View Full Version : Vintage KoAloha question

01-21-2010, 09:24 AM
Hi all, I know I could get the answers from the good folks at KoAloha but thought I'd post here first so all could share. I recently won this KoAloha soprano made in August 2000 on ebay. You can see pics of it here-
It has a one piece back and top, and the side is one piece of wood. Are they that way now? My newer concert and long neck pineapple both have two-piece back and tops.
It has a two piece neck but it doesn't look like the sapele necks on the two newer ukes. Could it possibly be koa?
Bridge and saddle are possibly ebony, or black plastic of some kind with an exotic name.
It does not have the one piece brace inside, separate braces for top and back.
It has an oval shaped sound hole and the white tuners (Schaller or Gotoh perhaps?) Bridge design is a little different with more room for the string knots. It appears to be strung with the black Hilo strings which I believe KoAloha used to ship them with. New Aquillas mayl go on tomorrow.
With all of these differences from the KoAlohas of today it still sounds like a KoAloha. I like it!


01-21-2010, 11:13 AM
I saw that one. Glad it went to a UU member. I hemmed and hawed for bit and when I went back to look again it had been snatched.

If I remember correctly from a past post about the various changes in Koalohas over time they were using koa necks in 2000. (I've got concerts from Feb & Apr of 2000 with koa necks). I think it was easier for them to find the larger size koa to make one piece tops back then. I'm not sure what you mean by "two piece neck". Are you talking about the heel? I believe it is an ebony saddle and I don't know anything about the bracing, but if I remember correctly they tried out the oval soundhole for only a couple of months or so before settling on the musubi shape, so you've got a Koaloha rarity there. (previous to that it was a straight up round one which are on mine.) Those are also the older Schaller tuners which they've since upgraded, though I haven't had any issues with them myself.

My own personal preference for strings would be to have a look at the Worth Clears. They're the ones that Koaloha currently endorses and I do have to say they do compliment the sound of the instrument quite well. I tried a number of others before I settled on those too. I do have to also say that for my tastes Aquilas didn't really work for me with the concerts. Koalohas tend to be naturally very bright and loud and Aquilas kind of accentuated the harsher parts of that. It wasn't a good match for me. YMMV

01-21-2010, 11:53 AM
Thanks much for the info. I've got the Worth Clears on my other KoAlohas and that's what this one will end up with. I put a used set Aquillas on and they sound alright but the Worth CL's will be better. "two piece neck" is the heel and neck are made of two different pieces of wood. The Sapele necks are one piece on my other two ukes.


01-21-2010, 12:36 PM
I actually just e-mailed Brian at KoAloha a few days ago inquiring about my own older KoAloha (a tenor from 2002 with a freakish pin bridge). He told me that they were using hand-shaped solid koa necks back in those days, so it's safe to say that yours has a koa neck as well! The fretboard and bridge on mine appear to be ebony. If not, they're a very dark rosewood with exceptionally tight grain. (I forgot to ask about this!) A single piece of wood serves as the back and sides of mine, but the top and back are bookmatched.

Ronnie Aloha
01-21-2010, 12:53 PM
Yep, the very first ones had the round sound hole then they tried out the oval one but another uke maker said that the oval was his design so the musubi sound hole came to be.

01-21-2010, 06:07 PM
Hi Jude,

I believe everyone answered most of your questions already. Just to clarify, I'll reiterate a bit.

Your ukulele is 100% Koa, including the neck. We've made a few changes since then, so the older ones with the single piece tops, backs, and sides are starting to become more popular to collectors. We still make use of single piece construction, if I can get large enough boards of koa. 90% of what we currently produce is book matched, though.

The nut and saddle are ebony, and the tuners are Schallers.

The coolest thing is the oval sound hole. We only made them for a few months, before settling on the musubi shape. I don't know how many we made, but they are certainly rare.

Thanks for the support! PM or e-mail me if you have any other questions.


01-21-2010, 11:21 PM
@Jude: Wow! That looks great. (Where the "envious" smiley at?)

@Paul: Great information. Interesting to hear how you guys come up with those lovely instruments. :)

01-21-2010, 11:45 PM
Very nice, Jude! Congrats!

01-22-2010, 02:18 AM
Thank you everyone for the information. Surprisingly there were only two other bidders. I almost didn't bid myself when I saw the oval soundhole as I really like the tone I get out of my two newer ones. Not to worry though, this one has the KoAloha tone also. I put Worth CL's on it last night and a rainy day in Appalachian Ohio is going to be spent Ukin' my life away. Namaste,

04-12-2019, 05:34 AM
I found a soprano with the oval and its on the way. I am looking forward to this early run Koaloha. I have a concert and a 2 tenors so this should complete the Family. Probably not.

04-12-2019, 09:20 AM
An interesting older thread for sure. Wonder if Koalohapaul is still here. Anyway, I also have a Nov 2000 concert and noticed that it also does not have the unibrace, which is now one of their key design features. Does anyone know when the unibrace was introduced?