View Full Version : what's your favorite uke brand? and why?

07-01-2009, 09:22 PM
what's your favorite ukulele brand/manufacturer
and why?

personally, i'd go with the kamoa any day. reasonably priced, beautiful mahogany wood, sexy sound, and overall awesomeness!

07-01-2009, 09:45 PM
what's your favorite ukulele brand/manufacturer
and why?

personally, i'd go with the kamoa any day. reasonably priced, beautiful mahogany wood, sexy sound, and overall awesomeness!

I'm biased here because I've only ever played a Kamaka and a Lanikai but for me the best make is Kamaka, simply because of the history of the uke.

I love the tone and sustain of my tenor, also the pearl inlay and koa wood. The fact it's so simple, just wood and strings really - nothing too fancy. The other thing is I know it's a well known brand and won't really drop in value because it's one of the few makes some people outside the uke world actually recognise.

Having said that I still want a Moore Bettah one day.

07-01-2009, 10:38 PM
Kiwaya. Japanese.
They are as close as you can get to the old Martin Uke’s from yesteryear and their build quality and sound is superb. They are not cheap, and are not fancy, but they are pure quality.

Kanilea. Hawaiian.
These are not cheap either but again are pure quality. Very popular and on most players lists of a must have. The sound is very Hawaiian but can fit well to any type of music. I am very fussy about Ukulele’s, but would have no second thought in getting one.

Flea/Fluke. USA.
Plastic composite backs with a choice of upgrades for neck, fretboard, and tops.
Very popular, very well built, made in the USA.
There seems to be a love/hate relationship with players regarding the Flea/Fluke, and some like me love them, while others would not give them house room.
At the very least, they are an easy fun instrument to play, take anywhere, and surprisingly good sounding Uke’s.

Uke’s made outside of the USA.
Pono would be my choice.
These are not cheap like a Kala for instance, and probably fit in between an expensive Uke and say Kala, O’Hana, etc.
They seem to be well made and popular.
Some say their sound is a little muted, but I have had the opportunity to play a Tenor Cedar Top. Mahogany back one now for some time, and the sound has opened up which surprised me.
I am at present considering whether to get a Concert size Pono (Cedar Top) or Kanilea.

All prices can be easily looked up at MGM on ebay, or just doing a google.

07-01-2009, 10:40 PM
haven't played many brands to pin point my favorite

Ahnko Honu
07-01-2009, 10:44 PM
KAMAKA to da max, I grew up with a Kamaka pineapple in da house, this was thee real authentic 'ukulele all others being posers. I have matured (very slightly) since, and expanded my tastes but KAMAKA and especially their Koa pineapple will be very special to me. :shaka:

07-02-2009, 12:36 AM
mainland ukes.
but it's the only uke i own! =D
i think in the future i might buy a kamaka tenor, but my mainland soprano suits me very very well.
the sound is superb, the cost is unbeatable, the rope bindings, the design of the uke. everything about it i love!
plus the service is a W:DW

i sent my mainland back to mike to get a MiSi installed on Monday, and it should be arriving back on Friday! That's five days.....!!!
Mike installed the MiSi right away and sent it it back out. now that is great service.

07-02-2009, 02:45 AM
baritone uke - Martin, hands down
tenor uke - Kamaka 8-string, awesome sound
resonator uke - Beltona blue, (Ron Phillips if you can afford a bundle)
banjo uke - BeanSprout by a country mile

07-02-2009, 03:59 AM
Koaloha Sopran. Because they got that unique sound that is right in between the "traditional hawaiian" and the "mainland" sound. To my taste Koaloha delivers the best from both worlds.:love:

07-02-2009, 04:47 AM
Tough call for me between Kanile'a and Kamaka.

The Kanile'a was my first Hawaiian made uke (my first love?) and she is a beauty. The abalone fret dots, the UV finish, and I actually like the bridge pin style bridge better - particularly with my mod of koa bridge pins. As for ease of playing, it has a super thin neck (like an electric guitar) and those pretty abalone fret dots are also on the side of the neck, for ease in playing. Sound wise it is incredibly loud and has a very beautiful traditional Hawaiian tone to it. It is light as a feather, it has a slim profile and I love "Waimea" dearly.

The Kamaka is well, a Kamaka. I completely admit I bought it because I had some Kamaka headstock envy when I only had the Kanile'a (which I still feel gets disrespected by the casual uke player - obviously nobody here on UU). Mine is a tenor, with curly koa. I really love the curl in the koa, as well as that gorgeous pearl KK inlay. I'm also a big fan of the smoky white tuners, and while it isn't (to me anyway) as pretty a finish as the UV, this satin style is certainly more traditional. Sound wise it isn't nearly as loud as my Kanile'a, and I'm still searching for the perfect strings for it. I have ordered some Kamaka strings (I know nobody likes them but I want to see it played with the strings the factory feels it should have on it). It feels a lot more solid than the Kanile'a. It is heavier, and chunkier. But I love "Pele" as well. Plus, there is something to be said for the history/tradition that you find only with Kamaka. I got so tired of people telling me, "You should have bought a Kamaka...there is only one Hawaiian manufacturer, and that is Kamaka...etc." I now see why they did. I feel like I'm playing a piece of musical history, and the tradition of the ukulele whenever I play Pele.

So which is my favorite? Tough to say. I've been playing the Kamaka almost exclusively lately (but that could be because she is the new kid on the block). I did spend a while a couple of days ago playing a song on Pele, then immediately playing it on Waimea, and so on. They are really different but I love them both - equally. I guess when I want to have flash and style (and the low g tuning) I go for the Kanile'a. When I want substance and tradition - with the High G tuning (or just want to show off the KK) I use the Kamaka.

Still I can't help but feel that the Kanile'a is my spouse, and the Kamaka is the mistress...(especially when Kristen at Kanile'a is so sweet, then I feel particularly guilty for "cheating on" Waimea the K2 in favor of Pele the HF3).

07-02-2009, 04:53 AM
Don't have a single favorite. Partial to Kamaka, KoAloha, and the Flea Market Music offerings, but some inexpensive imports from Mainland, Kamoa, and Kala have really impressed me.

As far as Hawaiian ukes go, I'd put Kamaka, KoAloha, Kanile'a, Ko'olau, and Keli'i at somewhere around the same level of construction and sound quality. Wouldn't say one is better than the others; they're just different and it all depends on what you're looking for. As much as I love my Kamaka, I wouldn't mind owning a uke from one of the others. They all rock.

Really dig Flukes and Fleas. They're not for everyone, but I like the unconventional design and the great setup right from the factory. Made in the USA is a plus too. I've knocked mine off tables and desks so many times and haven't destroyed it yet -- most of the time it even stays in tune despite a nasty impact! And, they make great drums when you hit the plastic back.

Already decided that when I can afford to get a custom uke, I'm going to Chuck Moore.

07-02-2009, 05:22 AM
Already decided that when I can afford to get a custom uke, I'm going to Chuck Moore.

Moore Bettah is my favorite "brand". Not sure if that would fall into a "brand" but it is my favorite ukulele. Because it looks soo cool, sounds amazing and is probably some of the best made ukuleles I have ever laid my hands on.

Having limited experince with differnt brands, I would pick Kanilea because of the playability. It was so smooth. I was going to have one built but choose to have Chuck build one. That said I haven't played a Kamaka, Koaloha, or anything else besides Kala, Koa Pili Koko, Stagg and Mele.

07-02-2009, 08:04 AM
I'm still working on getting this question figured out!

Give me another 30 years or so :)

07-02-2009, 08:35 AM
My favorite brands are KAMAKA, KO'OLAU and KANILE'A
Here are my reasons:
Quality / Workmanship
Made in Hawaii, USA

For entry level ukes KALA
Sound and build quality for the money.

07-02-2009, 08:53 AM
To me most of the good brands (custom builders don't count in my opinion) offer something unique and it's difficult to name one as the best. But if I must pick one, I'd probably say Kamaka. Why? Because they use a one-piece neck! :D

Seriously, having played a bunch of Hawaiian factory built ukes now, I'm of the opinion that they all have good sound quality and workmanship. You might find a particular KoAloha or Kanile'a that sounds better than a Kamaka or G-String, but you could just as easily find the exact opposite depending on the particular instrument you're playing. However, as far as I know, only Kamaka offers a one-piece neck with no stacked heel or multi-piece headstock. Maybe I'm weird, but when I look at the neck on a Kanile'a (who does not even remotely try to hide the fact that the neck at the heel and headstock is multi-piece) compared to a one-piece Kamaka neck, the Kamaka just look a lot classier. So Kamaka gets my vote. :p

By the way, I'm in no way slighting Kanile'a. I happen to rate my Kanile'a as a better instrument than my Kamaka. But here I'm just trying to comment on overall brand impression, which may or may not even make sense.

07-02-2009, 09:24 AM
I cant decide. plain and simple. haha

07-02-2009, 11:04 AM
cool, so i hear that kamaka is a favorite.

does anyone know if kamaka makes any full body mahogany? i didn't see any on their website.

07-02-2009, 12:06 PM
Ukuleles...I have found...are like Lay's potato chips...you can't eat/play just one.

Trying to pick out ONE ukulele as a favorite is like trying to determine which is the best song ever made...or who makes the best pizza.

07-02-2009, 12:07 PM
Doesn't Kamaka only make Koa ukes?

For me:

Mainland tenor and Flea soprano. Mainland because it sounds amazing and it was my first great ukulele. Also, because of their perfect customer service. And its great for instrumentals and solos. I use it for performances and my original songs only. It is on a pedestal for me.

Flea because it's so easy to play, I can take it anywhere and treat it like crap. The sound just gets me... so deep and full. Doesn't sound like a soprano at all.

I have been blessed with the opportunity the play a lot of brands too.. Including a Kamaka soprano. these are just the best. Glad I own them.

07-02-2009, 12:11 PM
haven't played many brands to pin point my favorite

07-02-2009, 08:37 PM
Kanile'a - appearance, innovation, sound, build quality...I have two and both just sing to me...

07-02-2009, 08:44 PM

My first real ukulele was a Kanilea, and I was just blown away by it. Initially I wanted a Kamaka (because...well...they're Kamaka), but the beautiful wood and sweet UV gloss finish caught my eye, and when I picked it up to play it, I loved the sound and feel. And the price was a bit lower than the Kamaka too. Totally love it.