PDA

View Full Version : NUD: Koaloha Pikake



FrankB
04-11-2014, 10:22 AM
I buy a lot of ukuleles.....

First impressions:
I've been spoiled by the Martin C1K my wife claimed. The second C1K was returned, but the one we kept at least equals the Koaloha in terms of volume and resonance. Nuprin demonstrated the two ukuleles in a video on this forum, and sold his Koaloha after buying the Martin. To be fair, the Koaloha has wimpy thin gauge strings, and the Martin has a set of Oasis. The Oasis certainly transformed the Martin, so I might consider changing the Koaloha's strings. I don't want to take any chances with it, but I'm not a dope when it comes to string changes. The Martin also has a deeper body, and that might contribute to its tone and volume.

The Koaloha has jumbo frets, and there is less room between frets than on the Martin. Barring the first fret is much cleaner on the Martin, but it's not very noticeable otherwise. This is a "factory special" and that's clearly stamped on the label. The reason given had to do with an area of incompletely filled pores here:
65786

The pores are only noticeable if they light hits it at an angle, and I can't see it as I look over at the moment. The finish isn't nearly as matte as the Martin, and I'd call it semi-gloss. I certainly wouldn't want the neck any more glossy. The instrument was built in February 2014. The headstock design doesn't bother me at all, and I was fully expecting it would. Joel did an excellent set up, and it's as if he read my mind.

65787
65788
65789
65790

That is as far as the case opens, and it has slammed shut a couple of times. Fortunately, I don't trust cases to stay open....

Ukulele Eddie
04-11-2014, 10:40 AM
Will be curious to hear your thoughts if/when you change strings. Based in my very limited experience, I think the Martin and KoAloha are two distinctly different sounds, but both very nice.

I documented here a recent experience with a KoAloha KCM-002 that I returned to seller due to a bubble in the rear seam. I have to say while I really love the jangley sound KoAloha's are known for, I have seen issues in three of five of the first production quality instruments I've personally held/played. Makes me wonder about their QC. To be fair, that KCM seam issue might have been due to improper care by owner but still, I don't think I'd buy another KoAloha unless I was highly confident in the customer service of the seller. And despite concerns about their QC, I'm pretty sure another KCM-02 or a soprano pineapple with extended neck that HMS sells will make it into my rotating Uke program at some point.

FrankB
04-11-2014, 11:18 AM
Hi Eddie,
I'm undecided about messing with the strings, but that could change at any second. :D

While discussing Cordoba ukes in the Beginner's forum, I noted that I bought one for my niece, and that it had a nicely cut nut slot. The Koaloha is one of those ukes that has a nut simply glued to the end of the fretboard:
65791

Cordoba 15CM Nut Slot:
65792

How difficult can it be to cut such a slot??? If I keep the Koaloha, it'll get a nut slot. That sort of thing drives me crazy.

P.S. I just remembered I have a set of Southcoast Light Medium strings. That's keeping it apples to oranges...LOL

FrankB
04-11-2014, 11:39 AM
6579465793


I documented here a recent experience with a KoAloha KCM-002 that I returned to seller due to a bubble in the rear seam. I have to say while I really love the jangley sound KoAloha's are known for, I have seen issues in three of five of the first production quality instruments I've personally held/played. Makes me wonder about their QC. To be fair, that KCM seam issue might have been due to improper care by owner but still, I don't think I'd buy another KoAloha unless I was highly confident in the customer service of the seller.

The top of my Koaloha is bookmatched, and has a strip to hold the seam together. That's not always the case, so it's nice to see in light of your experience. The back is bookmatched as well, and while it does not have a center strip, to does have a light color along the seam. It's absolutely uniform the entire length, but not reflected on the outside of the uke. The rest of the grain does match, so it's not a laminate. Is it possible that they rabbited out a center strip for the back?

*The pic of the center strip is at the top of the post.

OldePhart
04-11-2014, 11:48 AM
Congratulations! I love my KoAlohas but you do have to be careful about going to heavier strings, unfortunately. Of course, most of them are pretty loud even with the light gage fluorocarbon strings.

John

Skinny Money McGee
04-11-2014, 11:53 AM
Don't let it drive you too crazy, any uke I've seen that doesn't have a headstock lamination, doesn't have a nut slot cut into the neck. For that matter, no uke I've seen has a nut slot cut into the neck. The nut sits between the headstock lamination and the fretboard. You cut into that neck, you can kiss your "better than the weather warranty" goodbye.

a 1947 Martin. No headstock lamination, no nut slot

FrankB
04-11-2014, 12:08 PM
Congratulations! I love my KoAlohas but you do have to be careful about going to heavier strings, unfortunately. Of course, most of them are pretty loud even with the light gage fluorocarbon strings.

John

I'm just seeing that now. The pic of the soundboard in front of the bridge is not what I like seeing on an instrument built two months ago:
65797
That blank is machined straight, and was flipped just to make sure. It's only been here a couple of hours, so the humidity in Pennsylvania didn't do that. HMS did toss two Oasis humidifiers in the case, but the top is very thin.

Martin soundboard, to be fair:
65803

FrankB
04-11-2014, 12:10 PM
Don't let it drive you too crazy, any uke I've seen that doesn't have a headstock lamination, doesn't have a nut slot cut into the neck. For that matter, no uke I've seen has a nut slot cut into the neck. The nut sits between the headstock lamination and the fretboard. You cut into that neck, you can kiss your "better than the weather warranty" goodbye.

a 1947 Martin. No headstock lamination, no nut slot

Hey! Good point.... I don't think I ever had a guitar/uke without a headstock veneer.

EDIT: Here's an Ohana with a slot cut into the neck. That went back within the hour.....
65804

niwenomian
04-11-2014, 12:21 PM
I thought the pikake had a straight cut fretboard at the soundhole, rather than the scalloped version. Did that change?

Skinny Money McGee
04-11-2014, 12:25 PM
I'm just seeing that now. The pic of the soundboard in front of the bridge is not what I like seeing on an instrument built two months ago:


Looks normal to me. My formica Martin OXK has a bigger dish then that. Dude, your driving yourself nuts !

niwenomian
04-11-2014, 12:32 PM
Nevermind, I see on Koaloha's website that both sizes have the scalloped fretboard. So, the only difference is the finish? Is there really a noticeable difference in sound between the pikake and the standard models?

kmac66
04-11-2014, 12:33 PM
your pictures are upside down. makes it hard to see what you're talking about.

Are those gotoh tuners?

Skinny Money McGee
04-11-2014, 12:40 PM
EDIT: Here's an Ohana with a slot cut into the neck. That went back within the hour.....
65804

It's certainly cut into that big thick lamination. Was that a slotted headstock ohana?

FrankB
04-11-2014, 12:50 PM
Looks normal to me. My formica Martin OXK has a bigger dish then that. Dude, your driving yourself nuts !

UAS, NUD, OCD, all the same to me....LOL! I've seen some really badly collapsed soundboards on ukes at the local GC, and that's one of the things I check for immediately on my classical guitars. Hopefully it doesn't get worse.

Okay, the wife is home, and the Koaloha is pulling ahead. It's definitely warmer, and has a more full tone when playing fingerstyle. I don't know how that changed, but it did.

The Ohana was not a slothead. It was nearly $500!

Edit: the tuners are Gotoh UPTs. They work well enough, and certainly better than friction tuners.

FrankB
04-11-2014, 03:37 PM
Spoke with Aaron at HMS. He said Worth CM, Oasis, or any medium tension string will work on the Koaloha. He also said not to worry about the dip in front of the bridge, and to just start playing. Actually, he said not to trust a woman or ukulele without a belly. :D I've played that thing so much, my left arm has gone numb. :D

Koaloha has a warmer sound than the Martin, while the Martin has more resonance and sustain. Whether the last two qualities are worth having I don't know. I do know that a classical guitar is usually not suitable for flamenco, because the sustain doesn't suit that style of percussive playing. The Koaloha doesn't sound as thin and boxy on the first few frets when playing fingerstyle, so that one goes to the Koaloha as well.

I'm going back to disturbing my wife's movie watching now....

PereBourik
04-11-2014, 04:18 PM
About strings...
My KoAloha pineapple longneck sounded dull with Worth CM. Perked back up with CL strings. YMMV.

OldePhart
04-11-2014, 04:21 PM
I'm just seeing that now. The pic of the soundboard in front of the bridge is not what I like seeing on an instrument built two months ago:
65797
That blank is machined straight, and was flipped just to make sure. It's only been here a couple of hours, so the humidity in Pennsylvania didn't do that. HMS did toss two Oasis humidifiers in the case, but the top is very thin.

Martin soundboard, to be fair:
65803

A little dish in front of the bridge is actually normal on KoAlohas and in my experience they don't get worse if you don't use heavy strings. In my experience they can quickly get bad enough to rotate the top of the bridge saddle forward enough to impact intonation noticeably if you do use heavy strings; in my case, it was using Tenor Alohi strings on a longneck soprano (concert scale). I've taken the strings off it completely in hopes that over a few months it will rebound and then I can restring it with light strings and see if it is going to be stable.

John

FrankB
04-11-2014, 05:05 PM
Hi Guys,
My arm is going to fall off! I can't stop playing this ukulele!!! I've changed my attack, and the Koaloha and I are becoming better acquainted= sounds better. My wife said it's opened up over the past two hours, but I'll take the credit. :)

I'll order some Worth CL strings, and thanks for the reassurance, John. I needed that! I'd actually prefer to keep the strings as light as possible, but with good tone. I'd keep playing my tenor otherwise. These ligaments aren't getting any younger, and my guitar hasn't seen the light of day since I started playing ukulele at the end of January. Fine by me....

guitharsis
04-12-2014, 01:03 AM
My guitar hasn't seen the light of day in about 4 years.:)

You might want to try Fremont Blackline MT on your KoAloha. Really liked the sound on my previous KoAloha concert.

Congrats and enjoy your new KoAloha!

UkerDanno
04-12-2014, 03:49 AM
as nit-picky as you are and you bought a blem?!?!?!

FrankB
04-12-2014, 05:03 AM
as nit-picky as you are and you bought a blem?!?!?!
It's barely noticeable, and the person I bought it from (didn't give his name), said he couldn't see anything wrong. Joel told me about the pitting after it shipped, but I didn't know the label would read "Factory Special". :(

peaceweaver3
04-12-2014, 05:57 AM
Hey! Good point.... I don't think I ever had a guitar/uke without a headstock veneer.

EDIT: Here's an Ohana with a slot cut into the neck. That went back within the hour.....
65804

I had an Ohana pineapple PK25G, bought 3 years ago around this time. Nice uke, and it had a nut slot. The nut was not glued into said slot, it came off when I changed strings and wasn't expecting it. But I really liked that uke and I thought the nut slot was a nice touch. Haven't found that on any other uke. But then, I can only justify production instruments, and not too many of those. :D

FrankB
04-13-2014, 04:35 AM
KABOOM!!! I finally decided to change the Koaloha strings to Oasis, and.... KABOOM! Much more volume than the Martin, and an even rounder tone. The difference in string diameter between Worth CM and Oasis isn't very much, but apparently enough. The Koaloha has only had Oasis strings for a couple of hours, so tomorrow should be interesting.

Verdict: the Koaloha has slain the mighty Martin. Both lay exhausted on the battlefield....
65837

EDIT: Very small sound sample.... http://vimeo.com/91851247 ..... It has plenty of volume now.

DownUpDave
04-13-2014, 08:36 AM
Did you use the Oasis warm or bright, high G or low G?

FrankB
04-13-2014, 09:16 AM
Sorry 'bout that.... Oasis bright, high G.

FrankB
04-13-2014, 03:30 PM
as nit-picky as you are and you bought a blem?!?!?!

I spoke with the person who sold me this Pikake tonight. He told me that they had another non-blem hanging on the wall, and a KCM-00 non-blem in stock. Why would someone assume that I wanted a factory second? I had some people over today, and it didn't take long for some folks to notice the "Factory Special" stamped prominently on the label. I sent Andrew an email regarding this, and hope to order a factory first tomorrow. The blem price was not much lower than a factory first BTW(!!!). I'm not lashing out at HMS, but the young man I spoke with shouldn't make assumptions.....

coolkayaker1
04-13-2014, 04:58 PM
you knowingly (or was it unknowingly...on one hand u seem upset that someone determined u would want a blem model yet on the other, it was cheaper)) ordered a blem and are now lamenting that it says factory second on the label, partly bc ur friends noticed it right off, but the uke sounds fantastic--better than your mexi-martin even-- now that youve changed the Koaloha preferred and HMS set up strings to strings called 'oasis', and it 'opened up' to your ears in a scant two hours, yet ur still going to buy another koaloha now, a factory first

(the tale's cliffhanger: unclear from ur posts yet if you intend the return the factory second that uve admittedly played the heck out of, changed the strings on, spoke to aaron and the guy that sold it to u at hms about, dont like the standard dish found on all koalohas due to their patented uni-bracing, but, even to ur ear, the uke vanquished your previously loved and championed mexi-martin; the subplot: youre less sore about the non-cut nut slot now that you understand non-laminated headstocks).

did i get all that right? im coming in late and wanted to make certain i get this right, frankieb.

FrankB
04-13-2014, 05:31 PM
I asked if they had one in stock, and was sold a blem. I was told that was what they had, and the salesperson said he couldn't see why it was marked as a blem. He said there was "nothing" that he could see any where on the Instrument that would cause it to be a blem. I saved less than $100 because it is a blem, and was not told until to this evening that there was a factory first hanging right next to it. The salesperson I spoke to on both occasions told me that the non-blem sounds exactly like the blem. I would like to have been given the choice before spending nearly $800. Heck, I went with a higher priced brand to avoid the sort of thing I experienced with Martin. The gap between the neck joint and body. I think forum members were unanimous about returning that uke, and cited its $450 price as a main reason.

The label bothered me before today, but even more after the get together, as well as learning that there was a non-blem that could have been purchased for $70 something more. If the reject gets returned it won't have a mark on it and will be wearing its original strings, or a new set of Worth clears. HMS gives 7 days to try an instrument, and I imagine they expect you'll play it during that period.

P.S. The lesson to be learned here, is buy locally if possible, and ask every question under the sun.....

EDIT: I did ask the sales to go over the ukulele while I was on the phone, and told him I didn't want a bad looking uke. He was on the line for several minutes, and then said, "I don't see anything". I left a voicemail message for Joel, asking about why it was a blem. He called me back a couple of days later, and said they did a poor job filling the pores. What was I going to do then? It was shipped.

AndrewKuker
04-13-2014, 07:36 PM
Hi Frank,
The listing you bought from had very large print right at the beginning saying-
Minor Cosmetic Blemish makes this fantastic Hawaiian concert an Amazing Deal!

The deal included UPT's and an Oahu case which would have made it nearly 200 more than you bought it. KoAloha gave us the uke on mistake because we don't get factory specials. I only realized this after the UPT's were put on for a customer so I didn't return it. It sounded and played great and people that buy blem models knowingly sacrifice what they consider to be sacrificial anyway. Like I told you in the email, we'll do whatever you want, but all KoAlohas have some open pores and are not cosmetically perfect, which is why the salesman you talked with saw nothing unusual. They are loved for the sound and feel and you bought an excellent instrument at a great deal. Returning is not a problem, but I just wanted to clarify the situation for others since you are sharing publicly.

Dan Uke
04-13-2014, 07:48 PM
Frank, your comments are all over the place and you left a little important fact out of the story.

btw, the UPTs are awesome and worth the price.

kmac66
04-13-2014, 08:47 PM
Can you post a picture of the "factory special" label. I've never seen one of those.
Thanks.

FrankB
04-14-2014, 12:17 AM
Oh Boy....

My apologies to Andrew first and foremost. I know you participate on this forum, and should have been more sensitive to you and your business. HMS is a most valuable resource for all prospective ukulele customers, and Andrew's staff are fantastic. I've spoken with Aaron and Corey regarding other ukuleles, and they are sincerely nice men. The unnamed salesperson I spoke with regarding this ukulele is also a truly nice young man. He absolutely believed That this ukulele was a fine instrument, and was genuinely looking for any fault that would cause this to be classified a factory second. He did not, and based on other Koa ukuleles I've seen, I would not have thought the few pores would have been a blem.

Now on to me. I'm a passionate person, and Dan's comment stuck with me (and I'm not saying Dan is a bad guy, or said anything wrong). The comments made by my friends regarding the label were meant to be..... I don't know what. I simply put the instrument away, and began stewing. I was able to call HMS on Sunday, and was a little upset that the non-blem was not mentioned when I bought the blem. I was not interested in UPT tuners at the time, and Koalohas come with a case. I had begun looking for tuning buttons that were not tulip shape before the ukulele arrived, but it would appear the buttons aren't sold separately. I was going to call HMS, and ask if I could buy the Koaloha friction tuners, or call Koaloha to buy friction tuners. I've seen factory firsts listed for $839 ( http://www.theukulelesite.com/koaloha-concert-pikake-package-tus-101357.html ) so in light of what I wanted, my savings was $70. Post #28 was mostly a reaction to being called "frankieb" in post #27. That's the sort of thing that got me going earlier in the day.

Finally, I thought there was an option when editing posts to delete the entire thread. That was what I attempted first, but that might only pertain to individual posts. I was trying to avoid the inevitable debate that would ensue had I mentioned the label issue. Once again, Andrew and the HMS staff are great to deal with. If you can't buy locally, certainly buy from them. Their website shows pics of the actual instrument for sale, and I really don't know of another ukulele dealer that does that.*They don't take pictures of labels, so there was nothing deceptive done on their part in any way. They are sincerely nice people. I am a picky customer, and have had my share of picky customers in my own retail business. Sometimes they have rational concerns, and other times they just have concerns that aren't worth fretting over. I was sold a fine ukulele at a fair price. The label calls too much attention to itself, and I'm the type that can begin to obsess over such a minor detail. That's all....... Apologies once again to Andrew and his staff. Having an iPad by your side, and an obsessive thought can cause problems for other people.

*Mim, and Mike at UkeRepublic might show pics of the actual instrument listed, so I don't want to offend them as well. I've done enough of that already.....