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View Full Version : Kamaka Collecting.... Anyone Own a Concert and Tenor?



FrankB
04-29-2014, 05:48 PM
I love my Kamaka concert, and know feel an overwhelming urge to get a Kamaka tenor. The decision to pull the trigger has been delayed while waiting to see an oral surgeon today (hypochondriac expecting an impacted wisdom tooth to be life threatening), but he said I'll live.

Does the tenor sound sufficiently different to warrant owning both? Does the tenor still sound like a ukulele, and not a small guitar? Does anyone who owns both find they play one more than the other?

Ramart
04-29-2014, 05:57 PM
I love my Kamaka concert, and know feel an overwhelming urge to get a Kamaka tenor. The decision to pull the trigger has been delayed while waiting to see an oral surgeon today (hypochondriac expecting an impacted wisdom tooth to be live threatening), but he said I'll live.

Does the tenor sound sufficiently different to warrant owning both? Does the tenor still sound like a ukulele, and not a small guitar? Does anyone who owns both find they play one more than the other?

The Kala concert I started with never sounded very substantial, a bit thin, plinky, and the fretboard was too narrow for my fingers. I bought an Oscar Schmidt tenor and was much more pleased by the fuller, slightly deeper tone and its more spacious neck dimensions. Still a uke, though. Restrung with a low G string, it sounds ever more suited to bluesy, folky material. But still not guitar-like, really. Bought another tenor (acoustic-electric) and haven't played the Kala in a long while.

FrankB
04-29-2014, 06:00 PM
I have two Kala tenors, but want the Koa sound? I'll keep plying my Kamaka concert. I'm more afraid the tenor won't get much use.

chuck in ny
04-29-2014, 06:25 PM
you have to pay attention to your feelings and listen to your gut. it's a personal thing so i couldn't say exactly.
i can't imagine you getting a kamaka tenor and not using it. they are made to be played and loved. it's going to be different from the concert.

FrankB
04-29-2014, 06:32 PM
I simply can't put the concert down, Chuck, but the sound samples I've heard tell me the tenor would be a winner well. I'll call the source in the morning, just to make sure it's not a dud.

I have cedar and spruce tenors, but love the sound of Koa.

Tim Mullins
04-29-2014, 06:32 PM
I have a Kamaka white-label tenor and had a concert from the same era that I gave to my daughter. They sound different, but both good, but my favorite is a new Kamaka long-neck concert. It has the tenor scale, which plays more in tune and has 14 frets to the body, but retains a more uke-ey sound from the concert body. It's been my favorite since I got it a year ago.

Dan Uke
04-29-2014, 06:40 PM
If you want more of the uke sound of the smaller uke, then I would go for the concert long neck as well. The new ones with the Gotoh tuners are much better balanced than the older ones that had the Shaller closed gear tuners.

DownUpDave
04-29-2014, 06:58 PM
So Frank now that you jumped ship from KoAloha to Kamaka how would you like to sell me that KCM? It will certainly just sit in the corner and never get touched again, such a waste :D

Glad you are loving your Kamaka concert. I for one vote in favour of you buying a matching tenor.

pixiepurls
04-29-2014, 07:04 PM
I don't know anything about Kamaka but when I pick up my Kala Tenor compared to my Soprano's its like night and day difference. Huge. I've played concerts as well it feels more like a Soprano then a Tenor, but still not a soprano lol! It's in-between but slightly more towards soprano like 40/60.

janeray1940
04-29-2014, 07:46 PM
I own a Kamaka pineapple, concert, and Ohta-San (which is midway between a concert and a tenor), and I have access to a Kamaka tenor that I play from time to time - and my feeling is that they all sound completely different from each other, and the tenor to me doesn't sound like a small guitar. I actually really love the sound of the Kamaka tenor, and would own one if my hands would cooperate, because the sustain on those things compared to the shorter scales is fantastic. I think the suggestion to look into the tenor-neck concert is a good one - I've played a couple and to my ear they do sound a bit more "uke-y" - although as I noted, none of the Kamakas that I've owned or played really ever sounded all that guitar-y to me (whereas other brands of tenors definitely border on the guitar-y sound).

Teek
04-29-2014, 08:14 PM
I've had two Kamakas, a vintage pineapple and a white label concert, and don't think I can part with the concert. They have a distinctive woody Island sound. I have played several tenors and a six string and I'm going to repeat what Kamaka enthusiasts usually say, which is try as many as you can in person if possible. They can vary in quality, however I don't think you would get a "bad" one, more that you might find one that has a voice that suits your preference best. They come with black nylon strings so the first thing you might need to do is change them to something else. I love Worth Browns on my concert.

I spent some time with an Ohta-san and absolutely loved the build and the look and the scale, but it was heavy for its size and somewhat muted compared to less ornate and figured koas (it may be that this koa wood was very dense, my rosewood tenor is super heavy). Gorgeous though and with very clear notes and great playability. I really did want to take it home and put new strings on it, it seemed somewhat strangled volume-wise. It still wowed me and if my ship ever comes in and doesn't sink in the harbor, I would like one in my herd. :cool: You seem well versed in the 48 hour try and return policy that most good shops have, I would think you would love a tenor for the extra depth of sound, so make it the linear tuned uke and keep the concert reentrant.

janeray1940
04-29-2014, 08:22 PM
I spent some time with an Ohta-san and absolutely loved the build and the look and the scale, but it was heavy for its size and somewhat muted compared to less ornate and figured koas (it may be that this koa wood was very dense, my rosewood tenor is super heavy). Gorgeous though and with very clear notes and great playability. I really did want to take it home and put new strings on it, it seemed somewhat strangled volume-wise. It still wowed me and if my ship ever comes in and doesn't sink in the harbor, I would like one in my herd. :cool:

Not to derail the thread but just have to point out that "heavy" totally surprised me here, since my first impression of my Ohta-San before I bought it was "it's so LIGHT!" - I'm wondering if maybe the one you tried had the old friction tuners? Mine has Gotoh UPTs and while I haven't actually weighed them, it feels lighter than my Kamaka concert even though it's bigger and I figured it had to be the tuners that made the difference.

And yes, with those awful black strings it did sound really muted compared to my concert - fortunately the shop let me change the strings out before committing to buy. Once again, I remain puzzled as to just why exactly anyone thinks those black strings are a good thing :)

guitharsis
04-30-2014, 02:23 AM
Yes, "heavy' totally surprised me too. The Ohta-San is definitely nice and light. It's the perfect size, between a concert and a tenor. I've tried Kamaka tenors twice, once one a bought from a UU member and again a custom Kamaka directly from Kamaka. Loved the sound but could not get used to the body size.

FrankB
04-30-2014, 02:26 AM
Thanks everyone! I'll have a cup of coffee, and think about this until 9-10am.

I can understand a ukulele feeling heavy. They ALL feel heavy after the Koaloha concert. The Martin C1K felt like a Martin D28 in comparison, and while Kamaka concert is lighter than the C1K, it's heavier than than the Koaloha.

Most of the Kamaka HF3 videos I've seen were done with Kamaka strings. Even then, they sound pretty good.

dkcrown
04-30-2014, 02:47 AM
Kamaka tenors are fantastic ukuleles. As many have said before, they can vary greatly from one uke to another. Just like any manufacturer, maybe more so with Kamakas. I think any uke player should have one in his or her collection. I have never been a fan of the stock strings, but some people like them.

I have just sold a fantastic sounding and looking one, but still have an HF-3 Deluxe as well as a six string Liliu. I will always have one. I say go for it! Life's too short.

FrankB
04-30-2014, 03:14 AM
Kamaka tenors are fantastic ukuleles. As many have said before, they can vary greatly from one uke to another. Just like any manufacturer, maybe more so with Kamakas.

Guitharsis will remember a classical guitar that members of another forum bought like hot cakes... the Lucida Artista Concerto. It was made in Spain, sold for next to nothing, and was excellent. I already had one, but the Classical Guitar Store in Philadelphia had just received a dozen. They were all still in boxes, and the store's owner allowed me to go through them looking for a gem. It was absolutely amazing that every single guitar was close enough in terms of sound, that any of them would have been a gem. They did differ in terms of appearance, however, and some of the solid rosewood B&Ss had a slightly purple hue.

I ordered another Martin C1K last Tuesday, and tried to cancel the order after buying the Kamaka. They said it was too late, even though it hadn't shipped. It arrived yesterday (took eight days from Zzounds.com Nevada warehouse), and it had the exact same thuddy G note as the other three I bought and returned. My wife's keeper C1K has its thuddy note on F#, and that means it doesn't have a thuddy open G string. That's a ukulele that I mention often on this forum, but only one out of four was a keeper.

It would be my dream to have a store within 100 miles that sold Higher end ukes, but that's not the case. I'm stuck with buying over the phone, where all ukuleles sound wonderful on every fret..... Where's that roll eyes smiley??? :D

FrankB
04-30-2014, 05:53 AM
I spoke with Brandon at Elderly an hour ago, and they just received four Kamaka HF3 ukuleles. I told him to pick a winner, and get it in the mail....

guitharsis
04-30-2014, 06:51 AM
Good decision Frank! You'll have your pick or Brandon's pick.:)

Oh, yes, I do remember the Lucida Artista Concerto! It really was a great guitar at a very good price.

You should have your Kamaka tenor soon. Congrats!

Kamanaaloha
04-30-2014, 02:07 PM
yes own both! I own 3...2 concert longnecks and one tenor longneck...buy the longneck...it provides more room and the sound is richer/fuller, imho. But, you cannot go wrong either way!

Kamanaaloha
04-30-2014, 02:24 PM
Sylvan has good prices from California...but Gryphon is well known and a Collings dealer which is not easy to get from what I hear! I have never dealt with Elderly...HMS rocks, imho...and you could always order direct...for the MSRP price from Kamaka.

http://www.sylvanmusic.com/inventory.php?search=Ukuleles&instrument=ukulele&manufacturer=Kamaka+Ukulele

chuck in ny
04-30-2014, 05:14 PM
kamakas have the sound of the heart, not complex, simple, honest, warm. they have the island sound. i am completely sucked in as a customer. other brands are excellent as well it's just that these resonate with me.