PDA

View Full Version : Kelii Koa Tenor Ukulele Gold Series vs Big Island Traditional Koa Tenor



Icelander53
07-25-2014, 04:46 PM
Maybe not the best forum for this thread but this is where I like to hang so here goes.

We've been talking about the K brand koa ukes and I got a few PMs suggesting some less expensive but still near K quality Koa ukes. These two in particular seemed interesting to me. Can anyone speak to the quality of either of these ukes? Maybe even what the neck is like lol?

DownUpDave
07-25-2014, 05:15 PM
Necks are made of wood........kinda long........half round shape. You will like them :p

I actually have a thing for the Kelii longneck soprano so will be interested to see what others say about this make.:-)I know Big Island has gotten very good reviews. Check out "Gotauke" web site, one of the very few he givesover a 9 out of 10

Icelander53
07-25-2014, 05:27 PM
I read that review and the photos are knock out. I just can't find one to buy. Neither Mim nor Uke Republic carry that particular model.

So you can vouch for the quality of Kelii? This is the first I'd heard of them.

wayfarer75
07-25-2014, 05:59 PM
I have a Kelii gold series concert Uke, since February last year. I think it's an awesome ukulele for the price. I haven't seen any Big Island ukes in person, so I can't compare them.

I've heard it said that Kelii necks are "chunky" but I haven't found it to be all that thick, front to back. A lot of people describe necks with one word and don't explain much about it. I could measure the neck, if you like. My opinion is that the best way to tell if a uke's neck is up your alley is to try it out yourself. Which is, of course, easier said than done for many who live far from great uke dealers.

mds725
07-25-2014, 08:53 PM
I have an older (probably built in 2009 or 2010) Honu solid koa tenor. The wood is beautiful, it seems to be well built, and it sounds very good. The neck (from fretboard to back) is thin.

Roselynne
07-25-2014, 09:15 PM
Can't talk about Big Island ukulele, except that I'd love to try one some time.

I do have a Keli'i Gold Series Tenor, and I love it. Some might say the neck is chunky, but I started out on (and still play) guitar, so the neck makes it easy for me to switch from one instrument to the other ... and the neck is still far less thick than one on any acoustic guitar I know of.

For me, the only minuses are that I'm not fond of the decal on the headstock (design is good, but the decal itself looks cheap-ish to my eyes), and there are minor (like, teensy-weensy) finish issues on mine; glue drops and stuff like that.

There is one wider issue as well. Keli'is are not completely made on O'ahu, although they were at one time. Part of the construction now happens in China (in a tiny shop, apparently, rather than a factory). Every vendor I've seen is totally upfront about this, but the luthier has not been equally forthcoming (label on mine says,"Handcrafted Ukuleles Made in Hawai'i"). Because of this, HMS no longer sells Keli'is. To be fair, it seems that most of the construction does take place on O'ahu -- which makes the label legal under the pertinent regulations. The fact that not many Keli'is are made per year would seem to bear out Keli'i's claims that they are handcrafted items made in small shops, with most of the build being done on O'ahu (and, I must add, in my hometown, although I have no connection with the luthier and, in fact, have never met him).

If you can get past these issues, the Gold Series are excellent all-koa ukulele that cost far less than their actual K-brand counterparts. (That said ... I swear I know a Kamaka when I hear one!)

Icelander53
07-25-2014, 09:50 PM
I have a Kelii gold series concert Uke, since February last year. I think it's an awesome ukulele for the price. I haven't seen any Big Island ukes in person, so I can't compare them.

I've heard it said that Kelii necks are "chunky" but I haven't found it to be all that thick, front to back. A lot of people describe necks with one word and don't explain much about it. I could measure the neck, if you like. My opinion is that the best way to tell if a uke's neck is up your alley is to try it out yourself. Which is, of course, easier said than done for many who live far from great uke dealers.

Thanks for the offer. If you do a measurement do it from right at the nut as that's what I've been doing in communication with some others in PM. That neck sounds good though. Thanks for the response. I found the tenor for about $560 set up with a vendor I trust. Does that sound like a good deal?

Icelander53
07-25-2014, 09:52 PM
Can't talk about Big Island ukulele, except that I'd love to try one some time.

I do have a Keli'i Gold Series Tenor, and I love it. Some might say the neck is chunky, but I started out on (and still play) guitar, so the neck makes it easy for me to switch from one instrument to the other ... and the neck is still far less thick than one on any acoustic guitar I know of.

For me, the only minuses are that I'm not fond of the decal on the headstock (design is good, but the decal itself looks cheap-ish to my eyes), and there are minor (like, teensy-weensy) finish issues on mine; glue drops and stuff like that.

There is one wider issue as well. Keli'is are not completely made on O'ahu, although they were at one time. Part of the construction now happens in China (in a tiny shop, apparently, rather than a factory). Every vendor I've seen is totally upfront about this, but the luthier has not been equally forthcoming (label on mine says,"Handcrafted Ukuleles Made in Hawai'i"). Because of this, HMS no longer sells Keli'is. To be fair, it seems that most of the construction does take place on O'ahu -- which makes the label legal under the pertinent regulations. The fact that not many Keli'is are made per year would seem to bear out Keli'i's claims that they are handcrafted items made in small shops, with most of the build being done on O'ahu (and, I must add, in my hometown, although I have no connection with the luthier and, in fact, have never met him).

If you can get past these issues, the Gold Series are excellent all-koa ukulele that cost far less than their actual K-brand counterparts. (That said ... I swear I know a Kamaka when I hear one!)

Those are not deal breakers for me so thanks for the info. I'd love to put you to the test on the Kamaka issue. I'd be very impressed if you could do it three times in a row. I mean very impressed. :bowdown:

Roselynne
07-25-2014, 10:32 PM
Those are not deal breakers for me so thanks for the info. I'd love to put you to the test on the Kamaka issue. I'd be very impressed if you could do it three times in a row. I mean very impressed. :bowdown:

Heh-heh! So far, I've actually done it twice, and have no idea why or how I knew, but I did. Both times were at ukulele jams. Two flukes, maybe? Then again, I grew up around Kamakas so ... maybe not that impressive, after all. Still, I'd love to put my ear to a real test.

Back to Keli'i ... I knew all of the above issues before I bought mine. That knowledge did prompt me to shop around a little further, but I still ended up with a Keli'i. Gotta admit, that hometown connection was a definite draw. At the time, I had not heard of Big Island, and would love to try one now.

Kayak Jim
07-26-2014, 01:37 AM
I don't care for the way the fretboard wraps around the soundhole on the Big Island. It kind of gets in the way when I'm picking. YMMV

To clarify, it was a concert I tried, not a tenor. Not sure if they're the same in this regard.

lakesideglenn
07-26-2014, 02:36 AM
I've owned two Kelii ukes, a bronze series super soprano which I love and still have, and a gold series tenor which has moved on to another home. The neck on the tenor was on the chunky side, more so than any other tenor I've ever played, but otherwise it had a real nice sound quality and tone.
Good luck with your search!

wayfarer75
07-27-2014, 05:01 AM
I measured my Kelii concert's nut: 1 5/16" and the neck circumference at the nut: 3 9/16"