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sbpark
07-18-2011, 12:37 PM
So I just got back from picking up my new (at least new to me) Koaloha KCM-00 Concert. Sold some other instruments and decided I wanted a higher end, really nice uke, and this one happened to pop up for sale. In another thread that I posted asking opinions on ukues from a few different manufacturers, the KoAlohas kept getting recommended, especially in the concert size. I am pretty new to ukuleles, but have been a guitar player off and on since my teens. The ukues I have owned so far have been on the lower end including a Lanai CKCGC, Kala KA-MT Mango Tenor, and an Ohana CK-35G. I still own the Ohana, but sold the Lanikai and the Kala.

Obviously the KoAloha is in a completely different class compared to the other ukes I own/have owned, but in another thread a poster asked about my initial impression on how it compared to those other ukes, so I will try to give my interpretation/impression.

There really is no way to fairly compare the KoAloha to the other ukes I have owned. The quickest and easiest way to explain the difference is this: take a blanket and put it over your stereo speakers. If you left it there for a while you may actually get used to it if you didn't know otherwise or have anything else to compare it to. And turning up the volume isn't going to make it any better, only louder. Now remove the blanket. That's the way the KoAloha sounds to me. The other ukes I've owned just sounded dull, wimpy and muffled. I have to give credit though to the Ohana because it actually sounds pretty nice, but it's also solid wood (mahogany) where the Kala and Lanikai were all laminate.

The KoAloha is strung with Worth clears (the personal preference of the previous owner) and they sound pretty darn good. I know the KoAlohas are known to be pretty bright and loud and I guess the Worth clears compliment that attribute pretty well, without sounding too harsh, and sound especially sweet when fingerpicking. Very clear and nice tone. To me it just sounds perfect. On the way home from getting this uke I stopped by a shop that has a few high end ukes and compared the KoAloha side by side to two other concerts I was considering, a Kanlie'a and a Kamaka. The Kanile'a felt very nice, was set up really well and had a nice sound, very nice fit and finish, but for what they were asking I didn't think it was THAT nice or worth it. The Kamaka is, well a Kamaka. No explanation needed. I think the look and fit and finish of the Kamakas are just beautiful and they are probably my favorite looking ukuleles hands down. Just very classic and classy. I'm not into lots of inlays, binding, etc, and would rather have a subtle looking, no frills instrument where your money is going more toward materials and craftsmanship resulting in a better sounding instrument, but that's just me. With that said, and how much I've always wanted a Kamaka, I was not impressed with the sound that came out of that particular concert. It played wonderfully and felt great but just sounded 'eh', possibly even dull/bland/uninspiring. Compared to anything else I had played the KoAloha was just perfection. Very crystalline and clear, but not harsh or tinny at all. wonderful note separation and to my amateur ear more balanced than the other high end ukues I tried out.

As far as fit and finish there is nothing to complain about with the KoAloha. Nothing fancy, nothing special, no rosette, crazy inlays or binding, but thats the way I like it. I even sort of prefer the subtle, laser engraved headstock logo that sort of offsets/balances the obvious 5-point distinctive headstock design. I actually prefer the gloss finish on this one compared to other gloss finished that I have seen on other ukuleles. Most other gloss finishes are, or appear to be way too thick and give an otherwise nice looking instrument a very plastic-like look, making them look cheap. This is the case with my Ohana CK-35 and it's probably the only complaint I have about it and would have preferred a satin finish on that ukulele. The KoAloha gloss finish could be compared to the old nitro finishes that you'd see on an old telecaster where you can still see and feel the pores in the wood and I really like that! With almost every other instrument that I have owned with a gloss finish (mostly telecasters because I am a tele guy!) I have always taken 000 steel wool to the back of the neck to get rid of the little bit of tackyness from the lacquer. Dunno if I can bring myself to do that on this uke though! Like I said, no complaints at all about fit and finish, but don't expect to have your socks knocked off from crazy inlays and what not. You're paying for the materials, craftsmanship and sound here!

The other thing that sort of sealed the deal on the KoAloha was their ridiculous warranty. Dunno of any other company out there that has one as good. AND from the videos I've seen they just seem like really nice people! That might sound cheesy, but that counts for a lot in my book.

With that said I am VERY pleased with this little ukulele, but I have only had it for a few hours and will have to revisit this thread to do it justice once the 'honeymoon' period wears off. I also ordered a few sets of KO'OLAU Mahana strings and am interested to see how they sound on both my KoAloha and my Ohana. I was originally going to sell the Ohana to justify the purchase of the KoAloha, but think I am going to hold onto it and make it my 'beater' instead. Take it to the beach, when I travel, etc. Not sure what the KoAlohas usually go for used, but feel like I got a decent deal. Paid $480 for the uke and it came with standard hardshell/soft styrofoam 'Uke Crazy' case that so many of us own. Have a Guardian CG-044-US on order and will use that for the KoAloha and the 'Uke Crazy' case for the Ohana.

Here are a few quick pics I took once I got home. Thanks to everyone who gave there opinions and advice in the previous thread I posted!

http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/IMG_1976.jpg

http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/IMG_1977.jpg

http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/IMG_1980.jpg

http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/sbparker01/IMG_1983.jpg

OldePhart
07-18-2011, 01:00 PM
It's pretty hard to beat a KoAloha concert (well, I suppose you can if you've got really deep pockets :) ). I just sold mine but only because I got my real dream - a KoAloha longneck soprano. :)

BTW - I love your analogy about a blanket over stereo speakers.

John

Total Ukphoria
07-18-2011, 01:16 PM
It's pretty hard to beat a KoAloha concert (well, I suppose you can if you've got really deep pockets :) ). I just sold mine but only because I got my real dream - a KoAloha longneck soprano. :)

BTW - I love your analogy about a blanket over stereo speakers.

John

Is that the longneck concert or the longneck tenor?

OldePhart
07-18-2011, 01:19 PM
Is that the longneck concert or the longneck tenor?

The KoAloha longneck soprano is a concert neck on a soprano body. IMNTBHO the concert scale is God's gift to the ukulele world so the KoAloha longneck kick's butt. :)

John

mm stan
07-18-2011, 01:33 PM
Congratualtions on your Koaloha concert..you got a good deal and a good choice at that..happy strummings..MM Stan

rem50
07-18-2011, 02:34 PM
That is a beautiful UKE! I too am a KoAloha fan . Congrats.

crowsby
07-18-2011, 02:38 PM
I'm trying to hunt one of these down at the moment myself; it's a beaut and you got it for a great price. There's one up on FMM (http://www.fleamarketmusic.com/marketplace/default.asp) for $550 now, but it's got geared tuners which aren't really compatible with the headstock's look IMHO. I'm currently debating whether to buy new, new second, or used.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
07-18-2011, 02:43 PM
Sounds like you've met your ukulele soul-mate, congratulations!!

sbpark
07-18-2011, 02:44 PM
I'm trying to hunt one of these down at the moment myself; it's a beaut and you got it for a great price. There's one up on FMM (http://www.fleamarketmusic.com/marketplace/default.asp) for $550 now, but it's got geared tuners which aren't really compatible with the headstock's look IMHO. I'm currently debating whether to buy new, new second, or used.

I drove all the way from San Diego up to Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley this morning to get this one. The asking price was $600, but cash is king i guess. I firmed up the price BEFORE i drove all the way up there, and made sure I got up there as soon as I could. Craigslist can be hit or miss, but the guy I bought it from was very nice. Luckily for me it was worth all the driving. It has a few very minor cosmetic blems, and i mean MINOR, but i could care less about that. I don't abuse my instruments, but I dont baby them either. I'm more concerned with how they feel and sound. I would go for a used one, especially if its from a reputable maker. Especially in today's economy it almost doesnt make sense to buy new because people are selling luxury items like this pretty cheap because they unfortunately need the $$$.

olgoat52
07-18-2011, 05:46 PM
That was a good price. Used they run around $550 or so for the concert size. I personally prefer the satin finish although the one I have now is gloss. Compared to guitars, I can't believe what the K' brands get away with in the finish department. A finish like that would end up on sale at Walmart if it were a guitar.

But the sound is another story and that's why we buy them. Still they are not luthier made and vary signifcantly from uke to uke. So be happy that you got a good one and don't play someone elses KoAloha concert cuz trust me, you don't want to know.. ;)

Enjoy! Steppin up is lots o fun! Don't forget the music.

olgoat52
07-18-2011, 05:47 PM
Congrats on the great looking KoAloha and thanks for posting your impressions. Felt similar when I first tried a KoAloha (and I have the same Concert as you do now.) I love my Kamaka Tenor also...just a totally different feel/sound. I think they compliment each other very well. Since you're a Tele guy on guitar (I also have one of those)...its just kind of like having both a Tele and some type of Gibson (I have an ES-335). I think you got a very good price on it too!
A Tele and a 335 cover all the bases. :)

sbpark
07-18-2011, 05:51 PM
A Tele and a 335 cover all the bases. :)

actually, just a tele will cover all the bases! ;)

DreamerZz
07-18-2011, 05:53 PM
Where does one find a used/new concert Koaloha for less than 550? That sounds amazingly low

saltytri
07-18-2011, 06:13 PM
Where does one find a used/new concert Koaloha for less than 550? That sounds amazingly low

Elderly recently had a mint 2010 Pikake Concert for $450. Gotta subscribe to their email stock updates.

haolejohn
07-18-2011, 06:16 PM
The KoAloha longneck soprano is a concert neck on a soprano body. IMNTBHO the concert scale is God's gift to the ukulele world so the KoAloha longneck kick's butt. :)

John

I love my long neck soprano as well (it is actually my wife's) as I love my super concert.

haolejohn
07-18-2011, 06:18 PM
That was a good price. Used they run around $550 or so for the concert size. I personally prefer the satin finish although the one I have now is gloss. Compared to guitars, I can't believe what the K' brands get away with in the finish department. A finish like that would end up on sale at Walmart if it were a guitar.

But the sound is another story and that's why we buy them. Still they are not luthier made and vary signifcantly from uke to uke. So be happy that you got a good one and don't play someone elses KoAloha concert cuz trust me, you don't want to know.. ;)

Enjoy! Steppin up is lots o fun! Don't forget the music.

can you explain this? I have read this from a few people and I see nothing wrong with the finishes. I prefer the K brand finishes to high end guitar finishes but I keep hearing this and I am wondering if I am wrong...

poppy
07-18-2011, 06:28 PM
Now my Tele is black plain ol black. Now if ya got the red Gibson thats a sweetheart. If I ever get to CHUG goat i'll drag my new Honu it might have a good finish.

sonicbaker
07-18-2011, 06:40 PM
A Tele and a 335 cover all the bases. :)

Electric-wise, indeed. But, I do have my eye on a Martin HD-28 currently ;) UAS and GAS are quite a combo.

mds725
07-18-2011, 07:32 PM
Congratulations! That's a great-looking uke and it sounds like you got a great deal!