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View Full Version : Kamaka vs. KoAloha ??



rclifford13
03-14-2009, 04:27 PM
I am trying to decide between my next tenor ukulele being a Kamaka or a KoAloha. They are both beautiful and roughly the same price so what are the differences between the models? What would YOU recommend? Please help me out as I am really torn between the two! Thanks so much.
Rob

Leisureclub
03-14-2009, 04:31 PM
Since I'm assuming you're going to get either one mail ordered, I'd recommend listening to as many as you can on youtube and the like.

They're both quality instruments built to last a lifetime. Major difference is tone and it's impossible to argue which one sounds better.

Kaneohe til the end
03-14-2009, 04:40 PM
im biased because i work at KoAloha, but in all seriousness, i like our stuff better. much easier to pick up and play. very playable and also aesthetically pleasing. we also have the best warranty since like, ever. especially compared to Kamaka's yearlong wait list for repairs

grappler
03-14-2009, 05:25 PM
i would prefer the kamaka than the koaloha.
dont get me wrong, koaloha are great also, but as PERSONAL preference..


KAMAKA

wickedwahine11
03-14-2009, 05:43 PM
Not to hijack, but...I was torn between Kamaka and Koaloha and actually ended up getting a Kanile'a that I am very happy with. As long as you are considering the K's, it is a great ukulele at a competitive price, and they provide great customer service. Just a thought...I'm sure you will love whatever you choose.

Edit: I now have the Kamaka, and I play that over my Kanile'a 99.9% of the time, so between Kamaka and KoAloha, for tradition, for elegant design (over more mod looks), for historical value, I choose Kamaka.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
03-14-2009, 05:56 PM
They're both quality instruments built to last a lifetime.
I think that's a bit of a stretch. Have a peek into Kamaka's repair room sometime and you'll see just how short life can be!

tanimoto
03-14-2009, 05:56 PM
do they still make Pono with Koa?

Kaneohe til the end
03-14-2009, 06:28 PM
I think that's a bit of a stretch. Have a peek into Kamaka's repair room sometime and you'll see just how short life can be!

hah! he didn't say anything about KoAloha's, because it'd be ridiculous to offer a lifetime warranty and not build our instruments to last a lifetime.

Ukulele Friend
03-14-2009, 06:39 PM
Aloha,

I've got to say that I LOVE both of these builders. They play wonderfully and hold a tone in their own rite. I must admit though...if you ever have an opportunity to play a full custom from either of these builders you'll really see (and hear) how complex a tone and masterfully built ukes can be.

ahui ho,
Shawn

http://ukulelefriend.com

freedive135
03-14-2009, 07:33 PM
Back when I was looking into and emailing MGM I asked the same ???? about the Soprano's....
I was looking at the Kamaka cuz they were the oldest mfg. and I figured I couldn't go wrong...
He told me they are both very well built and when I asked which he would buy....
I ended up with a KoAloaha Soprano.

UkuLeLesReggAe
03-14-2009, 07:48 PM
buy both, problem solved :)
buy me 1 while ur at it :D

*edit
jz realised ur aussie, wow... ur guna spend heaps trying to buy one of these ukes.

ka0tikguy
03-14-2009, 07:51 PM
i'd go with the kamaka

Rubbertoe
03-14-2009, 08:08 PM
Not to hijack, but...I was torn between Kamaka and Koaloha and actually ended up getting a Kanile'a that I am very happy with. As long as you are considering the K's, it is a great ukulele at a competitive price, and they provide great customer service. Just a thought...I'm sure you will love whatever you choose.

I'll toss in another vote for Kanile'a. But I can understand your dilemma. I'm planning a trip to the islands and want to get a new uke while i'm there so i'm in the same boat you're in.

khrome
03-15-2009, 12:33 AM
do they still make Pono with Koa?

They stopped making them with koa this year, although you can still find placest that sell them.

thejumpingflea
03-15-2009, 12:50 AM
I'd go with the Kamaka.

Why you ask? Well to be honest it is because the Kamaka is considered as the finest factory made ukes around. While this may not be the truth (some will argue Kanile'a and KoAloha are better, and for some they are) it is true that these are fine instruments that will not only play as well as you could hope, but become an item you can treasure for a lifetime. This company has some serious history to it and by purchasing one of these ukes you are becoming a part of that history of ukulele excellence. (Since 1916!) Yes, you are paying a bit for that KK sticker (well inlay now-a-days) but when it comes down to purchasing yourself a professional quality instrument you cannot go wrong with a Kamaka.

Georgie808
03-15-2009, 12:56 AM
I'd go with the Kamaka.

Why you ask? Well to be honest it is because the Kamaka is considered as the finest factory made ukes around. While this may not be the truth (some will argue Kanile'a and KoAloha are better, and for some they are) it is true that these are fine instruments that will not only play as well as you could hope, but become an item you can treasure for a lifetime. This company has some serious history to it and by purchasing one of these ukes you are becoming a part of that history of ukulele excellence. (Since 1916!) Yes, you are paying a bit for that KK sticker (well inlay now-a-days) but when it comes down to purchasing yourself a professional quality instrument you cannot go wrong with a Kamaka.

Haha i agree! I have my self a kamaka made in the 70's. It broke and i needed to send it in for a $100 repair, but its totally worth it. GO WITH KAMAKA. Thats my personal preference.

grappler
03-15-2009, 01:01 AM
Haha i agree! I have my self a kamaka made in the 70's. It broke and i needed to send it in for a $100 repair, but its totally worth it. GO WITH KAMAKA. Thats my personal preference.

yep agreed!

rclifford13
03-15-2009, 01:02 AM
Aargh... this is difficult but I've decided to go with the KoAloha for two reasons:

1. Comes with preinstalled pickup
2. Didn't like the tone of the Kamaka in the shop

Thanks for the help!

Dibblet
03-15-2009, 01:15 AM
I've got one of each. The Kamaka is made from nicer looking Koa but the KoAloha sounds better IMO.

Now, I have my KoAloha tuned with a low G and the Kamaka in high G. When I tried Kanileas in high G I thought that beat the Kamaka for sound.

So I'd say Kamaka for looks, KoAloah for low G, Kanliea for high G. Get all 3!

grappler
03-15-2009, 01:15 AM
your in melbourne too!!
where did you buy it?
which shop was it?

deach
03-15-2009, 02:31 AM
.... Get all 3!

Finally a correct answer!

rclifford13
03-15-2009, 02:38 AM
your in melbourne too!!
where did you buy it?
which shop was it?

acousticcentre.com.au

but i bought the koaloha from MGM

haole
03-15-2009, 06:54 AM
I think you'll be very happy with the KoAloha. :D Looking into one as my next purchase.
It's tough to decide because the K-brands are roughly equal in quality and they're all really sweet. It comes down to personal preference rather than finding out which one is "better" at that point.

Pippin
03-15-2009, 07:01 AM
I would like to think that any ukulele that lasts a year would last a life-time. I have been playing for over forty years. I used to have a vintage Gretsch "Electromatic" guitar that was built to last... just about every guitar from the 1940s and 50s was built to last. When you see a repair room for ukuleles like Kamaka, the first thing you would want to know is why are they in for repair. Most are sent for repair in a company of that level due to careless treatment or abuse of some sort. That includes rough handling, banging around, temperature extremes, etc...

I'd like to think that the way I 'baby' my gear, I could invest in a Kamaka ukulele and it would be with me until the day I die. I have gigged with guitars for years and dragged them all over the place without so much as a dent in the binding. I am careful. I keep them in the case when they are not being played. Same with my ukuleles.

Now, if I were a klutz, I'd want an insurance policy. :D

Ahnko Honu
03-15-2009, 07:44 AM
DOn't forget the 4th "K" Ko'olau. ;)

allinfun
03-15-2009, 08:55 AM
I was in Oahu in January and spent 3 days at music stores and had this same debate. I defaulted to the KoAloha over Kamaka as the sound was my opinion better than the Kamaka. Finish work was nicer on the KoAloha too.

100percenthapa
03-15-2009, 09:46 AM
Both great instruments
But I prefer Kamaka.

MGM
03-15-2009, 09:54 AM
I get asked that question many times and between all the K brands its a matter of personal choice of sound.. Generally they all have similiar build quality and all have some sort of warranty although some are better than others. For example some will help cover shipping when repairs needed some dont. some take longer to repair than others as it is not a priority it seems

The best way to judge sound is to hear them side by side

Kamaka and g-string Clear and bright not much richness and bottom end as strung straight from factory

Kanilea A more resonant complex tone bright yet has something the kamakas and g strings dont'

Koaloha. Full resonant tone with great tonal charateristics my ear loves. one of my favorite sounds

Koolau the T-1s are bright and clear with lots of sustain . The higher models are rich, full mellower also with great sustain than the Kamaka and G string

To ask which is best is like saying do you like the looks of a mazaratti or Lambourghini better....its your preference...as Deach said the right answer get um all...lol


Or do you like apples better than oranges...both good for you...which do your prefer....

dominicfoundthemooon
03-15-2009, 11:24 AM
Aargh... this is difficult but I've decided to go with the KoAloha for two reasons:

1. Comes with preinstalled pickup
2. Didn't like the tone of the Kamaka in the shop

Thanks for the help!

welcome to the world of Koaloha... i just saw this post.. i love my koaloha concert.. and my tenor is on order... i am not sure if i got the chance to play a Kamaka.. i know i played close to 100000 ukes when i was in hawaii!! and the best i found in my opinion.. was the koaloha.. it rings out forever!!

good pick

tiki_ink
03-15-2009, 12:12 PM
I have a Kamaka concert.....Love it. I have 2 Kanilea K1-T tenors.....Love them. I am in the process of buying a Koaloha "Imaikalani" 6-string......I am sure I will love it. I say buy all three and then the only decision you will have is which one to play!

fumanshu
03-16-2009, 06:43 AM
I have a Koaloha Concert in satin finish....and it's true that this uke rings forever. And it surely has that bottom end that I found some uke don't. I have several excellent ukes and for sure some reason I always like how the Koaloha sounds and plays and pick it up several times per day to play with it.

But I'm also looking for a Kamaka and Kanile'a tenor since I think all the 4 K's companies all sound good with their own flavor.

generem
03-16-2009, 08:15 AM
I already have a Kamaka HF-3. Its true that it doesnt really have much bottom end but it does have a Very sweet sound that I love. When I want that Bass sound, I usually turn to my Lehua Tenor...

My next purchase will be a Koaloha. Still undecided on the Size but already set on the Brand..

When it comes to the K's... U really cant go wrong with any of them

tctomcat
03-16-2009, 06:46 PM
both are great sounding instruments. it all depends on the sound you want out of it. whether you like a soft mellow tone or a high pitchy tone. you can't go wrong with either. i have a Koa'lau, Lymana, G-string, Scheurenbrand, Kamaka and Martin. all are tenors minus the Kamaka all have a differrent sound, so if you can the best thing is to try them. good luck!

bthreadg
05-13-2019, 06:39 PM
I am trying to decide between a Kamaka or a KoAloha.
They are both beautiful and roughly the same price so what are the differences between the models?

I had the same goal, but was set on a Kamaka . . Until I went to their shop/factory on oaha. The guy out front wasn't much help or very friendly. I asked about the facility tour, and was flatly denied.
Ok, so? Here just works the front, I want the best, and was going to buy it . . But thanks to mr. Charisma@Kamaka, decided to go to a music shop downtown with a large selection.
That's where I found koaloha . . Is never heard of it, but it was the same price, and had a much better sound, so I bought it . . . in 2003.
It plays, sounds, and looks great . . If but another (after comparing them again . . They're expensive, so do your due diligence . . But if you can't, koaloha would be my choice)

ukuleleabe
05-13-2019, 07:21 PM
They're both amazing. My personal preference is KoAloha.

They both sound different, but more importantly they feel different.

If you can't play them before buying, listen to as many as you can online.

Kenn2018
05-13-2019, 08:12 PM
I have three of the base four K tenors.

Kanile'a K-1T - Leans towards base. A boomer. Very flat neck.
Ko'Aloha KTM-00 - Sparkles in the mids and low. Easiest of the three to play. Really stands out in a group. Most approachable sound.
Kamaka HF-3 - Very sophisticated and refined sound. Most balanced.

I have Living Waters Low-G strings on all three. (They all sounded great with re-entrant strings as well.)

I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. But, the one I grab most often to practice, or play for myself is the Ko'Aloha. And their service is exceptional.

Gmontema
05-13-2019, 10:44 PM
I wouldn’t trade my KoAloha for the world. It makes itself known at uke club and has a sound that can best be described as richly voluminous

Jerryc41
05-14-2019, 02:12 AM
I am trying to decide between my next tenor ukulele being a Kamaka or a KoAloha. They are both beautiful and roughly the same price so what are the differences between the models? What would YOU recommend? Please help me out as I am really torn between the two! Thanks so much.
Rob

After a lot of reading, I bought a KoAloha soprano several years ago. I especially like KoAlohas, and I have several. It's a family-run business, although it's new.

Kamaka has been around for over a hundred years, and you can't fault their products. Flip a coin.

EDIT: A couple of years ago, there were Polls about size and brand. The tenor was the favorite size, and KoAloha was the favorite brand.

sunshiNee
05-14-2019, 02:23 AM
Trust your ears.

Kamaka sounds better to me. I know people love KoAlohas but i was very unimpressed playing a few different models side by side (concert and tenor models). But that's just my preference.

Ragtop232
05-14-2019, 03:09 AM
I'm going to approach my answer here from a different perspective. While I admit the Ko'Aloha ukuleles sound wonderful, I look at construction for longevity. While they say you can stand on the body of their ukuleles, I've seen that in videos, it's the neck joint that worries me. Ko'Aloha ukulele's have just a butt-joint gluing the neck to the body with no dowels or screws. All other K brands use either a biscuit joint or some sort of dovetail for the neck joint. I know there's not a lot of tension on ukulele necks, but this really worries me and why I haven't thus far purchased a Ko'Aloha ukulele. Maybe my worries are unfounded, but I know that neck joint is paramount in sound and stability for the life of the ukulele.

Jim

Kyle23
05-14-2019, 03:29 AM
I can only judge Kanilea and KoAloha from personal experience as I have both, but it seems like a lot of sound samples on Kamakas are a bit off. It may be the stock strings though. HMS uploaded a video a few days ago comparing Kanilea, KoAaloha and Kamaka tenors and the Kamaka was easily the worst of the 3 in that comparison. Sounded muddy to me.

keenonuke
05-14-2019, 03:35 AM
I am trying to decide between my next tenor ukulele being a Kamaka or a KoAloha. They are both beautiful and roughly the same price so what are the differences between the models? What would YOU recommend? Please help me out as I am really torn between the two! Thanks so much.
Rob

I've tried both. I own a Koaloha. I now love love my Koaloha but it wasn't love at first strum and it took time for it to become my favorite. When I played the Kamaka I wasn't a fan of the strings or action. However both those can be changed. So since it takes time for me to develop a fondness for an instrument perhaps I should retry a Kamaka. :-)

janeray1940
05-14-2019, 05:37 AM
Interesting to see this thread come up after 10 years (2009!). During those years, I've owned several of each. The Koalohas got re-homed pretty quickly each time; I still own three Kamakas that I play regularly. For me it comes down to a combination of sound and playability but YMMV.

mnb128
05-14-2019, 07:31 AM
Interesting to see this thread come up after 10 years (2009!).

And it will come up again in another 10 years, simply because there’s no right answer...except maybe ‘I’ll take one of each please.’

Joking aside, it’s great to hear other people’s experiences with both brands. I’ve found the comments from the last 10 years interesting and enlightening. Thanks everyone for sharing.

Just Russ
05-14-2019, 08:53 AM
Kamakas should never be judged with their stock strings.

Joyful Uke
05-14-2019, 10:16 AM
Kamakas should never be judged with their stock strings.

+1.
It seems like enough people agree that when sound samples are posted, it should be with stock strings, and another sample with something else.

Kyle23
05-14-2019, 10:21 AM
Kamakas should never be judged with their stock strings.

I agree, however you have to put some blame on Kamaka for using them as their stock strings. I'm not sure if it is to cut costs or whatever, but they do not sound good.

fretie
05-14-2019, 03:01 PM
I say, get one of each!

I have a Koaloha tenor and like it a lot.

The Koaloha is strung low G and Id like a tenor thats running a high G. I am now in the process to adding a Kamaka tenor to my herd. Then no problem about which to buy. Get one of each and play em according to your mood and the music you dig.

AustinHing
05-14-2019, 03:21 PM
I agree, however you have to put some blame on Kamaka for using them as their stock strings. I'm not sure if it is to cut costs or whatever, but they do not sound good.
I like Kamaka strings so much that I put them on my Martin. I used to not like them but grew to appreciate them more every time I play on them. I don’t think the Kamaka string are inferior but rather a different sound that is more rounded and balanced. I admit it’s relatively harder to press down compared to fluorocarbon and I’m okay with it cos I could tease out many subtle beautiful notes out of the same chord. In my personal opinion, a fluorocarbon is more of a one or zero kind of sound. So I think the Kamaka strings are great for finger style. Well try the Kamaka with stock strings on a quiet day and maybe you will be converted as I have. Just my 2 cents and not out to offend anyone.

ukeinfused
05-20-2019, 04:34 PM
I once had a pretty 2002 Kamaka tenor, which I decided was a bit heavy and over-built...... until I put a set of Worth "Heavy" strings on it.
WOW, did that thing come alive! It sounded fantastic.

Lookswise (if that matters to you), they are such different creatures.
The wood set and finish on the Kamaka was way prettier than the 2007 Koaloha concert I had at the same time.

The Koaloha sounded really good, but I found I needed to warm up that crystaline sound with a set of Worth Browns.
I never attached to the headstock or the thick gloss finish and ended up selling.

Slade
05-20-2019, 07:40 PM
Ko'Aloha ukulele's have just a butt-joint gluing the neck to the body with no dowels or screws. All other K brands use either a biscuit joint or some sort of dovetail for the neck joint. I know there's not a lot of tension on ukulele necks, but this really worries me and why I haven't thus far purchased a Ko'Aloha ukulele. Maybe my worries are unfounded, but I know that neck joint is paramount in sound and stability for the life of the ukulele.

Jim[/QUOTE]

Not true regarding my KoAloha. It has a bolt/adjustment connecting the body to the neck.

merlin666
05-21-2019, 06:29 AM
Ko'Aloha ukulele's have just a butt-joint gluing the neck to the body with no dowels or screws. All other K brands use either a biscuit joint or some sort of dovetail for the neck joint. I know there's not a lot of tension on ukulele necks, but this really worries me and why I haven't thus far purchased a Ko'Aloha ukulele. Maybe my worries are unfounded, but I know that neck joint is paramount in sound and stability for the life of the ukulele.

Jim

Not true regarding my KoAloha. It has a bolt/adjustment connecting the body to the neck.

At last year's factory tour they just glued the necks on without any dowels, dovetail, or mortise/tenon. And I agree that this can be a huge concern, but I bought a 2000 vintage anyway, because I trust their warranty and reputation. However, they change their designs and approaches continuously, and it is possible that they had prototypes with other joints or even made a whole bunch with bolts. There is no evidence on my 2000 that it has a special joint.

Ragtop232
05-21-2019, 10:59 AM
Ko'Aloha ukulele's have just a butt-joint gluing the neck to the body with no dowels or screws. All other K brands use either a biscuit joint or some sort of dovetail for the neck joint. I know there's not a lot of tension on ukulele necks, but this really worries me and why I haven't thus far purchased a Ko'Aloha ukulele. Maybe my worries are unfounded, but I know that neck joint is paramount in sound and stability for the life of the ukulele.

Jim

Slade said:
Not true regarding my KoAloha. It has a bolt/adjustment connecting the body to the neck.

Slade, I was so concerned when I was shopping for a K brand ukulele, I called the KoAloha factory and ask them specifically about the neck joint and was told, this was about a year ago, but it was just a butt joint that was glued and did NOT have a screw, dowel or anything other than the glued butt joint holding the neck to the body. Now, they might've decided to change, but I'm just relaying what the factory told me directly. I didn't purchase one because of it.

Jim

Slade
05-21-2019, 02:28 PM
Mine was built in 2018. I never held/played any other KoAloha so I have nothing to compare it to. But it does have a bolt.

merlin666
05-21-2019, 05:55 PM
Mine was built in 2018. I never held/played any other KoAloha so I have nothing to compare it to. But it does have a bolt.

Can you post a picture of the inside of this uke?

Slade
05-21-2019, 06:23 PM
118197

I’m not going to take the strings off but you can see it.

Rakelele
05-21-2019, 08:58 PM
Slade, what kind of KoAloha is yours? I see a shaped top brace and also a rosette, so it's definitely not their "regular" model, right?

merlin666
05-23-2019, 11:29 AM
Slade, what kind of KoAloha is yours? I see a shaped top brace and also a rosette, so it's definitely not their "regular" model, right?

Still waiting for an answer, it's a mystery.

Kenn2018
05-23-2019, 08:35 PM
IMHO: I don't think that KoAloha would be able to sustain a "Better Than Rain" warranty if their necks were failing because of a poor method of attachment.

For the record, my 2017 KTM-00 does not have a bolt for the neck.