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Thread: Comments on Homestead tenor from owners

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013

    Default Comments on Homestead tenor from owners

    I’m interested in comments from owners who have purchased Bonanza’s Homestead tenors. What wood choices. How do you like it’s sound. What tuners did you go with. Oreo owners also welcome to comment. I like the idea of homestead line. Have you played with different strings. Is it best suited high or low g. Is it’s volume good. Complexity of sound compared to???? Cutaway or standard 8 shape?

    Just did Got a Uke, three reviews on the Oreo , Homestead and the fenderish looking one. I think I like Homesteads simplicity for the cost.
    Don’t like the looks of Fenderish looking model. Probably don’t need the two woods for Oreo. That leaves homestead!

    Opinions please of you care to comment.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Bellingham, WA USA


    Start with a search for “homestead” here on UU. Several of us have already commented on our experience.

    Cherry concert cutaway here. Not too bright or too mellow. The cherry has noticeably darkened since I received it 2 months ago, as expected. It was surprisingly quiet out of the box/case. I changed out the strings with a set of Hard Fremont Blacklines and raised the action to fix a very slight buzz, and now I’m happy with he volume.

    I’m not a fan of the Corian nut and saddle. The saddle in particular was v-shaped rather than rounded and seemed to be making a notch in the strings. Also the speckled coloring was not attractive to me, but others seem to like it. I changed them out with ebony when I changed the strings.

    The Graphtec tuners feel wonderful. The may not win any beauty awards, but I wouldn’t change them out for any of the other options.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013


    Ok, thanks. Sorry, should have checked what’s on line first. Good comments but what I’m After is how people feel after playing it for awhile. Your comments good. I wondered about Corian. How hard to change nut? Is the corian glued in. Nice to hear and read that cherry darkens. I wonder bout string changed and tone . Looks like a few people have raised that action.

    The line checks a lot of boxes. I’d like to try the graphtech planetary tuners. I do know Most think Gotoh are better. Worth the upgrade on this Uke.? I do know some member have had post breaking on graphtech?

    Thanks for reply. Looking for most comments from those living with and playing, changing strings and using different woods.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2019


    There's a long recent thread on the Graphtech Ratios as well. In November 2019, had a set on a Kala Elite Koa tenor and 3 out of 4 of the Graphtech Ratios failed within 30 days—the knob spun flat within seconds of tuning up to pitch, rotating 180 degrees in mere seconds. It was like watching the second hand on a clock! HMS replaced them with Gotoh UPTs (for free) and all is well four months out. Incidentally, when I was picking up my repaired Kala Elite I tried a Kala Elite Doghair hanging on HMS's wall and the Graphtech Ratios were defective as well—spun loose as goose. Maybe it was a bad batch but I'd rather pay extra and avoid plastic gears...

    On another note, I found the shallow body depth of the Homestead makes string changes really challenging: string snags easily inside and requires use of a chopstick to drag it out.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013


    Thanks Peter. I’ve read your threads on the failure of the new graphtech tuners. Too bad really. It seems NAMM this year that Kala is using these tuners on their newer low end ukes. I did find it funny that Kala Elites in the 800-1000 price range used them. There is a disconnect on value in that price range, while not so much on a cheaper entry level Uke. I have thought that Kalas travel, thin body Uke which is neck heavy could benefit with the Graphtech planetary tuners. I hope they get this sorted out as the Uke world does need “something” like this product. But it must be reliable. UPT definitely better option especially on the Kala Elites.

    Do you like your Homestead? At intro $199.00 it seems a great value and little downside. I missed that purchase due to timing and too many tenors. Can you ever have too many ukuleles. LOL.

    I look forward to a future review on your Cherry Homestead tenor. Your reviews have been very good and I really like how you describe the tone, playability and insert the sound clips into your reviews

    Thanks for comments.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Michigan, USA


    My wife has a standard double bout tenor in cherry. Volume and sustain are good, but not excessive. I would put it kind of "middle of the road" on both. Not loud, but not super quiet either. It sounds really nice, actually.

    She ordered it high-g, but swapped out the g string for a high g soon after it arrived. This is not because it sounded bad low g, just that she has a couple of other instruments that are low g that she plays, and wanted to go high with this one.

    The Corian nut and saddle are fine and the action is low but not buzzing. I certainly understand where some folks are coming from with their dislike for them; the saddle in particular is quite triangular in shape at the break angle, so I'll be keeping an eye on how it wears on the strings. The neck size and shape are both quite nice, and it is comfortable to hold and play.

    She went with standard geared tuners, and they look and work fine. Nothing special to see here.

    The color of the wood is darkening a bit in the several weeks she has had it. It is quite comfortable to hold and play. The tone is great. The workmanship is quite good, and I like the instrument a lot. In fact, I liked it so much that I ordered myself a concert in black walnut, which should be here in a couple of weeks.

    One last note, on the volume/sustain front: the two instruments she has been playing lately are this Homestead (when she wants high-g) and her Blackbird Farallon (when she wants low g.) As such, I have been comparing an instrument with modest volume to a veritable "sound cannon"...
    Mainly a concert player.

    Beansprout alto (myrtle) | Martin Konter | Kala Elite Soprano
    KoAloha Silver concert | Blackbird Clara | Kamaka HF-2A | KoAloha Opio KCO-10 (acacia) | KoAloha Opio KCO-10S (spruce top)
    Anuenue UC200 Moonbird Concert | UkeSA Pineapple Sunday concert (acacia) | Pop's Pineapple Sunday (koa)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Seattle, WA


    Hello M3Ukulele! glad you asked.
    I hope my response is what you're looking for. I don't have a Homestead (yet), but I have a Bonanza Oreo Walnut Cutaway Tenor, Low G, and have had it / played it for about a year now.
    So here goes my experiences:

    Corian nut and saddles, don't mind them actually. They do contribute to really good sustain on these. But i do find them inconsistent in sound and tone transfer. The original ones mine came with looked nice and sounded good, full
    and clear. But i had some issues with the saddle and nut heights as the action was too high. Pete and Shelley were so wonderful to work with, they sent me 3 more nuts and saddles to try different heights and combinations. I found one that worked, BUT...i noticed
    the tones changed quit a lot with each one. Not volume...but actual tonal character.
    They went from mellow and round, to sharp and jangly, and some even more trebles accentuated.
    I don't find that with Bone or other material saddles, as maybe Bone is denser or more solid, i don't know for sure. But Corian, being a synthetic material composite, maybe each one has a different density inside so tone is not consistent.
    But it's ok, not a big deal. Just something i noticed.

    Looks, i LOVE the look of the Bonanza Oreo. Beautifully finished, made and crafted.
    The cutaway is one of the best designs I've ever seen in a cutaway style, because it's suave, and sleek and curves down towards the lower bout, instead of the more traditional florentines, etc. It's what help sell the design to me.

    Now comes the experiences you were looking for.
    When i first got mine, i was a bit disappointed with the sound compared to what i heard on sound samples.
    It didn't sound open and the volume was "quiet". But...there was volume, none the less.

    So what was missing? I was scratching my head...why didn't it sound like the sound samples where everything sounded so full!
    I almost returned it. Was sad...cuz i paid over $400 for it, with a pick up installed, was so excited about something so cool and innovative, and looked so stunning!
    I know, solid woods take awhile to open up...but i've had Kala thinlines and a Hurricane Thinline that sounded big and open right out of the box by comparison.
    THEN...after a few months of playing it, i did something by accident and found out the cause.
    I closed my door, to not wake up my family sleeping, and just by chance started playing the Oreo behind the door, but close by up against it. and then WOW...the full sound i had heard in the samples came resonating back at me. It sounded great!!!
    And then DUH...i realized, the sound was reverberating off the door / wall back and me and that's what i wanted to hear.
    Very full, very warm, very...sound hugging goodness.

    So when Shelley did her sound samples, her mic must be in front of the uke so that the projected sound goes right to the mic. It sounds great. But when you play the actual instrument, it's a very different experience, since it's
    so thin and doesn't have an arched back like the Kala or Hurricane or Leho Thinlines, which are very projecting.
    So...i don't play the Oreo in public, but it does have a pickup for that reason.
    To play at home, i just have to accept it for what it is and what its limitations are, and just play in front of a wall when possible. then i get the full experience.

    So it has grown with me over time, and i decided to keep it.
    Now...experience with goes. I love experimenting with different strings to get the optimum tone for my style of playing and personal preference.
    So these are just opinions, as strings are subjective as you all know.

    I've changed my strings on the Oreo many times.
    Here are my findings (to my ears and feel) and only with Low G and on the Corian nut and Saddle:

    1. Original Seaguars - very stiff, dull sounding, hard on fingers

    2. Worth Browns LG - good volume, but still very jangly, shrill sometimes, good base, but not so pleasant trebles, and still cuts into my fingers (i noticed all worth browns do that to me, except for the baritone strings)

    3. Living Waters - quite nice, better tensions, but a bit soft on volume and brilliance

    4. Aurora colored strings - very mellow, but quite good volume

    5. D'Addario Carbons - big sound, full, thicker feel

    6. Luthier supercarbon 101 - great feel, sustain, flexible, but sounds a bit thin

    7. Ukelogic soft tensions - pretty nice, but found myself wanting more...

    8. Fremont Black LG - fantastic, probably the best string set for this Oreo. Has brilliance, warmth, and sounds multi-dimensional

    9. PHDs by Jason Arimoto - great and full sounding, good feel

    10. Oasis warm carbons With Worth Clear Low G - what i currently have on now, and it's very good.
    Loudest volume, still clear, and feels good.

    On string changes though...due to the thin shallow body, and with this string-through design at the holes, this is my biggest frustration with it.
    It's extremely hard to change strings if you're re-using older sets you wanted to swap from another uke,

    since those strings loses their natural curvature.
    When inserting in the hole and trying to get your hand in there to pull the end out, it's always very annoying and challenging to get it out, if the string happens to go the other way, towards the lower bout instead of towards the sound hole.
    Yes, tweazers and chopsticks sometimes help, but added step and takes much longer to swap strings if you love experimenting like me.
    On newer string sets, it gets a tad easier because the new strings, as Pete has pointed out, has a natural curve that can go towards the sound hole easier so you can fish them out. But it doesn't always happen.
    So once you found strings you like...just try not change them out for a while.

    Now, all this tone info, is based on my playing style and what my ears like. I prefer big, round, open, and warmer tones.
    I play jazz and fingerstyle mainly, so i tend to judge my findings on whether i can happily play and enjoy jazz chords, clear note definition for solo passages and melodies, and ballads.
    It wasn't fair for me to hope the Oreo could achieve ALL of the checkboxes...but it sounds very good strummed i would say.
    So if you sing, and want a good accompaniment, the Oreo and probably the Homestead would do great. But for fingerstyle melodies, it needs to be plugged in to get the full effect, i found and i always find myself wanting more out of it, since i just love
    the look so much. otherwise, i have to switch instruments to something with bigger sound.

    so all in all, i would say...i've grown to love it, and just accept it for what it is and can do. It's a great jazz chord comping instrument, especially when plugged in. and the Walnut tone is warm, so it sounds good as vocal
    accompaniment when strummed.

    and I have good hopes that Pete would continue innovating and improving on its design over time.
    Which i think is also why they now have the Homestead model.
    I do love the simplicity and elegance of it and if what i read is true, that he's improved the bracings, and the new fretboard has fret end self binding feel and look, I'm curious to try it.
    and I think the next Bonanza for me might be the Baritone Homestead.
    There aren't many options for bari cutaway models out there, so this one might be a good option.

    so in summary, before i bore you all with my longest reply ever, I went from really psyched, to quite disappointed, wanting to return it, then wanting to sell it, to experimenting a lot, to giving it a second chance, to now quite
    enjoying long as i just accept it for what it is.
    It's a head turner for sure, and sounds really good plugged in with the installed Double Pickup
    (and i usually love and prefer the MiSi Acoustic Trio), but the Double sounds great too for less price.

    I might consider selling my Tenor Oreo cutaway here at some point, if i find i need some funds to try a different uke for that dang UAS....but it's growing on me to keep for awhile longer.

    It's a good post this thread, because i was also very curious to know what other Bonanza thinline owners thought, after a few months or year out with theirs.

    I hope this helps you all a lot, even though It's about the Oreo and not the Homestead. But i figured it's still relevant because they are almost the same design and same maker.


    "Having multiple ukes is like being a blind artist gaining back our sight and re-discovering a wonderful world and palette full of color.
    Uke had me at Aloha." - FuzzeeSock

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