I can’t help falling in love with you…..
oops, i did it again….
i only just recently sold my kala 8string to a good friend for a couple of good reasons: i hardly ever played it, it felt too large (concert is my standard size), the neck felt to narrow, i still have more ukes than i can play at once…..
then i saw this solid mahogany 8-string pono up for sale. again 8-string tenor, again glossy finish, again equipped with living water strings. but this time a pono, the brand known for “fat” necks. plus equipped with loxx® strap buttons. first quick research on the web didn’t help against uas, so i finally pulled the trigger and got it 🙂 . and i already have plans with it: having read somewhere that the factory default ko’olau mahana strings are all of a very similar gauge (but different density) i ordered a set for testing; at the same time i also ordered a set of worth brown (which i liked a lot on the solid mahogany mainland), i expect them to be a perfect wintertime string set on this ukulele. both sets were in stock at southern ukulele store in the uk where the staff was very helpful in responding to all my questions.
- body and neck: all solid natural mahogany with glossy finish, rope-style soundhole rosette
- neck: mahogany, glossy rosewood faceplate on the headstock, adjustable truss rod
- fretboard: ebony with black binding; 20 frets (14 to body) with markers on 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 on fretboard and side
- bridge: ebony
- nut and saddle: bone
- open-geared tuners with white perloid buttons
- strings: at time of purchase living water strings, will later be swapped for ko’olau mahana (factory default) or worth brown medium
- weight: 830g
- length overall: 70 cm (+1 cm for the strap button)
- body length: 30 cm (11,8″)
- upper bout (fret 20): 17 cm (6,7″)
- lower bout: 23 cm (9″)
- depth: 70 mm (2 ¾”) at neck, 80 mm (3,14″) at bottom
- fretboard width: 1st fret 35 mm (1,38″), 12th fret 45 mm (1 ⅔”)
- string spacing at nut 30 mm, 38 mm at 12th fret (from g string to a string)
- scale 43 cm (16,93″)
- serial #155458
first hands-on impressions
the plain and simple look reminds me of the mainland classic – might not be for everyone, but this is what i like. the wood grain is fairly subtle, hard to capture properly in a picture. build looks flawless all around the out- and inside. even without a strap the “fat” pono neck felt as if it was made for me; fretting feels much easier than on the kala 8-string. pretty well balanced yet slightly heavier on the headstock side: center of gravity is at 10th fret. nothing to worry about, especially when playing with a strap like i do. i usually don’t use straps unless absolutely necessary like on the blackbird clara, the 8string tenor and the ubass.
as already said for the kala: 8 string ukuleles sound more than simply 2x 4 strings, simply because not all strings are doubled. the keyboard graphic below might be able to explain this a bit: green is the tonal range of a 4-string tenor with re-entrant (high g) gcea tuning, orange is the tonal range of this 8-string tenor.
the bright living water strings reminded of a mandolin on the kala’s koa laminate, they sound a tad mellower here on the solid mahogany. i don’t know whether this is more related to (unknown) string age or the different tonewood, though. most probably a mixture of both. anyway, i already put on the worth brown medium which are a great match (and settled pretty quick).
here are a few sound samples with the living water strings (no, it’s not me playing this)
due to the string pairs (as opposed to single strings) tuning and playing an 8-string ukulele is not as difficult as it may seem at first. there are basically two options to choose from:
- the “taropatch” style:
just doubled strings and all pairs tuned in unison (gg-cc-ee-aa, with either high or low g)
- the “other” style (i don’t know a specific name for it, calling it “classical” might be a bit bold) which i prefer because it gives you a lot more sound:
g and c in octave pairs, the other two in unison pairs, i.e. g4g3-c5c4-e4e4-a4a4. the exact sequence of the octaved pairs (high-low or low-high) is completely up to you – i have it high-low as written above.
frequencies and notes
just to give you no excuses for not tuning it correctly 😉 (all frequencies for 440Hz concert pitch)
g4 = 392Hz
c4 = 262Hz