Mahimahi MT-70Z Tenor Ukulele Review

27 Mar 2022

Mahimahi MT-70Z Tenor Ukulele Review

A return to Got A Ukulele for this Italian brand who impressed me with their first outing. This goes to the top of their line with the MT-70Z Tenor.

Mahimahi MT-70Z ukulele

As I explained in my review of their MC-3M Concert uke, Mahimahi are kind of the 'house brand' for the Mercantino dell'Ukulele store in Caldogno, itself a part of the Aquila business - so ukulele runs strong in the line. This is a more expensive offering to that concert and also quite the striking looker too.

Mahimahi MT-70Z Tenor Ukulele body


This is a standard scaled and shape double bout tenor with a great contrast to the unusual wood pairing. For the top here we have the classic choice of solid spruce and for the back and sides it's a first appearance on Got A Ukulele for 'black and white ebony'. Most readers will have seen the regular dark black coloured ebony, but there are actually a few other varieties out there including this variant of the same wood. In the sneak peek pictures I put up some people assumed the black patterning was 'spalting', but it isn't - these are just dark grain areas in the wood rather than the result of disease - so that IS the wood. And it's really quite the looker and unlike much else you will see. The grain in the top is tight and straight and the book matching in the back and sides is pretty decent. I really do like the combination.

But my first 'complaint' / confusion. The Mahimahi site lists this black and white ebony as 'solid, but when I look inside there is no matching black grain pattern. That means either there is a single inner veneer, or it's actually laminate. Following up on the trail a little further I know that these (like the MC-3M) likely come from a similar production line as Ohana instruments. In fact Ohana have a model which is identical to this called the TK-70BWE. On their listing they don't call the back and sides laminate, but they don't use the term solid either. So, i'm going with laminate and Mahimahi should really make that clear. Laminate should not be a dirty word, and from what I understand, black and white ebony is both rare and very expensive so it may stand to reason to be laminate. But they really should say so.

Anyway, moving on..  The bridge here is made of rosewood and is a very standard looking tie bar which is tidily finished. Sitting in that is a straight topped saddle made of what looks like bone. Spacing here is an average 40mm.

Mahimahi MT-70Z Tenor Ukulele bridge


Despite that striking looking back and sides they actually also offer a touch more decoration. This comes in the form of an abalone soundhole ring with additional wooden rings which I think works very well, and also  black edge binding to the back and top. I find the binding here a bit too heavy and, when looked it with the dark black striping of the ebony looks a bit too in your face. I like that it is bound, but think it would look better if not quite so thick. The body is then finished in a gloss which seems very evenly done to my eye and without any major issues.

Mahimahi MT-70Z Tenor Ukulele decor

Inside is reasonably tidy and standard. We have regular bracing and notched linings and a solid top that doesn't look too thick.

Mahimahi MT-70Z ukulele inside



The neck wood isn't specified, but appears to be mahogany and is made of three pieces with pretty well hidden joints. It tapers to a nut profile which isn't overly chunky for me, but for a tenor is a very average 36mm at the nut and 28mm G to A. I would want more myself.

That's topped with a rosewood fingerboard which is in excellent condition. The 19 frets (joined at the 14th) are edge bound to hide the ends and there is no sharpness. Pearly position dots face out at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 15th, but sadly there are no side dots.


Mahimahi MT-70Z Tenor Ukulele neck

Beyond the bone nut is an inoffensive shaped headstock faced in more of the black and white ebony to tie things together. The dolphin Mahimahi logo is added to the top face in a silver screen print. I said in my last Mahimahi review that I wasn't a fan of the logo, but at least it was on the back. Here I think it looks tacky and is also lost on the colour of the headstock. It's like an afterthought.

Mahimahi MT-70Z Tenor Ukulele headstock

Things improve again with the tuners which are open Grover brand gears with small black buttons. These are excellent.

Mahimahi MT-70Z Tenor Ukulele tuners

It doesn't come with anything else bar Aquila strings and has a price that made me do a double take. This has an RRP of €528 which is an expensive price for a ukulele with laminate construction. I may, however be missing a trick, and maybe the use of black and white ebony (a rare wood) is pushing it high. In fact the RRP of the Ohana equivalent is higher still so maybe it's even good value compared to that. Yet, wood types and construction type aside, that's still a hefty chunk of money.

Mahimahi MT-70Z Tenor Ukulele back

So it's a little mixed so far. The core construction of the ukulele is excellent and so is the finish. You look at things like that superbly conditioned fingerboard and high end tuners and know there is some quality here. But then it lets me down with the lack of side dots and that cartoonish headstock logo. All for a serious wedge of money. It's nice to hold though and surprisingly light at 555g. It all feels well made in the hands.

But the playing tone is going to be critical here. Thankfully things are positive from the off. The volume is superb and the sustain is long and powerful with minimal effort on the strings. Its a lively ukulele that doesn't feel strangled or constrained.

The tone has a clear brightness to be expected from a spruce top and that really gives it a bite when strummed. It's not a one trick pony though as there is some very pretty, jangly richness when played that rounds the tone out a lot. Fingerpicking is very pretty too with good zingy clarity all over the neck. It's the liveliness though that is impressing me most - this takes very little effort to get the sound out and tells me that the build is a light one. I'm very pleased with the sound of this one!

If only it was ticking every box as the little things like lack of side dots and the headstock irritate me considering the good build and punchy voice. Would I pay the ticket price for it though? No I can't say I would, but perhaps they are discounted in European stores.

Recommended if you can find one at a better price.



UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Model: Mahimahi MT-70Z
Scale: Tenor
Body: Solid Spruce top, laminate black and white ebony back and sides
Bridge: Rosewood
Saddle: Bone
Spacing at saddle: 40mm
Body finish: Gloss
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 19, 14 to body
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 36mm, 28mm G to A
Tuners: Grover open gears
Strings: Aquila
Weight: 555g
Country of origin: China
Price: €528

UKULELE PROS

Good build and finish throughout
Striking looks
Nice tuners
Great volume
Clear rich tone

UKULELE CONS

Shonky product description
No side dots
Black binding looks too heavy
Ugly headstock logo
Price

UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 8.5 out of 10
Fit and finish 8 out of 10
Sound - 9 out of 10
Value for money - 7 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 8.1 out of 10

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2 comments :

  1. The Ohana version has side does...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This wood is called Royal White Ebony or Laos Ebony

      Delete

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