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Thread: Whats so good about Kanileas or Koolau?

  1. #11


    Kamaka is definitely more traditional in their building methods and sound. Kanilea is more modern and innovative in their approach to building especially in the area of bracing. To me the Kanilea has better tone and sustain so I prefer them but as most people said it's an individual preference and it's like a choice between a BMW and a Mercedes. Overall though I'll take a custom build by a quality luthier anyday. I have a custom Beau Hannam. You'll pay more for a custom but it's worth it.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2014


    Here's an interesting back-to-back comparison of the three K brands, Kamaka, Kanilea, and KoAloha:

    You'll need to listen with headphones to fully appreciate the nuances. A lot of the differences might be attributed to the strings which each company uses (Aquila on Kanilea vs. Worth Clear on KoAloha vs. Kamaka's own brand).

    Of course, a Ko'olau can be strung reentrant just as well. Here is a sample of their entry level Koa model currently for sale at HMS:

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2016


    Thanks for the repost Rakelele, this vid was a great help when I tried to determine which of the K-brands to go for. Reminds me of why I went the way I did , even if ALL of them sound fantastic.
    "A yawn is a desperate, silent scream for coffee."

    Timms Style 0 Solid Mahogany Soprano, KoAloha KCM-00 Solid Koa Concert, CML Electric Concert Ukulele, Korala PUC-20-BK Solid Plastic Concert , CML Solid Western Red Cedar/Spalted Curly Maple Tenor

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2011


    I think it's always best to try in person if possible. I also think forums opinions have to be taken with a pinch of salt sometimes. I was going for the best factory uke I could, after much reading and opinion I came to Koaloha. I get it but it wasn't for me. Warm enough to mute the trebles. I'm thankful for 14 day returns. 👌🏼

    Commissioned, Wunderkammer Ike Soprano.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2011


    Physically the Kanilea has a different bracing system and wider neck than the kamaka, the quality of construction I feel is edged by Kamaka, the level of finish available is better on the Kanilea. YMMV

    Soundwise I feel the modern Kamaka HF1 is the best Soprano out there. I don't own or play a Tenor but I have heard some fantastic sounds made by the Kanilea, I have the K1 concert and I love the sound it makes - but it's quiet and in my opinion overbuilt and the bracing does nothing for it; even so I play it everyday.

    Ko'olau well out of my league - I briefly owned a KS (Soprano) which I don't know if it was the true made in house item or not, it was OK but I parted with it and can't say I miss it.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    South Carolina


    I think I like the Kanilea, company at least. Was just watching Joe at NAMM 2017 and also the 2016 NAMM video. I like how they are innovative and have the environment in mind, very respectful. I wonder if a spruce top would alleviate the softness of the sound, or is that from the KOA soundboard?
    It's not what you've got. It's how you play it

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