I've owned five or six Pono ukuleles with various wood combinations. And really like the Cedar and Rosewood combinations. So much so, that I got a Ko'olau Contemporary Series Tenor with the same combination.
Mahogany top, back, and sides (All Mahogany) - This is a traditional combination used for many years by many famous makers such C.F. Martin Company for guitars and ukuleles. The sound is predictaby good, soft, sweet, and mellow. Bass tones are sufficient and trebles are somewhat soft and muted. In time, this combination ages to produce the classic sweet ukulele sound.
Koa top, back, and sides (All Koa) - Similar to all Mahogany, one of the most common wood choices throughout the history of ukulele building. Good sound and visually beautiful.
Mahogany sides and back With Spruce top - this instrument has all the properties of above ALL MAHOGANY with a wider tonal range and greater volume projection.
Mahogany sides and back With Cedar Or Redwood top - same as Mahogany with Spruce top, but a softer treble tone and slightly less projection.
Koa With Spruce, Cedar, or Redwood - same as above Mahogany combinations, but differences in Mahogany and Koa (see Mahogany and Koa). We often combine Koa with Spruce and the results are very good.
Kula Wood (Gold Shower, Prima Vera) with Spruce - excellent tone and visually beautiful.
Maple sides and back with Spruce top - bright tone, strong projection, most Maple, especially curly Maple is visually beautiful.
Maple sides and back with Cedar OR Redwood top - similar to Maple but more warmth of tone, and less projection
Rosewood sides and back with Spruce top - traditional combination for volume and deep tone
Rosewood sides and back with Cedar top - enhanced depth and bass, Cedar produces a more "aged" tone.
Macassar Ebony back and sides with Spruce or Sequoia Ebony top - using Spruce will create more projection and enhanced treble and bass clarity. However, Sequoia Redwood , with similar properties also produces a beautiful tone. The decision to either use Spruce or Redwood is also determined by visual preference, namely a creamy white top, or dark brown top, again, both are beautiful.
Ukulele Top Woods
Tony Graziano Ukuleles, Tony Graziano has been building musical instruments since 1969 and became interested in the Ukulele in 1978 , and then in 1995, after several years of building both guitars and Ukuleles, Tony began building Ukuleles almost exclusively. Tony likes to think of the ukulele as an instrument of the millennium. Its compact, easy to travel with, and brings joy to all who hear and play them. All Tony Graziano Ukes are built by Tony in his Santa Cruz shop using of the finest woods available.
Check out the Tony Graziano Ukuleles web site.
Click on ukulele wood image for larger view.
A native hardwood of Hawaii. It has a beautiful grain, as well as a bright punchy tone with plenty of warmth. Koa is the "traditional" Uke wood.
Similar to Koa in sound, it is very even in tone, and has excellent midrange response.
Cypress is a hardwood traditionally used in flamenco guitars. When combined with a spruce top, it gives a snappy bright sound with good sustain. It is also very light in weight.
Similar to mahogany though a bit harder. Lots of yellow and grey grain variations. another cool Hawaiian wood.
Great for a enhanced bass tone. Works well in baritones with a spruce top.(as shown here) very good low end.
A non endangered tropical wood. Great bright sound and great unique look. Bamboo literally grows like grass.
A very pretty domestic hardwood.
Bright sound, clearer treble response.
An excellent Top wood with a warm full sound. Makes for a louder Uke with more sustain. Shown here on a Uke with Koa sides.
Similar to spruce, but with a "darker" sound. Responds quickly with no break-in time required.
- Dana Bourgeois - link
- Regarding Top Woods by James Goodall - link
- Hawaii Forest Industry Association (HFIA) - link
- Ko'olau Guitar & Ukulele Company - link
- Growing Koa: A Hawaiian Legacy Tree - link
- Martin Guitar - link
- Mayes Guitars - (Start with this site) link
- Dream Guitars - (a mirror of the information on John Mayes's site) link
- Taylor Guitars - link NEW
- Santa Cruz Guitar Company - link
- Ervin Somogyi - link
- Road Toad Music - link