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View Full Version : 4 Hawaii "K" brand ukuleles, which is your favourite?



hjiandong18
05-01-2018, 01:54 PM
4 Hawaii "K" brand ukuleles, which is your favourite?

Kanilea
Koolau
Kamaka
Koaloha

Uke Don
05-01-2018, 03:23 PM
Is Opio included within KoAloha? That would slant the results.
Ko'olau is essentially a custom builder, so I'n not sure they really count.

anthonyg
05-01-2018, 03:50 PM
Meh, which is your favourite brand of twine?

or, I'm not sue if your being serious. Favourite brand polls of ANYTHING are a bit silly.

Ukecaster
05-01-2018, 04:17 PM
....Kiwaya ;)

anthonyg
05-01-2018, 05:18 PM
Mate, it has to be Kinnears (K Brand Twine) https://www.eldersliveauctions.com.au/Listing/Details/452975/Kinnears-Twine-Baler-Big-Roll-2x6000m-Pink-Pack-Tapex :D

Groan.:rolleyes:

I did ask I guess.

manfromtexas
05-02-2018, 02:12 AM
If anybody would care to compare and contrast the sound of Kamaka vs KoAloha I’d certainly would welcome it -

About a month or so ago I purchased my first K brand uke - a KoAloha concert and I was just floored from the very start at how great it sounds. The clarity the depth the volume - it was just such a cut above anything I’d played before. My collection before that is comprised of Kala’s and Pono’s and I was always happy with them but from the opening seconds of picking on the KoAloha I just sensed “oh this is a whole different ballgame right here”.

I find that I can still enjoy my Kala’s and my Pono’s - but I enjoy them best if I don’t pick up the KoAloha first. It’s best to play those as a runup to the KoAloha because if you play it the other way around those Kalas and Ponos just sound thin by comparison.

And I’ve never played a Kamaka, so one of my first thoughts early on also was “do the Kamaka’s sound this good too?”. Like I’m sure there is a difference to the KoAloha - but does it have that same cut above quality. I’m sure that it would but I’d kind of like to know how they compare.

I should get on down to Penny Lane Emporium because they have some in stock to play and I can find out - plus my other curiousity was about the Martins but we’re talking K brand here.

DaveY
05-02-2018, 04:28 AM
I've never played a Koolau, and probably never will, because I'll probably never come across one.
I played a Kamaka once in a store, and it was nice, but it didn't move me; I might have missed the subtleties (not a Knock on Kamakas).
I played two of the same model Kanilea tenors in a store and one was very blah and the other was so great I thought of maybe kind-of buying it (I didn't).
I also (like manfromtexas, I guess) was "floored" by the KoAloha concert I played in a store. A few years later I bought a KoAloha tenor, and a few after that I bought a KoAloha Opio concert. They are my two all-solid hollow-body ukuleles.

So it's obvious what my favorite is, but all of this is subject to the availability of each brand, so I didn't vote in the poll -- which means I have no right to complain about which one wins.

DownUpDave
05-02-2018, 05:35 AM
The Koolau being a custom build with many varieties of wood to choice from does put it in a different league. I do own one, spruce and myrtle and voted it as my favorite

The other 3 K-brands each have their own signature sound, same as Martin, Taylor and Gibson as the three big guitar builders. So it depends of the sound you personally prefer. I really do love the full resonant sound of the Koaloha and have owned two, both of which I should not have sold. I own two Kamakas and like both of them a lot.

mmfitzsimons
05-02-2018, 06:37 AM
Kanilea, hands-down (wait, but I can't play it that way! ;) )

My Kamaka HF-3 feels to me like The Classic Ukulele, like I'm holding history in my hands... but my Kanilea goes beyond that — it's ergonomic, supersonic, can't-keep-it-platonic! And they have access to crazy good-looking koa, too....

Although my absolute favorite uke? Wasn't built in Hawaii. Bangkok, baby. Bangkok. Who knew? :)

Nickie
05-02-2018, 07:57 AM
Meh, which is your favourite brand of twine?

or, I'm not sue if your being serious. Favourite brand polls of ANYTHING are a bit silly.

Sure, it's silly. Maybe. But it does give a builder an idea of what may come.

El Viejo
05-02-2018, 07:24 PM
Kamakas are beautiful, well-made instruments, but particularly with those stock strings, they sound very green and very dead/subdued compared to the rest.

The few Ko'olaus that I've played have been beautifully made instruments, but like Kamakas, they're more traditional in their sound.

I prefer the looks of Kanile'a's instruments most- they've got the best wood, without a doubt, given their access to amazing Koa. The sound is deeper and richer than most as well.

Koalohas, though, have that unmistakeable bright, loud, modern, sparkling sound that I can't get away from.

Steedy
05-02-2018, 09:33 PM
I've never played a Ko'olau ukulele, but among the other three, I think Kamaka ukes have the best sound (once the stock strings are replaced). :cool:

RichM
05-03-2018, 01:51 AM
I've owned all four brands over the years. The only one I still own is Koaloha. Conclude what you like. :)

kkimura
05-03-2018, 02:56 AM
I voted Kamaka but since I've never owned the other three, time to write some checks?

Brian W
05-03-2018, 05:18 AM
....Kiwaya ;)


LOL!!! I have to agree with you; I love my KTS-4!

kohanmike
05-03-2018, 05:48 AM
I compared my Kala KAATP-CTG-CE solid cedar top to the K brands side by side and in my opinion they were certainly not 3 times better ($380 vs $1200), maybe slightly better at the most. Kala is obviously also a K brand.

http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Kala cedar mine.jpg

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 3 acoustic bass ukes, 8 solid body bass ukes, 8 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. http://www.theukc.org
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bacchettadavid
05-03-2018, 06:11 AM
Kohan, my first ukulele was was a KA-ATP-CTG-CE, and I have to agree with you. Good examples of that Kala model are exceptional for their price point.

As for the poll, I'll put in a vote for Kanile'a. Not the loudest, but the sweetest.

blodzoom
05-03-2018, 06:39 AM
I own a Koolau and a Kanilea. I have been to Hawaii a few times since I started my uke interest and test drove tons of ukes but really I don't know what I'm talking about and I'm not much beyond a beginner player, so... grain of salt...



Koolau: I've only played one, and that's the one I own. I bought it second-hand right after I decided that ukulele was more than just a passing fancy. It's beautiful, it has some heft to it and feels to me like a more "professional grade" instrument than any other uke I've played. I have it strung low g and it's a tenor, so it has a very warm mellow sound, not as "twinkly" or "sparkly" as most that I've played (I also mostly play concerts, so that's part of it)

Kanilea: Best looking of the main 3 by a long shot. Most modern look and fanciest Koa. Some people value looks more than others. I definitely consider looks as important and I think a lot of it is because I'm not a great player and a nice looking uke makes me more likely to pick it up. I would guess that people who have played for decades care more about the sound and don't care if it looks like a dirty sock. Very sweet sound, tending to be more mellow than the others.

Koaloha: I don't care much for the looks but the sound is very attractive when comparing it to the others because it really pops. The instruments feel light weight and project like crazy. I understand why people like these and maybe if I was a better player, I would be more interested. I almost bought one once but went with something else that I felt had more interesting character (no regrets).

Kamaka: The classic. Some people love that it's the classic and it's like a piece of history. It's never the wrong choice, but for me, it's never the right choice either because they just never seem to have that something special that makes me want to pick it up.

Overall, Kanilea is my choice but I also JUST bought one. Ask again in a year and I'll probably have a different answer.

UkerDanno
05-03-2018, 07:08 AM
When I decided to get a Hawaiian made instrument, I visited a shop that carried the big 3, Kanile'a, Kamaka and Koaloha as well as Martin. I took my Martin C1K to compare and checked them all out. None sounded all that much better than my Martin, not even the Martin koas made in Pennsylvania. But, the fit and finish on the Kanile'a was way above the others, so I figured out what I wanted and shopped around and found an awesome deal on my K-2 CP. It's an amazing, quality instrument.
108784

wickedwahine11
05-03-2018, 07:35 AM
I've owned all four brands over the years. The only one I still own is Koaloha. Conclude what you like. :)
I have never owned (or played) a Ko'olau, but like you, I have owned Kamaka, Kanile'a and KoAloha ukes, and only have the KoAloha left.


If anybody would care to compare and contrast the sound of Kamaka vs KoAloha I’d certainly would welcome it
KoAlohas, if I had to describe them to someone that has never head them, sound to me like the ukulele embodiment of Steven Tyler from Aerosmith - loud, and punchy. They have a voice that cuts through the crowd, usually bright, but always powerful and strong. They are innovators when it comes to bracing, and constantly working to perfect their sound. When it comes to aesthetics, they are more simple koa (usually) and not a lot of bling. But for a factory made uke, they sound terrific.

Kamaka is the traditional uke, and the traditional sound. The strings they come with are god-awful, which may be why they fail to impress me at most stores. But there is a lot of history behind that name, and lots of uke professional players play Kamaka. If you have been doing something for 100 years, you must be doing something right. Unlike KoAloha (where I have never heard a bad one), they can be hit and miss though. I wouldn't buy a Kamaka without hearing it first. But they are a lovely, mellow traditional sound when played and the Grandaddy of them all.

WestyShane
05-03-2018, 11:50 AM
Steven Tyler from Aerosmith - loud, and punchy. They have a voice that cuts through the crowd, usually bright, but always powerful and strong.

I would agree with that description and it's why my "K" is a Kamaka.

Compared to the Koalohas that I tried, I find my Kamaka (100 anniversary long-necked soprano) to sound more delicate and ethereal, more of a 70s era Jerry Garcia versus Steven Tyler.

I also prefer different strings than the factory supplied ones and I tried about 6 or 7 before finding the one that "spoke" to me.

DownUpDave
05-03-2018, 07:50 PM
I compared my Kala KAATP-CTG-CE solid cedar top to the K brands side by side and in my opinion they were certainly not 3 times better ($380 vs $1200), maybe slightly better at the most. Kala is obviously also a K brand.

http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Kala cedar mine.jpg

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 3 acoustic bass ukes, 8 solid body bass ukes, 8 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. http://www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos (https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos)

Dude.........news flash Kala ain't one of K-brands, please have a look at the listed poll. Those are ALWAYS and ONLY Kamaka, Koaloha, Kanilea and Koolau, this is a well know classification. I know you love your Kala but it's not part of the instruments being discussed here.

kohanmike
05-03-2018, 07:59 PM
Dude.........news flash Kala ain't one of K-brands, please have a look at the listed poll. Those are ALWAYS and ONLY Kamaka, Koaloha, Kanilea and Koolau, this is a well know classification. I know you love your Kala but it's not part of the instruments being discussed here.I know. I meant only that it started with K also, not that Kala is actually one, should have phrased it better.

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 3 acoustic bass ukes, 8 solid body bass ukes, 8 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. http://www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos (https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos)

Ukecaster
05-04-2018, 03:35 AM
There are plenty that start with K but the Big 4 are the Big 4. :D

Kahuna – Newcomer with cheap colourful and graphical ukuleles.
Kala – Hugely popular mid-range ukulele. I love my Kala.
Kamaka – The oldest surviving ukulele maker.
Kanile’a – Top quality, top price, Hawaiian made ukuleles.
Kau’wela – Kailua based ukes in Zebrawood.
Keli’i – Hawaiian based company keeping prices down with Chinese production.
Kimo - Pretty to look at.
Kinnard - Awesome instruments.
Kiwaya – Japanese company best known for their Martin copies and K-Wave Fender-style ukuleles.
Keech – The reputed inventor of the banjulele.
Ko’olau – Their ukuleles are played by Ledward Kaapana, Lyle Ritz and Abe Lagrimas Jr. Who could argue with a line-up like that?
Koa Pili Koko – Koa-ish ukuleles from Keli’i.
KoAlana – KoAloha’s budget range of ukuleles.
KoAloha – Hawaiian made ukulele company headed by the adorable Alvin Okami.
Kona Guitars – Low-end ukuleles by US guitar maker.
Kona Ukuleles – South Korean based ukulele company.
Korala – Cheap intro-level ukes.
Koyama – Uke line from Australia’s Dominant Instruments.
Kumalae – Vintage Hawaiian maker with a ferocious output.

Hey...you forgot Kamoa!

I’m waiting for the manufacturer who labels their ukes as “K-Brand”, with just a big K on the headstock. Imagine the outrage! ;)

Pirate Jim
05-04-2018, 04:04 AM
Hey...you forgot Kamoa!

I’m waiting for the manufacturer who labels their ukes as “K-Brand”, with just a big K on the headstock. Imagine the outrage! ;)

Haha, how is it no-one has done this yet?!

blodzoom
05-04-2018, 04:20 AM
Reading the posts is better than working.

You nailed exactly what posts like this are good for.

WaylonUkulele
05-04-2018, 05:01 AM
I own a Koolau and a Kanilea. I have been to Hawaii a few times since I started my uke interest and test drove tons of ukes but really I don't know what I'm talking about and I'm not much beyond a beginner player, so... grain of salt...



Koolau: I've only played one, and that's the one I own. I bought it second-hand right after I decided that ukulele was more than just a passing fancy. It's beautiful, it has some heft to it and feels to me like a more "professional grade" instrument than any other uke I've played. I have it strung low g and it's a tenor, so it has a very warm mellow sound, not as "twinkly" or "sparkly" as most that I've played (I also mostly play concerts, so that's part of it)

Kanilea: Best looking of the main 3 by a long shot. Most modern look and fanciest Koa. Some people value looks more than others. I definitely consider looks as important and I think a lot of it is because I'm not a great player and a nice looking uke makes me more likely to pick it up. I would guess that people who have played for decades care more about the sound and don't care if it looks like a dirty sock. Very sweet sound, tending to be more mellow than the others.

Koaloha: I don't care much for the looks but the sound is very attractive when comparing it to the others because it really pops. The instruments feel light weight and project like crazy. I understand why people like these and maybe if I was a better player, I would be more interested. I almost bought one once but went with something else that I felt had more interesting character (no regrets).

Kamaka: The classic. Some people love that it's the classic and it's like a piece of history. It's never the wrong choice, but for me, it's never the right choice either because they just never seem to have that something special that makes me want to pick it up.

Overall, Kanilea is my choice but I also JUST bought one. Ask again in a year and I'll probably have a different answer.

This post was very well put together. Thanks. I haven't played a Koolau, but the rest makes total sense. And yeah, I don't like the Koaloho headstock. LOL, But they seem to sound great.

hawaii 50
05-04-2018, 08:33 AM
Dude.........news flash Kala ain't one of K-brands, please have a look at the listed poll. Those are ALWAYS and ONLY Kamaka, Koaloha, Kanilea and Koolau, this is a well know classification. I know you love your Kala but it's not part of the instruments being discussed here.

Thanks Dave for your post..as usual the poster was trying to Hi-Jack the thread......:)

kohanmike
05-04-2018, 11:22 AM
Thanks Dave for your post..as usual the poster was trying to Hi-Jack the thread......:)Get off me you a-hole, I don't see you saying anything about Camsuke's post of all those K names. I'm sick of you're complaints. I was going to make this a PM, but since you made it public, here it is.

wickedwahine11
05-04-2018, 11:36 AM
Guys, lets keep it civil in here. No name calling please, and no need to call each other out. Thank you.

kohanmike
05-04-2018, 12:04 PM
Guys, lets keep it civil in here. No name calling please, and no need to call each other out. Thank you.Sorry, I was pushed one time too many.

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 3 acoustic bass ukes, 8 solid body bass ukes, 8 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. http://www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos (https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos)

kohanmike
05-04-2018, 02:21 PM
We were all having a bit of fun until... DownUpDave responded with "Dude... news flash Kala ain't one of K-brands" Talk about being a party pooper, I'm sure that Mike is well aware of which brands are listed in the Big K4, he was just contributing to the humour of the thread! :DThank you Camsuke, I appreciate the support.

8 tenor cutaway ukes, 3 acoustic bass ukes, 8 solid body bass ukes, 8 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. http://www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos (https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos)

Ukecaster
05-04-2018, 05:07 PM
Be careful, someone might call you a K-hole ;)

sculptor
05-04-2018, 09:47 PM
4 Hawaii "K" brand ukuleles, which is your favourite?

Kanilea
Koolau
Kamaka
Koaloha

The Kan't Afford! :biglaugh:

-- Gary

flailingfingers
05-06-2018, 02:43 AM
KMoore KBettah. Koff the Kcharts. Kough, kough.

MopMan
05-06-2018, 07:34 AM
Kumalae – Vintage Hawaiian maker with a ferocious output.

I can't tell if this statement is a knock, an endorsement, or what. What is "ferocious output" intended to imply?

Jerryc41
05-07-2018, 01:07 AM
Meh, which is your favourite brand of twine?.

Wrong forum! You want the rope forum for that.
https://www.rigg-access.com/forum/index.php?/topic/3355-anonymous-poll-rope-access-industry-standards/

:D

rubykey
05-07-2018, 04:27 AM
Hey...

I’m waiting for the manufacturer who labels their ukes as “K-Brand”, with just a big K on the headstock. Imagine the outrage! ;)

Been there, done that ... Kaka ... I kid u knot! A Kala knock off produced by Enya. It was ironically my prettiest Uke that always turned heads because of the striking koa like laminate grain, open headstock, and tortoise shell binding. It also had a good sound for what it was. My off screen name starts with K and I needed a cheap uke to take to camp. It was my special K brand but I sold it to a friend who wanted a ukulele with a wide nut. Fortunately she never asked what the brand was. I guess Enya finally figured out it was a shity name. I had a lot of fun with it because of that. You can see the evidence in my headshot photo.

As for the topic of this thread, KoAloha all the way. They are loud, light, punchy and full of soul. I have yet to meet a Kamaka that moved me. While I get the appeal of Kanilea, I find them stiff and refined.

kvehe
05-07-2018, 06:55 AM
Slight hijack - I ordered an Enya concert last fall, but what arrived was a Kaka. I was going to send it back, but didn’t because it sounded nice and my name begins with a “K”. I don’t think I would have ordered a Kaka on purpose, but it turned out fine.

Returning the thread to its real purpose now - I have examples of all four and voted without hesitation for KoAloha.

SoloRule
05-07-2018, 09:39 AM
I owned a beautiful concert Kanile’a. Neck too thin. It hurt my wrist.
I own a tenor koolau, beautiful tone!
I played a Kamaka baritone over a weekend and a long neck concert. They are nice.
I played a koaloha tenor, long neck concert and tried very hard to like it. Fret spacings too tight for me but the instruments got volume!
My vote is Koolau ! I mean my Koolau! :D

Nickie
05-07-2018, 01:48 PM
Campbell, that was lovely!