View Full Version : Help identifying what's "custom" on a Kanile'a

05-09-2013, 04:17 PM
I recently acquired this pretty little Kanile'a soprano here on UU. It's labeled as a Custom S SM model, but I can't tell what's custom about it. It looks like Standard koa to me. The tuners aren't stock but I can see from the imprints in the wood that they were swapped out by one of its previous owners. I emailed Kanile'a, but they never responded.

Any ideas on what to look for?


05-09-2013, 05:08 PM
Looks like an older model with the KU on the headstock; maybe what was once custom is now their standard build.

05-09-2013, 05:12 PM
The serial indicates it was built in '07, and this is definitely the pre-lawsuit logo.

Dan Uke
05-09-2013, 05:20 PM
It could be neck shape is it thinner or thicker than standard?

05-09-2013, 05:29 PM
Soprano Sound Monster? Did they not do satin on the sopranos back then? No clue, just trying to throw out some ideas ;)

mm stan
05-09-2013, 05:34 PM
It probally was ordered and custom built to the customer's specs, but has the basic base model in mind......Yes and it is a older more desireable lawsuit university model....

05-09-2013, 05:45 PM
Looks normal to me wheres the picture of the label?

05-09-2013, 06:31 PM
Here's a picture of the label:


05-09-2013, 07:31 PM
I actually also have a Kanilea Tenor that is labeled as "Custom" but has features identical to the K4. (Purchased used w/ original invoice indicating that it was a custom.) And my best guess is that the instrument is labeled custom if it was ordered direct by someone and made to their specifications rather than a production model shipped to a retailer. In my case, the guy I purchased the instrument from went to the factory, took the tour, picked out that he wanted tortoise bindings, premium koa, abalone rosette & purfling. That just happened to be the same configuration as a K4. (Irrelevant side note: once you get abalone purfling on one uke, you want it on every uke...bling is king.)

Since yours looks just like a production, I'd guess the same thing happened. Of course, that is just my conjecture.

05-10-2013, 04:19 AM
About the only thing I see that appears to differ from current production ukes is that the fret markers are pearl, not abalone, but I'm not sure if that was standard back in '07. (Looking at a copy of their old website indicates abalone was standard, so that might be it: http://www.kanileaukulele.com/old_site_backup/index8.html ).

Thanks for all your help!

Edit: Correction. It turns out that there was a period where they used pearl dots, and this was around then (http://web.archive.org/web/20061215093958/http://www.kanileaukulele.com/index8.html). Ah well, I guess I'll never know. I'll just assume what's custom about it is that it was made just for me—it just took a while to get to me! :D

The Big Kahuna
05-10-2013, 04:21 AM

What lawsuit ?

05-10-2013, 04:34 AM
What lawsuit ?

Were they sued by Kansas University and had to change the 'K U' logo?

Skinny Money McGee
05-10-2013, 04:42 AM
Not sure if Kanilea actually got sued, rather than Kansas University attorneys claimed it looked like the University's logo. Probably just wrote a cease and desist letter to Joe. Also probably makes the OP's uke a fairly rare one.

05-10-2013, 05:21 AM
My understanding is that the University of Kansas contacted Kanile'a with a cease and desist. I don't know how many ukes were made with that logo, but the estimates I see range from under 100 to a few hundred. The fact that it was so hard to find information or pictures of them on Google makes me think the number must have been fairly low.

Fun trivia that has come about while researching all of this: The cost of a new Kanile'a K1 soprano has risen close to $700 in 7 years. :eek:

05-10-2013, 09:00 AM
This was made in July 2007. Kanilea did not use deluxe or premium grades of koa at that time so any uke with upgraded wood was called custom. Must'very solved thanks to Kristen this morning at Kanilea

05-10-2013, 10:06 AM
Wow, word gets around fast. I just got an email from Kanile'a an hour ago indicating that this uke had upgraded koa. You knew before I did!

05-13-2013, 05:57 AM
The plot thickens! It looks like Kanile'a only made around a hundred ukes with the KU logo—they officially discontinued it in June of '07 and this one was finished in July, indicating it was already in production. They also didn't announce the Soundmonster ukes until the middle of May of '07. So this Soundmonster soprano with the KU logo is exceedingly rare! Looks like I really lucked out in getting it. Not to mention it sounds bee-yew-tee-ful.