U-30OR Painted Ukulele
- Maple body
- Painted fingerboard and bridge
- Geared guitar-style tuners with black buttons
- Bag included
The Mahalo U-30 Painted Soprano Ukulele is available in a rainbow of colors - each comes with its own color-matched bag for easy and safe transportation to the beach or the weekly lesson. This quality ukulele features all-maple construction, ebonized fretboard and bridge, and smooth, accurate, nickel-plated guitar style tuners.Includes a gig bag.
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Okina UK100 Soprano Ukulele with Rosewood Fingerboard - Natural
Diamond Head DU-150 Ukulele, Natural
Mahalo U-30OR Painted Economy Soprano Ukulele (Orange)
Lanikai LU-11 Soprano Ukulele
Kala KA-15S Mahogany Soprano Ukulele
The Okina, Diamond Head and Mahalo were all under $30 at the time and within $2 price of each other. Of the three, I thought that the Mahalo was the best offering both visually and in terms of tone quality. The Okina had a poor sound quality even compared to my own 20- and 40-year-old ukuleles (which had the original strings). A string upgrade to Aquila strings helped significantly, but even then, the Okina still had a far worse sound quality at this price level.
The Diamond Head and Mahalo both sounded better even with the stock strings and each includes a very nice (for this price) little gig bag. Incidentally, what the Mahalo product description says is a "color-matching brown gigbag" ended up being black, but black is pretty standard gig bag color. The Mahalo has the most "island" look to my eyes and the best sound. Much of the sound can probably be attributed to the strings which are more substantial than the Diamond Head's. That being said, it still makes financial and practical sense to get the Mahalo since it's so near the same price (compared to the Diamond Head) and has better strings already installed. I've also reviewed the Lanikai and Kala on their own pages.
This ukulele comes with Aquila Super Nylgut strings which are considered high-quality. The black finish is attractive and smooth but also shiny and will smudge. The tuners are very rough--like, VERY rough--to turn which I've never observed in other ukes, however it doesn't affect their ability to keep strings in tune. The saddle and nut feel cheap and not carefully made. I broke two low-G strings in the process of getting them on the uke before I realized it was the uke and not the strings that were flawed. The edge of the saddle was too sharp. Similarly the slits in the nut were too narrow and also sharp. I was able to file the edges and widen the slit for my low-G string with a nail file so it's a quick fix if you have that or some sandpaper.
I’m pretty happy with the quality of the sound of this ukulele. It’s also got surprisingly strong volume for a soprano. It feels great in my hands because it’s exactly the same outward shape as my first uke. The strings are high-quality as I said, but I might restring it with something lighter like Martin polycarbonate because right now the Aquila Super Nylgut (and the Aquila Red series low-G that I put in) feel like overkill on this instrument. If I buy another soprano, I probably would go for something else, but at around $40 this is not a purchase I regret.
First off, ukulele strings take some time to stretch out, so expect to keep re-tuning for about a week before they settle in. No skipping this process, even on $1000 dollar ukuleles.
Second, It's a cheap ukulele, so the action is going to be very high at the saddle and the nut, plus the fret board will not be level. This is what is making your ukulele sound like an alley full of deaf cats. When the action is too high, you have to stretch the strings to play a note, making it too sharp. They make the action high so that you don't notice the buzzing created by the uneven fret board.
The good news is, you can lower the action and level the fret board at home really easily. Rather than go through the process here, just spend some time googling "ukulele setup". There are a lot of good tutorials out there. Some guys use specialized files for the nut and fret board, but you don't necessarily need to go spending money on new tools. I've found you can just attach some high-grit sandpaper to a flat sanding block, and that works great for leveling the frets and bringing down the saddle. Also, a welding tip cleaner works perfectly for filing down the nut and you can grab one at any hardware store for 4 bucks. Hobart 770085 Welding Oxy-Acetylene Tip Cleaner - Large
Also, I saw a review saying that the frets are just painted wood. That review is out of date. The frets are solid brass.