4 Hawaii "K" brand ukuleles, which is your favourite?

4 Hawaii "K" brand ukuleles, which is your favourite?

  • Kanilea

    Votes: 33 22.6%
  • Koolau

    Votes: 14 9.6%
  • Kamaka

    Votes: 44 30.1%
  • Koaloha

    Votes: 55 37.7%

  • Total voters
    146

hjiandong18

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4 Hawaii "K" brand ukuleles, which is your favourite?

Kanilea
Koolau
Kamaka
Koaloha
 

Uke Don

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Is Opio included within KoAloha? That would slant the results.
Ko'olau is essentially a custom builder, so I'n not sure they really count.
 

anthonyg

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Meh, which is your favourite brand of twine?

or, I'm not sue if your being serious. Favourite brand polls of ANYTHING are a bit silly.
 

manfromtexas

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If anybody would care to compare and contrast the sound of Kamaka vs KoAloha I’d certainly would welcome it -

About a month or so ago I purchased my first K brand uke - a KoAloha concert and I was just floored from the very start at how great it sounds. The clarity the depth the volume - it was just such a cut above anything I’d played before. My collection before that is comprised of Kala’s and Pono’s and I was always happy with them but from the opening seconds of picking on the KoAloha I just sensed “oh this is a whole different ballgame right here”.

I find that I can still enjoy my Kala’s and my Pono’s - but I enjoy them best if I don’t pick up the KoAloha first. It’s best to play those as a runup to the KoAloha because if you play it the other way around those Kalas and Ponos just sound thin by comparison.

And I’ve never played a Kamaka, so one of my first thoughts early on also was “do the Kamaka’s sound this good too?”. Like I’m sure there is a difference to the KoAloha - but does it have that same cut above quality. I’m sure that it would but I’d kind of like to know how they compare.

I should get on down to Penny Lane Emporium because they have some in stock to play and I can find out - plus my other curiousity was about the Martins but we’re talking K brand here.
 

DaveY

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I've never played a Koolau, and probably never will, because I'll probably never come across one.
I played a Kamaka once in a store, and it was nice, but it didn't move me; I might have missed the subtleties (not a Knock on Kamakas).
I played two of the same model Kanilea tenors in a store and one was very blah and the other was so great I thought of maybe kind-of buying it (I didn't).
I also (like manfromtexas, I guess) was "floored" by the KoAloha concert I played in a store. A few years later I bought a KoAloha tenor, and a few after that I bought a KoAloha Opio concert. They are my two all-solid hollow-body ukuleles.

So it's obvious what my favorite is, but all of this is subject to the availability of each brand, so I didn't vote in the poll -- which means I have no right to complain about which one wins.
 

DownUpDave

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The Koolau being a custom build with many varieties of wood to choice from does put it in a different league. I do own one, spruce and myrtle and voted it as my favorite

The other 3 K-brands each have their own signature sound, same as Martin, Taylor and Gibson as the three big guitar builders. So it depends of the sound you personally prefer. I really do love the full resonant sound of the Koaloha and have owned two, both of which I should not have sold. I own two Kamakas and like both of them a lot.
 

mmfitzsimons

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Kanilea, hands-down (wait, but I can't play it that way! ;) )

My Kamaka HF-3 feels to me like The Classic Ukulele, like I'm holding history in my hands... but my Kanilea goes beyond that — it's ergonomic, supersonic, can't-keep-it-platonic! And they have access to crazy good-looking koa, too....

Although my absolute favorite uke? Wasn't built in Hawaii. Bangkok, baby. Bangkok. Who knew? :)
 

Nickie

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Meh, which is your favourite brand of twine?

or, I'm not sue if your being serious. Favourite brand polls of ANYTHING are a bit silly.

Sure, it's silly. Maybe. But it does give a builder an idea of what may come.
 

El Viejo

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Kamakas are beautiful, well-made instruments, but particularly with those stock strings, they sound very green and very dead/subdued compared to the rest.

The few Ko'olaus that I've played have been beautifully made instruments, but like Kamakas, they're more traditional in their sound.

I prefer the looks of Kanile'a's instruments most- they've got the best wood, without a doubt, given their access to amazing Koa. The sound is deeper and richer than most as well.

Koalohas, though, have that unmistakeable bright, loud, modern, sparkling sound that I can't get away from.
 

Steedy

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I've never played a Ko'olau ukulele, but among the other three, I think Kamaka ukes have the best sound (once the stock strings are replaced). :cool:
 

RichM

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I've owned all four brands over the years. The only one I still own is Koaloha. Conclude what you like. :)
 

kkimura

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I voted Kamaka but since I've never owned the other three, time to write some checks?
 

kohanmike

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I compared my Kala KAATP-CTG-CE solid cedar top to the K brands side by side and in my opinion they were certainly not 3 times better ($380 vs $1200), maybe slightly better at the most. Kala is obviously also a K brand.

Kala cedar mine.jpg



8 tenor cutaway ukes, 3 acoustic bass ukes, 8 solid body bass ukes, 8 mini electric bass guitars

• Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children's hospital music therapy programs. http://www.theukc.org
• Member The CC Strummers: https://www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/videos
 

bacchettadavid

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Kohan, my first ukulele was was a KA-ATP-CTG-CE, and I have to agree with you. Good examples of that Kala model are exceptional for their price point.

As for the poll, I'll put in a vote for Kanile'a. Not the loudest, but the sweetest.
 

blodzoom

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I own a Koolau and a Kanilea. I have been to Hawaii a few times since I started my uke interest and test drove tons of ukes but really I don't know what I'm talking about and I'm not much beyond a beginner player, so... grain of salt...



Koolau: I've only played one, and that's the one I own. I bought it second-hand right after I decided that ukulele was more than just a passing fancy. It's beautiful, it has some heft to it and feels to me like a more "professional grade" instrument than any other uke I've played. I have it strung low g and it's a tenor, so it has a very warm mellow sound, not as "twinkly" or "sparkly" as most that I've played (I also mostly play concerts, so that's part of it)

Kanilea: Best looking of the main 3 by a long shot. Most modern look and fanciest Koa. Some people value looks more than others. I definitely consider looks as important and I think a lot of it is because I'm not a great player and a nice looking uke makes me more likely to pick it up. I would guess that people who have played for decades care more about the sound and don't care if it looks like a dirty sock. Very sweet sound, tending to be more mellow than the others.

Koaloha: I don't care much for the looks but the sound is very attractive when comparing it to the others because it really pops. The instruments feel light weight and project like crazy. I understand why people like these and maybe if I was a better player, I would be more interested. I almost bought one once but went with something else that I felt had more interesting character (no regrets).

Kamaka: The classic. Some people love that it's the classic and it's like a piece of history. It's never the wrong choice, but for me, it's never the right choice either because they just never seem to have that something special that makes me want to pick it up.

Overall, Kanilea is my choice but I also JUST bought one. Ask again in a year and I'll probably have a different answer.
 

UkerDanno

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When I decided to get a Hawaiian made instrument, I visited a shop that carried the big 3, Kanile'a, Kamaka and Koaloha as well as Martin. I took my Martin C1K to compare and checked them all out. None sounded all that much better than my Martin, not even the Martin koas made in Pennsylvania. But, the fit and finish on the Kanile'a was way above the others, so I figured out what I wanted and shopped around and found an awesome deal on my K-2 CP. It's an amazing, quality instrument.
IMG_20170122_123027707~3.jpg
 
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wickedwahine11

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I've owned all four brands over the years. The only one I still own is Koaloha. Conclude what you like. :)
I have never owned (or played) a Ko'olau, but like you, I have owned Kamaka, Kanile'a and KoAloha ukes, and only have the KoAloha left.

If anybody would care to compare and contrast the sound of Kamaka vs KoAloha I’d certainly would welcome it
KoAlohas, if I had to describe them to someone that has never head them, sound to me like the ukulele embodiment of Steven Tyler from Aerosmith - loud, and punchy. They have a voice that cuts through the crowd, usually bright, but always powerful and strong. They are innovators when it comes to bracing, and constantly working to perfect their sound. When it comes to aesthetics, they are more simple koa (usually) and not a lot of bling. But for a factory made uke, they sound terrific.

Kamaka is the traditional uke, and the traditional sound. The strings they come with are god-awful, which may be why they fail to impress me at most stores. But there is a lot of history behind that name, and lots of uke professional players play Kamaka. If you have been doing something for 100 years, you must be doing something right. Unlike KoAloha (where I have never heard a bad one), they can be hit and miss though. I wouldn't buy a Kamaka without hearing it first. But they are a lovely, mellow traditional sound when played and the Grandaddy of them all.
 

WestyShane

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Steven Tyler from Aerosmith - loud, and punchy. They have a voice that cuts through the crowd, usually bright, but always powerful and strong.

I would agree with that description and it's why my "K" is a Kamaka.

Compared to the Koalohas that I tried, I find my Kamaka (100 anniversary long-necked soprano) to sound more delicate and ethereal, more of a 70s era Jerry Garcia versus Steven Tyler.

I also prefer different strings than the factory supplied ones and I tried about 6 or 7 before finding the one that "spoke" to me.