Advice on ukelele

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by EL34, Nov 12, 2016.

  1. EL34

    EL34 Silver Supporting Member

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    I've been playing a Chinese uke (Bushman Jenny concert size) for a few years, and it's been a serviceable instrument. However, I'm now ready to upgrade. I'd like to find a quality mahogany tenor ukulele, ideally with peghead tuners (though that's not a deal breaker). I'm hoping to keep it under $750. Any ideas or advice on a uke of this type?
    Thanks.
     
  2. Outlaw

    Outlaw Member

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  3. CactusWren

    CactusWren Member

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    I have a soprano pineapple and a tenor Koaloha. I think they are in that price range, but the tenors might be more like $900. They are koa, made in Hawaii, exquisitely crafted and excellent instruments. The pineapple I picked up in Waikiki and was the best instrument in the shop, the tenor I got here in Tempe. When I inquired from Koaloha how to get a new saddle to experiment with the action, the owner just sent me one free of charge. I had a question about a used tenor I had bought and wasn't happy with, and he was helpful about offering to repair it (I ended up sending it back and buying a new one).

    Of the "K"-brands, Kamaka, Kanilea, and Koaloha, I think with the latter you get the most for your $, and maybe the best instrument, period. They're loud and very cleanly-constructed.
     
  4. JackButler

    JackButler Member

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    I had an uke phase!
    Sold a Kamaka tenor and kept a Koaloha concert body with tenor neck, around $1k, but beat out all the other high dollar brands I forget that I tried;)
    I'm gonna go play it now!
     
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  5. EL34

    EL34 Silver Supporting Member

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    @Outlaw - thanks! I'll register tonight.

    @CactusWren and @JackButler - thanks for mentioning Koaloha, I had never heard of that brand. I'll check them out for sure.
     
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  6. JackButler

    JackButler Member

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    Yep. I had. 5 String Kanilea and it was beautiful, but not quite tone wise. Though I'm no uke master, so my tone opinion is zilch in their realm:) one thing on the Koaloha I do not like is that they use mini Grover tuners, work great but takes from the look department and makes it neck heavy.
     
  7. Aldwyn

    Aldwyn Member

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    I have a KoAloha concert, and its an amazing instrument. Loud, great tone, and easy to play.

    Hawaiian Music Supply (The Ukuelele Site) and Mim's Ukes are my recommend go-to for sellers. Both will set up your uke. HMS will take about three weeks to get since they do full set ups on eery uke they sell. Mim will be quicker, but has less selection. Mim is also awesome to work with and will make you a video of the uke you are interested in if you want.

    I have a Kanile'a tenor arriving from HMS on Friday... I will try and get back here and post my initial thoughts about it then.
     
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  8. EL34

    EL34 Silver Supporting Member

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    Please do! I'd like to hear more about the Kanile'a.
     
  9. Aldwyn

    Aldwyn Member

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    OK, having played it for about 2 hours today, here are my thoughts. Keep in mind, the Kanile'a is a tenor, while the KoAloha I have to compare it to is a concert as far as K brands go... so some of the difference will have to do with that. My other uke, while a tenor, is a cigar box, so I will only compare scale against that one.

    Straight out, the Kanile'a has a much different feel. Heavier... more solid, for starters. My KoAloha is light as a feather in comparison. My assumption is that Kanile'a is using thicker pieces of wood, since the body isnt much bigger then the KoAloha's body, and the Kanile'a even has the holes drilled into the bracing.

    Fretboard wise, the string spacing is much wider, and the frets further apart then my other tenor. I was expecting that since they are both tenors, they would be the same... not so. The Kanile'a scale/distance between frets, and space between strings, makes it quite a bit easier to transition between guitar and uke.

    Tone wise, the Kanile'a is heavier on the mid-range and bass then the KoAloha, and more earthy then it's smaller brother. Some of this is to be expected in a comparison between a tenor and a soprano, but it goes further. I feel the type and cut of koa used adds more of the earthy flavor then just the body size. Further, the Kanile'a rings with a bell like quality. It kind of reminds me of Gregorian chant, where part of the song is assuming echos off the cathedral ceiling adds to the singing. Much in the same way, I get occasional blended tones while playing. Not my cup of tea, but others may love this aspect.

    With that said, in the last hour and a half I was playing, the tone did start to change. Almost as if I had sat it in front of a stereo speaker for a few weeks, and it was a quick break in. The more I played, the more balance my ears heard. Still mellow. But the mids sank a little, so that part of the spectrum wasnt as in-your-face as it was when I first pulled it out of the case. I am curious what might change over the next couple of days/weeks...

    Looks wise, the thing is a beautiful site to see. Its a K-3, so there is no getting around it. It reminds me of a PRS 10 top, though with a maple rosette. :D

    My initial impressions overall is that ... at least for the moment... the Kanile'a will be my go-to for finger picking and strumming mellow tunes, and the KoAloha, with its brightness and extra volume will be my go-to for strumming the more jumpy, faster paced tunes.

    Time will tell over the next few weeks. :)

    Any questions, just let me know!

    Peace,
    Aldwyn
     
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  10. EL34

    EL34 Silver Supporting Member

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    Wow, sounds like you found a keeper. We need pics!
     
  11. Aldwyn

    Aldwyn Member

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    These are the ones from The Ukulele Site:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  12. EL34

    EL34 Silver Supporting Member

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    Wow, that is stunning! That has to be one of the prettiest ukes I have ever seen.
     
  13. Jon C

    Jon C Silver Supporting Member

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    I went uke shopping a couple of months ago. I tried a few Kanile`as at my local shop. I was really aiming for the K-1 T priced at ~$900 but there was a K-1 T with a couple of upgrades that clearly sounded better to me, more open, more projection, more sustain, better tone. I decided I only want to buy once so went for the extra $ up front and have no regrets. A K-3 would be even higher up the food chain (IIRC a K-2 is ~$1,300-1,500?).

    No pics of my K-1 T handy, unfortunately but it's a nice figured koa but, more important, plays & sounds great.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
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  14. GGinMP

    GGinMP Silver Supporting Member

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    Peghed brand tuners are great. The looks of peg friction tuners with easy and accurate geared tuning.

    http://www.pegheds.com
     
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  15. Aldwyn

    Aldwyn Member

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    Thanks! I appreciate it!

    Yeah, that price is about right. I dropped $1611 on my K-3.

    And congrats on your own Kanile'a! Its always good to find the right one right off the bat!
     
  16. Jon C

    Jon C Silver Supporting Member

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    Found a couple of pics --- 2012 (NOS) K-1T Premium SF (Satin Finish). Not quite the drop-dead stunner like the K-3 but some nice koa:

    [​IMG][/URL]

    [​IMG][/URL]
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
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  17. Aldwyn

    Aldwyn Member

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    Dude, dont fool yourself... that is gorgeous!
     
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  18. EL34

    EL34 Silver Supporting Member

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    You guys are killing me with these gorgeous Koa ukes! I was set on mahogany, but now I'm not so sure.
     
  19. Jon C

    Jon C Silver Supporting Member

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    Looks good, sounds good, plays well - what's not to like? It made my heart flutter and I realized it was worth the extra $$ both sonically (primarily) and visually (never hurts).

    :cool:
     
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  20. Aldwyn

    Aldwyn Member

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    Yeah, this thread killed me too... So this morning I bought a KoAloha long neck soprano. :D HMS dropped the prices on several KoAloha ukes, and I just couldn't resist. :rolleyes2:

    The UAD is strong in this one...
     
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