how's the tone on koa?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by RSRD, Jul 16, 2005.


  1. RSRD

    RSRD Member

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    I am looking at a guitar that has a koa body and a mahog neck. anyone out there have koa? how does it sound?

    Thanks

    Thomas
     
  2. yanquii

    yanquii Member

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    I have heard that is has a brighter mahogany sound. i have also heard some people say that it is too bright for bodies, usually. This is all "what I have heard", though.
     
  3. RSRD

    RSRD Member

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    That's good info, thanks, and pretty much what I want to stay away from. I love solid mahog guitars because of the darker tone. Sounds like koa isn't for me.

    ~t
     
  4. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    It depends on the specific piece of wood; general sweeping statements like "too bright" or "dark" don't work.

    I have played, and own, a lot of koa guitars. I have owned more than a few all koa acoustics. I don't agree with any of the generally held opinions about how koa sounds.

    I have owned koa guitars that have been dark, open, closed, bright and everything inbetween.

    In short, you have to listen and hear the specific guitar before you can cast any judgement IMHO.
     
  5. Lex Luthier

    Lex Luthier Member

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    In general terms, Koa does have more clarity and articulation than mahogany. But all wood varies, and in the end it is just the luck of the draw. Plus, it depends on what species of mahogany you are talking about.

    Personally, I like Koa acoustics better than Koa electrics.
     
  6. Jimi D

    Jimi D Member

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    I had a Les Paul-like (single cut, set neck, arched top) custom with a Koa body, and that guitar was too bright to manage anything like LP tone...
     
  7. HHB

    HHB Member

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  8. phretbored

    phretbored Member

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    Listen to PHISH records from around 1997 onward and you can hear Trey Anastasio playing a koa hollowbody.
    I think his tone is killer with koa + an ebony board.
    Before 1997 or so he used a guitar made from other woods.
    You can hear the tone change from the earlier records to the later records when the koa guitar became the main axe.
     
  9. Antero

    Antero Member

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    The all-koa guitars I've played sounded like mahogany, but with a bit more high end and clarity. Not too bright at all, warm and sweet.
     
  10. shoe

    shoe Member

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    Instead of saying koa is bright (which I disagree with anyway), I'd say that it has a little less bottom to it than mahogany. As a result, while it has less bottom, it has tighter low-mids. Combine that with a pau ferro neck (dark sounding) and you have an amazingly thick but articulate guitar for high gain sounds. AWESOME CHUNK!

    -P

    [​IMG]
     
  11. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    Personally I think of KOA as brighter sounding then Mahogany, in Acoustics I would compare it a Flamed Maple acoustic.
    But dominant tone from a guitar comes from Body, top and neck so there are ways you can "tweak" things. Choose a top that doesn't sound so "bright" (Cedar for acoustics or Adirondack, Rosewood type top for Electric) and a neck that is not so "bright" (Mahogany, Rosewood with Rosewood board)
     
  12. Clorenzo

    Clorenzo Member

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  13. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    My Koa/Cedar acoustic is the best sounding acoustic guitar I've owned.

    I have two acoustic OOO size guitars, both made by the same builder. Both have Cedar tops and the same neck/fingerboard. One has a mahogany body, the other one koa; otherwise they are identical. Both sound quite similar, but there is a sweetness and balance in the koa guitar that gives it the edge to my ears. It's not the same as a maple body either-but it does seem to have slightly less bottom than the mahogany guitar.

    As Scott pointed out though, every piece of wood is different-regardless of wood type. I also don't know that acoustic observations will transfer to electric solid body in the same way. (I do intend to find out though-my next project guitar is a 3-P90 hollow koa strat....)
     
  14. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    Great article thanks!
    Is there anything similar that describes Acoustic guitars and the sound related to the woods used on those?
     
  15. phretbored

    phretbored Member

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    Don't be afraid to try different woods because there are many great wood combos out there that yield excellent tones.
    One thing to consider is learning to dial in your amp for the particular guitar you are playing.
     

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