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Thread: Pono Mahogany Tenor vs. Islander MST-4

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Posts
    3

    Default Pono Mahogany Tenor vs. Islander MST-4

    Hi! I'm looking to upgrade from my first ukulele, a Makala Dolphin, to a uke with a warm, mellow, and lower tone.
    I'm currently looking at two ukuleles: the Pono Mahogany Tenor/MT and the Islander MST-4. I was originally planning on getting the Pono, but I can't seem to find a place that sells it in store. I did, however, find the Islander MST-4 - and I love it's sound! It's essentially what I'm looking for. The only downside is I don't love the look of it.

    I was wondering if there is anybody who has played both the Pono MT and Islander MST-4 (or something similar) and if they could tell me some differences in terms of sound. Thanks!

    [side note: I know there's already a post on this, but it's old/outdated and I couldn't find the answers I wanted there. I'm new, and I wasn't sure if I should make a new post or bump the old one, so I did this.]
    Last edited by trinity-y; 04-15-2018 at 05:25 AM.

  2. #2

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    Might be worth it to send a message over to The Ukulele Site. They’re super knowledgeable and helpful and can probably answer your question with some substance.

    I just got the Pono AT and came from a Kala KA-STG. They’re not the same ukes you’re asking about, but it’s basically the same type of transition as I feel like the Pono is a step up in class from the Kala or Islander lines. The Pono is a wonderful instrument and well worth its money. Perfect intonation and the note clarity is amazing. I haven’t even swapped out the strings yet and I love it so much. If you want a uke that will last you a good while, get the Pono.

    If you love the Islander and see yourself satisfied with it for a while, then get that and save a bit of cash.

    Edit: Just took a look at the MST-4 and it looks like it’s an upper end Islander model, so a step above the Kala I was using. My vote still goes to the Pono
    Last edited by NoyBoy98; 04-06-2018 at 11:45 PM.

  3. #3

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    One more thing to note. The Islander has a wider nut width than the Pono. If you’ve played the Islander and prefer the 1.5” nut width, then go with that.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Pickering, ON, Canada
    Posts
    4,674

    Default

    While looks are important sound and playability are more important. I have sold off a number of ukes that I absolutely loved the looks of but there was something lacking in sound or playability. I have kept others that were not quite as pretty but sounded and played great. Over time you stop looking and it and start listening to it. I have gone through many ukes, mostly used so easy to buy and sell, when you play one that speaks to you, buy it and keep it.

    I love Pono, one of my favs, but you played the Islander and "loved its sound!" That should be enough to keep you happy
    Ukuleles.............yes please !!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    486

    Default

    I have an Islander AS-4 soprano that I’ve been playing a lot in the last few weeks. It sounds nice. I normally play concert scale, but got a soprano to take camping. Now I’m pondering getting a higher end soprano. But in reality the laminate Islander is a perfectly fine ukulele. Maybe a MSS-4 Islander ..... the solid mahogany soprano version of the MST-4 that the OP is considering.

    Ubulele..... I’m glad you found & love the Islander FMSARM. I think that’s the same model tenor I won in a ukulele festival prize raffle last year. Great ukulele. I didn’t bond with the tenor scale and found it a good home with a friend who loves it.
    Last edited by RafterGirl; 04-07-2018 at 12:30 PM.
    My ukulele family.....
    Imua iSN soprano
    Islander Acacia laminate soprano
    KoAloha concert - circa 2006
    Loprinzi cedar & rosewood concert
    Gary Gill concert scale tenor, Douglas Fir & Mahogany

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    CH
    Posts
    1,423

    Default

    Out of the two, I'd always get the Pono. Great company that puts a lot of thoughts into their products, not just slamming their logo on some ominous, anonymous import. However, If you have played and liked the Islander, then you already know what you will be getting, and that's a huge advantage over ordering a product you have not played.

    The most important differences have already been mentioned: truss rod in the Pono, different stringing systems at the bridge, and nut width. Islander has a flatter, but wider neck, while the Pono neck profile is thicker, but has the standard nut width of 1 3/8" (35 mm). If a wider neck is something you might like or need, that's another plus for the Islander.

    Let us know what you'll end up with!
    Enjoying instruments by - Beau Hannam - Jay Lichty - Jerry Hoffmann - Luis Feu de Mesquita - Kala - Kamaka - Kanile'a - KoAloha - Ko'olau - Moore Bettah - Pono - Romero Creations - and others

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Sorry for the late input - the desicion took a while - but I've decided to go with the Pono MT.
    To quote Andrew Kitakis:
    The Islander is a little more punchy on the low end. The Pono has better sustain and balance. Different stock strings have something to do with that.
    I'll splurge for the Pono as this will probably be my instrument for many years. Plus, I'll be ordering from the ukulele site rather than my local cosmo which is a plus. If I end up preferring the sound of the Islander, I can always switch out my strings for a warmer sound. Thanks for your help everyone! Will update when I recieve the ukulele (it might take up to a month).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    L.A. California
    Posts
    645

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    Quote Originally Posted by trinity-y View Post
    Sorry for the late input - the desicion took a while - but I've decided to go with the Pono MT.
    To quote Andrew Kitakis:


    I'll splurge for the Pono as this will probably be my instrument for many years. Plus, I'll be ordering from the ukulele site rather than my local cosmo which is a plus. If I end up preferring the sound of the Islander, I can always switch out my strings for a warmer sound. Thanks for your help everyone! Will update when I recieve the ukulele (it might take up to a month).
    You should be very happy with your Pono and never need anything better, want is another matter.
    Congratulations!
    Playing my Magic Fluke and grinning like a fool!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Posts
    3

    Default

    The ukulele has arrived, huzzah! Here's some sound clips and a mini-review from an inexperienced person!

    sound

    Here's voice memos of all three ukuleles - my Makala, the Islander, and my new Pono!

    Makala: https://vocaroo.com/i/s1t7us2R8TT4
    Islander: https://vocaroo.com/i/s1rWelTiLXZP
    Pono: https://vocaroo.com/i/s06cc4uo4TaT



    my opinion

    I LOVE this ukulele so much!! If I'm honest, I can't remember the exact tone and sound of the previous ukulele (other than the bad quality iphone voice memo) so I can't really compare that much; but I really don't think I'm dissapointed at all. I also especially love the steel or wounded (I don't know what it is) material of the C string. I didn't know that'd be on this ukulele and I for some reason of the squeaking sund that it makes when you slide up and down the fretboard.

    Thanks everyone for your help with my purchase! I really appreciate it; without you all I would still be playing my Makala! (Not that that's the worst thing in the world...)
    i'm trinity -
    beginner ukulele player (since april 2017)
    i think i'm a beginner but ukulele-tabs.com says i'm confirmed

    ukes:
    -makala dolphin (april 2017)
    -pono mt (april 2018)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    CH
    Posts
    1,423

    Default

    Congratulations, so glad to hear you're happy! I love everything that comes from Pono (except their stock strings).

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