Ohana Resonators: Ukulele Window Shopping

I went to Belper Uke Gathering last week. I wasn’t there long, but while I was I got a chance to try out Ohana’s new resonator ukuleles. They’re very nice ukes. Well made, top quality parts, sound great. I don’t understand why they did that.

The problem is, they’re in the same price range as Nationals. The tenor will be almost exactly the same price as a triolian (although the triolian is a concert). Even if the Ohana is better than the National, I’ll still want the National because they have the story. They’re THE resonator maker. Their instruments were used by the great bluesmen and Hawaiian players of the 20s and 30s. Buy a National, you buy the story free and you get to play at Son Houses.

Ohana have a great story too. They slap together ukuleles in China so you can have a nice sounding, solid wood uke that won’t give you any problems at a decent price. That’s the reason I play my Ohana more than any other ukulele. But it also stops me spending a fat wad of cash on one of their ukes.

Compare Ohana to Kala. They’re in a similar area and have both been rapidly expanding the number of models. But Kala have stuck more closely to the idea of making ukes that are like expensive ones but more affordable. So they make the Acacia tenor for people who want to have a uke like Jake’s and the uBass for people who can’t afford a Road Toad.

Ohana don’t seem to have the same focus. If Ian Ohana had asked me what I thought, I would have gone with a cheaper, mass produced cones rather than the top, handmade ones they have. (All this is just what goes through my head – any resemblance to good business practice is purely coincidental).

On the subject of resonators, there’s this unusual ‘Resonator Fiddle Baritone’ on eBay.

Photos: Dour women sit on a car, ukulele woman.

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