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Thread: Uke for a location that isn't climate-controlled

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2017

    Default Uke for a location that isn't climate-controlled

    Hey there. I have a question for you guys. I've been playing guitar for about 15 years and uke for less than a year. (Being a UU+ member for the last year has really helped me along in learning.) I really enjoy the uke. It's so accessible that you just want to pick it up and play! It's such an intimate little instrument as opposed to my guitar. Anyway, I have been playing an Ohana CK-10 for the last year (a concert-sized uke with solid mahogany top and laminated mahogany back and sides). I really love this little uke. Anyway, I am an American living and working in a 3rd world country in the humanitarian aid sector. Where I live it's cold in the winter and hot and dry in the summer with no climate control indoors. We heat with a woodstove heater, and we cool with fans. So here's the question. I'd like to get a nicer tenor as I'll be back in the States in a few months. But with the plans to come back over here, I am wondering if I should go with something cheaper and laminated for stability, or should I go ahead and get something nicer and take the risk that the lack of climate control could harm it. FYI, I am considering the Pono AT, Pono MGT, Mainland Red Cedar Tenor, or Mainland Mango Tenor. These are all solid wood, but if you think they wouldn't survive the environment, I'd consider going with another Ohana laminate. Thoughts?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2013


    Islander makes a nice laminate tenor.
    Martin OXK Soprano
    Kamaka HF3 Tenor
    Eastman EU3C Concert
    Martin S1

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    West Virginia


    Your location sound like my house here in the states as until recently we heated with wood, and use fans in the summer. Now we heat with natural gas space heaters. The house often gets in the low sixties or upper fifties in winter and in the nineties in the summer.

    A warm house does not seem to bother my ukes - I keep them year-round next to an inside wall in cases/gig bags and away from direct sunlight. I usually don't humidify them in summer as we have high humidity anyway - our climate is a match for Washington D. C..

    For me, the tuners are the issue in cold weather more than cracking or drying out of wood. I love my OXK (which is high pressure laminate) that I got as a less climate-picky uke, but I need to really crank down on the little screws on the tuners to keep it tight enough so the strings don't back off when it is cold. Truly, the best winter uke for me is my Outdoor Ukulele tenor.

    IMHO, if the Ohana CK- 10 is working for you now, I would get another Ohana solid/laminate in tenor size.
    Last edited by actadh; 10-11-2017 at 04:05 AM.
    - Laura

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2013


    At the high end, there's the Blackbird Farallon.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.


    I think I'd stick with a laminate (or solid top) in your situation, or maybe the Outdoor tenor, they seem to play well.
    If you want to spend some money there are some middle to higher end laminate ukes that appear to be liked by some.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Southern California


    All my ukes, except my spruce topped baritone, are plywood, and they all sound good enough for my playing level.

    I don’t like all that humidity bother. A few small cracks might even give a uke character.
    Kala "Spalted" baritone - Lo D GBE

    Kala tenor eight string - gG cC EE AA
    Gold Tone tenor banjolele - Hi-F BbDG

    Luna "Peace" concert - Lo-G CEA
    Flea "Red" concert - Hi-G CEA

    Kala "Exotic Mahogany" soprano - Hi-A DF#B

    Mahalo yellow "Smiley" soprano (Dad's Day gift) - Wallhanger
    Ka-Lai Pineapple soprano (old) gift - Wallhanger

    7/20/2018: Eighty two and still not through!

    God gave us old age so we wouldn't mind dying so much.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Aurora, IL US


    Fluke Fluke Fluke. I took one on a tour of Australia and Tasmania. We were in deserts rain forest and snow. No problem.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Raleigh, NC


    Mim says solid-topped ukes normally don't need humidification, but an all-laminate would be safer.

    I've got a cedar-topped concert Ohana and a Koa Flea (Dale Webb says don't leave it near forced-air heating vents). No problems.

    I keep my two solid Ohanas in humidified cases during the winter, because I did get a crack in one a couple of years back.

    I really like the way Ohanas play, but I'm a Flea/Fluke fan, too, and they're pretty indestructible.

    My Islander tenor is really cool, too.
    Martin C1K KoAlana mahogany concert <VBG> Ohana CK-50WG concert (solid cedar top) Ohana SK-35G solid mahogany soprano <yay!!> Fluke natural concert <BG> Firefly maple concert banjolele <yee-haw!> Flea koa soprano Islander MAT-4 spalted maple tenor Makala MK-CE concert Kala KA-EBY-S soprano Woodrow "Steelers" soprano <eyeroll>

    Raleigh Uke Jam:

    My YouTube page

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2015


    You could get an Outdoor Ukulele tenor for $145 (Do plan ahead though by getting in touch with them as they run out of stock sometimes and there is usually a wait regardless). That's the most worry free instrument I know of. I also think it sounds good and plays well. Intonation is good too. It's not as loud as some ukes, if that is of concern.
    Then you could get another good Ohana too to go along with it, if you really wanted....and still stay under $500 total probably. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm thinking one Pono is in the 400-500 range... Just a thought.
    I've only recently had an experience with Ohana and I'm very impressed, especially at the price points they come in at.

    As for what needs humidification or not.... It totally depends on your environment. It's not just the tops or other body wood to consider. The neck wood and fretboard can also shrink exposing fret ends, etc. Also, even laminated instruments are braced with solid wood braces usually, so they can be damaged too....they're just tougher than all solid. I'd say it comes down to the individual instrument too. One instrument may have problems and another not so much. Part of it is just luck of the draw probably. The main thing you want to watch out for is rapid changes in temperature and humidity. That puts your instrument at the highest risk.
    You just have to decide how much risk and how much care you take. These days I'm perfectly happy with some decent lower cost instruments that I don't worry over so much.
    Last edited by jer; 10-11-2017 at 08:28 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Detroit, Michigan



    Outdoor Ukulele, very sturdy
    Fluke sounds better almost as sturdy

    yours truly

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