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View Full Version : uke wood? which one?



shores&hammocks
07-03-2009, 01:44 PM
personally, i like all mahogany. i just really love the dark color on a sweet uke, such as kamoa. but i know that the top uke brands such as koaloha and kamaka such usually do koa. is there a difference?

what wood do you prefer for you uke? and why?
what makes the wood so much better?
what are all the types of wood for the uke out there?

thanks.

haole
07-03-2009, 01:48 PM
Once you get into the nicer ukes, there's really no best wood. They look different, feel different, and might have different sounds. Not sure if the type of wood has a huge effect on the sound, but wouldn't be surprised if it varies a bit. Some say it's a myth. I'm not one to ask. :p

I prefer the darker woods like koa and mahogany too (they just look more uke-like to me), but lately I have a thing for spalted mango. Not a huge fan of spruce tops; they look too guitar-like, even if the sound is good.

Most common woods for ukes are mahogany, koa, mango, maple, cedar, rosewood, and spruce (usually only for tops). Some builders are experimenting with local woods like myrtle, monkeypod (ohai), macadamia, and redwood.

shores&hammocks
07-03-2009, 01:57 PM
ah, i agree, the lighter color is too guitar like. at first i didn't like the color of koa because of that issue, but i'm starting to love it!

but i'm still skeptical. i hear that koa is the best wood and most preferred - why?

Ahnko Honu
07-03-2009, 02:10 PM
ah, i agree, the lighter color is too guitar like. at first i didn't like the color of koa because of that issue, but i'm starting to love it!

but i'm still skeptical. i hear that koa is the best wood and most preferred - why?

I LOVE Koa being a island boy, and raised listening to Dad's Koa Kamaka but I think there is some tradition also involved Koa being the original wood of the first 'ukuleles. Some of the best sounding 'ukulele are the old pre-war Martins made from Mahogany. The majority of my 'ukuleles are Koa but I love my Mangos, Acacia, and my newest Rosewood/ Cedar top too, all great sounding. I think you'll hear more difference solid versus laminate than Koa versus Mahogany. Sound is subjective too according to personal taste. Just get a decent quality solid wood 'ukulele and I doubt you'll be disapointed. ;)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
07-03-2009, 02:24 PM
at first i didn't like the color of koa

That's like saying you don't like the colors in the rainbow. Koa varies so much on both densities and color that you'd be hard pressed to prove that it's all the same species. The color of koa can range from light blonde to dark chocolate and everything in between and can include interesting contrasting grain patterns and "curl" as well. When it is worked properly and you have an understanding of the wood koa can yield an excellent sounding instrument. But that varies as well with the specific board used. I don't know of a wood that varies as much as koa and you simply can't treat one set of wood like another. I have bunches of koa here that I know would never make good sounding ukes. That stuff goes into the bin for future picture frames or other household projects. Sometimes it's sold as "students sets".
When you realize that the ukulele is indigenous to Hawaii (it evolved from Portugese instruments but became "ukulele" through it's influence and evolution in Hawaii) it stands to reason that the more treasured ukulele is one that will be built from koa, a tree that was pretty common here at one point. My own view is that it is chosen mostly out of tradition and (former) ease of availability here in the islands. If Hawaii was the birth place of lutes or violins we'd probably be making them out of koa as well! One thing I do know is that when people come to awaii looking to buy a uke they want a koa ukulele, not one made of zebra wood.

jkevinwolfe
07-04-2009, 02:38 AM
Big fan of solid cedar soundboards. They sound warm, balanced and typically can be relatively thin so they have a nice volume and sustain. They sound especially nice on sopranos and concerts.

I like koa for tenor soundboards, but have only played them and have never owned one. So I think wood choice can also be affected by the size of the uke in question.

seeso
07-04-2009, 03:27 AM
Here are a couple of threads you may find interesting:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=6475

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5944

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2404

Witters
07-04-2009, 03:47 AM
Big fan of solid cedar soundboards. They sound warm, balanced and typically can be relatively thin so they have a nice volume and sustain. They sound especially nice on sopranos and concerts.

I like koa for tenor soundboards, but have only played them and have never owned one. So I think wood choice can also be affected by the size of the uke in question.
I like the Cedar/Spruce tops as well.
I actually didn't care for them much a while ago, but after having played one over a short time it has really opened up and now I'm a big fan.

kailua
07-04-2009, 04:07 AM
Obviously, choice of wood is personal preference. My preference is koa for sentimental reasons, but the sound and looks are fantastic. Seeso has provided some good threads regarding this topic. Check-out Mya-Moe at: http://www.myamoeukuleles.com/standard%20wood.html. They give you pictures, decsriptions, and where the sound falls on a scale from "warmer" to "brighter". They provide this comparison for "standard woods" and "upgrade woods".

upskydowncloud
07-04-2009, 06:18 AM
personally, i like all mahogany. i just really love the dark color on a sweet uke, such as kamoa. but i know that the top uke brands such as koaloha and kamaka such usually do koa. is there a difference?

what wood do you prefer for you uke? and why?
what makes the wood so much better?
what are all the types of wood for the uke out there?

thanks.

Exactly what Chuck (Moore Bettah) said.

This is why I like koa wood (apart from the sound...):

http://www.jgr-design.com/images/kamaka/3.jpg

wickedwahine11
07-04-2009, 06:41 AM
That's like saying you don't like the colors in the rainbow. Koa varies so much on both densities and color that you'd be hard pressed to prove that it's all the same species. The color of koa can range from light blonde to dark chocolate and everything in between and can include interesting contrasting grain patterns and "curl" as well. When it is worked properly and you have an understanding of the wood koa can yield an excellent sounding instrument. But that varies as well with the specific board used. I don't know of a wood that varies as much as koa and you simply can't treat one set of wood like another. I have bunches of koa here that I know would never make good sounding ukes. That stuff goes into the bin for future picture frames or other household projects. Sometimes it's sold as "students sets".
When you realize that the ukulele is indigenous to Hawaii (it evolved from Portugese instruments but became "ukulele" through it's influence and evolution in Hawaii) it stands to reason that the more treasured ukulele is one that will be built from koa, a tree that was pretty common here at one point. My own view is that it is chosen mostly out of tradition and (former) ease of availability here in the islands. If Hawaii was the birth place of lutes or violins we'd probably be making them out of koa as well! One thing I do know is that when people come to awaii looking to buy a uke they want a koa ukulele, not one made of zebra wood.

Wow, I have nothing to add to that. Exactly what I meant to say, but in a far more eloquent and knowledgeable way...
Plus, it is just pretty...:)
http://ukuleleunderground.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=384&pictureid=2235