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janeray1940
12-28-2010, 06:55 AM
Hey all. Here's a challenge I know some of you will appreciate: your recommendations for my next uke purchase.

I need (yeah, "need") a uke that will be my dedicated low-G instrument. I don't want to make my Kamaka concert this uke, because I like it re-entrant (and am too lazy to swap out the G string back and forth). I'm considering a Kamaka tenor for this, but I'm not quite sure my stubby fingers are up for the challenge of a tenor. The Kamaka long neck pineapple is also under consideration, if I can find one and try it out first (I've heard a few cons about that particular instrument).

I'll be in Hawaii (Oahu) in February and plan to make my purchase there, in person. Aside from the obvious - another Kamaka concert! - what should I consider?

Keli'i is the first brand I'm going to check out. I've never seen or heard one in person. They look great on the web, but I've heard the necks are on the thick side, so that may be a problem for me. For that matter, Kanile'as are probably out of the question - I've spent some quality time with a Kanile'a concert uke and never got completely comfortable with it.

Other random criteria:

I like koa. I also like mahogany. I don't like mango (even though I think it looks beautiful).

I don't like bling. The less decoration, flashy stuff, logos, etc., the better. I haven't ruled out Koaloha completely (I had a Koaloha soprano and liked the sound and feel of it), but as a reference point, I consider their design to be too "bling-y" for me.

I would prefer the uke to be made in Hawaii. For this particular purchase, made in China is a dealbreaker.

I'm happiest with a concert sized uke, but I also comfortably play sopranos as long as there are 13 or more frets. The more frets, the better.

So - with that in mind - tell me what you'd buy if you were me! :)

soupking
12-28-2010, 07:08 AM
The Kelli CONCERT neck is NOT on the thick side. I bought one thinking the same thing, wanting the beefier neck. I hear the tenor is on the thicker side, from reviews on UU. The scale length is, however, slightly longer than your Kamaka, at 15.5". That shouldn't be too much of a stretch though, with 14 frets to the body. As far as the sound goes, the Kelli Concert sounds great to my ear, although I've not heard any other K brand in person. Also, the nut width on the Concert is 1 3/8", whereas a Kamaka tenor would be 1.5", maybe a bigger stretch for you, too?

Lori
12-28-2010, 07:32 AM
You don't mention a price range, so I will suggest maybe having Chuck Moore of Moore Bettah Ukuleles make something for you. You could probably arrange to visit him on the Big Island, and choose the wood you want in person. I know you didn't want any bling, but I am sure he can make one that would be perfect for you. http://www.moorebettahukes.com/
I have heard good things about Emil Bader Ukuleles as well. Reasonable prices, and lots of interesting woods. Maybe you could get him to do a custom uke for you, if what he has on hand is too fancy for you.
http://www.globalcreationscart.com/hawaiian-ukulele.html
I don't have ukes from either of these luthiers, but you could contact them for details on the neck thickness and width.
–Lori

Nuprin
12-28-2010, 07:50 AM
For that matter, Kanile'as are probably out of the question - I've spent some quality time with a Kanile'a concert uke and never got completely comfortable with it.

As of this past Friday I would have agreed with you. I had a koa Kanile'a concert that I was very underwhelmed with. This past Friday I got a used Kanile'a Custom tenor (top, back & sides are maple) that I absolutely love. I still think I like my Kamaka tenor a little more but it is a very, very close second. I had been told that Kanile'as are hit and miss (I only bought the tenor because I was able to get sound samples from the seller) so I wouldn't rule them out completely. As you'll be in Hawaii, you might as well play some and see if one speaks to you.

janeray1940
12-28-2010, 09:51 AM
Thanks all for the responses so far! The info re: the concert Keli'i is especially helpful - you're right, it was in reference to the tenors that I read about the thicker necks.

I want this to be a *nice* uke but it doesn't have to be my *nicest*, so I don't think I'll go custom this time around.

I'll be in Honolulu for this trip, so somewhat limited geographically.

OldePhart
12-28-2010, 12:58 PM
Kind of curious what you consider "blingy" about the KoAloha - my concert (KCM-00) is rather plain and if you go with a Pikake model that's even more plain... Or am I missing something?

Not that it matters, of course, just was struck by the description of KoAlohas as "blingy." :)

John

janeray1940
12-28-2010, 01:04 PM
Kind of curious what you consider "blingy" about the KoAloha - my concert (KCM-00) is rather plain and if you go with a Pikake model that's even more plain... Or am I missing something?

Not that it matters, of course, just was struck by the description of KoAlohas as "blingy." :)

John

Mainly the headstock - and I'm not thrilled with the multiple occurrences of the logo, especially on the newest ones that have the logo on the bridge (in addition to on the headstock, and on the tuning pegs). I think I prefer a more traditional look - although I know that if the right instrument spoke to me, looks would be second to sound.

OldePhart
12-28-2010, 01:15 PM
Oh, I'd forgotten about the logo on the headstock, and mine doesn't have the new bridge. The logo on the headstock could be worse, they could've filled it with gold or shell or something... LOL

The new bridge doesn't look bad to me, the name barely shows from a few feet away. I'd rather have the logo on the bridge and not the one on the headstock, actually.

I kind of like the knobs on the pegs - not for the logo, which I could take or leave, but the amber color really goes nicely with the wood.

Of course, I'm the kind of guy that doesn't much care about bling one way or the other - I don't mind if it's there but I'm certainly not going to select an instrument for the shiny factor. In fact, when I had my custom SG clone made a few years ago I could have had a translucent finish on a AAAA flame top for the same price but I specified ordinary off white paint - it's a working guitar and I don't want something too pretty to take out of the house!

John

Uke Republic
12-28-2010, 05:12 PM
The Kelii ukuleles are probably the least costly of Hawaiian made ukuleles and they sound great. Now maybe I'm partial because I also carry Ko'olau which has a K series that is all koa and is quite z deal too. I'm sure your gonna find something wonderful there. I remember a while back Emil Baders ukes were getting some positive feedback and they sure seemed priced nice.

Chris Tarman
12-28-2010, 05:37 PM
Mainly the headstock - and I'm not thrilled with the multiple occurrences of the logo, especially on the newest ones that have the logo on the bridge (in addition to on the headstock, and on the tuning pegs). I think I prefer a more traditional look - although I know that if the right instrument spoke to me, looks would be second to sound.

I'm with you. I've played a couple of Koaloha sopranos, and I thought they felt and sounded fantastic. But I just can't get over that headstock and laser-cut logo.

beergeek
12-29-2010, 01:03 AM
Go to Bounty Music in Oahu and find the one that speaks to you ;)

janeray1940
12-31-2010, 10:50 AM
Now maybe I'm partial because I also carry Ko'olau which has a K series that is all koa and is quite z deal too.

Uh-oh - I just learned that Ko'olau makes a concert pineapple (http://ukulele.pua2.com/details/koocp1.html)! And MGM has a video of it strung with Aquila low G (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HmKp08ILt0), and it sounds pretty sweet.

Thanks for mentioning Ko'olau - adding this to my list of potential candidates!

Uncle Leroy
12-31-2010, 11:56 AM
Pono would be a good brand to check out. I just picked up one of their mahogany tenor models and it has become my favorite in very short order.

janeray1940
12-31-2010, 12:02 PM
Pono would be a good brand to check out. I just picked up one of their mahogany tenor models and it has become my favorite in very short order.

I've heard good things about Pono. Only problem - not actually made in Hawaii, from what I understand.

peterp
12-31-2010, 04:10 PM
You don't mention a price range, so I will suggest maybe having Chuck Moore of Moore Bettah Ukuleles make something for you. You could probably arrange to visit him on the Big Island, and choose the wood you want in person. I know you didn't want any bling, but I am sure he can make one that would be perfect for you....–Lori
Let me second this opinion. My wife and I visited Chuck on a recent trip to the big island. I sent Chuck an email before our arrival, and arranged a day for a shop tour. I saw a soprano that day, under construction, fell in love, and now it's mine. Be prepared to learn a lot about ukes when you visit. And most importantly, bring an idea for a uke. Something that will make it unique. Aloha.

janeray1940
12-31-2010, 04:17 PM
Let me second this opinion. My wife and I visited Chuck on a recent trip to the big island. I sent Chuck an email before our arrival, and arranged a day for a shop tour. I saw a soprano that day, under construction, fell in love, and now it's mine. Be prepared to learn a lot about ukes when you visit. And most importantly, bring an idea for a uke. Something that will make it unique. Aloha.

Maybe next trip - doesn't look like I'll be leaving Oahu this time unless I decide to blow my uke budget on inter-island transportation :)

And I just realized I should have mentioned price range way earlier - under (but possibly up to) $1000.