View Full Version : Koohlau mahogany and 'ulawood

11-02-2009, 08:42 PM
Anybody tried these woods in a Koohlau uke?

I'm finding I like mahogany more than koa, and the 'ulawood is supposed to be like mahogany, so I'm curious.

There are many decent mahogany ukes out there so I'm wondering if the Koohlau touch makes a big difference in mahogany vs. koa.

11-03-2009, 01:49 AM
I briefly played a Ko'olau Tenor made of ula a couple months ago. I honestly can't remember ever playing a solid Mahogany uke so I can't really compare. I would say if you are getting a Ko'olau it is a fine instrument. The one I played was nice.

If you happen to be around Tempe AZ you could try one out yourself at Acoustic Vibes and compare it to alot of awsome instruments.

Ukulele Dude
11-03-2009, 05:09 AM
OMG man, there's a store in Tempe that stocks Ko'olaus, Koalohas and Kanileas...How did I miss that?!

My UAS just took a horrific turn for the worse.

I think I'm going there today for lunch, so I might be able to give you my opinion on that Ulawood later.

Ukulele Dude
11-03-2009, 08:32 AM
I just visited Acoustic Vibe in Tempe and all I can say is WOW. It’s like a whole new world has opened up. I had no idea there was a place in the Phoenix area with this kind of selection of ukes. Very friendly, helpful staff too.

They currently have in stock various ukes by Kanilea, Collings, Santa Cruz, Ko’olau, Copass Rose, Koaloha, Maui Music, National Reso, Pono.

I played several incredible ukes. The ulawood Ko’olau did not impress me that much. It is nicely built, but to me the sound was a little lacking in fullness and/or low end. But it was not that bad, and it had Ko’olau gold strings, high-g….not my favorites. So maybe I would have liked it more with low g.

I also played a Collings Mahogany tenor (also high g) which I liked very much. Could be my Christmas present this year. If I was choosing between that and the ulawood, it would be no contest. Mahogany Collings.

I was also impressed by a Kanilea super tenor that they had there. Beautiful koa and a very nice mellow sound, almost baritone-like. Makes sense I guess.

But the uke that blew me away was a walnut and spruce tenor by Compass Rose. I think it is pictured on Acoustic Vibe’s website. The uke is absolutely gorgeous with a dark sunburst finish, and the sound is amazing. Very full, rich sound with good highs and lows and perfect intonation. I don’t think I’ve ever played a walnut or solid spruce uke; what a combination!

The Santa Cruz ukes are beautiful as well, and sound good too. But they’re concerts and I didn’t play them too much.

If you’re in the area don’t miss the chance to visit this store.

11-03-2009, 08:46 AM
If you’re in the area don’t miss the chance to visit this store.

I spent about an hour or hour and a half there while passing through. The owner was a real cool guy too. I think my favorite was the 6 string Koaloha Black label he had. I didn't like 6 strings but man that sthing was amazing.

Ahnko Honu
11-03-2009, 08:54 AM
'Ula (red) wood is known as Toon in it's native Australia and has beautiful grain and color. I think it's great when luthiers experiment using lesser known (for luthiary use) woods like Toon. Few years ago nobody thought of using Mango as a wood for 'ukulele making, now it's one of the most popular. Acacia too is a new kid on the block which is catching on which gives the more traditional Koa and Mahogany a little less pressure. I'd like to see Kiawe aka Mesquite used more for fretboards giving endangered Ebony and Rosewood a break.

Rick Turner
11-04-2009, 02:43 PM
Toon or tun is "Cedrela toona" and is virtually the same as "Spanish cedar". In India, it is the preferred timber for sitar tops, so there's a long history of using it in stringed instruments. It's also the traditional cigar box wood. I've used it in some of my "Build a Uke in Four Days" pineapple soprano bodies, and it's wonderful stuff. It's also been used by CF Martin and classical builders for necks.

11-04-2009, 11:02 PM
I got this reply from John at Koohlau:

And 'ulawood is now on my list of excellent tone
woods. Very similar to mahogany as to warmth and balance in trebles and
bass, 'ulawood seems more open and vibrant. I believe it will become an
important instrument wood as people become more accepting

I think I'll go with one of these next time. I already have a couple mahogany ukes, and I like the idea of hearing different woods (in a quality instrument, yet!)