Mainland Mahogany Concert - Slotted Headstock model - review

5 May 2010

Mainland Mahogany Concert - Slotted Headstock model - review

Hot on the heels of my Flea review, whilst I have posted pics of my beloved Mainland (and raved about it), I noted I had not provided a detailed review.

The background to Mainland is quite interesting - they are assembled in the USA by hand by Hoosier Mikes (from Ukulele Underground) team in Nashville Indiana.  The parts though are made and shaped in the far east in the same production facilities as many other mid level ukes such as Ohana I believe.  Mike used to be the man at Bushman Ukuleles, (which still exist I think) but he went it alone.

What he has provided though is a range of beautifully finished all solid ukuleles at a great price point that I personally would argue is hard to match for the money.

I had read so many good things that I placed my order from the only UK Mainland dealer - the very nice people at Eagle Music in Huddersfield.  I opted for the Concert scale uke, and for something a little classier the slotted traditional headstock with backwards facing tuners.  Was £179, though I think its a touch cheaper if you go for a standard headstock.

mainland mahogany concert ukulele body

On opening the box it was clear that this was a lovely instrument.  The Mahogany finish is wonderful, deep grained with a kind of 3D shimmer effect to it.  The colour just glows a lovely dark orangey brown.  the top and back have a white bound edge, and the top is finished with Mainlands trademark ropework finish around the edge and sound hole.  Some love this, some hate it, but I usually find that those that dislike it have seen trade pictures that make it look a stark black and white - it isnt - the white is very creamy and the whole thing looks mellow.

The neck is wonderfully finished and the fingerboard is a beautiful smooth dark wood that just looks quality.  Frets are nicely finished too.  I think the saddle and nut are bone which is a nice touch.

Headstock as I say is slotted design with rear facing geared tuners with pearloid buttons.  If you order from Mainland you can specify exactly what you want down to button colour for no, or little extra cost which is cool.  The tuners are nice quality and hold well.  Mainland logo is on the headstock in similar ropework finish, but if I am honest, it looks a little pale on the mahogany background - could do with standing out a bit more.

mainland concert ukulele slotted headstock

To hold and play, the uke is very comfortable and a nice weight.  The extra scale in the concert neck is nice to play on, and the action and intonation was absolutely spot on everywhere - NO complaints here.

Came strung with Aquilas which are obviously nice, but to be honest, I dont think a sweet solid instrument benefits from these butch strings that well.  As you will read elsewhere on the blog, I have been playing around with string types on the mainland and seem to have now settled on the new edition Martin Flourocarbons - they give the nicest balance to my ears between volume and sweet chiming sound.

And that sound is what I really like about the Mainland - and what sets well made all solid instruments apart from the cheaper end - the sound is just really sweet and rings - nice sustain (yes, sustain - on a ukulele) but real bell like chimes from it.

I've found myself getting very precious about this uke - certainly not a uke I would take to the pub for a jamming session - I polish it too much (how sad) - but then it has its place - this is my "sit down when the house is quiet and relax with my uke" ukulele!

It therefore comes totally, 100%, no ifs buts or maybes recommended from me.  If you are looking for a step up from a beginner uke, or just a uke in the £150 -£200 price bracket, you would be daft to ignore these.

Keep an eye on the Mainland Site too, as Mike is introducing new models, new wood types and shapes - all look nice.  I hear the red cedar models are lovely too!

mainland concert mahogany ukulele


Looks - 8.5
Fit and finish - 7.5
Sound - 8
Value for money - 9



  1. I didn't know there was a UK dealer - ordered mine from the US from Mike directly, but I'm glad I did because Eagle Music don't seem to stock them with friction tuners.

    Very glad you like it, I don't think there's a single negative review around, hopefully mine will sail through customs.

  2. I wouldnt worry - heard good things about ordering from Mike to the UK. Its a great Uke.

    I'm tempted on another in cedar!

  3. Is yours glossy? I have the same uke with matte finishe, and it is magnificent. The wood truly shimmers.

  4. yep, to those who asked - this is the gloss model

  5. Hello. This is a very temptign review. Are there any extra postage charges when ordering from Mainland direct other than the delivery charge? Is the step up from soprano to Concert much of a jump?

  6. HI there - if you are shipping outside the US then you may face local taxes and VAT additions. The concert size sounds very much like a soprano, but just has a bit more room on the neck.

  7. I recently bought a banjo uke from the US and this is how the import charges are worked out - add up price and shipping charges. At UK customs, VAT at 20% of this figure is charged, + import duty - a used instrument is at 3.2%, I don't know about new. you can google this...Then Parcelforce charge £8 for handling at this end. They pay the customs charges for you, then you have to pay them before they'll deliver. A nasty shock if you're not prepared! (My bill was £79)

  8. Hi, Barry....just ran across this review. In my stable of ukes, I include a Mainland mahogany tenor with standard headstock and a Mi-Si pickup. Right out of the box from Mike at Mainland, this has become my #1 stage uke, although for wedding ceremony work or jazz jams, I opt for the 5-string Ohana for the lower sound.

    I highly recommend the Mainland product for someone looking for a unique, well made and good sounding uke without breaking the bank.

  9. I bought my Mainland concert (mat finish) from Eagle music just over 3 years ago and I think it's a great instrument at a very good price.

  10. Does Barry respond to comments anymore? Recognized that alot of comments on many reviews go unanswered.

  11. Hi Baz, Do you still love your Mainland concert? I bought one pre-owned and will be trying out strings to find that chime you speak of. I've heard it before, but not found it yet on this uke. (Came with Fremont Blacklines if I remember right, and now has Oasis Warms, low G in both as I prefer this tuning). Fleacia from Ukulele Underground

  12. I actually sold it on, but loved it dearly. I think strings are too personal and actually lately found them all quite similar really. For what it's worth I mainly used Martin Fluorocarbon on it.

  13. Hi Baz, I was lucky enough to win a Mainland USA Mahogany Tenor cutaway with Slotted Headstock. The sound is way better than any I have had before and can recommend the brand to any uke player. Not being a singer I never really took the the Ukulele that much, but this instrument has inspired me to get stuck in and master instrumental fingerstyle playing

  14. Hi Baz. Have you managed to get your hands on a Mainland Red Cedar uke yet. I'm thinking of getting the tenor version and would value your opinion. Nowhere near me stocks them so can't try one myself. Cheers, Dave.

  15. Recall playing one a while ago - but not had one long enough to write a review about

  16. I just bought A Baritone Matte finish, Red Cedar and Rosewood.took off the factory strings and put on Aquila Lavas (yuck!) cut them off and put on Aquila New Nylguts from my "junk box".very warm and clear sound.

  17. How would these compare to the Noah's? Looking to buy my first tenor and these two brand seem to be top of the list.


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