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View Full Version : Need help IDing the wood in my uke



Colonel Uke
02-22-2014, 02:26 PM
I just recently picked up this Kalia soprano uke on eBay. I only know a little about the Kalias, they were assembled in Mexico and setup by Michael Rock of Mele Ukes in Maui for a short time in the late 90's. I'm just trying to ID what wood it might be made of. I can tell that it's all solid, and I think the top is some kind of cedar, but I'm not sure about the rest. I actually messaged some pictures to Michael Rock via Mele's website and Facebook page, but haven't heard anything back yet. Any help or info anybody has would be appreciated. I'm getting ready to put some new Worth clears on it and see how it sounds.

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mketom
02-22-2014, 02:36 PM
The back looks like zebrawood, the top looks like red cedar. I'd guess the bindings area padauk or bloodwood.

Osprey
02-22-2014, 03:46 PM
Whatever it is it is beautiful
Cliff

Colonel Uke
02-23-2014, 11:05 AM
Hadn't thought about zebrawood, you might be right since the grain is so pronounced. Thanks. Hopefully, I'll get a response back from the Michael Rock and he'll have some additional info.

PhilUSAFRet
02-23-2014, 11:43 AM
Doesn't appear to have enough contrast to be zebrawood. Pretty little sucker.

OldePhart
02-23-2014, 12:18 PM
That is a nice looking uke - the back looks very similar to some oak furniture that I have. I don't think oak is considered a tone wood, but that's what it looks like and back and sides are a lot less critical than the top so that could probably be made to work. Especially with a cedar top...cedar is so "alive" you could probably get great sound with it even if the body was made of concrete! (Might be a little heavy, though... ;) )

John

Colonel Uke
02-23-2014, 04:23 PM
The back does kind of look like oak, but the whole uke is very light, so I'm not sure. I'm going to try and give Mele a call tomorrow and see if I can solve the mystery.

Colonel Uke
02-24-2014, 11:11 AM
Talked to the people at Mele today, and confirmed that the top is red cedar and the back, sides, and neck are solid rosewood. I'd never seen that light color of rosewood, but she assured me that she remembered those Kalia's and that's what it was. I asked about it not having the Mele logo on the headstock, because the other Kalia's I've seen had the Kalia label inside and the Mele headstock logo. She said that it either had "fallen off" or was a very early one before they started branding them. Either way, I'm extremely pleased with the sound. Finish does have some cosmetic spots here and there, but it sounds great.

Skywalker
12-29-2019, 10:14 PM
Talked to the people at Mele today, and confirmed that the top is red cedar and the back, sides, and neck are solid rosewood. I'd never seen that light color of rosewood, but she assured me that she remembered those Kalia's and that's what it was.

This is an old thread, but I thought you might be interested in knowing that another Kalia was described as having a cedar top and palo escrito body and sides. That may explain the unusual color of the rosewood in your Mexican-made ukulele.

Palo Escrito, whose literal translation is "written stick" or "written cane", is a Rosewood (botanical name dalbergia). It is fairly common in Méjico, and like most rosewoods it makes a good wood for the back and sides of an acoustic/classical guitar. Why? Because like many dalbergias it is a readily available resource and thus not too expensive, is relatively easy to work by the luthiers, and impart a pleasant looking character on the guitars. They tend to be very hard and dense, with linear or mauve shade pattern, and a varied color range (black, brown, red, dark orange).
https://www.classicalguitardelcamp.com/viewtopic.php?t=57160

Palo Escrito
This is the trade name for timber made from the Mexican tree, Dalbergia palescrito. It is sometimes also known as Mexican rosewood (https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/rosewood/). It was first used by luthiers (https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/luthier-luthierie/) building classical guitars, but eventually, other builders began to take notice of the wood’s rich golden brown coloration with darker streaks. Compared to East Indian rosewood, Palo Escrito has a wider grain pattern and more figuring, as well as a wider range of coloration that can include amber and reddish hues.
https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/palo-escrito/

Aesthetically, this wood borders on being yellow.
https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=231693

Skywalker
12-29-2019, 10:35 PM
Paul,

Here's a classical guitar made of palo escrito. I think the wood looks quite a bit like yours.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUa-8cRpmOo