View Full Version : Macro photos...is this Mahogany or Koa?

08-23-2011, 02:26 PM
I really can't tell at all, and I thought I was pretty good at telling woods apart. Harmony made two versions of this uke in the late 20's, a mahogany standard version and a premium koa version. I really don't care too much what it is, because it sounds fantastic to my ears, but the wood is pretty light for mahogany and sounds more middy than other mahogany ukes I've played. It could be the age of the uke, it could be the wood or bridge, but whatever its made out of I can't really tell and was wondering if any of you had insight.

I took some macro photos in the sunlight because the videos I've been posting really don't do the thing justice...





08-23-2011, 02:27 PM
There's a naked spot where the finish has completely rubbed off, leaving the bare color and flame of the wood open for display, and that's what's confusing me. It is blond and sexy like koa, but could be flamed mahogany as well:





What do you think it is, if you had to guess between the two?

08-23-2011, 02:41 PM
The grain in that bare spot looks like Mahogany. I have seen tigered, or flame mahogany and sure wish I could find some..

08-23-2011, 03:49 PM
I would vote for mahogany.

08-23-2011, 03:49 PM
I'm no expert on Koa, but Mahogany sometimes has that figure.

Also Mahogany is not a particularly dark wood. It's somewhat light in it's natural state, but with a few decades of age, it goes to a medium shade. Your finish is "shaded" or "toned" like many archtops, for example. The coloring in the finish keeps the wood below from oxidizing, or darkening, as it normally would. The flaking is probably fairly recent.

Seems like Mahogany, good Mahogany should be "middy" (and it does sound GREAT).

08-23-2011, 05:37 PM
It's a Johnny Marvin mahogany tenor made by Harmony. It's flamed mahogany. The koa version, known as The Prince of Wales is much lighter in color does not have a sunburst finish.

08-23-2011, 05:38 PM
Oh, and it's really a concert scale.

08-23-2011, 08:20 PM
Thanks hmgberg! I knew what model it was, but I didn't know if it was the Prince of Wales or the mahogany model. I'm really glad that it's mahogany, I think Koa might have a too overpowering midrange for this size. The balance of tone on this uke is really nice. I'm just glad I finally got around to taking good pictures of it to find out for sure!




I know I took a bunch of pictures of the bridge, I just think the thing is so dang cool that it steals the show despite the flame mahogany and pearloid headstock.

08-23-2011, 08:47 PM
Wow! thats a nice piece! Would love to take something like that for a spin :) Did you clean and polish her a lot? Very nice finish, with some cool wear in the right places I think!

08-24-2011, 05:24 AM
Haha I spent probably 3 hours with a bottle of polishing compound and an old shirt...I'm pretty sure it hasn't ever been polished save for when the neck was repaired, so maybe 50 or 60 years of dirt and grime were caked on to the top of it. Needless to say, I was a bit surprised when the flame started peeking out of the crud on the top, so I took my time.

It really plays wonderfully.

08-24-2011, 06:05 AM
Here are two links to the Prince of Wales tenors that Elderly presently has for sale. As you may note from what hmgberg stated, the POW is lighter in color and does not have the sunburst finish.



Here's a shot of the Airplane Bridge Mahogany next to the traditional Harmony Tenor from our collection.


Concert scale they are...

08-24-2011, 02:29 PM
Cool! When did they switch to the plainer style from the airplane bridge?