liked it so much!

Since then, I've been looking at an eventual replacement, and I'm somewhat interested in a Pono MCD-E. My conundrum, though, is that the MCD sounds much more muted when compared to the MTD in the videos that I've watched online. I don't just mean it sounds softer, but it seems to chime and ring less. I kind of expected it to be the other way around. The MTD sounds great, but I somewhat prefer the concert size. One thing I love about the Ohana is its harp/bell-like tones--would I be forfeiting that if I chose the MCD?

I know that I could get another Ohana, of course, but I'd like something different this time. I know that strings can make a huge difference with ukuleles, so I'm wondering if that might be the case here. Does anyone have any insight to offer regarding differences between the Pono concert/tenor models? Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that tenors tend to be louder and have more bass response, whereas concerts are more chimey and soprano-like. Thank you!

Splash81
12-30-2013, 04:25 PM
Okay, I'll fess up. The reason I'm hoping that someone will tell me that the MCD sounds better with different strings or something of that nature is because there is a refurbished one on ebay right now, and I'm very eager for a new uke!!! Otherwise, I would go for an MTD, if I could find a deal on one, because it sounds great!

bborzell
12-30-2013, 06:03 PM
Not gonna be of much help in answering your specific question; more like suggesting that there are way too many variables inherent in listening to internet sound snippets to be a reliable indication of what either of these ukes will actually sound like when either is in your hands.

Strings, microphone quality, playing ability all complicate the translation between an mp3 played through computer speakers and what comes out of the box that is in your hands.

I own an acacia tenor deluxe Pono and I can say with no reservation that it sounds very different with different strings. The crisp tone that you might be looking for is easily within the range of my acacia tenor with the right strings (Living Waters), and it can also sound more mellow with other strings. Can't say anything about the corresponding concert models as I have never played one.

My guess is that the mahogany tenor can easily give you a balanced combination of rich and crisp tone with the right strings.

Splash81
12-30-2013, 06:39 PM
Not gonna be of much help in answering your specific question; more like suggesting that there are way too many variables inherent in listening to internet sound snippets to be a reliable indication of what either of these ukes will actually sound like when either is in your hands.

Strings, microphone quality, playing ability all complicate the translation between an mp3 played through computer speakers and what comes out of the box that is in your hands.

I own an acacia tenor deluxe Pono and I can say with no reservation that it sounds very different with different strings. The crisp tone that you might be looking for is easily within the range of my acacia tenor with the right strings (Living Waters), and it can also sound more mellow with other strings. Can't say anything about the corresponding concert models as I have never played one.

My guess is that the mahogany tenor can easily give you a balanced combination of rich and crisp tone with the right strings.

Thank you for your input. There are many variables to consider when listening to internet demos, indeed, and a lot of it is certainly in the fingers of the player. I'm still surprised to find the tenor to be so much crisper sounding when compared to the concert in all of the videos that I've watched, though. I wonder if anyone that's played/heard both in person might agree that the concert sounds a little muffled or flat...

Paul December
12-30-2013, 10:11 PM
Makes sense to me...
...tenors have higher tension strings so brighter, and it's my experience that the longer scales have more sustain.
Also, basing on the two Pono concerts I've tried, bother struck me a bit over-built.
I'd say your observations are correct.

frukmana
12-30-2013, 11:43 PM
Have you checked the Ohana TK35G ? I own one and it sounds beautiful!

hammer40
12-31-2013, 12:10 AM
Also, basing on the two Pono concerts I've tried, bother struck me a bit over-built.

Over-built, really? Would you care to elaborate on what makes you feel they are over-built?

PhilUSAFRet
12-31-2013, 12:48 AM
Nope, sorry, Pono's are not overbuilt. I actually own a couple of Pono's, one being the MCD-E. It is light and sounds wonderful. It's brightness is determined by which strings are on it. I currently have Ko'olau Alohi's on it, which have a nice balance of brightness and mellow tones with good projection and sustain. Other strings I would try are Fremont Blacks, or one of several quality fluorocarbon strings that are well thought of here on UU. My 6 string mahogany Pono came with Ko'olau Mahano's on it and it was "dead." I was very disappointed and quickly installed a set of Southcoast strings. Came to life. Bright and chimey like it's supposed to be. I've seen some awfully good deals on Pono concerts, especially used and refurbs. I got an amazing deal on mine. Good luck.

Five Ways
12-31-2013, 03:21 AM
I have a beautiful MTD-E which has been set up very well, having tried different brand strings I found worth browns sounded best to me, it plays with ease and has a nice bright tone.

coolkayaker1
12-31-2013, 03:29 AM
I have found my Pono tenors to not be overbuilt, or have enough string vibration and sustain to overcome the overbuiltness of them. The neck is fatter than a linebacker, so best to try before buying coming from what I believe to be a thinner necked Ohana.

My Pono concert and soprano are definitely overbuilt, and have no ring, non chime, lesser volume and are less desirable. One has been sold, and the other is in the trunk of my car.

So, I'm definitely in agreement with El Presidente Decembre on that.

OldePhart
12-31-2013, 03:33 AM
Over-built, really? Would you care to elaborate on what makes you feel they are over-built?

Not to answer for Paul but I think some of the earlier Pono ukes may have been somewhat overbuilt (just from what I've heard, not having owned an earlier one myself). The new ones seem to be not as lightly built as a KoAloha, for example, but I would by no means characterize them as overbuilt; my MBD is superb. The new Pro Classics are even better, though, of course, more expensive than the regular Pono line we're presumably discussing here.

As for strings changing the character of a uke - that is absolutely the case and I suspect that it is more noticeable with longer scale lengths though I haven't done any real testing of that theory other than that I know changing strings on the Kala pocket uke I owned (now there was an overbuilt uke) had much less effect than does changing strings on my tenors, for example. Again, not a wide enough sample to be meaningful. In fact, I suspect it is probably more a case of some combination of how responsive the uke is and the scale length that determines how much impact different strings will have.

John

Splash81
12-31-2013, 05:01 AM
Very helpful responses, thanks! I've heard that Pono necks are a little thicker than the Ohanas; as long as the neck is not as thick as the one on the Rally soprano banjo uke I just bought, or my Fender Telecaster, I think I'll be okay! So, it seems like most people love their Pono tenors, but some people think that the smaller Pono models might be a little overbuilt? All good food for thought...

Splash81
12-31-2013, 05:12 AM
Have you checked the Ohana TK35G ? I own one and it sounds beautiful!

I'm sure that it does sound beautiful! I really loved my CK-35G, but I think I'd like something a little different this time around. My gut is telling me to hold out for when an MTD-E pops up here on the marketplace...

OldePhart
12-31-2013, 05:14 AM
I'm sure that it does sound beautiful! I really loved my CK-35G, but I think I'd like something a little different this time around. My gut is telling me to hold out for when an MTD-E pops up here on the marketplace...

One should always follow their gut...on the other hand don't hold your breath waiting for something that specific. :)

John

Splash81
12-31-2013, 05:28 AM
One should always follow their gut...on the other hand don't hold your breath waiting for something that specific. :)

John

Ahhh, very wise advice indeed. I hate my gut(s) sometimes! I've been pretty close to pulling the trigger on the MCD, but the tenor just sounds noticeably better!