View Full Version : whats the best concert ukulele?

08-13-2013, 11:53 PM
Hi guys girls new to the forum just a little info I've been a vintage instrument restorer for over 30 years "where has it gone" predominantly violins ,guitars banjos ,ukes
I have had some wonderful instruments in the workshop I am now retired but I have owned or worked on some wonderful martins /Gibson's and some dubious "60s"Gibsons ,Kumalae most of the quality vintage brands many modern hand built My favourite uke was a 30s martin concert well played but crack free (always irritates me when someone says it has cracks bit doesn't affect the sound) it does !!! LOL the old Vintage v modern thing I personnly love vintage instruments but a few years ago a chap brought in a kiwaya ktc1 (basically a copy of my vintage martin) to have a pickup fitted I was intrigued by the uke !! best finished uke Iíve ever seen and so light I was a little naughty took it home to play around with ,intonation perfect compensated saddle wonderful projection, beautifully braced ďso I bought oneĒ
Sound is subjective but build and playability isnít I have spent an obscene amount of time setting up my ukes but out of the box the kiwaya perfect I,m loathed !!!!!!to say a Japanese modern uke is the best uke Iíve ever played and sheís opened up ,rings like a bell I subsequently sold the martin never played it

08-14-2013, 12:39 AM
That's a very interesting post, thank you for sharing! I have a Kiwaya KTS-4 soprano and it is superbly built and sounds lovely. I am always frustrated that what the player hears is NOT what the listener hears..... I listened to a couple of other players playing mine and fell in love with it for the sound as well as for the look and build.... and they both want to buy it from me - no way!

Uncle Leroy
08-14-2013, 12:50 AM
I have always preferred the KoAloha Concert Uke. To my ears, that is THE sound.

08-14-2013, 01:39 AM
Around these parts, if I had to nominate two brands that "duke it out" for best sounding concert (I know it's subjective) it would be the KoAloha and Kanilea "tone monsters"

mm stan
08-14-2013, 02:35 AM
Aloha George,
Welcome to the UU forums.....Yes for soprano martin copies...there is a builder by the name of Brad Donaldson who makes the nicest sounding spruce top sopranos and nice playability and comfort
you gotta try one....compared to my vintage martins and kamaka sopranos it really is a way better sounding uke.....in fact I have alot of sopranos and prefer the
Brad donaldson....I am sold on them, let me say it has a real pleasant tone... HE MAKES CONCERTS TOO :)

08-14-2013, 02:46 AM
Welcome George. As others have said before me, KoAloha builds an amazing concert IMO. Light and loud, with great tone and sustain. I agree that Kiwayas are very nice also.

08-14-2013, 03:54 AM
I'm fortunate enough to have a Collings tenor, a Lo Prinzi and Talsma concert, and a Larrivee soprano (all used).

To me the Talsma concert, styled after a martin, is my favourite and go-to ukulele. Understated, but wonderful build quality and a great sound. If I ever the win the big one, and get a custom of my own, Dave Talsma is top of my list of luthiers and it will definitely be another concert size.

http://i1291.photobucket.com/albums/b551/904cc/TalsmaConcert_zps31d4be8d.jpg (http://s1291.photobucket.com/user/904cc/media/TalsmaConcert_zps31d4be8d.jpg.html)

Tim Mullins
08-14-2013, 06:09 AM
Hi George,

I have a Kiwaya KCT-2, the 14-fret version of yours, and it is everything you said. I would recommend one to anyone. That said, my new Kamaka HF2-L+ long neck concert has taken over as my new favorite to play. Of course, it has a tenor scale, so perhaps doesn't qualify as a concert in the spirit of your original question.

08-14-2013, 07:33 AM
I am thrilled with my KoAloha and keep it even though it is hard for me play physically. I have arthritis, but if I can only play one song a week on it, I am happy! It really sings.

Hippie Dribble
08-14-2013, 09:39 AM
Hey George, the favourite concert ukes I've ever played are Collings, Ono, Black Bear and Covered Bridge. Are they the best...not sure as preferences are invariably personal and everyone's different...they were the best to me I guess! I Would love to try a Kiwaya and a KoAloha though, amongst a number of others! :)

08-14-2013, 11:29 AM
Hi guys interesting opinions I worked with a wonderful chap martin Cox in London over twenty years ago he was setup /restoration guru in Denmark street London he had a wonderful ear and he had a great expression ďfor everything you add you lose somethingĒ
I was lucky enough to play a fan braced parlor guitar he built ,no edge binding ,no binding on the fingerboard no head plate no fancy inlays absolutely nothing to impede the vibration of the instrument he was adamant that the tuners affected the flow of vibration and the nut and saddle were the heart of the instrument and matching all the components to internal volume and getting that balance was the key
Personally and this is just my opinion some of the high end ukes I,ve worked on were overbuilt but aesthetically beautiful . I had a Kanilea koa a thing of absolute beauty wonderful figured koa but lacking in projection I think because of the nature of the wood it require heavier bracing
Sound and tone is subjective Iím only really talking about getting the most from the component parts
The kiwaya is incredibly lightly with very light bracing no frills binding etc the compensation on the saddle, the fretting and intonation is staggering, in my humble opinion it has the nearest to perfect balance Iíve played but !!!!!
Itís very plain ,not vintage, made in japan its a wallflower that when played turns out to be Kelly Brooke ,my high end concert uke Looked a million dollarsí more bling than Mr T and when played was more like Mel brookes LOL

Hippie Dribble
08-14-2013, 11:47 AM
Good points George. Personally I don't like bling at all. Simple and elegant works for me. I have a soprano made by a French fellow, Gerard Guasch, in the style of the vintage Martin O and it has incredible balance, is featherlight and such a sweet and well rounded tone...heaps of volume, great attack - so responsive it hurts, and the sustain is as good as I ever heard on a soprano. It's my nicest sounding uke by some way. But it is very plain aesthetically. I like to say, "bling don't mean a thing if it don't sing". :)

08-14-2013, 02:57 PM
The best sounding concert I've ever heard is a LoPrinzi concert model that is owned by my friend, Steve Boisen....nothing else around here touches it!

08-14-2013, 11:00 PM
My solid mahogany Kiwaya soprano - as others have said, no bling at all, but a simple, narrow golden coloured rosette, similar in design to the blue Martin one - without that, it would look TOO plain - but it really doesn't need anything else because aesthetically, everything about the build is perfection... so smooth everywhere, with that lovely satin finish that just glows.... yes, it's a really elegant little beauty. And I'm keeping it....

Skinny Money McGee
08-15-2013, 04:29 AM
Agree with the OP. Although I love my Kamakas and the soul, spirit and sound they have, I played and compared a dozen or more higher end ukes at Elderly (including Kamakas & Martins old and new), and I have to say the Kiwaya's were the the best playing ukes there. Intonation was very accurate, fretboards smooth as silk, barre chords were effortless, and build quality is excellent. I tried out the KS-1, KTS-4, KTS-5, and a KTC-2.