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View Full Version : Thinking new tenor! Kamaka/Koolau/Kanilea, or?



scooterguitar
03-25-2009, 02:49 PM
Really starting to jive with my Koaloha super concert, so it might be time to begin saving and thinking about a great tenor.
Besides some of the smaller luthiers, the big 3 I'm interested in are Kamaka, Koolau, and Kanilea.
I prefer chunkier necks, deeper richer tones, and sustain.

Likley no way I'll ever play one unless I order, so I need your advice once again my partners in crime...

Good, bad, and ugly, let 'er rip:shaka:

wickedwahine11
03-25-2009, 02:54 PM
Hey Scooter, you'll likely get tons of praise for all three Ks you mentioned. I have a Kanile'a that I'm crazy about, and I would recommend it to you, but it has a very thin neck. Almost electric guitar like (which I actually prefer and love). So if a chunkier neck is what you are after, perhaps another brand would better suit you. Good luck and be sure to post photos after you get your tenor!

scooterguitar
03-25-2009, 02:59 PM
Thanks wicked. I had thought the Kanileas were beefier?
That is what I don't like about my Koaloha, super thin neck.

bt93
03-25-2009, 03:00 PM
ill take ur koaaloha if u dont want it:p:p:p

scooterguitar
03-25-2009, 03:02 PM
Well, guess I could trade it towards something else brad:>)

bt93
03-25-2009, 03:21 PM
all i have is a cracked hilo soprano piece of crap:(:(:(

scooterguitar
03-25-2009, 03:24 PM
The Hilo (baritone) is what got me hooked a month ago!

Seven57
03-25-2009, 04:20 PM
I have a pono tenor that I love..I think the neck is beefy compared to my koaloha tenor..maybe ko'olau is the way to go..I never played a kamaka so I couldn't give any feedback on that

generem
03-25-2009, 04:35 PM
Kamaka has a very slim neck. very comfortable. I've played a K2 Kanile'a tenor and I would say that neck size is pretty close to each other.

100percenthapa
03-25-2009, 05:36 PM
KAMAKA!!!!! :cool::shaka:

GX9901
03-25-2009, 05:41 PM
The neck thickness for each of the 3 brands seem pretty close. I believe each offer a different nut width though:

Kanile'a: 1.5"
Kamaka: 1-7/16"
Ko'olau: 1-3/8"

Depending on your preference, that might make a difference. My personal preference is for 1.5" nut width, although 1-7/16" feels about the same. I can definitely tell a different when it's 1-3/8", which is just a tad narrow for my tastes.

bbycrts
03-25-2009, 06:38 PM
Thanks wicked. I had thought the Kanileas were beefier?
That is what I don't like about my Koaloha, super thin neck.

Wider, but not so deep...

Jraney
03-25-2009, 06:44 PM
I'm in the same boat as the OP, keep debating between the 4 K's for my first tenor.

Ahnko Honu
03-25-2009, 11:50 PM
I was strummin' a Koa tenor Pohaku today in a local music shop, beautiful ukulele, and on sale for $400.00 :eek: Very tempting. Also handled both a Fender Nohea, and Pa'ina, good bang for the buck. I was also VERY impressed with the quality and sound of the Koa tenor Honu they had on hand, very sweet sounding. Still can't get that $400 Pohaku out of my head, good thing I'm broke. :D

Kanaka916
03-26-2009, 05:05 AM
Brah, lucky ting I no stay ova dea, if i was I would OD on UAS . . .

wearymicrobe
03-26-2009, 10:04 AM
If you have the money I highly recommend the Ko'olau but prepare to spend 2500$+ to get a good one in nitro or french.

scooterguitar
03-26-2009, 02:25 PM
Thanks everyone, keep it coming!
I'm in the $1k range, if I can even swing it, might be selling off some guitar gear soon.

BY beefier, I mean from top of fretboard to the back of the neck, not the nut width, but those nut widths are great to know as well.

GX9901
03-26-2009, 05:14 PM
Thanks everyone, keep it coming!
I'm in the $1k range, if I can even swing it, might be selling off some guitar gear soon.

BY beefier, I mean from top of fretboard to the back of the neck, not the nut width, but those nut widths are great to know as well.

In the $1k range, you could get a "not so basic (http://www.moorebettahukes.com/FORSALE.html)" tenor from Chuck Moore. Those look like an outstanding buy at that price, although they've been going up pretty steadily.

dnewton2
03-27-2009, 01:25 AM
In the $1k range, you could get a "not so basic (http://www.moorebettahukes.com/FORSALE.html)" tenor from Chuck Moore. Those look like an outstanding buy at that price, although they've been going up pretty steadily.

Second that.

As I new owner, one day now, of one of Chucks "Not so Basic" uke, I can not reccomend getting one enough. The ukulele is amazing!

mwaller
03-27-2009, 07:33 AM
I recommend you check out LoPrinzi. I did a side-by-side comparison of Ko'olau, Kamaka, and LoPrinzi when I was in the market for a tenor. The LoPrinzi had the best volume and tonal complexity. The construction quality is first-rate, too.
Mika

Kanaka916
03-27-2009, 08:56 AM
When you did your side by side, were the instruments mentioned have the same back, sides and top?

mwaller
03-27-2009, 01:02 PM
When you did your side by side, were the instruments mentioned have the same back, sides and top?

Yes - I compared the the solid koa versions from all three makers. I also played a mahogany LoPrinzi, that didn't have the warmth and depth of tone that the Koa version did. Also played a c.1950 Martin tenor - that was really nice sounding, but not as aesthetically pleasing.
Bear in mind that my comparison was based on playing 1-2 instruments of each kind - not a big sample. I've since played a concert-scale koa 100-series Ko'olau that I really liked. I was a fuller sounding instrument than the tenor. That all goes to show that every instrument is different. It's always best to try before you buy.

Here are my quick and dirty impressions:

Kamaka Koa Tenor: tonally balanced with a very traditional "uke" sound. Not very loud. Construction and materials are a bit 'cheap' in comparison to the competition.

Ko'olau Koa Tenor: Superb craftsmanship. Sound is very clear, but slightly 1-dimensional. A bit of tonal variation from string to string. Volume was ok.

LoPrinzi Koa Tenor: Superb craftsmanship. Good volume and well balanced sound across the strings. Rich overtones when played finger-style.

Hope this helps,
Mika

mwaller
03-27-2009, 01:13 PM
I forgot to mention that I had the opportunity to play this Mya-Moe tenor in sycamore:
http://www.myamoeukuleles.com/available%20now.html
I don't care for the 'blond' appearnance, but it was easily one of most "playable" instruments I've come across. The neck profile and action were superb, and the tone was very nice, too. Another great ukulele is the Po Mahina "Island Jazz" ukulele. The solid koa version was a bit too quiet for my taste, but spruce-top version really sang nicely. Great action and neck profile. But, they're pretty pricey and have a long wait-list....
Mika

Kanaka916
03-27-2009, 01:21 PM
Mika, great info to have, thank you much . . .

scooterguitar
03-27-2009, 03:07 PM
Great info!

I'm drawing on from years of guitar knowledge and extremley limited uke knowledge!
I have the Koaloha super concert, the warmer tone is really growing on me compared to the few others I've tried.
With guitars, I always gravitate towards darker toned instruments.

scooterguitar
04-09-2009, 02:48 AM
Still rethinking this...Pretty much have it down to a HF3 or that Maui Music in the forum here.
HF3 Kamakas, they have those teeny weeny frets, or mediums?