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advancedbasic
06-18-2013, 08:01 PM
Hey everyone, I have two separate questions...

1. There's a KoAloha Pikake Soprano for sale nearby me, being sold by someone who says he bought it from his cousin who got it in Hawaii. He says he just hasn't played it frequently enough to warrant keeping it, and being a guitarist, is also saving up for a new guitar.

I've been strongly considering getting a higher-end soprano used at the right price, and I'm wondering before I go and inspect/play the instrument in person if there are specific things good to look for whether they be indications of genuine vs. counterfeit, types of hard-to-see damage, or generally just anything useful to know.

I did go to a local ukulele shop today to play a few other KoAlohas (so I know roughly what the instrument should sound like), but otherwise I was just planning on looking for cosmetic damage to the outside, the KoAloha label and date stamp inside, and generally just how the instrument plays (action height etc.)

2. Now more specifically, does anyone have a KoAloha Pikake Soprano and want to comment on how they like it? What do you think it's worth? My only benchmark is that HMS is selling one for $659 new, and since it's HMS that includes a case and humidifier as well as set up (I know this guy is including a similar case at the very least). I'm almost positive the instrument is in great shape and has its original strings based on high-res photos:

EDIT: Here they are (you have to click the link to see all 8 photos).

http://imgur.com/a/d2TnP

I personally liked the KoAloha soprano's bright, loud, and projective sound the best of the other sopranos I tried in the local store I visited today, but am still a bit unsure whether to keep hunting for a glossy "regular" KoAloha vs this satin Pikake version (less of a big deal for me -- are they really different besides the finish?) or to keep looking for a concert neck KoAloha soprano. I played a few sopranos with concert and tenor necks and found the increased neck length to result in more string tension and less of that bright "boxy" soprano sound which I like. While I've grown to like the extra room on the fretboard of my Kala mahogany concert, I still don't mind playing on a soprano neck so I don't know if a concert neck is actually necessary for me.

consitter
06-18-2013, 08:09 PM
Hey everyone, I have two separate questions...

1. There's a KoAloha Pikake Soprano for sale nearby me asking $450, being sold by someone who says he bought it from his cousin who got it in Hawaii. He says he just hasn't played it frequently enough to warrant keeping it, and being a guitarist, is also saving up for a new guitar.

I've been strongly considering getting a higher-end soprano used at the right price, and I'm wondering before I go and inspect/play the instrument in person if there are specific things good to look for whether they be indications of genuine vs. counterfeit, types of hard-to-see damage, or generally just anything useful to know.

I did go to a local ukulele shop today to play a few other KoAlohas (so I know roughly what the instrument should sound like), but otherwise I was just planning on looking for cosmetic damage to the outside, the KoAloha label and date stamp inside, and generally just how the instrument plays (action height etc.)

2. Now more specifically, does anyone have a KoAloha Pikake Soprano and want to comment on how they like it? Is $450 a good price? My only benchmark is that HMS is selling one for $659 new, and since it's HMS that includes a case and humidifier as well as set up (I know this guy is including a similar case at the very least). I'm almost positive the instrument is in great shape and has its original strings based on high-res photos (listing is gone unfortunately otherwise I'd link it here; I should have downloaded it haha).

I personally liked the KoAloha soprano's bright, loud, and projective sound the best of the other sopranos I tried in the local store I visited today, but am still a bit unsure whether to keep hunting for a glossy "regular" KoAloha vs this satin Pikake version (less of a big deal for me -- are they really different besides the finish?) or to keep looking for a concert neck KoAloha soprano. I played a few sopranos with concert and tenor necks and found the increased neck length to result in more string tension and less of that bright "boxy" soprano sound which I like. While I've grown to like the extra room on the fretboard of my Kala mahogany concert, I still don't mind playing on a soprano neck so I don't know if a concert neck is actually necessary for me.

Two things to look at...

1) The date it was made. If you look in the sound hole up toward the neck, there will be a month/year date stamped there on the tail block.

2) Inspect the label inside the soundhole. If there is a mark on it with a black marker, then it is a second. This would make it worth about 20% less than whatever it is worth on the retail market, for whatever age/shape that it is in.

Hope this helps.

advancedbasic
06-18-2013, 08:20 PM
Two things to look at...

1) The date it was made. If you look in the sound hole up toward the neck, there will be a month/year date stamped there on the tail block.

2) Inspect the label inside the soundhole. If there is a mark on it with a black marker, then it is a second. This would make it worth about 20% less than whatever it is worth on the retail market, for whatever age/shape that it is in.

Hope this helps.

Actually those tips are both really helpful -- I had no idea at all about the black mark meaning it was a second. Is the mark in a specific place on the label or will it be large enough that it's obvious?

EDIT: Ah, I found a photo of another KoAloha in an old thread (and can see the mark):
54730

consitter
06-18-2013, 08:22 PM
Actually those tips are both really helpful -- I had no idea at all about the black mark meaning it was a second. Is the mark in a specific place on the label or will it be large enough that it's obvious?

Usually, it's in the bottom right hand corner of the label. And yes, it is obvious. It's a slash mark.

advancedbasic
06-18-2013, 08:33 PM
Usually, it's in the bottom right hand corner of the label. And yes, it is obvious. It's a slash mark.

Yep, I edited my reply (I found an example of the KoAloha second mark). Now I'm working on getting the guy to email me the pictures that were on the Craigslist posting so I can actually ask peoples' opinion on the condition. Thanks for the help!

EDIT: In the meantime while I wait for the pictures, out of curiosity I priced out a brand new KSM-00 (glossy) vs KSM-10 (satin) KoAloha soprano and see that the glossy one is $50 more. Is this purely cosmetic (non-crowned end of fretboard and satin finish vs crowned end of fretboard and glossy finish)?

strumsilly
06-19-2013, 01:49 AM
Yep, I edited my reply (I found an example of the KoAloha second mark). Now I'm working on getting the guy to email me the pictures that were on the Craigslist posting so I can actually ask peoples' opinion on the condition. Thanks for the help!

EDIT: In the meantime while I wait for the pictures, out of curiosity I priced out a brand new KSM-00 (glossy) vs KSM-10 (satin) KoAloha soprano and see that the glossy one is $50 more. Is this purely cosmetic (non-crowned end of fretboard and satin finish vs crowned end of fretboard and glossy finish)?

cosmetic
although there are those who will disagree. some think a glossy finish is thicker and it kills some of the sound. I have had both a glossy and satin Koaloha. I think the glossy looks better but the satin feels better. they both sounded great. Your choice.

advancedbasic
06-20-2013, 04:22 PM
Alright guys, here are the images of the uke (I also will update the OP):

http://imgur.com/a/d2TnP

Click on the URL to look since there are 3 more images than thumbnails.

Based on these, the instrument looks to be in great condition. What do you think it's worth? I believe it's 5 years old and I think HMS sells new ones for $659.

mm stan
06-20-2013, 04:57 PM
I prefer for 50 or so dollars....you can get the upgrade standard Koaloha...it has a better finish and scalloped end fretboard rather than the straight on the pikake,,,
if you call the factory, they may have seconds for you......hope it helps...

advancedbasic
06-20-2013, 05:06 PM
I prefer for 50 or so dollars....you can get the upgrade standard Koaloha...it has a better finish and scalloped end fretboard rather than the straight on the pikake,,,
if you call the factory, they may have seconds for you......hope it helps...

I tend to like matte finishes more (and the scalloped fretboard looks cool but I'm not sure I'd want it if it means I couldn't have the matte finish).

In this case it's also a matter of being able to get this one for relatively cheap used by someone who didn't play it much vs. $605 new from HMS (If I use my $100 store credit).

pulelehua
06-21-2013, 01:22 AM
You mentioned supersopranos and string tension. Just a little side note: that difference in tension makes them play a bit differently. Super sopranos are friendlier for fingerpicking while sopranos are absolute strumming machines. It's not a world of difference, but it is noticeable. So you might consider the type of playing you do. I have big hands, and I find sopranos pretty easy to adjust to. And it's nice to be able to make crazy stretches.

If I ever bought a K brand, it would be a KoAloha Pikake. I think they're gorgeous.

advancedbasic
06-21-2013, 06:02 AM
You mentioned supersopranos and string tension. Just a little side note: that difference in tension makes them play a bit differently. Super sopranos are friendlier for fingerpicking while sopranos are absolute strumming machines. It's not a world of difference, but it is noticeable. So you might consider the type of playing you do. I have big hands, and I find sopranos pretty easy to adjust to. And it's nice to be able to make crazy stretches.

If I ever bought a K brand, it would be a KoAloha Pikake. I think they're gorgeous.

Alright, thanks for the advice!

haolejohn
06-21-2013, 06:15 AM
If it is a second I wouldn't let that deter me.
What is the guy selling it for? It is hard for us to price it without seeing it. It looks to be in fine shape. The going rate is about 25% les than new. Go try it out. Nothing wrong with that.

advancedbasic
06-21-2013, 08:54 AM
If it is a second I wouldn't let that deter me.
What is the guy selling it for? It is hard for us to price it without seeing it. It looks to be in fine shape. The going rate is about 25% les than new. Go try it out. Nothing wrong with that.

It's not a second from what I can tell (based on picture of soundhole). Other than it being five years old with the old bridge (which isn't a bad thing -- I like the old bridge) I think it looks perfect.

Did you see I updated the OP and posted a reply a few posts up with pictures?

EDIT: Here's the images link: http://imgur.com/a/d2TnP

Pretty pristine-looking to me and the price is below that. I'm excited to go see what it sounds like in-person tomorrow.

Rick Turner
06-21-2013, 09:55 AM
There is no way to properly assess the condition of an instrument with pictures on the Internet. That may indicate external issues, but probably won't address the hidden issues that a luthier's inspection could find. But this certainly looks worth what's asked for it...assuming no cracked braces, etc., etc.

KoAlohas are in general very well made instruments, and the Okami family (and pals) who make them are passionate about what they do and the music played on their ukes. If there is anything wrong with that uke, just call Paul at the company and he'll figure out how to get it right or refer you to a luthier. Bear in mind that second hand instruments are almost never covered by warranty...for a number of good reasons...but companies like KoAloha want every uke in the field, new or used, to play right and be right.

kmac66
06-21-2013, 09:56 AM
Just buy it! They're awesome and you'll love it.

advancedbasic
06-21-2013, 10:36 AM
There is no way to properly assess the condition of an instrument with pictures on the Internet. That may indicate external issues, but probably won't address the hidden issues that a luthier's inspection could find. But this certainly looks worth what's asked for it...assuming no cracked braces, etc., etc.

KoAlohas are in general very well made instruments, and the Okami family (and pals) who make them are passionate about what they do and the music played on their ukes. If there is anything wrong with that uke, just call Paul at the company and he'll figure out how to get it right or refer you to a luthier. Bear in mind that second hand instruments are almost never covered by warranty...for a number of good reasons...but companies like KoAloha want every uke in the field, new or used, to play right and be right.

When I played the gloss KoAloha soprano in a local store alongside my current instruments I was really impressed with how beautiful it sounded. It also felt extremely light yet well-made and looked gorgeous (I still think I like the matte better though).

I'm mainly asking here before I bite because I'm wondering if there are any specific things to look for when inspecting the instrument myself; my current lists consists of:

1. no black marker slash on corner of label inside sound hole (indicating it's a second) -- if it was I'd still probably but it but ask for a lower price
2. few to no cosmetic dings/scratches
3. no cracks, cosmetic or otherwise
4. date stamp inside
5. good action (although of course if it's too high that can be adjusted easily by a professional and probably wouldn't deter me from buying the instrument)
6. correct sound (I played a few KoAlohas a few days ago in a store to make sure I know what they should sound like)

Are there specific places there might be hard-to-see cracks or damage? Otherwise I'm just going to look it over top to bottom inside and out, play a few songs, decide if it feels right, and just buy it. My alternative is paying $180 more for a brand new one if I use my HMS store credit. Otherwise the store credit will go towards a better case and a humidifier (and so the net cost will still just be that of the used instrument itself).

pulelehua
06-21-2013, 09:38 PM
There are some other generic stringed instrument things which you might already know:

1. Play every note on every string (checks fret and neck issues)
2. Look down the neck to check for warping
3. When looking for cracks, make sure to check for hairline cracks in line with the grain. These are the cracks that can look tiny, but grow into monsters. Often, ugly big cracks aren't very problematic compared to little ones. I have a Martin D-18 with one of those cracks. At my school, there is a guitar with a hole in the corner, where some silly boy pretended it was electric, and tried to ram a jack into it. I would rather the big hole than my tiny, almost impossible to see crack.

There are probably other things which my tired brain can't think of......

advancedbasic
06-22-2013, 12:28 PM
Bought.

It's truly in *pristine* condition -- the guy must have legitimately not played it more than a few times. No cracks, warping, dings, or even scuffs at all. It sounds even better than it looks too (stock strings).

It's stamped December 2009, so it has the old bridge (which I happen to like on this instrument with its matte finish and straight fretboard end).

Now time to go home, go outside somewhere, and play!

wendellfiddler
06-22-2013, 12:56 PM
Your lucky to be able to see it in person and decide. It's hard to buy used instruments on-line - especially when the seller balks about returns. I would advise everyone to avoid instruments that the seller will not take back if you don't like it or find something about it you object to. It's fair enough to have the buyer responsible to pay return shipping, but not accepting returns is a big red flag!

doug