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straygator
10-01-2012, 08:58 AM
Just a quick question...do you think the average ear can tell the difference between Acacia and Koa?

coolkayaker1
10-01-2012, 09:10 AM
no i do not. and the average eyes cannot, either

hoosierhiver
10-01-2012, 09:17 AM
Acacia is kind of a misleading term. There are literally a few thousand species of acacia, from "real" koa acacia trees to small scrubby desert acacia shrubs.

pulelehua
10-01-2012, 10:51 AM
Just a quick question...do you think the average ear can tell the difference between Acacia and Koa?

Fairly tricky question. Can the "average" person on here who plays ukuleles a lot tell the difference between a Kala Acacia instrument and a KoAloha Koa instrument played by the same person using the same recording equipment in the same room? Yes, I would think probably so. Would that same person be able to tell the difference between an Acacia instrument and Koa instrument made by the same luthier? Probably not.

Construction is incredibly complicated, and wood is only one factor.

ukeeku
10-01-2012, 11:02 AM
this not just tricky, it is loaded.
wood selection is a part of the sound, and it can truly effect the sound, but build style and how well the builder understands how to work with it that can make all the difference. there are also other factors like how the wood was dried, density at that part of the tree it was taken from, or even what glue is used.
I could go on and one.
For the most part I can tell the difference between drastically different wood density. Mahagany/Koa/Acacia sound the same, but very different from Cedar and soft woods like Spruce.
This is all my opinion and not here to flame. Good question either way. it made me think

Gillian
10-01-2012, 11:02 AM
I'm an average player and I can tell the difference between my Kala acacia tenor and my koa ukes. With the same strings, the koa has more sustain/resonance and is a little bit louder.

But, as was well said by pulelehua, those aspects could be the difference between manufacturing and construction.

wendellfiddler
10-01-2012, 11:32 AM
this not just tricky, it is loaded.
wood selection is a part of the sound, and it can truly effect the sound, but build style and how well the builder understands how to work with it that can make all the difference. there are also other factors like how the wood was dried, density at that part of the tree it was taken from, or even what glue is used.
I could go on and one.
For the most part I can tell the difference between drastically different wood density. Mahagany/Koa/Acacia sound the same, but very different from Cedar and soft woods like Spruce.
This is all my opinion and not here to flame. Good question either way. it made me think

I'd agree that Mahogany, Koa and Acacia are more similar to each other than cedar or spruce, but it's really going some to say that mahogany and Acacia/Koa sound the same. I have a ukes made of Mahogany and Koa from the same maker (Collings) - both tenors, similar but slightly different models - the sound is very different. I've played acacia and mahogany tenor Ponos - much different sound as well, but I would say more similar to each other than those with spruce tops.

BTW, much to my surprise, the koa Collings sounds great with a low G - incredible actually, where the Mahogany tenor sounds much better with a high G and really doesn't do justice to the low G tuning. I would have guessed the opposite.

Doug

haolejohn
10-01-2012, 12:06 PM
they are the same thing:)

Newportlocal
10-01-2012, 12:44 PM
Here is one of the longer threads on the subject.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?60732-Acacia-vs-Koa
If you google acacia vs koa. Ukulele underground has 4-5 threads I saw.
Hope that helps.

wendellfiddler
10-01-2012, 05:29 PM
What are the same thing? Mahogany, koa and acacia? Or do you mean that Koa is type of Acacia?

From what I hear and read in previous threads, what we call Koa is a type of Acacia but that doesn't mean they are the same thing. It's a bit more complicated than that. Sitka spruce isn't the same as the spruce I have growing outside my house in Massachusetts, but they are related and are both spruce trees.

dt

kissing
10-01-2012, 05:44 PM
^ I think haolejohn was being sarcastic ;)




I think Acacia, Koa and Mahogany are all different woods.
But it's hardly worth discussing the matter into huge detail, because as stated already, wood is only one factor out of many.. possibly millions of factors.
And not only that, different batches, trees, logs of the same wood can have drastically different properties.

So I think it's best to treat each uke model differently, since each uke is a combination of unique craftsmanship, technique, design, etc.
Even same model ukes made of the same wood by the same maker shows variance.

PhilUSAFRet
10-01-2012, 06:05 PM
As with many things, you have to factor quality into the mix. A really hard, tight grained peice of Acacia (one variety or another) can sound much better than a softer, more pourous peice of Koa Acacia. Can say the same of other closely related woods as well, such as the many varities of Mahogany... etc.

Liam Ryan
10-01-2012, 11:34 PM
I want everybody to stop what they're doing and repeat after me:

Koa is a species of Acacia. There are many species of Acacia. Some are as soft as cedar, some are as hard as ebony, some are inbetween.

Repeat three times.

It feels good that we've all cleared that up doesn't it.

Ok, next issue. Why does Acacia have to vs. Koa? Are they battling to the death or something?

Next issue, You can't campare Acacia and Koa generally. They vary in their property's at least as much as the ukes built from them. You can compare a [insert uke brand here] koa uke with a [insert uke brand here] [insert another species of acacia such as Australian Blackwood] ukulele.

Liam Ryan
10-01-2012, 11:40 PM
Koa is acacia, it is wood from the tree called Acacia koa. Acacia is a large genus which includes thousands of shrubs and trees. Acacia melanoxylon (Blackwood) is another well known acacia that is used in making ukuleles. I am sure there are other species from the genus Acacia which can make good musical instruments.
What we need to know is what type of acacia you want to compare with Acacia koa. If you don't know, ask the maker of the ukes you are looking at. If it seems to be hard to get an answer you have to ask yourself why a maker would want to hide the name of the wood which is being used to make the uke, what are they afraid of?
I don't know of any Australian makers who are afraid to hide the fact that they use Acacia melanoxylon or blackwood to make ukes. They call it blackwood, not Acacia. I have two blackwood ukes made in Australia and three koa ukes made in Hawaii and one made in NZ. They all have a different tone which comes from the way they have been put together. They are all well made and will last 100 years. I would say that just as Hawaiian makers have figured out how to use koa, Australian makers have figured out how to use blackwood, and have been doing so for a long time. Many Non-Hawaiian and Non-Australian makers don't all seem to have worked out how to get the best of these woods yet.
If you are trying to compare a low cost uke made in the far East with a higher cost uke made in Hawaii, good luck with that. Its like trying to compare a medium cost Hawaiian Uke with a high cost uke made in Texas. Why bother, just get the uke you can access now and enjoy it. If you actually cam afford choice, listen to the ukes yourself and pick the one you like. If you can't pick between them on sound work on the resale, ask yourself which would be easier to sell if you need to sell? Is it easier to find a buyer for a uke that is well made out of Acacia koa, or is it easier to find a buyer for a uke made out of an unknown wood for a low purchase price?

Absolutely well said Bill. This post should be immediately copied and pasted in every time we have one of these threads.

Liam Ryan
10-01-2012, 11:47 PM
As with many things, you have to factor quality into the mix. A really hard, tight grained peice of Acacia (one variety or another) can sound much better than a softer, more pourous peice of Koa Acacia. Can say the same of other closely related woods as well, such as the many varities of Mahogany... etc.

None of these factors are overly important to me when picking a good tonewood and especially when picking an instrument top. Stiffness and weight are the two factors that are most important.

GKK
10-02-2012, 05:33 AM
Hawaiian Koa, is Koa wood that is only grown in Hawaii.

Acacia Koa, is Koa wood that is grown anywhere else.

hoosierhiver
10-02-2012, 05:59 AM
this not just tricky, it is loaded.
wood selection is a part of the sound, and it can truly effect the sound, but build style and how well the builder understands how to work with it that can make all the difference. there are also other factors like how the wood was dried, density at that part of the tree it was taken from, or even what glue is used.
I could go on and one.
For the most part I can tell the difference between drastically different wood density. Mahagany/Koa/Acacia sound the same, but very different from Cedar and soft woods like Spruce.
This is all my opinion and not here to flame. Good question either way. it made me think

Good points Tim, I've seen quite a difference in ukuleles of the same type of wood.

haolejohn
10-02-2012, 08:17 AM
What are the same thing? Mahogany, koa and acacia? Or do you mean that Koa is type of Acacia?

From what I hear and read in previous threads, what we call Koa is a type of Acacia but that doesn't mean they are the same thing. It's a bit more complicated than that. Sitka spruce isn't the same as the spruce I have growing outside my house in Massachusetts, but they are related and are both spruce trees.

dt

I respond to the reference of the original topic...koa and acacia.

haolejohn
10-02-2012, 08:19 AM
^ I think haolejohn was being sarcastic ;)




I think Acacia, Koa and Mahogany are all different woods.
But it's hardly worth discussing the matter into huge detail, because as stated already, wood is only one factor out of many.. possibly millions of factors.
And not only that, different batches, trees, logs of the same wood can have drastically different properties.

So I think it's best to treat each uke model differently, since each uke is a combination of unique craftsmanship, technique, design, etc.
Even same model ukes made of the same wood by the same maker shows variance.

Winnah, winnah, chicken dinner!!

Sonic
10-02-2012, 08:32 AM
I want everybody to stop what they're doing and repeat after me:

Koa is a species of Acacia. There are many species of Acacia. Some are as soft as cedar, some are as hard as ebony, some are inbetween.

Repeat three times.

It feels good that we've all cleared that up doesn't it.

Ok, next issue. Why does Acacia have to vs. Koa? Are they battling to the death or something?

Next issue, You can't campare Acacia and Koa generally. They vary in their property's at least as much as the ukes built from them. You can compare a [insert uke brand here] koa uke with a [insert uke brand here] [insert another species of acacia such as Australian Blackwood] ukulele.
Great and simple explanation
Just like comparing Human and American :rolleyes:

pulelehua
10-02-2012, 08:34 AM
I want everybody to stop what they're doing and repeat after me:

Koa is a species of Acacia. There are many species of Acacia. Some are as soft as cedar, some are as hard as ebony, some are inbetween.

Repeat three times.

It feels good that we've all cleared that up doesn't it.

Ok, next issue. Why does Acacia have to vs. Koa? Are they battling to the death or something?

Next issue, You can't campare Acacia and Koa generally. They vary in their property's at least as much as the ukes built from them. You can compare a [insert uke brand here] koa uke with a [insert uke brand here] [insert another species of acacia such as Australian Blackwood] ukulele.

I have to say, this post strikes me as a bit patronising, particularly given that this point has been made many times in this thread already.

I suspect the issue that drives this question is the shopping angle. The real question might be:

"Why do Koa ukuleles often cost three times as much as Acacia ukuleles, if they're more or less the same wood?"

And, as many people have said, it's about build quality. That's the "why these two woods?" I think. People wonder if it's like buying two identical cars, one with a VW badge, one with a Skoda badge. Aren't you just paying for the badge? Similarly, are you just paying for the name koa, or is that ukulele better? Again, build quality.

Incidentally, I don't think you meant to come across as patronising. That's just how it came across to me. But I know there's a lot of frustration amongst some over this particular thread. And if you're a luthier, I can imagine wood vs. wood threads make you want to bash yourself in the head with blunt objects. I still find myself reading them, even though they almost always follow the same pattern.

hoosierhiver
10-02-2012, 10:19 AM
I've sometimes wondered if the term "acacia" has been used to mislead people into thinking they were getting koa. No other ukulele wood is described by it's botanical genus, even though not all spruces, mahogany's etc are the same species.

Garydavkra
10-02-2012, 10:41 AM
Just a quick question...do you think the average ear can tell the difference between Acacia and Koa?

Straygator, I hope you don't feel too embarrassed with your original question. I didn't know that koa was a species of acacia either until I started reading about it after I bought my first ukulele. You can't really tell anything from all the marketing hype because, apparently they don't want us to know that. So, it can be pretty confusing until you do the research yourself. Apparently, the word Acacia is used now because, Koa is in pretty short supply.

Hippie Dribble
10-02-2012, 11:16 AM
I have to say, this post strikes me as a bit patronising

me too, except 'a lot' not 'a bit'.

Hippie Dribble
10-02-2012, 11:29 AM
Straygator, I hope you don't feel too embarrassed with your original question. I didn't know that koa was a species of acacia either until I started reading about it after I bought my first ukulele. You can't really tell anything from all the marketing hype because, apparently they don't want us to know that. So, it can be pretty confusing until you do the research yourself. Apparently, the word Acacia is used now because, Koa is in pretty short supply.
Great post Gary. Totally agree with you, it is very confusing as this information is not often made clear. I too only discovered these things fairly recently, courtesy of these boards. As far as the original question goes, my ear is nowhere near sensitive enough to differentiate between most tonewoods, though I could probably pick maple from mahogany. :o But ukuleles have a sound that is all their own eh...some brighter, some warmer...but all good :)

buddhuu
10-03-2012, 06:40 AM
It would certainly be helpful if builders actually gave specifics of the materials they use.

Why, unless one is ashamed of one's product or the materials used in making it, would one not specify the wood? Similarly, why do builders tend to omit the word "laminate" from phrases such as, "mahogany back and sides" when they are very quick to point out "solid mahogany top"?

The OP's question was sensible enough. The problem is that with so many different acacias around it isn't easy to answer.

haolejohn
10-03-2012, 08:34 AM
I'll give my two cents...Hawaiian Koa is Hawaiian Koa. When I look for a uke that is advertised as acacia I know it isn't Hawaiian Koa. I have yet to see a real Hawaiian koa uke advertised as acacia. If there is one...please show it to me.

This whole question reminds me of that awful company cordoba that has been misleading consumers for many years now with their portuguese koa.

ukuLily Mars
10-03-2012, 10:14 AM
Hawaiian Koa, is Koa wood that is only grown in Hawaii.

Acacia Koa, is Koa wood that is grown anywhere else.

Just to clarify: Acacia Koa IS Hawai'ian koa. If the word "koa" is in the name, it is from that particular type of acacia that grows in Hawai'i. If it says simply "acacia," then it is most likely from another type of acacia tree, because who in their right mind would make an 'ukulele out of koa and say it's made out of acacia? Well, someone who is not great at marketing. This is not to say that the two are the same thing, but since koa is a type of acacia, there is a lot of room for semantic maneuvering.

Sort of like, blackmail is extortion, but extortion is not necessarily blackmail. :p (Sorry... thinking like a mystery writer.)

Anyway... not a stupid question at all. Opens up discussion about what makes good sounds, and that's what we do here! Some people have made some excellent points about all the factors other than wood that go into making an excellent instrument. Thanks!

Sonic
10-03-2012, 07:03 PM
Not just Non-Hawaii Acacia and Hawaii Koa

Even Mahogany, I think common ukulele players can just point put the woodtone instead of the different between different Mahogany styles in the world.

In most cases Koa made ukes always assisted with top quality handcraft and strings etc. So It did seems there's some levels of sound between Non-Hawaii Acacia and Hawaii Koa in the final sound tone.

Yestyn The Great
10-03-2012, 07:16 PM
I agree with pulelehua. It is mostly construction. My Brucewei acacia tenor sounds completely different than my friends Cordoba acacia tenor. Also as others have said, there are many types of acacia.

Worker Bee
10-03-2012, 09:43 PM
Acacia or Koa ?

I dont' know .
My ulkuleles are all made of wood .
Some are single layer , some are multi layered .
All sound like ukulele .

Best Rgs
:drool: