View Full Version : Is this Koa?

02-26-2014, 06:57 PM
I've had this uke for a short time, and I keep wondering if perhaps it could be Koa? This is a Rutan from the later 20's or 30's. I've only seen these made of mahogany, but this one is quite special, being bound front and back, with a bound fretboard as well.

When I look at it next to my other vintage mahogany ukes, the grain of the wood is pretty different, and the back has big bands of dark and light colors. A friend asked today if it is koa, which I had been wondering so I'd like to get some opinions.

Here it is next to a friend's Martin of the same vintage...

http://i827.photobucket.com/albums/zz199/RyanMFT_photos/Rutan%20Ukulele/Mobile%20Uploads/906E7332-61E0-4BD1-A11D-D815F3386DB8_zpsghzgu44t.jpg (http://s827.photobucket.com/user/RyanMFT_photos/media/Rutan%20Ukulele/Mobile%20Uploads/906E7332-61E0-4BD1-A11D-D815F3386DB8_zpsghzgu44t.jpg.html)
http://i827.photobucket.com/albums/zz199/RyanMFT_photos/Rutan%20Ukulele/Mobile%20Uploads/06E550E7-F43F-47E7-A2F0-18E3E465D0DF_zpsouhxjakz.jpg (http://s827.photobucket.com/user/RyanMFT_photos/media/Rutan%20Ukulele/Mobile%20Uploads/06E550E7-F43F-47E7-A2F0-18E3E465D0DF_zpsouhxjakz.jpg.html)

02-26-2014, 06:59 PM
Here are a couple more...
http://i827.photobucket.com/albums/zz199/RyanMFT_photos/Rutan%20Ukulele/e0a45225f9329298fe7653a0af7c655e_zps56c4b0e5.jpg (http://s827.photobucket.com/user/RyanMFT_photos/media/Rutan%20Ukulele/e0a45225f9329298fe7653a0af7c655e_zps56c4b0e5.jpg.h tml)
http://i827.photobucket.com/albums/zz199/RyanMFT_photos/Rutan%20Ukulele/53dec097d22542c07037cd6988322a82_zpsbd1c9273.jpg (http://s827.photobucket.com/user/RyanMFT_photos/media/Rutan%20Ukulele/53dec097d22542c07037cd6988322a82_zpsbd1c9273.jpg.h tml)http://i827.photobucket.com/albums/zz199/RyanMFT_photos/580a6d2026a0b118557ae37eac3c1139_zps968e1e72.jpg (http://s827.photobucket.com/user/RyanMFT_photos/media/580a6d2026a0b118557ae37eac3c1139_zps968e1e72.jpg.h tml)

02-26-2014, 10:54 PM
No, it's mahogany.

02-26-2014, 11:45 PM
Looks like Mahogany to me too. Its not uncommon for Mahogany to be stripy.

EDIT: I was just looking at some Koa ukulele's. With Koa the variation in the timber colour is usually a lighter, honey colour. With stripy Mahogany the colour variation is darker, as per your pictures.


02-27-2014, 12:01 AM
looks like mohogany

Skinny Money McGee
02-27-2014, 01:33 AM
+ 1 more for mahogany. Beautiful uke btw. Someday you'll have to share your cleaning techniques for cleaning a vintage uke. Would make another good video.

02-27-2014, 02:20 AM
Definitely mahogany, but very, very pretty mahogany. That's a real find.

02-27-2014, 03:04 AM
Yep, definitely mahogany but, as others have said, very nice mahogany.

Mahogany varies from almost orange to dark red and, like most woods, tends to darken with age and exposure to air. It's not unusual on current-production instruments (inexpensive and mid-range, anyway) to find that the mahogany has been stained to be darker red as that's what most people "expect" from mahogany. It doesn't really matter - the color has no effect on the sound that I can distinguish, anyway - i.e. lighter colored mahogany is not intrinsically inferior to darker.


02-27-2014, 05:57 AM
I agree mahogany. The back looks like what is sometimes referred to as ribbon mahogany.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
02-27-2014, 06:41 AM
Nope, it's certainly not koa. My vote is with the others.

02-27-2014, 03:19 PM
I agree, mahogany. But don't knock mahogany. It is not as luxurious as koa, but it has a nice sound. I have a Mainland classic mahogany and absolutely love the warm, sweet tone.

02-27-2014, 03:54 PM
Hog. Nice.

02-28-2014, 01:04 AM
Maybe Cuban mahogany? Very nice looking uke.

02-28-2014, 11:03 AM
Thank you all very much for your replies. I thought it was Mahogany, then a couple friends asked if it could be koa so it got me questioning myself. This uke sounds and plays beautifully and I feel very lucky to own it.