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Thread: Why the hate on Pono?

  1. #1
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    Default Why the hate on Pono?

    I've seen a few posts lately where people are comparing Pono ukes to $40 Amazon ukuleles. I've been considering a pono pro classic, rather than paying double for one of the big Ks. But I don't want to drop a thousand dollars on garbage. Am I missing something?

  2. #2
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    I have never had any bad experiences with Pono besides just plain ol’ not bonding with one. Their quality is top notch and they offer solid woods with bone nut and saddles. Besides the chunkier neck, I can’t imagine anyone complaining and I CERTAINLY don’t think $40 ukes from Amazon even come close to the same level of tone and build quality.

  3. #3
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    I have heard 3 main complaints on Pono, 1. they are low volume 2. They are overbuilt/heavy and 3. The neck is too thick, front to back.

    I owned a Pono RTSH(S)-PC and found that the volume was fine, it wasnít the loudest or quietest uke Iíve played. The build, while robust, wasnít overbuilt and it was still very much a ukulele. The neck was thicker than I was accustomed to but I donít believe it was ever a factor and, after time, paired with the radius fretboard, it became barely noticeable. Overall, my feelings toward it were very middle of the road and ultimately sold it.

    Check out this video done by HMS, where they are using a different saddle to compare impact on different action heights, they use a Pono for the example and Tobias from the start claims the low action robs some instruments of their full potential, and the crew agreed there was a difference once the highest saddle was used, so maybe the low volume complaint stems from Pono a liking a bit higher action...or it was a coincidence.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cO3i0FI1TQk

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Awaters View Post
    I've seen a few posts lately where people are comparing Pono ukes to $40 Amazon ukuleles. I've been considering a pono pro classic, rather than paying double for one of the big Ks. But I don't want to drop a thousand dollars on garbage. Am I missing something?
    I absolutely love Ponos. I've never played a bad one. They are definitely better than $40 ukes on Amazon, but I understand not every uke works for everyone.

    I think your idea of saving money on a K brand to get a Pono is a good idea. Try to play a few Ponos if you can before buying. But personally I think you won't be disappointed with a pro classic. I got one recently and love it.

    The necks are a bit thick. Personally I like that feel. Then again, I have a Kanilea, very thin neck, and I like that one, too.
    -Abe (ah-bay)
    Teacher/musician/podcaster
    ukuleleabe.com
    Abeís Ukulele Podcast

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arob54 View Post
    I have heard 3 main complaints on Pono, 1. they are low volume 2. They are overbuilt/heavy and 3. The neck is too thick, front to back.
    I hadn't heard the complaint about volume before.

    I get the weight and neck complaint. But I've always loved how solid the weight and neck feels.
    -Abe (ah-bay)
    Teacher/musician/podcaster
    ukuleleabe.com
    Abeís Ukulele Podcast

  6. #6
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    I don't think there's any hate towards Pono. I had the Pono UL4-40 steel baritone and liked it a lot. I didn't like the thick neck. I could have had it shaved down by my luthier but decided to go custom instead. Buying and selling instruments is a way to find the "keepers" for yourself.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Russ View Post
    I have never had any bad experiences with Pono besides just plain ol’ not bonding with one. Their quality is top notch and they offer solid woods with bone nut and saddles. Besides the chunkier neck, I can’t imagine anyone complaining and I CERTAINLY don’t think $40 ukes from Amazon even come close to the same level of tone and build quality.
    I think this is my situation exactly. Early on in my playing, Dixie Ukulele closed shop and sold all of their stock at cost, and I bought a gorgeous cedar and rosewood PC tenor. It was my most expensive ukulele (At $690 or so) and would still be if I owned it. It sounded great, and it was a gorgeous instrument, but I just didn't bond with it...and found myself moving to my KoAloha Opio Sapele Tenor. I've since found that I'm happiest with a Concert scale instrument. I think the comments about being heavier than many ukuleles is accurate--but that doesn't matter, as they still sound wonderful.

    So I don't hate Pono, and I respect the heck out of them. Anyone that would compare a Pono to a $40 ukulele (is there such a thing?) is someone whose opinion is not worth listening to.

    I also wonder how many people that have moved away from a Pono have found themselves with a KoAloha...there might just be tonal qualities of a KoAloha build that are more appealing to those people.
    My ukulele blog: http://ukestuff.info

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  8. #8
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    Oft repeated advice here that fits your purchase of a Pono: Buy it from a reputable dealer... that does proper setup... and has a return policy for refund. That means you can order one and it should play well right out of the box (proper setup). If you do NOT like it enough to be deliriously happy, you can return it for a refund with the costs mainly being the return shipping cost. Recommended dealers include The Ukulele Site (HMS), Mim's Ukes, and Uke Republic.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Choirguy View Post
    I also wonder how many people that have moved away from a Pono have found themselves with a KoAloha...there might just be tonal qualities of a KoAloha build that are more appealing to those people.
    Good question. I have a KoAloha and a Pono, both tenors. I like them both and it's really tough for me to say which I prefer. But they are both very different.
    -Abe (ah-bay)
    Teacher/musician/podcaster
    ukuleleabe.com
    Abeís Ukulele Podcast

  10. #10
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    I like Pono: they're a great middle of the road production ukulele. You get a lot for your money and quality is very consistent. Yes, they are a little on the heavy sideósome even have thrust rods but the ones I've played sounded wonderful after a few years of play in. I still have an ancient MT-EóPono's basic modelóand it developed an amazingly sweet harp like tone, ideal for strums on backing tracks or fat single line improvisations. Yes, it's not a loud uku but is certainly average for its class. It's similar in volume to my more expensive Kremona Mari. I see a lot of Pono on stage here on Oahu, usually jacked into a pedal board and amp so they're plenty tough enough for nightclub gigs. The only thing I don't like is the necks are not wide enough and feel cramped for my hands (otherwise I'd buy another one!). I like their thick necks but they need to be at least 1.5" wide at the nut.

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