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View Full Version : Did I get a fake Koa Pili Koko Acacia Concert? :(



raffrox
03-18-2014, 03:29 AM
Hi there. I'm about a month into playing my uke and decided to upgrade from my $70 Koaloha to a step up decent ukulele. I've been loving it and have played every day for 5 weeks straight.

I ordered a Koa Pili Koko Acacia Concert from a site called http://www.ukulelemate.com.au/ I'm in Australia and it 'seemed' like an Australian site. I checked it out and called the customer service number and it seemed like a legit site.

My ukulele arrived today and it just doesn't seem right.

It doesn't have the Koa Pili Koko name/logo on the headstock and the sticker inside the ukulele seems different to what I've seen online (most I've seen are gold in colour). Also the sticker in the ukulele has an email address that screams dodgy to me (Freewrldimportexport@hotmail.com).

It looks really nice and the workmanship actually looks good. I haven't tuned it up to play as if its dodgy I'm just keen to get it sent back asap as untouched as possible.

The customer service line was shut when I got home from work so I haven't spoken to them but am I right in saying I might have been duped?

Thanks in advance :cool:

64981

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Macmuse
03-18-2014, 03:36 AM
That's not their headstock shape. Maybe email info@pilikoko.com and ask if they have any with that headstock (and alert them in case someone is marketing on their name)?

The body shape and bridge look right though.

Edit: should have said, that's not a known headstock shape for them...

dkcrown
03-18-2014, 03:47 AM
Where did you get a "$70 KoAloha" and how is it an upgrade to a KPK? Are you sure you have a KoAloha and not a Kohala?

raffrox
03-18-2014, 03:54 AM
Sorry, my bad dkcrown. It was a spelling mistake. It's been a long day. Its a $70 Kealoha. Dodgy, close to worst in the guitar shop kind of uke.

Macmuse, I've sent an email off including pictures so hopefully I'll get a reply with a definitive answer.

fernandogardinali
03-18-2014, 04:07 AM
The Koa Pili Koko is made by a chinese company called Aiersi. They also make all the cheap resos (think Recording King, Republic, Johnson). Maybe they are changing designs.

I think this looks wayyyy better than other Pili Kokos I've seen. I found the headstock design to be very ugly on the other models and the logo was very cheap looking - MS Office Word Art style.

Ukejenny
03-18-2014, 04:09 AM
My guess is maybe it isn't a real KPK. The wood looks pretty and agree with what Macmuse said about the body and bridge. I have a deluxe tenor KPK and love it. Wonderful instrument. I hope another company isn't trading on KPK's name.

pixiepurls
03-18-2014, 04:13 AM
Did it come with the strings hanging out like that? I mean I know loads of musicians when they string instruments leave those on there but I've never seen one you could buy that had not been clipped properly.

raffrox
03-18-2014, 04:22 AM
Did it come with the strings hanging out like that? I mean I know loads of musicians when they string instruments leave those on there but I've never seen one you could buy that had not been clipped properly.

It did which I thought was a bit odd as well.

It came with a label saying they were Aquila strings but the label had bad English on it.

pixiepurls
03-18-2014, 04:27 AM
It did which I thought was a bit odd as well.

It came with a label saying they were Aquila strings but the label had bad English on it.

I say strum it and see if you like it and ask yourself if it was worth what you paid for it. Take the name of it out of the picture/brand etc. Just ask yourself how does it feel. Strumming it a few times is not gonna cause a problem, you would have done that if you walked in the store.

It does seem very sketchy but I would be very curious as to how you think it feels and sounds.

bborzell
03-18-2014, 05:43 AM
Using Hotmail as a mail server isn't a good sign. But, as others have said, play it and see how it performs. If it sounds and feels good enough for what you paid, then the only other issue is whether it is a knock off and if it is, does it feel OK to you to support a huckster.

UkerDanno
03-18-2014, 05:53 AM
tune it up and play it, that won't hurt anything. but it doesn't look like anything on the KPK website.
http://pilikoko.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1

Macmuse
03-18-2014, 06:04 AM
Did it come with the strings hanging out like that? I mean I know loads of musicians when they string instruments leave those on there but I've never seen one you could buy that had not been clipped properly.

Don't know about other KPK owners, but my concert came strung that way. Did really bother me, I'd either snip them off or if long enough do a nice loop.

kvehe
03-18-2014, 06:13 AM
Mine was fine, string-end-wise.

Uke-Conn
03-18-2014, 06:17 AM
It looks very much like my plain KPK concert, except for the label, the headstock and the silver metal tuners. The body, fretboard, bridge and saddle look the same, build-wise & color-wise. And I ordered mine thru Jason @ KPK, so it came with Worth strings that were clipped.

I think checking with Jason @ pilikoko is a great idea. I'd love to hear his response.

I really love my KPK concert, BTW.

Macmuse
03-18-2014, 06:20 AM
The Koa Pili Koko is made by a chinese company called Aiersi. They also make all the cheap resos (think Recording King, Republic, Johnson). Maybe they are changing designs.

I think this looks wayyyy better than other Pili Kokos I've seen. I found the headstock design to be very ugly on the other models and the logo was very cheap looking - MS Office Word Art style.

I don't mind the headstock so much. The sound is just super at their price. I'm not fond of the gold sticker but I don't see it when I'm playing. ;)

Given the fact they are produced for KPK that way - pure speculation until the OP hopefully gets a reply from KPK:

...KPK knows and is okay with a seller selling their brand with that headstock -- maybe they are changing it up and don't have the headstock "engraved" or stickered for that one?

...Or the manufacturer is using KPK specs but not the headstock and still has the okay to sell with the label? (I find this one unlikely)

...Or they are just outright using KPK body/bridge and labeling with a recognized name and KPK doesn't know it. :(

Uke-Conn
03-18-2014, 06:26 AM
Agree with Macmuse - the headstock doesn't bother me. The engraved logo is better than the decal that they used previously. I'm not crazy about the gold label either, but that's the most minor of cosmetic features. That said - my gold label contains the email address for pilikoko (info@ pilikoko.com), not some hotmail address . . . . .

bnolsen
03-18-2014, 07:19 AM
No headstock logo makes this pretty fishy, no reputable maker out there has a plain headstock that I know of.

I found a ukulele in a shop claiming to be a "factory second" martin s0 which had a martin sticker with a blacked out serial number inside and no logo on the headstock. It had a small gouge where the top meets the side, was full mahogany and had a pretty nice tone.

I don't know if the sticker was typical martin (not having a martin at the time) but from what I understand there is absolutely no such thing as a martin factory second.

I wouldn't be pleased if you paid the same as if you bought a real kpk and might consider notifying KPK about the counterfeiting.

Btw, the ASMUS brand of ukulele was made in the same factory as KPK but had a different headstock and used different woods (like sapele). It was a shame he folded up shop due to illness and seemed to just disappear.

KoaDependent
03-18-2014, 07:24 AM
Most of us who have KPKs bought them from a guy named Jason in HI. He sources the ukes from Aiersi and does the finish himself.

Aiersi makes ukes which have been sold under other brands, like Asmus. Asmus has this same shield-shaped headstock.

Here's the manufacturer page:
http://www.aiersiguitar.com/master-grade-all-solid-koa-pili-koko-brand-tenor-ukulelehigh-grade-hawaii-koa-ukulele-with-aquila-strings-au-26sb/

Look familiar?

There seems to be some slipperiness regarding the brand name and who owns it - the manufacturer or Jason, the distributer.

It's likely that whoever put the label in got a batch from the same supplier that came pre-branded on the headstock.

OldePhart
03-18-2014, 07:30 AM
My guess would be that it's out of the same factory in China but without the added setup and QA done by Jason and I wouldn't expect Jason to honor any supposed warranty on it.

Unfortunately, anybody who outsources work to China should be prepared to deal with competition from knockoffs from the same factory that they are paying to produce their products. It doesn't matter whether you're talking about ukuleles or telephones or motorcycles. That's just the way it is.

If you got this for significantly less than a "real" KPK...now you know why. :) If you didn't get it for significantly less than a "real" KPK - I'd return it and get a real KPK for the warranty, etc.

John

mm stan
03-18-2014, 07:57 AM
I just looked at the site, and the uke pictured is what you got..it says Koa Pili Koko
Last I heard there was only two people in the US authorized to sell this uke....Jason and Ken(Chiang) both in hawaii
Maybe this is a new model, but it seems odd that it does not have a sticker on the headstock and a different headstock,
Usually they get these ukes unfinished and add the tuner and strings, so I wouldn't mind if the strings was not clipped whoever does them in Australia...might just be a lazy guy
they could also be putting on the decal themselves and not from the factory as it may be a copy or get them that way
...Last I heard it was made in the same factory as Melokia and that other mentioned.
You know the drill, in some countries the factory copies the original brand as they have no scrupples and sell them....this could be what you have,
I looked at the site price...299.99 for a concert....I know Austalian money and cost are more but, it almost double the price and hawaii is farther from where they were built.
I'd also call them and discuss the matter(the store) and Koa Pili Koko too good luck...by the way how does it sound, play and feel....

PhilUSAFRet
03-18-2014, 11:26 AM
Looks like an ASMUS with a KPK label inside and the ASMUS logo rubbed off the headstock. Have only heard them online, but seemed the equivalent of a KPK. They didn't stay in business long. Had intended on getting their concert pineapple, but it never materialized.
Here's a good picture/demo of an ASMUS on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVqbjkc7y6E

stringy
03-18-2014, 12:02 PM
I don't know if your KPK is a knock off or not so I am just talking about knock-offs in general. There is a huge market for knock offs. I only have a problem with not telling people they are purchasing a knock off.

So many cannot afford the brand names they want so they buy the fake version. Louis Vuitton, Coach bags, Tommy Bahama, Rolex watches. That is really no different than all the knock-off Martins, Evolve's, Aquila strings, etc.

Realize the knock off will not be the same quality.

Ukejenny
03-18-2014, 01:10 PM
Just wondering if you have had a chance to communicate with the actual KPK/Jason and what you were told.

raffrox
03-18-2014, 01:52 PM
Firstly, thank you everyone for the feedback. Its early morning here so I haven't had a chance to call the store yet. I haven't got a reply from the KPK email address you guys supplied.




Here's the manufacturer page:
http://www.aiersiguitar.com/master-grade-all-solid-koa-pili-koko-brand-tenor-ukulelehigh-grade-hawaii-koa-ukulele-with-aquila-strings-au-26sb/

Look familiar?

There seems to be some slipperiness regarding the brand name and who owns it - the manufacturer or Jason, the distributer.

It's likely that whoever put the label in got a batch from the same supplier that came pre-branded on the headstock.

It definitely looks like my ukulele was made by Aiersi (who you are all saying make KPK's). On this website they have pictures of KPK ukulele's with the same headstock as the one I've got.


Looks like an ASMUS with a KPK label inside and the ASMUS logo rubbed off the headstock. Have only heard them online, but seemed the equivalent of a KPK. They didn't stay in business long. Had intended on getting their concert pineapple, but it never materialized.
Here's a good picture/demo of an ASMUS on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVqbjkc7y6E

This looks identical to my ukulele.



You know the drill, in some countries the factory copies the original brand as they have no scrupples and sell them....this could be what you have,
I looked at the site price...299.99 for a concert....I know Austalian money and cost are more but, it almost double the price and hawaii is farther from where they were built.
I'd also call them and discuss the matter(the store) and Koa Pili Koko too good luck...by the way how does it sound, play and feel....

I'm pretty sure that this is what I've got. It seems a decent quality ukulele and sounds quite nice to my amateur ear. Construction seems solid, it looks like solid wood (i.e. can't see layers of laminate at the soundhole). It has the slightly pitted semi-gloss finish like I've seen and read about on the net.

Also, unfortunately Australians always get ripped off. Even the cost of itunes songs in Australia are close to double (which is just madness!).

I'd say I got a ukulele made in the same factory as a KPK, with most of the same pieces as a KPK but it is not an official KPK. I paid the money for it to be legit and like I said, this was mean to be my first decent non-dodgy ukulele. I'm not sure I can stomach keeping it given all that.

I'll definitely let you all know how I go with the store and KPK via email.

Thanks again everyone.

raffrox
03-19-2014, 02:34 AM
Just to update, I got an email back from Jason (KPK). He has been great. This is an excerpt from an email he sent me which explains more...


The markets the KPK's are promoted in have 2 different versions. The one with the gold label is the trademarked KPK's that I carry with the trademarked headstock. However, a "international Asian version' with the generic 3 point headstock is also produced. But it should have the branding on the headstock which 80% of the time should be the older style logo done in the sticker decal. So this is where my confusion lies as it should not be unbranded.

Because of this, I have reached out to my friend who owns the factory. He was here in Hawaii during February when he shuts down the factory for Chinese New Year which one thing we talked about was the rise in other factories selling the KPK's. Bascially these other factories are using anonymous individuals to be the middleman so they can get the specs. We were able to cease and desist 3 factories the last 2 years but I have an ongoing issue with a 4th one. Bascially, they are stealing the layout and content from my site alongside advertising they produce the KPK's. However, after I had approached this factory with what they were advertising and telling others in emails, they backtracked in their comments to me saying that they are only the middleman. But nothing is being done on their site to reflect this.

And to complicate the matter, I only have control over the trademarked KPK's which my friend controls all other brands we produce even the non-trademarked KPK's. So in order for me to get full information, I will have him check with his sales team to see if any were ordered unbranded and if so, why it was allowed. I will get back to you possibly tonight or by tomorrow after I get more information.

So it may or may not be legit but there's too many questions in my opinion for me to keep it. Jason also said that he has had 5 other complaints from buyers regarding this website. So I contacted the website and they are giving me a full refund. There were few questions asked by them which suggests that they weren't totally surprised with my email.

Thanks again for all your help.

stevepetergal
03-19-2014, 05:34 AM
It is indeed the same shape headstock as many KPK concerts. Check Google. Comes with the strings not trimmed, like KPK does it. Their body shape, soundhole sticker, and tuners. Definitly their bridge. The finish looks the same, nicely chosen koa. No doubt in my mind you got the real thing. If it were mine, (and it bothered me) I'd contact the dealer or KPK and ask them why no headstock sticker. It's probably an anomalous glitch. If I liked the instrument, I wouldn't return it for something cosmetic.

Patrick Madsen
03-19-2014, 06:23 AM
Raffrox has contacted Jason as shown in the above posting from him.

IMO, return it and buy one from Jason or from someone he recommends. No way would I keep a knockoff from someone stealing this design. No excuses for anyone stealing a design from someone else, China or any other country. Just because it's accepted practise there doesn't mean we have to accept it here.

wildfire070
03-19-2014, 06:44 AM
That is a pretty uke. I like that headstock a lot better than the trademarked headstock on Jason's KPKs. The wood grain is really nice. I'm sure it is from one of the same factories that produces KPKs. It is questionable why the headstock logo isn't there though if it was one of the Asian marketed KPKs

OldePhart
03-19-2014, 07:51 AM
Another clue that it's an unauthorized knockoff is the misspelled Aquilla string label. Mimmo has had problems with Chinese companies falsely claiming they're using Aquilla strings for a while now. I think he even posted a thread here somewhere describing how to see if you're getting real Aquilla strings.

John

stringy
03-19-2014, 11:37 AM
I am not sure about the law, but it seems to me when knocking off a brand, if they use the logo and claim it is the brand they can be sued and closed down. If they do not use the logo or brand name and instead lie and claim they are the same factory making the same thing, I don't think there is anything the owner of the brand can do.

I always get a big RED FLAG when a product resembles the original but is lots cheaper and without the brand name.

FrankB
03-19-2014, 11:53 AM
I looked at the company's website, and they say they're based in Sydney. Was it shipped from Sydney? You don't want to mail the uke to Shanghai, and then loose both your instrument and your money. If it was mailed from within Australia, go ahead and ship it back to an Australian address.

Ukejenny
03-19-2014, 03:15 PM
I hope your full return goes well and quickly. Hoping you and Jason can get a real KPK in your hands in the near future. I love mine, and Jason was great in answering my questions when I ordered.

Tonyruss
03-19-2014, 04:11 PM
I bought what I thought was a KPK Tenor from an Australian company buyukulele.com.au. When I got it I was a bit suss because it didn't have an identifying sticker on the inside. It looked beautiful and played well. A couple of weeks later it developed this twanging sound in the first two frets. I took it to a music shop, they said that the neck was bowed, send it back to the company. Buyukulele.com.au didn't want to know me, didn't answer the phone, wouldn't reply to emails. So I packed the KPK away and bought a Timberidge Tiki, love it. About a month ago, on a whim I got the KPK out, tuned it and away it went. No twang and it sounds perfect. It is the spitting image of your posted photos.

David Newton
03-19-2014, 04:33 PM
Who's going to sue the Chinese and shut them down for making knock-offs?
All you can do is try to make sure you are buying authentic goods before you pay.

Hammond
03-19-2014, 04:40 PM
Just to update, I got an email back from Jason (KPK). He has been great. This is an excerpt from an email he sent me which explains more...

So it may or may not be legit but there's too many questions in my opinion for me to keep it. Jason also said that he has had 5 other complaints from buyers regarding this website. So I contacted the website and they are giving me a full refund. There were few questions asked by them which suggests that they weren't totally surprised with my email.

Thanks again for all your help.
Glad that they give you full refund. Jason is very kind to explain the behind story.

Possibly the website just like Jason, also received same complaints from buyers, so they aren't surprised from your email. If the situation is, the website has been cheated by "self claimed middleman" that they thought they were selling the real KPK.

raffrox
03-19-2014, 09:09 PM
Glad that they give you full refund. Jason is very kind to explain the behind story.

Possibly the website just like Jason, also received same complaints from buyers, so they aren't surprised from your email. If the situation is, the website has been cheated by "self claimed middleman" that they thought they were selling the real KPK.

I did suggest to the website that they get another supplier but the fact that Jason said that he's had five other complaints regarding that website isn't promising. I think in the end my uke was somewhere between 57% to 95% legit but in the end I really don't want to support a business working in this way.

I'm going to wait until the refund hits my account and they look to finally get my next uke. I'd be keen to see if I can get a 100% legit KPK from Jason.

Hammond
03-19-2014, 10:33 PM
I did suggest to the website that they get another supplier but the fact that Jason said that he's had five other complaints regarding that website isn't promising. I think in the end my uke was somewhere between 57% to 95% legit but in the end I really don't want to support a business working in this way.

I'm going to wait until the refund hits my account and they look to finally get my next uke. I'd be keen to see if I can get a 100% legit KPK from Jason.
I agree if they do business in the dishonest way, do not support any business like that.

Hope you finally get a nice real KPK uke from Jason.

Macmuse
03-20-2014, 02:25 AM
I did suggest to the website that they get another supplier but the fact that Jason said that he's had five other complaints regarding that website isn't promising. I think in the end my uke was somewhere between 57% to 95% legit but in the end I really don't want to support a business working in this way.

I'm going to wait until the refund hits my account and they look to finally get my next uke. I'd be keen to see if I can get a 100% legit KPK from Jason.

Tough that it turned out needing to be returned but if the cost is comparable (hopefully) to get one from Jason or someone he can directly recommend with better shipping proximity to you, it should be a nice playable instrument. For the price range they are a very nice uke. Best of luck from here. :)