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View Full Version : Which Oahu Ukulele Factory Tour?



sweets
05-12-2009, 01:24 PM
My wife and I are headed to Oahu and Hawaii in the fall, and while we're staying in Honolulu I'd like to hit at least one Ukulele Factory tour. I'm pretty sure we don't have time to hit all the makers, but I'm hoping to get some feedback about which tours are the most interesting / fun. Is there anyone out there who has done them all?

nikolo727
05-12-2009, 01:45 PM
I would hit the kamaka factory personally. It seems more historic to me. Kamaka has been known for a long time as the top seller of ukuleles. Plus you might even be able to see some customs that they are working on. anyway aside from the blah blah blah, I just like kamaka lol.

bt93
05-12-2009, 01:47 PM
are you looking to get a new uke? if so, then choose the factory of the uke of your desire

experimentjon
05-12-2009, 02:01 PM
Weeeeelllllll, from what I heard, don't go to Koolau, even though I've never been there (too far of of a drive for a factory visit)

I've never actually been on a real official tour, but I've been to Kamaka, and it was okay. I've been to KoAloha, which was pretty cool. But I've never been to Kanilea, and I think visiting their factory would be really cool...then again, I'm biased, b/c I love Kanileas.

gotrice415510
05-12-2009, 02:21 PM
definitely koaloha... the movie makes me want to go there so badly

UkuleleHill
05-12-2009, 02:30 PM
Tough decision for me... I chose Kamaka.... But Koaloha would be my second choice.

bbycrts
05-12-2009, 06:11 PM
Kanile'a. But then, I've finally realized that I'm a Kanile'a whore.

Kaneohe til the end
05-12-2009, 06:37 PM
I say this as a Ko'olau customer first, and as an former csr second. Don't go to the ko'olau unless you're looking to be dissapointed. Worst tour of anywhere I've ever been. They make fantastic quality instruments, just not very good tour guides.

Now as a KoAloha 'ukulele employee, I say that we have a very informative tour. I can't remember how much it is off the top of my head, but if you schedule in advance, you get to make your own keychain, get your own pen, and a brochure, not sure if any other builders do that. Brian is also a damn good tour guide, very informative and friendly.

Also, I've never been to the kanile'a tour or the kamaka tour but I know the kanile'a tour is on youtube.

Best of luck in your search!

dominicfoundthemooon
05-12-2009, 06:48 PM
i could type a bunch.. but i will just say this.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQuLzsN1ZBc

sweets
05-13-2009, 09:29 AM
Thanks everyone who has voted so far.


Weeeeelllllll, from what I heard, don't go to Koolau


Don't go to the ko'olau unless you're looking to be dissapointed. Worst tour of anywhere I've ever been. They make fantastic quality instruments, just not very good tour guides.



I own a Ko'olau Tenor so Ko'olau would be my number one choice if all else were equal, but it sounds like there's a reason you never hear about their tour.

I also think it's interesting that so far Koaloha is leading the poll despite all of the love Kamaka gets on these forums as a brand...

Aldrine Guerrero
05-13-2009, 09:49 AM
I'm going to have to join in on the "Don't go to Ko'olau" chant.
Worst. Tour. EVER.
You're going to have to trust me on this one.

The people from both Kanile'a and KoAloha are awesome people! You should definitely check them out. I highly recommend their friendly people and very informative tours. Best ukulele experience EVER.

Kamaka on the other hand I never got the chance to check out their tour. I'm sure they're cool people but everytime I'm there there's always a bunch of other customers there and I feel like I'm in one of those meat shops. Pick a number and wait to be served. They did a good job fixing up my instrument though. :D

GX9901
05-13-2009, 10:00 AM
I've only been to the KoAloha tour, which is very good. I think you should probably try to take two tours though, with one of them being KoAloha. The reason is that KoAloha seems to have a bit of a different manufacturing process compared to the other companies with their uni-brace, no side kerfings, special jigs, etc. It would be interesting to compare the KoAloha factory and say Kanile'a's to see how they differ.

wickedwahine11
05-13-2009, 12:26 PM
I have only done the Kanile'a tour. I just did it last week. It is a little far from Honolulu, but it is pretty easy to take the bus out to Kaneohe. (Just don't do what I did and get off at the Windward Center instead of the Windward Mall...instead of walking a couple of blocks, I hoofed it probably an extra mile with my uke strapped to my back in the heat. But proof of why their customer service is so awesome, Kristen said I should have called, they would have come to pick me up.

The tour was led by Joe (the owner). He gave us about an hour long, highly informative tour. I got to see the ukes being built, and saw the evolution of a ukulele from a log to a beautiful machine. You get to see the bracing from inside the ukulele, hear all about their highly original UV protective coating, and ask lots of questions along the way.

At the end of the tour, he drilled a hole for me into my tenor and installed a strap button. I had been wanting one, but I was terrified to hand it over to a random luthier and having the guy who started the company do it himself gave me a little less anxiety.

I admit, I'm a Kanile'a freak, so I'm biased. But if you have an hour to kill (even if you go to Kamaka or KoAloha as well), you should head over there and see it from the Kanile'a point of view.

Great uke, terrific customer service, and amazing folks.

ThePunkWay
05-13-2009, 12:44 PM
i just did the KoAloha tour today, and since i was also looking to pick up a Koa concert Uke made on island, it was great for me. i got to meet Pat and Alvin (the owners of the company) and i had a very informative tour (K-bay to the end is right.... Brian is a great tour guide... and a great player!) there were even some other benefits to the tour.... i got to talk story with Alvin about his latest products, play with some pristine KoAloha Ukes, check out the Koa stock, and see how KoAloha makes their amazing ukes!

definitely a great tour!

allinfun
05-13-2009, 03:27 PM
If you have a Ko'olau, do plan to run up and visit the family. John is often there, and you can even meet Noa, Andrew, and the rest of the team. While not a tour it's good to meet everyone. These guys are uke makers not tour guides, but they will take time to chat with you.

Kaneohe til the end
05-13-2009, 09:50 PM
i just did the KoAloha tour today, and since i was also looking to pick up a Koa concert Uke made on island, it was great for me. i got to meet Pat and Alvin (the owners of the company) and i had a very informative tour (K-bay to the end is right.... Brian is a great tour guide... and a great player!) there were even some other benefits to the tour.... i got to talk story with Alvin about his latest products, play with some pristine KoAloha Ukes, check out the Koa stock, and see how KoAloha makes their amazing ukes!

definitely a great tour!

ahh, you were the one i met today. by the way, keep the new uke thing on the dl.

ThePunkWay
05-13-2009, 10:16 PM
yes sir, your secret is safe with me!

Honu
05-14-2009, 04:08 AM
ahh, you were the one i met today. by the way, keep the new uke thing on the dl.

Ooohhh.... Mysterious!!! Hey Kaneohe, I'll be there at the end of June. I'll be the irritating one going.. "What did you mean? What did you mean? What did you mean?":D