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

Thread: How many surviving Koalana's do we have out there?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Reading, PA
    Posts
    46

    Default How many surviving Koalana's do we have out there?

    I'm curious as to how many survived. Most of the first Koalana's made in Thailand ended up cracking due to climate control issues at the factory. I spoke with a gentleman at the store that sold these a few years back. He said over 90% were returned. Don't confuse these with the Opio line. The Opio line came after they fixed the climate control issues. These were the first attempts in Thailand and they were made out of Sapele. Great sounding instruments. Here are my soprano and concert. I've kept them in a humidified cabinet over the years and have no cracks or issues. Show me pics of your survivors.

    x.jpg

    g.jpg

    v.jpg

    e.jpg

    f.jpg
    Last edited by Wet-Skunk; 07-10-2019 at 09:36 AM.
    ~The Family~

    KoAlana Concert (2012)
    KoAlana Soprano (2012)
    KoAloha Tenor KTM-00 (2014)
    KoAloha Long Neck Concert KCO-02
    Rebel​ Soprano Double Creme
    Pono Soprano MGS
    Islander Soprano MSS-4
    Mainland Soprano Classic (2018)
    Bruko Soprano No. 1
    Bruko Soprano No. 6
    Martin Soprano OXK
    Martin Soprano OX Natural
    Martin Soprano Style 0 (1957-1959)
    Du Barry Soprano (1920's)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Oakland, CA
    Posts
    179

    Default

    Mine survived! However she did have separation anxiety, oops I mean separation issues on the back, and an annoying buzz. So I sent her back to Hawaii for some R&R at KoAloha. Peng (who created Rebel ukes) thought she still deserved a second chance and fixed her up. At first he offered me an Acacia Opio as a replacement but I have sentimental attachment to my KoAlana and I prefer mahogany. No cracks and I am still fond of this Uke. It is strung low g so does not command my attention as much as the high g's. She's camera shy at the moment but here's an old group photo when a friend came over for a playdate with his sapele Opio before they switched to acacia. My Blue Frog is sitting next to KoAlana. The flea and the fluke in the photo belong to the opio with the amber buttons.
    visiting ukes concert.jpg
    KoAlana Sapele Concert -- now known as the KoAloha Opio
    Mainland Mahogany Concert - my knockabout jam ukulele
    Mahalo Pineapple Soprano -- the one that started it all
    Kala Travel Soprano -- tiny profile with BIG sound
    Blue Frog Maple Soprano - Beautiful sonorous sound cannon

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    West Midlands GB
    Posts
    1,832

    Default

    There must have been at least two different versions of ukes produced under the KoAlana name. The ones in the photos above look like decent instruments.

    My experience of the brand was back in (I think) 2007. There was an on line ukulele supplier in London, England, with which I had some dealings. I was looking for a source of ready made necks for making cigar box ukes, and I asked this Ukulele Shop (now no longer trading) if they had any broken or unsaleable ukes. They supplied me with a couple of broken Ohanas, and then one day, a large carton arrived containing five KoAlanas - three sopranos and two concerts.

    These sapele KoAlanas were not suffering from shrinkage or cracking, but the frets were so uneven (correctly placed, but not flat and level) that the ukes were completely unplayable. They were the most badly made ukuleles I have ever seen. Everywhere you looked there was evidence of sloppy workmanship, and the (glossy) finish was splattered with imperfections, runs and inclusions. The fret board had not been masked off before spraying, and the varnish (or whatever it was) had been applied thickly over the frets.

    I was shocked that a premium company like KoAloha would allow their name to be associated with such an inferior product. The following may or may not be accurate, but I was told that KoAlanas originated as a cheap "pirate" product in China, seeking to imitate the KoAloha brand. It was said that KoAloha had them shut down, but some of these instruments (if they could be called that) made it onto the market.

    The proprietors of The Ukulele Shop told me that they had returned all the KoAlana stock that they had received, with the exception of a few that had been sold and not returned. My five KoAlanas had been returned to the store for refund, after the main consignment had been sent back.

    I like a challenge, so I set about trying to make one of the sopranos playable. I scraped the flaking varnish off all the frets, re-seated most of the frets in the slots with superglue, then levelled them off, adjusted the nut, rubbed down the finish with cutting paste and replaced the rubbish strings. It took me at least three hours, but I was astonished by the result. Not only was this thing playable, but it sounded very good indeed. If you looked at it from four feet away, it actually looked quite decent, too! I liked it so much that I kept it for about ten years, before finally letting it go to a friend.

    I also fettled the other four KoAlanas, and sold them off for a nominal sum to members of a ukulele club. All three sopranos sounded really good. The two concerts were not as good, but were tolerable.

    The "second wave" of KoAlanas (as pictured above) have some distinguishing features. The fret board markers seem to be contrasting wooden discs (not white plastic) and the bridge has the name etched into it. They seem to have been produced from a completely different source.

    After I disposed of my KoAlana, I missed it so much that I bought a lovely second-hand KoAloha soprano, which is now my favourite ukulele, bar none.

    John Colterkoalana-ukulele.jpg

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Reading, PA
    Posts
    46

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ukantor View Post
    There must have been at least two different versions of ukes produced under the KoAlana name. The ones in the photos above look like decent instruments.

    My experience of the brand was back in (I think) 2007. There was an on line ukulele supplier in London, England, with which I had some dealings. I was looking for a source of ready made necks for making cigar box ukes, and I asked this Ukulele Shop (now no longer trading) if they had any broken or unsaleable ukes. They supplied me with a couple of broken Ohanas, and then one day, a large carton arrived containing five KoAlanas - three sopranos and two concerts.

    These sapele KoAlanas were not suffering from shrinkage or cracking, but the frets were so uneven (correctly placed, but not flat and level) that the ukes were completely unplayable. They were the most badly made ukuleles I have ever seen. Everywhere you looked there was evidence of sloppy workmanship, and the (glossy) finish was splattered with imperfections, runs and inclusions. The fret board had not been masked off before spraying, and the varnish (or whatever it was) had been applied thickly over the frets.

    I was shocked that a premium company like KoAloha would allow their name to be associated with such an inferior product. The following may or may not be accurate, but I was told that KoAlanas originated as a cheap "pirate" product in China, seeking to imitate the KoAloha brand. It was said that KoAloha had them shut down, but some of these instruments (if they could be called that) made it onto the market.

    The proprietors of The Ukulele Shop told me that they had returned all the KoAlana stock that they had received, with the exception of a few that had been sold and not returned. My five KoAlanas had been returned to the store for refund, after the main consignment had been sent back.

    I like a challenge, so I set about trying to make one of the sopranos playable. I scraped the flaking varnish off all the frets, re-seated most of the frets in the slots with superglue, then levelled them off, adjusted the nut, rubbed down the finish with cutting paste and replaced the rubbish strings. It took me at least three hours, but I was astonished by the result. Not only was this thing playable, but it sounded very good indeed. If you looked at it from four feet away, it actually looked quite decent, too! I liked it so much that I kept it for about ten years, before finally letting it go to a friend.

    I also fettled the other four KoAlanas, and sold them off for a nominal sum to members of a ukulele club. All three sopranos sounded really good. The two concerts were not as good, but were tolerable.

    The "second wave" of KoAlanas (as pictured above) have some distinguishing features. The fret board markers seem to be contrasting wooden discs (not white plastic) and the bridge has the name etched into it. They seem to have been produced from a completely different source.

    After I disposed of my KoAlana, I missed it so much that I bought a lovely second-hand KoAloha soprano, which is now my favourite ukulele, bar none.

    John Colterkoalana-ukulele.jpg
    Ah yes, the Chinese made Koalana's. I'm not too familiar with the story, so my version could be incorrect. I heard that that the Koalana's produced in the Chinese factory was a first attempt by Koaloha to get an affordable uke out to the market. They went with a factory that already made ukes for the market. Regretfully, they were poorly made, and didn't own up to the quality Koaloha was looking for. Thus, on their second go at the Koalana they went the Thai route and trained and set them up properly to make instruments of quality.
    ~The Family~

    KoAlana Concert (2012)
    KoAlana Soprano (2012)
    KoAloha Tenor KTM-00 (2014)
    KoAloha Long Neck Concert KCO-02
    Rebel​ Soprano Double Creme
    Pono Soprano MGS
    Islander Soprano MSS-4
    Mainland Soprano Classic (2018)
    Bruko Soprano No. 1
    Bruko Soprano No. 6
    Martin Soprano OXK
    Martin Soprano OX Natural
    Martin Soprano Style 0 (1957-1959)
    Du Barry Soprano (1920's)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Twin Cities Area, Minnesota
    Posts
    2,067

    Default

    I bought a mahogany Soprano KoAlana—one of the Chinese models—here on UU, and it is great addition to my collection and something special. The biggest issue are some splotches in the finish..something I appreciate. The ukulele isn’t up to KoAloha’s typical build standards, but it is a solid mahogany ukulele and it is fun to have. I plan to upgrade it to UPTs someday. I’m just not in a rush to do so, and would rather swap out my Opios first.
    My ukulele blog: http://ukestuff.info

    My ukulele YouTube channels:

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Posts
    516

    Default

    The KoAloha site still has them as a series, but I haven't seen any offered at the obvious spots. Sorry don't remember if they had one in the showroom when I was there last fall.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Twin Cities Area, Minnesota
    Posts
    2,067

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by merlin666 View Post
    The KoAloha site still has them as a series, but I haven't seen any offered at the obvious spots. Sorry don't remember if they had one in the showroom when I was there last fall.
    KoAlana was moved to Thailand for construction, and then became the Opio...and then returned to a laminate ukulele...and then disappeared...and then was supposed to be back in 2017, but there was a factory fire that took all of the inventory.

    I e-mailed KoAloha the other day about availability of KoAlana...and have not heard back yet.
    My ukulele blog: http://ukestuff.info

    My ukulele YouTube channels:

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Reading, PA
    Posts
    46

    Default

    Here is a link to the original sales pitch for the Thai made Koalana's, Hawaii Music Supply was the sole distributor: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WLeb-O478nk
    Last edited by Wet-Skunk; 07-11-2019 at 07:55 AM. Reason: Added more info.
    ~The Family~

    KoAlana Concert (2012)
    KoAlana Soprano (2012)
    KoAloha Tenor KTM-00 (2014)
    KoAloha Long Neck Concert KCO-02
    Rebel​ Soprano Double Creme
    Pono Soprano MGS
    Islander Soprano MSS-4
    Mainland Soprano Classic (2018)
    Bruko Soprano No. 1
    Bruko Soprano No. 6
    Martin Soprano OXK
    Martin Soprano OX Natural
    Martin Soprano Style 0 (1957-1959)
    Du Barry Soprano (1920's)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Twin Cities Area, Minnesota
    Posts
    2,067

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Wet-Skunk View Post
    Here is a link to the original sales pitch for the Thai made Koalana's, Hawaii Music Supply was the sole distributor: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WLeb-O478nk
    This video caused me to do a search to see if there were any existing videos from the days of the Chinese KoAlanas. I did not find anything...but there is a Chinese KoAlana Soprano, just like mine (not mine) that has been on Reverb for a year. https://reverb.com/item/10461710-koalana-soprano-koa

    One of the unique features of these instruments, other than yellowing splotches of finish, was the gloss fretboard.

    I think the Chinese instruments may be a bit of a ukulele unicorn.
    My ukulele blog: http://ukestuff.info

    My ukulele YouTube channels:

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    Reading, PA
    Posts
    46

    Default

    Thanks for the link. I’ve heard of, but never actually seen pictures of one of these.
    ~The Family~

    KoAlana Concert (2012)
    KoAlana Soprano (2012)
    KoAloha Tenor KTM-00 (2014)
    KoAloha Long Neck Concert KCO-02
    Rebel​ Soprano Double Creme
    Pono Soprano MGS
    Islander Soprano MSS-4
    Mainland Soprano Classic (2018)
    Bruko Soprano No. 1
    Bruko Soprano No. 6
    Martin Soprano OXK
    Martin Soprano OX Natural
    Martin Soprano Style 0 (1957-1959)
    Du Barry Soprano (1920's)

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
  •