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Thread: k brand or custom

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
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    I have both; K-Brands and Luthier-Made.

    If you like the Koa, more "Hawaiian sound," a K-Brand is a good choice. Though a Ko'olau is probably outside your price range, even used. Most of them have other wood combinations, but those usually go for more as well. Ko'Aloha, Kanile'a & Kamaka all have base-level all-Koa models that are very nice.

    If you like Mahogany: LoPrinzi; Kala Elite; Martin; Romero; Mainland all have very good models within you price range.

    Luthier-made gets trickier. Mike Pereira makes some small-batch "Cali" instruments that are terrific. Fred Shields & Bonanza will make instruments to your specs in their standard models. Used "custom" or "spec" luthier instruments will mostly be more expensive that $1K but sometimes you can luck out. Have a list of ones you want that you can pounce on if and when they are listed. True customs are made to a customer's specifications. While a "spec" instrument is a speculative instrument the luthier makes for a show model or he makes it to his own specifications to sell where his markets are.

    Personally, I went with K-Brand tenors as my next step up from my Ponos.

    Good luck. Do your research. Enjoy the quest.
    Last edited by Kenn2018; 11-20-2019 at 11:01 AM.
    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.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  2. #22
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    NH
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    Ordering a new Ko'olau would answer both in that it would be both a "K" brand and a custom. (You might need more than a grand to make it happen though.)
    Kamaka HF3, Tenor
    Martin S1, Soprano
    Ko'olau C1, Concert

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    790

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    Quote Originally Posted by kkimura View Post
    Ordering a new Ko'olau would answer both in that it would be both a "K" brand and a custom. (You might need more than a grand to make it happen though.)
    Are we allowed to call a Ko'alau a custom? From my experience with them, you plunk down $4500 and you get to choose which of the pre-determined options you want. I personally wouldn't call that a custom uke. My Kamaka has a spruce sound board and that is definitely not standard, but it isn't a custom uke. With what I am calling a custom uke, you determine all its facets and develop a game plan with the builder. That seems different than clicking on pull down menus.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    134

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    You can get a new Iriguchi for around the $1,200 mark.
    I think I have pineapple UAS

    Ukes in order of purchase
    2018: Córdoba concert 15CM, Luna soprano, Islander tenor AT-4, Iriguchi concert “Ma’Alaea” - Birdseye maple top and poplar back Aug 2018
    2019: Mahalo soprano Kahiko, KoAloha koa pineapple soprano KSM-01 (made in 2012), <recovered> abused but unused gold label Kamaka koa pineapple, *rough* 1930’s Kamaka “Historic Mahogany Pineapple” with Philippine mahogany and wooden peg tuners.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    the wild west, Canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    Are we allowed to call a Ko'alau a custom? From my experience with them, you plunk down $4500 and you get to choose which of the pre-determined options you want. I personally wouldn't call that a custom uke. My Kamaka has a spruce sound board and that is definitely not standard, but it isn't a custom uke. With what I am calling a custom uke, you determine all its facets and develop a game plan with the builder. That seems different than clicking on pull down menus.
    In this case, it depends on how the OP defines custom.
    Glenn

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    Are we allowed to call a Ko'alau a custom? From my experience with them, you plunk down $4500 and you get to choose which of the pre-determined options you want. I personally wouldn't call that a custom uke. My Kamaka has a spruce sound board and that is definitely not standard, but it isn't a custom uke. With what I am calling a custom uke, you determine all its facets and develop a game plan with the builder. That seems different than clicking on pull down menus.
    There's custom and there's custom. Some luthiers let you pick from a particular piece of wood out of an assortment, etc. However, others will allow selection of species of wood but not the individual board.
    K
    Sopranos, Concerts, and Tenors including Baritone body at a Tenor Scale - 4 String, 5 String and 8 String :-)
    For Sale: Seagull Nylon String
    For Sale: National Mahogany Resonator
    For Sale: Gold Tone Resonator

  7. #27
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    May 2013
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    NH
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    Quote Originally Posted by ripock View Post
    Are we allowed to call a Ko'alau a custom? From my experience with them, you plunk down $4500 and you get to choose which of the pre-determined options you want. I personally wouldn't call that a custom uke. My Kamaka has a spruce sound board and that is definitely not standard, but it isn't a custom uke. With what I am calling a custom uke, you determine all its facets and develop a game plan with the builder. That seems different than clicking on pull down menus.
    Just looked at the Ko'olau website and couldn't find any "pull down" lists of standard options to choose from. Yes, each model has choices you can ask for with the number of choices increasing as the models increase in cost. Is that custom? Yes if you consider that very few if any top luthiers will allow a customers total design control to the detriment of the finished product's function. For example I'm pretty sure no one would let me order a soprano scale instrument with a cello size body made of balsa.

    Ko'olau does list a number and email address for customers to contact them and talk about what they would like.
    Kamaka HF3, Tenor
    Martin S1, Soprano
    Ko'olau C1, Concert

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    San Diego
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    Quote Originally Posted by keenonuke View Post
    There's custom and there's custom. Some luthiers let you pick from a particular piece of wood out of an assortment, etc. However, others will allow selection of species of wood but not the individual board.

    Some would define custom as you discussed every single detailed with the luthier to your liking from the beginning till the end, and some would consider a ukulele made by a certain luthier custom.

    Most luthiers have their own standard models, and custom from them are tweaking here and there on top of their standard model. Lots of time you can find new uke from Moore Bettah/ Devine/ Petros/ Steve grimes new on HMS or other shops in Honolulu, and I don't know if people would call them custom or not, but they are definitely dream ukes for most people here. So it really depends on how you want to define it. Even if it is a used custom, it does not mean it wouldn't suit you well.

    As many said, the custom is not necessarily better than a standard production k brand. The k brand is safer and easier to access than custom, so perhaps you could start by looking for a local store that carries them. At some point throughout your journey you probably still get into the custom world anyway!
    Last edited by BBJohn; 11-20-2019 at 05:58 PM.
    -John
    ---------------------------------------

    Tenor :
    Jeb Weimer Tenor
    - Koa - 2016
    Anuenue Moonbird UT200 - Spruce & Indian Rosewood - 2019
    Pono ATD - Acacia - 2013

    Baritone:
    Pono PBO-E
    - Mahogany - 2013

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Posts
    29

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    Farida makes a range of ukes. 1,000 will put you at or near the top of their line. Elderly Instruments carries them and the store is known for its integrity. They will give you an honest description.

    Good luck!

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    West Midlands GB
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    If you are spending around $1,000 you would be well advised to try before you buy. At that level, you are unlikely to find a bad ukulele, but personal preferences become very important. My favourite uke is a KoAloha soprano, but not everybody would share that opinion.

    Even buying a bespoke instrument - one that you have commissioned and specced - is a leap of faith. It might not live up to your expectations. I've seen it happen numerous times.

    John Colter

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