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Icelander53
07-24-2014, 05:39 AM
I'm ready to spring for that Koa tenor and I think all the Ks sounds great. But I'm picky about my necks when it comes to what I like to play. I love the chunky neck of my Pono and hate the razor thin neck on my Moku. I don't mind a wide neck at all as I have thin long fingers. Could you advise me here and describe the neck on your K brand tenor? I won't get to hold one before buying. Thanks - john

molokinirum
07-24-2014, 05:53 AM
Kanile'a has probably the widest neck. It is wider than Kamaka not sure about KoAloha.

janeray1940
07-24-2014, 06:04 AM
Kanile'a has probably the widest neck. It is wider than Kamaka not sure about KoAloha.

Can't speak to tenor, but in case it helps - I measured the circumference of all three for concert ukes several years ago, and Kanile'a had the largest circumference, Koaloha the smallest.

Coconut Willie
07-24-2014, 06:07 AM
I have a Kanile'a Tenor, and the neck is bigger than most. Also, I have large hands as well. I also own and play a Kamaka and the Kamaka neck is thinner.

Icelander53
07-24-2014, 06:09 AM
What about the chunky factor on these necks? I don't do well with super thin necks. Width of the neck is secondary to the fat or thinness of the neck.

Coconut Willie
07-24-2014, 06:12 AM
Well again, I think of all K brands, Kanile'a is what you are looking for in terms of the neck being chunky. Like I said, I also have big hands (am 6'4") and can play either brand, but the Kanile'a neck "fills" up my hand way better than Kamaka.

PereBourik
07-24-2014, 06:19 AM
Call up Andrew at the Ukulele Site (Hawaii Music Supply) and discuss it with him. He will help you sort out you preferences and turn them into a good choice for you. He does this for a living and has great knowledge and attitude. They will even play ukes over the phone for you. Mim of Mim's Ukes can do this as well. There are others here on the forum too.

The rest of us are really just opinions floating on the clouds. You have no way of knowing if we know anything or are just echoing what we've heard. In my case I don't find neck thickness or shape to be much of an issue at all. Go by sound and learn to adapt to different instruments is my style.

If you look at my sig you'll see I have more ukes than skills. I'm working on the skills but fussing over neck feel seems a pretty modest part of the whole experience. YMMV

In the end, buy the one you love.

sukie
07-24-2014, 06:44 AM
KoAloha necks are thin. Man, I loved mine. My ukulele now has a much thicker neck, but I got used to it.

Icelander53
07-24-2014, 06:56 AM
Call up Andrew at the Ukulele Site (Hawaii Music Supply) and discuss it with him. He will help you sort out you preferences and turn them into a good choice for you. He does this for a living and has great knowledge and attitude. They will even play ukes over the phone for you. Mim of Mim's Ukes can do this as well. There are others here on the forum too.

The rest of us are really just opinions floating on the clouds. You have no way of knowing if we know anything or are just echoing what we've heard. In my case I don't find neck thickness or shape to be much of an issue at all. Go by sound and learn to adapt to different instruments is my style.

If you look at my sig you'll see I have more ukes than skills. I'm working on the skills but fussing over neck feel seems a pretty modest part of the whole experience. YMMV

In the end, buy the one you love.




I already planned on talking with Andrew but I think there are several owners here with the skills to share solid information that I can add up to a total in the end.

Well I'll stick with my preference for fat necks as being one important criteria for any uke I buy. I started so late in life that my adaptability is limited due to arthritis and old joints. If I was in my 40s I'll bet I'd agree with you totally and just go for the best sound. I appreciate your input,

In the end I may end up with a acacia from Pono. They have one right now that sounds really rich and warm and full. It's on the list and I know I like how they play for me.

DaveY
07-24-2014, 06:59 AM
Call up Andrew at the Ukulele Site (Hawaii Music Supply) and discuss it with him. He will help you sort out you preferences and turn them into a good choice for you.

This is good advice. Meanwhile, I have to add that I don't see that Kanilea tenor necks are "thick," if what you mean is Pono-chunky-thick (depth). Kanilea necks are not chunky; they are wide, and maybe that's what fills up some people's hands. Knowing your chunky preference, Icey, I would say that Kanilea might be the worst choice. (Maybe the concerts are thick, but . . .) KoAloha is thicker than Kanilea (and also 1.5" at the nut), but not "chunky" (like a Pono). I have never played a Koolau, and I didn't pay attention to the necks on the Kamakas that I played. But, yeah – call Andrew (though probably not immediately, as it's 6:59 a.m. there).

DownUpDave
07-24-2014, 07:02 AM
Call up Andrew at the Ukulele Site (Hawaii Music Supply) and discuss it with him. He will help you sort out you preferences and turn them into a good choice for you. He does this for a living and has great knowledge and attitude. They will even play ukes over the phone for you. Mim of Mim's Ukes can do this as well. There are others here on the forum too.

The rest of us are really just opinions floating on the clouds. You have no way of knowing if we know anything or are just echoing what we've heard. In my case I don't find neck thickness or shape to be much of an issue at all. Go by sound and learn to adapt to different instruments is my style.

If you look at my sig you'll see I have more ukes than skills. I'm working on the skills but fussing over neck feel seems a pretty modest part of the whole experience. YMMV

In the end, buy the one you love.


My vote for best answer. Deal with Andrew at HMS and you can't go wrong, end of story

DaveY
07-24-2014, 07:03 AM
Well I'll stick with my preference for fat necks as being one important criteria for any uke I buy. I started so late in life that my adaptability is limited due to arthritis and old joints. If I was in my 40s I'll bet I'd agree with you totally and just go for the best sound. I appreciate your input,

In the end I may end up with a acacia from Pono. They have one right now that sounds really rich and warm and full. It's on the list and I know I like how they play for me.

I know what you mean about purposely limiting your options: I'm married (figuratively) to 1.5" nut width tenor ukes, as I started on fretted instruments (ukes) so late that I want to keep it consistent. Muscle mass declines with age; maybe my muscle memory does, too. (This is getting depressing.)

Icelander53
07-24-2014, 07:07 AM
"Getting old isn't for sissies":old:

mds725
07-24-2014, 07:24 AM
I've noticed that some people, when referring to the "thickness" of a neck, are talking about how big is is from front to back, while other people are talking about the width of the fretboard. Both of these contribute to the circumference of the neck, but one ukulele may have a bigger circumference due to a wider fretboard (i.e., Kanile'a), while others may have a wider circumference due to the thickness of the neck from the front to the back (i.e., Pono). I assumed from the OP's opening post that the reference to Pono meant that he was looking for a K brand with the thickest beck as measured from front to back, and if that's the case, I'd consider a Ko'olau, which (I believe) has a neck similar to that of a Pono.

The Big Kahuna
07-24-2014, 07:44 AM
Measured from the back of the neck to the fretboard, at the first fret, my Kanile'a tenor is about the same thickness as a Ritz Cracker. I honestly don't know where you're all getting "chunky" from.

Compared to my Fender and Kala tenors, it's vastly more playable, but I like a thin neck.

How about we all agree to use "thickness" when referring to the depth of a neck (front to back) and "width" when referring to the measurement across the fingerboard. Of course, you then need to take into account the neck profile, which I don't recall anyone mentioning so far, and which is at least as important to the feel of an instrument. For example, is it square, C-shaped or V-shaped?

PereBourik
07-24-2014, 07:45 AM
Hey Ice, do what's best for you. I started playing 2 years ago at age 60. I get wrist/arthritis issues. But it only happens when I really clamp down on chords. That's me, not the neck. If I keep it light I can play for hours. To me, setup is a bigger factor than neck thickness. My Martin tenor has a slim neck and a beautiful setup from Gryphon Stringed Instruments. My Pono has a thicker neck and a good setup from HMS. Both play nice.

Not trying to be belligerent here. Just want to keep other factors in play. When I bought the Pono I knew next to nothing about ukes. Aaron at HMS said I'd be happy. I was. Now I know a little more. The Pono probably wouldn't be on my list now, but I'm awfully glad to have it. Trust the experts.

DaveY
07-24-2014, 07:48 AM
"Getting old isn't for sissies":old:

I'm going to get a bumper sticker of this and put it on my walker!

PereBourik
07-24-2014, 07:53 AM
"Getting old isn't for sissies":old:

Got that on a birthday card when I turned 30.

Icelander53
07-24-2014, 09:23 AM
Hey Ice, do what's best for you. I started playing 2 years ago at age 60. I get wrist/arthritis issues. But it only happens when I really clamp down on chords. That's me, not the neck. If I keep it light I can play for hours. To me, setup is a bigger factor than neck thickness. My Martin tenor has a slim neck and a beautiful setup from Gryphon Stringed Instruments. My Pono has a thicker neck and a good setup from HMS. Both play nice.

Not trying to be belligerent here. Just want to keep other factors in play. When I bought the Pono I knew next to nothing about ukes. Aaron at HMS said I'd be happy. I was. Now I know a little more. The Pono probably wouldn't be on my list now, but I'm awfully glad to have it. Trust the experts.

Hey I appreciate your advice here. You very likely know more than I do. I'll have to do that learning curve thing.

Icelander53
07-24-2014, 09:25 AM
Measured from the back of the neck to the fretboard, at the first fret, my Kanile'a tenor is about the same thickness as a Ritz Cracker. I honestly don't know where you're all getting "chunky" from.

Compared to my Fender and Kala tenors, it's vastly more playable, but I like a thin neck.

How about we all agree to use "thickness" when referring to the depth of a neck (front to back) and "width" when referring to the measurement across the fingerboard. Of course, you then need to take into account the neck profile, which I don't recall anyone mentioning so far, and which is at least as important to the feel of an instrument. For example, is it square, C-shaped or V-shaped?

Thanks for helping clarify all this so we can talk about it.

Dan Uke
07-24-2014, 09:39 AM
You're best bet is Ko'olau as they can custom make the neck shape. I've tried all and I don't think any of them are that thick

Icelander53
07-24-2014, 10:01 AM
I've noticed that some people, when referring to the "thickness" of a neck, are talking about how big is is from front to back, while other people are talking about the width of the fretboard. Both of these contribute to the circumference of the neck, but one ukulele may have a bigger circumference due to a wider fretboard (i.e., Kanile'a), while others may have a wider circumference due to the thickness of the neck from the front to the back (i.e., Pono). I assumed from the OP's opening post that the reference to Pono meant that he was looking for a K brand with the thickest beck as measured from front to back, and if that's the case, I'd consider a Ko'olau, which (I believe) has a neck similar to that of a Pono.


YOu are correct. I want a fat neck front to back. The width across the fretboard is secondary. My Gretsch has an even fatter neck front to back than my pono and it plays like a dream.

The Big Kahuna
07-24-2014, 10:18 AM
Beau Hannam recently made a guitar for himself with the most extreme V profile I've ever seen. I've played a few guitars over the decades with a similar profile, and they're remarkably comfortable. Maybe he could make you a uke with this profile, it would certainly give you the "chunk" you're looking for, without adding a huge amount of extra mass.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
07-24-2014, 10:58 AM
This is the mentioned neck-and its my personal guitar-
It is certainly a viciously sharp boat keel, more so then any other ive ever played- At first I thought id ruined the neck, but after 2mins playing I loved it and didn't notice it anymore.
You cant really use a market capo on it though.

69324
69325

The Big Kahuna
07-24-2014, 11:21 AM
Did you actually build the guitar, or modify an existing one? And what made you create that neck profile?

Kamanaaloha
07-24-2014, 02:57 PM
demo before you buy. the one to choose is the one that speaks to you[the loudest/best/most], imho. eyecandy, definitely helps. $/output favors KoAloha. $/eyecandy favors Kanile'a. $/name & recognition and probably resale value favors Kamaka, imho.

Get a Koolau from HMS! it will be identical if not very similar to your Pono...and the neck will be the same...but in Koa! I recently saw Noah's workshop in Wahiawa...right next door to Andrew's HMS office...I really do not think you can go wrong there at all!

As an aside...take a look at Collings Koa...they make really high quality stuff too! Just not built in Hawaii Koa...but Hawaiian Koa from Texas nonetheless!

Good Luck!

PereBourik
07-24-2014, 02:57 PM
Hey I appreciate your advice here. You very likely know more than I do. I'll have to do that learning curve thing.

We're ALL on a learning curve. I've gotten so many ukes because I didn't know what I was doing and I'm just a self-indulgent old fool. If I could buy skills I would, but it really takes practice.

Icelander53
07-24-2014, 04:13 PM
Old fool? I thought that was my title.

Well I don't mind the learning curve on this one. It's fun to be trying out these instruments. I'm finally starting to get ones I'm really happy with. The rest will go to a good cause one way or another.

DownUpDave
07-24-2014, 04:20 PM
Old fool? I thought that was my title.

Well I don't mind the learning curve on this one. It's fun to be trying out these instruments. I'm finally starting to get ones I'm really happy with. The rest will go to a good cause one way or another.

Yup best way to do it is buy em, try em and sort them out. The guy who said "ignoramce is bliss" didn't know s**t.

Icelander53
07-24-2014, 04:50 PM
Well I see HMS is out of stock on a couple of my choices right now so I have time to contemplate this more. In the mean time I've been playing the pono and feel totally happy right where I am.

soupking
07-24-2014, 05:09 PM
I've been following this thread all day and I've come up with the perfect solution. You need to buy this:

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?99107-Rick-Turner-Compass-Rose-Curly-Koa-Tenor

And then you can sing this to it:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBCADN-dW6k

Of course, you'll never croon it as well as Sollie McElroy, but then, no one could! Haha. Seriously, if the neck shape is first and foremost than a Compass Rose is in order: built for the "guitar player."

coolkayaker1
07-24-2014, 06:05 PM
Well I see HMS is out of stock on a couple of my choices right now so I have time to contemplate this more. In the mean time I've been playing the pono and feel totally happy right where I am.

There you go. In a year, see what and if you want another uke.

PereBourik
07-24-2014, 06:29 PM
I've been following this thread all day and I've come up with the perfect solution. You need to buy this:

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?99107-Rick-Turner-Compass-Rose-Curly-Koa-Tenor

And then you can sing this to it:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBCADN-dW6k

Of course, you'll never croon it as well as Sollie McElroy, but then, no one could! Haha. Seriously, if the neck shape is first and foremost than a Compass Rose is in order: built for the "guitar player."

That a spanking good idea. Highest quality at a bargain price.

hawaii 50
07-24-2014, 08:53 PM
demo before you buy. the one to choose is the one that speaks to you[the loudest/best/most], imho. eyecandy, definitely helps. $/output favors KoAloha. $/eyecandy favors Kanile'a. $/name & recognition and probably resale value favors Kamaka, imho.

Get a Koolau from HMS! it will be identical if not very similar to your Pono...and the neck will be the same...but in Koa! I recently saw Noah's workshop in Wahiawa...right next door to Andrew's HMS office...I really do not think you can go wrong there at all!

As an aside...take a look at Collings Koa...they make really high quality stuff too! Just not built in Hawaii Koa...but Hawaiian Koa from Texas nonetheless!

Good Luck!


Not really...
I have a new Ko'olau CS and the neck is not close to a Pono...the Pono's are still thicker....and I have played over 50 Pono's and many Ko'olau's

I would have to say my Ko'olau has a normal neck like most other ukes....and you have to order a Koa neck...comes with Mahogany neck standard

I have a Compass Rose that has a different type of neck....when I first grabbed it I thought is was different(to thick different feel)...but by the 3rd time I played it was fine....

just my 2 cents

coolkayaker1
07-24-2014, 10:36 PM
Not really...
I have a new Ko'olau CS and the neck is not close to a Pono...the Pono's are still thicker....and I have played over 50 Pono's and many Ko'olau's

I would have to say my Ko'olau has a normal neck like most other ukes....and you have to order a Koa neck...comes with Mahogany neck standard


These are absolutely true statements.

Having owned both KoOlaus and Ponos, the differences are quite profound: neck style, finish, pickup, body shape, weight, tuners, action. All different.

Icelander53
07-24-2014, 11:28 PM
How would you describe the differences in the actions between Pono and Ko'olau's?

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
07-25-2014, 06:56 AM
Did you actually build the guitar, or modify an existing one? And what made you create that neck profile?

Oh course I built the guitar!!!!

The body shape was new too (i used a resonator body shape for a normal steel string) so i was really mixing it up.

As it was always going to be a personal guitar, i thought id experiment with the neck as the old martins i'd played with a V neck felt very nice. This was the second reso shaped steel string I made. The first one had a much less pronounced V neck and I sold it. I'm keeping this one though.

The Big Kahuna
07-25-2014, 07:16 AM
I'm keeping this one though.

Unless you decide to give it to a mate ;)

Kamanaaloha
07-25-2014, 09:19 AM
Not really...
I have a new Ko'olau CS and the neck is not close to a Pono...the Pono's are still thicker....and I have played over 50 Pono's and many Ko'olau's

I would have to say my Ko'olau has a normal neck like most other ukes....and you have to order a Koa neck...comes with Mahogany neck standard

I have a Compass Rose that has a different type of neck....when I first grabbed it I thought is was different(to thick different feel)...but by the 3rd time I played it was fine....

just my 2 cents

Thanks, since I do not own a Ko'olau...but I did say "very similar" following the "identical" part...most people do not even offer koa as an option for a neck...I know Eric DeVine used to, but now it is not on his site. I am sure most custom guys would do it for a price...but most do mahogany typically.

Kamanaaloha
07-25-2014, 09:26 AM
These are absolutely true statements.

Having owned both KoOlaus and Ponos, the differences are quite profound: neck style, finish, pickup, body shape, weight, tuners, action. All different.

you do realize that Koolau designs the Ponos...and many are finished/completed at Koolau? Koolau has become more of a custom shop rather than a production shop...and I am sure the instruments can differ as they do in other "K" brands...my whole point was that if the original op likes his Pono, and he still does, that a Koolau would be a good progression in his "K" brand UAS...is all. I am sure the op will be happy with whatever direction he chooses to go, and HMS can really help him there...there are also all of the other non-Hawaii koa ukulele from the US...in addition to the foreign ones that use Koa in the production...it just all depends on the direction in which the op chooses to go...

try before you buy is still really important if you can do it!

Icelander53
07-25-2014, 09:59 AM
well maybe a trip to the Islands is in order here because that's the only way trying before buying is going to happen.

hawaii 50
07-25-2014, 11:29 AM
Thanks, since I do not own a Ko'olau...but I did say "very similar" following the "identical" part...most people do not even offer koa as an option for a neck...I know Eric DeVine used to, but now it is not on his site. I am sure most custom guys would do it for a price...but most do mahogany typically.

You cracking me up...I got my DeVine a few months ago and guess what...I have a Curly Koa neck...:)

hawaii 50
07-25-2014, 11:35 AM
you do realize that Koolau designs the Ponos...and many are finished/completed at Koolau? Koolau has become more of a custom shop rather than a production shop...and I am sure the instruments can differ as they do in other "K" brands...my whole point was that if the original op likes his Pono, and he still does, that a Koolau would be a good progression in his "K" brand UAS...is all. I am sure the op will be happy with whatever direction he chooses to go, and HMS can really help him there...there are also all of the other non-Hawaii koa ukulele from the US...in addition to the foreign ones that use Koa in the production...it just all depends on the direction in which the op chooses to go...

try before you buy is still really important if you can do it!

no all the Pono's come to Wahiawa completely finished....Danny does the setup but they do no other work...the factory in Java does great work...John Kitakis flys over to Java to check the Pono's before they are shipped complete to Wahiawa...just keeping it real....:)

maybe they were done how you say years ago...but for the last 2 years since I have been friends with the family.... Pono's are fully built and finished in Java...I am sure they have been doing business like this for awhile now..

I live 2 mins from Ko'olau and visit the warhouse 2 or 3 times a month..to watch Andrew do his recordings....

great family and great company!! :)

coolkayaker1
07-25-2014, 12:03 PM
How would you describe the differences in the actions between Pono and Ko'olau's?

I find that the more expensive custom Ukulele has a lower feeling action and better internation compared with the production Ukulele from this company that we speak. Please note that it may be that it feels lower because the neck is thinner and more playable and fast as compared to the thicker neck on the production model. That is always a possibility.

Dan Uke
07-25-2014, 12:25 PM
no all the Pono's come to Wahiawa completely finished....Danny does the setup but they do no other work...the factory in Java does great work...John Kitakis flys over to Java to check the Pono's before they are shipped complete to Wahiawa...just keeping it real....:)

maybe they were done how you say years ago...but for the last 2 years since I have been friends with the family.... Pono's are fully built and finished in Java...I am sure they have been doing business like this for awhile now..

I live 2 mins from Ko'olau and visit the warhouse 2 or 3 times a month..to watch Andrew do his recordings....

great family and great company!! :)

Next to Andrew on UU, I trust Len as he practically works for HMS!! :p

hawaii 50
07-25-2014, 12:33 PM
Next to Andrew on UU, I trust Len as he practically works for HMS!! :p

Thanks Daniel... I think....:)

yes I get to see how HMS works and I got to meet all the great people who work there....but that what makes it so nice I love the uke and like to see people happy with what they get no matter what company or builder....

sometimes just trying to keep things real....haha :)
oh btw...I do not work for HMS.....:)

Dan Uke
07-25-2014, 12:43 PM
Thanks Daniel... I think....:)

yes I get to see how HMS works and I got to meet all the great people who work there....but that what makes it so nice I love the uke and like to see people happy with what they get no matter what company or builder....

sometimes just trying to keep things real....haha :)
oh btw...I do not work for HMS.....:)

I said it to be positive. Most of us makes assumptions or we try a certain brand once and make a generalization. Being so close, he can try several of the same brand and then give his opinion.

Icelander53
07-25-2014, 01:26 PM
What a great bunch of folk you all are here. I'm so happy to have found this place. I get the same warm feeling being here that I do playing my uke. This place is a tremendous help to me almost every day in one way or another and takes the place of not being around many other actual players. I guess I'm gushing a little here but I'm old and so can indulge myself in telling it like I feel it. Thanks to all for your input in this thread and to all who PMed me with advice.