You know. Common stuff.
I don’t think that these are particularly bad ukes either (though the Makala comes close, but I’ll save that for a future review), but they are nothing special and there are issues. They’re the kind of ukuleles that you look at and immediately start thinking of when you’re going to upgrade. And if my kids stick with the ukulele and want something a bit more serious without breaking the bank, I’m pointing them to Pono.
The last Pono I reviewed was close to the top of their price range and it was very, very nice. It had all sorts of frills, bells, whistles, and extra stuff that made it brag-worthy. But what if what you’re interested in is just having an uke that delivers where it matters most so you can save as much money and get the biggest bang for your buck?
If that’s the case, check out the Pono AT. Where most import, budget-focused ukes feature plywood bodies and plastic parts, Pono – ALL Ponos – feature solid woods and no plastic bridges or saddles. This means that as they’re played, their tone will change and open up, leaving you with a better-sounding ukulele (not that they don’t start out sounding good, but they will sound better with the more attention they get). Solid woods are more susceptible to temperature or humidity changes, but if you use a case humidifier, a room humidifier, or are in a moderately moist environment (read: not in the Midwest US during the winter when the heater is sucking all the water out of the air), you’ll be fine.
It features a body made of acacia – a cousin of the more expensive koa wood Hawaii is famous for. This means the tone will be similar while not costing a ton of money. It also features a rope rosette, a nicely figured rosewood fretboard and bone nut and saddle. One more thing it features is a truss rod which is sometimes a bit of a rarity in the ukulele world, so if the neck needs adjustments, it’s an easy thing to accomplish.
It lacks some of the frills of more expensive models – the finish is satin, there isn’t a slot-headstock option, and the fretboard is flat. These aren’t required to have a good ukulele, though, and the bones of it still shine quite well. The frets are nicely rounded and polished so there’s no scratchy sounds during bends or vibrato, the tone is sweet, the satin neck is more comfortable to move your hand around on then gloss, and you feel more comfortable playing with it since you paid less.
How much is “less?” The Ukulele Site sells these for $351 each. That is incredibly affordable for an uke that will last a lifetime.
Find this Pono and many more at our website HERE.