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View Full Version : Pono and Koolau necks



SmilingPanda
07-29-2012, 07:00 PM
I have a Pono uke that I really enjoy, though I had heard (and it seems to me) that the neck on my Pono is a bit "beefier" than normal. I don't really mind it as I have pretty large hands, but it definitely feels a bit bigger than my Kala.

1. Are Pono necks bigger than most? Or is my Kala just smaller than most? Or is it just my imagination? I get around o.k. on both, but I feel the Kala is a little easier to get around, but not to the point that I find myself having any discernible difficulty getting around the Pono.

2. As Pono's are overseas production models of Koolau, do Koolaus share this beefier neck trait?

bynapkinart
07-29-2012, 07:55 PM
I don't know about Ko'olau but my Pono feels more like a Hawaiian made uke because of the neck. I took it into a couple of stores when I was in California a couple of weeks ago (Gryphon in Palo Alto and Ukulele Source in San Jose) and played it along with Kanile'a, Kamaka, and KoAloha ukes and it felt/sounded almost identical to those. They all had wider/thicker necks with wider string spacing than the Ohana and Mainland ukuleles that I played alongside. My Pono's spacing/feel was nearly identical to the Kamakas I played, with the fit/finish of Kanile'a.

Pono seems like the aberration because every overseas uke I've played (Kala, Ohana, Mainland, Lanikai) has had a super skinny neck to me and has been not as pleasant to play. I don't know if they actually space them identically to their Ko'olau models, though I would suspect that they do.

GKK
07-30-2012, 04:27 AM
My Pono MHTSH has a thicker neck because it was manufactured with a Truss Rod.

SmilingPanda
07-30-2012, 08:29 AM
My Pono also has the truss rod. I don't have a good shop nearby where I can get my hands on some K brand ukes to compare. Closest places to me only have Lanikais, Mitchells and Lunas... :(

Andrew at HMS did send me some info in an email that I can share here for anyone else that is interested in the topic though:

"The Koolau neck is a bit less beefy. In between the Pono and Kala in thickness. Funny that it would be different. These are handmade instruments, we could always let Noa know for a slimmer profile. Aaron had his custom Koolau with a Pono neck width because he likes it thicker. For Hawaiians it can vary, generally speaking KoAloha is
thin Kelli'i is thick Kamaka's and Koolau's are consistently in between (currently that is , Kamaka's have been all over the map for neck shape through the years) but Kanile'a can vary. They used to be thinner but now they are a little fatter and sometimes quite thick, but still not as thick as the Keli'I. Sorry for the crazy answer. That's a tough one, keep in mind you can always return stuff with us if not exactly what you thought. unless you get some really crazy inlay, honu's are cool :)"

Thanks to Andrew for the info and to bynapkinart and GKK for the input.

Paul December
07-30-2012, 08:54 AM
I'm not a fan of beefy necks.
Funny, Kala has the best feeling necks in my hand at any price.

coolkayaker1
07-30-2012, 09:29 AM
I like my ukuleles like I like my women: thick.

v30
07-30-2012, 01:29 PM
My Pono neck is thicker and has wider string spacing than my Kala, my Ohana and my Lanikai.

mm stan
07-30-2012, 02:51 PM
Sorry I am not one for the beefier necks.... I like them slinky and fast....ha ha

coolkayaker1
07-30-2012, 05:40 PM
Sorry I am not one for the beefier necks.... I like them slinky and fast....ha ha

stan, you letch, you.

The Big Kahuna
10-25-2012, 06:36 PM
Sorry I am not one for the beefier necks.... I like them slinky and fast....ha ha

Thread resurrection:

I mentioned neck profile in a post today, and commented that my new Uke' has a very slim profile from front to back, and that the back of the neck is very "flat". This suits me better than any other Uke I've tried. Is this common to Kanile'a, or is there considerable variation in manufacture within the same model, as the one I bought just seemed much better than all the other identical ones I tried.

Also, how automated is the manufacture of Kanile'a and other K Brand Ukes ? I'm wondering what the proportion is between machine/hand building and finishing.

Trinimon
10-25-2012, 06:46 PM
My nephew's K1 tenor is the same neck profile as yours. Not sure about Kanilea but at Kamaka, they use a CNC machine to mill the necks so they're all the same size. I don't think the sound boards are plane by hand either.


Thread resurrection:

I mentioned neck profile in a post today, and commented that my new Uke' has a very slim profile from front to back, and that the back of the neck is very "flat". This suits me better than any other Uke I've tried. Is this common to Kanile'a, or is there considerable variation in manufacture within the same model, as the one I bought just seemed much better than all the other identical ones I tried.

Also, how automated is the manufacture of Kanile'a and other K Brand Ukes ? I'm wondering what the proportion is between machine/hand building and finishing.

hammer40
10-25-2012, 09:02 PM
I have heard others describe the Pono neck as "beefy", I have one but wouldn't describe it as such. It is thicker than my Big Island, but a lot thinner than my Compass Rose. I am discovering though that I do prefer the neck on the thicker side rather than thinner.

mm stan
10-25-2012, 10:00 PM
I am sure with any builder you can order a neck to your own specifications..and stay within your favorite builder and brand...one good thing when ordering a custom rather buying off the rack..Always nice to think you do have one of a kind and hand made .....now to get a Ko'olau tenor for me soon...

AndrewKuker
10-25-2012, 10:07 PM
My nephew's K1 tenor is the same neck profile as yours. Not sure about Kanilea but at Kamaka, they use a CNC machine to mill the necks so they're all the same size. I don't think the sound boards are plane by hand either.

The only Hawaiian company that owns a CNC machine right now is Kamaka (as far as I know). Except a few mini's/ And Kamaka has it mostly just for necks. Now with that said, the others just outsource this to specialist dedicated to quality quarter sawn CNC top quality mahogany necks (mostly from the states). Sometimes things don't get completed or delivered in time and we'll get a hand carved neck come from a factory that normally produces a slightly different profile CNC neck. Slightly. And that is the key variable. Even though companies aim for that issue to never be. It has come up. Laser machines have also taken a more significant role in the past 5 years for many makers. Most good companies use CAD and CNC to do required shapes. After that, they finish the details with their human ability/artistry.
The original classical guys just needed some proper wood and a broken piece of glass/ (you can get that at the end of any whisky bottle)

Kamanaaloha
10-26-2012, 02:00 PM
@Andrew

I drove out to HMS and your guys out there rock just like on your website! WORTH THE DRIVE! THEIR SERVICE WAS PRO!!!

Have your brother and dad made koa necks? and have you/they made a kou ukulele? If so, can you post pictures, please?

My dad has a couple of huge kou calabashes and Guy Sasaki made him a kou ukulele...which is beautiful...Koolau/Kanilea/Kamaka/Koaloha/Devine/Martin<USA>/GString/et.al. could make an ukulele at least as beautiful as Guy's!

ukemunga
10-26-2012, 02:58 PM
I'm not a fan of beefy necks.
Funny, Kala has the best feeling necks in my hand at any price.

I haven't had the opportunity to play a lot of ukes, but I've played more than a few and I agree, love the Kala necks.