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Henning
07-23-2017, 04:06 AM
Hello, I wonder should I find myself a solid koa top ukulele? :confused:
If so, why?
What would it bring me that I donīt have today?
Please answer you who know what the benefits would be and bring me?
Donīt be afraid to answer. All responses will be considered.

Best regards

Ukecaster
07-23-2017, 05:07 AM
Well, I guess it depends on what you have today, and what type of sound you like. Koa has its own distinctive tone. IMO, it is a rich, brighter sound, when compared to a solid mahogany top.

Croaky Keith
07-23-2017, 07:37 AM
A solid top uke is almost as good as an all solid wood, in that you will hear the tone wood.
Get one if you like the sound of Koa, else check out other tone woods to see/hear what you like.
My preference is for cedar or mahogany, for the warm mellow tones they produce.
Strings will also be a part of your end tone. :)

Henning
07-23-2017, 08:42 AM
I have some mahogny ukuleles today and yes, I like their tone. Maybe it is possible to find a koa ukulele with soft tone too (?).
My Picture of koa is that it can produce a longer sustain then most other materials.

Rakelele
07-24-2017, 03:45 AM
One answer to your question might be less about the sound, but about what Koa represents. Along with Mahogany, Koa was the most original wood used for ukulele building. As mentioned, Koa is in the Acacia family, but native to Hawaii. So one of the things you'll get with an all Koa instrument is its legacy, so to speak, and the feeling of having a Hawaiian instrument made from Hawaiian woods. For me, this would mean that I'd want it to be from a Hawaiian maker too, not just from any factory anywhere. I'm not so sure if all the wood that is sold as Koa nowadays was actually harvested in Hawaii.

spookelele
07-24-2017, 05:56 AM
If what you are talking about is a sound... I think you need to listen to alot of ukes.
Although the tone wood does have a character, the build in alot of ways has more influence on the sound.
We tend to say "x" wood has "y" sound and there's some truth to it, but that's not even close to the answer you're really asking.

A koa uke from kamaka isn't going to sound like an acacia uke from caramel, even though koa is an acacia.
Say you get the fender uke in koa.... it doesn't really have the koa sound to my ear that people are talking about when they love koa.

Also... koa has a bit of mysticism to it.. and the actual sound may not be what you're really looking for.
Koa tends to be bright and sparkly, but it also tends to be a bit quiet.
You may actually prefer something like a spruce top for that kind of sound (although.. it is not the same in reality even though the words used are often similar)

Ultimately... the words we use to describe a uke's sound... are very poor representations of what we are really talking about and really... hearing it is what you really need to do.

jer
07-24-2017, 08:03 AM
Every uke is different. If you could find some examples of various koa ukes in your area to try and play without having to buy them, it'd be great to at least experience them.

That said, if you're happy with what you have, then I don't know of any reason that you need one.

kohanmike
07-24-2017, 07:38 PM
I like the solid acacia koa ukes made by Bruce Wei Arts in Vietnam, I have four custom made and one ready made that all sound very good. He has a variety of choice on his eBay store.

70sSanO
07-25-2017, 05:03 AM
You should probably go on YouTube and listen to different brands of koa ukes to see if you like the sound. But as others have said, a lot has to do with the construction and quality if the build. A poorly made ukulele won't sound good regardless of the materials.

That said, I have 2 koa ukes and they are more consistent throughout the playing range and have great response to how the strings are played. To me, koa seems to hold up to hard strumming without being overpowered by it, but it also can sound great with softer fingerstyle. It tends to be on the bright side.

John

Henning
07-26-2017, 07:08 AM
I have been in touch with Bruce and he told me his ukuleles were made in about 65% humidity, i.e. not in a controlled Environment. That is not acceptable to me as where I live the humidity stays around 30% long time during Winter, about 6 months, each year. Not only that, even in ebay I reckoned I could find some small cracks developing in the B.W. concertos that were just recently made in Taiwan. But I know very many are most pleased indeed with his instruments.
I also found som solid koa top Concert ukuleles from both England and Germany, but in neither of the cases could they give me a sound test or confirm that the instruments were built in humidity controlled environments.
I have been listening to very many koa ukuleles on Youtube. I find the sustain and the slightly "crisp" tone of the koa interesting, though I am more used to mahogny and tend to find its tone warmer and sweeter.
But as someone said, the question whether you like or dislike the tone of an instrument is much a matter of how used you are to hear it. Play it and you either start to like or dislike it.
Iīve been looking and listening to some Kala ukulele and guess that such a big producer of instruments certainly make quality instruments that more likely are of an even quality too.
I also found this Tanglewood Java (http://www.gitarren.se/sv/ukulele/1913-tanglewood-java-concert-ukulele-tuj2-p-1913.html)has anybody tried it?
Costs about $250 US.
It looks pretty simple but I like the idea of ”Open Pore Satin” even though it certainly makes it more sensitive in other aspects too.

This Kala Asac C (https://kalabrand.com/search?type=product&q=*asac c*) too, interesting.

How would you describe the differences in tone between a spruce and koa top?

I am sorry to say that most unfortunately there are no Music stores in my city that sells any solid top koa ukuleles.

Regards

Henning
08-02-2017, 10:16 PM
Well, itīs not only the top material that affects the sound but perhaps rather more the bracing instead.

wayfarer75
08-03-2017, 12:10 AM
I have been in touch with Bruce and he told me his ukuleles were made in about 65% humidity, i.e. not in a controlled Environment. That is not acceptable to me as where I live the humidity stays around 30% long time during Winter, about 6 months, each year. Not only that, even in ebay I reckoned I could find some small cracks developing in the B.W. concertos that were just recently made in Taiwan. But I know very many are most pleased indeed with his instruments.
I also found som solid koa top Concert ukuleles from both England and Germany, but in neither of the cases could they give me a sound test or confirm that the instruments were built in humidity controlled environments.
I have been listening to very many koa ukuleles on Youtube. I find the sustain and the slightly "crisp" tone of the koa interesting, though I am more used to mahogny and tend to find its tone warmer and sweeter.
But as someone said, the question whether you like or dislike the tone of an instrument is much a matter of how used you are to hear it. Play it and you either start to like or dislike it.
Iīve been looking and listening to some Kala ukulele and guess that such a big producer of instruments certainly make quality instruments that more likely are of an even quality too.
I also found this Tanglewood Java (http://www.gitarren.se/sv/ukulele/1913-tanglewood-java-concert-ukulele-tuj2-p-1913.html)has anybody tried it?
Costs about $250 US.
It looks pretty simple but I like the idea of ”Open Pore Satin” even though it certainly makes it more sensitive in other aspects too.

This Kala Asac C (https://kalabrand.com/search?type=product&q=*asac c*) too, interesting.

How would you describe the differences in tone between a spruce and koa top?

I am sorry to say that most unfortunately there are no Music stores in my city that sells any solid top koa ukuleles.

Regards

Which German/English ukes were you interested in? Maybe a sound sample can be found?

The Kala ASAC is acacia, it is definitely not koa. The Tanglewood says "Java koa" on the English site, so I am leery of whether it is really koa. Bruce Wei always lists ukes as "acacia koa" and I don't know if that's honest or marketing or just lost in translation, because generally you see just "koa" listed.

I have two koa ukuleles, and they couldn't be more different. Ukes' sounds depend a lot on strings and the builder, more than the materials. Go for a builder you like the sound of, and get a koa uke from them.

Henning
08-07-2017, 10:56 AM
Which German/English ukes were you interested in? Maybe a sound sample can be found?

I have two koa ukuleles, and they couldn't be more different. Ukes' sounds depend a lot on strings and the builder, more than the materials. Go for a builder you like the sound of, and get a koa uke from them.

It was the Weller and the Excelsior, but no sound sample to be found of neither. From what Iīve found koa is a sort of acacia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acacia_koa)wood.

What is the difference tonally between the two ukes you have, if you are more precise?
Supposedly you then have different brands of strings on those two?

Regards

wayfarer75
08-07-2017, 02:05 PM
Yes koa is basically an acacia tree originally from Hawaii. There are some sellers who try to pass off other acacia types as koa. All koa is acacia, but not all acacia is koa.

My koa ukes are built very differently. My Kelii concert has a thicker neck, a heavier build overall, and a 15.5 inch scale, which is a half inch longer than usual for concerts. It has a ridiculous amount of sustain and sounds like a tenor. The other, a Kamaka pineapple, is lightly built, a more "average" neck, but it is built to have a more traditional soprano percussiveness, not so much bass and sustain as the Kelii. I know they're different sizes, but my Kamaka has a more similar sound to my mahogany concert Barron River in some ways. The BR is another lightly built uke, and it leans to a more soprano sound, with more sustain. It's hard to really put into words. A lot of posters here would agree, though, that the builder makes more of a difference than the woods.

I haven't heard of either of those two builders you mention, but there are a number of luthiers I haven't been introduced to yet.

Henning
08-07-2017, 10:05 PM
Yes koa is basically an acacia tree originally from Hawaii. There are some sellers who try to pass off other acacia types as koa. All koa is acacia, but not all acacia is koa.


Yes, couldnīt a good acacia ukulele be better then a "bad", though it might be well built, koa ukulele?
I wouldnīt say that this is a magnificent sound comparison between spruce and koa (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=452eWX3SYug), but maybe as good as you get.
Weller and the Excelsior ukuleles are most certainly Chinese made both of them.
Thank you for all interesting answers in this thread.

wayfarer75
08-08-2017, 12:01 AM
Yes, couldnīt a good acacia ukulele be better then a "bad", though it might be well built, koa ukulele?
I wouldnīt say that this is a magnificent sound comparison between spruce and koa (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=452eWX3SYug), but maybe as good as you get.
Weller and the Excelsior ukuleles are most certainly Chinese made both of them.
Thank you for all interesting answers in this thread.
Certainly any poorly built uke wouldn't sound as good as a well-built one, regardless of material used. Spruce is a wonderful tonewood, it's just not the original tonewood for the ukulele. Koa is just more expensive and hard to find, and has that Hawaiian allure. Plus it looks pretty.

Here are some great comparison videos, some featuring ukes of similar woods from different builders, some showing the same builder's ukes in various tonewoods: https://vimeo.com/album/2488939