BY GREG OLWELL | FROM THE SPRING 2021 ISSUE OF UKULELE
The pineapple ukulele’s recognizable shape has been a favorite of uke players for nearly a century now. Yet, for some reason, full-size tenor pineapples are uncommon and have usually only been available from high-end builders. But if my experience with the $269 Ohana PKT-25G Tenor Pineapple is any indication, it has potential that’s only beginning to be tapped for players who want the easy-playing dimensions of a tenor paired with the sweet sounds and looks of a pineapple.
Due to its “dad bod” shape, the PKT is slightly larger than a standard tenor and has the familiar feel of a tenor-scale neck. The new PKT-25G originates from Ohana’s 25 series, a line that features all-solid mahogany bodies with elegantly simple appointments, and in this case, a pointy headstock that looks like the crown of a pineapple. The headstock shape might be a pinch too much whimsy for some players, but it suits the instrument and gives it a dash of panache. But what makes this model special in its price range is what the letters in the name indicate: pineapple shape (P), tenor (T), and gloss finish (G).
Since Samuel K. Kamaka created and patented the pineapple soprano ukulele in 1928, it has been an enduring and lovable instrument that fully captures some of the playful magic of the ukulele. Especially in the early years of its production, and through many custom builds, the pineapple has been a canvas for decal decorations and paint jobs that emphasized its pineapple inspiration. But for anyone who has strummed a pineapple uke, it is clear that the ovoid shaped body is more than just a cute novelty; it has its own sound and has attracted a cult-like following.
The pineapple’s larger, wider body comes from eliminating the narrow central bouts and changing the shape of the upper bouts. This makes for a uke with a larger air cavity and vibrating top—creating its own sound. When I’ve been able to compare standard figure-8-shaped sopranos with a pineapple made from the same materials, I’ve found that the standard soprano’s trebly bark shifts to more of a midrange woof in a pineapple version. This wider, throatier tone can sound like a larger and slightly mellower instrument.
In their price range, Ohana’s instruments are known for their high build quality and good setups, and my tester was no exception, though a little less height at the nut would have made notes on the first fret a little easier to fret. Throughout, the tenor’s construction and fit and finish made me think it was a more expensive instrument, and I was a bit dumbstruck when I found out that it streets for well under $300. Each component is fit snugly, and the finish is mirror-glossy over all of the surfaces with the exception of the fingerboard and bridge. The glossy finish is also excellent at capturing fingerprints, so you might want to give this darling a wipe-down after each session to keep it looking its best. The top and back are each made from one piece of mahogany and the solid mahogany sides might more accurately be called “a side” because it’s one long piece that’s bent from one side of the neck to the other, leaving no line on the endpin area where you typically find a joint. You don’t see that happen very often. The top is supported by a modified fan-bracing pattern and the rest of the interior construction is as precise and attentive as the exterior, with crisp lines and smooth surfaces joined with zero glue gobs. The neck has a comfortable C-shaped profile and the flat rosewood fingerboard has cleanly seated, buzz-free frets all the way up to the soundhole.
In a word, I’d describe the sound of the PKT-25G as husky. Whether I played open-position chords or fingerpicked single-note parts high up the neck, the Pineapple delivered a tone that was thick and pleasing, but not heavy, with a lot of sustain. Notes seemed to float a bit, buoyed by a midrange that pleasantly balanced the treble and bass response in a way that sounded more even to my ear than many normal-shaped tenors in this price range. The result is a full-sounding uke that has a wide sound and good punch for filling a room and may deliver an almost baritone voice to a group, but with the facility and size of a tenor. Like smaller pineapple ukes, staccato chord chops on the Ohana tenor have an authoritative woof that could stop someone in their tracks.
Beyond the cadre of folks who have been itching for a pineapple in a tenor size, people who want to hear a rounder, slightly darker tone from a tenor might want to line up to try the Ohana PKT-25G. It delivers a rich and plump tone in a well-made, handsome instrument that is a rock-solid value for your ukulele dollars. The only thing I could ask for would be a lighter version that shaves off a few ounces by employing thinner body woods and a lighter, more breathable finish. Something requiring that much refinement would cost a bit more, but it would create a killer uke with even more dynamic responsiveness and tone.
Ohana PKT-25G Tenor Pineapple
BODY Solid mahogany body; tenor pineapple shape; high-gloss finish back and sides
NECK 17″ scale mahogany neck with crown-shaped headstock and high-gloss polyurethane finish; 19-fret rosewood fingerboard; 1-7/16″–wide bone nut; Grover Sta-Tite 9NB nickel open-gear tuners with black plastic buttons
OTHER Aquila Nylgut strings; one-year limited warranty
PRICE $269 street
MADE IN China
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