Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Comparing Kanilea Sizes and Finish Options

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    CH
    Posts
    1,926

    Default Comparing Kanilea Sizes and Finish Options

    My wife and I liked our first Kanile'a Ukulele so much that we wanted to try their different sizes and finish options. By now, we have a Premium Concert with their UV Gloss finish, a plain Tenor with a Satin finish, and a Premium Baritone with what they call UV Silk finish. We bought them from different places and have no relation to the company whatsoever.

    Here are some things we notice when comparing them to each other and to other makers. Of course, our thoughts are strictly subjective, and they rely only upon the specific instruments we own. Nevertheless, I hope this will be helpful to people who want to find out more about their different options.

    Playability
    One of the first things to notice is that Kanile'a Ukes are very light. In fact, they are the lightest we own in each size (Concert 480 gr, Tenor 560 gr, Baritone 670 gr). This might have to do with their own T.R.U. bracing system that has holes drilled through the braces.

    Another thing that is pretty noticeable is that the neck/fretboard on a Kanile'a is wider than on most other Ukes (38 mm instead of 35 mm). This makes it easier to fret certain chords cleanly, especially on the smaller sizes. On the other hand, the wider neck sometimes hurts at the heel of my index finger, but that might as well be due to poor technique on my part. Still, I don't have this issue with Ukes that have a more rounded neck profile.

    Their Gloss finish, I assume, might be what some consider sticky when sliding up and down the neck, but that is nothing I'm concerned with.

    Looks
    Kanile'a has arguably some of the nicest Koa that you'll see from a production line. If looks are important to you, then it may be worth investing in their Premium wood upgrade. However, I've seen a lot of nice figures on their plain entry level Ukes as well. My Tenor, for instance, has less curls, but a nice chocolate color with dark vertical stripes. In addition to this, I really like the fact that the guys at Kanile'a try to match the front and back, which isn't always the case with other makers.

    Another feature that distinguishes Kanile'a from other competitors is their finish. They offer several different options, of which some have been discontinued and others changed, so I'm not sure if my following description is still valid in all cases.

    Their UV Gloss is perfectly flat and mirror-clear, like a sheet of glass. Not sure if it is thicker than others, but definitely nicer than the somewhat porous finishes you see on other brands. Unfortunately, our Concert has some very bad scratches, or rather imprinted lines, in the finish on the back, perhaps from holding it against a buttoned shirt? Never read about others having this problem, so it might just be the one we got.

    The Satin finish almost feels like no finish at all. It looks and feels very woody. The finish on my Tenor is oil based, I think, but from what I read, they might have changed to UV curing, too.

    The third and last finish option that I have tried is called UV Silk. From what I've been told, this finish is the same as their UV Gloss, but sanded in a different way. Unlike their Gloss, it looks kind of milky from certain angles. Every single finger print shows, and it's almost impossible to rub them off with a towel, they just smear.

    Kanile'a offers a wide range of models with added bling, but the three Ukes we have are all from their basic K1 line, as we like the plain look and don't expect the more adorned models to sound any better.

    Kanile'a Ukes have a rounded back that is quite noticeable when comparing to other brands. Their body shapes vary from size to size: The Concert features kind of a Dreadnought pear shape, the Tenor is flat at the bottom, and the Baritone has a more rounded lower bout. All of them have 14 frets to the body, which is somewhat unusual for the smaller sizes.

    Unlike most other Ukes, Kanileas have an additional marker at the third fret. Also, their Baritones and Guitaleles have a marker at the ninth instead of the tenth fret. Perhaps this is supposed to ease the transition from or to the Guitar world.

    As much as I like their overall design, I'm turned off by the cheap plastic tuner buttons and bridge pins. At the price you pay for a Kanile'a, I'd be expecting some nicer materials.

    Sound
    I'm not a fan of the Aquila strings that Kanile'a puts on their Ukes, so I usually change them. Unfortunately, intonation was pretty poor with some brands of strings, which is awkward, since I use the very same sets on other Ukes with no such problems. Is it possible that Kanile'a is building to specs that work almost exclusively with Aquila strings? Really, I have never noticed such a dramatic difference when changing strings on other Ukes.

    Apart from that, I like the sound, especially for strumming. I tend to believe that the different finishes do affect the tone: While the Satin sounds very open and "woody", the Gloss seems to be more compressed and focused, but sweet and with a bell-like ring. I assume the curved back helps with projection.

    Summarizing thoughts
    I like the fact that Kanile'a is coming up with fresh ideas like their own bracing system, different models and new finish options. I see room to improve with their plastic buttons and pins as well as with their choice of strings. What sets them apart from other competitors are their nice woods, some specific design features and, most noticeably, their lightweight.

    If I were to chose just one, it would probably be a Concert. I like their Tenor, but a good Concert is harder to find, and I really like the features of the Kanile'a, with that Dreadnought shape, geared tuners, and 14 frets to the body. As for the finish: Despite the fact that ours got dings all over the back, I think I would pick Gloss, because it's very smooth and really stands out against the finish you see on other brands in the same league.

    Again, these are my own personal thoughts about these instruments. I bet others have had different impressions and experiences. Would be interesting to hear them...

    Kanilea_Concert_Tenor_Baritone.jpg
    Last edited by Rakelele; 12-13-2015 at 09:58 PM.
    Enjoying instruments by - Beau Hannam - Jay Lichty - Jerry Hoffmann - Luis Feu de Mesquita - Kala - Kamaka - Kanile'a - KoAloha - Ko'olau - Moore Bettah - Pono - Romero Creations - and others

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    honolulu
    Posts
    106

    Default

    Nice review!
    Agree with most and would not hesitate buying another.
    I would consider Kanile'a the 'premium' of the three K brands and the two I brands considering all the configurations available.
    I am in fact considering ordering a custom from them next year.
    30 sets of strings and counting...


    I take pictures too...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Brazil
    Posts
    751

    Default

    Brilliant! It was very helpful with the different sizes and finishes compared. 'grats on your Kanilea family.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Posts
    489

    Default

    Great review. Thank you. Kanilea's generally have the most appealing sound of all production ukes to my ear. Now, with that said, I haven't played just a whole lot of Kamakas. When I play a kanilea everything just sounds and feels right.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    South Florida
    Posts
    1,291

    Default

    In my opinion, they are definitely the best looking of the bunch and is the best looking Uke I have. The glossy finish, to me, is beautiful, and really adds to it's appeal.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Saint Andrews Bay, FL
    Posts
    3,884

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rappsy View Post
    In my opinion, they are definitely the best looking of the bunch and is the best looking Uke I have. The glossy finish, to me, is beautiful, and really adds to it's appeal.
    Yep, Kanileas are definitely the best looking. their gloss finish and the koa they use is great. I dislike pin bridges, but they do look nice. I give the sound edge to Koaloha, but their fit and finish is not up to Kanilea. Kamaka may be the best all around, but I think I like their concert better than their tenors. This is just my opinipn based on a very small sample.
    there is no substitute for LOVE

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    13

    Default

    Kanile'a s sound is smoother than Kamaka's....there is a depth to them that you cannot get with other K ukes. You can even hear it when you listen to Aldrines old videos when he is playing a Kamaka and now strictly the Kanile'a.

    I've often wondered about the Aquila strings though and your thoughts were quite helpful. Guess I'll stick with them.
    All in all I believe that the Kanileas are "the best all around".

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rakelele View Post
    I'm not a fan of the Aquila strings that Kanile'a puts on their Ukes, so I usually change them. Unfortunately, intonation was pretty poor with some brands of strings, which is awkward, since I use the very same sets on other Ukes with no such problems. Is it possible that Kanile'a is building to specs that work almost exclusively with Aquila strings? Really, I have never noticed such a dramatic difference when changing strings on other Ukes.
    From my own experience. I bought Kanilea KPE-T (Premium), very expensive model (over $2000), and it had huge intonation issues with 2nd and 3rd strings. Strings were Aquila. Perhaps it was on display too much and strings were unevenly stretched / or just too old.

    Replaced with Oasis: and*absolutely* *perfect* intonation!!!

    However, the same didn't work with their Super Tenor, Oasis strings; I think I need thicker strings. 1st string has intonation issues; other strings are Ok. Perhaps I can try only thicker 1st string. Not a problem for me at all. Will try Worth at first (they have several thickness varieties)

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •