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View Full Version : New Uke Day: Custom Kanilea Tenor!



Curly Koa
01-19-2013, 10:41 AM
I ordered a custom Kanilea tenor back in May when on vacation on Oahu. Much to my wife's dismay, I made it a uke-cation. To her credit, she tried to be patient most of the time, but we all have our limits. :) We stayed at Disney's Aulani (awesome lazy river and nearby tide pools for safe snorkeling); over the ten or so days we were there, I visited Kanilea, Kamaka, KoAloha, Hawaii Music Supply, and most of the uke retailers on the island.

I was a little worried, because I had ordered a Kanilea super tenor that was faulty (nasty intonation problem) and had to send it back, after falling in love with the Kanilea sound on first touch. Joe assured me that they would triple-check the intonation and setup before sending it out. As a side note, HMS really took care of me with the faulty uke issue, so kudos to them.

There was a bit of frustration on my end due to the fact that this uke took way, way, way longer than expected, and that I could never get a clear answer as to when it would come my way (needed to plan for the charge to hit my card!), but I am choosing to let that all go, because it is a good group of people, they do good work, and they stand behind their products.

On to the uke! It turned out better than I expected, aside from a small finish flaw that can be seen easily from up close, in most lighting situations. I expect a $2000+ uke to be flawless, so am a little disappointed with that, but it's not the end of the world. It's a tiny flaw. The sound is spectacular--probably exactly the same as every other Kanilea tenor with this type of wood.

I chose curly koa (of course) and Joe pulled out the sets that they had in the shop for me to choose from. I picked one that had tight, flame-like curls...was hoping for something from the log used on the Aldrine models (log 50?), but they only had wood left from that log in concert size or below, at that point. This was still some pretty nice wood. For appointments, I prefer an understated look with a complete lack of bling, so I asked for no binding, no rosette, slotted headstock with black tuners, ebony fingerboard/bridge/faceplate, and all inlays in sand (no abalone--way too bling-blingy for my tastes, though it is certainly beautiful). For inlays, I asked for my signature at the top (this one will be an heirloom piece for me--won't sell it) and X markers (my handwriting) instead of dots, because I always hated dots on my guitars, but really like having markers. He also used sand on the side markers (those dots don't bug me).

One more bummer: I ordered a Reunion Blues case for this a few months back, but the Kanilea is just a bit too big to fit in without cramming the headstock in, and I don't want to put extra pressure on the neck that way. Guess I need to buy another tenor to fit in that case...if nothing used surfaces, HMS is going to get my business for their service with the faulty super tenor.

See below for the results! Job well done, Kanilea team.

47751477524775447753

Plainsong
01-19-2013, 11:03 AM
That's a stunner. I can't even see the flaw in the finish. If you sent it back, I'm sure they'd fix it though. I don't know if it'd bother me or not, but it's your heirloom piece. I know you'd hate to send it back after all this time, but I'm sure they'd want to make it right, and then you could have it back for good. :$

CoLmes
01-19-2013, 11:06 AM
So jealous of these custom kanilea's lately. One day.

Awesome uke, I'm anti-bling as well. I like the x's. Good touch

Curly Koa
01-19-2013, 11:08 AM
The flaw is pretty small--just a tiny imperfection in the gloss. I will probably drop it by next time I visit HI or something...I'm about done waiting for stuff to get done. ;) It's time to play the thing. I have no doubt they'd be willing to fix it.

AndrewKuker
01-19-2013, 11:18 AM
oh wow, so nice. congrats.

hey we have a reunion blues order on the way. those uke bags that are actually more like a case. I saw Kalei's a while back and was sold.

glad you got a great uke. We have had to start compensating saddles on quite a few of them. It's so random. But the tone is undeniable..

Curly Koa
01-19-2013, 11:23 AM
I was wondering why mine didn't have a compensated saddle, but I guess it's not standard. I'll take it to Glaser here in Nashville for a compensated saddle if it bugs me, but the intonation is pretty good--no complaints on day 1, at least.

The Reunion Blues Continental is what I got. It's pretty awesome, but I think the extra height from the slotted headstock is just a little too much of a squeeze in that bag. I'd guess that a regular Kanilea headstock would fit fine.

AndrewKuker
01-19-2013, 12:10 PM
I was wondering why mine didn't have a compensated saddle, but I guess it's not standard. I'll take it to Glaser here in Nashville for a compensated saddle if it bugs me, but the intonation is pretty good--no complaints on day 1, at least.

The Reunion Blues Continental is what I got. It's pretty awesome, but I think the extra height from the slotted headstock is just a little too much of a squeeze in that bag. I'd guess that a regular Kanilea headstock would fit fine.

Ahh, the mono will for sure. Not as much protection but less bulk and still extremely padded.

Curly Koa
01-19-2013, 12:25 PM
I checked out a Mono at a store last summer...wasn't impressed considering the price & bought the RB instead. I have to be able to trust a gig bag as a carry-on when flying, if it costs that much. The Mono is awesome looking, but doesn't compare to the RB at all, IMO. It's a great bag, but way overpriced. I'd buy one for $75, though.

Dan Uke
01-19-2013, 12:32 PM
I used the RB for a Kanilea ST as well. It was snug but better than using a bari case.

It's funny as even if I paid $2000+ for a uke, I can't imagine anything to be flawless as it's made by a human....that's what makes each one unique. Congrats

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-19-2013, 12:57 PM
That's a gorgeous uke! Congratz. Joe and his crew are good folks.

connor013
01-19-2013, 01:54 PM
I have to admit, I was on the fence when reading your description of the "x" markers, but I stand corrected -- those are awesome.

That's one of the prettiest ukes I've seen on here in a while -- congrats!

Lexxy
01-19-2013, 02:02 PM
Everyone's getting gorgeous ukuleles these few weeks. This is no exception. Congrats on the beauuuuuuuutiful Kanile'a!

Steedy
01-19-2013, 02:09 PM
Awesome instrument, congrats!

kvehe
01-19-2013, 02:25 PM
Stunning and gorgeous and beautiful. I like the x markers very much.

gringo
01-19-2013, 02:48 PM
The X markers are nice. I believe I would like that touch. The koa is stunning. And the slotted headstock is a sight to see, a real treat for my eyes. Thanks for showing/sharing with us.

Curly Koa
01-19-2013, 03:07 PM
Thanks all. Correct--nothing made by humans is going to be flawless. I get that. And I was also concerned about the X markers until I saw them yesterday. I told Joe I could see how they could turn out wrong, but wanted to risk it anyway, and just left it in his hands to make them tasteful. He didn't disappoint.

Moore Bettah: Yes, they seem to be a great group of people. They are also clearly very busy people, but I applaud them for that. As a former entrepreneur of sorts, I have lots of respect for anyone who can make a living doing something they enjoy, and doing that something well. I hope they continue to grow their uke empire for years to come! ;)

Plainsong
01-19-2013, 03:17 PM
So there's your excuse to go back to Hawaii. :)

I'm confused about the compensated saddle thing. I hope this doesn't hijack the thread, but I need to be edumacated. I thought compensated saddles were when the saddle is adjusted per each string - like for example, an electric guitar. So when you restring, you have to re-adjust at the saddle as well. I thought very few ukes have this feature.

My Kanilea is pretty balls on accurate at the 12th fret.. I mean no matter the strings.. It's like when they did the calculations, they blinded us with science. Pretty amazing stuff really. My saddle isn't compensated either, at least as I understand it. Though it has been to a local luthier twice. Once to dial in the action at the saddle to personal preference, and the next time to get a misi installed.

I don't know. The guy who did it builds world class guitars and some ukes, so he knows what he's doing, and both visits messed with the saddle... But intonation wasn't an issue before seeing him either.

So, what does compensation mean? If HMS does it, does it not mean what I think it does?

Curly Koa
01-19-2013, 03:22 PM
Plainsong: This should help. It's got some good visuals to help explain . . .

http://www.lutherie.net/saddle_angle.html

Plainsong
01-19-2013, 03:24 PM
..so you'd have to do it after each string change. What a pain. No, my 2009-2010ish Kanilea doesn't have that.

Curly Koa
01-19-2013, 03:28 PM
My understanding is that it's somewhat specific to string material/design/gauge, so it's best to find the strings you love on that instrument and have the bridge compensated for those strings. I'm going to try a few different sets on this one before taking it in for a once-over, to see if doing a compensated saddle will dial it in that much better (bettah?).

Plainsong
01-19-2013, 05:29 PM
My understanding is that it's somewhat specific to string material/design/gauge, so it's best to find the strings you love on that instrument and have the bridge compensated for those strings. I'm going to try a few different sets on this one before taking it in for a once-over, to see if doing a compensated saddle will dial it in that much better (bettah?).

That's the problem with us uke players. We're string hussies. I think I've decided on t2s for mine, but have some south coasts on the way... And I could always try the polar opposite of t2s, nylechs. If I was doing a traditional strum along, I even dig Aquilas if that's what I know I'll be doing with this uke for a while. :)

It's interesting that Andrew said that some have needed compensation from the factory. I was watching a youtube vid of how they calculate these things at Kanilea, and you'd think that it'd always work. But then again I think that because the only thing I know about wood working is from dad being in the LBM business... So for instrument building... Nada. :)

experimentjon
01-19-2013, 06:31 PM
Beautiful heirloom piece! Love the curly wood! If the finish flaw is minor, you might be able to polish it out yourself with a Meguiars polish kit. This kit is excellent, I use mine all the time.

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/fender-instrument-care-kit-by-meguiars

lennymac
01-19-2013, 10:19 PM
Wow - that is just gorgeous!!! Congratulations!!

luluwrites
01-20-2013, 01:20 AM
That customization is really terrific. Congratulations!

pakhan
01-20-2013, 01:41 AM
very nice! Congrats

AzMichael
01-20-2013, 04:21 AM
That is beautiful koa! Did Joe happen to mention what log that came from?

And the "X" markers are brilliant!!!

~Michael

Curly Koa
01-20-2013, 02:22 PM
Not sure what log, but you can give him my name if you want him to look it up. I think they keep records of that. I'll check out that polish kit, but wonder if it will work with the plastic coating they use.