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View Full Version : Has anyone here owned a Kamoa ukulele?



Brian W
05-25-2013, 05:16 PM
If you currently own, or have owned a Kamoa, please post your thoughts and experiences. I am considering a 500-S soprano, but will not have the ability to try it out first, since no local music stores carry them. This model is one of a few brands that I am considering. The other brands (Koaloha, Kamaka, Kiwaya) are more expensive, and probably have better build quality, but it would be nice to know what actual owners think of their Kamoa's.

Tigeralum2001
05-25-2013, 05:21 PM
I haven't owned one, but I have played quite a few. I will do something rarely seen here- tell you to stay away from a brand. They are overbuilt and overpriced, IMHO. They have no track record for resale value, so that can be a problem in the future.

I think there are much better ukes out there. Heck, I think I'd recommend a Kala or Ohana over a Kamoa. I'm sure others will post great things, but that has not been my experience. PM for more details.

7warriorlion
05-25-2013, 05:33 PM
I have a Kamoa E3-GC. It is my first ukulele. I appreciate the all solid wood construction, ease of playability up and down the fretboard, good sustain, and the affordability. I purchased my Kamoa from http://www.anacapaukulele.com/. my local Ukulele shop and resource center. I am awaiting the arrival of my Mya-Moe tenor next week but am happy that I have the Kamoa to play.

Harry Callahan: "Bene le opinioni sono come i coglioni, ognuno ha uno."

Brian W
05-25-2013, 05:56 PM
I haven't owned one, but I have played quite a few. I will do something rarely seen here- tell you to stay away from a brand. They are overbuilt and overpriced, IMHO. They have no track record for resale value, so that can be a problem in the future.

I think there are much better ukes out there. Heck, I think I'd recommend a Kala or Ohana over a Kamoa. I'm sure others will post great things, but that has not been my experience. PM for more details.

Thanks. I just sent you a PM.

coolkayaker1
05-25-2013, 06:38 PM
i had one for three days and returned it.

loads of kamoa info for your reading here, brian.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?77777-Kamoa-700-Worth-the&highlight=kamoa

but, for what it's worth, 007 plays one.

aloha

haole
05-25-2013, 06:47 PM
I had the basic laminate mahogany soprano and thought it was a great uke for the money. They seemed to really take off about two years ago with tons of new models, but then stopped updating their site and faded out. Anyone know what happened?

The Big Kahuna
05-25-2013, 09:17 PM
I stand by what I said in the thread linked above.

Hippie Dribble
05-25-2013, 09:46 PM
Very poor sounding instruments in my view. I've owned two and was extremely disappointed. You can do better and at comparable or cheaper prices.

equina
05-25-2013, 10:23 PM
I was looking forward to owning one last year. I love clear and bright ukuleles and some of their models are made of all solid Spruce/Flamed Maple, and this wood combo is known to give bright tones.

I visited my local ukulele shop where they displayed many brands, including Kamoa. I played the Spruce/Flamed Maple models and to my disappointment all the tones sounded VERY thick. I strongly suspected it was not the strings problem. I talked to the staff who explained that tonewoods are not the sole determinant in the instrument's sound. The thickness, bracing, structure etc. all contribute to the tone.

I turned away from the Kamoas and as I played with other brands, I realised that Ohana and Mainland sounded way clearer and better. This experience was my first encounter with Ohana and Mainland. I ended up buying an Ohana all solid spruce/rosewood soprano.

wickedwahine11
05-26-2013, 01:39 AM
I have two Kamoas, one is a soprano that I received as a gift, the other is a Kauai built koa uke. I don't play the soprano, but that is just because I don't play sopranos. It has a nice tone but I found the tuning was difficult.

As to the Kauai built, I bought it for sentimental reasons. I love that island and my grandmother was laid to rest there so I wanted a uke built there. It costs as much as my K brands but was worth it to me, again, for sentimental reasons. It actually sounds very good - better in tone and volume than my Kamaka, about the same as my Kanilea. The action is too high for my tastes though, and I prefer the tone of my KoAloha and playability of my Kanilea so I rarely play it. That being said, I would never part with it. Just as well since resale value appears to be minimal...

UKEonomics
05-26-2013, 05:49 AM
I have an E3 Pineapple. They do sound kind of "thick". Mine came with Aquila strings which will probably get swapped for some Worths in the near future. The sound of my instrument is very finicky...some days it has the mellow, warm tone that I was hoping for...other days it just sounds dull to me. Intonation up the fretboard is decent - could be better, could be worse. Other than that, there are some finish flaws but I think it looks cool. I like the feel and speed of the fretboard.

Overall, I'm happy with mine and the $160 I spent, but probably won't buy another Kamoa.

The Big Kahuna
05-26-2013, 06:15 AM
I have no issue whatsoever with $ 160 Kamoas. What utterly boils my piss is the fact that they ask almost K-Brand prices for multicoloured, chinese-made tenors of questionable quality and tone. If ever there was a case of Bling Vs Quality, those are it.

The Big Kahuna
05-26-2013, 06:19 AM
As to the Kauai built, I bought it for sentimental reasons. I love that island

And if I had the spare cash, I'd buy one tomorrow for exactly the same reason, despite everything I've ever said about Kamoa. As far as I know, the only Kauai-build Ukes are these and the Ukulele-shaped piles of overpriced firewood built by Raymond Rapozo.

coolkayaker1
05-26-2013, 06:19 AM
So. Brian W, just wondering when you're gonna get that 500-S soprano? :p;)

7warriorlion
05-26-2013, 07:56 AM
I have an E3 Pineapple. They do sound kind of "thick". Mine came with Aquila strings which will probably get swapped for some Worths in the near future. The sound of my instrument is very finicky...some days it has the mellow, warm tone that I was hoping for...other days it just sounds dull to me. Intonation up the fretboard is decent - could be better, could be worse. Other than that, there are some finish flaws but I think it looks cool. I like the feel and speed of the fretboard.

Overall, I'm happy with mine and the $160 I spent, but probably won't buy another Kamoa.
My first ukulele, a good starter ukulele, and an entry level beginner one which did not break the bank.

Samuel Bonanno, the founder of Kamoa Ukulele Company responds here to a review: http://www.yelp.com/biz/kamoa-ukulele-company-kapaa-2

If you want to get to the nitty gritty and discuss an issue with his product, he most likely can be contacted here:
Kamoa™ Ukulele Company, Inc.
4-1310 Kuhio Hwy.
Kapa'a, HI 96746
USA
(808) 652-9999

email:
sales@kamoaukes.com


https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kamoa-Ukulele-Company/439096729443201?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/samuel.bonanno.14?fref=ts

The Big Kahuna
05-26-2013, 08:24 AM
Thanks for your review, we have been asked by the customers who have come before (Open since 1952 on Kauai) after years of live quality assurance to show what we pass and fail as our requirements. We have no mission to trash talk anyone but rather we express the clear standards that Kamoa company measures to qualify an instrument as a pass or fail. We have demonstrated our simple but very critical to quality requirements to most every customer over the last 10 years as a basic respect and service to the user. We perform live QAQC on a microphone and this practice has protected the vast majority of Kamoa customers from getting what we classify as a defective instrument. We sincerely hope you don't take our quality assurance as an attack but hope you gain insight into what we measure in harmonic sophistication is the true serve to the player/customer rather than selling a defective instrument as it seems most other manufactures prefer to do. If we don't show a pass and a fail to our customers they are not educated and less likely to make a wise buying decision. Kamoa Ukuleles are preferred globally because of our strict standards and we are happy to share them for education and benefit of customers who wish to understand the difference between a harmonically sophisticated instrument and one which produces distorted low quality note value. That is our legacy.

All I can hear in my head when I read that is "blah blah blah". The worst kind of meaningless, corporate-speak. Half of it is grammatically nonsensical. I think he must have had his lawyer write it.

Tigeralum2001
05-26-2013, 08:34 AM
Samuel Bonanno, the founder of Kamoa Ukulele Company responds here to a review: http://www.yelp.com/biz/kamoa-ukulele-company-kapaa-2

That is too funny! I'd say many things about Kamoa, but "globally preferred" and "tonally sophisticated" are not amongst them. On the other hand, perhaps the mic they are using for this test is broken or the software defective. I may not had the best ear or perfect pitch, but I know good tone when I hear it. I'd love to put some of my ukes through their process...

play one before buying- a great rule in general, but requirement for certain brands. Kamoa is one of those that require play before purchase.

haole
05-26-2013, 08:54 AM
Strange, especially since they had a partnership with UU for a while.

bborzell
05-26-2013, 09:12 AM
Interesting discussion. When I returned from a 2 week Maui stay that included a Jake concert, I decided to look into ukes. While I have both solid woods and laminated guitars and mandolins, I thought that a solid wood uke would be a place to start. After a bit of online research, I focused in on a Kamoa E3. Off I went to the local uke shop to check things out.

Maybe it was because I didn't have much of a reference point, but the E3 sounded pretty good to me. There was a bit of "thinness" to the sound, but it seemed to be an acceptable starting point. Oddly enough, what got me to start looking at alternatives was the finish. All of the E3s that were hanging on the wall looked like my cat had been strumming them. The dealer said it was typical of the Kamoa finish. I decided that, since I have never needed a pick guard, I wasn't going to buy an instrument that had been played by people who do.

I walked out with a Pono ATDC, but have since wondered about the other models in the Kamoa line.

Brian W
05-26-2013, 03:02 PM
So. Brian W, just wondering when you're gonna get that 500-S soprano? :p;)

I think I will pass on it. I am going to stick with a Hawiian brand. Though I still would like to try a Kiwaya; I hear they are quite good. I love this forum!!

Brian W
05-26-2013, 03:11 PM
I want to thank everyone who posted. You have given me some good information to go with. It's nice to have the thoughts and opinions of people who have actually played them. I am going to stay away from them and focus on a Hawaiian made soprano, or possibly a Kiwaya.

silveraven
05-26-2013, 03:14 PM
Since I was initially quite interested in Kamoa ukes due to the E3 line being solid ukes, I had to read Samuel Bonanno's response.

Then it struck me:


Open since 1952 on Kauai


Samuel Bonanno
Founder
Kamoa Ukulele Company

Did Samuel open the store since he was a baby then drank from the waters of immortality? :confused:

wickedwahine11
05-26-2013, 04:54 PM
Since I was initially quite interested in Kamoa ukes due to the E3 line being solid ukes, I had to read Samuel Bonanno's response.

Then it struck me:





Did Samuel open the store since he was a baby then drank from the waters of immortality? :confused:

No, I think he took over the store called Larry's from the prior owner if I remember correctly.

Uncle-Taco
05-26-2013, 05:22 PM
I got a 500 sv a couple of months ago. I guess it was a NAMM demo or something--nice MGM deal.

Well, hmmm... I like it and I don't.

I have looked it over critically a few times and I have to conclude that it's made quite well. Can't find anything to complain about at all construction-wise, and I have tried. It is rather pretty, I think. It plays VERY well and has a nice feel.
Sound: That's where I am rather underwhelmed. It isn't bad, but I have much cheaper sopranos that sound better. Maybe it's the maple/spruce combination--I don't know. Somehow thin, and seems to hate Worth CMs. I'll try other sets.

I didn't pay full retail price for it, obviously, and if I had I would be madder'n heck! For what I did pay, I am happy enough with it.

The CASE this sucker came in, however, was totally worth it!

7warriorlion
05-26-2013, 05:57 PM
I want to thank everyone who posted. You have given me some good information to go with. It's nice to have the thoughts and opinions of people who have actually played them. I am going to stay away from them and focus on a Hawaiian made soprano, or possibly a Kiwaya.
All the best to you in your ukulele search. I am sure you will find one that fits your criteria.
Cheers!:cool:



"If everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place."
Jake Shimabukuro

mm stan
05-26-2013, 06:34 PM
Aloha Brian,
I have played the prototype when it was first designed.. supposed to be a copy of the martin style 3.... they were working on the strings combo then...best materials used though :)

Brian W
05-26-2013, 07:08 PM
Aloha Brian,
I have played the prototype when it was first designed.. supposed to be a copy of the martin style 3.... they were working on the strings combo then...best materials used though :)

Hey mm stan,

Are you talking about a kiwaya?

gyosh
05-26-2013, 08:12 PM
I only have one Kamoa, it's a solid mahogany soprano. Mine sounds great with PhD strings.

I will say that I have had nothing but great service from them. I mean really great service. I had some shipping issues with mine . . . twice and they were good enough to take care of it immediately and on their dime.

I also bought my Kamaka at Larry's and again the service was more than I would expect from anyone. I try to stop in at both stores every time I'm in Kauai just to say hi and they treat me like an old friend.

Just felt the need to share a positive experience too.:)

mm stan
05-26-2013, 08:34 PM
Hey mm stan,

Are you talking about a kiwaya?

No the Kamoa ukulele...500

ukuleledaveey
05-26-2013, 11:51 PM
I want to thank everyone who posted. You have given me some good information to go with. It's nice to have the thoughts and opinions of people who have actually played them. I am going to stay away from them and focus on a Hawaiian made soprano, or possibly a Kiwaya.

Have you considered a Mele, they are Hawaiian made and very reasonably priced, i to always wondered about buying a kamoa,I dont think i would now :) great thread guys :)

gadha007
05-27-2013, 12:19 AM
I was an owner of an E3-SV for a couple hours but I was turned off by the scratch marks that were on it before I laid a hand on it. bborzell hit the nail on the head with his analogy involving cats. I had it sent back because of that and after a two week wait for another uke, I was offered the solid mahogany soprano made by Kamoa. These aren't easily available anymore afaik, (onlyby Baan ukulele on their website last I saw). But there were some saddle and nut issues with this too. Took it to my local shop and had it fixed. Now, I feel it sounds pretty good. Initially, I was not completely pleased but after the fix, I think I'm more than pleased with it. I was lucky that I worked with Michael Stone from MacNichol guitars as he was very accommodating of all my needs. He paid for return shipping on the E3 and also threw in a free gigbag with my SM-S (solid mahogany-soprano) because of an extended wait for another uke. He also threw in a small refund for a m minor repair on the SM-S. All-in-all, I got the SM-S plus gigbag for 125$ so I'm pleased with that.

About the Kamoa SM-S that I now have- The build quality is excellent and the gloss finish on it just works perfectly. The intonation is really good and the fretboard is easy to navigate. I'm not too sure how I feel about the Aquila strings though. They are a lot louder (punchier?) than I'd like so maybe I'll try out Worths on them sometime soon. If the SM line was priced like the E3's are right now, I can see why they stopped making the SM variant: it is way more superior than the the current line up, and by that I mean the E3's.

If you're looking for a starter uke that's a tad more serious (and by that I mean expensive) then go for it but work with a dealer who is accommodating. If I were to buy a Kamoa again, I'd definitely work with MacNichol as they're really trying to hook you up with what feels good to you.

gadha007
05-27-2013, 12:21 AM
Interesting discussion. When I returned from a 2 week Maui stay that included a Jake concert, I decided to look into ukes. While I have both solid woods and laminated guitars and mandolins, I thought that a solid wood uke would be a place to start. After a bit of online research, I focused in on a Kamoa E3. Off I went to the local uke shop to check things out.

Maybe it was because I didn't have much of a reference point, but the E3 sounded pretty good to me. There was a bit of "thinness" to the sound, but it seemed to be an acceptable starting point. Oddly enough, what got me to start looking at alternatives was the finish. All of the E3s that were hanging on the wall looked like my cat had been strumming them. The dealer said it was typical of the Kamoa finish. I decided that, since I have never needed a pick guard, I wasn't going to buy an instrument that had been played by people who do.

I walked out with a Pono ATDC, but have since wondered about the other models in the Kamoa line.

So, I take it that all ukes (with passage of a lot of playing time) don't get scratched up? But I agree, these kamoas do pget scratched like noone's business!

gadha007
05-27-2013, 12:25 AM
If you currently own, or have owned a Kamoa, please post your thoughts and experiences. I am considering a 500-S soprano, but will not have the ability to try it out first, since no local music stores carry them. This model is one of a few brands that I am considering. The other brands (Koaloha, Kamaka, Kiwaya) are more expensive, and probably have better build quality, but it would be nice to know what actual owners think of their Kamoa's.

I would suggest looking at KPK, too: www.pilikoko.com

silveraven
05-27-2013, 12:55 AM
If the SM line was priced like the E3's are right now, I can see why they stopped making the SM variant: it is way more superior than the the current line up, and by that I mean the E3's.

That doesn't make sense. Why stop producing a more superior instrument in favour of the current line up?

Btw, I googled up the SM-S... Penny Lane has them at $260. They look really nice! But for that price I would rather go for an Ohana SK-38 which seems to meet the approval of more people.

bborzell
05-27-2013, 06:26 AM
So, I take it that all ukes (with passage of a lot of playing time) don't get scratched up? But I agree, these kamoas do pget scratched like noone's business!

Don't know about any instruments other than mine, but I don't hit the sound boards. I can get pretty raucous at times, but at this point, I would have to work at it in order to hit the soundboard with my fingers(nails). Same with mandolins; I have never needed a pickguard. I do have a solid body electric mando that has a neck pickup that creates clearance issues for me, at times. But I have gotten used to moderating my pick "depth" while playing over that pickup.

Brian W
05-27-2013, 07:14 AM
No the Kamoa ukulele...500

I only asked that question, because I know Kiwaya ukuleles are copies of vintage Martins, which were mostly all mahogany or koa (I believe). I didn't know the Kamoa was also suppose to be a copy of a Martin as well. Thanks for the clarification.

gadha007
05-27-2013, 12:16 PM
That doesn't make sense. Why stop producing a more superior instrument in favour of the current line up?

Btw, I googled up the SM-S... Penny Lane has them at $260. They look really nice! But for that price I would rather go for an Ohana SK-38 which seems to meet the approval of more people.

Perhaps I was unclear. But the quality is so much better with the SM-S that I'm quite confident the profit margin was probably smaller? Just a hunch. I think Michael Stone said something similar when I asked him about the difference in quality and price.

260$!!?? Makes my 125$ with a crossrock gig bag a real steal, no? I'd definitely look for something else at 260$. but at the 150-160$ range, I think the e3 is a sweet uke and I'd definitely also check out KPK.

coolkayaker1
05-27-2013, 03:23 PM
But for that price I would rather go for an Ohana SK-38 which seems to meet the approval of more people.
yes, true. yes

mm stan
05-27-2013, 03:55 PM
I only asked that question, because I know Kiwaya ukuleles are copies of vintage Martins, which were mostly all mahogany or koa (I believe). I didn't know the Kamoa was also suppose to be a copy of a Martin as well. Thanks for the clarification.

Here's a big secret....get Brad Donaldson soprano's...they are martin copies and far superior in tone and sound quality....even much better than martin itself to me...shhhhhh

fumanshu
05-27-2013, 04:43 PM
I have the very first ones that Larry had back a few years ago...they we're laminated and it wasn'that bad....but for sure it can't be compare to K's uke or anything like that.......but they we're quite cheap back then.....now they seem to ber quite overpriced!!!

You can hear them in the vid that I did a few years back......


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j85XGQFFv3Y&list=UUcjwKeCxQpwhdmqbrFU3dWw&index=7



https://soundcloud.com/baouke/star-filante-by-caro-bao