Ohana TPK-25G Short Scale Sopranino - REVIEW

10 Oct 2021

Ohana TPK-25G Short Scale Sopranino - REVIEW

A return for a very long standing ukulele brand and one featured many times before on Got A Ukulele. This is the Ohana TPK-25G Short Scale Sopranino Ukulele.


Ohana TPK-25G Sopranino ukulele


I've looked at all sorts of scales of instruments from Ohana (they've always had a large range), but this isn't the first sub soprano instrument I have looked at. You may recall I looked at their O'Nino Sopranissimo, an instrument that got an 'average to good' review as I had one or two issues with it. For reasons This instrument loses the 'sopranissimo' tag and becomes a short scale sopranino. The do make an even smaller one which they call the sopranissimo, but I really am not personally convinced it matters what you call them as all sub soprano ukes are relatively recent additions to the uke timeline. Pocket / Nano / Mini / Sopranino / Sopranissimo.. doesn't matter to me. If it's less than the traditional 13 inch scale of a regular soprano, give it one of those names. 

So, anyway.. a dinky uke. And a dinky pineapple at that! Pineapples are a soft spot for me and I really like them on smaller scale instruments because of the way the lack of a waist bolsters out the mid tones in the sound. The impact on well made examples is you get less of the thin staccato of traditional double bout sopranos and a more rounded sound. Like the O'Nino this is made from all solid mahogany and whilst it lacks the edge decoration I think it's more than made up for that with the full gloss as opposed to satin finish. I think the combination of that, the shape and the small body size make it look just great and of a higher quality look than the price would suggest.

Ohana TPK-25G Sopranino ukulele body


The bridge is specified by Ohana as 'hardwood' which isn't too helpful, but I wonder if that is because they are sourcing rosewood alternatives. Could be ovangkol is my guess. It's a slot style (thankfully on a small body!) fitted with a straight topped bone saddle.  Spacing here is 35mm.

Ohana TPK-25G Sopranino ukulele bridge


There is nothing else to speak of on the body and I rather like it for that! That gloss finish is pretty well done which doesn't surprise me with Ohana, though there is a bit of pooling around the end of the fingerboard. I've seen worse though.

Ohana TPK-25G Sopranino ukulele finish


Inside is very tidy with notched kerfing and teeny braces. The top also looks pretty thin too.

Ohana TPK-25G Sopranino Ukulele inside


The neck is made of mahogany in three pieces and is glossed like the body. Irritatingly, like an increasing number of ukuleles I am looking at lately the stain under the gloss is a far paler colour that the body making it stand out. It tapers to a fairly rounded profile at the nut and a skinny 33mm at the nut and 27mm G to A. That's the same as the O Nino on which I remarked as being just about playable for me, certainly better than some, but that you CAN get wider nuts on sub soprano instruments. At the time of me reviewing the O Nino, the example I gave was the John Daniel Pixie, but since that O Nino review I then came across what became the standard bearer for me in Sopranino instruments - the DJ Morgan Mini Pineapple with a 35mm nut. So it can be done. Sadly neither the Pixie or the DJM instruments are easy to get any longer (if built at all).. Ho hum.

The fingerboard here is more unspecified hardwood and is in good smooth condition all over it.  It is fitted with a very standard 12 frets to the body and thankfully there are no sharp ends, helped by a strip of dark wood side binding. Pearl position dots are fitted to the face at the 5th, 7th and 10th and these are repeated with side dots.

Ohana TPK-25G Sopranino ukulele neck


Beyond the bone nut is what I suspect is, for many, the main event here - a spiky topped headstock to complete the 'pineapple' image. Many also refer to it as a 'Bart Simpson' look. Some don't like it, but to be honest I am very taken with it. It's not too serious and a bit of fun that works with the concept. What I don't like though is the size of it. Much like the O Nino, Ohana here have chosen to put a standard soprano sized headstock on a smaller instrument and it looks odd to me. I never like sopranino ukes where the maker does that. Still, it's nicely finished, faced in the darker mahogany of the body and carrying the Ohana logo in a pearly decal under the gloss at the top.

Ohana TPK-25G Sopranino ukulele headstock

The tuners have me between a rock and a hard place. I'm delighted to see that they are Grover tuners (albeit not their highest end, but still - a mark of quality) so that bodes well for feel in use. But come on.. this is a sopranino - I really would want to see rear facing pegs on a smaller instrument and think gears look silly enough on a soprano. Disappointing.

Ohana TPK-25G Sopranino ukulele tuners


Finishing the package off are a set of Aquila strings and nothing else. It's a shame it doesn't come with a gig bag as standard (Ohana DO make one) in view of the non standard shape and size. But as it is, this can be yours for a street price of around £160. That's not bad at all to be fair considering it's all solid wood.

Ohana TPK-25G Sopranino ukulele back


As you can see here, the build and finish is pretty good in most departments. Sure there is a bit of over gloss on the top, the nut width is not for me and I think the headstock is too big, but where it all counts it has been well put together. It's understandably light at only 350g , but very sadly it's slightly neck heavy. Considering that I wouldn't imagine this to be a uke you'd use a strap with, that's a comfort problem as it's not balanced to hold. You know what I was saying about those tuners and headstock?.....

When it comes to tone my comments below need a bit of explanation and that's about tuning choice. Whilst this will accommodate standard GCEA tuning (and in fact it came tuned to that when it arrived) I personally think it sounded pretty poor that way. The strings felt far too loose, the intonation was not quite there and there was a flabby echoey nature to the tone. I tuned it up to ADF#B, which is actually a more traditional soprano tuning still used in some countries as standard and the instrument sounds FAR better. The strings feel better, the volume is better and the sound much clearer. Now that tuning has no issue with me, but I mention it because I know many people are fearful of going to new relative tunings and like to stick with C. I think that's a shame, but that's their choice. What I am saying here at the outset is I think pretty much all the positives I mention below would become negatives if you keep this instrument in C tuning. To help you out, in the video I knocked the tuning down to C after the first run through to give you an idea.

In D tuning though the volume is extremely good and the sustain is really decent too. It has a real snappy punch to the tone and great projection that works well above the size.

Strummed there is a really pleasing jangle and peppiness to the tone. Sure it's brighter and more in your face than it would be in C, but I like it for that and the rounding out of the tone created by the body shape stops it being too strident. It's 'interesting' to listen to and that means it keeps your attention due to it having some character. Fingerpicked in this tuning it's melt your face stuff with hugely zingy clear notes leaping from the top. Again very pleasing. On the negative side, in both styles of play there is a touch of boxiness and echo, though that is much more evident to my ears in C tuning.  So it's not perfect on tone but very passable in D. It made me want to play it that way, and I would consider something like this if the nut was more comfortable for my own hands.

All in all this is a very positive review and there was much I liked about the instrument. The nut width, tuners and headstock are all subjective points so they may well not matter a jot to you. The heavy headstock is very much an objective criticism though and should not be like that. I fear that people may shy away from it due to my comments on tuning, but I'd urge you not to be so hasty. Playing in another relative tuning is far easier than you might imagine and only really needs the ability to count. See my guide on relative ukulele tunings to help you out.  

In D though, this is a peppy, fun sounding cute bundle of fun and gets my recommendation!


UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Model: Ohana TPK-25G
Scale: Sopranino
Body: Solid Mahogany
Bridge: Unspecified hardwood - tie bar
Saddle: Bone
Spacing at saddle: 35mm
Finish: Gloss
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Unspecified hardwood
Frets: 12
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 33mm, 27mm G to A
Tuners: Grover gears
Weight: 350g
Country of origin: China
Price: £160

UKULELE PROS

Good build and finish
Great looks
Good volume and sustain (in D tuning!)
Jangly, peppy strummed tone which suits the small size
Zingy fingerpicked notes

UKULELE CONS

Nut width not for me
Headstock too large for me
Give me friction pegs!
Slightly neck heavy
Not for me if tuned standard C

UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 9 out of 10
Fit and finish - 8.5 out of 10
Sound - 8.5 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 8.8 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW 








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5 comments :

  1. These are nice instruments. I got a ohana sopranissimo and sopranino in the spruce/mahogany variants.

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    Replies
    1. I had an o'nino before I got this one. This pineapple makes the o'nino sound like a toy.

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  2. I think the pequeno from Ohana would be a better choice because it's nut is a little bit wider (1-3/8”) and because of the direct tuners. I had one and it was so good that I would always recommend it. But my DJ Morgan sopranino was better.

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  3. Usually a big fan of Ohana ukes but I really don't like the pineapple shape even though I suspect you are right about the better mid-tones. Wondered if you'd come across the Kiwaya U-Trip-01? It's laminate mahogany but very well built at that and nice and plain looking, of course. Nut width is up there with my Ohana Concert at 34mm so nicely playable. Like you'd I'd have preferred friction tuners to the geared and it does make it a bit neck heavy but with such a small instrument does it really matter? Like the Ohana I think it would be better D tuned but it sounds OK in C tuning and I'm too lazy to learn the different chord positions. Overall at £99 with a bag I'd say it was better value that the Ohana...

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    Replies
    1. Little Kiwaya is interesting, and not just because of the price. Kiwayas are usually excellently made, including the inexpensive Student series. Perhaps the cheapest sopranino could be the Mahalo Smilino, which I have just ordered for little money. In terms of sound, it will definitely not come close to an Ohana or Kiwaya, but I think the funny design makes it a nice gadget.

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