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View Full Version : Koa and Mahogany?



iDavid
11-28-2009, 02:16 PM
Trying to pick out a wood for a tenor uke. I am thinking of Mele.

I've listen to TONS of youtube videos and can't see a clear winner.

I think the stings are changing the tone the most, at least that's what I hear.

Do you guys just go for a variety of woods?

Do the Mele-guys on this forum prefer one wood over another on their Meles?

Also looking at a Red-cedar mainland concert, but that's another story ;)

haolejohn
11-28-2009, 06:43 PM
Mele makes a cedar top as well. I no loner own a mahghany ukulele and I am sorely missing it. My favorite Mele that I ever owned was the koa top mahghany back and sides. I really like mahghany and I know that my next uke will be mahghany. Unless I got a KoAloha tenor with the crown bridge. I have owned three mahghany meles and all three were very loud. They were also older. My koa mele sounds pretty good as well. Here is a video comparison that I did with two of mine.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi4r-y979ro

iDavid
11-28-2009, 07:02 PM
did you like the koa top better than that all Mahogany?

haolejohn
11-28-2009, 07:11 PM
In the video it was a solid koa vs a koa top. I'm no expert but to me the sound isn't that much different between koa and mahghany. Koa might be a little brighter but having the koa top mahghany blend I got a different sound than my solid mahghany uke and my solid koa uke. Plus the koa top was prettier to look at vs the solid mahghany. The double puka was my first solid koa ukulele. I now own 4 solid koa ukes. The koa top was my first koa instrument. I want a mahghany uke next and it'll be a mele. I guess Mahghany has a fuller warmer sound. Maybe deeper if that makes sense.

Lori
11-28-2009, 07:26 PM
When I was in Maui, I visited the Mele factory store. I was very impressed with their ukuleles, and both the koa and the mahogany sounded really good. I liked the sound of the mahogany one just a little more than the koa, but it was pretty close. It is really sort of a personal preference. The koa can be more dramatic looking, which is cool too. See if they can play different ones over the phone to you. You really should hear the instrument before you choose for yourself. I know phones might not have the best microphones, but, maybe you will be able to pick up subtle differences between instruments.

–Lori

ukantor
11-28-2009, 11:20 PM
In my humble(?) opinion, choosing a uke, or a type of uke, from videos or recordings can be very misleading. So much depends upon the recording technique, the play-back system, and other factors not coming from the uke.

Two ukes recorded one after the other using exactly the same set up, may help you choose one over the other, but even then, I would be very wary.

Listening to a recording is not much like listening to the real thing, in person. I grew up seeing movies and other images of Niagara Falls. It was extremely familiar to me. Then I went there, and the experience was overwhelming. I've never visited the Grand Canyon, but I know what it looks like on a screen. Is that the same as seeing it live? Would you rather experience a real flower, or is a photograph enough for you?

John Colter.

iDavid
11-28-2009, 11:38 PM
In my humble(?) opinion, choosing a uke, or a type of uke, from videos or recordings can be very misleading. So much depends upon the recording technique, the play-back system, and other factors not coming from the uke.

Two ukes recorded one after the other using exactly the same set up, may help you choose one over the other, but even then, I would be very wary.

Listening to a recording is not much like listening to the real thing, in person. I grew up seeing movies and other images of Niagara Falls. It was extremely familiar to me. Then I went there, and the experience was overwhelming. I've never visited the Grand Canyon, but I know what it looks like on a screen. Is that the same as seeing it live? Would you rather experience a real flower, or is a photograph enough for you?

John Colter.

EXACTLY

so which one....

Mahogany

Koa

Mahogany with Koa top?

phanzo
11-28-2009, 11:57 PM
That Mahogany with Koa top sounds glorious. I love the Mellow features that Mahog brings and that Koa is beautiful. It's hard to purchase a uke without being able to play it first IMO, but Johns video is a pretty good example of what you'd be getting. Granted the double puka probably sounds a bit different than a standard Koa Tenor (for better or for worse, it will be different). I would go with the Koa Top, Mahog B&S...just my :2cents:

ukantor
11-28-2009, 11:59 PM
Best I can offer is that - in general - mahogany sounds more mellow than koa, and koa sounds brighter than mahogany. Which quality do you prefer in a uke?

Having said that, I must agree that "general" comments can also be misleading. I'm mainly a soprano uke person, but the nicest tenor I have tried was a KoAloha - all koa.

John Colter.

Pippin
11-29-2009, 12:00 AM
David, I think John Colter's advice is to somehow arrange to decide which ukulele to buy after hearing and playing them in the flesh, so to speak. One great way of doing that is to meet with a club in your area and perhaps play some ukes of the ones you are considering, or at least hear them. The other possibility is to decide what sort of tone you want and talk with MusicGuyMic about that. Mike's recommendations are really good and his service is first-rate.

ukantor
11-29-2009, 01:24 AM
S'right, Pippin.

FWIW, I preferred the sound of the twin holed uke in John's video, even though it was going out of tune as he played it (nothing wrong there - just new strings). However, for the first uke he was sitting, and for the second he played standing. The way you hold a uke can change the way it sounds, and the relationship to the mic. was different, so not strictly comparable.

Interestingly, Pete Howlett recently posted two videos of new tenor ukes he had just completed. Both had solid koa bodies, but different wood for the necks and some other details. They sounded very different to my ears, and I suspect that was mainly the character of the individual wood. Same type of wood for the bodies, but from a different tree, grown in a different part of the Hawaiian Islands.

There are no easy answers.

John Colter.

iDavid
11-29-2009, 01:59 AM
David, I think John Colter's advice is to somehow arrange to decide which ukulele to buy after hearing and playing them in the flesh, so to speak. One great way of doing that is to meet with a club in your area and perhaps play some ukes of the ones you are considering, or at least hear them. The other possibility is to decide what sort of tone you want and talk with MusicGuyMic about that. Mike's recommendations are really good and his service is first-rate.


I live in Northern Japan and there are not a whole lot of ukes around here. Well, there isn't a whole lot of music stores in general. At least I don't know of many.

hence, the quest for advice...

phone is an option

haolejohn
11-29-2009, 08:21 AM
I understand your dilema. When I bought the koa top I couldn't decide. I finally had cheryl play for me over phone but I couldn't tell a difference. Luckily I had played other meles and been in their store so I knew I was getting a good uke. I just had to trust cheryl. Mgm as well as most other uke dealers like ukerepublic are good resources. But they have their brands they sale and if your not interested in one of their brands why bother? The double puka also had low g strings. I like the koa top mahghany back and sides. I also liked the all mahghany ass weell as the solid koa. IMO you can't go wrong with any of the meles. I made my decision based on price. Take that into consideration.

molokinirum
11-29-2009, 03:34 PM
Wow what a problem....Koa or Mahogany!!!! For me I went with Koa for my first one, it is a true Hawaiian wood and is now getting more expensive. There is a ton of Mahogany wood around. Can always get a Mahogany uke later when the UAS sets in, if it has not done so already!!!:)
Good luck with how you decide!!!!

iDavid
11-29-2009, 03:49 PM
Wow what a problem....Koa or Mahogany!!!! For me I went with Koa for my first one, it is a true Hawaiian wood and is now getting more expensive. There is a ton of Mahogany wood around. Can always get a Mahogany uke later when the UAS sets in, if it has not done so already!!!:)
Good luck with how you decide!!!!


That is a very good point!

I have a Mahogany baritone Pono and love the tone

haolejohn
11-29-2009, 04:45 PM
That is a very good point!

I have a Mahogany baritone Pono and love the tone

That's settled. If u already have a mahghany get either the koa/nahghany blend or the solid koa.

iDavid
11-29-2009, 06:42 PM
That's settled. If u already have a mahghany get either the koa/nahghany blend or the solid koa.


I just got a really good price on a Pono Spruce top and Mahogany back and side.... TOO many Options... fun fun fun

Why are you missing mahogany so much?

Koa

kOa

koA

sounds pretty cool....

haolejohn
11-29-2009, 07:04 PM
I just got a really good price on a Pono Spruce top and Mahogany back and side.... TOO many Options... fun fun fun

Why are you missing mahogany so much?

Koa

kOa

koA

sounds pretty cool....

Mahghany has a better sound imo. Ponos are nice but they aren't mele quality. I've owned both and felt my meles were made better. Pono just has more options and they went through a bad quality spell there but apparently that is now taken care of.

thejumpingflea
11-29-2009, 07:31 PM
The brand of an instrument makes a bigger difference in the sound than the woods used.

haolejohn
11-29-2009, 07:34 PM
The brand of an instrument makes a bigger difference in the sound than the woods used.

That is so true. My koalohas sound better than my meles and all are made of koa. Even within a brand you get different sounds.

Dino
11-29-2009, 10:21 PM
I live in Northern Japan and there are not a whole lot of ukes around here. Well, there isn't a whole lot of music stores in general. At least I don't know of many.

hence, the quest for advice...

phone is an option

Hey iDavid,
go visit and start an email conversation with Michael aka Musicguymic on ebay. He lives in Kaneohe Hawaii. 100% positive feedback. Deals with all makes of Ukulele. Tell him what you are looking for and he will set you up with something nice. Tell him UU sent ya. Dino

iDavid
11-29-2009, 11:30 PM
Mahghany has a better sound imo. Ponos are nice but they aren't mele quality. I've owned both and felt my meles were made better. Pono just has more options and they went through a bad quality spell there but apparently that is now taken care of.

putting looks and rare wood aside, based on sound alone, in a Mele would you go for the koa top or all hog?

what grade do you teach?

I teach 4th grade, btw

Dino
11-29-2009, 11:36 PM
Do you have a chance to play with either? Bsically, its going to come down to you. What sounds good to you is all that matters. If "I" had to pick without even getting to play them, I would go with Koa, but for or all we know (or rather you), the Mahoganny one could sound better. A lot of things go into buildling an ukulele. Each wood has its own personality, each wood acts differently when you finish it, all kinds of issues comes to mind, so try em if you can. If not, again, sight unseen, untouched, I would go Koa.