View Full Version : KoAloha question...and more

02-11-2018, 09:03 AM
We have a series of stores in our area called “Music Go Round.” They are a combination of a music store and a music instrument pawn store. I’d never sell a ukulele to them as you’ll get 40% of what they will sell it for, but I have bought ukuleles there, including a near new Martin S1 for $250 (Which means they likely paid the seller $100–OUCH).

I think they also purchase some “seconds” and have a luthier fix them up—which I have no issues with as they usually sell their instruments at or below “used” pricing. I tend to not buy a ukulele used unless I can save at least 30% off “new.”

Well, they have an HF-3 Kamaka (Tenor), and I decided to go in today to play it, as there just aren’t many opportunities up here to play Kamakas. We have one dealer in the area, but even that inventory is fluid. The instrument was beautiful with some clear repair work to the binding on the bottom—and selling for $799.99. If I’m going to buy a Koa instrument, I want to do it in Hawaii, and my tendency is to move towards Concerts right now—so I wasn’t a buyer in any sense. It had black strings on it, and is a 2010 model. I felt about it much the same way as I did the Pono I used to own...I liked it, and you can tell the quality, but I am so used to the sound of my KoAloha Opios that the sound of the HF-3 didn’t make me feel any regret for not buying it. And think about this...if they’re selling it for $799, think of what they paid the seller (OUCH). I “get” that this is a $1300 instrument new.

On the wall, however, was a 2004 KoAloha concert mahogany. I was a but confused about this, as I thought that KoAlohas were Koa, and that the mahogany versions were KoAlana or Opio. It was selling for $399 with a number of dings in the sides, and what appeared to be Gotoh tuners.

So...for those of you who have been in the ukulele world longer than I, was there a Mahogany Concert KoAloha made in 2004 under the KoAloha name? I don’t think this would be a counterfeit—but I’m also not sure it is worth $399 used. The KoAloha just BOOMED sound, as I would expect...clearly more than my own Opio Acacia Concert model, which I bought for $350 here on UU.

02-12-2018, 10:28 PM
Have you considered emailing Koaloha about it?
It can take a few days for them to get back to you, but they're usually very helpful.

02-13-2018, 03:08 AM
Not sure, but I don't think KoAloha made mahogany in 2004, maybe they just don't know what the wood is, it's probably koa and if it's not too beat up a good deal. The Kamaka, however is priced pretty right for used.

02-13-2018, 03:47 AM
Hmm... I found the Kamaka HF-3 on the Music Go Round website. I don't see a Koaloha on there.
I would definitely inquire a bit more about the instrument if you're interested. It's not even on their website, which is interesting.

02-13-2018, 03:56 AM
Koaloha did make Koalana ukuleles out of mahogany; Koalona was their "budget brand" prior to Opio. The logo and label were very similar, and it would be easy to mistake a Koalana for a Koaloha.

02-13-2018, 04:32 AM
Mahogany KCM? From 2004?

Here’s a 2004 KCM for reference.


02-13-2018, 03:45 PM
I contacted KoAloha (right after posting) and they stated that they weren’t making Mahogany ukuleles in 2004. The post (with pictures) above seems to refutes that!

I didn’t know what to make of it, but I decided that it was a good enough of deal to go through with it...and with a discount walked away with the instrument for $385 (taxes included). It also came with a nice case (not a gig bag) and one of those Music Nomad Humidifiers. And it is fitted with Gotoh UPT tuners...and came with the original tuners. The ukulele is in good “played” shape with a few dings and scratches. I immediately added strap buttons as I don’t buy ukuleles to just collect them. I also swapped the Aquilas on it for Martin 600 fluorocarbons, and cleaned up the frets with 00 steel wool and then treated the fretboard with lemon oil from Stew Mac.

The worked (could have been manager) told me that they had bought four ukuleles from an estate of a gentleman who died in May who used to be a regular customer with them. This is where I bought my Martin S1 used for what I felt was a steal. The estate purchase included the Kamaka, the KoAloha, a Kiwaya Soprano (still there for $499) and a LoPrinzi.

I can’t tell what the wood it...but it certainly seems to be a KoAloha (it isn’t labeled a KoAlana—and the label clearly says, “Made in Hawaii”) and the headstock logo looks right (I like the abalone on the new models). It does have a slotted bridge, as well as two “dots” that may cover screws, with what looks to be a very thin ebony saddle and an ebony nut.

If this is a Koa model, I’ll be happy. If it is “just” Mahogany but actually a KoAlana, I’ll still be okay as it is likely worth the $385 I paid. If it is a Mahogany KoAloha concert, then it, too, is worth the $385.

Thank goodness it’s tax time.

Here are some photos of the ukulele and one pic of my current KoAloha family. (This 2004 ukulele, my Opio Sapele Tenor, and my Opio Acacia Concert)


02-13-2018, 04:02 PM
From the pictures, I'm wondering if it is mahogany. I'm no expert, but it doesn't seem to have the right grain look for mahogany. Also a lot of more recent instruments that are supposed to be mahogany are really sapele. Same wood family.

I'm not saying it is sapele, I would guess koa. It is just that examples of mahogany may not be. A lot of sapele has more of a tiger stripe.


02-13-2018, 09:14 PM
Congratulations Chris! You got yourself a beautiful boomy Koaloha that has been loved, played and aged to live up to its true potential. That's the advantage of older models. They've had a chance to open up. No doubt it's Koa and authentic. It is definitely not KoAlana because it was made in Hawaii. Also on the higher end models they used that five point edged fretboard where it attaches to the soundboard. Lower end models like the pikake and opio have a flat end. It's more plausible that the shop mislabeled the wood. It looks like it has worth Brown strings on it which would warm it up and probably fooled them into thinking it was mahogany. If this story is true that they acquired four ukes from an estate, all four of those are quality instruments. So you can stop overthinking this and enjoy your score.

Attached is a screenshot of Pops Okami interviewing a customer who made a " build your own KoAloha ." In the beginning of the video they scan the wall of older instruments. Here you can see in the early 2000's some KoAloha ukuleles with the two white spots on the bridge just like yours. Now you don't have to go to Hawaii to get a Koa instrument. You did well to trust your instincts. If it sounds good and plays good, it's worth it. I'm just a little jealous:-)

02-13-2018, 09:25 PM
Looks just like koa to me!

02-13-2018, 11:57 PM
Looks like the standard 2004 koa KCM to me!!

Definitely doesn’t look like mahogany!

02-14-2018, 01:21 AM
Well, Choirguy, looks like you found a treasure! Congratulations!

02-15-2018, 12:11 PM
Thanks, everyone. I’m glad to have found this ukulele. I’ll have to thin the herd soon, however. Some of earlier purchases are not being played very often and deserve a new home.

02-15-2018, 01:10 PM
I have a 2006 KoAloha concert that I absolutely adore. If you liked the Opio, then you will really like the Koa. I'm jealous that your new one has Gotoh tuners!

02-15-2018, 05:27 PM
You got an awesome deal! :shaka:

02-15-2018, 05:33 PM
Choirguy, you are certainly one who deserves that ukulele. Congratulations!


Uke man
02-16-2018, 09:37 PM
Yes that is a koa concert and thats also how they made the bridge that year.

I played one of these for a year or more and they sound warm and loud.
These gave KoAloha their
reputation for being sound monsters.
You might want to look and see if it is a one peice top and bottom.

Congrats, you won't regret having bought it.