Monday, November 21, 2011

Adie of WeHappyFew has been searching for a new Bari...

Adie wrote,
"I'm trying to decide on which new bari to get and have been going around the bend searching the internet for ideas. Anyone got any opinions about the following short list which I've found for sale?? 1950's Favilla Baritone Ohana BK-35 Mainland Classic Mahogany Baritone Kala KA-ASAC-B Baritone Pono MB mahogany (if I can find one in stock!)."
I currently have two Favilla baritones and I enjoy the deeper tone that they produce with the old mahogany and thick body. I also have strung them with an all nylon set of strings of Worth Medium Brown baritone strings. It sounds great for my "at home" playing. I have found less-than-perfect cosmetic ones for about $350 on-line. So Adie, perhaps one of these vintage Favilla's would be good for that bluesy sound that you like in your music.

I have an electric Kala KA-BE which can be purchased in the U.S. for about $200. It is unfinished. I have been enamored with the Fav's as of late and have not played it much recently. It is a quality instrument and won't break the bank. I have a local bari-playing friend, Chris E., that has the Ohana bari. It also came unfinished but Chris, who has professional experience in boat building and maintenance, has beautifully added a clear light satin finish that makes the instrument stunningly beautiful. Chris also installed his own pick-up. I think that the Ohana and Kala differences are marginal.

I don't have any experience with the Pono except vicariously though Armelle in her Maelström video,

I have also picked one up at Gryphon Strings, affectionately know as "The Candy Store", and these instrument are beautiful. So aesthetically, I would say that the Pono is a step above the Ohana or Kala and the price ranges somewhere about $375. 

I don't really know much about the Mainland, but here's Grumpy Coyote with an original blues song for you Adie...

READERS, If you have another bari that you love. Please share information about it along with the approximate price. What comments do you have about the construction, playability, overall quality? Also, I would like to know if you have some favorite strings that you use on your bari.


Jeff / Humble Baritonics


  1. i would recomend pono i have an older pb picked it up at hawaii music supply as a second. solid ukulele with a passive pick up and hard case. contact andrew he is owner and a great guy to deal with. his father is the owner of ko'olau guitar and ukulele ( parent compny of pono ) so he should be able to get anything you may be looking for.check out hms webite look for video demo's on pono to hear how they sound. good luck

  2. Many thanks for the ideas/info. At the moment it's a toss up between the Favilla or the Pono then. I contacted Gryphon Strings and they have the acoustic matt MB version in stock (none of the electric versions left at HM unfortunately), or the Favilla finishes in about 24 hours on ebay?? How do you get on with the friction tuners on your Favilla Jeff, as I've not had much experience with them apart from on cheap new ukes. I do like the idea of getting a vintage instrument though as the wood should have opened up and I like the worn in look! Cheers. Adie

  3. I go by Gryphon about once a month. They have an acoustic Pono at approx. $375US and I very clean Favilla at about $700US. I have had to fiddle around with the tuner tightness a few times but they seem to hold pretty well for me. Mike DaSilva, who is the local luthier of world reknown frequently intalls the violin-style tuners with internal gears that allow extremely true and precise tuning. Jeff

  4. I have a Favilla and love the tone and feel of the instrument. There is something about well aged mahogany that I really love. The friction tuners seem to work fine although I did take them apart and clean them. They seem to work very smoothly. I really liked the older Martin strings on it but I now hear that Martin has reformulated and the wound G string seems to break it's winding frequently. I never had this problem with the older sets. I love playing vintage instruments so the Favilla would probably get my vote. Either way I'm sure you'll be happy. Good luck

  5. Ha, I love all my bari's , but in order of lovliest
    1. Gibson. kinda rare, they didn't make as many ukes as Martin did, and does, and even fewer baris. Looks a lot like a small Gibson mahog acoustic , with the taller guitar head and friction tuners, which work fine. super nice , clear/warm sound. thick frets. a great player.
    2. Lanikai S-B. very nice for the price. made in China but nicely finished, solid spruce top. bright spruce sound. Got a 2nd for less than $100 on the bay.
    3. Koloa. stunning looks, kind of heavily made import. needed a lot of fret work to get playable. muted but nice warm tone. a real looker.[sold]
    4. Pono PB. it hasn't arrived yet, but I have heard lots of good things about Ponos.