There’s no knowledge gap, so the adjustment is mostly a matter of patience, and is better every time I play the beauty. Intonation, set up and all the similar things that make playing fun and not a chore are great. It’s a very fine instrument, as I’ve learned to expect from Pono (who also made my baritone uke). At my age, playing for the public is not the main thing for me, as I’m now able to explore those musical worlds that I bypassed on the way here and get joy exploring new musical worlds. This octave is perfect for this sort of venture. Same notes and chords as my mandolins, but mildly modified fingering. I’m having a ball with it.
First off, let me say that every time I open the case and look at this little octave I’m pleased. It is absolutely beautiful. You used some very nice wood on this instrument. The rosewood is lovely and the red eyes in it are a delight to look at. I normally don’t like a high gloss finish on an instrument, but on this one it seems to be the correct choice. The curly maple side binding and ukulele-esque rope binding on the top are beautiful and well executed. I like the choice of the small MOP dots in the fretboard as well as the MOP purling around the sound hole—all very classy. Beautiful elegant case too with a comfy padded handle! My oh my! I was quite taken with the sound of this octave from the start. There is a wonderful pop to the notes that is quite pleasing. Many octaves have a strange kind of “honk” to their tone, especially when driven hard. This octave doesn’t. It may be because of the pin bridge? I’m not sure, but the notes sound pure and sweet even when played hard. Most octaves that I’ve played have a definite limit beyond which they do not like to be pushed. Not so with this one. It likes single note runs played with authority. The volume is amazing. It easily holds its own in the company of banjos and dobros. The volume and tone are consistent up the neck. It also works nicely with a capo. I’ll note here as well that with many octaves it’s a relief to put the capo on, playability-wise. This little Pono is so easy to play, however, that I don’t notice it whether the capo is on or off. I’m playing it tonight at a gig with a clawhammer banjo and upright bass. I can’t wait! This little instrument is a winner. I would highly recommend it to octave mandolin and tenor guitar players. I have it strung right now CGDA for traditional tenor guitar tuning. It’s a force to be reckoned with!
I’ve had many guitars worked on at KR Strings—for fretwork, set up, bridge and body repair, refinishing, and pickup installation and Kilin always does a great job. He is my preferred luthier and stringed instrument specialist on Oahu. I highly recommend him for any kind of guitar repair for steel string, electric, arch top, and classical guitars. He even refinished a classical guitar of mine with French Polish and did an outstanding job.
Just looking for Kilin to do some more work for me on a couple of my prized ukes and realized I never acknowledged the great work he did about a year ago setting up and selling my 60’s vintage Martin D12-35. He did a fantastic job tweaking her back to her near original charm, marketing, and selling her full price to a very lucky European buyer. This is the man—a tremendous local luthier with the integrity, knowledge, and capabilities to care for our most treasured stringed instruments.
Kilin has been repairing my vintage instruments for years and has always done fantastic work. He also built me an a-style mandolin. It is—without a doubt—one of the finest instruments I have ever played. It sounds, plays, and looks amazing. Great materials and superb craftsmanship. Also, the process of working with Kilin was so much fun. For aspects where I knew for sure what I wanted, he made it happen. When I didn’t know exactly, he offered fantastic guidance. The end result is a stunning mandolin. It has a balanced, beautiful sound with plenty of volume. Since getting the mandolin, I have also commissioned Kilin to build an archtop guitar similar to a late 1920’s Gibson L-5 to go with the mandolin. I highly recommend Kilin and KR Strings!