New brand - Aolani?

KohanMike

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Sep 15, 2013
Messages
5,651
Points
48
Is $600 to $900US considered budget?


This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly Grove near the Beverly Center
8 tenor cutaway ukes, 4 acoustic bass ukes, 12 solid body bass ukes, 14 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 38)

Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs. www.theukc.org
Member The CC Strummers: www.youtube.com/user/CCStrummers/video, www.facebook.com/TheCCStrummers
 

Dohle

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Messages
1,074
Points
48
Is $600 to $900US considered budget?

I'd say it is when their ukes are normally sold at around $5000 or more. :D

Cornerstone is one of those high-end brands I've barely ever heard of but I do see them pop up in reputable uke shops. That said, I have even less experience with this new line of models they are producing. No doubt the custom shop ukes are top tier but I'll have to look for some reviews of these Aolani models.
 

Veritas99

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Mar 11, 2021
Messages
104
Points
18
Is $600 to $900US considered budget?

My bad, I should have used quotes around "budget." Not trying to suggest they are cheap, only that they are cheap compared to their custom line like Dohle said.

Seems to be somewhat similar to Ko'olau and Pono, where the custom Ko'olau branded stuff starts at $5k and goes to five figures, but the Pono ukes range from around $300-$1100.

I was just wondering if others here had been involved in testing them or knew more about them as it seems odd for a luthier to not get feedback before dropping a dozen or so on a major retailer at that price point.
 

rainbow21

Active member
Joined
Sep 30, 2018
Messages
955
Points
28
Hmmm... they order the ukes from the China factory. Then they do some major modifications in the USA. Guess they don't trust the factory to do certain things like putting in the compensated saddle. One issue may be they are trusting them for the process of actually manufacturing the uke (or just going cheap) and ornamenting it with better parts. Or other than cutting in a soundport, they are just doing a good setup and charging a whole lot more.

From the website:
..." Then the work begins. First we cut a soundport on the upper bout ( a tedious and nerve wrecking process), then the nut and saddle gets replaced with an in-house aged bone nut and compensated saddle. Tuners get replaced with quality tuning machines such as Gotoh or Schaller. The frets are leveled and dressed and the ends attended to in order to smooth out the sharp edges. We then polish every fret and condition the fretboard..."

http://aolaniukes.com/about
 

chris667

Active member
Joined
Feb 8, 2012
Messages
604
Points
28
I'm with Kohanmike on this one.

$900 is in no way budget. For that much money, I expect them to be special.

This is a mass-produced Chinese uke. There's nothing wrong with that at all, but don't pretend it's something it isn't.
 

wqking

Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2021
Messages
151
Points
18
I'm with Kohanmike on this one.

$900 is in no way budget. For that much money, I expect them to be special.

This is a mass-produced Chinese uke. There's nothing wrong with that at all, but don't pretend it's something it isn't.

I heard that some Chinese factories pretend to be American brand (they just need to register a company in the US, that's pretty simple.).
 

chris667

Active member
Joined
Feb 8, 2012
Messages
604
Points
28
I wouldn't normally comment on threads like this, but I have just realised why I find it so annoying.

They're paying what would be poverty wages in the US to get their instruments made, then implying that the bit they do (cutting a soundhole in the body) is somehow beyond the capabilities of the Chinese luthiers that make them. What a strange attitude to have to foreign labour.

Claiming it's a work of great American craftsmanship because they've added a bone nut and saddle (how much does a bone nut and saddle cost, anyway?) and then carving a bit in the side is really disingenuous.
 

Dohle

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Messages
1,074
Points
48
Just saw this video about these new Aolani ukes:


It's the typical sales pitch by Terry but at least you get a glimpse and sound sample of the Aolani models.

Cornerstone seems to make ukes only in tenor size which is really disappointing. The spruce top koa back and sides in concert size would be the exact thing I've been searching for quite some time now.
 

Griole

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Jun 17, 2018
Messages
99
Points
8
Yeah - Tenors only. Seem to be aiming for a specific market Makes me wonder whether it's carefully contrived. It's a little different than Koaloha not building Baritones.
 

Peter Frary

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
1,063
Points
48
Aolani means cloud from heaven. Kind of a strangle moniker for an 'ukulele.
 

Kaelrie

Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2019
Messages
90
Points
8
I heard that some Chinese factories pretend to be American brand (they just need to register a company in the US, that's pretty simple.).

Lanikai pretends to be Hawaiian this way. Their Hawaiian "facility" is just a teeny import office on the pier.
 

Kenn2018

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
3,590
Points
48
It seems that tenors are far more common from custom shops. Some will make other sizes, but many only do tenors because that's where the demand is.

Mainland Ukes has done this for years. Have ukes made to their specifications and then have the final fittings and details done in the USA. They also sell ukes made and completed in China as well.
 

man0a

Active member
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Messages
523
Points
28
Lanikai pretends to be Hawaiian this way. Their Hawaiian "facility" is just a teeny import office on the pier.

I know there is a Lanikai neighborhood in Honolulu, but I had no idea that Lanikai Ukulele was ever located there. The "contact us" address on the Lanikai Ukulele website is in Tennessee.
 

Dohle

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Messages
1,074
Points
48
It seems that tenors are far more common from custom shops. Some will make other sizes, but many only do tenors because that's where the demand is.

Yup, this certainly seems to be true and is probably the reason why I have yet to find that special uke for myself. I can't recall any other brand aside from KoAloha whose custom shop really even does concerts. I think Ko'olau does as well but those seem to be really rare as I mostly see tenors from them. One day I'll have to hunt down a spruce top KoAloha red label and be done with buying ukes ever again (yeah right...).
 

Kaelrie

Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2019
Messages
90
Points
8
I know there is a Lanikai neighborhood in Honolulu, but I had no idea that Lanikai Ukulele was ever located there. The "contact us" address on the Lanikai Ukulele website is in Tennessee.

Interesting, it's not on my google map anymore either for Honolulu. Maybe they closed it during the pandemic, or decided the rent wasn't worth it because nobody was fooled.
 

merlin666

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
1,834
Points
48
Interesting, it's not on my google map anymore either for Honolulu. Maybe they closed it during the pandemic, or decided the rent wasn't worth it because nobody was fooled.

Lanikai is a small town famous for its fine grained sand beach near the larger town of Kailua on the island of Oahu. The ukulele brand is owned by the German Hohner company and ukes are made in China by various mass producers.
 
Last edited:

Bluesy

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Sep 3, 2020
Messages
220
Points
18
Looking forward to hearing additional sound samples. He's hitting those strings hard so I couldn't tell much about sound quality. Treated them more like beater ukes. He's definitely a high energy guy.

I've always liked the looks of Cornerstone Ukuleles, so the general design is pleasing and not overdone.

Bluesy.
 

rainbow21

Active member
Joined
Sep 30, 2018
Messages
955
Points
28
Yup, this certainly seems to be true and is probably the reason why I have yet to find that special uke for myself. I can't recall any other brand aside from KoAloha whose custom shop really even does concerts. I think Ko'olau does as well but those seem to be really rare as I mostly see tenors from them. One day I'll have to hunt down a spruce top KoAloha red label and be done with buying ukes ever again (yeah right...).

The hunt is over:

https://ukulelestorehawaii.com/index.php/product/koaloha-red-label-concert/

I would also consider contacting KoAloha directly as their recent red labels for their 25th anny cost less than this one.
 

Kaelrie

Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2019
Messages
90
Points
8
Lanikai is a small town famous for its fine grained sand beach near the larger town of Kailua on the island of Oahu. The ukulele brand is owned by the German Hohner company and ukes are made in China by various mass producers.

Yes, I know. I live on Oahu. But until recently, Lanikai Ukuleles claimed to be a Hawaiian company, and their sole reason for being able to claim that was they rented a 10x15 import office on the docks. If you need proof it was there at one time, go watch a Baz review of a Lanikai ukulele. He mentions it.

I'm only mentioning them because I was agreeing with a previous poster that a number of companies who make their ukuleles in China will do some tiny little thing to the uke somewhere in America and then claim it's an American ukulele.
 
Last edited: