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valde002
02-15-2019, 01:37 PM
Another post about tonewoods has reminded me about posting my question...

I have my eye on a curly koa uke that is high grade. Would have to trade in one or two nice but not as good wood for it.

Does the curly koa make the uke sound any different compared to, well, not curly koa? I think I read somewhere that straighter wood sounds better. Then why are curly koa ukes sought after?

(BTW, try saying 'Triple A curly koa ukuleles' 5 times fast :p)

EDW
02-15-2019, 02:20 PM
I have heard the same thing about curly vs less figured woods. It may depend somewhat on the individual pieces of wood and an individual's taste and opinions. I am sure that the popularity of highly figured woods is due to the striking appearance.

rainbow21
02-15-2019, 02:34 PM
I have heard (actually read in this forum) that...

Really not going to get a definitive answer from member's opinions. Need to have a top luthier render an opinion (and may get opposing opinions from others). Now if you look at Kanile'a you pay more for the curly. Ask the HMS people if there is a sound difference in these as there is a price difference and people tend not to pay more if it looks better but sounds worse. And you can definitely find it both ways (one straight sounds better, a different curly better...). I suspect the sound difference is really miniscule and maybe only noticed if played side by side and maybe specific to those two individual ukes.

stevejfc
02-15-2019, 02:44 PM
I have heard the same thing about curly vs less figured woods. It may depend somewhat on the individual pieces. I am sure that the popularity of highly figured woods is due to the striking appearance.

Yep, it's appearance, style, good looks, bling. But overall, good tonal wood, is good tonal wood, aesthetics aside.
BTW the whole koa rating system is somewhat suspect.........what was once AAA koa is now often rated as AAAAA koa or 5A+.

Arob54
02-15-2019, 04:07 PM
I have heard (actually read in this forum) that...

Really not going to get a definitive answer from member's opinions. Need to have a top luthier render an opinion (and may get opposing opinions from others). Now if you look at Kanile'a you pay more for the curly. Ask the HMS people if there is a sound difference in these as there is a price difference and people tend not to pay more if it looks better but sounds worse. And you can definitely find it both ways (one straight sounds better, a different curly better...). I suspect the sound difference is really miniscule and maybe only noticed if played side by side and maybe specific to those two individual ukes.

I’ve researched this same topic and came across this response from Chuck Moore providing his opinion on the question:

https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?77530-How-much-does-figure-flame-affect-tone&p=1200573#post1200573

valde002
02-15-2019, 05:49 PM
thanks for the link. Was also just reading this one:

https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?8662-Koa-grades

Very interesting read.

mgsondance
02-15-2019, 09:25 PM
thanks for the link. Was also just reading this one:

https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?8662-Koa-grades

Very interesting read.

Lots of interesting info there- especially this from Moore Bettah: "I personally find that the lighter, blonder koas will yield me a fuller, richer sounding uke than the very dark koa does."

Ukecaster
02-16-2019, 03:54 AM
Lots of interesting info there- especially this from Moore Bettah: "I personally find that the lighter, blonder koas will yield me a fuller, richer sounding uke than the very dark koa does."

I guess "gentlemen prefer blondes" carries over to ukes too :D

Kibes37
02-16-2019, 04:32 AM
This seems to me to be in a similar field to wether or not wood opens up... subjective. I believe high quality Koa is high quality Koa. There is no way these bling brands would continue to value curly above straight if there was a noticible difference consistanly. I have Curly and I love it.

BlackBearUkes
02-16-2019, 08:23 AM
Some of the best Koa to use for quality sound, is straight grain, well seasoned, quarter sawn and no run out. The curly stuff has the worst run out or in some cases, nothing but run out. If you don't know what run out is, Google it. Any luthier worth his salt, pays attention to run out.

Rakelele
02-16-2019, 11:41 PM
This question has been discussed many times here, with opinions all over the place. Going through all of these discussions (as well as through several Koa ukes), here is my take: Curly Koa will most likely not sound better than straight grain. But that isn't to say that it will sound worse. While it is mainly used for its nice look, professional builders such as Kamaka, Kanilea or Moore Bettah will know how to treat it to make it sound good.

More important than the number of curls might be other factors such as stiffness or density of each individual board and of course, the builder. I had a chance to play several Kanilea ukes of different Koa grades next to each other, and they all sounded extremely similar. The straight grain "Select" Koa was definitely not sounding worse or better than the utterly curly "Premium" Koa.

mm stan
02-19-2019, 08:42 AM
Straight grain gives the best tone, curly is purely aesthetics and what sells with good markup, it used to be considered in the past second grade or regarded as defected wood. Tone wise, straight grain has the best consistency in vibration for soundboards

Jeffelele
02-19-2019, 05:08 PM
When I first started to play my assumptions were not troubled with knowledge and I assumed curly wood most likely was better sounding because it cost more and custom luthiers were the one’s using it.

Paul Bouchard
02-24-2019, 08:10 AM
I bought my first koa from a wood specialty shop near Toronto and now that I'm working with it, I'm learning what runout is and why it sucks. It was tough to bend (a few checked spots but salvageable) and the bookmatching isn’t really matching because the chatoyance is so different from one side of the top to the other. Planing was tricky and even the scraper is tearing it out if I go the wrong way.

Thing is, I'm not sure the runout would be easy the spot next time I'm going through a stack of rough sawn boards.

Kenn2018
02-24-2019, 08:56 AM
I can't help but think that the building process of making a ukulele; how it's shaped, thinned, bent, fitted, braced, glued etc.; will have a far greater impact upon how an instrument sounds than, all other aspects being equal, the differences between a curly and a straight-grained cut of wood.