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jazzbo
01-28-2010, 12:03 PM
I assume this means a brand beginning with the letter K, simple enough. But if that's so, what sets them apart from other Ukes and does it have to do with the country of origin?

Here's a list from Wikipedia, are these the highly desirable K-Brands?

Thanks in advance, Jazbo

K
Kala Brand Music Co.
Kamaka Ukulele [3]
Kanile‘a ‘Ukulele
Kawika ‘Ukulele
Kelii (Keilani for non-Koa ukuleles)
Kiwaya
Chris Knutsen
KoAloha ‘Ukulele
Ko‘olau ‘Ukulele
Kohala (by Lanikai) Ukulele [4]
Koyama Ukulele [5]
Kumalae (one of the first Hawaiian uke makers)

wickedwahine11
01-28-2010, 12:17 PM
There are a number of K brands but when the term is used it usually refers to one of the big four K brands - Kamaka, KoAloha, Kanile'a or Ko'olau. They are each high quality, expensive and made in Hawaii. Each of them has their fans and while they are all very reputable they are also very different. Kamaka is the only original Hawaiian manufacturer still standing almost 100 years now. KoAloha is very innovative and they are known for the volume and tone of their instruments. Kanilea uses an impressive sound bracing system and has a very cool UV gloss that no other factory uses.

pithaya9
01-28-2010, 01:03 PM
What the wickedwahine said if you look at her sig she owns 3 of the 4 different K brands.

bbycrts
01-28-2010, 02:21 PM
Some people will include Kelii in the list, and I kind of consider G-string to be an honorary K (quality, Hawaiian-made).

Tigeralum2001
01-28-2010, 02:38 PM
Some people will include Kelii in the list, and I kind of consider G-string to be an honorary K (quality, Hawaiian-made).
If you're doing that, what about Moore Bettah? Does Big Island count... probably not 'cause they offshore manufacturing.

Kanaka916
01-28-2010, 02:54 PM
I assume this means a brand beginning with the letter K, simple enough. But if that's so, what sets them apart from other Ukes and does it have to do with the country of origin?

Here's a list from Wikipedia, are these the highly desirable K-Brands?

Thanks in advance, Jazbo

K
Kala Brand Music Co.
Kamaka Ukulele [3]
Kanile‘a ‘Ukulele
Kawika ‘Ukulele
Kelii (Keilani for non-Koa ukuleles)
Kiwaya
Chris Knutsen
KoAloha ‘Ukulele
Ko‘olau ‘Ukulele
Kohala (by Lanikai) Ukulele [4]
Koyama Ukulele [5]
Kumalae (one of the first Hawaiian uke makers)

From the list, the four K's we normally refer to are Kamaka, Kanile'a, KoAloha and Ko'olau. These are hand crafted instruments and has gained world wide reputations. Kamaka is a family run business and has been building instruments since 1916. Ko'olau (http://www.koolauukulele.com/) is another family business that started in 1979 as Kitakis Stringed Instruments. Kanile'a was formed in 1998 by Joe and Kristen Souza and located in Kaneohe on the island of Oahu. KoAloha is another builder established in 1995 and ran by the Okami family. There are dozens of luthiers/builders (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?16211-808-Builders) in the State of Hawai'i.

David Hurd is the luthier for Kawika (http://www.ukuleles.com/) and has retired from active building. Keli'i (the 5th K) Ukuleles are built by KC Moore and contact info can be found here (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?16211-808-Builders). Jonah Kumalae started building ukes in 1915 when he presented them at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco.

As you know, the instrument was brought over by the Portuguese in 1879. Manuel Nunes, Jose do Espirito Santo and Augusto Dias were the very first ukulele luthiers. They transformed the Madeiran machete, a four stringed instrument into the 'Ukulele.

bbycrts
01-28-2010, 04:17 PM
If you're doing that, what about Moore Bettah? Does Big Island count... probably not 'cause they offshore manufacturing.
Chuck's a custom builder - in another class altogether. The K builders are "hand-built, factory" ukes - not mass produced, to be sure, but not custom instruments, either (though some of them do customs).

Kanaka916
01-28-2010, 04:50 PM
Check out the 808 Builders (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?16211) listing and see how many names you recognize. Most of these guys are one man shops, their instruments are handmade and one of a kind. Sean Yacavone (Ukulele Friend) said it best,"It's just hard to keep up with the builders here."

GX9901
01-28-2010, 06:39 PM
Some people will include Kelii in the list, and I kind of consider G-string to be an honorary K (quality, Hawaiian-made).

I also put Kelii and G-String on the "K" list. Actually, I would consider Ko'olau to be a step above the Hawaiian factory K-brands because they are mainly custom built ukes.

King David
01-28-2010, 07:28 PM
+1 for GString on to the K-list:


Located in Halawa Valley on the island of Oahu. Wanting to be different, owner Derek Shimizu wanted a name for his ukuleles that did not start with the letter “K”. In Hawaii, the most common way of tuning an ukulele is GCEA. The name GString comes from the top string of the ukulele

"The top string" - pretty cool, I have a custom being built due in a few months can't wait

dirk.li
02-02-2010, 11:50 AM
I have heard people referring to "The Ks" as the top notch ukulele manufacturers. But which companies are these? Does Kiwaya also belong to "The Ks"? What about Kala? Which companies exactly belong to "The Ks"?

So... when I hear people talking about "The Ks", the following companies come to my mind:

Kanilea
Ko'olau
Ko'aloha
Kamaka

But what about:

Kiwaya
Kala
Kelii

??

bbycrts
02-02-2010, 11:57 AM
Hey Dirk -

You got the big four Ks - some exclude Ko'olau because they seem to be more into custom work, but I figure they have a couple production lines and should be in the group.

Kelii sometimes gets included. G-string often gets the "honorary K" mention, too.

Kiwaya and Kala are non-Hawaiian, so they don't make the cut despite the name. "The Ks" aren't only top-notch manufacturers, the ukes are built in the islands.

Basically, the Ks are production ukes from Hawaiian manufacturers. Builders like Chuck Moore are custom builders and as such are a notch above the Ks...

There was another thread about this recently, but I've not had a lot of luck with search lately...

haolejohn
02-02-2010, 12:41 PM
Your question has been answered but i still wanted to reply:) I plead the fifth about G-String.

dirk.li
02-03-2010, 12:05 PM
Kiwaya and Kala are non-Hawaiian, so they don't make the cut despite the name. "The Ks" aren't only top-notch manufacturers, the ukes are built in the islands.

I see. Hmm, I think that Kiwaya should also be added to the list. They are manufactured in Japan (which is also islands!!) However their quality and sound is exceptional!
I have just ordered a Kelii soprano from MGM. I'm really curious what it's like!

Btw: A moderator has already moved my thread into the existing one! Thanks for that! UU is so awesome! :)

MGM
02-03-2010, 12:14 PM
popular is that these are real made in Hawaii Brands of more availablle not custom built ukuleles...... There are only six
Kamaka Koolau Kanilea Koaloha Gstring and Kelii don't let anyone fool you otherwise