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View Full Version : Please Help!: Kamaka vs. Kanile'a?



chrisg14mac
08-21-2009, 02:02 AM
Please help! I am new to playing the uke, but wanted to invest in a high end tenor that I can enjoy playing (and keep in my family). I have been leaning toward a Kamaka - but many people recently have recommended Kanile'a.

Does anyone out there know of the differences? I can't find any side-by-side comparisons - and there are no dealers close to where I live.

Any advice would be appreciated!

HaileISela
08-21-2009, 02:12 AM
I would suggest you to search on the forum, since there are already lots of threads on this topic.

I think (without ever playing one) both instruments are top notch.

maybe you can find some information on this page (http://gx9901ukes.blogspot.com/2009/02/got-kamaka.html) too...

Kanaka916
08-21-2009, 04:53 AM
Mandolin Bros (http://mandolinbros.com/Search.aspx?CategoryID=21) carries Kamaka. You can also check the Ukulele Stores (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16519) listing. I can understand your dilemma. Choosing between the two really comes down to personal preference. In all honesty, I think any one of the four K's would be a great choice. Personally for a new off the wall instument, my #1 choice would probably be a KoAloha, then Kanile'a and Kamaka. If it's an older model Kamaka, that would be my #1.

The link to Ukulele Ghetto is a good one and George, who has several custom instruments gives an honest, straight up review. Have you considered ordering on-line once your choice is made?

lkdumas
08-21-2009, 05:04 AM
The experience is absolutely personal and boasts no "expertise". That said, I have owned both ukes in concert size and have no hesitation is voting for the Kanile'a. Personal reasons are that the Kanile'a has a "sweeter" sound, i.e. more resonance in that it doesn't sound "flat" like the Kamaka - to my ear, and the Kanile'a is equipped with geared tuners. Yes, you can get used to friction tuners on the Kamaka, but why go through the bother when so easily and pleasantly avoided.

Jraney
08-21-2009, 05:20 AM
I was in the same situation a while back. I ended up buying a Kanilea and it was nice, then bought a Kamaka and it was nice too, but then I stumbled upon a Koaloha and it blows the other two away.

bbycrts
08-21-2009, 05:25 AM
I have Kanile'as - two of them, soprano and concert - and I can't imagine a production uke being better. Whatever choice you make will give you a top-notch, quality ukulele that you can play forever and feel good about giving your kids some day.

sukie
08-21-2009, 05:43 AM
I'm curious as to why you aren't thinking about a KoAloha? They are gorgeous. I did have an opportunity to try out a Kamaka. I know it needed new strings, but I went away feeling that a KoAloha was a sweeter ukulele. But, I'm extremely biased. Just was wondering...

pithaya9
08-21-2009, 05:44 AM
Both Kamaka and Kanile'a are excellent choices, but you might want to give a KoAloha a shot also.

Just my biased opinion.
Jack

Dibblet
08-21-2009, 06:18 AM
I own a Kamaka and a KoAloha and I've played a Kanilea. At this level it really is down to personal choice. I can understand all the opinions above even though they seem contradictory.

The KoAloha has a unique sound. You can hear the same sound throuout the range. I can understand someone thinking that it blows the other 2 away.

I can understand someone thinking that a Kamaka sounds flat. I did myself at one time but I'm changing my mind and playing it more annd more often. It has other qualities I like. It gives more and more the harder you strum it. The KoAloha seems to max out. Kanile'a make superb instruments too.

They are all lovely but different. Buy all 3. (or4)

Kanaka916
08-21-2009, 07:26 AM
Yes, you can get used to friction tuners on the Kamaka, but why go through the bother when so easily and pleasantly avoided.
The HF-1 and HF-2 sports them (friction tuners) . . . the HF-3 does not.
http://www.gryphonstrings.com/instpix/32259/322598s.jpg http://www.gryphonstrings.com/instpix/32259/322599s.jpg

petah
08-21-2009, 07:47 AM
If you can get a vintage Kamaka then I say go for it! If not it's personal choice as said above. You can also get a cheap custom on the exchange. Personally I would go for a well kept vintage then a custom ... there's an awesome custom in the exchange right now for a give away price.... Failing the above KoAloha is the best bang for you buck. Rock solid reputation.

Also only buy one ukulele.

mikeeG7th
08-21-2009, 11:33 AM
I'm also from NYC and I agree it's difficult to check out different ukes. Check out Mandolin Brothers at Staten Island they have Kamakas and Martins. If you like to find groups of players at NYC, you can check out Fleamarketmusic.com as they have a player's group section in NYC where they do a meet-up for uke players -- maybe you can join and get a chance to see a variety of ukes.

Comparing to guitars -- Kamaka uke is like a Martin guitar to me, Kanile'a is a Taylor and Koaloha is like a Gibson Hummingbird at least to my ears. They are all greatand it's just a matter of sound preference. Even buying the same brand will give you different sounds. With Kanilea for example, I find that a darker koa versus lighter colored will not be as bright as the latter.

I agree that for a vintage or older uke, Kamaka is great. For a new uke, I like Koaloha the best. I like it loud, with great sustain and sounds like its singing with me -- that's what I get from a Koaloha. I find the Kanilea not as loud as the Koaloha (at least the one I got) and is more of a mellower and sweeter side maybe because of the darker vs. koa it has.

Good luck on your purchase.:D

haolejohn
08-21-2009, 11:42 AM
The experience is absolutely personal and boasts no "expertise". That said, I have owned both ukes in concert size and have no hesitation is voting for the Kanile'a. Personal reasons are that the Kanile'a has a "sweeter" sound, i.e. more resonance in that it doesn't sound "flat" like the Kamaka - to my ear, and the Kanile'a is equipped with geared tuners. Yes, you can get used to friction tuners on the Kamaka, but why go through the bother when so easily and pleasantly avoided.

It seems that the Kamaka that I played while visiting O'ahu had geared tuners on the tenor. i could be wrong but I never played a tenor with friction tuners.

BTW- My first choice is KoAloha then I would get 2 Meles for the price of the Kamaka.J/k(Well not really) If you want a "K" brand it has to be a KoAloha and if you don't want one of them then get which ever one you want. If you can't decide just flip a coin once you have it narrowed down to two ukes.

ed531
08-21-2009, 11:54 AM
Here's my answer your original question regarding Kamaka vs Kanilea. I'll list out my opinions on both companies.

Kamaka is the original Hawaiian Uke (like Gibson to guitars)
Kanilea is the new company (like PRS guitars, both companies started in the 90's)

Kamaka bridges are "tie bridges"
Kanilea bridges use "bridge pins"

Kamaka has a thin lacquer finish (you can see and feel the pores of the wood)
Kanilea has the ultra violet cured finish (coating is like like glass)

Both really good ukes... but like I've posted in another thread, asking us which is better is like asking us if we like pepsi or coke better :D:D

MisoHappy
08-21-2009, 01:11 PM
I'm curious as to why you aren't thinking about a KoAloha? They are gorgeous. I did have an opportunity to try out a Kamaka. I know it needed new strings, but I went away feeling that a KoAloha was a sweeter ukulele. But, I'm extremely biased. Just was wondering...

I have a KoAloha myself, it was the first serious ukulele I ever bought. To me, it was perfect in every way, except for how it looked, and how bright it is. I like a mellow, warmer tone. I thought it was a little to showy, too shiny. So again it comes down to personal preference.
My first choice would be Kamaka if I had the cash. They're the ones that gave the ukulele it's identity. I like the the feel of the dimples of the wood, and to me they just LOOK high-high ranking, while a KoAloha looks like it's trying to hard. (just a personal opinion)

But when it comes down to it, just remember that the brand, or the strings don't make the music, the player does

Lanark
08-21-2009, 01:13 PM
You're not going to go wrong. I've got a pair of Koaloha concerts which may speak to my personal preference, but we've also got (and which the lovely wife has taken as her instrument of choice) one of the concerts that Kanile'a made for Lanikai. (you can do a search. It's been covered a few times)

Kanile'a makes an instrument that has a much fuller sound than a lot of other makers. They somehow wring a lot more mid-range tones out of the wood. It's a very deep and complex sound. You don't quite get the volume out of it, but it's worth it for the tone. The neck profile is a bit wider and fatter as well.

Koaloha (as you might gather is really highly regarded around here and very rightly so.) has a really sweet bright punchy sound which really fits me. It's loud too. Their neck is shallower and thinner and plays fast.

Kamaka is Kamaka. It's what an ukulele is. They've earned their rep. Within my limited experience with Kamaka, they fall somewhere in between.

(If I were to continue with the guitar analogies that others have started, I'd say Kanile'a is more like a Les Paul, Koaloha like a Telecaster and Kamaka as a Strat in the ukulele spectrum)

chrisg14mac
08-21-2009, 02:20 PM
Thank you to everyone! Your comments are VERY helpful!

experimentjon
08-21-2009, 04:58 PM
I was in the same situation when I bought my first nice uke. I thought I wanted a Kamaka tenor, but went in the store, and tried a few of the high end ones. G String, Kanilea, KoAloha, and Kamaka. Lucky I live Hawaii. But eventually, I was swayed to get the Kanilea, one, because it's more visually appealing to me, and two, I thought it had better resonance. G string really didn't do it for me, and while the KoAloha was good, I figured I'd wait to buy a KoAloha Sceptre (still haven't yet...thank god for low UAS and cash levels.)

But really, as people have said, you can't go wrong. But one thing to keep in mind is that it is difficult to give specifics about these handmade ukes, because each one is a little bit different, and you may end up with a lemon (rare, but it happens.) And even when you play a bunch of "identical" Kamakas or Kanileas next to each other, you can hear and feel differences. So it sort of does depend on the individiual instrument you pick up too. If you read GX9901's Ukulele Ghetto blog, I think he talks about the Kamaka Tenors he played in Maui before coming to a decision, and how each of them were a little bit different.

Good luck in your search!

wickedwahine11
08-22-2009, 04:57 AM
I have both a Kanilea and a Kamaka tenor. I got the Kanilea first and I love it's sound and I am a big fan of the UV gloss they use for their finish. I also can't say enough about their customer service. But I got sick and tired of people saying to me you should have bought a Kamaka as they are the true Hawaiian ukulele manufacturer. I actually got really bitter about Kamakas in a resentful fashion. But then I started thinking about why I started playing the ukulele.

I am not Hawaiian blood and I also never lived there but my greatgrandfather left Korea to work in the fields of Hawaii before settling in California and my grandmother is laid to rest in the waters off Kauai since that is where we spent our vacations since I was a kid. I truly love and cherish Hawaii and its culture, so I wanted a ukulele made by the only standing original Hawaiian manufacturer and that is Kamaka. I also really wanted a curly koa uke since my Kanilea is straight grain. I bought it and haven't looked back. I now play it almost exclusively over the Kanilea and I actually took it with me on my Alaska cruise that I board tomorrow because I can't bear to be separated from it for ten days.

The moral of my story is that in terms of aesthetics - do you like flashy (uv coating) or traditional (Kamaka style). In terms of sound both sound great and both occasionally have duds. But if you want the tradition, the history of the uke you need to go Kamaka.

P.S. I don't mean to dismiss Koolau but I've never seen or heard one in person. And as for KoAloha they sound wonderful but I really don't care for their styling - I'm a bit more traditional. If you are a religious person though I know a lot of people like the devout nature of the KoAloha company...

molokinirum
08-22-2009, 11:12 AM
Please help! I am new to playing the uke, but wanted to invest in a high end tenor that I can enjoy playing (and keep in my family). I have been leaning toward a Kamaka - but many people recently have recommended Kanile'a.

Does anyone out there know of the differences? I can't find any side-by-side comparisons - and there are no dealers close to where I live.

Any advice would be appreciated!

I suggest a KoAloha. You should read some of the threads about KoAloha. They are in Hawaii, build a top ukulele and stand behind their ukes. I will be going to Hawaii and plan on buying a KoAloha Concert.

wickedwahine11
08-22-2009, 12:37 PM
I think it is terrific that all of you guys and girls with KoAlohas love them dearly, but the OP didn't ask about KoAloha. It was my understanding that he or she had (for whatever reasons) chosen to buy a Kamaka or Kanile'a. I initially didn't want a KoAloha (though I fully respect that is the ONLY uke for a lot of you) and if I had been the OP it would have just muddied the waters for me to have everyone telling me to get a KoAloha. EDiT: my KoAloha tenor bought two years after I posted this is now my fave tenor of the three. That being said, I still would only discuss the two ukes the OP asked about.

Just my humble opinion but I figured the advice should be what the OP asked - Kamaka or Kanile'a. Sorry I don't want to make anyone mad but I'm sure you would want brand specific advice as well. If you asked whether you should get a Koolau or KoAloha I wouldn't try to steer you towards a Kanile'a or Kamaka just because those are the brands that I prefer. I would try to help you choose from amongst the ones you had already narrowed it down to...

Anyway, it was just a thought. If you guys truly feel people should ALWAYS pick KoAloha no matter what then I stand corrected...:rolleyes:

EleoCasil
08-22-2009, 12:56 PM
Please help! I am new to playing the uke, but wanted to invest in a high end tenor that I can enjoy playing (and keep in my family). I have been leaning toward a Kamaka - but many people recently have recommended Kanile'a.

Does anyone out there know of the differences? I can't find any side-by-side comparisons - and there are no dealers close to where I live.

Any advice would be appreciated!

This is prob to late, but input is always nice. These are two of the best Ukulele's on the market. Their sound quality is amazing! But if I had to choose between the two I would have to say Kanilea. Reason being is because the makers have found a new way to coat the Ukulele. When they coat the Ukulele they use less coats on the body it self, which in turn makes the sound louder. So if you are going for a loud sound with a nice body *ey* then Kanilea is the best way to go.

If you are going for traditional Kamaka will never FAIL you!:nana:

chrisg14mac
08-23-2009, 01:00 AM
Thanks again to everyone for your comments! I can't tell you how helpful you all have been.

IN case anyone is interested, I wanted to tell you my outcome. You will probably think I am nuts, but I have decided to go with both (well, sort of).

My plan is to first purchase a new Kanile'a tenor. I am hooked on the fact there have been absolutely NO negative reviews on this instrument. Everyone raves about the sound and customer service quality - and I can't say the same thing about Kamakas. Although the number of "issues" with Kamakas have been limited (at least based on what has been reported on these forums), I would be very upset if any of those issues happened to me. Also, I heard Kamaka has not been the most responsive at resolving those issues with some people.

However, I am still in love with the tradition and look of the Kamaka. So my gameplan is to first buy the Kanile'a and after I feel like I want to expand my collection - I will look at buying a Kamaka (probably an 8-string). This will give me two very different instruments - and an excuse to tell my wife on why I need both!!

Thanks again to all of you for your help. I am relatively new to the uke community, but I am having a blast! If any of you are in the NYC area and want to discuss starting a club - or having a jam session - let me know.

Aloha

wickedwahine11
08-23-2009, 04:48 AM
IN case anyone is interested, I wanted to tell you my outcome. You will probably think I am nuts, but I have decided to go with both (well, sort of). Aloha

As the proud owner of both, I can honestly tell you that you made a great decision. Be sure to post pics when you buy it, and join the Kanile'a Club and Kamaka Klub as well...:D

Kanilea Club: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/group.php?groupid=20
Kamaka Klub: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/group.php?groupid=19

uluapoundr
08-23-2009, 05:49 AM
I think it is terrific that all of you guys and girls with KoAlohas love them dearly, but the OP didn't ask about KoAloha. It was my understanding that he or she had (for whatever reasons) chosen to buy a Kamaka or Kanile'a. I don't want a KoAloha (though I fully respect that is the ONLY uke for a lot of you) and if I had been the OP it would have just muddied the waters for me to have everyone telling me to get a KoAloha.

Just my humble opinion but I figured the advice should be what the OP asked - Kamaka or Kanile'a. Sorry I don't want to make anyone mad but I'm sure you would want brand specific advice as well. If you asked whether you should get a Koolau or KoAloha I wouldn't try to steer you towards a Kanile'a or Kamaka just because those are the brands that I prefer. I would try to help you choose from amongst the ones you had already narrowed it down to...

Anyway, it was just a thought. If you guys truly feel people should ALWAYS pick KoAloha no matter what then I stand corrected...:rolleyes:

I feel the exact same way about responses on this forum. I'm sure some of the comments are related to owner excitement for the ukulele they own, however, you are right, if the OP had narrowed it down, it's not too cool to keep chiming in how another brand uke is better. Sometimes people are anxious to post, and may not have the experience playing the ukes in question, so they post what experience they have, which unfortunately is not related to the original question.

Chrisg,
Great plan, you will not be disappointed with the Kanilea, it's a great Hawaiian ukulele. My local shop has a few in stock and I got to play them, some subtle differences. It would be good if you could have someone select one based on your personal preference if you are ordering from the internet.

haolejohn
08-23-2009, 06:17 AM
I think it is terrific that all of you guys and girls with KoAlohas love them dearly, but the OP didn't ask about KoAloha. It was my understanding that he or she had (for whatever reasons) chosen to buy a Kamaka or Kanile'a. I don't want a KoAloha (though I fully respect that is the ONLY uke for a lot of you) and if I had been the OP it would have just muddied the waters for me to have everyone telling me to get a KoAloha.

Just my humble opinion but I figured the advice should be what the OP asked - Kamaka or Kanile'a. Sorry I don't want to make anyone mad but I'm sure you would want brand specific advice as well. If you asked whether you should get a Koolau or KoAloha I wouldn't try to steer you towards a Kanile'a or Kamaka just because those are the brands that I prefer. I would try to help you choose from amongst the ones you had already narrowed it down to...

Anyway, it was just a thought. If you guys truly feel people should ALWAYS pick KoAloha no matter what then I stand corrected...:rolleyes:

I was quilty of suggesting a koaloha but I also said it was his choice. I eent back and everyone that recommended a koaloha except one mentioned the original ukes. What is wrong with thay? The OP even thanked us for our advise. IMO advice about other ukes is welcome even if I have my mind made up. It is informative. The OP originally wanted a kamaka but because of advice from others they went with a Kanilea. Just my thinking and that is all I have to say about that.

BTW I am not mad, upset or disappointed with you or anyone.

Lanark
08-23-2009, 06:41 AM
I personally don't see a problem with pointing out another suitable alternative choice in a thread like this. A Koaloha is entirely of the same caliber and price point as the ones initially proposed in the thread and frankly when I am making a pricey decision like that I would like to know what all my options may be. It's not like people were suggesting toaster ovens or golf clubs. And any time you bring up any of the K's, the others are bound to come up as well. They're inextricably linked in most minds.

Plus I'd certainly hate to have an alternative I hadn't originally considered of not mentioned because of a technicality in how I phrased my question.

petah
08-23-2009, 06:45 AM
This should be mentioned for the OP. KoAloha's DO not have a traditional sound. They are very bright. Just thought I should mention it.

Kanaka916
08-23-2009, 07:16 AM
I was the first one to mention KoAloha saying it would be my #1 choice for an off the shelf instrument and if it's an older model Kamaka, I would pick that instead. Regardless of what was suggested, the OP responded with the following

Thank you to everyone! Your comments are VERY helpful!


This should be mentioned for the OP. KoAloha's DO not have a traditional sound. They are very bright. Just thought I should mention it.
I'm curious, what would be the definition of "traditional sound'?

E-Lo Roberts
08-24-2009, 03:33 AM
The KoAloha seems to max out.

That's a great way to describe my Gstring tenor. Maxed out if pushed too hard. Sweet sounding when played lightly but....e.lo..

sukie
08-24-2009, 04:41 AM
I meant no disrespect by mentioning KoAloha. I was actually just really curious as to why O.P. wasn't thinking of them also. Whatever he wants is okay with me. We can't help it if we are devoted fans of the other "K".:)

petah
08-24-2009, 07:39 AM
To my uneducated ear:
-The sounds maxes out when you play it hard.
-It's very bright ( like a Bruko )
- it seems a tad thin sounding when compared to a martin or kamaka (new and old).
I am not suggesting these are bad things. This is just my personal observation from playing all of them ... (right now)
I will also mention that I LOVE complex mellow tones.

When I say traditional I mean that the majority of the rest of the world (ukers and non ukers) would agree: Martin=traditional sound


I was the first one to mention KoAloha saying it would be my #1 choice for an off the shelf instrument and if it's an older model Kamaka, I would pick that instead. Regardless of what was suggested, the OP responded with the following



I'm curious, what would be the definition of "traditional sound'?

Lanark
08-24-2009, 10:18 AM
When I say traditional I mean that the majority of the rest of the world (ukers and non ukers) would agree: Martin=traditional sound

Because nothing quite defines the sound of a "traditional" Hawaiian ukulele quite like a mahogany instrument made in Nazareth, Pennsylvania...:p

(and I'd also hazard that even if the majority of the rest of the world did actually agree with you that they might in fact be incorrect in their assumption.)

petah
08-24-2009, 11:01 AM
(and I'd also hazard that even if the majority of the rest of the world did actually agree with you that they might in fact be incorrect in their assumption.)

Majority rule is in effect ;)

( that's why they are rather expensive )

experimentjon
12-23-2009, 11:54 AM
Because nothing quite defines the sound of a "traditional" Hawaiian ukulele quite like a mahogany instrument made in Nazareth, Pennsylvania...:p

Hate to bring this back from the dead, but I just read that and LOLed. :D

CoLmes
12-23-2009, 12:27 PM
Because nothing quite defines the sound of a "traditional" Hawaiian ukulele quite like a mahogany instrument made in Nazareth, Pennsylvania...:p



Hey I'm originally from Nazareth Pa! :mad:

LOL I'm not a martin uke fan though, def. the place to get a guitar though...

Once got talked into buying martin uke strings because I didn't know any better.. those things literally lasted on my uke for an hour.

experimentjon
12-23-2009, 04:52 PM
Once got talked into buying martin uke strings because I didn't know any better.. those things literally lasted on my uke for an hour.

Martin guitar strings are no better.

kaipo13
12-23-2009, 06:04 PM
Out of Koaloha, Kaniela and Kamaka; I'd have to go with Kamaka hands down. Not to say there aren't bad examples of any brand, but after having tried several of each of the three brands, Kamaka stands out above the other two. I'll stick to my Sonny D though, if you're throwing his ukes into the mix as well. But hey, that's just my biased opinion.

GreyPoupon
12-23-2009, 08:01 PM
Just reading through this thread completely exacerbated my desire to purchase more ukes. I am now convinced that I need to own one of each K so I too can discuss with authority the virtue of each make... most focus on children's college fund....

But I would add that in highest realm of ukuleles- there is a 5th 'K' : Kiwaya! Yeah, they're not Hawaiian, but they're great!

KoloheBoy
12-24-2009, 08:27 PM
kanilea!!!!!!!!

dakamaainahaole
03-24-2012, 01:18 AM
... I am now convinced that I need to own one of each K so I too can discuss with authority the virtue of each make... most focus on children's college fund....

YUPZ, just revived this thread, but im in the same boat... i'm slowly convincing myself to order one 6-string Kanile'a Tenor... da bugga going cost like $1300 or so though, but the demo videos ive watched are MEAN!!!! buuuuut, it'll be a huge step up from my beautiful. Lanikai NK-C.... besides i already KNOW i'll own one (at least) Kamaka like my mom... but i'd like to pick up my Kamaka stright from the factory... or IN hawaii at least.

K den, if anyone like talk story on the subject further then get me!

dakamaainahaole
03-27-2012, 09:38 PM
now im considering just ordering a Kamaka HF-36... might as well right? BUT i like get one with a pickup... or have one put on, which leads to my next question... Kamaka vs Kanile'a - w/ pickups?

Plainsong
03-28-2012, 03:28 AM
YUPZ, just revived this thread, but im in the same boat... i'm slowly convincing myself to order one 6-string Kanile'a Tenor... da bugga going cost like $1300 or so though, but the demo videos ive watched are MEAN!!!! buuuuut, it'll be a huge step up from my beautiful. Lanikai NK-C.... besides i already KNOW i'll own one (at least) Kamaka like my mom... but i'd like to pick up my Kamaka stright from the factory... or IN hawaii at least.

K den, if anyone like talk story on the subject further then get me!

Out of curiosity, do you mean a 6 string tenor, or the guitalele with the huge wide neck, strung like a guitar with a capo on the 5th fret?

Kanaka916
03-28-2012, 03:44 AM
now im considering just ordering a Kamaka HF-36... might as well right? BUT i like get one with a pickup... or have one put on, which leads to my next question... Kamaka vs Kanile'a - w/ pickups?
Brah, both goin sound good jus one matta which one you like mo . . . visually, the Kanile'a win dat one if you get gloss finish. Das my opinion. As far as one pick up, you can get 'um installed fo l'il bit mo from either Kamaka or Kanile'a. Not shua if you can ask fo one paticulah UST like Mi-Si or LR Baggs Five-O.

SCDavidKim
04-16-2012, 02:41 AM
I had this dilemma. Because I live in Australia and I would have to order from Hawaii, decided to go with a KoAloha rather than a Kamaka because of the Customer service issues.

kirbo
04-16-2012, 05:26 AM
Just reading through this thread completely exacerbated my desire to purchase more ukes. I am now convinced that I need to own one of each K so I too can discuss with authority the virtue of each make... most focus on children's college fund....


I feel exactly the same way. If I could only get the wife to see things my way...

mandrew
04-16-2012, 11:14 AM
You cannot go wrong with either, but I would strongly suggest that you look at Ko'olau also! Call the folks at HMS and ask about them. . . you will get a pleasant earful!

PoshUkes
01-18-2013, 09:00 AM
Just reading through this thread completely exacerbated my desire to purchase more ukes. I am now convinced that I need to own one of each K so I too can discuss with authority the virtue of each make... most focus on children's college fund....

But I would add that in highest realm of ukuleles- there is a 5th 'K' : Kiwaya! Yeah, they're not Hawaiian, but they're great!

new to this site, I also am having this dilemma.
very useful having Koaloha thrown into the mix and a big yes to Kiwaya, they are lovely.
thanks all of you

Cooper Black
01-18-2013, 10:04 AM
I settled on a Kanile'a Concert in their Satin Finish which is hand-rubbed and thinner than the standard UV (but please correct me if I'm wrong). The warm mellow tone stood out to me. I take this uke to jam parties and have never "max'ed out" the top. It is quite loud, but always mellow (and that can work against you I'll admit).

More recently, I purchased a KoAlana Concert uke from HMS (big thanks!). OK, it's not a KoAloha and it's not even Koa. What I'm getting at is this...


I'm curious, what would be the definition of "traditional sound'?

For me personally, that sound is Gabby Pahinui. I don't honestly know what make/model he played (always think 12-string guitar really), but I hear his sound when I play the KoAlana. It is my Go-To uke.

Of course, I could give a dozen more reason why the Kanile'a is a "better" uke, but...

iDavid
01-18-2013, 12:51 PM
I don't think KoAloha's max out that easy. My KoAloha concert is louder than my Kanile'a tenor. I went to Hawaii this summer and played a huge amount of ukes. The KoAloha's stand out with a bright but warm tone, almost electric. I still love the Kanile'a tone.

On a side note, I went to the KoAloha factory and it was a unbelievable experience.hose guys are the salt of the Earth.

Kamanaaloha
01-18-2013, 01:17 PM
Please help! I am new to playing the uke, but wanted to invest in a high end tenor that I can enjoy playing (and keep in my family). I have been leaning toward a Kamaka - but many people recently have recommended Kanile'a.

Does anyone out there know of the differences? I can't find any side-by-side comparisons - and there are no dealers close to where I live.

Any advice would be appreciated!

I own both...

The one you should get is a Kamaka HF-3L (LONG NECK Tenor) IT IS MY FAVORITE INSTURMENT...it has a 19 inch Fret which is 2 inches longer than a standard tenor but 1 inch shorter than a Baritone HF-4! THEY ARE VERY RARE...GRYPHON AND HMS have them from time to time...YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED! AND IT WILL BE A SPECIAL FAMILY INSTRUMENT FOREVER!!!

dakamaainahaole
03-04-2013, 01:13 PM
Out of curiosity, do you mean a 6 string tenor, or the guitalele with the huge wide neck, strung like a guitar with a capo on the 5th fret?

Sorry for late response cuz... was deployed at the time, never see da post! But ya, was talking bout the 6 string tenor.

dakamaainahaole
03-04-2013, 01:33 PM
In response to the original thread question, to any that may still come across this thread, it ALL comes down to one thing:

Do you want CLASSIC or do you want "more" with modern acoustic, revolutionized teachnology???

What i mean is with ANY respectable acoustic instrument brand you're going to get good or better quality. Kamaka being "the best" is a matter of opinion based on what sound YOU like. Kamaka is still in business as the oldest surviving name-brand of 'ukulele and will forever have a name in the world of luthiers, but Kamaka ALSO is known for its classic, BRIGHT, rich sound. Kamaka's signature sound is simple and in Hawai'i, "mo simple mo betta" (like postcards of paradise with nothing but a beach, water, and a palm tree). Kamaka is pretty much TRADITIONAL uke for TRADITIONAL sound BUT watch brodda Jake Shimabakuro on youtube and you'll see some inspiring moves, and he plays Kamaka.

Kanile'a, on the other hand, seems to pride itself on its "technology" that's incorporated into its product like strenghtening rods and vibration carry-overs (see the official website for specifics on what i mean). The one I own is very warm, louder, and has a fuller spectrum HOWEVER will take a LONG time to become a household name like a Kamaka.

Kamaka, due to its fame, also isn't going to make getting back you a priority yet uncle (Mr.) Souza of Kanile'a will get back to you almost immediately. Get plenny aloha, dat guy : )

Along with new and innovating ideas on how to improve tonal quality amongst all crafters comes new ideas and trial-n-errors. I myself, have a few ideas for new uke designs that i'd like to also try, JUST to see what'll happen. CREATION via experimentation is beautiful, and so can be the sounds you make no matter which ukes you go with.

MAHALOZ fo reading! ::tear-tear:: na na na lol

dakamaainahaole
03-04-2013, 01:49 PM
Probly not my friend, that's why my disclaimer was
In response to the original thread question, to any that may still come across this thread... ...I'd say that cover'd my 6 :cool:

mm stan
03-04-2013, 03:38 PM
I just want to say....to a certain extent....you cannot go my names and have to choose your ukes individually by their voice....unless you're a headstock shopper
I've got all the K brands and certain ones call out to me more way than others... and each for their different strong points....

Nickie
03-04-2013, 04:41 PM
Throwing another brand into the mix sure makes it interesting, if not complicated...but that's shopping for ya!

BArring my ability to afford a K brand, what do you all think would make a good choice for me...been playing a Kala for a year + that I absolutley adore, but am thinking of something a little nicer...

darn uas...

dakamaainahaole
03-04-2013, 05:03 PM
i, personally, have mixed opinions on Kala. (generally) Great starter ukes, but otherwise cheap to me (not as cheap as touristy ABC store ukes obviously) but HOWEVER (exception) there are some Kala ukes that sound GREAT that ive heard, esp the ones with the top being made of a lighter wood, really rings, even the thin travel one they have is great. Seems if youre gonna move up from a Kala then youre either gonna pay for some fancy abalone or rope purfling OR you re dishin out the money for a "K-brand" or a uke in the same class of quality.

So, only way to tell which one to get if you want to spend $1K(approx) or better and get your money's worth is to honestly go store to store and try em all out... play em and pay particular attention to how it feels and playability.. ALL up n down the board. Then i suggest asking the store associates if they know how to play... If youre lucky and someone there can play, hopefully they play better than you so you can hear the ukes you'd like to hear more of from a different perspective, as well as see some of its potential. happy hunting

bearbike137
03-05-2013, 03:56 AM
So, only way to tell which one to get if you want to spend $1K(approx) or better and get your money's worth is to honestly go store to store and try em all out...

Ding! We have a winner.

I visited Hix Bros last week and played 4 -5 Kanilea Tenors they had in stock (koa), and no two sounded the same. Actually the variability in tone and volume was quite striking.

dakamaainahaole
03-05-2013, 06:02 AM
... and no two sounded the same. Actually the variability in tone and volume was quite striking.

It's amazing isn't it? Only way i see a company mass-manufacturing ukes with the SAME sound in every product is using the exact same material everytime, something copyable like plastic... and we KNOW how that would sound.... :wallbash:

BIGDB
03-05-2013, 06:08 AM
I personally like kanilea more but it all depends on what you like more so I'd suggest you try and play a few

stevepetergal
03-05-2013, 06:37 AM
After playing dozens of Kamakas and owning two Kanile'as my observations: The Kanile'as are great eye candy, the Kamakas not so much. The Kamakas are bright sounding and capable of playing forte, the Kanile'as not much (but they do have lots of color to the sound). Kanilea has the wider neck and (at least in the concert) a very slightly longer scale length. Kamakas have better intonation.
Personally, neither is my favorite of the Big K builders, but these are the differences I've found, consistently.

Good luck to you.

Slingblab
03-05-2013, 01:46 PM
After playing dozens of Kamakas and owning two Kanile'as,
<chomp - my edit>
neither is my favorite of the Big K builders,

Good luck to you.

I know, I know.. but, I'm curious which K is and why?

Kamanaaloha
03-05-2013, 02:42 PM
I have the "K"s except for the Ko'olau...which is my next target...likely. It is very true about the brands...each has their distinctive style/sound...but depending on the wood and the variability in production potential, you should try before you buy. The right ukulele will speak to you...or you can rely on the ears of HMS which have not disappointed me yet! Visit if you can...or demo if you can...or get help...

My KoAloha is the least played...as it is clearly different and would be noticeable by my kids and wife and I would get sooo busted :-P

I love my HF-2L! It was my original purchased ukulele...and it is so great with the tenor neck, imho...love that ukulele...as I do will all my others...just like my kids...i love dem lots but each is different!

molokinirum
03-06-2013, 06:13 AM
I have both Kamaka and Kanile'a. I like the Kamaka better than Kanile'a (slightly) as I am a bit of a traditionalist in looks and sound. However, you will not go wrong with either. Oh yes, Kanile'a does have a slightly wider neck, but it is no big deal!!

lookingforcurly
03-06-2013, 11:50 AM
I think it is safe to say that probably no other music instrument brand (including Martin, Taylor, Gibson) has a more loyal following than Kamaka, Kanile'a, and KoAloha; and you simply cannot go wrong with any of them.

Stevelele
03-06-2013, 12:13 PM
I find it really tough to generalize about these brands, because the ukes I've played from either brand can sound so different. I think this is inevitable when you're dealing with hand made instruments and you have so many people in the process. So then it just comes down to averaging it out. I have probably tried out maybe 8 Kamakas in the last few years and probably 4 or 5 Kanileas. From what I could remember, the Kamakas seemed to have a brighter and punchier sound on average, and the Kanileas were somewhat more mellow. Although the Kanileas easily look better, I prefer the sound of the Kamaka on average. Now if you are taking into consideration the vintage Kamakas and the older Kanileas, then forget about it--there is way too much variation to make a proper comparison.