New brand - Aolani?

Dohle

Active member
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Messages
1,037
Points
38
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.

I probably should've qualified further that I'd like to find one in Europe but thanks anyway. :)

And yeah, I think I've seen the regular red labels sold around $2500, and even that is a lot more money than what I paid for my current most expensive uke. But maybe one day I'll be desperate enough to pay whatever for one of those. :)
 

merlin666

Active member
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
1,716
Points
38
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.
I know and that is sad. When I just googled Hawaiian ukulele first up was Leolani that has Honolulu office shared with HanoHano but all they do is push cheap China ukes to ABC store and other tourist venues. Hopefully serious uke players are aware of this and able to distinguish actual producers from import offices.
 

Kaelrie

Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2019
Messages
84
Points
8
I know and that is sad. When I just googled Hawaiian ukulele first up was Leolani that has Honolulu office shared with HanoHano but all they do is push cheap China ukes to ABC store and other tourist venues. Hopefully serious uke players are aware of this and able to distinguish actual producers from import offices.

Well now I'm embarrassed lol. It was Leolani I was thinking of the whole time, not Lanikai.
 

bellgamin

UU VIP
Joined
Feb 14, 2014
Messages
615
Points
18
...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.
What he said --- Yes!!!
 

Nickie

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Messages
9,612
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.

This isn't a new idea, is it? Mainland has done a stellar job, and their ukes aren't gonna break the bank. Two of my BFFs play them.
I vowed a few years ago, though, to not buy any more Chinese ukuleles...2 is enough.
 

ripock

Active member
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Messages
1,724
Points
38
I was just on youtube and Ukelikethepros.com was offering a video on Aolani ukes. I didn't want click on it because I didn't want youtube thinking I was interested in that type of thing. However, since this thread has Aolani in the title, I thought you guys might be interested.

I also see a little bit of China-bashing going on here. That's cool, but I just wanted to remind people that they need to put their money where their mouth is. The appeal of China (or Walmart or any big box store) is the price. China/Walmart is asking you to betray your community and its local merchants for some savings. So, if you're going to turn your back on China, you need to pay more for your ukes. You can't have it both ways. I don't want to get too political; I'm just saying you need to be realistic and go into it with your eyes wide open and realize that you're going to be paying a premium for more localized products--whether that product is a uke or some food you picked up at a corner market
 

Dohle

Active member
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Messages
1,037
Points
38
I was just on youtube and Ukelikethepros.com was offering a video on Aolani ukes. I didn't want click on it because I didn't want youtube thinking I was interested in that type of thing. However, since this thread has Aolani in the title, I thought you guys might be interested.

I also see a little bit of China-bashing going on here. That's cool, but I just wanted to remind people that they need to put their money where their mouth is. The appeal of China (or Walmart or any big box store) is the price. China/Walmart is asking you to betray your community and its local merchants for some savings. So, if you're going to turn your back on China, you need to pay more for your ukes. You can't have it both ways. I don't want to get too political; I'm just saying you need to be realistic and go into it with your eyes wide open and realize that you're going to be paying a premium for more localized products--whether that product is a uke or some food you picked up at a corner market

Well I posted the actual video earlier which revived this thread. It's on the previous page.

I don't really get the negativity towards China either. There are loads of brands who import parts of ukes from China and finish them in Western countries so they're able to sell them cheaper, and often they are decent quality as well. Unless I'm mistaken, Leolani makes quite nice ukes in terms of quality. I get it irks some people that they claim to be a Hawaiian company but they do disclose that they make their ukes oversees. It's not something that bothers me that much at all.

And aside from all that, there are many actual high-end ukes produced in China nowadays. I have two aNueNue Bird ukuleles, on of which is my most expensive uke, and they are among my favourites. They were also made in China but I don't regard them as any lesser despite that. The recent Flight anniversary ukes are also made in China and seem to be excellent quality. Where an instrument is made is much less important to me today than it was, say, ten or twenty years ago.
 

hawaii 50

New member
Joined
Mar 7, 2012
Messages
3,765
Points
0
Well I posted the actual video earlier which revived this thread. It's on the previous page.

I don't really get the negativity towards China either. There are loads of brands who import parts of ukes from China and finish them in Western countries so they're able to sell them cheaper, and often they are decent quality as well. Unless I'm mistaken, Leolani makes quite nice ukes in terms of quality. I get it irks some people that they claim to be a Hawaiian company but they do disclose that they make their ukes oversees. It's not something that bothers me that much at all.

And aside from all that, there are many actual high-end ukes produced in China nowadays. I have two aNueNue Bird ukuleles, on of which is my most expensive uke, and they are among my favourites. They were also made in China but I don't regard them as any lesser despite that. The recent Flight anniversary ukes are also made in China and seem to be excellent quality. Where an instrument is made is much less important to me today than it was, say, ten or twenty years ago.

i agree with you and Riprock...i was not a fan of ukes built in China but after seeing many Kala models i started to change my mind a few years ago...now there are many ukes built in China that sound great and the fit and finish and finish top notch...

the prices seem kind of high but you get solid wood instruments seems like folks just don't want this company to do well but other companies building in Vietnam,Phillipines,Thailand etc are ok?

i am not the owners or investor so they will find out if they made the right decisions on price and marketing but i am not going to sink their ship with my comments...

hard to compare tone to other ukes since i never played or saw one...will be watching to see if they catch on mainly because of sound/tone not where built
 

MikeSRC

Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2019
Messages
35
Points
6
It seems that there is a connection to Cornerstone Custom via a licenced design, but the brand is not mentioned on the Cornerstone site. Most USA manufacturers who have a lower cost product line made in Asian factories are not afraid to include the product on their websites, you have to wonder why Cornerstone is so shy about mentioning the Aolani product. Its hard to see the point in trying to hide the obvious. Possibly there is no actual connection apart from the design licence, possibly Custom Cornerstone is the "master luthier", why not just post the true situation?

I agree. Particularly when both the Aolani and Cornerstone websites show them based in Westminster, CA and even have the same phone number. Aolani's contact email is: info@cornerstoneukes.com

One other odd thing is that on the Aolani website, they say all of their ukes are solid wood, no laminates. Yet the lowest priced on on ULTP is listed as having laminate back and sides. :confused:
 
Last edited:

pmorey

UU VIP
Joined
Jul 15, 2013
Messages
118
Points
18
Especially after their recent podcast with Peter Marreiros, it says something to me that Andrew does not carry Aolani at HMS. Or maybe it is in the works and he will in the future?
 
Last edited:

Cadia

Active member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
598
Points
28
I wanted to like these, but I'm not finding the sound nearly as nice as an Opio, Rebel, Romero, Pono, or aNueNue. Which can be had in that price range. Maybe it's Terry's playing...
 

badhabits

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
394
Points
18
I had forgotten that I commented on this thread.

Since my comment we have discussed another uke brand which merchandises ukes made in China and has a workshop in California that makes nice ukuleles that sell at prices very similar to what I have seen to be the prices for the Aolani products.

Google maps shows that it is only 443 miles from Westminster, Ca to Petaluma, Ca.

So why would Cornerstone need to be using a factory in China? Why wouldn't they follow the lead of the other brand and set up a facility in California, employing USA workers, to make and sell ukuleles in the $900 price range? It seems to be both possible and feasible.

I have asked before, who would be a proud Californian to have a choice in the $500 - $900 range of products from at least two local manufacturers that have the factory right there in California? Stamped with "Made in California" and sounding great.

One of the largest consumer markets for ukuleles on the planet would have to exist between Sacramento and San Diego. Some ukulele factories in the area that can sell a uke for $300 - $900 would have to have a good chance of success.


LA+OC/southland may fit that description, and the bay area to the west, but between LA and Sacramento up the valley is a whole lot of farmland.
 

pmorey

UU VIP
Joined
Jul 15, 2013
Messages
118
Points
18
I had forgotten that I commented on this thread.

So why would Cornerstone need to be using a factory in China? Why wouldn't they follow the lead of the other brand and set up a facility in California, employing USA workers, to make and sell ukuleles in the $900 price range? It seems to be both possible and feasible.

Capitalized costs would be my guess...
 

Veritas99

Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2021
Messages
82
Points
8
I wanted to like these, but I'm not finding the sound nearly as nice as an Opio, Rebel, Romero, Pono, or aNueNue. Which can be had in that price range. Maybe it's Terry's playing...

I’ve made the same comment to my wife about his sound samples. I can never tell if I don’t like the uke or his playing.

I know the guys at HMS set an incredibly high standard for sound samples, but I don’t necessarily need that. Places like SUS, Aloha City, and Uke Republic who play (mostly) the same music on each uke so the buyer can cross shop and compare work just fine. Hopefully, someone else will stock them and make a sound sample because they could be great sounding ukes.
 

merlin666

Active member
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
1,716
Points
38
I consider myself a guitar and uke nerd who is fairly knowledgeable about the various brands out there. As I have never heard of "Cornerstone Custom" before I got curious and had to look them up. Cornerstone is basically a niche guitar builder with focus on the high end worship market. He learned about ukes in 2019 and then miniaturized his guitar design into at customizable tenor uke. Not sure if that and adding $40 worth of parts and labour is enough to justify tripling the price of their budget ukes.
 
Last edited:

Cadia

Active member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
598
Points
28
I’ve made the same comment to my wife about his sound samples. I can never tell if I don’t like the uke or his playing.

I know the guys at HMS set an incredibly high standard for sound samples, but I don’t necessarily need that. Places like SUS, Aloha City, and Uke Republic who play (mostly) the same music on each uke so the buyer can cross shop and compare work just fine. Hopefully, someone else will stock them and make a sound sample because they could be great sounding ukes.

I agree, though I really do enjoy the HMS guys' playing. I'll often listen to their demos on Youtube and let them play automatically one after another, just to listen to them. Often the particular uke doesn't even matter, it's the quality of the playing.