View Full Version : Lanikai NK-C

03-05-2010, 01:56 PM
Now that I have played for about 2 months and I have had time to play other ukes, I thought I would offer my first review.

Features: 9/10

What year was it made? Where was is made? 2009 in Indonesia
How many frets? 19
Solid-Top? Laminated top? Solid Koa top
Any pickups or electronics? No
Body and neck woods? Back and sides are "select" Koa, a laminate. Neck is flame mahogony
Finish? Glossy
Body style? Concert
Bridge style? Not sure- straight?
Tuners? Gold Grover 18:1 with ebony buttons.
Neck/Scale? Neck is skinny (1 1/4" or so at the nut) scale is 15 1/4". Ebony fretboard with abalone fret dots.
Any included accessories? No- all sold separately.

Sound: 9.5/10

How does it suit your music style (and what is that style)? Fine, I have no style I am new to the uke.
What amps and effects are you using it with? N/A
Is it noisy? On what settings? N/A
Rich/Full sound? Bright sound? The sound is really good but mellow.
What kind of sounds can the guitar make? How much variety? Guitar! This is a uke!
Likes and dislikes? The tone is awesome; it really is! It has a mellow tone and it really sings. My biggest dislike is the volume. It is way too soft. This uke could really use a pick-up.

Action, Fit & Finish: 8/10

How well was the ukulele set-up at the factory? Action was set low, but not too low (approx 2.5 mm at the 12th fret)
Properly bookmatched top? It's about 95% there. There is a knot-like mark toward the base of the top. It is ever so slightly of center. Just enough to be noticeable.
Properly routed bridge? As far as I know.
Did the ukulele contain any flaws? No.

Reliability/Durability: 10/10

Will this ukulele withstand live playing? Yes, but it must be amplified.
Does the hardware seem like it will last? Yes.
Is the finish good enough to last, or does it seem thin and easy to wear off with lots of playing? Seems fine.
Can you depend on it? Yes.
Would you use it on a gig without a backup? If I were worthy of a gig, yes.

Customer Support: 5/10

If you've dealt with the company, how helpful/friendly were they? I emailed Lanikai twice during my uke search phase. They responded to the first email. The second email had questions that were left unanswered.
Ever try and get it repaired? No
Was it under warranty? N/A
How long is the warranty? Lifetime, with certain exclusions.

Overall Rating 8/10

How long have you been playing? 2 months
What other gear do you own? KoAloha Pineapple Sunday and 1950s Martin 1-T
Is there something you wish you had asked before buying this ukulele? No, but plenty I wished I had known or thought harder about.
If it were stolen or lost, would you buy it again or get something else? Get something else. No slight to the uke, but I want something with more volume and/or a pick-up.
What do you love about it? It sounds like a dream and it looks great.
What do you hate? Low volume. If playing in a quiet room with an acoustic guitar, you will not hear the uke.
What is your favorite feature? It's a uke! I don't know... it is my only uke with inlays, so I like that.
Did you compare it to other ukuleles? Which ones? Almost a Martin S-O, but prettier & without the extra cost.
Why did you choose this one? I wanted a solid Koa top (at least) uke that was affordable. This was the prettiest one I saw.
Anything you wish it had? A pick-up.
Anything else you'd like to share? The abalone inlays around the sound hole, binding, and especially the Lanikai name on the headstock is done very well.

I would rate this uke an 8 out of 10. The biggest negative factor for me is the lack of volume and "punch." It sounds great by itself, but I play with acoustic guitar, mandolin, and banjo players. Any of those drown this uke out completely (let alone more than one of those). If it had a pick-up it could overcome this fault, but installing a pick-up would add about 50% to the cost of the uke. The craftsmanship is very good. It is not as good as a high-end uke, but much better than most mass produced ukes.

03-05-2010, 04:13 PM
Thanks for the Review. I have had my eye on the NK-C. I was wondering if anyone had one and what they thought.

05-28-2010, 02:37 AM
Great review and the relatively high marks coming from a high-end uke owner mean something here.

06-03-2010, 06:48 PM
i have this uke and i love it! i play with guitarists, pianists, other ukes, ect. and i dont find it getting drowned out...i love the way it sounds! ^_^..mine does have a pick-up though

06-03-2010, 06:50 PM
woops, though they look similar mine is the custom series lanikai...its a great uke! ^_^

11-15-2011, 06:44 AM
woops, though they look similar mine is the custom series lanikai...its a great uke! ^_^

the NK-C IS part of the "custom series"... according to their website it's wat the C in NK-C stands for.... question is, musicians friend (and other music stores) describe this as made with "solid Hawaiian koa tops and Hawaiian koa back and sides." .. so does this mean the sides and back are like the top (REAL Koa)???

Bill Mc
11-15-2011, 08:06 AM
the NK-C IS part of the "custom series"... according to their website it's wat the C in NK-C stands for.... question is, musicians friend (and other music stores) describe this as made with "solid Hawaiian koa tops and Hawaiian koa back and sides." .. so does this mean the sides and back are like the top (REAL Koa)???

The NK-C and NK-T are solid koa top, laminated koa back and sides. Read the descriptions carefully - unless "solid" is specified the instrument is laminated. Sweet sounding ukes but quiet. I bought my NK-T "used" from Musician's Friend at a significant savings. The instrument came in perfect condition.

Balsa Dust
11-15-2011, 08:39 AM
Glad to see another NK-C out there, you don't hear much about them. On mine, the action was a little high and I had to lower it. Also after awhile I wasn't liking the Aquila's too well, and changed them out with some Worth Browns. Awesome, although the Browns won't help you much in the volume department.

11-21-2011, 06:42 PM
I was glad to find this thread, as I've been eyeing the tenor version NK-T as my next ukulele. I've played a handful of solid koa Hawaiian-made ukes and this Lanikai is the only instrument in the sub-$400 bracket that sounds anything like them.

I know that Lanikai has a reputation for being a "good beginner uke" but these really do seem to sound markedly better than anything else available at a typical Guitar Center store. I know the sides and back are laminate but since most of your sound comes from the solid koa face anyway, that may explain why it sounds so good to my ears. It's just a richer more melodious sound, which I personally have come to associate with expensive koa ukes.

Plus they get bonus points for being pretty, with a rosette and abalone marks. I'd be thrilled if they offered it with a slotted headstock and rear-facing tuner pegs like the Kala ASAC-T, which to my ear doesn't sound anywhere near as good as the NK-T. The three I've played all just sing to me.

So now that I'm out of the closet as a Lanakai fanboy, can anyone tell me what the big knock on this uke is? I think it looks great and sounds great and is less than half the price of a comparable Kamaka. Other than other people scoffing at the brand I'm rocking, is there something else about this model that should discourage me?

12-01-2011, 11:16 AM
I have an NK-T and like it alot. I first purchased a Lanikai Zebrawood Tenor - loved the slotted headstock but after a few days with it, I was dissapointed with the tone. Not only was it very quiet but it was just kind of dead sounding compared to my Kala solid mahogany KA-SMHT. The guy that I purchased it from was great - allowing me to return it and upgrade to the NK-T for a few dollars more.

The NK-T is much more resonant and bell-like than the Zebra. It does not ring like the Kala Mahogany but has a very sweet mello voice. I had attempted to put a low-G on the Kala but it was so overpowering that I went back to High-G. I have the NK-T strung low-G at the moment and it is much more balanced.

At first, I was a bit put off by all the "bling" on the NK-T which is why I bought the Zebra but now that I've had it for a couple of months, it has really grown on me. Everyone that has seen it loves the MOP inlays and binding. Really the only thing that I would change is the finish. I like the gloss finish but it is a bit thick and I think that the tone suffers a bit. I love "thin-skin" nitro finishes on guitars and I think that this instrument would benefit from it but I'm not going to re-fin it any time soon...