View Full Version : Custom Kanile'a on the way

03-07-2015, 04:41 AM
I took a break from ukulele for a while where I really got into guitar and tenor guitar. I recently returned to uke and have found that the tenor size is a great fit for me now, both tonally and size-wise. I prefered soprano before, but coming back in the other direction (from guitar), soprano felt way too small and quiet.

I have been drawn consistently to Kanile’a ukes ever since I started on a soprano about 8 years ago. My mom also had an amazing-sounding concert Kanile’a, and I have spent a lot ( a LOT) of time on my current super tenor Kanile’a. After some thought I finally decided to take the plunge and order a custom Kanile’a from Joe and Kristen Souza. I wanted something very specific to make it personal for me. I am so excited and think this will be a great fit for me.

I ordered a premium curly koa tenor with a thick abalone rosette and ebony binding on the front and back. I chose an ebony-faceplate slotted headstock, ebony bridge, and radiused ebony fretboard. What I’m perhaps most excited about is the fretboard will have no dots but will instead feature a single honu turtle. I also decided to install a passive pick-up.

Joe has been so friendly and accomodating during the design process. I am happy to be back in the hobby and look forward to having a completely personal uke. I ordered last week, and the wait time is about 8 weeks, so I'll share updates as I get them.

Ukulele Eddie
03-07-2015, 04:55 AM
Sounds great! I'm really surprised at how short the wait time is, though I'm sure it will seem very looooooonngg to you. ;-)

03-07-2015, 05:09 AM
Well, that sounds lovely. I look forward to updates. It sounds stunning. I'm wondering, what kind of passive pickup will be installed?

03-07-2015, 05:23 AM
Great to see you back here Natalie. And glad to see that you are back with the uke as well. Looking forward to seeing the pics.

03-07-2015, 06:15 AM
Just when you thought you were out..... a custom Kanile'a tenor pulls you back in. Great choice. I have a 2nd hand Kanile'a custom tenor, and was very impressed with the sound and feel. Kanile'a has the highest finish quality and beautiful woods.

Will you get any pictures during the build?

03-07-2015, 06:23 AM
Congratulations. It sounds like it will be lovely. Joe and Kristen Souza are such wonderful people, and Kanile'as are great ukes. Eight weeks is a super short turn around time for a custom too, that is great. I look forward to seeing the finished product. :)

03-07-2015, 06:52 AM
Thanks for the welcome back, guys. It really does feel good to return to uke. I agree, the wait time sounded pretty short to me as well! I am pleasantly surprised about that, but won't complain if it is longer. I'm not sure if I'll get build pictures along the way, but I hope so!

Ukejenny, I'm not sure what kind of pickup it is, but it will be factory installed at Kanile'a-- if anyone has an idea of what type they use.

Wickedwahine, it's good to see you again. :-) I know you've always been an advocate for Kanile'a and I loved seeing your islands model. I agree, Joe and Kristen are about as nice as anyone can get. Joe made some subtle design suggestions based on what I was looking for that I think will really enhance the instrument. I told him I was looking for a sleek, lightweight feel and appearance, so he is using a slim profile headstock, Gotoh Stealth tuners, and a black nut/saddle rather than ivory-colored. I am so excited to see the end product.

03-07-2015, 09:11 AM
Awesome choice. Which slotthead style did you order? How about there new scoop cutaway and arm bezel, just beautiful.

03-07-2015, 09:37 AM
Happy to see you return to the ukulele and UU!

mm stan
03-07-2015, 12:47 PM
Aloha Natalie,
Great to see you back here and the ukulele, I agree kanilea and Joe and Kirsten are the nicest people around.
Congratulations on the good choice and hope to see a video soon when you get it. Happy Strummings

03-07-2015, 12:51 PM
Congrats Natalie! So nice to see you back on UU and to know that you and the uke haven't parted ways for good :)

03-07-2015, 01:06 PM
Can't wait to hear and see you playing it, Natalie.

03-07-2015, 01:19 PM
tangimango, I didn't know they offered this option, but I ordered their regular profile headstock, just slimmer. The other choices (the cobra, and the crown-top) didn't really seem like me, so I was thrilled they had a thin version of the classic style.

It's so nice to see everyone again! I'll be sure to make some videos when it comes along. I need to figure out an amp for this uke too. Any suggestions?

I should mention, I got the idea for the fretboard honu from another Kanile'a uke I saw online. Here is that one:


03-07-2015, 06:15 PM
That is a short wait time. I'd like the turtle on frets 1 & 2 with air bubbles at frets 3,5,7 & (2 at) 12

03-07-2015, 08:24 PM
Congratulations on what sounds like it's going to be a beautiful ukulele and welcome back to UU. I've had the chance to meet Joe on one of his roadshows here in San Francisco, and he seems like a delightful person. I wish I loved Kanile'a more than I do - the sound is exquisite but the neck isn't totally comfortable for my hands - but I know they're quality instruments and I love listening to others playing them.

I have migrated a little to tenor guitars, although I remain an enthusiastic ukulele player. Are you still playing a tenor guitar? I have what might be the best of both worlds, a steel string baritone ukulele, tuned DGBE (tenor guitar Chicago tuning), with a 21 inch scale rather than the more typical for tenor guitar 23 or 24 inch scale.

Can't wait to see your New Uke Day thread!

03-08-2015, 04:08 AM
I'm not playing tenor guitar a lot anymore. Ko'olau put out a steel-stringed prototype that sounded incredible on video, but they only made one and I haven't come across anything like it since. I bought Pono's "big baritone" nylon-stringed tenor guitar but sold it because I really prefer the sound of steel strings for DGBE. Then I ended up going back to acoustic guitar. I'm still figuring out some of the unique things about guitar, like in some chords you only play the bottom four strings anyway, and in some you play all six. Fingerpicking six strings is still a challenge for me, but it's a fun challenge.

03-08-2015, 05:28 AM
Can't wait to see it. :drool:

03-08-2015, 10:51 AM
Nice Nat and congrats

Kanile'a is a wonderful uku, good choice. I only sold mine last week and already missing it. I wonder if I had done the right thing?

Hippie Dribble
03-08-2015, 11:03 AM
It's gonna be a stunner Natalie. Congratulations on a wonderful and considered choice. Really looking forward to seeing and hearing her. And as others have said, it's awesome that you're back playing the ukulele and spending more time here on the forum. I still remember you introducing me to this place and will always be grateful to you for that. :)

03-09-2015, 04:47 AM
Welcome back!! Congrats on your custom Kanile'a uke. Sounds like it will be a sight to see, looking forward to the pictures!
Kanile'a is a really great uke, love mine.

03-09-2015, 07:13 AM
Congrats and great choice.....Kanile'a. Voice, looks, sustain, intonation, quality, playability, etc.. are all superb!

Just a short note and comment on the Gotoh "stealth tuners". Gotoh has a disclaimer and warning on their website regarding these with respect to string tension greater than 44 lbs. I believe this would exclude you from using fluorocarbon strings. I have the stealth tuners on my Kanilea "Diamond" model and have gone back to the original aquila strings rather than the Living Waters strings which I had preferred. If any members have additional input on the stealth tuners I would appreciate hearing.

Also, you might want to check out the following website, pinzuk.com, for bridge pins! I switched out all my Kanilea plastic pins for either solid wood or brass with inlays! My Kanilea Diamond has brass with Black MOP inlay and my Kanilea K3TP has brass with abalone inlay! Just my personal preference! Good Luck!

03-12-2015, 10:49 AM
^ Interesting info. I had not heard that about the Stealth tuners.

05-15-2015, 11:58 AM
I got a call today that my Kanile'a is finished and they are going to ship it! I can't wait to receive it. The wait has been worth it, for sure.

Ukulele Eddie
05-15-2015, 12:06 PM
That's great news. Look forward to the NUD posting when it arrives!

05-15-2015, 12:07 PM
Great news, and it's good to see you back.

05-15-2015, 12:10 PM
Excellent choice NatalieS! Please keep us updated.

05-16-2015, 02:20 AM
Very exciting--can't wait to see pictures!

05-16-2015, 06:50 AM
Just a short note and comment on the Gotoh "stealth tuners". Gotoh has a disclaimer and warning on their website regarding these with respect to string tension greater than 44 lbs. I believe this would exclude you from using fluorocarbon strings. I have the stealth tuners on my Kanilea "Diamond" model and have gone back to the original aquila strings rather than the Living Waters strings which I had preferred. If any members have additional input on the stealth tuners I would appreciate hearing.

I had Stealth Gotoh tuners on my KoOlau, and I enjoyed them greatly. They do take care in that one cannot let the uke fall over onto the tuners, which are thin (I think it was ukeeku, Tim, who either broke one that way or knows someone who broke one that way). Also, they can "burn out" if spun very quickly with a tuner ratchet/spinny thing/drill end (note: I do not use one, so I have no clue what they are called...lol). RyRod, on UU and youtube, had a failure of Gotoh Stealth which he attributed to unwinding (string winder, that's it) too fast on his Talsma. He has 1-2 videos and some UU posts on the subject. Anyhow, he was distraught because the tuners are not sold individually (and a set of four is expensive, over $100), and the thinness of his (slotted) headstock was such that any other regular tuner (Grover, Waverly, etc) would not fit--they were too wide for his thin (front-to-back) headstock which was made thin for the Gotohs.

On my KoOlau, the headstock was thick, and had I an issue and wanted to install a complete set of other tuners, I could have done so. That said, I never broke one or burned one out. I did have a thread about these tuners and even Andrew chimed in positively on them, and his experience with them, so I will try to link that here. I have no idea about warranty and pounds of pull and such, and I trust Ken's input below on that subject; I did use them on a tenor with Worth FC strings, no issues for me.

Would I order them again on a new uke? Perhaps not, only because they are fragile, and the 12:1 ratio (I think it's something like that, I could be wrong) is unnecessary for me (heck, I love 1:1 friction tuners, so don;t go by me). I'm sure they'll be fine for you, Natalie. --Steve

Okay, here's the thread, with Andrew's respected opinion. Daniel (nongdam) had an unpleasant experience documented here. Note: Ryan Rodriguez, UU member, had a video entitled "Talsma Uke one year later", or something like that (not his NUD video) which he has now deleted; that is the one where he described the Gotoh Stealth's failure. Again, it is now missing from his channel.

The Big Kahuna
05-17-2015, 07:36 PM
44 lbs is the maximum tension per tuner, this doesn't apply to ukes.

For a tenor ukulele, the cumulative tension for all 4 strings would be less than the quoted maximum per tuner. Even allowing for variations in tension due to material, the individual string tension would probably not exceed 30% of the maximum. For example, the quoted tension for a D'Addario Nyltech A (the highest tension in the set) is 12.28 lbs

The highest tension I could find was for the G out of a set of heavy flatwound jazz strings at 34 lbs.

My guess is that your uke would fold in half long before you broke a peg.

ps. Surely only a blind person would mount the pegs on the face of the uke. That has to be the ugliest concept I've ever seen.

05-18-2015, 01:37 AM
Thank you all for the detailed info about the Stealth tuners! I had looked up uke string tension and figured I'd be ok, plus I trust Joe's luthier expertise so I knew he wouldn't use those tuners if they couldn't handle the string tension. It helps to see this info as well.

I was hoping they'd ship my uke on Friday but I asked them to install a strap button on the neck at the last minute, so that may have delayed them. I *hope* it will be here this week-- I think UPS Ground takes 5 business days from HI to FL. Praying it gets here before the holiday weekend, otherwise that will be a long wait!

05-20-2015, 01:34 AM
Hooray, it will be here on Friday! I'm a bit worried I'll miss the delivery, but am planning to go into work super early and leave early so I can make it home before the mailman gets here. I spoke with Kanile'a on the phone yesterday regarding redirecting the package to my post office, but unfortunately it didn't work when either of us contacted USPS. It's ok, though-- I don't want to put out Kanile'a even more by pushing the issue. I'll just make sure I'm home in time on Friday. :D

mm stan
05-20-2015, 01:41 AM
Aloha Natalie, congratulations joe and Kirsten are super nice and make the finest ukes
We will be awaiting pictures please :)

05-20-2015, 01:43 AM
Please keep this thread updated with your impressions once you get the uke, Natalie. Mahalo.

05-20-2015, 03:07 AM
can't wait to see it!

05-20-2015, 08:00 AM
Aloha Natalie! Soooo, did ya get it yet?!! :)