Mahimahi MS-7M Soprano Ukulele - REVIEW

31 Jul 2022

Mahimahi MS-7M Soprano Ukulele - REVIEW

The last in a series of ukulele reviews for instruments that were sent over on loan from this Italian brand. This is the Mahimahi MS-7M soprano ukulele.

Mahimahi MS-7M Soprano Ukulele


Mahimahi are the 'house' brand of the Mercantino dell'ukulele store in Vicenza and part of the Aquila business. I've looked at a couple of their instruments now and they both did pretty well though were not what you would call 'value' priced. In the box of instruments they sent over though was this one, a simple, very plain, mahogany soprano - and that's a style of instrument that always grabs my attention! When I saw the price it grabbed me even more as I am always on the lookout for good, simple sopranos (my favourite scale) that are accessible to all. I should also say from the off that this is very much a review for my European readers and not the USA so much as I think they are largely stocked on this continent only. Still, it's only fair I cover all bases.

Opening it up the box and I see we have a very simple plain and traditional looking instrument. This is made from single pieces of solid mahogany wood for each of the top, sides and flat back. It's simple grained mahogany finished in an orangey brown colour that is hardly offensive, but not really eye catching either. But I personally like sopranos that look this way and it reminds me somewhat of the Martin S1. It's all put together very well too - no complaints so far.

Mahimahi MS-7M Soprano Ukulele body

The bridge is a rosewood slot bridge with tapered sides and is finished impeccably smoothly. Sitting in that is what looks like a straight topped bone saddle with tapered ends to tie in with the bridge. All very tidy indeed. String spacing here is a smidge over 40mm.

Mahimahi MS-7M Soprano Ukulele bridge


There is no other decoration whatsoever  - no binding, no soundhole rosette, nothing, just a very smooth satin finish which looks and feels extremely tidy all over. Whilst the top and back edges are unbound they are not sharp and severe and in fact it's very nice to cradle - an important thing when it comes to diminutive sopranos as they are very much 'hold them with your arm' instruments.

Mahimahi MS-7M Soprano Ukulele finish


Inside is reasonably tidy. The kerfing is notched and the braces tapered, though there is a touch of glue excess on those. There is a tail block for those who prefer a strap button and the top wood is nice and thin.

Mahimahi MS-7M Soprano Ukulele inside


The neck made of nato wood rather than mahogany (so a cost saving there) and is in three pieces with pretty well hidden joints at the heel and headstock. It's finished in satin too so no grippy feeling on the hands but it is too yellow in colour for my tastes and I wished it matched the brown body colour better.  That tapers down to a surprisingly shallow nut profile for a Chinese made instrument though a more average 34m nut width with 27mm G to A. That profile saves it for my hand shape and I could live with this.

That is topped with a rosewood fingerboard with some Martin-esque end shaping. Whilst it looks to be in excellent condition I would prefer it to be darker in colour like the bridge. I say that, but only a touch, as it's nothing like the Martin tenor I looked at recently! It's not edge bound so the fret end slots are stained rather than covered, but surprisingly there is a bit of chamfering roll down the edges which is nice to see and comfortable on the fretting hand. It comes with a very standard 12 frets to the body which are nice and skinny with no sharp edges. Position dots face out in pearl at the 5th, 7th and 10th, but sadly we have no side dots at all. A shame that.

Mahimahi MS-7M Soprano Ukulele neck


Beyond the bone nut is a curved top headstock which has a nod to the Martin crown without actually being a crown. It is faced in more mahogany and holds the Mahimahi dolphin logo (see earlier reviews for the story around that) in a pearl transfer. I'm not a huge fan of the logo, but it's a nicer implementation than some of the outline versions I saw on other instruments of theirs.

Mahimahi MS-7M Soprano Ukulele headstock


Tuners are a real pleasant surprise too. Well, I say that... of course being a soprano I would personally MUCH prefer rear facing pegs, but they have gone with Grover brand gears with small cream buttons. They are not the highest end Grovers but are a far cry from some of the cheap 'parts bin' gears I see on some instruments. Nice.

Mahimahi MS-7M Soprano Ukulele tuners


It comes with nothing more than a set of Aquila strings and.. then the next pleasant surprise. These are on their site with an RRP of €125 though I have seen them in several European stores discounted down to nearer a hundred. That's a really cheap price and even a 'laminate level' price for what is a fully solid mahogany instrument. I'm really rather pleased with this as considering I have found little wrong here that seems like a stone cold bargain... If... it plays ok...

Mahimahi MS-7M Soprano Ukulele back


So, no, not a lot of complaints here for me bar a couple of cosmetics. It feels well put together and finished. Being a soprano it's naturally light at only 370g and this one balances just fine. Setup here is also very good out of the box and I would see no need to adjust the nut or the saddle. Things are looking positive so far.

Sound wise, what matters to me with a soprano is that it has a barking volume and sounds great as a rhythmical instrument which is what it was primarily developed for.

When it comes to the tone itself I'm not going to get ahead of myself as it's not a high end soprano tone akin to that you will find on the Kiwaya solid mahogany sopranos, but it's still rather satisfying - remarkable in fact for the money. Strummed it's exactly what I would want from a soprano - jangly, peppy, rhythmical, bouncy but with enough character to tell you this is not just a cheap plywood box. Very nice.

Fingerpicking probably shows that this is not a truly basic ukulele as the sustain creates a very chimey music box type tone. Again, I don't think it's up there with the Kiwaya's but here's the thing... I wouldn't say it was far away from the Martin S1 at all.. Check the price on that one! If there is one thing I would like to try it would be a string change. I get why a store connected to Aquila would fit Nylgut strings, but I really like mahogany sopranos with thin taut fluorocarbon (such as the set from Martin). I think they could make this instrument zing even more than it already does. Anyway, I think you can tell what I think from the video so won't type more here!

This one really got me thinking. Apart from some cosmetic / subjective things there is really nothing much wrong here. Sure, it's plain, but then so is the Kiwaya Student Series (which I raved about) and they are not solid wood. Heck, even the solid wood Kiwaya KTS-4 or the Martin S1 Sopranos only have a 'bit' more decoration in the form of a rosette, but they are significantly more money than the asking price here. In fact, I found myself wondering if they had the price wrong! OK, it's made in China which is where the cost saving is coming from, but the build and finish are on a par with some of those I've just named above. I have bias for sure - I love plain simple soprano ukes, but I'm really not finding much to dislike here regardless. The only reason to diss this one would be because a) you hate sopranos, or b) you hate plain ukuleles. 

It's a no from me on each of those questions, and if you are the same boat - i'd heartily recommend this!



UKULELE SPECS ROUNDUP

Model: Mahimahi MS-7M
Scale: Soprano
Body: All solid mahogany
Bridge: Rosewood
Saddle: Bone
Spacing at saddle: 40mm
Finish: Satin
Neck: Nato
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Frets: 12
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 34mm, 27mm G to A
Tuners: Grover open gears
Strings: Aquila
Weight: 370g
Country of origin: China
Price: Circa €125

UKULELE PROS

Great simple clean build
Good finish
Good tuners (though I'd prefer rear facing pegs!)
Terrific volume and punch
Good sustain
Sounds like what I want from a soprano
Price

UKULELE CONS

Mismatch fingerboard / bridge colour
Neck colour
No side dots
Personally prefer friction pegs
Not much else though!

UKULELE SCORES

Looks - 9 out of 10
Fit and finish - 8.5 out of 10
Sound - 9 out of 10
Value for money - 9.5 out of 10

OVERALL UKULELE SCORE - 9 out of 10

UKULELE VIDEO REVIEW


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7 comments :

  1. You did it again. You forced me to buy a ukulele. I have some Martin strings that I'll put on it - eventually.
    As for the logo on the headstock, you do know that "mahimahi" is the Hawaiian name for the dolphin fish, right? Although it's called "dolphin" in restaurants in the Caribbean, it's a fish, not actually a dolphin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes i did - see earlier Mahimahi reviews where I explain how the brand made a mistake on this!

      Delete
  2. It's so nice to see a happy Baz!

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  3. I do like a totally undecorated Uke’ in some ways.
    This is a nice example.

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  4. Your review caught me needing a pick-me-up so I ordered and it has just arrived. An unfortunately scuff on the back aside, it looks and feels great. The fret ends and tops are better finished than either my Martin 0XK or Kiwaya KSU-1 were on arrival. And, as you said, the tuners seem great unlike the Kiwaya’s which were so bad I had to immediately change them. But I’m not doing a review cos you do them much better. My point is that they have only gone and thrown in an extra set of Aquila “sugar” strings and a card referencing your review “they are not Fluorocarbon as (Barry) wishes but it is for us the best solution”! I am wedded to my Martin M600 fluorocarbons but I will give them a go at some point.

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  5. Wonderful little Ukulele . So very pleased with mine !

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  6. Hi Barry.

    Could you please tell me how was the uke in terms of playability considering the narrow nut width?

    ReplyDelete

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