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Thread: What brands and models should I consider for a Koa Tenor?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Kansas City Metro
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    39

    Default Advice on brands and models when buying a Koa Tenor?

    We I bought a Pono Acacia ULN4-1 a couple months ago which was my first ukulele. The primary reason I chose this 32.5" baritone is because I am 6’5” and thought I needed the extra size. The lower octave GCEA tuning I ended up with was especially well suited to this model. A couple weeks ago, I purchased a Tenor Outdoor Ukulele for some upcoming travel since I did not want to leave my wood ukulele in the hot car or worry about the dry climate. After playing the Tenor for awhile, I realized it was comfortable to play, but switching between a Tenor to Baritone was not seamless. I sold the Pono to another UU member and am now on the hunt for a wood Tenor. Owning one wood Tenor and one composite polycarbonate Tenor will more than meet my needs.

    I've listed purchase guidelines below as well as a budget, and thought it would be helpful to gather additional input from UU forum members on what brands and models I should investigate prior to purchase. My maximum budget is $1,250 including a case, new or used. I would like to purchase a top, back and sides Hawaiian Koa Ukulele, not necessarily made in Hawaii. I’d like at least 14 frets to the body. I’d prefer a standard-length neck to minimize variation from my Outdoor Ukulele and suspect a production model would be more reasonably priced than a custom design. If a custom shop has a proven design with koa wood, I may consider it, but I don't have the luxury to experiment with beta designs. . I prefer minimal decoration (bling) and would like the natural wood grain to be the focus, but would choose straight grain over the more expensive curly grain. I'm particularly interested in the internal construction used and the type of bracing, with the goal to produce warm and clean tones.

    Since UU members have purchased thousands of ukuleles and have most likely found winners, help me spend my money. What brands and models should I consider?

    The following two features have been added as desired , but they are not required:

    Cutaway body to allow more access to the fretboard

    Slot Head Tuner since I had good results with the one on my Pono ULN4-1


    David
    Last edited by KanzaKruzer; 08-08-2019 at 12:50 PM.

  2. #2

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    As you are looking for instruments to consider and not strictly recommendations I expect you are intending to look further into specs, sound samples, and hopefully work to get your hands on some models. As far as what I have played and your budget of $1250 shipped you are in the range of a new KoAloha KTM-00 as well as a Kanile'a K-1T. Both different instruments but both could be a lifelong instrument. They should be available shipped with case within your budget. Buying used opens up more possibilities. I don’t have first hand experience of any other models with your desired features.
    I hope that give you a place to start, and I’m sure you will get more input from more seasoned players. Keep us updated as you explore the possibilities.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    Kansas City Metro
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    Quote Originally Posted by bf_ View Post
    As you are looking for instruments to consider and not strictly recommendations I expect you are intending to look further into specs, sound samples, and hopefully work to get your hands on some models. As far as what I have played and your budget of $1250 shipped you are in the range of a new KoAloha KTM-00 as well as a Kanile'a K-1T. Both different instruments but both could be a lifelong instrument. They should be available shipped with case within your budget. Buying used opens up more possibilities. I don’t have first hand experience of any other models with your desired features.
    I hope that give you a place to start, and I’m sure you will get more input from more seasoned players. Keep us updated as you explore the possibilities.
    Thanks for the candidates! They are both in my target price range and have the appearance I'm looking for. Sound is different for each, but I will research further. Would be nice to have a cutaway, but that is not required. Plan to research during the next two weeks or so.

    David

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    538

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    Sounds like you are exactly looking for a Martin T1K.

    Your specifications are all met with it:
    1. My maximum budget is $1,250 including a case
    Definitely within your budget but you will need to buy your own hard case. It does come with a well padded gig bag. It’s selling at $539 (without shipping) and the spare could go to your hard case.
    https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...or-ukulele-koa

    https://www.mimsukes.com/listing/mim...g-946/22313494

    2. I would like to purchase a top, back and sides Hawaiian Koa Ukulele, not necessarily made in Hawaii.
    It’s all Solid Hawaiian koa and made in Mexico.

    3. I’d like at least 14 frets to the body. I’d prefer a standard-length neck to minimize variation from my Outdoor Ukulele and suspect a production model would be more reasonably priced than a custom design.
    T1K is 14 frets to the body.

    4. I prefer minimal decoration (bling) and would like the natural wood grain to be the focus, but would choose straight grain over the more expensive curly grain.
    It’s super plain and zero deco with a almost nonexistent finish but it is very well made. You strike gold if there’s any curly grain found in the Martin Mexico made Koa ukes.

    There’s plenty of reviews for it.
    https://www.gotaukulele.com/2012/09/...eview.html?m=1
    aNueNue Moon Bird US200 || Kamaka HF-1 || Martin S-1 Uke || Eddy Finn EFTS-20-S || Kala KA-SLNG || Martin C1K Uke || Yamaha GL1
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  5. #5

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    I have a Koaloha KTM-000 which I purchased from HMS. (https://www.theukulelesite.com/ ) I really love that instrument and fell in love with their video- sound sample. I would suggest watching/listening to videos of various Koa models. At your price range you can get one of the K brands from Hawaii. Good luck
    K
    Sopranos, Concerts, and Tenors including Baritone body at a Tenor Scale - 4 String, 5 String and 8 String :-)
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  6. #6

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    It didn’t occur to me at first, as mine is mahogany, but the Romero Creations Tiny Tenor also comes in Koa. There is one at Elderly for $799 and they come with a nice padded soft case. It is a boat paddle design if that makes a difference. They are manufactured in Vietnam I believe. Tics all the boxes on your list and also worth of consideration.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2016
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    Honolulu, HI
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    That's a budget that opens up a lot of possibilities. I'd watch The Ukulele Site for a while and wait for something to really strike your fancy, maybe in the Hawaiian section of the site.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
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    Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
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    Ooh, nice! With your budget you open up some nice options! I would definitely keep your eye on the marketplace, and as already mentioned if you can't go directly to a shop spend some time researching and listening to videos (which I'm sure you're doing already).
    Good luck and let us know what you go for!
    ~ "Music washes away the dust of everyday life" ~

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  9. #9
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    The KoAloha KTM-00 & Kanile'a K1-T are both great options.

    Another Possibility is the Kala Elite series that is made in California. You can get a Koa Elite 3 (top of the line) with your budget.

    If you are not in a hurry, you can get some pretty outstanding used instruments that cost more new but fall within your range used. Like Kamaka & Mya Moe. Plus some custom made Like Mike Pereira and others.

    The models available really open up if you are willing to consider other woods such as: rosewood, ebony, mahogany bodies; with spruce, cedar, redwood tops. And dozens more.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    1,488

    Default

    If I had that kind of budget, I might look at something like this - http://www.pohakuukulele.com/golden-atomic-baritone

    You lucky man!

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