PONO vs KoAloha

Icelander53

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Mine I mean. I was in a mood and waxing poetic and I made a slightly disparaging remark about my Pono's which I want to make right. I was determined not to make the same mistakes with fawning over my latest acquisition and making assumption that prove only to show me how flawed my thinking can be at times.

So I have the KoAloha Opio Tenor. (in the mahogany family) Of my Pono's in a play off the clear winner was my Pono ET-PC Tenor.(cedar/ebony) Both strung low G. The Opio sports Fremont strings. The Pono is sporting SouthCoast strings. Both came from and were set up by HMS.

I have put them to the test against each other with a clear bias on my part initially to the brand new Opio. I looked at and listened to them from the perspective of how I play and my skills and goals. In the end and it's never the end I'm enjoying playing the Pono more at this moment. When it comes to build quality I had to give them both a 10 on a scale of 1-10.

The Pono is for me easier to play and it's sound lends itself to the strum and sing that I do at this point. It has a very rich and mellow sound that is very guitar like. It blows all my other ukes away soundwise.(not including the Opio) The Opio is more articulate and accurate to my ear with wonderful bell like tones. And it's loud and as I move into fingerstyle for the first time it excels at that from the little I can do.

I'm not really doing this as a through comprehensive comparison but instead to reaffirm to you all my love of Pono's as a uke of choice. I really wouldn't want to be without either. I could let go of all my others without much pain but not those two. I'm done now.
 
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DownUpDave

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I am glad you came to your senses. The excitement and newness seems to always pull us towards the uke we most recently excavated from the shipping box. Don't you just love the packing job HMS does..........feels like a bigboys Christmas opening one of those.

My ET-PC is right up there among three higher priced customs I own. I really enjoy the sound of it fingerpicked. The cedar top can be overly warm or muddy if strummed real hard, fast and agressively. But there is a reason they use cedar tops on clasical guitars, so sweet and articulate when finger picked. I have the same SC strings on my Pono as well
 
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Sylvan

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Thanks for your thoughts on the Opio. I am looking at trying an Opio as my first tenor.
 

Ukulele Eddie

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@Icelander53, it's a good thing you cleared that up as I heard murmurs you were being booted from the Pono Fanboy Club. ; Just kidding.

It is interested to compare ukes from time-to-time and re-calibrate one's impressions. If you haven't, you should do the same test but record yourself and then compare. It has shocked me a few times how that can be different from what you hear while in the driver's seat (less of an issue when the ukes have sound ports).
 

Rakelele

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My experience as well. My Pono ETSHC (same model but with a slothead and a cutaway) is great for "guitar-like" tone and fingerpicking, while the KoAloha Opio is more of an all-rounder and better for strumming, more like my Pono AT.

Overall, I'd say that the Ponos are made using more high quality materials, hence offering a slightly better value for their price. But that Opio sounds mighty fine, too. I think it's great to see both companies offering wonderful instruments in the mid-priced range.
 

M3Ukulele

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My Opio tenor shipped yesterday from HMS. I have a Pono AT also. Haven't tried a Pono Pro Classic but many fans on UU and they are beautiful. I have a RTC (S) always on my radar though. In also have a custom Moodyville gypsy tenor with Sitka/black walnut to compare to.

My objective at this time in picking ukuleles is to get different sounds so trying different wood, makers, strings etc. I will try and offer objective opinion of my Opio after playing it awhile. As mention.....we all hear different things at different time.........that is nature of the beast. Fun though! I take everyone's opinion as that.
Cheers
 

page side

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Thanks for the review. I ordered an opio tenor from HMS last week and currently own a Pono MT. I'll be sure to add my two cents to this thread comparing these solid mahogany ukes from two great companies once I have the Opio.
 

Icelander53

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@Icelander53, it's a good thing you cleared that up as I heard murmurs you were being booted from the Pono Fanboy Club. ; Just kidding.

It is interested to compare ukes from time-to-time and re-calibrate one's impressions. If you haven't, you should do the same test but record yourself and then compare. It has shocked me a few times how that can be different from what you hear while in the driver's seat (less of an issue when the ukes have sound ports).

Thanks for that great idea.
 

BB11

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Mine I mean. I was in a mood and waxing poetic and I made a slightly disparaging remark about my Pono's which I want to make right. I was determined not to make the same mistakes with fawning over my latest acquisition and making assumption that prove only to show me how flawed my thinking can be at times.

So I have the KoAloha Opio Tenor. (in the mahogany family) Of my Pono's in a play off the clear winner was my Pono ET-PC Tenor.(cedar/ebony) Both strung low G. The Opio sports Fremont strings. The Pono is sporting SouthCoast strings. Both came from and were set up by HMS.

I have put them to the test against each other with a clear bias on my part initially to the brand new Opio. I looked at and listened to them from the perspective of how I play and my skills and goals. In the end and it's never the end I'm enjoying playing the Pono more at this moment. When it comes to build quality I had to give them both a 10 on a scale of 1-10.

The Pono is for me easier to play and it's sound lends itself to the strum and sing that I do at this point. It has a very rich and mellow sound that is very guitar like. It blows all my other ukes away soundwise.(not including the Opio) The Opio is more articulate and accurate to my ear with wonderful bell like tones. And it's loud and as I move into fingerstyle for the first time it excels at that from the little I can do.

I'm not really doing this as a through comprehensive comparison but instead to reaffirm to you all my love of Pono's as a uke of choice. I really wouldn't want to be without either. I could let go of all my others without much pain but not those two. I'm done now.

When you say easier to play are you meaning string tension or something else? I have read that Pono's are very tight and may feel a bit harder as if the scale was longer. I am new to this, guitar player, so i do understand scale and tension. Thanks
 

Mivo

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Something to consider when you read older threads is that many ukulele manufacturers evolve their building techniques and processes, and they also switch around components, try out new things or drop old ones (KoAloha's friction tuner today aren't the same ones that they had five or six years ago, for example).

Another thing is that instruments are like people: they're not all the same, even if they come from the same place or even look alike. There are a few aspects that can be generalized, like the KoAloha sound that is a result of their unique bracing (so pretty much any current KoAloha will have "bell like tones", whatever that may mean exactly, and be loud), but often it's not so easy. Ponos, I believe, are even less homogeneous because there is a larger product palette with quite a number of current, new, and discontinued models.

Another thing is that people tend to use the same terms, but mean different things. Tension is one of those. Not only does that depend on the strings (gauge) and of course the scale, but there is a lot of room for preference. For example, I felt that Worth Brown mediums on my tenor had "too much tension", which I felt then had "comfortable tension" when I tuned it down to Bb. Meanwhile, others would describe the former as "great for fingerpicking" and the latter as "too floppy", making it somewhat meaningless for a third person who may have their own preferences.

I'm great at overthinking stuff (especially where money is concerned, because I don't have an abundance of it) and going endlessly in circles (just spent a month doing that before grabbing the Opio concert), but at the end of the day at some point you just gotta bite the bullet and buy something. I'd start with an Opio, for any of the three sizes, but that's me. If it's not what you want, try the next one. As long as you buy stuff that has an acceptable resell value (or at least doesn't cost $2000+ and a year of waiting time per try), it's probably the best way to eventually find something you really like. (I like Opios because I like the KoAloha sound, but also because I nowadays believe the $400-600 range offers the best performance/price ratio -- below and above you make sacrifice or deal with increasingly tighter diminishing returns. This is a view that will not be shared by everyone, though.)
 

intro

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Okay, so....here goes. First off I've owned: Rebel Circle of Fifths, Pono MTSPC and MTDX, Ohana TK 75 CG, and a varied assortment of others. I'm no fanboy to any. I like 'em all! Feel free to talk me down, but there's no way a $ 800-1200 Pono is better VALUE than a $300-500 Kala. Sorry. I own a Kala Tri-Back, and a Comfort Cutaway- I got each for under 300.00, and there's NO WAY that a Pono is worth three times that. Those Kalas are fine instruments- true-the Pono is better, but not THREE TIMES better.
And although this may be a matter of taste, The Ohana could be said to absolutely CRUSH them all in VALUE (what you get/what you pay) in volume, sound and build (if you like bling) it stands second to NONE of those. I sold my Rebel and both Pono's with only a whiff of remorse, and would do it again. I WILL buy another Pono, and probably an Opio as well, but honestly, I'm not even sure WHY!
 

sam13

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Okay, so....here goes. First off I've owned: Rebel Circle of Fifths, Pono MTSPC and MTDX, Ohana TK 75 CG, and a varied assortment of others. I'm no fanboy to any. I like 'em all! Feel free to talk me down, but there's no way a $ 800-1200 Pono is better VALUE than a $300-500 Kala. Sorry. I own a Kala Tri-Back, and a Comfort Cutaway- I got each for under 300.00, and there's NO WAY that a Pono is worth three times that. Those Kalas are fine instruments- true-the Pono is better, but not THREE TIMES better.
And although this may be a matter of taste, The Ohana could be said to absolutely CRUSH them all in VALUE (what you get/what you pay) in volume, sound and build (if you like bling) it stands second to NONE of those. I sold my Rebel and both Pono's with only a whiff of remorse, and would do it again. I WILL buy another Pono, and probably an Opio as well, but honestly, I'm not even sure WHY!

That's your opinion.

I wouldn't buy anything but Pono Pro Classic because they are that good.

I have owned other Ponos and sold them.

I have played Kala's and owned an Ohana and would not consider buying them. Great for some people, I just like a radius fret board enough to not pay attention to those brands that don't have one.

I play so many songs with constant barring flat fret boards don't cut it for me.
 

ukuleleden

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I WILL buy another Pono, and probably an Opio as well, but honestly, I'm not even sure WHY!

I know why: UAS. It's impossible to stop looking and wanting another uke no matter how content we may be with what uke we already own. Just curious, which Opio is on your radar? All-Acacia -or- Spruce-top?
 

DownUpDave

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"Not worth three times the price" is always an interesting statement. Sometimes a 10% improvement in sound moves a uke from OK to GREAT. If I hear a difference that really hits me in the heart and I am completely in love with the tone then 3, 4, 5 times the price is worth the 10% difference.

"Value" is another interesting concept. There is no value if I like the sound and playability of the more expensive one and never play the value uke.

Now if you like the sound and playabilty better on the value uke then that is true value.
 
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intro

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It is great to see someone is so happy with their Chinese ukes. It would be interesting to see if the Chinese ukes are worth 3 times the cost of the other very similar Chinese ukes that are available. Has anyone found some Chinese ukes which only cost $100 but compare very well to the $300 Kalas and Ohanas? Would you say that the Kala and Ohanas are really three times better? I have a $15 Hanknn which is definitely comparable to a $300 Kala any day, I imported it directly from China via AliExpress.

uh...It would seem that my opinions have offended you..Certainly not my intent. Since you're a senior member, I'll just assume your attitudes hold sway here and just bail. Is buying a ukulele made in Indonesia or Mexico or elsewhere somehow more acceptable?
 
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UkeStuff

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While UU is generally respectful in tone, there are occasional little flare ups of conflict. I have been caught in one and I try to avoid these things. I would encourage you to not bail, but be convinced in your opinion.

As for senior members versus junior...that just means that you posted more often to hit some limit. Nothing special there!

When it comes to ukulele, you buy what you like and what you can afford. It is probably best to follow these guidelines as much as possible.

And in context of the thread, I have a Opio and I have a Pono. I would like to add a KoAloha someday. Yes, please...I will take another.

(And no, not other ukulele I own sounds like the Pono or Opio--so while they cost more than a $250 Kala, I'm okay with that.