PDA

View Full Version : Koa Mail Order Lottery: Did I win - or not?



blab
08-11-2011, 04:46 AM
Hi,

got this Kamaka HF-3:

http://www.lowpoly.com/ukulele/koa/003.jpg

http://www.lowpoly.com/ukulele/koa/004.jpg

The sides are noticeably lighter than the top and back. The headstock veneer is also lighter than the top. It's a bit less noticeable in a photo.

However, I love the top wood structure and the fretboard/bridge color.

I'm leaning towards keeping it. What do you think?

Mandarb
08-11-2011, 04:48 AM
Looks great! What was the contest?

blab
08-11-2011, 04:52 AM
There was no contest. :) By "mail order lottery" I meant, that you never know how the Koa will be, when you order from a seller who doesn't post photos of the actual instrument. So it's always possible to get something you don't like as much.

Mandarb
08-11-2011, 04:53 AM
There was no contest. :) By "mail order lottery" I meant, that you never know how the Koa will be, when you order from a seller who doesn't post photos of the actual instrument. So it's always possible to get something you don't like as much.

Gotcha. Again, it looks great. Enjoy!

bdukes
08-11-2011, 04:56 AM
Hard to say if you "won". What's it sound and feel like to you?

Looks nice to me. Playability and sound is the variable that concerns me the most. Looks come next.

kissing
08-11-2011, 05:00 AM
I'm confused. Why wouldn't you keep it?
Sorry if I'm missing something important... but I really don't see the issue here.

austin1
08-11-2011, 05:01 AM
I'm confused. Why wouldn't you keep it?
Sorry if I'm missing something important... but I really don't see the issue here.

likewise. What exactly is the problem? If you don't like it, you can always send it to my house!

RyanMFT
08-11-2011, 05:02 AM
I think it looks great, just how a Koa ukulele should.....there is a ton of color variation in Koa, as I am sure you know and one of the great things about it is that it isn't evenly colored like Mahogany. Plus, over the years, the color changes depending on how much light it sees.....I think you got a winner!

Congrats on the new Kamaka!

dhoenisch
08-11-2011, 05:04 AM
Looks great to me!

Dan

blab
08-11-2011, 05:06 AM
Thanks for the replies. The issue (if it is one) is that the sides are much lighter than the top and back. I did not expect that at all.

Playability and tone are great.

dhoenisch
08-11-2011, 05:08 AM
Thanks for the replies. The "issue" is that the sides are much lighter than the top and back. I did not expect that at all.

Playability and tone are great.

I wouldn't let that bother you. The beauty of natural wood is that it adds uniqueness and character to the instrument. If it makes you feel better, my solid spruce topped Lanikai ST's top is lighter than the rest of the instrument :)

Dan

csibona
08-11-2011, 05:21 AM
Thanks for the replies. The issue (if it is one) is that the sides are much lighter than the top and back. I did not expect that at all.

Playability and tone are great.

The color differences wouldn't bother me... But to each their own.

SuzukHammer
08-11-2011, 05:35 AM
I wouldnt' kick it out the bed for eating sharp cheddar cheese cheetos.

bdukes
08-11-2011, 05:49 AM
BTW, given playability and tone are great, where did you get it? I'm sure others would like to add another trusted supplier to the list. Was it setup by them or came with the factory setup?

Its looks add to its uniqueness. Congrats on the Kamaka, enjoy it.

PoiDog
08-11-2011, 06:08 AM
It seems a bit silly (to me) to return an instrument that you enjoy, that feels good, and that sounds good just because the sides and the top/back don't match perfectly in color. Or because you aren't 100% enamored with the grain pattern.

Playing well is more important than looking perfect. Unless, of course, you're using it as a show piece.

erivel
08-11-2011, 06:47 AM
I wouldn't worry about the color either. Just curious did you buy from a dealer? I'm surprised that a dealer wouldn't supply you with pics first. I bought mine from a dealer that provided a ton of pics on their website of the actual uke.

Dan Uke
08-11-2011, 07:01 AM
I agree with most here...IF you really did care about looks, you would have asked for pics. IF I got a great price for it, I wouldn't care of the color. IF I paid full retail, I would just get it at a local store.

Personally, I think it would be difficult for the front, back, and sides to all match as you have a tenor uke and we all know how much koa varies.

blab
08-11-2011, 07:30 AM
Thanks everyone for putting things into perspective. :)

Setup is factory, I'm not really qualified to comment on it. I just meant I'm happy with it.

I was going to ask for pictures but it came weeks earlier than announced.

Going to keep it. :)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-11-2011, 07:34 AM
Talk about being picky! If you wanted something where all the components match perfectly you probably should've gotten a synthetic uke. Enjoy all the variations that a beautiful wood like koa can offer! Should all the clouds in the sky match each other? Wood is a natural material, it will have variations. Even within the same board of koa, the range can be from blonde to dark and from A to 4A. It can even go from flat sawn to quarter sawn within the same board.

blab
08-11-2011, 07:48 AM
^^^ What's wrong with being picky on a $1000 instrument? I have two weeks to send it back, after that I'm going to keep it for the rest of my life. So if there may be an issue (even with aesthetics) now is the time to think about it.

Of course there's great variation in Koa. But I was also under the impression that some matching of the different wood parts is done (example (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?46049-My-Kamaka-Factory-Tour&p=667963#post667963)). To what extent - I don't know and I'd be happy to learn more about it.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
08-11-2011, 08:07 AM
From your pictures it looks like a pretty good match to me.
Here's the deal with a lot of curly koa. Occasionally, across the width of a single board of curly koa, the heaviest curl will always be on the outer (bark edge) of the koa. It is often darker as well. Toward the core of the tree, there may be no curl at all and the color will often be lighter. Curly koa can be extremely difficult to bend and it is not uncommon to save the lighter, inner koa for the sides and reserve the curly, more dramatic wood for the tops and back. I takes approximately two board feet to build an ukulele. So a single piece of wood 9" wide X 20" long can have a lot of variation. At up to $100 a board foot and up, factories like Kamaka can not afford to be throwing a lot of koa away at a $1000 retail price point. The more important factor is that all the components be made of the same board. This is a structural consideration as much as it is a visual one.
Plain koa (not curly) does not have as much variation. And I've seen some 5A fiddleback that is consistent throughout but it is not common and you'll be paying $150 a board foot for it..
From what I can tell you have some outstanding koa in that uke. Enjoy it.

mds725
08-11-2011, 08:47 AM
As others have pointed out, koa has a lot of variables, and there are additional variables that are added when an instrument is made out of koa by hand. The new Kamaka tenor I bought in Kauai had the best sound of the three I played in the shop, but the sides weren't perfectly matched.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=23198&d=1304041429

Because I like the ukulele so much, this "imperfection" has become an adorable little characteristic of the uke.

On the other hand, the koa in the used Kamaka tenor I bought at Gryphon Stringed Instruments featured this amazing visual characteristic.

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=26295&d=1312071052

They both sound great and I wouldn't trade either one of them. Do I love the "draping" effect of the koa in my 2005 Kamaka? Sure, and people comment on it. But when I'm playing it, I don't see the koa. My experience of either uke is how it feels in my hands and what it sounds like when I play it.

All that said, I kinda feel that this is your ukulele and the only person who has to be happy with the way it looks is you. Asking others whether they like the way it looks or whether the lighter sides and back bothers them seems a bit deciding whether to date someone based on whether other people thought she/he was attractive. If you have reservations about the way it looks, it's possible that those reservations might nag you forever, regardless of what others say. Only you can decide how much the aesthetics of this particular ukulele please or bother you.

Since you posted that you have the option of returning the ukulele if you want to, it would be great if you could tell us who the seller is (assuming you bought it from a retailer and not from a private party). A lot of retailers state on their website that they don't permit returns if you don't like the specific grain of the ukulele they send you, but they will offer to send photos before you buy. If you bought this ukulele from a retailer that does permit returns for aesthetic reasons, it would be helpful for this community to know who that retailer is. (And, if you return this ukulele, it would allow others who've read this thread to contact the retailer about buying it. :) )

blab
08-11-2011, 10:21 AM
From your pictures it looks like a pretty good match to me.
Here's the deal with a lot of curly koa. Occasionally, across the width of a single board of curly koa, the heaviest curl will always be on the outer (bark edge) of the koa. It is often darker as well. Toward the core of the tree, there may be no curl at all and the color will often be lighter. Curly koa can be extremely difficult to bend and it is not uncommon to save the lighter, inner koa for the sides and reserve the curly, more dramatic wood for the tops and back. I takes approximately two board feet to build an ukulele. So a single piece of wood 9" wide X 20" long can have a lot of variation. At up to $100 a board foot and up, factories like Kamaka can not afford to be throwing a lot of koa away at a $1000 retail price point. The more important factor is that all the components be made of the same board. This is a structural consideration as much as it is a visual one.
Plain koa (not curly) does not have as much variation. And I've seen some 5A fiddleback that is consistent throughout but it is not common and you'll be paying $150 a board foot for it..
From what I can tell you have some outstanding koa in that uke. Enjoy it.
Perfect explanation, thank you.


All that said, I kinda feel that this is your ukulele and the only person who has to be happy with the way it looks is you. Asking others whether they like the way it looks or whether the lighter sides and back bothers them seems a bit deciding whether to date someone based on whether other people thought she/he was attractive. If you have reservations about the way it looks, it's possible that those reservations might nag you forever, regardless of what others say. Only you can decide how much the aesthetics of this particular ukulele please or bother you.
True. But I also think this is mail order related. If you buy in a real world shop there's maybe more than one model and you can pick the one you like best. And maybe you bring a friend you can talk to. With mail order, it's all different and things can happen you cannot foresee. And when that happens you may miss knowledge for an informed decision (in my case about wood matching).


Since you posted that you have the option of returning the ukulele if you want to, it would be great if you could tell us who the seller is (assuming you bought it from a retailer and not from a private party). A lot of retailers state on their website that they don't permit returns if you don't like the specific grain of the ukulele they send you, but they will offer to send photos before you buy. If you bought this ukulele from a retailer that does permit returns for aesthetic reasons, it would be helpful for this community to know who that retailer is. (And, if you return this ukulele, it would allow others who've read this thread to contact the retailer about buying it. :) )
I'm in Germany. We have a mail order law here that you can send anything back within 14 days.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
08-11-2011, 10:33 AM
My Kamaka's sides also have a noticeable color difference from its top/back. The difference is more or less prominent depending on the way light hits the ukulele---it looks best to me when the difference is more intense. These are wonderful, unique details that make me love my ukulele more. That being said, I fell in love with my Kamaka because of its sound. For me, the looks are a bonus.

OldePhart
08-11-2011, 12:06 PM
Thanks for the replies. The issue (if it is one) is that the sides are much lighter than the top and back. I did not expect that at all.

Playability and tone are great.

Playability and tone are what count...

The different shades of wood thing seems to be pretty common even with the "K-brands" - maybe even more so there because they're not using some laminate that comes in big sheets with carefully matched veneer across the sheet. I know that both of the KoAlohas that I've owned have had a little different shade between top and sides and a pretty significantly lighter back.

John