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View Full Version : Kanile'a or Kamaka



Dafgog
09-13-2015, 05:54 AM
I have a beautiful looking Kanile'a KSTP. Lovely mellow tone - but I'm currently trying different strings to try and get a bit more volume - currently D'Addario Pro Arte J71 with D'Addario Pro-Arté carbon EJ99T and Martin clear Fluorocarbon next to try. Is it the nature of the Kanile'a to be quiet, has the superb gloss finish an impact?

How would you, far more experienced guys compare the Kanile'a to the Kamaka for sound? The Kanile'a looks stunning but the sound is mellow and rather quiet.

Discuss please, thanks.

stevepetergal
09-13-2015, 10:07 AM
I've owned three Kanile'as. Yes, they were all beautiful to look at. All three were what I would call dead. I tried several different string sets and no matter what, I had to fight to get a fair mf sound out of them. (I found the Aquilas they came with gave me the most volume, but still...)
I've played perhaps 20 Kamakas. They aren't anywhere as pretty, but none of them was so severely quiet.

NatalieS
09-13-2015, 10:27 AM
I've had a few Kanile'a ukes and found that it took each of them some time to open up. For instance, I have a super tenor that really opened up after about one year and is now a sound cannon. Experimenting with strings certainly helps; my favorites for Kanile'as are Living Waters. Good luck with yours, they are very nice ukes. :-)

janeray1940
09-13-2015, 10:32 AM
I've owned three Kanile'as. Yes, they were all beautiful to look at. All three were what I would call dead.

I haven't owned Kanile'as but have encountered and tried at least a half-dozen in the wild, some old, some new, and - this would be my assessment as well. Kamakas in my experience tend to be louder, and Koalohas even louder still.

wickedwahine11
09-13-2015, 12:11 PM
I've had a few Kanile'a ukes and found that it took each of them some time to open up. For instance, I have a super tenor that really opened up after about one year and is now a sound cannon. Experimenting with strings certainly helps; my favorites for Kanile'as are Living Waters. Good luck with yours, they are very nice ukes. :-)

I agree regarding Living Water strings - they were the best fit on my Kanilea and definitely gave it the most volume.

Nickie
09-13-2015, 01:25 PM
The only Kanileas I've heard were Sarah and Craigs'.....they sounded great. If I was buying for looks, I'd definitely go with Kanilea. If I was buying for sound, I'd go Kamaka.
Of course, I think the maximum sound comes from Koalohas, two friends have them, but I can't abide that headstock....maybe if I sawed off the points....LOL....

peanuts56
09-13-2015, 02:12 PM
I have a Kamaka Tenor that I like a lot. I had it built in 2013. I also have a Kanilea Tenor on the way, I should have it around Halloween. I played a few at the factory last July and loved the feel and sound. I had a much easier time with barre chords on the Kanilea than I do on the Kamaka. I think that certain styles of music are better suited to the Kamaka and some to Kanilea. I plan on playing both a lot in my daily practice and finding which one works best for the pieces I am working on.

Doc_J
09-13-2015, 02:30 PM
I've owned a few Kanilea ukes. Volume of Kanileas varied by instrument. Some were louder than others. Fluorocarbon strings worked best for me. Worths or Oasis strings were good. Mine all had good tone and resonance. If you want really big volume, get a pickup installed.

Katz-in-Boots
09-13-2015, 05:11 PM
I agree regarding Living Water strings - they were the best fit on my Kanilea and definitely gave it the most volume.

Plus 3 for Living Waters. My Kanile'a sings with these. I only have experience of concert size Kanile'a, a slimline concert KoAloha and a Kamaka Ohta-San. Maybe it's just me, but they're all loud.

Dafgog
09-13-2015, 10:27 PM
Thanks to all I have just ordered Living waters strings.

BearMakingNoises
09-14-2015, 02:51 AM
In the past year I have played hundreds of Hawaiian made all Koa sopranos. Kanile'a are usually a bit softer sounding to me, Kamaka (I ended up buying two of these so far) have the widest range..some are bright and brash and some are soft and smooth (I have one of each), and Ko'aloha were mostly overly bright to me. Some other makers were great and some weren't. I played a $9k Devine today and while it was gorgeous the tone just was so so.

UkerDanno
09-14-2015, 04:53 AM
Thanks to all I have just ordered Living waters strings.

Anxious to hear how you like them. A lot of my friends love Living Waters on their tenors. I tried them on my Ohana Port Orford cedar concert and it was way too bright! Tried them on my Martin C1K and was unimpressed and went back to Martins. Tried Martins on my Kanile'a concert and wasn't impressed. Just put Aquila Lavas on my Kanile'a and liking them so far, a little brighter/louder than the Aquila new Nylguts, it seems like anyway.

Here's a demo I did a few months ago, comparing Martin strings on my C1K, which was awesome with Martins, loud and bright! And my Kanile'a, they actually sound pretty good! (not sure why I switched)?! ;-D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXTcYPQrzEE

coolkayaker1
09-14-2015, 05:28 AM
I haven't owned Kanile'as but have encountered and tried at least a half-dozen in the wild, some old, some new, and - this would be my assessment as well. Kamakas in my experience tend to be louder, and Koalohas even louder still.

I agree with Stevepetergal and JR40. There was a thread about quiet Kanileas on UU two months ago. Guy had the same lamentable experience as the original poster here. The pros playing Kalineas? Powered with an amp.

No matter the time for opening up, or the strings that you try, Kanileas are for those that can hear a mouse nibbling cheese at twenty paces. For the rest of us: Kamaka and KoAloha.

iDavid
09-14-2015, 07:08 AM
I agree with Stevepetergal and JR40. There was a thread about quiet Kanileas on UU two months ago. Guy had the same lamentable experience as the original poster here. The pros playing Kalineas? Powered with an amp.

No matter the time for opening up, or the strings that you try, Kanileas are for those that can hear a mouse nibbling cheese at twenty paces. For the rest of us: Kamaka and KoAloha.

I have a satin tenor Kanilea and it not quiet.

peewee
09-14-2015, 07:41 AM
My old (2006) Kanilea K1T was purchased because it was the first great instrument at a great price that I came across years ago. No regrets. It doesn't seem quieter than a Kamaka to me, but it definitely makes my koaloha sound brash/loud/harsh by comparison. Quiet? I donno, maybe, but beautiful sounding and rewarding to play. At this level of quality, the differences are differences in flavor.
I also think that the neck and fretboard geometry is just right for my hammy hands.

NatalieS
09-14-2015, 08:17 AM
I can't speak for the Joe and his company, but it feels to me as if the newer Kanile'as are lighter weight and louder than older ones. The necks seem thinner, the soundboards are more responsive, and the instrument just projects more. This has been my experience anyway, having had some instruments dating back to 2007, and others that were made within the last year or two. Really the only thing that I don't care for with Kanile'a are the bridge pins (I cringe every time I change strings and have had pins rocket across the room on multiple occasions!).

I also *love* Kamakas and still kick myself for getting rid of my concert one a few years back. It had such a sweet, mellow tone and played like butter.

peanuts56
09-14-2015, 10:13 AM
The only Kanileas I've heard were Sarah and Craigs'.....they sounded great. If I was buying for looks, I'd definitely go with Kanilea. If I was buying for sound, I'd go Kamaka.
Of course, I think the maximum sound comes from Koalohas, two friends have them, but I can't abide that headstock....maybe if I sawed off the points....LOL....
I saw the new instrument for Sarah while touring the Kanilea factory this past July. Gorgeous!!!!!!!

Kamanaaloha
09-14-2015, 02:02 PM
It depends on the strings...the ukulele... and the player...and your personal ear...what sounds mellow to one may be bright to another...go with how and what you play...and always try before you buy...I like bright ukulele...and I gravitate to those...no matter the maker...I like loud...and clean...

coolkayaker1
09-14-2015, 05:22 PM
My old (2006) Kanilea K1T was purchased because it was the first great instrument at a great price that I came across years ago. No regrets. It doesn't seem quieter than a Kamaka to me, but it definitely makes my koaloha sound brash/loud/harsh by comparison. Quiet? I donno, maybe, but beautiful sounding and rewarding to play. At this level of quality, the differences are differences in flavor.
I also think that the neck and fretboard geometry is just right for my hammy hands.

I think, but do not know, PeeWee that yours is before Kanilea added those huge braces, the ones with the holes drilled into them, no? There's a name for those braces, but I forget. Is that right? Yours was pre-logo restyling, pre-bling, pre-price surge, pre-heavy finish, and pre-huge drilled braces, maybe? If so, I'm sure it must sound nice.

Dafgog
09-15-2015, 02:55 AM
Just received The Living Waters strings - next day delivery and free badge. The proof of the Kanile'a and Living Waters will be in the sound. Keep you posted.Thanks to all.

peewee
09-15-2015, 07:04 PM
I think, but do not know, PeeWee that yours is before Kanilea added those huge braces, the ones with the holes drilled into them, no? There's a name for those braces, but I forget. Is that right? Yours was pre-logo restyling, pre-bling, pre-price surge, pre-heavy finish, and pre-huge drilled braces, maybe? If so, I'm sure it must sound nice.

Hi CK!, you are largely correct. It has the old no-hole braces - not tru tone or whatever they're called. It was made in the first workshop (chez Joe?) before they moved to the current location. Blue label inside, "Kanile'a" spelled out in gangster Old English font on the headstock, It IS from the first round of Poly finish ukes though. All Koa I think, with cheesy gold tuners and some nice abalone markers. It is not as up front and "attack" sounding as the c1930 Martin Tenor with nitro-very-little-finish-remaining-at-all-ulose but is so different in geometry and feel that it's apples/oranges. I think it sounds great and has a great balance, but I won't argue that it's loud or light. I think you can learn to get a good sound out of any decent instrument. I've had the Kanilea since very early on in my uke journey...I guess it's a bit of a luxury sedan kind of uke. Built for comfort.

Russellbarnett
09-17-2015, 04:43 PM
Hi CK!, you are largely correct. It has the old no-hole braces - not tru tone or whatever they're called. It was made in the first workshop (chez Joe?) before they moved to the current location. Blue label inside, "Kanile'a" spelled out in gangster Old English font on the headstock, It IS from the first round of Poly finish ukes though. All Koa I think, with cheesy gold tuners and some nice abalone markers. It is not as up front and "attack" sounding as the c1930 Martin Tenor with nitro-very-little-finish-remaining-at-all-ulose but is so different in geometry and feel that it's apples/oranges. I think it sounds great and has a great balance, but I won't argue that it's loud or light. I think you can learn to get a good sound out of any decent instrument. I've had the Kanilea since very early on in my uke journey...I guess it's a bit of a luxury sedan kind of uke. Built for comfort.

Sounds very similar to the 2007 K2 Super Tenor I had until recently. Great sound and zero issues with volume.
My favorite strings were PHD fluorocarbon one, followed by D'addario J71's in close 2nd. Never tried living water strings though.

Dafgog
09-18-2015, 08:50 AM
Just fitted Living Water to the Kanile'a - certainly louder and brighter. Downside is some of the mellow sound has been sacrificed. Perhaps keep the Living Water C string and try in combination with some others. Really the truth is that Kanile'a have made a superb mellow if quiet instrument. Perhaps I should respect that and realise that is the true characteristic of the Kanile'a. Thanks to all for their helpful comments.