View Full Version : My new Nalu: quick review

02-18-2011, 10:42 AM
I wanted a uke with a pickup. Here is my new Nalu Hokua tenor with cutaway and Mi-Si. Solid sapele mahogany, padauk binding, LOTS of highly coloured abalone inlay, gold Grover tuners, black Tusq nut and saddle, D'addario T2 titanium strings. The finish is really good: accurate mitres in the binding corners, smoothed soundhole, padauk cap on the neck's heel, no blobs of glue on the inside.
The extra pickup wire is coiled and firmly attached to the inside of the uke.

This is one pretty uke, but most importantly, the sound is wonderful. Great intonation even past the 12th fret. This thing rings. Compared to Worth Clears and Aquilas, I would describe the D'Addario T2's as sounding "glassy". Very crisp. The factory-set action is just fine.

Nalu is a new uke company, so it isn't in many dealerships yet, but it should be. I got mine from the Ukulele Source in San Jose. I picked it up when Rick Rasay, one of the owners of Nalu, was making a delivery. It was a pleasure to meet him and after talking with him, it is obvious that he cares about customer satisfaction. I told him Nalu needs to work on their website and he agreed, saying it is still under construction. And, no, I don't get kickbacks from Nalu. I did get a T-shirt, though.

I'm going to post a video review of the Hokua soon so UUers can hear how nice this uke sounds.

Here are some pix.





02-18-2011, 10:46 AM
She's a beauty! Love the headstock with the wave cutout.

02-18-2011, 11:18 AM
Damn, that's a looker. How do you like the Mi Si?

02-18-2011, 11:35 AM
Since this is my first uke with a pickup, I don't have anything to compare it to, but I'm having fun twiddling the knobs on my old Crate 30W amp that has reverb, chorus and flange (whatever that is) settings to see what sounds it makes. The 60-second recharge time/16 hour play time is a wonder of modern electronics.

02-18-2011, 11:45 AM
Very cool man. I have a kanilea k1-t w/ mi si coming and I can't wait to give it a try. That nalu looks gorgeous, I'm sure it sounds great too. Lucky man, I'll be looking forward to the vid.

02-18-2011, 11:47 AM
Gorgeous ukulele! Congratulations!

The electric guitar effect called flanger got its name when studio personnel would touch the "flange" of a reel to reel tape deck, making a delay compared to a parallel/duplicate machine. A flanger combines the original signal from the guitar with a delayed signal.

I didn't know either so I looked it up.


02-18-2011, 12:06 PM
I was told I should get an acoustic amp, but would the uke sound that much better? I want my Hokua to sound its best.

02-18-2011, 12:35 PM
It's a beauty!

02-18-2011, 12:55 PM
Nalu has been around for about 2 years. Rick and Mark have been associated with the ukulele most of their lives. Here's Rick's post about Nalu . . .

Aloha JJ, I hope you don't mind my intervening here, as I am one of the 3 principals of NALU Ukulele Company. Of course, I can only say great things about our ukuleles being one of the founding partners. First off, also thanks for the plug on the "looks" of our ukulele. As principal creative designer, we believe we accomplished an eye-catching product while also offering nice sound at an affordable price point. I have been very closely involved in the design development including discerning sound and tone of our instruments. Having been a collector of vintage ukuleles for over 25 years, it has given me a sensitive ear of what's been produced in the past, and I must admit to referring to tonal quality from ukes in my collection. Along with the modern day high end ukes out there with great sound, we also had to realize that there are vintage ukuleles that possess a distinct sound worthy of replicating. Of course, all 3 partners have been involved and we have also sought the advice of other experts and players, and feel their input has been critical in our development to this point. We at NALU continue to strive for "better", because we know there are many choices out there. Do know that we are positioned as a mid-range instrument and our attention to detail has been a critical part of the quality we expect in our instruments. Also know that our ukuleles carry a 5 yr. limited warranty, but our sole purpose is that we have happy strumming customers for a long time. Please note that I am not offering an opinion, merely a bit of NALU's history and mission statement.

OK, back to your question, yes we are a NEW company, but did not plan this overnight. This project and forming of our "new" company has been about 2 1/2 years in the making. Without going into too much detail, we debuted our first ukuleles at the UFNC, Northern California Ukulele Festival in April 2009. We decided to expand our base from local hawaiian venues to "the world" you might say, and exhibited at NAMM 2010 in January with our complete line of products. It's safe to say our ukes have been well received, and we have secured a number of core dealers from this show, along with continued interest by other dealers. We are experiencing some growing pains, and we appreciate your understanding and patience as we are working to build up our inventory as we have had so much interest! We are currently dealing with some back orders, but in this situation we see it as a good thing. Again, we know there are many other ukuleles out there, high-end, mid-range, entry level, luthier one-offs, etc...we know as a company you can't please everyone. Just knowing that you have inquired about NALU ukuleles and queried peeps online, does express an interest about NALU ukuleles. We at least hope you consider what NALU can offer you as a player as one of your selections. Depending on where you live, we could direct you to a NALU dealer. If not, please give one of us a call, our phone numbers are located on our web site at www.nalu-ukulele.com or fill in the contact information and we'll be happy to assist you by contacting you at our earliest convenience. JJ, thanks for your interest and I hope that you find a uke that fits your needs and look at NALU as a possible choice. MAHALO! Rick Rasay


02-18-2011, 01:09 PM
Congratulations on the new ukulele! That one's a beauty. I got a chance to play a a few Nalu ukuleles at the Aloha Festival in San Francisco last summer. They all sounded great and looked to be very well crafted.

02-18-2011, 01:57 PM
She's a beauty! Love the headstock with the wave cutout.

Oh man...I agree!!!! :agree:

Would love to hear how it sounds!

mm stan
02-18-2011, 03:12 PM
Aloha Gillian,
Congrats on you new Nalu...means wave....Wow it's such a looker...and soo beautiful...the high gloss, gold tuner, inlays, etc...makes it look very expensive...wish I could hear how it sounds....I am so
happy for you....Have fun and enjoy!! Happy Strummings..MM Stan...

BadLands Bart
02-18-2011, 03:42 PM
That is a sweet uke, love that wave action and the headstock!! Congratulations!

02-18-2011, 03:51 PM
Looks beautiful, can't wait to hear it, congratulations!!!

02-18-2011, 05:02 PM
I was told I should get an acoustic amp, but would the uke sound that much better? I want my Hokua to sound its best.

I play my acoustic instruments through an acoustic combo amp. I've been looking at the Roland AC 33 Acoustic Chorus Combo Amp as an upgrade. I'd like to sell some equipment and a few instruments first.


02-18-2011, 07:47 PM
Looks beautiful, can't wait to hear it, congratulations!!!

While I'm trying to get over my "video stage fright", here's a fantastic ukulele player doing Jake's version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on the uke that I have.


02-19-2011, 06:51 AM
I picked up the Nalu Hokua mahogany concert about a year ago. The thing seems to sound better with age. Recently I took it into a high-end guitar store and compared it to a $1000 hand-made solid mahogany Collins UC1. The two were virtually indistinguishable. In fact, I'd give a slight edge to the Nalu in both looks and sound quality.

03-12-2011, 11:39 PM
Welcome to the Nalu ohana. I've been playing the Hokua super concert -- it's great!

03-13-2011, 12:59 AM
:drool: Pretty!

Congrats on your new Uke!

03-13-2011, 10:04 PM
Sorry I'm taking so long to post a video of the Hokua. I think the extra time to allow me to get familiar with it was a good thing.

For example, Nalu puts D'Addario T2 titanium strings on this model. I tried, I really tried, to like these strings, but I just couldn't. To me, they felt stiff, were hard to play and didn't have much sustain compared the Martin 600s or Worth Clears that I have on my other ukes. Plus, I like non-wound low-Gs, so I changed them out and put Worth Clears. Now I'm enjoying the uke much more. The sustain has improved considerably, at least to my ear, and it is much easier to play.

This is my first uke with a pickup (MiSi) and I'm also getting accustomed to that. I bought a Roland AC-33 amp and am having fun playing with the knobs and features.

When I feel I've got the Hokua broken in and I can play something on it well enough to do it justice, I'll post a video review, I promise.