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Jerryc41
07-04-2019, 02:22 AM
One thing I like about KoAloha is the variation in their products. Not every soprano or Scepter or Pineapple Sunday looks like every other one. KoAloha is a small, family-run company that makes changes on the fly, and I like seeing the variation.

As a buyer, what they include in their designs doesn't matter to me, but some people prefer a certain fret marker or bridge or something else when they are shopping for a KoAloha.

YogiTom
07-04-2019, 04:38 AM
It’s funny, because as a potential buyer, I find it maddening trying to make sense of all the little differences they make on models through the years. This is mostly on the second-hand market. Some features like the crown bridge are listed as “rare”, pushing up the asking price—in my mind—for no good reason. Just because a feature was discontinued or changed doesn’t necessarily make a product “limited” or “rare. In my mind, it makes them obsolete or retro, and other than the nostalgia factor, I just don’t see any added value there. Again, it is just a headache for me as a potential buyer.

In the end, I haven’t (and likely won’t at this rate) felt a need to own a KoAloha. My one dabble with the brand was a new Opio concert, and I asked to return it within 24 hours of my unboxing. I realize Opio isn’t a “true Hawaiian built” KoAloha, but I wasn’t impressed, and don’t feel the need to try one of the >$1K models.

A Kamaka is much more likely to end up in my collection than a KoAloha, largely because their variants are pretty standardized. Maybe in 80-ish years, the KoAloha look will finally have been established and I’ll feel confident enough to buy one. :rolleyes:

Definitely just my very limited opinion! I’m sure someone out there can explain why they might think the crown bridge or whatnot is worth something in the uke’s value, but I can’t for the life of me figure it out or bring myself to care.

Jerryc41
07-04-2019, 05:03 AM
Some features like the crown bridge are listed as “rare”, pushing up the asking price—in my mind—for no good reason.

The Crown Bridge was a beautiful touch, and people like the appearance. I think that's why it's in demand. Still, the prices ($1,000) aren't out of line for a KoAloha tenor. I bought one for $1,000 and sold it for $1,000.

YogiTom
07-04-2019, 05:16 AM
The Crown Bridge was a beautiful touch, and people like the appearance. I think that's why it's in demand. Still, the prices ($1,000) aren't out of line for a KoAloha tenor. I bought one for $1,000 and sold it for $1,000.

That’s good to hear! I do like the look, don’t get me wrong; it was just the easiest, visible change I could think of off the top of my head.

I just feel like some listings really play up these small features as something incredible and rare instead of—as you say—a beautiful design touch.

To me, the only other useful thing these changes yield is that it allows potential buyers to research when the features were in use to narrow down a used instrument’s age, like with Martin ukes.

YogiTom
07-04-2019, 05:52 AM
Of course, here’s a nice one without the excess claims, and part of the Reverb sale, too!
https://reverb.com/item/23105110-pre-owned-circa-2005-koaloha-crown-bridge-tenor-ukulele

Kibes37
07-04-2019, 06:19 AM
It’s funny, because as a potential buyer, I find it maddening trying to make sense of all the little differences they make on models through the years. This is mostly on the second-hand market. Some features like the crown bridge are listed as “rare”, pushing up the asking price—in my mind—for no good reason. Just because a feature was discontinued or changed doesn’t necessarily make a product “limited” or “rare. In my mind, it makes them obsolete or retro, and other than the nostalgia factor, I just don’t see any added value there. Again, it is just a headache for me as a potential buyer.

In the end, I haven’t (and likely won’t at this rate) felt a need to own a KoAloha. My one dabble with the brand was a new Opio concert, and I asked to return it within 24 hours of my unboxing. I realize Opio isn’t a “true Hawaiian built” KoAloha, but I wasn’t impressed, and don’t feel the need to try one of the >$1K models.

A Kamaka is much more likely to end up in my collection than a KoAloha, largely because their variants are pretty standardized. Maybe in 80-ish years, the KoAloha look will finally have been established and I’ll feel confident enough to buy one. :rolleyes:

Definitely just my very limited opinion! I’m sure someone out there can explain why they might think the crown bridge or whatnot is worth something in the uke’s value, but I can’t for the life of me figure it out or bring myself to care.

I go back n forth with buying a true Hawaiian built Koaloha. What didn’t you like about the Opio? Just curious. I like mine, but I do have some complaints...

YogiTom
07-04-2019, 07:24 AM
I go back n forth with buying a true Hawaiian built Koaloha. What didn’t you like about the Opio? Just curious. I like mine, but I do have some complaints...

I didn’t care for the feel when playing it (purely the physical holding and running my hands over/along the neck) nor do I care for the ginormous position markers on the fretboard face. It looked cartoonish to me.

I much prefer understated bling and sleek design elements over anything flashy or eye-grabbing. To me, the instrument should look better than the sum of its parts, and the new Opio just didn’t do it for me.

Plus, I was comparing it against my wife’s Rebel, so it wasn’t exactly a fair or unbiased view I had going in. After returning the Opio, I purchased basically the Rebel version, the Double Cheesecake. Spruce top, mahogany body (Opio I had was Spruce/Acacia). I’m infinitely happier with the Rebel.

merlin666
07-04-2019, 07:59 AM
It’s funny, because as a potential buyer, I find it maddening trying to make sense of all the little differences they make on models through the years. This is mostly on the second-hand market. Some features like the crown bridge are listed as “rare”, pushing up the asking price—in my mind—for no good reason. Just because a feature was discontinued or changed doesn’t necessarily make a product “limited” or “rare. In my mind, it makes them obsolete or retro, and other than the nostalgia factor, I just don’t see any added value there. Again, it is just a headache for me as a potential buyer.

Indeed, I only became aware of KoAloha when I went into many Hawaiian uke stores, played them and compared them to many others and they consistently came out as the "best" in my observations. But those stores also had some NOS ones and when I looked into getting a used one I quickly realized that they change specs often and quickly, and what features one likes is really much more a matter of personal preference than of "rarity". The big ones for me that I really needed to have were a koa fretboard and single-piece koa body, and I prefer the old carved fretboard shape to the new CNC ones. But mine does not have a unibrace ... :( Many of the feature changes may reflect cost-savings for the production process, while KoAloha states that they are part of continuous improvement. In stores where I was able to compare a NOS concert to the newest concert, I actually liked the sound of the new one better even though actual spec suggested considerable downgrade. So go figure ... they were priced the same anyway.

rainbow21
07-04-2019, 09:07 AM
KoAloha is undergoing constant change which is encouraged by the small intimate production group. They are not afraid to experiment to improve the product. They also have one of the most consistent sounds of many makers so that you are likely to recognize the KoAloha sound from a current uke or one manufactured years ago. And they also have consistency of production so that if you picked up three current ones, they would sound very similar, making a "try before you buy" less important.

So one can choose different "specs" or other small changes and still have the great KoAloha sound.

SailingUke
07-04-2019, 09:27 AM
I really enjoy my Crown Bridge super concert. I have had it since 2008. The reason they changed from the crown bridge was the extra work it took to build. One of the things that make the KoAloha sound is the bracing, which I believe has gone unchanged through the years.

Choirguy
07-04-2019, 11:04 AM
I have a number of KoAloha products in my possession, and I feel lucky to do so. YogiTom, you're 100% correct, compared to a Rebel, you'd have to get into the Red or Black Label KoAlohas before you felt equivalent quality vs. value. While Rebels are not cheap, their place of manufacture makes them much more affordable than a similar instrument from the US or the UK. I haven't played one yet, but the reviews at this point have been nothing less than outstanding.

As for KoAloha, I'm not 100% sure how the creative process works. I know that Pops is a tinkerer, and that he never stops trying to build the best sounding ukulele, even if that means sacrificing "traditional" looks. Don't get me wrong...he's interested in good looking instruments, too--but to hear of a Hawaiian ukulele company openly welcoming spruce as a tone wood is rather surprising--but Pops is convinced that Spruce is the best tone wood--and considering the large quantity of string instruments that have been made throughout history--some of the very best were spruce.

I know that Paul (Pops' son) is the master builder these days--but I'm not sure how much of a tinkerer he is. I know that he likes to play around with "appointments" on the custom ukuleles (which are gorgeous), but I don't know if he is messing around with the build as much as his dad has/was/is. And not to be negative, but Pops is older than you would think--as if he drinks from the fountain of youth--and while I am sure that KoAloha will stick around with its family values, I'm not sure if we will continue to see such a great level of experimentation after Pops is gone (hopefully years and years from now).

I see it as Pops not really caring about any tradition other than making great sounding instruments that please him, and taking care of existing customers. That's a pretty good goal.

And YogiTom is right about Kamaka not changing it up...but look at how Kanil’ea is promoting their new bracing this year--which is awesome--as well as the new Oha model made out of several types of wood. That's a lot of change for Kanil’ea--and it is to be celebrated, but I get the feeling that KoAloha is much more willing to go out on a limb and try new things...and back off of them when they aren't great.

As for the appearance issues, who knows. You like what you like. I am surprised that the Opio models (at least the concert models I own) get the reverse crown on the fretboard, while the full Koa models do not, and I think the Opio looks better in that regard. Who knows.

And what a blessing to have so many options, both new and used, from KoAloha, Kanil’ea, Kamaka, and all the other vendors!

Kenn2018
07-04-2019, 11:12 AM
Of course, here’s a nice one without the excess claims, and part of the Reverb sale, too!
https://reverb.com/item/23105110-pre-owned-circa-2005-koaloha-crown-bridge-tenor-ukulele

I notice in the photos a little bit of cloth or paper in the nut slot under the g-string in the photo. Otherwise, it looks like a lovely crown bridge. One of the other reasons the tenor crown bridges are popular is that the bodies are made with single-piece tops, back & side. I just bought a beautiful one. It compares very well with my 2017 tenor. I have to change the strings to Living Waters to get a more accurate comparison.

TobyDog
07-04-2019, 12:18 PM
I notice in the photos a little bit of cloth or paper in the nut slot under the g-string in the photo. Otherwise, it looks like a lovely crown bridge. One of the other reasons the tenor crown bridges are popular is that the bodies are made with single-piece tops, back & side. I just bought a beautiful one. It compares very well with my 2017 tenor. I have to change the strings to Living Waters to get a more accurate comparison.

I bought a used Koaloha Koa concert that someone bought to learn on, never used it and it sat in a closet for 4-5 years strung with a low g set. I put a set of Worth high g on it and had a constant slight buzz from the g string. I put a little piece of paper under the string in the nut and it's fine. The wider low g string must have slightly widened the nut slot. One of these days I'll have it replaced. I suspect the uke on reverb has the same problem.

YogiTom
07-04-2019, 12:51 PM
Too much to quote, but I agree that the innovation and experimentation coming out of KoAloha seems well beyond what the other Hawaiian K brands are doing.

The one other “current” Kanile‘a (I use quotes because I believe they were originally a one-off and may now be a custom build on their website) that I would love to own is the Maoli Nō model (https://www.kanileaukulele.com/shop/hawaiian-made-ukuleles/maoli-no-2/). We use ‘Ōhi‘a lehua blossom honey for a mead at work, and it is by far our best tasting one. I love the idea of owning a ukulele made with those wonderful endemic wood species. The sandalwood bracing seems to die for, too. :)

Choirguy
07-04-2019, 02:19 PM
I bought a used Koaloha Koa concert that someone bought to learn on, never used it and it sat in a closet for 4-5 years strung with a low g set. I put a set of Worth high g on it and had a constant slight buzz from the g string. I put a little piece of paper under the string in the nut and it's fine. The wider low g string must have slightly widened the nut slot. One of these days I'll have it replaced. I suspect the uke on reverb has the same problem.

If you contact KoAloha, they might even send you a replacement nut. The better than the weather warranty is the real deal.

Croaky Keith
07-05-2019, 12:58 AM
All I can say is that my UAS stopped when I bought my KoAloha Opio acacia long neck concert. :music:

efiscella
07-05-2019, 01:02 PM
I know that Paul (Pops' son) is the master builder these days--but I'm not sure how much of a tinkerer he is. I know that he likes to play around with "appointments" on the custom ukuleles (which are gorgeous), but I don't know if he is messing around with the build as much as his dad has/was/is. And not to be negative, but Pops is older than you would think--as if he drinks from the fountain of youth--and while I am sure that KoAloha will stick around with its family values, I'm not sure if we will continue to see such a great level of experimentation after Pops is gone (hopefully years and years from now).

As for KoAloha, I'm not 100% sure how the creative process works. I know that Pops is a tinkerer, and that he never stops trying to build the best sounding ukulele, even if that means sacrificing "traditional" looks. Don't get me wrong...he's interested in good looking instruments, too--but to hear of a Hawaiian ukulele company openly welcoming spruce as a tone wood is rather surprising--but Pops is convinced that Spruce is the best tone wood--and considering the large quantity of string instruments that have been made throughout history--some of the very best were spruce.

I know that Paul (Pops' son) is the master builder these days--but I'm not sure how much of a tinkerer he is. I know that he likes to play around with "appointments" on the custom ukuleles (which are gorgeous), but I don't know if he is messing around with the build as much as his dad has/was/is. And not to be negative, but Pops is older than you would think--as if he drinks from the fountain of youth--and while I am sure that KoAloha will stick around with its family values, I'm not sure if we will continue to see such a great level of experimentation after Pops is gone (hopefully years and years from now).

I see it as Pops not really caring about any tradition other than making great sounding instruments that please him, and taking care of existing customers. That's a pretty good goal.


As many of you know, I have gotten to know Alvin pretty well, especially with his Wow ukulele. I totally agree with Choirguy. Pops made the Wow and told me how thrilled he was with it. He sent a few to me. The next batch had zebra wood frets instead of fret dots. The next batch had a new logo on the headstock. The next Batch had some pua ornamentation. These were followed by a cutaway of the same ukulele. The cutaway had a red circle around it, then it had red, white and blue encircling it- and finally, it had red, white and blue, plus stars when he made one that I had ordered for a WWII veteran. Pops is always experimenting but the one thing that is consistent is his dedication to producing the best sound. Pops is still working on his Pineapple Sunday. He recently sent me three to sell as a fundraiser. These were very different from the Pineapple Sunday that I own, which is very different from the Pineapple Sunday that I originally had. I had asked Alvin to talk about the difference and he ask me to send him pictures of which ones I have to remind him. So for me, I feel differently than YogiTom. I see each one as an original Alvin Okami ukulele. It may be a KoAloha or a Wow, but it is always an original- and as long as the sound is consistently great, I love the differences.
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NAFIGATOR
07-05-2019, 07:25 PM
Not to hijack the tread, but anyone knows how KoAloha Koa Tenor would compare to Collings Koa Tenor? Sound-wise and quality-of-build-wise? Thanks.

Jerryc41
07-06-2019, 01:19 AM
Pops is always experimenting but the one thing that is consistent is his dedication to producing the best sound.

It sounds like hes having fun.