View Full Version : One mans meat

06-02-2018, 11:53 PM
I was talking to a Uke player last night..and he was telling me about how he liked the volume and tone he was getting from his Mahogany soprano..I told him I had some nice Koa in stock and was thinking of building some of up into ukuleles this year...He almost spat out the words "I dont like Koa ukes I've never heard one yet that didn't sound tinny" :uhoh:
So there you go what do you think about that?? :)

06-03-2018, 12:31 AM
I think that person's viewpoint is rather extreme, but I know what they mean. As I perceive it, mahogany ukes tend to have a gentler, warmer sound than koa, accentuating sounds in the lower register - koa tends towards the brighter, upper range of sounds.

I like both. I have several mahogany sopranos, and two in koa. One is an Ohana, the other is a KoAloha. Neither of them sounds "tinny" to me - they both sound great, but not the same.

It really is a matter of personal perception, and what you are used to. I was playing my koa Ohana in a group, and the person next to me said, "What kind of uke is that? It sounds very loud". We discussed the matter and tried each others ukes. His uke was a cheap plywood one, and to me it had hardly any voice at all. I don't think I was guilty of playing too loudly, the man just wasn't used to hearing a uke with a strong voice.

The thought of a Timms soprano in Koa gets my antennae waving, but I doubt I could justify the likely price. If you have any off-cuts or rejects, Ken, I'd be very interested.:drool:

John Colter.

06-03-2018, 06:22 AM
I have one of yours in koa, Ken, and tinny is the last thing I'd call it. It opened my ears to the possibilities of koa. It has a sweet, balanced sound. It doesn't emphasize high, low, nor mid-range tones. As I said, balanced.

That said, he's entitled to his opinion and doesn't have to buy one of your koa ukes. If you make more, I'm sure they will sell, and sell well.

06-03-2018, 09:13 AM
"You can lead a horse to water..."

Some folks are adamant about certain things, which I've noticed, is often paired with willful ignorance - if THEY believe it to be true, then it is, for them...

If 100 people agree that the sky is blue, and one odd person insists it is green and that everyone else is stupid or lacks the visual acuity to tell the difference, the odd-man-out is never going to be convinced otherwise.

Ken, I look forward to seeing your future builds, whatever they are made from.

Thank you for sharing your processes with us here. :)

06-03-2018, 09:22 AM
Koa has more variation in its properties than almost any wood I know. I have some that is heavier and harder than most rosewood, and some that is lighter and softer than most mahogany. And speaking of mahogany, there is the original South American Honduran, plantation grown H. Mahogany and the various African varieties. It is what you do with the wood that counts.

Pete Howlett
06-03-2018, 11:57 AM
Oh well.... we know better don't we?

06-03-2018, 02:34 PM
Personally I don't have an objection to tin. Old Scottish shortbread biscuit tins with pictures of Robbie Burns on them do tend to be my favourites.

06-03-2018, 02:43 PM
Well, both of our koa ukes are tinny, compared to our mahogany ones. Viva la difference!
Each to his own.

The internet is really great at convincing people that they are right, no matter what....

Pete Howlett
06-04-2018, 07:51 AM
Here is a koa boat paddle uke. It shouldn't work. Judge for yourself. I'd call this bell-like: At about 4.40mins


Michael Smith
06-04-2018, 04:59 PM
I had a very experienced musician of 45 years ask me if I liked the tone of a glossy or flat finished instrument better. I thought at first he was joking, but he was dead serious. Perception is reality. It's hard not to start BSing when somone starts telling you Koa is This and Mahogany is That Tha'ts when you start talking about smooth silvery, fast attack, glowing lows, sacred highs and all kinds or smooth terms.

07-06-2018, 02:03 AM
What do we think? We think you have to keep building ukes (made of Koa if possible as well), to demonstrate that kind of people the beauty of quality and sound of your masterpieces!

The Pashmeister
07-06-2018, 02:33 AM
I'd love the opportunity to own a koa ukulele, but my budget won't cover the expense.
I took my solid mahogany tenor uke to the ukulele club a couple of weeks ago and a more experienced player said it had a "rocky" sound to it.
Surely there are more factors affecting the sound of the instrument, other than the wood used?
The shape of the uke, the strings, whether the back is arched or flat, etc.
This is why there are so many different models of ukulele, and why we're never happy with just one.