View Full Version : Tell me about Keli'i ukes

07-30-2012, 07:55 AM
As some of you may know, I've recently gotten a massive Hawaiian Koa uke fever. It's terrible, I'm literally spending late nights just obsessing over the HMS website looking again and again at all the options.

I'm waiting on a Kamaka baritone, and I'm looking to get another "K" brand uke tuned GCEA - perhaps a tenor.

I really want a Koaloha.
They have the reputation and representation.
And most of all, they have undoubtable tone.

I really want a Kamaka tenor too.
They also certainly have the reputation and representation.
And most of all, they have undoubtable tone.

Kanileas also seem quite amazing.
They also certainly have the reputation and representation.
And most of all, they have undoubtable tone.

Truth be told, I've not played any of them in person. Heck, I've not even heard any of them in person. As a uke lover in Australia, it's not easy to get such a privilege.
I just feel as though I know those ukes are what I'm looking for. I want a "representative" Hawaiian Koa uke in my collection, to satisfy my deep and obsessive desire to have tasted a slice of what a top standard Hawaiian uke is like.

And then I can't help running into the Keli'i page of HMS and being baffled at how ukes that are more-or-less similar in specification to the above ukes can come at such affordable prices.


Especially their Tenor:


And I am curious and skeptical to death of what these Keli'i ukes are like when compared head to head to the more expensive Hawaiian K-brand ukes.

Do they have the same "quality" of tone and volume as them?
Why are they so affordable?

Will I "miss out" on anything that a more expensive Hawaiian tenor will possess in getting a Keli'i?

07-30-2012, 08:27 AM
Here is a recent thread about them.... http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?67733-Summer-NAMM-Kelii&highlight=keli

07-30-2012, 08:43 AM
Have you seen this new thread? http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?68371-Keli-i-Gold-Series-Concert-sound-sampler

I had a soprano silver series that I loved for the great, great sound, but I sold it because the geared tuners overwhelmed the headstock. I'm thinking about getting another one since they're now making sopranos with friction tuners.

07-30-2012, 08:47 AM
I love Keli'i. I have never been disappointed by the tone. I love the simple, almost naked look to them. They are SUPER light.

Why are they so cheap? I don't know, and don't ask questions like that when they sound so lovely.

07-30-2012, 08:51 AM
Thanks for the replies so far.
I have seen both of those threads prior to starting this one, as I wanted a more focused discussion on the sheer quality of these Keli'i ukes.

It's an outrage! If these Keli'i do sound as good as everyone's saying, how can they be so cheap compared to the other K brands?
Surely it's lacking in some aspect.

I'm desperately trying to find some fault in them, to justify to my brain, that they're cheap for a reason.
Otherwise I'm going to be very broke, finding little reason not to give into my carnal nature to purchase one, despite having already spent my year's uke budget on a Kamaka

07-30-2012, 09:47 AM
Wow, I just posted this video last night! Let you get a chance to hear my concert Gold series koa Keli'i.


07-30-2012, 09:49 AM
I love Keli'i. I have never been disappointed by the tone. I love the simple, almost naked look to them. They are SUPER light.

+1 on that. Can't go wrong with any of the K-Brands, but my favorite for a tenor would be the Kamaka HF-3.

07-31-2012, 03:30 PM
If you can overlook the silly risque song (http://youtu.be/oTa943swtlk)(it was for a dear friend's amusement) It's a good representation of what my Keli'i soprano sounds like.

Seriously, I've had this one for a number of years and I've touted them ever since. The only downside I can see in a Keli'i is if you are a big fan of super fancy looking instruments. They're great players and wonderful sounding instruments. They're for playing. Mine is one of the first ones out of the pile on any given day and what I've been playing the most on for the last couple of weeks. (I do try and rotate, but it's been really hitting that spot lately.)

They're unbelievably priced for the quality you get. They are a worthy 'K' Brand and not to feed into your UAS, but they're really sweet.

mm stan
07-31-2012, 03:41 PM
Play it Again Sam,
I am think I am into the Maui Music more...Yes Peter Lieberman http://www.ukes.com/solid-wood-ukulele/maui-music.html/

08-01-2012, 02:43 PM
I agree that Keli'i makes nice solid Hawaiian made ukes. The comments have been pretty spot on. They sound great. What makes the base models less expensive? The base models are not really fancy and full of bling. The ones that are go for closer to what the other K brands fetch. It is just a traditional, non-figured koa uke. I have a gold label, solid Koa tenor that I bought as my first uke. Sounds and plays great. It is even got a nice light/blonde and dark Koa stripe pattern going on. I am considering selling it though... Only because I just started building ukuleles and should try to thin the herd. :)

03-30-2013, 09:10 AM
The Keli'is cost less, not because they aren't good but because some parts, these days, are manufactured in China and are only assembled in Hawai'i, according to this blog post:

As long as assemblage is done locally, the law states that you can sell it as a genuine local item.

According to the blog to which I refer, the Keli'is are just as good as claimed, they're just not entirely Hawaiian but are a "hybrid."

Mystery solved, eh?