Ohana’s entry level all-solid soprano is pretty well specced for the price. For around £140 ($220) you get a solid Mahogany soprano ukulele with a bone saddle and nut, rosewood fretboard, Grover tuners and Aquila strings. Want to know more? Read on…
Look and feel
You can feel the quality in this instrument and those that are stepping up from a laminate ukulele will instantly be able to tell the difference in workmanship and materials. It feels great in the hand and it’s weighted very nicely – it’s probably one of the easiest ukuleles I’ve ever attempted to play standing up.
If I were going to make one criticism of the look, it’s the slotted bridge. I know they’re a little bit easier when it comes to replacing strings and as a result you see them a lot at the cheaper end of the market but I like to see my strings knotted. It’s entirely a personal thing but I’m not a fan.
Playability & Sound
I have to admit that I had high expectations from Ohana. Everything I’ve read and seen online was pretty positive, so the purchase seemed like an easy decision. Beyond the look and the feel I hate to say that I wasn’t hugely blown away by the sound and maybe that’s naivety from me, I don’t know. The sound itself is pleasant enough – quite warm, but perhaps a little bit muted. I don’t know what I expected, it’s more of a subtle improvement on my other ukuleles than a huge leap forward.
Here’s a short clip of me playing Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová to give you an idea of what it sounds like…
Shortly after buying this uke I made a quick video of me playing the same song on this and an Octopus Soprano (a ukulele that I like) just to really highlight the sound differences. It wasn’t really a comparison video as both ukes occupy a different space in the market but I really wanted to be able to hear the difference in real time.
I’m going to assume that you’re reading this review as you’re either stepping up from a cheaper ukulele or you’re trying to make an educated purchase and you want to buy a ukulele that isn’t at the bottom end of the market. Hopefully you can hear those differences in the video – the twangy sound that you tend to get on cheaper ukuleles isn’t there. It’s a much more rounded sound overall.
One problem that I have had with this ukulele is it has a very dry fretboard which isn’t something I’ve seen before and I own a lot of guitars that have rosewood fretboards. That said, it can happen, I think I was maybe a little bit unfortunate on that front. A little oil fixed this though and it wasn’t such a big deal.
Final thoughts on the Ohana SK-25
In some ways I’ve found this ukulele a little tough to review. On the one hand I love the way it looks and the way it feels in the hands – hell, it even smells great. On the other hand it didn’t knock me for six from a sound perspective, and while that’s maybe a little naive on my part I can only tell you what I think. Every other review I’ve read of this ukulele has been amazing, and maybe that overhyped it a little bit for me.
Overall it looks great, feels great and has a very rounded, polished sound. I wanted to like it more but it just wasn’t to be.