Why a Pineapple- and why so much?

MarTay6

Active member
Joined
Oct 17, 2021
Messages
212
Points
43
I've been looking at Kamaka Pineapple Ukes, and my first observation is that they seem to be very well-loved by their owners- and secondly, that for what they are- they seem to be very expensive. I mean- well on the north side of a $Grand, for a simple round construction with plain wood- no binding or ornamentation whatsoever- and I'm sure very simple bracing- What am I missing here? Is it just because they're Hawaiian made? And why are people so attracted to this shape? Is it because of better sound due to more volume?
Looking to get educated here a bit please and thanks!
 
Last edited:

Oldscruggsfan

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 25, 2022
Messages
851
Points
93
I've been looking at Kanile'a Pineapple Ukes, and my first observation is that they seem to be very well-loved by their owners- and secondly, that for what they are- they seem to be very expensive. I mean- well on the north side of a $Grand, for a simple round construction with plain wood- no binding or ornamentation whatsoever- and I'm sure very simple bracing- What am I missing here? Is it just because they're Hawaiian made? And why are people so attracted to this shape? Is it because of better sound due to more volume?
Looking to get educated here a bit please and thanks!
Purely Personal Opinion: Other than an abiding desire for a Magic Fluke Flea, I personally won't buy any shape uke other than a pineapple again. I'll leave it to the Luthiers and other experts to explain the fine points of acoustics. My primary reason is that it doesn't look like a tiny guitar or, meaning no offense to LorenFL, a boat paddle or, for that matter, a cigar box. Over the past months of participating in the UU Forum, I've grown to understand and appreciate the pineapple shape and am specifically attracted to the Pops Wow models which have a reputation for superior acoustics and volume. I think it's odd that Kala (Waterman), Outdoor Ukulele and others don't exclusively use the pineapple body shape in their composite ukes, both for the sake of simplicity and to further avoid the "it's just a toy guitar" stigma.
 

merlin666

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
2,646
Points
113
I've been looking at Kamaka Pineapple Ukes, and my first observation is that they seem to be very well-loved by their owners- and secondly, that for what they are- they seem to be very expensive. I mean- well on the north side of a $Grand, for a simple round construction with plain wood- no binding or ornamentation whatsoever- and I'm sure very simple bracing- What am I missing here? Is it just because they're Hawaiian made? And why are people so attracted to this shape? Is it because of better sound due to more volume?
Looking to get educated here a bit please and thanks!
I don't think that they are much more expensive than equivalent 8 shaped ukes. And yes the high cost is because they come from a small family operated company in Hawaii.
 

donboody

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 16, 2021
Messages
1,071
Points
113
Purely Personal Opinion: Other than an abiding desire for a Magic Fluke Flea, I personally won't buy any shape uke other than a pineapple again. I'll leave it to the Luthiers and other experts to explain the fine points of acoustics. My primary reason is that it doesn't look like a tiny guitar or, meaning no offense to LorenFL, a boat paddle or, for that matter, a cigar box. Over the past months of participating in the UU Forum, I've grown to understand and appreciate the pineapple shape and am specifically attracted to the Pops Wow models which have a reputation for superior acoustics and volume. I think it's odd that Kala (Waterman), Outdoor Ukulele and others don't exclusively use the pineapple body shape in their composite ukes, both for the sake of simplicity and to further avoid the "it's just a toy guitar" stigma.
I particularly like your waterman point, that’s solid marketing.
 

LukuleleStrings

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
482
Points
63
In general Hawaiian companies are going to charge more because they’re paying living wages to live in Hawaii. Some indie builders charge less, but they aren’t funding multiple families.

Honestly, it’s what makes me okay with 1) not buying used Hawaiian instruments and 2) spending so much. Talk about spreading the aloha! If they sold for Kala prices, the employees would be camped outside of Lowe’s at night until the cops rousted them somewhere else.
 

rainbow21

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 30, 2018
Messages
1,685
Points
113
I am not very familiar with the construction differences and work needed to produce a pineapple versus a more traditional shaped ukulele. But it seems as if the amount of work and the wood and skill would be similar. The sides might be a little more involved with a traditional, but it would still need to be shaped properly and set into the frame to set. It also seems that the bracing work is not that different, even if the design is a different pattern. And the rest seems to be identical, from cutting a soundhole and building and attaching the neck, etc.

So the price likely reflects that you are buying a Kamaka ukulele (and not a Kala). They occupy the high end of production ukulele prices due to everything they do to make it a Kamaka. And the market for traditional shaped ukuleles is much larger than for pineapples (for whatever reasons).
 

bbkobabe

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
703
Points
93
I have a Kala pineapple... not that sweet sounding... bit it's a cheapie, so... Probably not comparable.
 

mountain goat

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 8, 2015
Messages
3,020
Points
113
it's a good question.

i have both an HF-1 and an HP-1.
i adore them both. both very light builds
and both have that beautiful sparkle and punch you'd want in a quality soprano.
also, both have excellent volume and the feel, is a huge thing for me -
slim, fast necks, fantastic playability.

all that said, i do find it difficult to put into words sound differences,
especially w/ sopranos, and these two in particular.

splitting hairs and by very small degrees, i would say
the pineapple has a more open sound, fuller, more volume
(i assume because the soundboard and body cavity is slightly bigger)
and so you get that little bit more sustain
as the notes don't decay so fast. you can play w/ a little less attack
and still get a lovely rich, sweetness that hangs in the air a bit longer.

i am not one attracted to pineapples at all. i have held on to
my kamaka pineapple, only b/c, after having spent way too much money
experimenting w/ myriad sopranos over many years,
the sound is just too good to let go. but i also would say the same thing of
my HF-1. kamaka sopranos are the bees knees to me.

one final thought. the longer you play them, the better they sound. i used
to think all the talk about 'opening up' was bunkem, but not these days.
if i were gonna recommend a soprano to anyone who wants the best, i'd recommend
a kamaka white label. cannons. fullstop!

hope you end up w/ a soprano you love MarTay! cheers. :)
 

Graham Greenbag

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2017
Messages
1,787
Points
83
I have a Kala pineapple... not that sweet sounding... bit it's a cheapie, so... Probably not comparable.
I have both a Kala KA-P and a KA-S. I got the pineapple first (many years ago), put a bone nut and saddle on it and eventually settled on Super Nylgut strings - Martin M600’s worked really well on it too but to my ears the Super Nylguts are more pleasing. My KA-P sounds loud and sweet, loved it for years and could always hear myself in (noisy) Uke Club meetings. The much later purchased KA-S has been surprising; it has a slightly wider body than its sister and (in side by side tests) it is a tiny fraction louder and it has a tiny fraction more bass to it … it’s ended up as a favourite and I’ve bought a second one to put a low G on.

Obviously I‘m just comparing shapes and sizes with a similar build standard and from the same manufacturer; the Kala‘s are not that comparable with the Kamaka’s. The Kala’s are mass made out of laminate material so they won’t sound anywhere near as good as a finely handmade instrument made out of thin solid wood. On the other hand I enjoy my Kala’s - they’re enough for me - and can easily afford them whilst a Kamaka - even if I could get one here in the UK - would uncomfortably stretch my budget. YMMV.

IIRC the original Pineapple Uke (mid 1910’s) was narrower bodied, the very first one was a needs must creation because the seller didn’t have quite enough wood for a figure eight shape - I tried to find a reference but couldn’t. If you look on the Kamaka site at their 1920’s standard and pineapple ukes the pineapples are narrow. http://www.kamakahawaii.com/about/historic-kamaka-ukes.html . I don’t know why Ukes retained the figure eight shape - maybe it’s not really needed on Ukes - and I think that (modern) large bodied pineapples sound good because of their large soundboard and large internal volume.

As for costs I reckon that finished Ukes of Pineapple and Standard shape have very similar material and labour costs. After that you’re paying whatever the going rate is for the particular maker.
 
Last edited:

badhabits

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
1,360
Points
113
Kamaka claims to be the inventor of the pineapple shape (was the first to patent), that’s mentioned on their website. Not sure it takes less material, but perhaps a little less effort bending the sides? They became popular and Sam and co churned out a bunch for tourists (complete with pineapple painted on the top). In general and as several have noted, there is potential for better sound with the pineapple shaped body.
 

pmorey

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Jul 15, 2013
Messages
299
Points
63
This guy seems to like them:

 

achutch3

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2021
Messages
60
Points
18
True or not Kamaka claims to be the original inventor of the pineapple soprano ukulele. For quite a few people in the ukulele world a Kamaka pineapple is a must have within their collection for this reason.

As others have stated the instruments are hand made in Hawaii and therefore cost more than something made overseas. Just as with Kalas made overseas or Kala Elites handmade in California have different pricing. Pineapple soundboard is larger giving it a bigger sound.
 

Wukulele

Active member
Joined
Sep 18, 2018
Messages
339
Points
28
I've been looking at Kamaka Pineapple Ukes, and my first observation is that they seem to be very well-loved by their owners- and secondly, that for what they are- they seem to be very expensive. I mean- well on the north side of a $Grand, for a simple round construction with plain wood- no binding or ornamentation whatsoever- and I'm sure very simple bracing- What am I missing here? Is it just because they're Hawaiian made? And why are people so attracted to this shape? Is it because of better sound due to more volume?
Looking to get educated here a bit please and thanks!
Or one could ask, “why are other ukes priced less expensively?”.
 

Kenn2018

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
4,753
Points
113
I have a 2020 Kanile'a P-1T tenor pineapple that I like a lot. I cant' compare it to my 2017 K-1T because that has the older bracing.
The pineapple has a very full sound, deeper and very resonant. But not "boomy."

I suspect that it is more expensive because of the sound port and that they don't make as many as the double-bout design.