View Full Version : The State of Koa

03-22-2017, 06:11 PM
Since there are so many solid ukes out there being made from all types of different wood, I always assumed that koa was very rare, or even endangered. This 2014 article says no, it is in fact making a rebound. I found that interesting. It also says that Koa in Hawaiian means "warrior, strong & noble'. But there's apparently still plenty of builders using solid koa, but the price is higher. I wonder if the big guys like Martin are sitting on huge old stockpiles of Hawaiian koa wood, or just grab what they need in the open market to meet their koa demand?


03-23-2017, 03:37 AM
Well.. not all koa is the same.
Obviously, some is more figured, or better for tonewood, etc but I'm not sure all koa is good for ukes?

MB posted some interesting info on it in another thread, but I can't remember what that thread was.
Someone will probably remember, and cross post.

Anyway, I don't think it's endangered. Acacia's are not hard to grow. Even in the city here in wisconsin, where acacias grow, there's always alot of seedlings sprouting underneath them. It seems to be a pretty prolific tree that is fairly fast growing.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
03-23-2017, 08:15 AM
I think the article needs a little explanation. While it may be true that there is more koa growing today than 10 years ago, I believe most of those are recently planted seedlings. And many of those seedlings are threatened by feral animals and poor management and harsh environmental factors. Ten years ago sawyers were cutting lots of beautiful koa and it was rather affordable. I was buying koa at years sales and ofd craigslist. Not any more. Much of the koa that was being cut then was from downed trees, still is in fact. There just not as many of those left. As spook mentioned, there is koa and there is instrument koa. I reject about 95% of the koa I see as being unusable for instruments. I just don't see that much of the good stuff anymore. Koa that sold for $20 a board foot 10 years ago is now selling for $200. (lesser grade koa, with knots and flaws, can still be had for close to $20 a board foot but it's worthless as any instrument wood.) I think the future of koa looks good but we'll have to wait a while before we see it in the numbers that we had decades ago. Private organizations like Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative are doing a good job to insure we don't lose our koa or native forests. (https://legacytrees.org) Joe Souza, of Kanile'a, is doing a similar thing on a smaller scale at his ranch here on Big island. Koa is not endangered but it remains precious and relatively rare as it always has.

03-23-2017, 11:04 AM
Thanks for the link. My wife loves Martin & MacArthur's stores. I forwarded the link to her.