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Thread: Beginner - Koa Pili Koko or Mainland

  1. #1
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    Default Beginner - Koa Pili Koko or Mainland

    I've been 'researching' what a good beginner Uke would be and seem to be settling in on either the Koa Pili Koko or the Mainland Uke.

    These have about the same price points - are both solid wood.

    I really love the look and reviews I've seen of the Koa Pili Koko - but there are enough notes related to cracking that it has raised a concern. Is it a legitimate concern?

    ALso - on the KPK - it looks like I would need to replace the nut and saddle (eventually). while probably not a big deal - as a beginner it is one more thing to deal with.

    The Mainland looks like it is ready to go - and well made. I'm guessing the major difference is the type of wood (I'd go with the Mahogany over the Ceder).

    As for size - I'm heavily leaning towards the tenor only because I seem to be fairly 'fat fingered'. If someone would be able to convince me that I won't have any fingering differences with a concert I would LOVE to save the $$$ and have something a little more 'traditional'.

    Thanks - this forum and Ukulele Underground is GREAT!

  2. #2
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    Where is Hobbit when you need him??

    Plenty of us "Fat Fingered Folk" play Sopranos too....

    Not being "catty" just doing my part to end the FFF myth...
    Last edited by freedive135; 03-06-2009 at 08:52 AM.
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  3. #3
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    i'm with you freedive. i feel more at comfort with a soprano than my current concert. even looking at buying a sopranino.
    200 years of Unification. 117 years of ILLEGAL OCCUPATION.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by luigidk View Post
    I've been 'researching' what a good beginner Uke would be and seem to be settling in on either the Koa Pili Koko or the Mainland Uke.

    These have about the same price points - are both solid wood.

    I really love the look and reviews I've seen of the Koa Pili Koko - but there are enough notes related to cracking that it has raised a concern. Is it a legitimate concern?

    ALso - on the KPK - it looks like I would need to replace the nut and saddle (eventually). while probably not a big deal - as a beginner it is one more thing to deal with.

    The Mainland looks like it is ready to go - and well made. I'm guessing the major difference is the type of wood (I'd go with the Mahogany over the Ceder).

    As for size - I'm heavily leaning towards the tenor only because I seem to be fairly 'fat fingered'. If someone would be able to convince me that I won't have any fingering differences with a concert I would LOVE to save the $$$ and have something a little more 'traditional'.

    Thanks - this forum and Ukulele Underground is GREAT!
    I was looking at a KPK but the cracking issues caused me to hold for now. THe mainland ukes look great and I spoke with Mike @ www.ukerepublic.com and he just got some of the mainlands in stock and he was blown away at their sound and looks. Now I have to decide if I want to keep saving for that KoAloha or drop some dough on a mainland uke. I would go with the mainland.

    As far as size. I am a 5'9" 265 lb fat finger man that owns a soprano, concert, and tenor. I learned how to play on a concert and then upgraded to a tenor (prefered size) but I travel with my soprano (fairly new size for me) and my concert (which I prefer to travel with). I'm not going to lie to you . I still butcher chords on the soprano at times b/c I don't play it that much. The concert can give me about 15 minutes of headaches until I adjust to it's smaller size. If this will be your first uke purchase, your fingers won't know anything but what you teach them. Save the money and go for the concert, you will not regret it.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by luigidk View Post
    As for size - I'm heavily leaning towards the tenor only because I seem to be fairly 'fat fingered'. If someone would be able to convince me that I won't have any fingering differences with a concert I would LOVE to save the $$$ and have something a little more 'traditional'.
    The main differences between tenor and concert are body size and scale length. Scale length will affect how close the frets are to each other, but that doesn't make it any harder to play with fat fingers. (As HaoleJohn points out, it does cause temporary problems with muscle memory as you switch between sizes.) Neck width is the main thing that will make it harder to cram your fingers next to each other for crowded chords, and that's usually consistent between uke sizes. (It may vary slightly from brand to brand though.)
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  6. #6
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    I think the KPK cracking concern is legitmate. So if you live in a dry climate, Mainland might be safer. They're more or less the same ukes as Bushman ukes and I haven't read much about Bushmans cracking.

    As for scale, I'd recommend a concert or smaller to start out. Tenors have higher string tension and could make it more difficult or less fun to play for beginners. I know when I started I definitely enjoyed tenors less than the other scales. I now play tenors most of the time but it definitely took some time to get accustomed to the higher string tension. From a personal standpoint, the main difference I feel between concert and tenor is the string tension. Once it gets past the concert scale length, I don't find them to feel all that different in terms of fingering (unless you're trying crazy 7+ fret stretches, in which case concerts are better).
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  7. #7
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    I actually own both in Concert size. In my opinion there is no need to ever change the nut & saddle on the KPK. It projects just fine as is, and I'm guessing it contributes to the nice warm tone.
    My Mainland is mahogany, and sounds very different from the KPK. More undertones & crisper. Different, but not better/worse. Stay here long enough and you will realize you need both!
    If "fat fingers" is a real issue, the KPK has a fatter neck with more spacing between strings.
    Looks are as different between the two as sound. My Mainland has a gloss finish and looks very sharp with the rope inlay. The KPK is equally nice, but in a craftman's sort of way. Not as perfect, but nice workmanship like its gently curved back.
    If I was forced to keep one, it probably would be the Mainland...but hopefully I won't ever need to!

  8. #8
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    I'd lean towards the Mainland too if cracking is a concern for you. If for no other reason than peace of mind. Both would seem to be good value for the price point and it would otherwise seem to me to come down to what you're looking for in terms of sound.

    And can we officially end the semantic nonsense and come together as a community and end the discriminatory practice of using the term "upgraded to a tenor". You switched to a longer scale. You didn't get a superior instrument. M'kay?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanark View Post
    And can we officially end the semantic nonsense and come together as a community and end the discriminatory practice of using the term "upgraded to a tenor". You switched to a longer scale. You didn't get a superior instrument. M'kay?
    My last "Upgrade" was to a KoAloha Soprano!!!!
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  10. #10
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    So upgrading to bigger pants isn't good too?

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