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Thread: Buying problem: Kamaka or Kanile'a?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
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    Europe
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    48

    Default Buying problem: Kamaka or Kanile'a?

    I'm fairly new in this lovely forum. I have been reading a lot and absorbing information as much as I can. This is my very first post!

    Last year I just picked up an ukulele in my classroom (I'm a teacher) and it was love immediately. Within a week I purchased my very own first ukulele and since then I just can't put it down. I have been taking ukulele classes and I practise when ever I can. Every day.

    I'm a very trorough person so I have studied A LOT about ukulele. And very early on I had this idea that maybe, if this love for ukulele sticks around, I would get my self a Kanile'a K1 (or any other Hawaiian made koa ukulele, but Kanile'a speaks to me somehow the most). But so far I have not been able to justify the price. And I don't have an opportunity to try different K brands, or practically any all solid wood instruments here where I live. So I have to buy online.

    Sorry for this long long story, I'll get to the point. It happens that I have been given an opportunity to buy a used Kamaka HF-3 tenor. It's made in 2015 and it is practically like new. Seldom used and in great condition. And half the price of a new Kamaka tenor!

    I have listened every sound sample that I could find. Sometimes I love the Kanile'a sound, sometimes Kamaka wins, sometimes I find KoAlohas the best. And have read all the reviews and opinions and got my self a bit confused.

    So I think I'll go for Kamaka. But will Kanile'a always be at the back of my head whispering?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Location
    Durham, UK
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    276

    Default

    Welcome to UU, Loska!

    Try the Kamaka out and see what your gut tells you. Normally you can't go wrong with Kamaka, Kanile'a or KoAloha. They are all superb instruments. Even if Kanile'a keeps popping up in your dreams you'd have a K brand already. If you can justify the expense to get a second uke from these iconic brands then you make up your mind later whether or not to own both or sell the Kamaka at that moment. However, don't hesitate for long as I expect it will be snatched up quickly.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Pickering, ON, Canada
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    5,992

    Default

    The trouble with listening to sound samples on YouTube videos are numerous. The quality of recording equipment, the proper use of it, the skill of the player and even the song played. I have owned and or played all three K brands, they all sound a bit different but all have excellent tone. You would be happy with any of them, all are of the highest quality in sound materials and workmanship.

    Perhaps you have heard of a fellow by the name of Jake Shimabukuro.........not too bad of a player. He plays Kamaka, seems to make it sound pretty good. All teasing aside I really love Kamaka and at that price it is a no brainer to buy it. You can turn around and sell for what you paid if it doesn’t work out.

    One caveat about Kamaka, they come with black nylon strings that a lot of people don’t like the sound of too much. Change them to Florocarbon, Worth or Oasis brand and it transforms the sound of the instrument. Best of luck on your decision
    Last edited by DownUpDave; 02-26-2020 at 01:22 AM.
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields walnut pineapple super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Enya Nova *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Posts
    159

    Default

    I have a Kanilea and a Kamaka. They're both great. But I love the HF-3 (w/ Worth brown). For me and my limited experience, nothing seems to "sing" to me (almost without playing :-) like the Kamaka at the middle frets.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Woodstock NY USA
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    651

    Default

    The sound is one thing and playability is the other. Each neck is slightly different. The width at the nut can make a difference as well as the shape of the neck in your hand. If you buy used and you can play the ukulele before purchasing, that is ideal. With a new instrument you often get a period to try and return. I have lusted after several ukuleles in the past to find that the neck shape, nut width and/or tone doesn’t suit me. For instance, I found out I prefer a 14 frets to the body on concerts. Other players don’t care.

    There is nothing like actually playing an instrument compared to listening to a sound sample. I can’t play like Corey at HMS. Does the ukulele strum as well as being finger picked? Does it match the style of music you play? Can you sing with it? Just some questions I consider.

    I had a friend try one of my ukuleles and exclaim, “this is so easy to play compared to mine.” It was one I purchased from HMS so the set up was excellent—so set up is important. Mim will also take care of set up. Just some things to consider.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Canada Prairies, brrr ....
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    The differences are much more about personal preference than actual quality differences. There is not objective "better" or "worse", and when I play various models side by side in a uke store I'd have a very hard time deciding which one to take home as each has features and qualities that I would prefer over the other. Both are familiy operations, and the Kamakas put their name on the headstock and have pride in more than 100 years of tradition that has survived many other brands, while Kanile'a is a relatively new brand and they have changed many things in the way they build their ukes compared to how they were made decades ago. Some of these changes I like and others I don't. I have a white label Kamaka tenor that was well used for more than 40 years and it's my favourite uke. But I certainly would not complain if I also had Kanile'a ... if you have to make the choice look at your personality: are you more attracted to tradition and keeping with things that have worked well for a long time, or more into innovation, change, and risk? The answer to that should help with your decision.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    the we(s)t coast, Canada
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    Oh, Kamaka or Kanile'a? What a horrible problem!

    I'll add a vote for what Dave said. You're getting a bargain for the Kamaka, so if you decide you really wanted the Kanile'a, you can sell the Kamaka for what you paid for it.
    Glenn

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    NorCal
    Posts
    530

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    Since you are guessing between the two, you would guess right if you bought either. At half price, just buy it!

    And yes, Kanile'a would still be whispering, but a little softer for a while. Every time you pick up the Kamaka, it will drown out the whispering. Many in this forum solve the problem by buying both. So get the Kamaka now and decide if you want the Kanile'a down the road.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    137

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    Kanilea and Kamaka both sound great. When I see professional ukulele players in concert, they are playing one of these brands more often than any other brand. They do have different shaped necks, so one or the other may be noticeably easier or more comfortable for you to play. For that much money, I would try hard to try the instruments out in person before buying.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Posts
    1,023

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    I'm a simple person and my response is simple: get the Kamaka. It has the quality, it has the tradition, and the price is superb. After a few years of coveting and collecting ukuleles, I am down to two ukuleles and I will be that way forever:

    1. A Kamaka HF-3L
    2. A custom uke, based on the Kamaka but with a cutaway, cooler wood selections, and certain idiosyncratic visual tweaks.

    The Kamaka is all I need. I'm not deprecating other ukuleles; I am merely saying that the Kamaka fulfills me.

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