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View Full Version : BI concert koa Honu quietly arrives home.



fretie
03-23-2012, 09:44 AM
http://i1040.photobucket.com/albums/b402/skydawger/koa%20honu%20concert%20uke/koahonu.jpg

http://i1040.photobucket.com/albums/b402/skydawger/koa%20honu%20concert%20uke/koaback.jpg

Here she is! My new koa Honu concert uke. Big Island all the way!

She's a pal for my BI mango tenor and while the tenor is in low G, the new concert is securing the high G spot in the uke quiver.

So, now what I wonder, is the sound...it is at this point, right out of the box, somewhat more quiet and less full than the former Kala acacia concert uke that the BI koa has replaced. Is that because the strings are not broken in yet? Or the wood has not quite mellowed out fully yet? (According to the paper inside the body, the uke was made in November 2011.) Or is koa just generally more quiet than acacia? This is my first koa uke so I'm not very familiar with the sound of koa wood.

vanflynn
03-23-2012, 10:23 AM
Congrats. Looks wonderful. I'm sure the she and her big sister will play well together!

haolejohn
03-23-2012, 11:48 AM
http://i1040.photobucket.com/albums/b402/skydawger/koa%20honu%20concert%20uke/koahonu.jpg

http://i1040.photobucket.com/albums/b402/skydawger/koa%20honu%20concert%20uke/koaback.jpg

Here she is! My new koa Honu concert uke. Big Island all the way!

She's a pal for my BI mango tenor and while the tenor is in low G, the new concert is securing the high G spot in the uke quiver.

So, now what I wonder, is the sound...it is at this point, right out of the box, somewhat more quiet and less full than the former Kala acacia concert uke that the BI koa has replaced. Is that because the strings are not broken in yet? Or the wood has not quite mellowed out fully yet? (According to the paper inside the body, the uke was made in November 2011.) Or is koa just generally more quiet than acacia? This is my first koa uke so I'm not very familiar with the sound of koa wood.

Big island/honu ukes kind of have that nice sound but a tad quiet reputation.

mm stan
03-23-2012, 12:15 PM
Congratulations on your new BI..looks awesome..yes I played many and they are a good mid level uke..
I have that white stripe on my front of my KoAloha soprano..yes that looks real cool..Happy
Strummings

fretie
03-24-2012, 04:13 AM
Thanks for your comments.

I'm taking the new koa to her first ukulele meetup today. It will be interesting to hear how she plays in a crowd.

coolkayaker1
03-24-2012, 04:31 AM
I'm taking the new koa to her first ukulele meetup today. It will be interesting to hear how she plays in a crowd.

My guess...softly.

I was going to buy a BI, almost pulled the trigger, but I wasn't getting a great deal on it (otherwise, I would have!), and as someone else mentioned, I had read they are somewhat quiet. Thicker build? I don't know, having never owned one. I was looking for a soprano at the time, and I think the smaller the uke, the softer if might be--doesn't have the big "lungs" of a concert or tenor. So, I didn't do it.

That said, I think your BI is beautiful, and adding some brighter strings might help--although you don;t mention what is on there now (Aquilas?). I'm getting some Southcoast strings in the mail today, and have heard wonderful things about them. They are string professionals, and worth your google: southcoast ukulele. Plenty of reading.

So, a lovely ukulele, BI with stunning and textured koa, and that "hiney" of sapwood. A lovely songbird rather than the cackle of a macaw. Nothing wrong with that!

fretie
03-24-2012, 05:20 AM
Thanks for you insights coolkayaker.

Yes, the concert is strung with aquilas now and I agree, it may be interesting to try some brighter strings on her some time. However, also, as you said, nothing wrong with a softspoken uke. My BI mango tenor, in contrast, has a very full mellow voice and often can be heard within a big group of uke'ers at a meetup. So if I'm feeling like standing out in a crowd a bit, it'd be the tenor that I'd be playing.

When I took the concert uke in yesterday to get a strap button installed the luthier suggested that the gloss coat, which was very expertly applied to the instrument, also adds to the softening of the tone...so there's a thought...but then again, the tenor has a lovely gloss finish too....so many variable I suppose...

I'm not complaining though - to have two Big Island ukes that compliment each other so nicely is a wonderful thing. And well said cool'yaker, better to have a songbird than a macaw....LOL

fretie
03-24-2012, 06:55 PM
Later the same day....OK, so maybe I am complaining a little. Took the new uke to the local uke meetup and I definitely felt she was a bit thin on sound. Just doesn't seem to resonate that well. I dunno, could be the gloss finish or .... thickness of wood.... ?

Anyways, I'm thinking I will go with a change of strings to see if I can find a fuller, warmer sound. Lots of talk of Worth browns, maybe I'll give those a try for starters.

What do you think, oh uke-gurus?

foxfair
03-24-2012, 09:09 PM
or.. haven't opened up? Some people don't think that string instruments should have this open-up thing, but it happened to me(and my ukes). Try to use other strings. southcoast medium is what I use on my concert, and it sounds great!

Gadzukes!
03-25-2012, 01:32 AM
I have a Big Island Honu Traditional and it is also on the quiet side. I believe it is mostly due to their gloss finish. A set of Worth Browns made a difference, but if you're unhappy with the volume you'll likely still be disappointed. It's just not a loud uke. They do sound beautiful, though.

KimosTherapy
03-25-2012, 03:05 AM
From my experience, Big Island Koa ukes have a really nice tone ... but a soft voice. No matter the size of the uke.

I had the privilege of playing both the Big Island Mango concert and tenor ukes @ the 2012 NAMM SHOW and was blown away by their projection! Their Mango ukes definitely have a very full, rich, mellow and warm tone with a surprisingly powerful voice.

KimosTherapy
03-25-2012, 03:15 AM
If you want a concert uke with a richer, fuller, warm and mellow tone with great projection, Zac Steimle of Oceana Ukuleles builds some really great sounding ukes.

Here's a sound clip of an Oceana Ukuleles Spanish Cedar concert uke:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNi-OQD5Ua0

http://www.oceanaukuleles.com/index.html

Sweetzainab27
03-25-2012, 04:02 AM
Congratulation it will be surely a best thing for your hopes.

roof restorations melbourne (http://www.melbourneroofing.com.au/)

fretie
03-25-2012, 07:28 AM
That is a rich mellow sounding uke for sure, cnk. I'm going to work with my new Honu for a while yet...experiment with strings to see if I can get a little more fullness out of the uke.

I am on the hunt for some Worth browns and then considering either some Southcoast and/or Ko'olau Golds. That said, I'm trying not to get too overly distracted with the string experiments. There are some many variables that influence a uke's sound and there's our own preferences that influence what we are most attracted to....may be good to consider applying some 'contentment' to this project....lol...

Gadzukes!
03-25-2012, 07:38 AM
I lied! It turns out I don't have Worth Browns on my Honu, but rather Fremont Blacklines. I can't say they dramatically improved volume, but they did sound good. I have Browns on my Kamaka and they're VERY loud (although maybe that's just the Kamaka). Maybe next time the Honu needs a string change I'll try some Browns on it.

KimosTherapy
03-25-2012, 07:41 AM
Big Island koa ukes are built with great workmanship, nice koa, and have a really nice tone. I kept my tenor and sold my concert. I tried to like concert ukes, but both sopranos and concerts are just too small for me.

I started out playing the acoustic steel string guitar to learn Ki ho'alu (Hawai'ian Slack Key) before playing the uke and that's probably why I feel a lot more comfortable with a tenor uke. I also prefer a full, rich, warm, and mellow tone.

You're absolutely right about the many variables that influence a uke's sound and that we all have our own individual preferences about sound, tone, and projection. Give your Big Island concert uke a fair chance and some time ... only time will tell.

coolkayaker1
03-25-2012, 09:06 AM
For what it's worth, I didn't like WOrth Browns on my Pono tenor. They are more subdued, less pitchy and bright, than Clears, to me. I think, with the desire to add volume, comes brightness. It just works that way. So, someone with a spruce top and maple sides will chirp wildly about the brightness of clears. But someone with koa will probably like it, and it may add volumes.

I got Southcoasts yesterday in the mail, but have yet to try them on any ukulele.

In the end, a quiet uke--and I have one in particular myself, my Ibanez Rosewood concert--will remain relatively quiet. I think you hit it, Fretie, its the wood thickness and the finish. I'm wondering how much that uke weighs. Although not at weights are the same, and uke to uke they can be distributed differently, thinner woods would be a lesser weighted instrument.

My new Kiwaya all solid Koa tenor is 17.85 ounces, all strung and ready to play. That's pretty light for a tenor.

Anyhow...sometimes the best is to add, as you say, a little "contentment". And if that doesn't fly, a well-toned, lovely sounding songbird sometimes is the ideal candidate for a megaphone: install an electric pickup. lol Seriously.

gyosh
03-25-2012, 09:23 AM
Southcoast strings have added volume to every uke I've put them on. Really balanced out the individual strings on my Kamaka and Pineapple tenor (I use G650's wound g and c).

poppy
03-25-2012, 11:49 AM
Later the same day....OK, so maybe I am complaining a little. Took the new uke to the local uke meetup and I definitely felt she was a bit thin on sound. Just doesn't seem to resonate that well. I dunno, could be the gloss finish or .... thickness of wood.... ?

Anyways, I'm thinking I will go with a change of strings to see if I can find a fuller, warmer sound. Lots of talk of Worth browns, maybe I'll give those a try for starters.

What do you think, oh uke-gurus?

The concert will never leave my ownership. It is the BEST sounding uke I have heard maybe its a freak but its great . loud ? hell i don't know loud what I do know is tone and my honu concert with freemont blackline C E AND A strings and a worth bm low g. Volume is fine for me, if I need it louder I can add a misi or mic it. Volume is SO overrated.
I had it set up locally by a guitar luthier that does afine job. many here have never even held the uke your playing and just repeating rumors heard from other people.
I think there is some variation from one to another of the same brand but I got a winner here. The tenor is a fine uke also but truthfully if I had to choose one uke it would be the concert honu I own. I'm still trying to get the tenor set up as well as the concert but it does fall a little short on tone. The only thing I may try are the southcoast but I like it so well the way it is I'm not sure I will, maybe I'll try southcoast for the tenor .
But anyway definately low g, worth or freemont are the best on this uke I have found so far, aquillas are not good on it and worth clears are "eh" to my ears. Play around I think you will like it since you seem to be after a tone. Strings really vary the sound of this uke.

smellofstrings
03-25-2012, 12:18 PM
Hey Erin, a nice BI again! It takes longer for Koa to be opened up in the guitar world, so I assume it is the same in the uke world too. Besides, it has a gloss finish which is thicker and has some impact on the projection. Try Worth strings. My Koa Collings has a similar issue when it was fresh right out of the box. After changing it to Worth strings and playing it for like a few hours you will notice the difference.

keliiyama
03-25-2012, 12:29 PM
Many factors should be considered. For instance how thick the sound board it. Many ukulele companies use different "magic numbers" when building their instruments. Also finish would soften it up, but not how your putting it. Also the bracing matters. Keep playing if for a while. Ukulele need time to open up. Even if it was made in November, it doesn't mean it was played a lot. Or you could put it in a 'Prime Vibe'. It will open it up in a few days. I am currently having a custom ukulele built for me. The luthier finished it but noticed he could get more out of it. So he re-topped the top. Routed it off and took the thickness down by 25% and put a hybrid bracing system inside of it. Should be reattached tomorrow. And re-glossed to match the back and sides. These things can dampen the sound the sound of the uke. But I'm sure you'll learn to love it!

fretie
03-25-2012, 01:31 PM
I really appreciate your comments and suggestions here guys!

@ cool'yaker, you make some very valid points. As for lightness, yes, this uke, generally speaking, does seem on the light side. Specifically, when compared to the acacia Kala concert that I had prior to the Honu, the Honu is clearly the lighter of the two ukes.

@poppy, I'm taking note of what you're saying about the Worths and/or Freemonts for the Honu. I want to keep this one in high G as I have my BI tenor to cover off the low G. Worths just may be 'worth' a try sometime soon.

@smellofstrings, yup, I really am a BI fan so I thought it would be a good compliment to the tenor mango to get this concert koa. Of course, no way to try ahead of time and I think maybe the experience of big full rich sound of the mango tenor kind of 'set me up' for a surprise when I first started to play the concert Honu. It will be interesting to note how it changes over time...although, one can never be sure if it is really the uke that changes or our own 'ear' for the sound of that particular instrument, eh?!;)

It is true that the more I play the uke the better a relationship I am gaining with its sound. No, lack of volume is not a concern, for volume, when I want it, I have he BI mango tenor which is a beauty in both tone and fullness. Overall the initial impression of the Honu concert wast that is seemed a bit 'thin' in sound. But as I grow more accustomed to its sound I am questioning whether that's a fair descriptor.

I've never dabbled in changing strings on a uke and have had all of mine so far playing on aquilas. So, even if just for the sake of the educational experience, I think I will try a string change. No big deal, not much cash outlay and doesn't take long to do, so why not give it a try.


Though your experiences, recommendations and ukes vary, I'm thinking that Worth browns, Freemount blackline ore maybe Southcoast would be strings to try. I'm leaning towards starting off with the Worths.