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View Full Version : New Uke Day! My first Hawaiian!



bynapkinart
11-15-2011, 12:05 PM
Following a long saga of missed opportunities and late orders, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to take a soprano with me on my trip home. It wouldn't have been that bad, but I really wanted to show the kiddos that are getting their own ukes that they're playing the same size instrument that I enjoy the most.

I realized I had enough money stocked up, so I went ahead and ordered the uke that I've dreamed about since first picking the ukulele up...the KoAlhoa Soprano. It got here today, and I'm ecstatic. It sounds EXACTLY like what I wanted in my head.

It is kind of hard to explain the sound without sounding like every other review out there, so suffice it to say that it is balanced and punchy and very very loud, and I'll make a video when I get back home in a couple of weeks. The volume is surprising even though that it's the reason I went with the KoAloha. I thought my concert had some serious volume on every other uke that I've heard, but the KoAloha is louder than the concert! It really excels in the higher range, and it much brighter and punchier than the concert without sounding remotely plinky. It has more sustain than the concert does, and the fretwork/setup is perfect all the way up the neck, unlike the concert (which was last set up probably 80 years ago). The fretboard was bone dry when I opened up the box, so the first thing in order was a quick rubbing with fretboard oil. It had to go through the Rockies on it's way to me, so I'm thinking that it'll be fine and it just got dry in transit.

One interesting thing to note: this ukulele is sporting the older style KoAloha carved tie bridge, which I had thought they retired a few years ago (correct me if I'm wrong). I really prefer it to the Martin style bridge they have on their website...not only do I like tie bridges, but I love the etching they did on the bridge. It gives it that little bit of bling that makes it look a little more like a fine instrument than a factory production. I prefer the look of KoAlohas to Kamakas, even though Kamaka uses (usually) much prettier figured Koa on their ukes. I just feel like this little adornment adds a lot to the character of the KoAloha, and shows how fine these instruments are.

http://i581.photobucket.com/albums/ss258/bynapkinart/PB150007.jpg

The top is fairly even and straight-grained...more orange than mahogany but about the same look. The back is pretty crazy looking, with orange, purple, red, and brown stripes:

http://i581.photobucket.com/albums/ss258/bynapkinart/PB150006.jpg

Beyond that, it is about as utilitarian looking as Hawaiian ukes get...not a whole lot of bling, just a whole lot of tone. Sound is its very best feature, it's kind of like someone playing softly enough that no string overpowers another, but then turned the mic up to 12. So, so loud for a soprano; loud enough, in fact, that I'm taking it to a jam with a couple of guitar buddies and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to lead the way still.

I'm a huge huge fan of the KoAloha headstock, I think it's by far the most unique headstock out there and it's very well done. Again, kind of blingy in a very understated sort of way.

http://i581.photobucket.com/albums/ss258/bynapkinart/PB150004.jpg

http://i581.photobucket.com/albums/ss258/bynapkinart/PB150010.jpg

I think that in 60 or 70 years this headstock might be as instantly recognizable and ubiquitous as the Martin or Kumalae headstocks. Unique, cool, yet professional.

I'm thrilled with my first ever Hawaiian. I'm pretty sure that in the future I'll need to add to my collection, but this should set me up for a pretty long time. Fantastic job KoAloha!!!

bynapkinart
11-15-2011, 12:05 PM
http://i581.photobucket.com/albums/ss258/bynapkinart/PB150005.jpg

http://i581.photobucket.com/albums/ss258/bynapkinart/PB150016.jpg

Gmoney
11-15-2011, 12:11 PM
Just.Lovely! Enjoy as I know you will!

dredey
11-15-2011, 12:13 PM
That is nice. Good luck with it.:)

mascompro
11-15-2011, 12:25 PM
Congrats, I fall a little more in love with mine each and every day.

Trinimon
11-15-2011, 01:06 PM
Congrats on the new uke! :)

Plainsong
11-15-2011, 01:26 PM
Koaloha soprano was my first, which I sold locally and I got to have a go on it last week at the Mighty Uke post-screening jam. What a great instrument! I righted the wrong by getting a concert though.

I think that bridge style is actually the new one. They've been using the standard bridges for a long while, but then switched to that type, which I'm with you, much prefer it. My Koaloha still has the older bridge, but oh well, ain't sellin' this one! It's not its fault I fail at making a decent knot. String makers need to wise up and make strings with endings to them.

Enjoy the uke, and don't make the mistake I made in selling it. You'll only have to buy another one.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
11-15-2011, 01:35 PM
Beautiful sound is what it's all about---glad to hear you've found your perfect soprano. Congratulations!

OldePhart
11-15-2011, 02:27 PM
Sweeeeet. Plainsong is right, that's the new bridge. Some folks have dissed it but, honestly, I like it better than the straight bridge on my longneck (not as nice as the old bowties, though).

It's pretty hard to beat a good ole' Hawaiian koa uke. (Yeah, I know it can be done with a luthier instrument, but the KoAlohas are way more uke than I'll ever be able to fully bring to life, anyway).

John

kamaka_4_life
11-15-2011, 02:33 PM
Wow, very nice!! I'm happy that you finally got the ukulele you always wanted. I'm sure you will enjoy that Koaloha :) They make amazing ukes. Congrats :o

rem50
11-15-2011, 02:53 PM
that is one sweet uke! Congratulations!

chindog
11-15-2011, 03:05 PM
Lucky you, Ben! Congrats on the new KoAloha! One day I hope to have one, too. I know you will enjoy it!

roxhum
11-15-2011, 03:07 PM
It's beautiful. Congratulations!

mm stan
11-15-2011, 03:14 PM
Cogratulations Ben,
I love the orange stridations whenever I buy a koa uke...Have fun and Happy Strummings...

mds725
11-15-2011, 05:03 PM
Congratulations on your new uke! I really like the grain on it, seems typical of the koa KoAloha uses. Do you mind my asking where you bought it? Happy playing!

coolkayaker1
11-15-2011, 05:30 PM
I have the same uke, Ben, but mine is 2009 KoAloha soprano, so I don't have that garish "koaloha" bridge, thank God.

I'm joshin'. Looks great, and your enthusiasm for it is contagious. By the way, I owned mine used (but near mint, really) for about one day before I put my Snark tuner on the headstock and permanently scratched the koa head! It's about 2 cm long, and annoying. It's a player uke for me, so with my all thumbs Golpe and crap, it'll get gnarly anyhow, but just sayin', watch out fo those tuners on the koa head.

Cheers, Ben.

tigersister
11-15-2011, 05:36 PM
Congrats on a lovely uke and happy strumming!

bynapkinart
11-15-2011, 07:00 PM
Thanks everyone! I just got back from that guitar heavy jam and my suspicions were right...I stayed well in the mix, which was downright silly because I was going up against jumbo maple Gibson acoustic guitars. Great time, tons of compliments, overall really satisfied with its first night out!

mds725, I bought it from Scott at Cymbalism Music, who was great to work with. The KoAloha came straight from the factory, so it was set up at the factory only. It was perfectly set up. I attribute that to a small team of good people doing this kind of thing for quite a while...I think I personally would trust Ohana best if I bought it from someone who would set it up on its way to me, but I have no qualms about buying directly from KoAloha. They know what they're doing and they do a great job.

And everyone is absolutely right about the bridge, I guess I saw that on one and assumed it was old because the KoAloha website still shows the Martin style bridge. That's a good example of change for the better, I'd say...the friends that I was with were very impressed by the level of detail in the instrument, especially the bridge. Great work by KoAloha.

UkueBass23
11-16-2011, 04:10 AM
Gorgeous instrument. really want one for myself too!

Pippin
11-16-2011, 05:21 AM
The headstock already is...

molokinirum
11-16-2011, 05:40 AM
Sweeeeeeet!!!!! What a beauty, congratulations!!!!

Big_e
11-16-2011, 09:05 AM
That uke is beautiful! Congrats and thanks for sharing.
Ernest

Coconut Willie
11-16-2011, 09:16 AM
Awesome looking uke!!! Love the colors and the grain!!!!!!! WTG

bynapkinart
12-29-2011, 07:36 PM
Here's a sound clip...finally. Not great, but something, at least!

http://soundcloud.com/ben-young-napkin-art/hallelujah

3nails4holes
12-29-2011, 07:51 PM
nice looking uke! thanks for sharing the koaloha love!

Uke Whisperer
12-30-2011, 12:04 AM
Great looking uke and you bring a great sound out of it! Congrats!

joeybug
12-30-2011, 02:13 AM
That is one beautiful Uke! Congrats and it sounds divine too! :D