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Witters
07-15-2008, 12:26 AM
Is Koa really better in terms of sound? I know they are usually the most expensive Uke's, and I have never had one or heard one in the flesh - I have heard sound samples and youtube stuff, but never first hand.

This may seem a silly question as everyone is different, and for me up till now I rather like Mahogany. Then again, I like the sound of the Flea which is as far away from anything else as you can get. Spruce or Cedar I imagine will be similar to a Guitar, but have no idea about Walnut or Maple.

With all the different Uke's available today its quite hard to judge especially as they are far cheaper than Koa, and as I'm always quoting the phrase "you get what you pay for", this seems logical to advise someone who wants to spend 500 or $1000 to go for a Koa. But am I correct? Apart from Koa wood being expensive are they classed as the best apart from that?

UkuLeLesReggAe
07-15-2008, 12:47 AM
i think the sound would depend on the person really... to me i think they r quite soothing but i really like kamaka's and pono

in fact.. kamaka, pono and koa i like all the same, i wouldnt mind either

h-drix
07-15-2008, 03:07 AM
The thing is, is that every uke maker builds there uke diffrently, so two koa ukes will have fairly diffrent tones. same with mahogany. Also strings have a (IMO) greater efect then the wood.

with that, has anyone ever played a koa guitar?

uke142464
07-15-2008, 03:41 AM
I think the combination of koa and whatever strings jake uses is the best way anyone could go tone wise, btw, anyone know what strings he uses?:p

GX9901
07-15-2008, 04:33 AM
I think sound has more to do with the builder than the material used. Koa is expensive so koa ukes are expensive, not necessarily because it sounds better. I have several koa ukes and they all sound very good. The best sounding of the ukes I own are, of course, custom level ukes (William King, Koa Works). The fact that they use koa probably is a very small reason why they sound great. I think William King could build a uke out of balsa wood and make it sound great.

deach
07-15-2008, 04:39 AM
....

with that, has anyone ever played a koa guitar?

I did but it was years ago. It was a Taylor, I think Kenny Loggins model. The only thing I remember was it sounded really mellow and at the time, it wasn't what I was looking for.

rt1965
07-15-2008, 07:02 AM
In regards to guitars, Koa is a bit brighter than Mahogany and works really well for fingerstyle. To me, it's just too bright for anything other than fingerstyle, but again, that's just me. Guitars built with all Mahogany are mellow and smooth, brighter than rosewood, but not too bright. Put a Spruce top on a Mahogany guitar and it becomes brighter.

Regarding ukuleles, to me Koa has the "Island" sound, and Mahogany has more of a vintage sound. Today, Vintage Martin ukes are the most sought after ukes there are in the terms of collecting. They have what most call the "Martin" sound. That sound is a sound tha many builders have tried to duplicate for many years. Kiwaya is one modern builder who models many of their ukuleles after the Martins of the past. They have succeded pretty well with their Sopranos, but their Conert and Tenor sizes, although very good in their own right, just don't sound like their Martin counterparts.

In terms of tone, I have heard many who prefer the "Martin" sound not because it's a Martin, but because they feel they can control the tone better than they can with a Koa uke. Keep in mind that when I refer to the "Martin" sound, I am refering to ukes made of Mahogany. This is of course personal preference. But basically, what they are saying is the more mellow tone of Mahogany can be controlled easier with different strumming and picking techniques. Koa isn't as easy to control for some players. I know a lot of uke players from the Martin Guitar Forum, and this is something that most fo them agree on.

As far as pricning, I am willing to bet if any of the big Hawaiin builders started using Mahogany, the pricing would be right up there. For starters, Genuine Honduran Mahogany is getting to be quite scarce, and it's status with C.I.T.E.S. is gradually changing. Simply put, we wont have Mahogany around for much longer, much like the situation with Brazilian Rosewood. As it is, guitar builders like Martin can't even get good quality Mahogany neck blocks in the quanities they need to keep up with thier production. Many of their guitars now sport Spanish Cedar necks instead of Mahogany necks. I'm not sure how Koa is doing with C.I.T.E.S., but with all the building going on, it probably isn't to far off from Mahogany.

Anyone wondering what C.I.T.E.S. is, it is a UN group that oversees the agreement to protect endangered species, including animals, as well as flora and fauna, which would include endangered trees.

A lot of the "Mahogany" ukes on the market today are not even made with Mahogany. They are actually make with Sapele, which often goes by the name "African Mahogany". Sapele is not even in the same family as Mahogany, but has a tone almost identical to Mahogany Also, a lot of Mahogany or Sapele ukes are being built in China and other countries where a uke can be built and sold for pennies on the dollar. So, maybe this gives the perspective of being cheaper versus Koa. This is a false perspective and not a fair comparison. As I said above, if any of the if Hawaiin builders started using Mahogany, they woudn't be cheap. If anything, they would probably have a better value down the road in terms of collecting.

As far as player ukes, I would say that no wood is better in regards to tone. It is really up to what they player prefers. I have one really nice Koa uke with another on the way. I also have a cheaper Mahogany uke coming too. I have no idea what the Mahogany uke will sound like, I'm just hoping it will satisfy my desire for a Mahogany uke until I can save up for either a Custom or a Vintage Martin. I prefer tenor sized ukes, so for me, the selection is even smaller when it comes to Mahogany.

If you love Mahogany, keep loving it. If you want a high end Mahogany uke, you will probably need to go custom, or seek out a nice Vintage Martin. As far as Walnut, it is described as sounding very much like Koa, and Maple would be pretty close to, maybe even a bit brighter.

Sorry for such a long post, I just wanted to dispell the notion that Mahogany was cheaper, and I wanted to share from other perspectives.

Witters
07-15-2008, 08:00 AM
Thanks for that rt1, that was very interesting.

While my experience is limited I seem to favor Mahogany over Koa (sound clips only) as far as strumming, yet really like the Koa better for finger picking (clips only again), as highlighted in your post which is the consensus of many others.

In that respect I would probably be far better off with something other than Koa and more than likely Mahogany.

You mentioned Kiwaya as not really coming up to scratch as far as Concerts, so is there anything else out there which might?
I know Pono make a Mahogany Concert, but have no idea if they would be classed as something really good.

rt1965
07-15-2008, 08:15 AM
You mentioned Kiwaya as not really coming up to scratch as far as Concerts, so is there anything else out there which might?
I know Pono make a Mahogany Concert, but have no idea if they would be classed as something really good.

I should say upfront that I don't have any personal experience with Kiwaya. Also let me explain my comments. I have heard really good things about the Kiwayas, but you have to keep in mind that they are often compared to Vintage Martins since they are building to those same specs. What I have heard is that when compared to Vintage Martins, the Sopranos that Kiwaya builds compare very nicely and have a very similar tone. The Concerts and Tenors, however, don't compare as nicely to their Martin counterparts. That doesn't mean they sound inferior, just different. In other words, they don't sound as Vintage as the Sopranos do. So, as long as you have no expectation of them sounding like a Martin, they will more than likely do the job. Does that make sense?

If Kiwaya's KTT-1, their Tenor model, had a few more features, such as binding, etc..., I wouldn't hesitate to give one a try.

Witters
07-15-2008, 08:38 AM
I should say upfront that I don't have any personal experience with Kiwaya. Also let me explain my comments. I have heard really good things about the Kiwayas, but you have to keep in mind that they are often compared to Vintage Martins since they are building to those same specs. What I have heard is that when compared to Vintage Martins, the Sopranos that Kiwaya builds compare very nicely and have a very similar tone. The Concerts and Tenors, however, don't compare as nicely to their Martin counterparts. That doesn't mean they sound inferior, just different. In other words, they don't sound as Vintage as the Sopranos do. So, as long as you have no expectation of them sounding like a Martin, they will more than likely do the job. Does that make sense?

If Kiwaya's KTT-1, their Tenor model, had a few more features, such as binding, etc..., I wouldn't hesitate to give one a try.
Absolutely.

In that sense, a Kiwaya could not be a wrong choice unless I was expressly after a Vintage Martin sound.

As all of the top end Uke's are Koa though, if I didn't get a Kiwaya, and was prepared to wait, am I right in saying that to get a really good one out of Mahogany, I need to have one made?

nmelcher
07-15-2008, 08:54 AM
My question is what exactly makes Koa so expensive. Is it a rare tree? Is it really that much better? Is it simply consumer perception of what's "valuable"?

rt1965
07-15-2008, 08:58 AM
Absolutely.

In that sense, a Kiwaya could not be a wrong choice unless I was expressly after a Vintage Martin sound.

Yes, that was my point. In fact MGM has this one http://cgi.ebay.com/Kiwaya-KTC-3-Solid-Mahogany-CONCERT-Ukulele-Martin-Tone_W0QQitemZ250269973645QQihZ015QQcategoryZ16224 QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1742.m153.l1262



As all of the top end Uke's are Koa though, if I didn't get a Kiwaya, and was prepared to wait, am I right in saying that to get a really good one out of Mahogany, I need to have one made?

Well, it doesn't seem like anyone is building much in Mahogany right now except for builders like Kiwaya or Pono, or the other builders like Ohana, or Bushman. At least not in anything other than soprano size. So if you're talking high end as in having a really nice instrument with some nice upgaded features, I woud say yes, you need to go custom. You might check with some of the big Hawaiin builders to see about the pricing of building a nice uke in Mahogany.

I am talking with Andy Powers right now about a Custom Tenor. I also have my eyes open for nice Martin Tenors.

rt1965
07-15-2008, 09:10 AM
My question is what exactly makes Koa so expensive. Is it a rare tree? Is it really that much better? Is it simply consumer perception of what's "valuable"?

Again, no expert here, but I have heard that there are some rules that have slowed down the harvesting of Koa trees. I don't know where Koa stands as far as C.I.T.E.S. is concerned. The thing is though, it's not just Koa. As I mentioned in another post, Mahogany is getting quite expensive as well. You just don't see that many builders using it so maybe the perception is that Koa seems more exspensive. Kiwaya builds a Mahoagny Tenor that lists for over $1200. That's a lot more than my KoAloah Tenor made out of Koa.

The demand seems to be for the same Koa ukes that players like Jake S. and James Hill, and Aldrine are playing, so there isn't much demand for Mahogany ukes, at least not in the larger sizes.

FWIW, if you custom order a guitar from Martin right now, there is an upcharge of $500 to guarantee a solid Mahogany neck. They have moved almost exclusively to Sapele on their 15 Series, and there is talk of using Sapele on the Standard D-18, one of their flagship guitars.:eek:

Edited to add:
Just an update, Koa is not currently listed with C.I.T.E.S. It would seem, however, that much of the Koa in Hawaii is on private land, so the supply may vary depending on the willingness of the private land owner to harvest and sell it. That could certainly have an effect on price. Mahogany is currently listed on Appendix 2, which means it is one step from becoming illegal to harvest.

h-drix
07-15-2008, 01:52 PM
IMO, from what ive seen most woods are becoming more expensive/rare. one wood is bubinga, its a wood used for instraments, not so much for ukes but a lot for HIGH end drums. i just looked on CITES and its listed as being over used. I think most of these woods are found small countires with poor economy. Thus they harvast it willy nilly, (koa being a hawaii) rt pointed out that koa is on privite land so that the more likely reason for it being expensive.

if only ply wood gave us quality sound.

Muugi
07-15-2008, 02:10 PM
if only ply wood gave us quality sound.

Ohhh a particle board Uke! I would like to see what that BabmoUke sounds like. I guess though for me (inexperienced) to hear the difference the two ukes would need to have the same string, same player and same set of notes played back to back. At least the BamboUke looks great (IMO)

Kekani
07-15-2008, 05:45 PM
First, comments on comments:

I agree with GX - the builder has way more impact on how an instrument sounds than the wood itself.

James Hill plays a Maple body.

As a tonewood, Koa is not necessarily the "best". Structurally, it twists and turns, and is considers a soft hardwood. However, Koa is very difficult to beat from an eye candy standpoint.

As for rare? Not as rare as Kamani, or Milo, or Kou. These were the three historic woods in Hawai`i. Geography dictates that Koa was rubbish (as it grows above 1500'). Since Kou got wasted by disease, and Milo is (almost) gone because of development along the coast, Koa was substituted. Back in the day, figured pieces were looked upon as a defect (like spalting) - take a guess what happened to those pieces.

I'm not a fan of Koa, much (although I my Kamaka's and KoAloha's are all Koa, and 3 custom Tenors are Koa/Spruce or WRC). Quilted (and Curly) Maple is one of my favorites, but my ultimate will be Milo/Sitka (fortunately I already have one). One of the best sounding ones to date - Myrtlewood/Englemann.

Why does James Hill play a Maple? Derek said "that was the sound they were looking for". From a tonewood standpoint, it makes sense for his style of fingerpicking play.

Just my $.02 - Aaron

Dominator
07-15-2008, 05:57 PM
Just my $.02 - Aaron

And worth every penny.
Thanks Aaron.

UkeNinja
07-15-2008, 07:49 PM
Just my $.02 - Aaron
That was a very nice piece of info I had no read anywhere yet. Thank you.

Quite relieved actually. Now there is no need to crave this junk wood anymore. Phew... :music: I've always wondered why people are so crazy about that "curly" beauty that is supposed to be koa. I like the straight patterns as used in Koaloha / Kanile'a ukes a lot more, they are the ultimate in cool.

lovemissheather
07-15-2008, 09:46 PM
Is Koa really better in terms of sound? I know they are usually the most expensive Uke's, and I have never had one or heard one in the flesh - I have heard sound samples and youtube stuff, but never first hand.

This may seem a silly question as everyone is different, and for me up till now I rather like Mahogany. Then again, I like the sound of the Flea which is as far away from anything else as you can get. Spruce or Cedar I imagine will be similar to a Guitar, but have no idea about Walnut or Maple.

With all the different Uke's available today its quite hard to judge especially as they are far cheaper than Koa, and as I'm always quoting the phrase "you get what you pay for", this seems logical to advise someone who wants to spend 500 or $1000 to go for a Koa. But am I correct? Apart from Koa wood being expensive are they classed as the best apart from that?

it depends on your personal taste in regards to sound, as well as the build of the uke. my cordoba is made of koa. i like it, but it's not my favorite uke in regards to sound....

it all just depends on the circumstances!

Kekani
07-15-2008, 10:05 PM
my cordoba is made of koa.

It is my understanding that while Cordoba is made with an Acacia, its not Koa, although they market it as such. Probably something similar to Australian Blackwood/Black Acacia.

Good part is they are at least making an effort to at least use an Acacia. It not like they are saying Philippine Mahogany as a replacement for Honduran.

deach
07-16-2008, 01:31 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-81mTWw-qRw

UkuLeLesReggAe
07-16-2008, 01:36 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-81mTWw-qRw

doesnt sound to bad for cardboard.

uke142464
07-16-2008, 02:26 AM
doesnt sound to bad for cardboard.

I think it sounds amazing for only like 30 bucks

UkuLeLesReggAe
07-16-2008, 03:24 AM
I think it sounds amazing for only like 30 bucks

i think gutings rogue is the best ukulele for its price

rt1965
07-16-2008, 09:34 AM
First, comments on comments: James Hill plays a Maple body.

Sorry, my bad! I was referring to the Koa G-String he played before the Maple one. I should have clarified.

koa
07-16-2008, 11:18 AM
Discussions with couple respected luthiers on a custom order regarding the difference between mahogany and koa the same basic general differences were noted. Koa tends to be a brighter. Honduras mahogany tends to have a quicker attack. Just too many other elements in the selected specific piece of wood, design/construction of an instrument and personal preferences to say that one wood better than the other. Probably why some of us prefer a KoAloha over Kamaka or a Kamaka over a KoAloha.

drubin
07-17-2008, 07:41 AM
And worth every penny.
Thanks Aaron.

As usual, Dom is right on the money. :D Aaron, thanks for all the great posts of late--super informative and helpful! :)

uke142464
07-18-2008, 02:19 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-81mTWw-qRw

check it out, a friend and I made one too :D

deach
07-18-2008, 02:21 PM
check it out, a friend and I made one too :D

howzit sound?

Neil Cursed Diamond
07-18-2008, 02:31 PM
I think the combination of koa and whatever strings jake uses is the best way anyone could go tone wise, btw, anyone know what strings he uses?:p

D'Addarios, I'm pretty sure.

uke142464
07-18-2008, 02:46 PM
howzit sound?

ill make a quick video

uke142464
07-18-2008, 03:47 PM
heres the video
http://youtube.com/watch?v=4aCFfqMyI-M

deach
07-18-2008, 03:50 PM
Awesome dude!!!!

Kekani
07-18-2008, 10:05 PM
D'Addarios, I'm pretty sure.

J46 high tension clear. http://www.daddario.com/DADArtistDetail.aspx?CodaID=6115

Because of him, D'Addario created the J71 - what's strange is they call the J71 normal tension, but the set is made up of J46 high tension, except, notice this is high G, with an extra hard tension J44 for the G string.
http://www.daddario.com/DADProdDetail.aspx?CodaID=7497&ID=5&Class=AZ

Personally, I like the J46 on Spruce tops, and the J50's on Koa tops, again, depending on the player, and the instrument. The decay on (my) Koa tops (all things being equal, which they never are) is much faster than Spruce, whereas the attack on Spruce tops are much sharper than Koa - string selection and composition can add (or detract) the sound and tone when all is said and done. Dave Means can get into the why and how at a level that will make your head spin.

Am I unintentionally up to $.04 now?

ichadwick
07-19-2008, 12:28 PM
I had one solid mahogany uke, an Ohana long-necked soprano, and didn't like it all that much. A bit plinky, without a lot of low-end. Good sustain, though. I like my cedar and spruce tops best, with the solid mango next.

While my uke experience is limited to about a dozen models, I have had a lot of experience with guitars and I prefer spruce and cedar in guitars, too. But those exotic woods are certainly appealling in ukes.

Back and side woods also interact with the sound and a mahogany top may sound a lot better (to my ears) with a different back and sides.

Haven't tried koa yet, but it's in the list. I think everyone should have at least one koa uke.

uke142464
07-19-2008, 02:37 PM
J46 high tension clear. http://www.daddario.com/DADArtistDetail.aspx?CodaID=6115

Because of him, D'Addario created the J71 - what's strange is they call the J71 normal tension, but the set is made up of J46 high tension, except, notice this is high G, with an extra hard tension J44 for the G string.
http://www.daddario.com/DADProdDetail.aspx?CodaID=7497&ID=5&Class=AZ

Personally, I like the J46 on Spruce tops, and the J50's on Koa tops, again, depending on the player, and the instrument. The decay on (my) Koa tops (all things being equal, which they never are) is much faster than Spruce, whereas the attack on Spruce tops are much sharper than Koa - string selection and composition can add (or detract) the sound and tone when all is said and done. Dave Means can get into the why and how at a level that will make your head spin.

Am I unintentionally up to $.04 now?

he uses guitar strings?

deach
07-19-2008, 02:38 PM
he uses guitar strings?

yes .

freedive135
07-19-2008, 04:16 PM
I use geetar strings now too!!!!

I pick up a set of those D'Addario J71's the other day and put them on my Kala Mahogany Tenor last night.

Other than them not staying in tune (yet) they sound and play ALOT better than the stock strings but they do "feel" hard.

I like'm but have nothing other than the stock to compare them to.

Kekani
07-19-2008, 04:54 PM
he uses guitar strings?

deach is just Johnny on the spot.

Anyone who's really serious about strings, usually go to guitar strings and guage them out themselves, mostly because they're available.

I had a difficult time at first, thinking, why would I put guitar strings on an `ukulele, when there are strings made specifically for `ukulele. Then it dawned on me, which is the greater market? Guitars, of course. In the basic marketplace, there will be more R&D done for guitar strings than there will ever be for `ukulele strings. So, where would the technology and quality lie? Oh, but let's not forget the `ukulele, so lets just put together a set out of the guages we already have. . .

Here's a secret - there's a seller out there (and on this board) who always wants Savarez, and not just because one string costs $3. However, you'll probably never see an instrument from him strung with Savarez, unless you're in the >2K range.

As it stands, Worth and Aquila are popular not because they're that good, but because Savarez and D'Addario are Guitar strings. BTW, the classical sets are a match for Tenor scale - anything shorter and you have to gauge it down.

deach
07-19-2008, 04:57 PM
deach is just Johnny on the spot.

Here's a secret - there's a seller out there (and on this board) who always wants Savarez, and not just because one string costs $3. However, you'll probably never see an instrument from him strung with Savarez, unless you're in the >2K range.


hmmmmm. would his initials be MGM?

Nelson
07-19-2008, 06:27 PM
In regards to guitars, Koa is a bit brighter than Mahogany and works really well for fingerstyle. To me, it's just too bright for anything other than fingerstyle, but again, that's just me.

Actually I thought it was bright with the highs but deep with the lows, overall a really good guitar.
Phenomenal for fingerstyle but definitely capable of other styles too!
I've tried Ibanez's and Cordoba's all koa guitars and I preferred Cordoba's.
Though I haven't tried Takamine which is what I'm really interested in...

Kekani
07-19-2008, 09:50 PM
hmmmmm. would his initials be MGM?

As I said, "Johnny on the Spot!"

ichadwick
07-20-2008, 04:37 AM
Then it dawned on me, which is the greater market? Guitars, of course. In the basic marketplace, there will be more R&D done for guitar strings than there will ever be for `ukulele strings. So, where would the technology and quality lie? Oh, but let's not forget the `ukulele, so lets just put together a set out of the guages we already have. . .

Sure, you can use guitar strings if they're the correct thickness. Why not?
Guitar and uke strings are probably identical if the gauge is the same. Uke strings are generally shorter, that's all. Yes, it's nice to have a set with the correct sizes all together and we pay for that small convenience.

I believe most of the string brands don't actually make their own strings; they buy them from a limited number of string makers, and put them in a package with their name on them. I doubt there's any additional R&D done for ukes, since the technology really isn't any different.

What might be nice to have here is a list compiled of suitable guitar string packages in which a uke player can find a set in the right gauges for his/her uke.

Edit: There are some pages online about using guitar strings...
http://www.crane.gr.jp/CRANE_Strings/strings_impressUkeE.htm
http://www.geocities.jp/shinfuji_jp/genkonjaku3_E.html
Among others...

ichadwick
07-20-2008, 05:49 AM
What gauges or gauge range are strings for soprano/concert, tenor and baritone ukes? I'm trying to put together a table for possible replacement sizes.

freedive135
07-20-2008, 05:59 AM
If you go here and click on the different strings it tells you what size is in the pack.

http://www.daddario.com/DADProducts.aspx?ID=5&CLASS=AZ

SeanKy671
08-26-2008, 09:27 AM
Ha.. I've always had a Koa
i don't kno anything else :/
i've always used this one

Dane
08-26-2008, 09:45 AM
Well what is it? You gotta share lets see =)

SeanKy671
08-26-2008, 10:01 AM
It's a koa

SuperSecretBETA
08-26-2008, 12:19 PM
It's a koa

I think he was talking about brand and model.

haole
08-26-2008, 12:38 PM
Koa is my personal favorite, and it certainly plays an important role in making a quality uke. But it doesn't guarantee good sound no matter what! Many "koa" ukes/guitars (under $1000) are made of cheap plywood with a koa veneer. The look is there, but the sound is always a little off. Most well-made solid koa instruments will sound great. Do they sound better than everything else (mahogany, maple, mango)? That's for you to decide. :D

Haole koa, on the other hand...:p

haolejohn
08-26-2008, 02:19 PM
The thing is, is that every uke maker builds there uke diffrently, so two koa ukes will have fairly diffrent tones. same with mahogany. Also strings have a (IMO) greater efect then the wood.

with that, has anyone ever played a koa guitar?

H-drix, I have played a 12 string Koa made by Taylor and I wasn't impressed with its sound. It looked phenomanal but the sound was kind of weak.

For the original poster. Koa costs more b/c it is rare and it has aestetic qualities like no other wood. I have a koa top mahaghany back and sides that I really like. It has that warm sound of mahaghany but the bright twang of Koa. I am looking for an all koa b/c I just want one but i personally don't think you can beat the sound of mahaghany.

SeanKy671
08-26-2008, 02:52 PM
Well what is it? You gotta share lets see =)

well its a oscar schmidt
looks amazing :)

SuperSecretBETA
08-27-2008, 09:23 AM
well its a oscar schmidt
looks amazing :)

I forget where, but I heard oscar schmidt koa ukes are actually laminated tops... not solid koa.

nikolo727
08-27-2008, 09:51 AM
Koa only grows in Hawaii right?

o well but I do know that it is used a lot for ukuleles and it is basically the traditional wood for a uke. They usually have a brighter sound than say mahogany, but they sound beautiful all the same.

SeanKy671
08-27-2008, 11:16 AM
Koa only grows in Hawaii right?

o well but I do know that it is used a lot for ukuleles and it is basically the traditional wood for a uke. They usually have a brighter sound than say mahogany, but they sound beautiful all the same.


yeah frm wat i kno i've only heard of it in hawaii
i could be wrong

lol i really don't kno much about any other uke than my own :/

wearymicrobe
08-27-2008, 12:04 PM
Jake uses Hard D'As. They take forever to break in though, and really need a pickup to sound good, I have yet to have a set work on anything other then a tenor.

As for wood, to my ear, Koa in straight grain with fan bracing sounds best. Followed by something akin to the Ko'olau traditional bracing pattern. Curly is just a little bit back but way ahead in visual appeal.

Hog sounds best to me with a round center brace and no or minimal kurf. I don't care for any of the exotics.

Spruce is my least favorite for picking but is the best in my opinion for a strumming instrument followed by Hog, then Koa. Koa in a bigger body instrument is very mellow on a strum without a pick.

Pete Howlett
08-27-2008, 12:13 PM
As a builder of 14 years I've learnt that because it grows on a volcanic island/islands you get different types of koa growing at different altitudes; therefore koa has different tonal qualities depending where it grows.

For years I have been searching for koa I bought over 11 years ago from a now defunct company on the Big Island and only today I got a delivery of koa I bought about 6 months ago and had converted into boards in California and whoopee; we are back in time.

I've made some very 'mellow' koa ukulele - surprising really when you expect them to 'bright'...

Just an old ukulele maker's perspective on the debate.

h-drix
08-27-2008, 12:19 PM
for you, what have you noticed between the high altitude koa verses the low altitude koa?

Pete Howlett
08-27-2008, 12:56 PM
I never get to know where it comes from but I have over 300 sets of koa and it is all different colours and densities. Word is that the best stuff comes from above 4,000 ft elevation. I go by colour - the pinker it is, the less dense and therefore sonically better (to my ears that is). At present I have some 'helium' mahogany and ancient cuban mahogany - wow what a difference! As a builder I judge what has to be done on density more than enything else. Very pretty koa is the most difficult to deal with in terms of coaxing a good sound out of it.

haolejohn
08-27-2008, 01:41 PM
[QUOTE=nikolo727;56809]Koa only grows in Hawaii right?

Koa also grows in Brazil. It wouldn't be Hawaiian Koa but cordoba makes their solid koa ukes out of the Brazilian kind.

By the way the Oscar Schmidt ukes are laminate (used to own one) They may make a higher end one now but 90% sure they are all laminate.

h-drix
08-27-2008, 03:24 PM
Word is that the best stuff comes from above 4,000 ft elevation.

never though the alt would have such a large effect. lets say if i have the money,most likely a lot of money:rolleyes:, is it possible to buy specific area koa?

SuperSecretBETA
08-27-2008, 04:50 PM
never though the alt would have such a large effect. lets say if i have the money,most likely a lot of money:rolleyes:, is it possible to buy specific area koa?

Master Grade koa (as rare as Acacia koa gets) ukuleles cost around the $2700+ depending on who makes them for you. Ko'olau makes $8000 ones. The sky's the limit!

deach
08-27-2008, 04:57 PM
... The sky's the limit!

Altitude reference?

ainokea
08-27-2008, 05:10 PM
I love the tone of my Kala Mango, it has great tone and I can turn it up to 11 if you know what I mean. Not to mention a great grain of wood.

wearymicrobe
08-27-2008, 07:46 PM
never though the alt would have such a large effect. lets say if i have the money,most likely a lot of money:rolleyes:, is it possible to buy specific area koa?

Yes it is, I have even gone as far as to request Koa from the same board that made a few sister instruments and have been generally happy with the outcome. IE they have a similar sound to the others made by the same builder with the same wood.

Pete Howlett
08-28-2008, 01:58 AM
I recently made 14 instruments for a bunch of enthusiasts in Finland all from the same board. They sounded great. I have a Christmas special going into making in October called The Koa All-Star Sopranos. It's a limited edition of 5 ukulele made from that pink koa I was telling you about... I still have three not yet taken. PM me if you are interested in reserving a special Christmas present. I have also cut 26 complete sets from one board. I am going to reserve this for next year as the Alphabet Sopranos...

Instrument grade koa with all the figure and vertical grain is now in excess of $135 a board ft. Good sets if you can get them start at $120. Unlike most other one man, small shop businesses I buy all of my koa in board form and either cut it myself or have it processed in California before shipping to the UK. This is very expensive for me but it has the advantage that I can make matching ukulele:D

deach
08-28-2008, 02:43 AM
...PM me if you are interested in reserving a special Christmas present. ...

Pea Em Scent

h-drix
08-28-2008, 11:37 AM
The Koa All-Star Sopranos. It's a limited edition of 5 ukulele made from that pink koa I was telling you about...

so tempting but the moths in my wallet deny my UAS.