PDA

View Full Version : Difference between curly koa and solid koa?



Kanin
10-24-2010, 10:30 AM
What is the difference between the two?

What is curly?

Which one sounds better?

Uke Republic
10-24-2010, 10:41 AM
What is the difference between the two?

What is curly?

Which one sounds better?

One has a perm:)
Curly describes figuring in the wood. Some curl is very dramatic and the more curl the harder it is for a luthier to work with which adds to the price as well as the price for the rarer wood. Sound wise some say no difference some say the straighter stuff sounds better and some say the opposite. It is very beautiful.

mm stan
10-24-2010, 10:53 AM
Depends what you're looking for, asthetics or sound quality....I myself believe the straighter grain doesn't degrade the sound as much....MM Stan...

Ingrate
10-24-2010, 10:59 AM
Owners of curly koa will tout all it's wonderful virtues, as will those with "solid". :rolleyes:

Mine is "solid", so it's clearly the better wood and 'ukulele. :p

janeray1940
10-24-2010, 11:02 AM
Owners of curly koa will tout all it's wonderful virtues, as will those with "solid". :rolleyes:

Mine is "solid", so it's clearly the better wood and 'ukulele. :p

About sums it up :)

I will say that recently I have played both a curly-koa and straight-grained Kamaka concert uke. Both with stock strings. The curly koa didn't wow me, the straight grained one did.

molokinirum
10-24-2010, 11:07 AM
I have a straight Koa and one with a good amount of curl in it. However, one is a 4 string (straight Koa) the other a 6 string (with the curl) ... so both sound different, not due to the grain but due to the type and number of strings. However, I love the look of the curly Koa wood.

haolejohn
10-24-2010, 11:38 AM
If it is a high end uke (K brand or what not) the curly koa should be solid koa. Many of your imports that are around that $300 range have curly laminates. I have a curly koa kamaka and a few straight but figured grained koalohas and I love my koalohas more than my kamaka. I really don't think that the looks of a curly koa uke can be topped. As far as sound, I don't think there is that much of a difference either. I think the sound comes from other factors.

Steiner
10-24-2010, 11:47 AM
Some ukulele makers list curly koa as the wood because it is a laminate. Mitchell ukulele's do this. There is a very thin layer of curly koa on a cheaper wood for looks only.


Haolejohn beat me with the same info

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-24-2010, 11:57 AM
Is anyone confused or is it just me? OK, thanks, it's just me.
Curly koa is solid koa and neither should be confused for laminated koa which is simply plywood on a diet.
If the question is about the tonal differences between straight grained and curly grained koa, as mentioned before, builders' opinions differ.
My own opinion is that straight grained wood (of any species) should in theory make a better instrument. When choosing tonewood one of the qualities to look for is stiffness (along with strength and weight.) A board with curly grain will be less stiff than one with straight grain. A knowledgeable builder will be able to compensate for the lack of strength to some degree by adjusting the size of the bracing and thickness of the sound board.

70sSanO
10-24-2010, 12:00 PM
Can't get any better info than that.

John

Big Bob
10-24-2010, 02:18 PM
Well just take a look a Jakes latest videos on you tube.It looks pretty curly to me.

Ingrate
10-24-2010, 02:28 PM
Well just take a look a Jakes latest videos on you tube.It looks pretty curly to me.

I've never heard that 'uke played w/o amplification. It sounds great with amplification...

I believe the subtle difference between curly and straight-grain Koa can only be appreciated live and "unplugged".

sukie
10-24-2010, 03:34 PM
...I love the look of the curly Koa wood.

Amen. If you see it up close it's absolutely incredible. The has a depth like I've never seen before. It's almost 3D.

I have both a solid koa ukulele and a curly koa ukulele. They sounds very different, but I don't attribute it to the wood. More to other factors. (I'm copying from Eller on that.)

Pippin
10-24-2010, 08:38 PM
Chuck is a master luthier. His opinion should carry a lot of weight. I have heard from more than one source that curly koa is softer grain than straight-grained koa and it absorbs more vibration, producing lower volume. Ask a luthier... and Chuck just happens to be a luthier and one of the best.

spruce
10-25-2010, 07:34 AM
A board with curly grain will be less stiff than one with straight grain.

I dunno....

I've milled a lot of both curly and straight grained woods (including koa), and I just don't think you can make that absolute correlation....

There's floppy staight-grained trees, and stiff curly-grained trees....

I'd judge a set of wood by how it flexes and feels, and not by how it looks.... ;)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-25-2010, 07:40 AM
I will clarify that. In my experience, a board with curly grain will tend to be less stiff than one with straight grain.
It's not uncommon in a large board to have a wide variation of curl. I deflection test all of my wood and keep careful records when I build. In many of the koa I work with there will be boards that will be very curly in one area and have almost no curl in another. After resawing I will cut out my tops and backs from the very curly area and leave the other for sides because less figured grain is so much easier to bend, especially when bending cutaways. A while back I decided to check the deflection from two different areas of the same board, each plank of the same dimensions. When sanded at the same thickness and tested for deflection, the curly area bent more easily. Perhaps my own intuition is also leading me to believe that a board with a lot of cross grain will be weaker. By no means scientific, just my practical experience. I respect your experience as well.
And I certainly agree, when choosing good tone wood, physical traits should always be considered before visual ones.

scottie
10-25-2010, 06:45 PM
so, are curly koa and flamed koa different figure types?

Steiner
10-25-2010, 07:01 PM
Here's an example of what I was talking about. I only brought this up because I had the same question when I was looking to upgrade and it took me a while to figure out that if an instrument didn't say solid wood it was almost invariably a laminate. Thankfully I didn't make any purchases under that misconception.

http://www.amazon.com/Lanikai-CK-C-Concert-Curly-Ukulele/dp/B001E1M8ZO

spruce
10-26-2010, 07:33 AM
Well just take a look a Jakes latest videos on you tube. It looks pretty curly to me.

Here's a nice looking curly Jake at the Kamaka factory:

http://i231.photobucket.com/albums/ee22/e_stamp/P1060590.jpg



so, are curly koa and flamed koa different figure types?

Semantics, and they vary considerably from person-to-person, and from species-to-species....

In koa, the same figure can be given different names, sometime depending on grain orientation...
On the quarter the figure can be straight pencil-width flames marching across the pattern, often called "fiddleback" or "flamed"...
The same tree cut on the slab can produce figuring that looks wavy or "curly"...

But these terms--especially in the world of maple--can be used interchangeably, and it can get confusing.... ;)

And then--just to make it all that much more confusing--there's quilted koa and koa that displays a kind of birdseye figuring:

http://www.dreamguitars.com/images/mccollum/McCollum_GA_299/back.jpg

steven michael
10-26-2010, 10:02 AM
That was a great question Kanin .

spruce
10-26-2010, 10:05 AM
That was a great question Kanin .

Yep.
And one that is impossible to prove one way or the other....

haolejohn
10-26-2010, 10:10 AM
what I learned fromt his thread: Curly Koa is not from a curved branch:)

Kekani
10-26-2010, 05:45 PM
Chuck,

I don't care what anybody says, you have WAY more patience than you lead to believe.

I myself have enjoyed the heck out of this thread, in a bad way. For those reading this thread, this is a classic internet "wiki" type of thread where what one says goes, if no one objects. One caveat, I agree with Chuck. Of course, we may both be incorrect, but I don't think his customers would say that. . .

maclay
10-26-2010, 08:30 PM
When someone asks a question like this, you can't give you an absolute answer. What you can do however, is tell them how wood generally behaves. Of course each piece of wood is different, and you can find stiff curly koa, but in general I agree with Chuck. Straight grained wood is usually stiffer and more stable, making the instrument superior structurally and sonically.
Having said that.....I love curly koa, and an experienced luthier can make it sound amazing.

Jake Maclay
Hive Ukuleles
http://www.hiveukuleles.com/

scottie
10-27-2010, 05:19 PM
Off da chartz. . .

http://www.acousticmusicworks.com/UT2K138.html

Jerlial Prophet
10-27-2010, 06:25 PM
Curly Koa has too much of a "nyuk nyuk nyuk" sound to it. *rimshot*

spruce
10-28-2010, 06:06 AM
Reality sure changes a lot around here, no? ;)

wearymicrobe
10-28-2010, 12:25 PM
Having had both the only thing thats different is the price.

Also that is not curly Koa, I have no idea how they get away selling that as 5A.


Here's a nice looking curly Jake at the Kamaka factory:

http://i231.photobucket.com/albums/ee22/e_stamp/P1060590.jpg

GX9901
10-28-2010, 01:35 PM
Having had both the only thing thats different is the price.

Also that is not curly Koa, I have no idea how they get away selling that as 5A.

Hmmm...it looks plenty curly to me. Maybe the light is not hitting it right, but looks to be some nice "crushed aluminum" koa. :D

jimmybookout
10-29-2010, 11:09 AM
Having had both the only thing thats different is the price.

Also that is not curly Koa, I have no idea how they get away selling that as 5A.


I agree. That looks like Spalted Koa to me, although I am NO expert. That same pattern that's showing in the pictured koa looks like the same pattern seen in Spalted Mango.
FWI, this is my Kanilea G6. I consider this Curly Koa.

Jimmy
http://i277.photobucket.com/albums/kk46/jimmyb-028/Picture038.jpg

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-29-2010, 12:06 PM
The Kamaka pictured is definitely curly! There is no indication of spalting whatsoever. As has been mentioned previously, there are different types of curl and different degrees of curl within those types. Of the two ukuleles pictured I would certainly pay a premium for the Kamaka koa as opposed to the koa the Kanilea was built from. Just my own personal preference. Your mileage will vary.

spruce
10-30-2010, 06:22 AM
The Kamaka pictured is definitely curly! There is no indication of spalting whatsoever. As has been mentioned previously, there are different types of curl and different degrees of curl within those types. Of the two ukuleles pictured I would certainly pay a premium for the Kamaka koa as opposed to the koa the Kanilea was built from. Just my own personal preference. Your mileage will vary.

+1 on every bit of that... ;)

Dan Uke
07-03-2011, 09:50 AM
I know this conversation was completed awhile ago but very interesting especially with MBU & Spruce commenting since they are in the business.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
07-03-2011, 11:14 AM
Glad you bumped this thread, nongdam. A great read!

Noobie
07-03-2011, 12:52 PM
Chuck, I just want to say after looking at your website that you make the most beautiful ukuleles I have ever seen. Thanks for making them!

Ron98GT
08-23-2011, 01:51 PM
The Kamaka pictured is definitely curly! There is no indication of spalting whatsoever. As has been mentioned previously, there are different types of curl and different degrees of curl within those types. Of the two ukuleles pictured I would certainly pay a premium for the Kamaka koa as opposed to the koa the Kanilea was built from. Just my own personal preference. Your mileage will vary.

They both got a premium, but the Kamaka got a bigger premium. I'm sure that they sold it as master grade (5A) koa.

Telperion
09-01-2011, 06:03 PM
Great thread. Really enjoyed it. Noobie, I like your avatar. I'm a CO native myself.

This quote from Jerlial just about made me fall off my chair!


Curly Koa has too much of a "nyuk nyuk nyuk" sound to it. *rimshot*

gadha007
06-11-2013, 12:49 AM
excellent thread, very helpful. threads like this make me overjoyed, grateful, and glad to be a part of UU. :worship:

bborzell
06-11-2013, 03:38 AM
OK, to further complicated this zombie thread, here is a Digging Sticks uke with a quilted maple back. Has anyone seen a quilted koa uke?

http://i315.photobucket.com/albums/ll468/bborzell/8dd84403af6d370109ebade34f0043db.jpg

Funtick
12-20-2018, 05:01 PM
Chuck is a master luthier. His opinion should carry a lot of weight. I have heard from more than one source that curly koa is softer grain than straight-grained koa and it absorbs more vibration, producing lower volume. Ask a luthier... and Chuck just happens to be a luthier and one of the best.

What about cross-silking spruce? What about bear-claw spruce? Nature made it stronger (if you google how it happens to spruce to have "bear claw" or "cross silking") - such non-straight-grain happens to be stronger in case of spruce. With some corrections to wordings" "stronger" means better sustain, louder and crisper sound".

Another correction: "curly coa" does not necessarily mean it is not straight-grained. In most cases it is grained similarly to regular koa. Just google koa ukuleles pictures, and compare "main lines", they are the same for both. "curly" does not mean that grain lines change direction randomly. Compare with "cross-silking" of some better spruce wood. Such a wood is straight-grained, but has some nice cross-grain patterns.

Funtick
12-20-2018, 05:21 PM
P.S. I'd open another thread "Difference between light-coloured-golden-yellowish koa and dark-coloured-reddish koa?"

- because for example I saw video from Kanilea factory where Joe Souza advocates for light-golden colour, and in another video his friend and former boss (from Koaloha?) orders from him custom Kanilea with just regular light yellow koa. Just from my memory I could be mistaken (sorry if I am mistaken)

hobblecreek
12-29-2018, 06:20 PM
Here’s another type of figured Koa, and while not being used on a ukulele (it is a Martin Dreadnaught), this Blistered Koa is certainly beautiful. Just for grins, if you go to the link look also at the back of the Blistered Cocobolo guitar, absolutely the single-most amazing piece of sound wood I’ve ever seen.

http://willcuttguitars.com/martin-guitars/custom-shop/custom-shop-dreadnought/martin-custom-shop-d-45-blistered-koa-542

Kenn2018
01-04-2019, 07:50 PM
Here’s another type of figured Koa, and while not being used on a ukulele (it is a Martin Dreadnaught), this Blistered Koa is certainly beautiful. Just for grins, if you go to the link look also at the back of the Blistered Cocobolo guitar, absolutely the single-most amazing piece of sound wood I’ve ever seen.

http://willcuttguitars.com/martin-guitars/custom-shop/custom-shop-dreadnought/martin-custom-shop-d-45-blistered-koa-542

That is indeed a startlingly beautiful wood. Thanks for posting the link.