Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 20

Thread: Kamaka Koa?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Buffalo, NY
    Posts
    942

    Default Kamaka Koa?

    Why is it that Kamakas tend to have a more bland koa than lets say KoAloha or Kanile'a? Is that intentional or is the koa that is available to them just less eye popping?

    I also noticed that Kanile'a has some of the best looking koa which brings me to my next question. Can you have access to a bunch of koa trees that give better looking koa or is it random within each tree? I'm trying to wrap my mind around a forest of trees having better looking wood than another forest, but maybe that is possible?
    Just Feel The Groooooove

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Kent "The Garden of England"
    Posts
    259

    Default

    There is a train of thought that believes the less figured the soundboard the "better", because the straighter grain makes it stiffer.

    No idea myself as I've only got one koa ukulele.

    Maybe that's why Kamaka choose to use less figured koa.
    Pono MCD

    KoAloha KTM-00

    Headcorn Ukulele Group http://www.headcornukulelegroup.org/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Catskill Mountains, NY
    Posts
    1,896

    Default

    I doubt that it makes a difference, But Joe Suozo (Kanile'a) has planted thousands of koa trees. I had heard that it was illegal to cut down a koa. In order to use the wood, it had to be on the ground naturally.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    West Midlands GB
    Posts
    1,418

    Default

    Which do you think is best - to choose with your eyes or with your ears?

    Some years ago, a very well respected ukulele maker showed me one of his latest creations. It was a soprano made from highly figured koa. It had abalone rosette and binding, and some other lovely embellishments. He handed it to me, non-committaly, and said, "What do you think of this?" After studying its appearance, I played it briefly and it sounded dreadful. Imagine trying a dozen painted Mahalos and finding the worst sounding one - that's what it sounded like.

    "What's wrong with it?" I asked. He smiled. "Just the wood. Sometimes it looks great but sounds lousy."

    I would always be suspicious of a uke with highly figured wood, unless it's a veneer. My favourite uke is my KoAloha which has some very nice character in the grain, but also sounds wonderful. It is possible for a uke to be pleasing in both departments.

    John Colter

    ps. I found this video review by Mims. It features my actual KoAloha. I believe I am the third owner, and feel very lucky. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ky-_wQ42aRI
    Last edited by ukantor; 12-02-2018 at 03:30 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Pickering, ON, Canada
    Posts
    5,127

    Default

    I know where you are coming from Kyle. No doubt Kanilea tends to use some of the prettiest koa. It has a lot to do with the companies philosophy and where and whom they access their wood from. You cannot walk through a forest and reliably identify which koa tree will produce the curliest most beautiful wood. Joe Souza obviously has access to mills that have a high grade of koa and he has standing orders for the best stuff that is identified after it is cut.

    Two words to all those that think only plain koa make great sounding ukes......Moore Bettah. Nuff said
    Last edited by DownUpDave; 12-02-2018 at 03:37 AM.
    Ukuleles.............yes please !!!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Ma., Ga., Fl.
    Posts
    1,733

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DownUpDave View Post
    Two words to all those that think only plain koa make great sounding ukes......Moore Bettah. Nuff said
    Very true!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    NH
    Posts
    1,009

    Default

    Maybe letting the luthier choose the wood is like letting letting a singer choose the key.
    Martin OXK Soprano
    Kamaka HF3 Tenor
    Eastman EU3C Concert
    Martin S1
    Martin T1K

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    CH
    Posts
    1,518

    Default

    I think Kamaka is just saving the most figured wood pieces for their top range high price instruments such as the Jake models. Google "Kamaka" and "Jake" and you'll see that they do use some very figured Koa as well - just not on their regular line.

    While it is pretty easy to figure (pun intended) that plainer pieces of wood are easier to work with, I would think that there are plenty of great luthiers who prove with every instrument they build that they can make figured wood sound as good as plain wood and vice versa.

    As for your question about the occurrence of curly Koa: Naturally, this will come down to every individual tree, its age and where it grows. Nevertheless, I'd assume that the colors and figures of wood are also influenced by factors like soil, exposure to sun and level of elevation as well as genetically, so it would seem only logical to me that the trees that grow next to each other have often similar characteristics.
    Last edited by Rakelele; 12-02-2018 at 06:41 AM.
    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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    New Hampshire, USA
    Posts
    340

    Default

    Most Koa is plain. Highly and nicely figured Koa is more expensive, so I would only expect to see highly figured Koa on the most expensive instruments. I prefer the top and back to have a moderate amount of figuring, otherwise, it looks too busy. I do like highly figured sides, (it really looks great on the curves).
    Current Herd:

    Sopranos:
    Recent Martins: 3 Centennial, 5K, 3 Cherry and OXK
    Vintage Martin: 1950s #1
    Kiwaya KTS-7
    Laughlin 3K, (1920 Martin 3K Bow Tie and Kite copy, 1 of 2) and Mahogany 3

    Concert:
    Magic Fluke Flea

    Tenor:
    Kiwaya KMT-K, strung with Aquila Reds, sweet as can be
    Pono Master Series Tenor, Cedar/Mahogany
    Romero Creations Replica, Mahogany

    Tiple:
    Yasuma (Martin T28 copy, Rosewood with Spruce top)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Buffalo, NY
    Posts
    942

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DownUpDave View Post
    I know where you are coming from Kyle. No doubt Kanilea tends to use some of the prettiest koa. It has a lot to do with the companies philosophy and where and whom they access their wood from. You cannot walk through a forest and reliably identify which koa tree will produce the curliest most beautiful wood. Joe Souza obviously has access to mills that have a high grade of koa and he has standing orders for the best stuff that is identified after it is cut.

    Two words to all those that think only plain koa make great sounding ukes......Moore Bettah. Nuff said
    Good point on the Moore Bettahs. I just figured a company like Kamaka must use a blander koa on purpose I guess. I have seen their more figured koa ukuleles, but for the most part it seems like they use less curly koa. I mean go on theukulelesite. Most of their new Kamakas look identical.

    Quote Originally Posted by Django View Post
    Most Koa is plain. Highly and nicely figured Koa is more expensive, so I would only expect to see highly figured Koa on the most expensive instruments. I prefer the top and back to have a moderate amount of figuring, otherwise, it looks too busy. I do like highly figured sides, (it really looks great on the curves).
    Oh of course it must be more expensive. But it seems like the base model Kamakas are more expensive than base model Kanile'as despite plainer looking koa.
    Last edited by Kyle23; 12-02-2018 at 11:47 AM.
    Just Feel The Groooooove

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

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

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
  •