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View Full Version : NUD: Koaloha Tenor 2016



Recstar24
07-22-2016, 09:42 PM
http://youtu.be/xpxBLRfNZBU

Back in April, I purchased a used Koaloha tenor out of pure curiosity and UAS from here. It needed some minor repair work on a finish crack on the back and Koaloha was totally cool about taking care of it. Griz was awesome and had refinished and buffed the uke but upon stringing her up, noticed it buzzed and realized the neck had warped! I was apologetic for putting them through the hassle but they were even more apologetic and offered to replace it with a brand new one. I have read about the generosity and their unrivaled warranty but to experience that in my situation was incredible.

The new tenor finally came in yesterday and I've been playing her non stop. Even though the Koaloha is the lowest priced uke I have in my stable of all custom ukes, the sound quality and craftsmanship leaves nothing behind and I am still in awe at how good this uke is. Below are some random points that have been on my mind.

Comfort: this uke is super easy to hold and play and just feels at home in your arms. The edge of the soundboard and back is slightly beveled which was noticeably smooth on the arm. The fretboard is bound but the fret ends are cut off where the fretboard meets the binding, so you feel absolutely nothing going up and down the fretboard. The neck is perfectly shaped, medium-thin tapered somewhat flat on the bottom which feels great on the thumb. Clearly a lot of effort and thought went into overall comfort and playability.

Craftsmanship: The Koaloha stands right there with my hoffmanns, Mya moe and stansell. The book match is perfect and the seam undetectable. The headstock is really remarkable at how well crafted it is to see in person, very three dimensional with smooth lines. Their new buffed gloss finish is gorgeous and the abalone headstock inlay is really nice. Insides and bracing is super clean and the neck joint with the body leaves no worries.

Sound: I had read some impressions of being very bright and almost too loud/brash, but those were not my impressions at all. The tone is very full and I was surprised at the bass and overall richness in sound while still being very clear and sparkly. Incredible sustain and while having plenty of volume, I thought was very controlled and refined, she responds really well to a soft touch but clearly can rock out too. Still adjusting to the feel of the unwound low g but I'm liking the sound of it so won't change for now.

Pops: I called Koaloha just to thank them and Pops answered the phone. I told him who I was and at first he sounded hesitant but was very appreciative as I told him how I noticed all the fine details in the craftsmanship of the instrument. I shared with him I'm a music teacher and chorus director and the conversation went on a tangent and shared with me his choral song he wrote titled Americas song, and he was very excited for me to email him my address so that he can send me music and a CD to listen to. I ended up listening to the song in YouTube and I committed to performing it this upcoming year for Pops. What was supposed to be a very quick and simple thank you turned into one of the best conversations I've had with anyone about music and our country, his enthusiasm and energy is unreal and infectious. In fact everyone I've interacted with through email from Griz to Brian have been super nice and just very apparent they truly want you to be happy. Considering their sense of spirt towards someone who didnt actually purchase an uke through them or a dealer, I am at a loss of words for describing this feeling of gratefulness and love.

Reading staci's book really puts this into perspective and anyone reading this, please know that what everyone says about Koaloha appears to be the real deal. Mahalo to the Koaloha Krew, you've got a lifetime friend in me for sure.

Camsuke
07-22-2016, 10:25 PM
Congratulations mate, thanks so much for sharing such a heart warming story, simply awesome. I love your playing too, really excellent.

PhilUSAFRet
07-23-2016, 12:07 AM
Congrats on the new uke and the wonderful experience. Makes me want to run right out and buy a KoAloha

DownUpDave
07-23-2016, 12:49 AM
Fantastic review Ryan, you hit all the important points and really gave a good sense of what this uke is all about. Beautifully played as well, I always enjoy your demo videos. I have been jonesing for a Koaloha tenor on and off for a couple of years, always seem to buy something else. This might just push over the edge.

As a side note I restrung my Koaloha Opio concert yesterday and WOW, I forgot how good that uke sounds. You made a good point about the beveled edge where the sides meet the top and back, so comfy it's almost like an armrest. Congratulations to you on the new instrument and Koaloha for being such a great company

sam13
07-23-2016, 02:31 AM
Great review of your new Uke and the wonderful customer care You received from the KoAloha staff.

Your demo was tremendous. Nice job.

Rakelele
07-23-2016, 03:41 AM
Congratulations on a great uke, and thanks for your extensive review. I think you summed up pretty well what KoAloha is all about.

wickedwahine11
07-23-2016, 03:59 AM
What a wonderful uke and great review. Thanks for the kind words about the book too. I had always liked the KoAloha sound, and felt they had the best warranty and customer service of the K factories, which is why I would always recommend a KoAloha sight and sound unseen. I have never heard a bad KoAloha, but once in a while occcasionally have heard a Kamaka or Kanilea that didn't match their usual standards. Plus, I feel fairly confident that no other company treats their customers the way KoAloha does. I am so glad you got to speak to Pops. I spent many hours with him, and he is one if the most giving, wonderful souls I have ever known. Congrats on your new uke! :)

SoloRule
07-23-2016, 04:24 AM
This is one of the best reviews I have ever read.
People say factory made uke is not good, it's obvious that KoAloha has good quality control.
This review made me want a KoAloha too!
Great story and great demo! Thank you!

cml
07-23-2016, 04:44 AM
I can attest to the craftsmanship and quality of KoAloha. My own is flawless, and beautiful! The sound and tone are wonderful as well, mine's in high g atm though.
I really like the fact that KoAloha is such a nice company, I've never heard a bad word said about them. The world needs more companies like that.

cml
07-23-2016, 04:46 AM
Oh and I agree about the edge between the soundboard and sides, it makes a notable difference!

Recstar24
07-23-2016, 05:37 AM
Thanks guys for the nice compliments on my playing. Sorry if I look out of it, it was 2 am and I've been playing all day and night lol.

One thing about the tone, really impressed and surprised at how open its sounding. I'm used to newer instruments sounding a little tight at first and needing some playing for a few months to get her to start opening up, but this Koaloha already has such a sweet, open tone, can't wait to hear what she will mature into as I play it more.

stevepetergal
07-23-2016, 02:46 PM
Hey Ryan. Again I congratulate you on a beautiful instrument. I too have bought some high end and custom ukuleles. My KoAloha is still my favorite.

rappsy
07-23-2016, 05:42 PM
I have also dealt directly with them. Easy to talk to, very responsive, and you get what you are told you are going to get in the time frame they tell you.

What more can you ask for? Congrats on your wonderful find.

Recstar24
07-24-2016, 01:37 PM
https://youtu.be/AF-uoha3al0

This thing can strum hard! I love the koaloha song written by pops, it's so cheery.

wickedwahine11
07-24-2016, 02:01 PM
https://youtu.be/AF-uoha3al0

This thing can strum hard! I love the koaloha song written by pops, it's so cheery.

Love, love, love that song. It always puts a smile on my face. Thanks!

Recstar24
07-28-2016, 11:12 AM
Quick string question...my e string started to fray a bit, which has been a common problem for me with fluorocarbons in general. I replaced it with a spare worth CT string I had lying around, and just wanted to confirm there is no issues regarding tension and the top. I had read through searching here that at one point koaloha used the lightest tension of worth strings, I'm sure it's ok but thought it prudent to ask.

I did just order a set of Ph.D. Ukulele strings so I'll check those out as well, if anyone has used them on koaloha before feel free to input your impressions.

wickedwahine11
07-28-2016, 12:19 PM
Quick string question...my e string started to fray a bit, which has been a common problem for me with fluorocarbons in general. I replaced it with a spare worth CT string I had lying around, and just wanted to confirm there is no issues regarding tension and the top. I had read through searching here that at one point koaloha used the lightest tension of worth strings, I'm sure it's ok but thought it prudent to ask.

I did just order a set of Ph.D. Ukulele strings so I'll check those out as well, if anyone has used them on koaloha before feel free to input your impressions.

PhD are my string of choice for my KoAloha. I pair the A, E and C with a La Bella low g wound string and am very happy with them.

Recstar24
07-28-2016, 04:39 PM
PhD are my string of choice for my KoAloha. I pair the A, E and C with a La Bella low g wound string and am very happy with them.

Thanks staci. I may also in the future play with the wound low g which is what I'm more used to. While the sound of the unwound is excellent, the feel is very floppy to me. Is the wound low g balance ok with sound and feel?

Recstar24
07-29-2016, 10:54 AM
Just wanted to add for anyone's curiosity or benefit that Koaloha uses their own line of fluorocarbon which they will sell to you, according to an email response I just received from Brian. I ordered a set just to have a backup.

kohanmike
07-29-2016, 12:21 PM
Let me simply say bravo Recstar24.

stevejfc
08-02-2016, 02:20 AM
PhD are my string of choice for my KoAloha. I pair the A, E and C with a La Bella low g wound string and am very happy with them.
Agreed on the PHD's. I couple mine with a Fremont Soloist.
Congrats on your uke Recstar!