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View Full Version : Any thoughts on Koki'o brand concert ukuleles?



dxdydz
10-13-2014, 07:10 AM
I bought a cheap Octopus soprano as a testing-the-water instrument, with the promise to myself that if I kept with it for a few months, I'd spend a little bit more on something nicer.

Well, I've definitely kept with it, so I'm in the market for a proper beginner's instrument.

I'm looking mainly at concert size ukuleles, and I came across the Koki'o brand. It seems to be a China-produced second brand of RISA, who I gather are well-regarded. They've got concerts for <100 EUR, which sounds pretty good to me. I don't think I could plonk down more than say 150 EUR at this point.

So I was wondering if anyone had any input on this brand. The only videos I could find on youtube weren't in a language I understood.

Any other Europe-available alternatives are of course of interest, too. :)

Also, I think this might be my first post on here (despite lurking for a while), so nice to meet you all.

The Big Kahuna
10-13-2014, 07:48 AM
Where in Europe are you mate?

Welcome btw :)

DownUpDave
10-13-2014, 08:23 AM
You really need to buy a recognized brand from a repututable dealer like HMS, Uke Repuplic or MIMs to name three. In your price point quailty manufactures that come to mind are Kala, Mainland, Ohana, Cordoba. Buying from one of the above retailers is key as they know ukes inside out, you can call them and actually talk to them. They will do a proper set that makes you new baby easy to play and sound real good.

I realize I mentioned US shops only but I have heard good things about certain shops in the UK that will treat you right. Maybe someone will chime in with a recommendation.

PhilUSAFRet
10-13-2014, 08:37 AM
Appears to be pretty much like every other similar entry level uke made in China. The fact that they are making them for Risa only means that Risa has a quality management program. If it's all you can afford, there are many similar ukes in it's price range. Plenty of reviews published online, although it sometimes depends on whether you speak the language of the reviewer. As always, some brands have far better reputations than the "lesser known" ones. (being kind here)

ukulelekarcsi
10-13-2014, 10:29 PM
In my classes I have people with Mahalos (Dolphins and Teles), Ashtons, Cliftons (Lidl), Makalas, Harley Bentons (Thomann), Hudsons (KeyMusic) and Koki'os (Risa). Those are all budget lines made in Asia, made all in laminate, ranging in cost from € 30 to € 100 - except perhaps for some Hudson concerts. It is what starters like and use - they are not going to invest € 200 in something they don't know how to play yet.

In my humble opinion the Cliftons are inferior in sound ('cardboard'), while the rest of the lot is certainly playable and enjoyable. The Hudsons and Koki'os stand out in a positive way, but are at the higher end of the price scale. And always remember that a lot of sound quality comes from the player, not the instrument.

dxdydz
10-14-2014, 03:49 AM
Thanks for all the input. Sounds like maybe Koki'o isn't necessarily the best way to go, then. Anyone have any especial suggestions in that price range that (crucially) are available in the EU (Netherlands)? Lots of the stand-by recommendations cost much more in the EU than the US, and not just because of VAT.

I see I can get the APC CS for 140 EUR, which sounds pretty good for a solid acacia body.

we tigers
10-14-2014, 04:20 AM
Hi dxdydz,
apparently you're in the Netherlands. Hoera, nog een Nederlander!
When people point you to stores like HMS, Mim's or Uke Republic, they do so because their reputation for delivering an instrument with a decent set-up. But when you're on this side of the pond, you have to take into account a hefty price for shipping and massive taxes from customs. Only an option if you desperately want a uke that you just cannot get locally (EU/UK) and are willing to pay for.

There are several stores in Europe that sell decent instruments. If I were you I would take a look over at Southern Ukulele Store, Eagle Music in the UK, Mercatino dell'Ukulele in Italy, Musique83, Justes Cordes in France and Uke Surfer (ukulele.de, which happens to be Risa), Manuakea in Germany.

Do not throw away money at ukes from the Aldi or Lidl. Koki'o is sold by Risa and that a decent company. I can't vouch for the quality, but Risa is good.
With a budget of about 150,- euro I would try and stretch it to 200 and probably go for one of these:

http://www.maunakeaukulele.de/epages/62252435.sf/de_DE/?ObjectPath=/Shops/62252435/Products/SH-ML-CONSLOT
factory second Mainland slothead. Beautiful instrument with a great tone.

http://www.maunakeaukulele.de/epages/62252435.sf/de_DE/?ObjectPath=/Shops/62252435/Products/SH-ML-MGO-C
second hand mango Mainland

or these MahiMahi (is supposedly from the same factory as Ohana and Mainland)
http://www.mercatinodellukulele.it/en/catalog/23/www.mahimahiukulele.com/mahimahi-7g-mc-7g-detail

http://www.mercatinodellukulele.it/en/catalog/253/www.mahimahiukulele.com/mahimahi-concert-87g-mc-87g-detail

If you want to tak some more in Dutch, send me a pm.
Good luck!

dxdydz
10-14-2014, 04:41 AM
Thanks for the reply and recommendations, we tigers. Unfortunately, ik ben geen Nederlander; I'm just living here for a spell.

I'm aware of the importance to get the ukulele from a store that knows ukuleles. I was looking primarily on SUS, ukulele.de, and also ukuleleplein.nl -- the latter of which seems to be a lesser known shop run out of somebody's home probably, but as a uke-only store I figured they probably are at least familiar with the instrument.

Those ukuleles you linked are definitely tempting, despite the higher price mark. I'll add them to the mental consideration pile. :)

kypfer
10-14-2014, 04:44 AM
... with the promise to myself that if I kept with it for a few months, I'd spend a little bit more on something nicer.

Well, I've definitely kept with it, so I'm in the market for a proper beginner's instrument.

I'm looking mainly at concert size ukuleles, ...
From another "European" that went down a similar route, I'd heartily recommend Kala, if they are readily available to you. My "next step up" from a starter ukulele was a Kala concert, it came with Aquila strings and it sounds as well as I can play ;)

See http://omegamusic.co.uk/buy/kala-ka-c-mahogany-concert-ukulele-with-aquila-nylgut-strings?gclid=CLSIjISwrMECFVDKtAodalYASQ ... this is the model I've got, though I did manage to buy it locally, so I'm not recommending the supplier, I simply haven't dealt with them.

ukulelekarcsi
10-15-2014, 02:40 AM
Ukuleleplein.nl is in fact André Hendriks, who organized the first Dutch ukulele festival in his hometown Den Bosch, two weeks ago. Recommended, especially since he opens and adjusts all instruments before shipping them, he doesn't just shift boxes.

There are three more ukulele-focussed shops in the Netherlands: Jumping Flea Market (temporarily closed, but highly recommended) and Ukulele Paradijs in Rotterdam, and Uke Boutique in Amsterdam.

All four of those uke-shops (I include ukuleleplein) of course allow you to try out some different models, and they have the bonus of nice shop-owners who know their ukes, and a network of players and gatherings.

dxdydz
10-15-2014, 04:40 AM
Ukuleleplein.nl is in fact André Hendriks, who organized the first Dutch ukulele festival in his hometown Den Bosch, two weeks ago. Recommended, especially since he opens and adjusts all instruments before shipping them, he doesn't just shift boxes.

There are three more ukulele-focussed shops in the Netherlands: Jumping Flea Market (temporarily closed, but highly recommended) and Ukulele Paradijs in Rotterdam, and Uke Boutique in Amsterdam.

All four of those uke-shops (I include ukuleleplein) of course allow you to try out some different models, and they have the bonus of nice shop-owners who know their ukes, and a network of players and gatherings.

Great info, thanks. I would've already visited Uke Boutique, except for some reason all their prices seem to be 20-30 EUR more than any other shop on the internet, including the other shops that also have a physical store and also do setup.

Ramart
10-27-2014, 01:30 PM
Contrary to the naysayers here, I'd definitely consider buying a Koki'o uke from RISA if I lived in Europe. My reasoning: RISA undoubtedly wants to maintain its positive, consistent reputation for quality products and would make an effort to impose its QC standards on the Asian maker of its second brand. Also, RISA apparently imports all Koki'o ukes to Germany before selling them at retail, so it can inspect them beforehand. Moreover, the specs and pricing for all Koki'o models make for impressive value, e.g., all have solid mahogany necks (vs. 2-piece); bone nuts and saddles (vs. synthetic); arched backs for parabolic sound projection; high-quality closed, geared tuners; two strap pins preinstalled (though not on sopranos); "quality" woods and laminates; etc.

I've considered buying the ebony tenor Koki'o. My reservations stem from the fact I'd need it shipped from Germany to California and I'm not keen on dealing with customs fees and potential clearance delays or the possibility of shipping damage. (Of course, I'd prefer to play before I buy, but there don't seem to be any authorized Koki'o dealers in the U.S. yet.) Rigk at RISA informed me early this year that all Koki'o ukes would be compliant with the CITES Treaty (regarding endangered species) and would ship with documentation, so that lessens my concern about an erroneous customs seizure of an ebony instrument (which I've read can happen).

I still might spring for a Koki'o uke if I find one on sale at RISA's website. NOTE that the stated prices there include Europe's 19% VAT tax, which is deducted from the price for U.S. buyers who first set up an online account with RISA.

IamNoMan
10-27-2014, 03:27 PM
Hey differential space! welcome to the club.
I suggest you go to a couple of music stores in your area. Play a bunch, (luau)? of Ukes. When your ear tells you its right, check the price. After you find a couple of ukes your ear likes, find the median price of those. That is the price point you should look for at your present experience level. When your ear and your pocketbook are in agreement; that is probably the Uke you should buy, regardless of manufacturer. Then start horsetrading. My experience has been that 55% to 60% of list is obtainable. TRY BEFORE YOU BUY, Never pay Retail and Your ear doesn't lie.

Ramart
10-30-2014, 12:22 PM
...The only videos I could find on youtube weren't in a language I understood...

But the Koki'o players in those clips seem to be enjoying their new axes, not complaining. And they sound good, even without verbal translation.