Pono PTS-E Mahogany Delux Review


Well-known member
Jan 10, 2009
Reaction score
Manteno, Illinois
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I just received my brand new Pono PTS-E Mahogany Delux tenor ukulele with pickup.

Video Review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c35PUV0LlzI (Sound samples come at the end around 8:00.)

Here is a brief written review:

Features: Solid Mahogany back, and sides, solid Spruce top. Ebony binding, rope purfling, abalone rosette, ebony faceplate, fingerboard, and bridge, bone nut and saddle, pearl logo and fingerboard position dots. Grover Mini-Rotomatic tuners with ebony buttons, Adjustable truss Gloss Finish, and a Ko'olau Hardshell Case.

Review: First, the build quality is nothing short of fantastic. There is no leaking glue, it has a spot-on fret job, and solid construction. The finish is nearly flawless. Aside from one hardly noticeable, millimeter size blemish on the rope binding, there are no other issues with the finish. The gloss finish is not overdone, nor sloppy. The quality and look of the mahogany is fantastic, as is the spruce. When looking at pictures of this instrument online, I was not impressed with the rope inlay. However, in person, I love it. The pictures online do not give this uke justice. Overall, the instrument is beautiful and a treat for the eyes. It is simply superb. The action may be just a tad bit high for my tastes, but that is easily correctible, and I have had no problems with playability and intonation. Part of it may be due to the fact that this is my first tenor, and I really don't have anything to compare it to. There is absolutely no fret buzz. Next, the Grover tuners are fantastic, and are very smooth and precise. As for the sound, it has a full, bright, loud, lovely sound. Strung with low-g strings, it gave a deep, full tone that was great. However, I prefer it with high-g. Strung with high-g D'adarrio Pro Arte strings, it gives off a tight, bright tone which I love, that is "snappy" when played hard (which I also love). However, it is not overbearingly bright, and is rather warm and mellow when played softly. This is my first solid wood instrument, and I can not emphasize enough how much of an improvement in tone the solid wood provides. As for the pickup, I have not had a chance to really test it out on a good system yet. However, I will have a chance tomorrow at church. So, I will update with a review of the pickup tomorrow. Ultimately, I am extremely satisfied with this instrument. It has exceeded all of my expectations. I highly recommend this uke. Pick one up while you still can.

Pictures will be coming soon.
Last edited:
Nice review, I totally agree, all of the Pono Ukueles are made very well. They are introducing a new entry level model at the end of this month, which is the Ohai series which almost looks like Koa. You are right, thanks for the correction, Gcow55!
Last edited:
Nice review, I totally agree, all of the Pono Ukueles are made very well. They are introducing a new entry level model at the end of this month, which is the Ohai series made from Accacia wood (same family as Hawaiian Koa).

Thanks. However, I believe the Ohai model is made out of Ohai wood, not acacia.
Beautiful ukulele! Great review, you just left out two pieces of info:

What did it cost, and where did you purchase it?
Hey Greg, great review of your new Pono uke. A lot of good information. It is a beautiful instrument. Hope everyone checks out your youtube review.

Let us know how your test went on your pickup. Even tho my Pono does not have a pickup, I would like to know how you liked yours.

We will be waiting for some new videos soon.

how much did u get the uke for?
UPDATE: I had a chance today to try out the passive pick-up on a PA system as well as my Vox AC-30. Sadly, I was not very impressed. First, the pickup was quiet. This, I expected with it being a passive pickup, and no pre-amp. However, it was almost inaudibly quiet with the PA. On the Vox, I was able to crank it louder. However, it didn't sound too "acousticy" due to the fact the AC-30 is an electric guitar amp. Second, and my biggest issue, is the fact that the pickup is more unbalanced than I had first noticed. The C string is by far the loudest, and the high G string is VERY quiet. I'm not sure if this is due to improper installation, or if it is just how the pick up is. The tone was decent for a passive pickup. It definitely needs a preamp to boost the signal and to to be shape the tone. I don't want to say it is low quality, because with a preamp, it could sound fantastic. I'll let you know when I pick one up.

Has any one else experienced the quiet high g with a passive pickup? Should I send it back to Ko'olau to get it worked on? Please share your experiences with the Pono passive pickup.
Last edited:
Anyone not happy with the volume of this instrument?

At first, I wasn't to pleased with the projection. However, after giving the instrument time to open up, and experimenting with different types of strings, I am extremely happy with it. I've used Ko'olau golds, D'Addario Pro-Arte, and Aquila (both plane and wound 3rd). For me, the Aquilas with the wound 3rd provided the best projection and tone. The others provided good tone, however they lacked in volume.
I have the Pono spruce top with ebony back and sides. It's a beautiful instrument but sounds dead to me. The tone is nice but no projection. It came with Ko'olau golds. From there I went to Aquila which was louder but thinned out the richness. Currently have Worth clears on it. seems to be a happy medium. The kicker is I just recently bought a Kanilea koa tenor, the basic K-1 satin. Wow. Now I know what a good tenor uke should sound like. Very rich tone with good projection. Admittedly twice the price of the Pono but still.... The Kanilea is probably ten times better sounding. My other ukes are Mainland mahogany, Ohana mahogany and Kala acacia. All tenors. All three are louder than the Pono with the Kala acacia surpassing the Pono in tone richness. Plan is to try Pro-Arte' on the Pono next but based upon Gcow55s comment, I don't hold any great expectations. What then? Try baritone strings? Sand down the top? Actually read somewhere that someone tried that. Will probably turn it into an electric uke. It is nice on the couch in the living room with the wife. It's very quiet.
I agree that the Pono lacks projection. I now own a Kala Acacia and Kanilea K1 which both are brighter sounding than the Pono PTES I had.
Top Bottom