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View Full Version : NUD: Ko'olau CS Sinker Redwood Milo



Rakelele
06-05-2015, 07:44 AM
I got lucky. Last year, I won the contest at The Ukulele Site where you had to name as many uke models as possible. Since this was a very special occasion for me, I wanted to use it for something extraordinary, so I upgraded to a custom made Ko'olau CS, fully loaded with a Sinker Redwood top, Milo back an sides, Ebony appointments, slotted headstock, radius fingerboard, and a high gloss finish along with a satin finished neck.

Nine month later, I got lucky again. My Ko'olau has arrived and blows my mind. I think it looks very classy with its dark appearance and the lighter stripe of sapwood on the back (see pictures below). Fit and finish are flawless. The instrument feels very comfortable to hold and play. A nicely rounded neck profile and fat frets contribute largely to that.

But most important is that it sounds absolutely fantastic. Combined with the Redwood top, the wide body design produces a really resonant, deep and rich tone. Very articulate, loud and clear, assertive, but not aggressive, very well balanced all across the strings and up the fretboard. Perfect for picking, but also apt for some gentle strumming.

Luckily for me again, the folks at HMS made not only one, but two videos of my uke, one with High G, the other with Low G. To demonstrate the latter, Corey plays his amazing version of Chet Atkins' "Still Can't Say Goodbye", which has become my standard to measure all ukes:

https://vimeo.com/128111336

The High G is presented with Tommy Emmanuel's "The Mystery", taken from Corey's CD "Fables":

https://vimeo.com/127957521

Thanks to Andrew and Corey for those beautiful recordings, and to Noa Bonk for building this masterpiece. I feel very lucky to own and play such a wonderful instrument.

80308

80309

sam13
06-05-2015, 08:24 AM
Rakelele ... this is a beautiful instrument visually and it is one of the best sounding Ko'olau (IMHO) to my ears I have heard recently. Warm, balanced, and yet still lots of brightness.

Noah did an amazing job on it.

Wishing you many years of enjoyment, and hopefully when I am in Europe I can make a detour to give a work out!

What strings are on both sets ... I am becoming a fan of just a wound fourth, and I still like the wound 3rd ... sounds great.

Icelander53
06-05-2015, 08:51 AM
If I had to pick 5 ukuleles that would be my holy grail, that uke you have there is one of them. You lucky lucky boy.

Let me know when you're ready to sell. :drool:

NatalieS
06-05-2015, 09:16 AM
What a gorgeous instrument! It sounds so amazing too, particularly with the low G. Congratulations-- I hope you enjoy the heck out of it.

Ukulele Eddie
06-05-2015, 09:24 AM
Bee-you-tee-full!!!!! Both in sound and looks. Congratulations on a real stunner!!

Rakelele
06-05-2015, 09:37 AM
Sure Simon, come by, and bring your LFdM along! Would love to hear your awesome uke as well.

The strings on the low G sample are Southcoast with a wound fourth, not sure what set exactly. That's the strings I'm using now. The high G sample might be featuring the Ko'olau Mahana stock strings.

You're right Icelander, that's one of the holy grails to me, too. And no, I don't think I will ever sell this one...

Thanks for your nice comments, Natalie and Eddie.

Osprey
06-05-2015, 09:38 AM
Great looking and sounding instrument. I like it in both low and high G. Congratulations!
Cliff

DownUpDave
06-05-2015, 10:00 AM
I am so happy for you.......that is one outstanding instrument. One of the very finest I have every heard. Thanks for giving it such a nice NUD post as we all love to share and enjoy beautiful new ukuleles.

It certainly makes me want a Ko'o lau, as this instrument in Low G is just amazing. Congratulations. Love the Milo back wood with the sap strip , very classy

katysax
06-05-2015, 10:24 AM
Gorgeous! Enjoy it.

Rakelele
06-05-2015, 10:25 AM
Thanks for your nice comment, Dave. The Ko'olau is really something special, and I'd highly recommend it. Flawlessly built, comfortable to hold, and a joy both to play and to listen to. Not too brash, not too bright, just perfectly balanced, like a singing voice.

DownUpDave
06-05-2015, 11:23 AM
Thanks for your nice comment, Dave. The Ko'olau is really something special, and I'd highly recommend it. Flawlessly built, comfortable to hold, and a joy both to play and to listen to. Not too brash, not too bright, just perfectly balanced, like a singing voice.

You obviously have not heard MY singing voice:biglaugh::biglaugh::biglaugh:

Steveperrywriter
06-05-2015, 12:05 PM
Beautiful, to eyes and ears.

Camsuke
06-05-2015, 01:12 PM
Congratulations, very classy!

Hippie Dribble
06-05-2015, 01:23 PM
Wow. Huge congratulations Rakelele. I think that's the nicest Ko'olau I've ever seen and heard.

PhilUSAFRet
06-05-2015, 01:28 PM
Holy Crap! That's a stunner. Certainly deserves to be someone's "Holy Grail"

Dan Uke
06-05-2015, 02:56 PM
man, I want a Ko'olau too! Congrats!!

Nickie
06-05-2015, 04:04 PM
Congratulations! To own such a fine uke must cause profuse terminal smiling.

Rakelele
06-05-2015, 08:35 PM
Thanks for all your nice comments. Good to see that there's a lot of appreciation for Ko'olau. They really deserve it!

And yes Nickie, I do catch myself smiling even when I'm at work just thinking about that uke... :o

Trinimon
06-06-2015, 02:44 AM
Wow, that's a pretty uke! Congrats! From the videos, seems that she sings beautifully too. :)

mm stan
06-06-2015, 03:46 AM
Aloha R,
Congratulations on your awesome Koolau... its beautiful and sound sweet... Happy Strummings

Wicked
06-06-2015, 04:23 AM
I have been thinking about getting a redwood/milo Koolau ever since I saw that one Kimo Hussey video.... This instrument just pushed me over the fence.

guitharsis
06-06-2015, 04:43 AM
Gorgeous uke and sounds great in both tunings! Congrats!

Rakelele
06-06-2015, 10:39 AM
Aloha R,
Congratulations on your awesome Koolau... its beautiful and sound sweet... Happy Strummings

Thanks, Stan. Too bad you didn't get to see it when you visited the Ko'olau workshop.

Rakelele
06-06-2015, 10:47 AM
I have been thinking about getting a redwood/milo Koolau ever since I saw that one Kimo Hussey video.... This instrument just pushed me over the fence.

So Wicked, does that mean that you're going to order one? I bet you wouldn't regret it. To me, it was the video of Len's Ko'olau that made me want to get mine:

https://vimeo.com/95555490

Dan Uke
06-06-2015, 10:50 AM
is the fretboard bound?

Rakelele
06-06-2015, 10:54 AM
is the fretboard bound?

No, the fretboard isn't bound on mine. But the frets are dressed excellently. I think I'v seen some Ko'olau tenors with bound fretboards, though.

Dan Uke
06-06-2015, 12:31 PM
No, the fretboard isn't bound on mine. But the frets are dressed excellently. I think I'v seen some Ko'olau tenors with bound fretboards, though.

thanks for the info.

Wicked
06-06-2015, 02:38 PM
So Wicked, does that mean that you're going to order one? I bet you wouldn't regret it. To me, it was the video of Len's Ko'olau that made me want to get mine:

https://vimeo.com/95555490

I believe so. Redwood and milo. I need to save some pennies though. I recently bought one of the D'Angelicos from HMS.

UkeInTW
06-06-2015, 02:52 PM
Wow, love that sound. And beautiful too. Congrats! If you find out which type of Southcoast strings, can you let me know? Would be interested to try some of those strings on some of my ukes. Also, Corey always makes any sound even more special. Thanks and congrats, gorgeous uke.

Patrick Madsen
06-06-2015, 06:24 PM
Looks like Corey's has a wound 3&4 so probably HML-RW's. A great hi tensioned string.

Rakelele
06-06-2015, 07:34 PM
For those who wanted to know what strings are used: It's an all plain Southcoast HMU set, but with the new smooth wound fourth string Oasis recently came out with. Looks very similar to the wound strings from Southcoast and blends in perfectly. I like this combination a lot. Great balance between the one wound bass string and the three unwound trebles.

mds725
06-06-2015, 09:07 PM
That's really beautiful! Congratulations!

LittleCeci
07-01-2015, 09:33 PM
What a nice combination! Congrats on your new uke and I love Ko'olau, too. :)

Rakelele
07-01-2015, 11:21 PM
What a nice combination! Congrats on your new uke and I love Ko'olau, too. :)

Thanks Ceci! If I remember correctly, you have a Ko'olau as well? What type of wood(s) is yours made of?

Doc_J
07-02-2015, 02:15 AM
Congrats! That is one sweet sounding Ko'olau! I missed your thread earlier while on vacation.

Redwood appears to be the favorite of many luthiers, for a warm, yet crisp sound. Redwood/Milo is a wonderful combination.

Rakelele
07-02-2015, 02:43 AM
Thanks Hodge! Redwood seems to be really special indeed. When I was hunting for what I might like best, I watched literally hundreds of sound samples (including your fine comparison), and never came across a Redwood uke that didn't appeal to me.

CTurner
07-02-2015, 03:37 AM
Well done, Rakelele! It's good to have a skill set that includes winning the occasional uke contest! ; ) The Koolau sounds and looks superb. I love the tone in the vimeo clip, nicely balanced and clear. Congratulations and happy playing!

Rakelele
07-03-2015, 11:10 AM
Well done, Rakelele! It's good to have a skill set that includes winning the occasional uke contest!

Thanks Craig! Indeed, I spent so much time doing research on all the different uke brands, makers, and models, that I was glad it "payed back" to some extent. Altough what I won was only a fraction of what I spent, winning the contest was what made me upgrade to the range of 3K+. Wouldn't have gone there otherwise. So glad I did.

Surly-Mac
07-04-2015, 02:28 AM
Now that's an ukulele! Congratulations on winning and your obviously fine taste; thank you for the post.