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Thread: K-brand shopping adventure...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    2,390

    Default K-brand shopping adventure...

    So, I've been contemplating whether I would like to trade my Martin C1K and my Ohana CK-80 for one concert size K-brand, just because I'd like to have a Hawaiian made uke. Besides, the 2 concerts I have are close to the same sounding, although the Martin has a fuller warmer sound.

    So, I made a trip across town, almost across town, well, 40 miles worth anyway. To the only store that I know of, in the whole Phoenix metro area that carries Kanilea, Kamaka, Koaloha and Martin to compare with my C1K.

    The results in a nut shell...as far as sound, I could find no reason that any one of them had much better sound than my C1K!

    The Kanilea was a K-2 CD and had the best finish of anything else there and was my personal favorite, the sound was the warmest, maybe due to the stock Aquila strings.

    The 2 Kamakas, were for me pretty uninspiring. The sound was just as good as any of the others but nothing better than my C1K. The downside was the friction tuners, although I'm sure once the strings are settled in it wouldn't be a big problem. The finish on the Kamakas and the Koalohas was similar, a thin glossy finish that showed dimples in the grain of the wood and I really am not a fan of.

    The 2 Koalohas were a bit louder and brighter than the rest and again, had friction tuners. Both were KCM-00's but one was priced about $200 more than the other.

    The Martins...there were 2 2K's and a 2M, the sound of the K's was almost identical to my C1K, the M was maybe a little brighter. There was also a vintage 40's-50's Martin style 0, which...my 30's style 0 sounds way, way better, might be the strings, not sure what was on it, I use Martins.

    So, even though I still would like a Kanilea, sound wise it's hard to justify the cost. But, I might end up with one some day anyway.

    My test and review only included the concert sizes.

    wall.jpg
    top row is all Martins, 2nd from left is a C1K, 4th & 5th, the 2K's and 7th, the 2M.
    bottom row, left to right, an Eastman which shouldn't even be in the room with the rest of these ukes, Kanilea, 2 Kamakas, 2 Koalohas.
    very bottom is a 40's-50's vintage Martin style 0.
    wall2.jpg
    Last edited by UkerDanno; 02-03-2015 at 01:30 PM.
    Just Play

    Sopranos: 1st uke, Lanikai soprano LU-11 - Aquilas | 30's Martin style 0 - Martins | Fender Piha'eu - Worth Browns | Lanikai banjolele - Worth Browns
    Concerts: Kanile'a K-2 CP - Living Water | Islander AC-4 - Living Water | Ohana CK-35-8 - Living Water | Kala KA-ACP-CT - Living Water, low G
    UBass: Kala Exotic Mahogany - Road Toad Pahoehoe

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    5,582

    Default

    Keep in mind that when you play a Kamaka off the shelf, it comes with the stock strings that a lot of us here (myself included) really dislike. New Kamakas now ship with Gotoh UPT tuners, not friction tuners, so those that you tried were probably a couple years old (and so were the strings, which probably didn't help!).

    That being said - those Martin C1Ks are pretty nice. I had an opportunity to buy one for a good price recently but talked myself out of it because it didn't sound all that different than my Kamaka concert - it was much louder, but otherwise sounded like a good koa uke If you like your C1K, no reason to spring for anything else!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Maupin, Oregon
    Posts
    835

    Default

    I just picked up a beautiful C1K from an awesome UU member. Nice to hear it stood the test against more expensive K brands. . I'm loving it!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Oahu
    Posts
    3,594

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by janeray1940 View Post
    Keep in mind that when you play a Kamaka off the shelf, it comes with the stock strings that a lot of us here (myself included) really dislike. New Kamakas now ship with Gotoh UPT tuners, not friction tuners, so those that you tried were probably a couple years old (and so were the strings, which probably didn't help!).

    That being said - those Martin C1Ks are pretty nice. I had an opportunity to buy one for a good price recently but talked myself out of it because it didn't sound all that different than my Kamaka concert - it was much louder, but otherwise sounded like a good koa uke If you like your C1K, no reason to spring for anything else!
    Yes the Kamaka concerts have been coming out with Gotoh UPT tuners for at least 2 years now....
    but if you like the tone of the Martin you are set....
    Kanile'a K-2 Concert,Ko'Aloha Super Concert,Maui Music 1998 Koa Tenor,Compass Rose Koa Tenor,Graziano Koa Tenor,Kamaka HF3-S,Moore Bettah Milo/Sitka Spruce Tenor,DeVine mother of curl Koa/Engleman Spruce Tenor,Ko'olau Indo Rosewood/Sinker Redwood Tenor,Washburn Lyon and Healy 1936 Bell shaped soprano,Lfdm Bastogne Walnut/Carpathian Spruce Tenor,Rollo Scheurenbrand African Blackwood/Adirondack Spruce Tenor

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Central Ohio
    Posts
    1,281

    Default

    I'd just stick with the C1K, if I were you!
    Laura

    Haʻina ʻia mai ana ka puana

  6. #6

    Default

    I own a Martin C1K, a Kamaka Concert, a Kanilea Concert, previously owned a Koaloha Concert. The C1K is a very nice uke for its price range. And if it satisfies you then that's great. However, the C1K is very roughly finished, missing a lot of refinements that some of us enjoy. The C1K only has a 12 fret join to the neck which I find frustrating. If you are like most of us, your preferences will shift over time, and shift again and again.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Honolulu, Hawaii 5min away from waikiki
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    28,110

    Default

    Aloha Danno,
    I am not sure what store you went to, but I always feel that most uke shops I go to (aside hms)
    The ukes are not set up or tuned and most times the strings are not broken in. It is an also an unfair
    Accessment, as some stock strings are poor quality. ..
    Also the loudness in the store makes it difficult to have a fair comparison. .. happy strummings
    Making music is a gift in itself, and when you can share it ....it is your gift to others

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    25

    Default

    I bought a Kanile'a K1 Concert last December. A month later, I had the chance to test a C1K. It made me wonder why I've spent so much more money on the K-brand ukulele... Had I tried the Martin before the Kanile'a, I wouldn't have bought the K1.

    Both are good ukes, but although the Kanile'a is very well made and has a really nice finish, it's not better in tone (matter of taste, anyway) or playability. I'm buying a ukulele to play it, to make music, not to look at it. Well, of course I'd prefer my ukuleles to be pretty. But spending an additional 400 just for the looks...

    If you're happy with the Martin, stick with it. Even if you buy a K-brand ukulele.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Florida Space Coast
    Posts
    11,890

    Default

    I'd want to play/hear that new Kanilea with the ultra thin uv satin finish that they showed at NAMM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v41ivBO7-d4

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,077

    Default

    If you are happy with your C1K, that's wonderful. Like others have said, the ukuleles you tried would sound very different with different sets of strings, so it may not be an entirely fair comparison, but there's no reason to try to talk yourself into spending a good chunk of change if your current instrument makes you happy. If the day comes when you're seriously considering buying a K brand concert, try to find someone who owns one and has swapped out the strings. I know my Kamaka concert sounded dead and muddy with the original strings, but it simply sings with Fremont Blacklines (which I bought per Janeray's suggestions ).
    A ukulele pickin' dreamer and disturber of the peace.

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