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Thread: Tenor Kamaka vs Koaloha

  1. #1
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    Default Tenor Kamaka vs Koaloha

    Hi, it's been a while and I am getting back to the uke. Loved my Kamaka tenor before I sold my koa wood one. Also interested in the newer Koaloha tenors. Thought the older Koaloaha was too long but the newer one might be more comfortable.

    Any thoughts between the two?? Mainly play during quiet times and play low G.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Both world class ukes, for sure! Grain of salt here, since I've never actually played either, but I like the look of the newer Koaloha tenors, with the more rounded body shape. Supposedly, the newer Koalohas sound a bit different, too, with maybe a bit less low end, more balanced.

    If you previously owned a Kamaka tenor, the Koaloha may feel substantially different at the nut. The Koaloha will have the wider 38mm nut width, but the string spread at the nut (outside G to outside A strings) is only about 27mm, which is very cramped for some (including me). 27mm string spread is the same as I see on many cheaper import ukes with 34-35mm nuts. It's personal preference, those features don't bother some, but others may have a tough time with it.


    K-Brand headstocks.JPG
    Last edited by Ukecaster; 09-16-2020 at 04:59 PM.
    John

  3. #3
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    I have never personally (or impersonally) played a Koaloha but here's my input on the Kamaka.

    You say you play in quiet times, but how quiet do you want to be? I ask because my Kamaka isn't quiet. In my living room, I can turn on youtube and play 70's Scorpions or Ronnie James Dio/Randy Rhoads from the 80's and no one's the wiser. However if I start finger picking modes or arpeggios of minor add9 chords, then my wife is at the threshold with flames emanating from her eyes asking "Are you trying to wake me up!?"

    I even have my Kamaka downtuned three half-steps so that the strings aren't very tight...still the sustain and resonance is enough to wake an angel and turn her into a demon.

    I haven't really noticed a big difference in nut width. I take my cue from Sophokles who states that mankind is deinos--or uncanny. Part of that uncanniness is a lack of a proper place in the universe and therefore very adaptable. so I have never really appreciated nut width except that I do know that my Kamaka's A string is close to the edge and I willfully pull it off the fret board sometimes to get an affect that is similar to a bend.

  4. #4
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    Tough choice. My Kamaka is my favourite tenor and my KoAloha my favourite concert size uke. The Kamaka is definitely a lot louder I don't even know how to play that thing quietly. And yeah after visiting the Kanile'a factory and playing a bunch of them I think that they actually have the most awesome tenor, and I think I want one...

  5. #5
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    I have both Kamaka and KoAloha, although not in tenor size. I play concert and standard soprano sized Kamakas (HF-1 and HF-2) and long neck KoAloha (KSM-02).

    My ukes are pretty new (purchased within a month of each each other) and they still have their EOM strings and are not worn out. The KoAloha is easy to like more than the Kamaka at first; but its glass-breaking, crystal sound soon wears me out. I find myself playing the Kamaka with its balanced tone much more often than the KoAloha.

    I can play the Kamakas very quietly if I want to. It actually has a good response (well mannered) when played softly or hard; lots of depth to the sound. IMHO, the Kamaka beats KoAloha especially when played softly as the tone is more dimensional.

  6. #6
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    Ko'Alohas are known for volume. I have a 2016 KCM-00, which is their concert and all reviews I've read prior to purchasing rave about the volume. My RT experience, yeah it projects. I'm assuming a KTM from Ko'Aloha will be louder. Personally like my KCM-00 sound over two Kamaka tenors I've demo'd.

    Also, any uke can be played "quietly" with a light strum+chuck combo.

    Can't go wrong either way. Both are some of the best quality/sounding ukes on the market.

  7. #7
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    I have had both tenors strung with Uke Logics with a wound low g. I just sold my (2010) Kamaka HF-3 earlier this week. They are both great. Don't think you could go wrong with either. My Koaloha is the anniversary silver series so it is the new design. If I was to compare the two, I would say sound-wise, they are more similar then different. Very smooth, resonate, and on the louder side. I think the Koaloha is a little more punchy and had slightly more volume. But the Kamaka sounded a little more fuller. I think it because the body is bigger, both wider and deeper. My Koaloha looks like it could be a concert when they are next to each other. Both have great playability and are very comfortable. I agree with ukecaster that the string spacing might be tighter on the Koaloha compared to the Kamaka. A little weird at first but I got used to it.

    You commented on quite times. Not sure if you asking if its good for playing quietly? I would say yes or maybe. But what is nice about both is that you can step on it and play super loud. I don't really have that same experience with my Kanilea.

    You might ask why did I sell the Kamaka. I have a bad case of UAS and commissioned a custom uke and wanted to offload one of my ukes to help pay for it. To me, both sounded similar but I favored my koaloha more because it was newer and had the ebony fretboard and headstock. Really superficial but that's what happened.

    P7160647.jpg
    Last edited by deznuchs; 09-16-2020 at 07:33 PM.

  8. #8

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    When it comes to tenors, I prefer Kamaka. Sopranos and concerts are more of a debate, though. KoAloha’s bracing, tone, and volume seem particularly well-fitted to the soprano and concert sizes.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by deznuchs View Post
    I have had both tenors strung with Uke Logics with a wound low g. I just sold my (2010) Kamaka HF-3 earlier this week. They are both great. Don't think you could go wrong with either. My Koaloha is the anniversary silver series so it is the new design. If I was to compare the two, I would say sound-wise, they are more similar then different. Very smooth, resonate, and on the louder side. I think the Koaloha is a little more punchy and had slightly more volume. But the Kamaka sounded a little more fuller. I think it because the body is bigger, both wider and deeper. My Koaloha looks like it could be a concert when they are next to each other. Both have great playability and are very comfortable. I agree with ukecaster that the string spacing might be tighter on the Koaloha compared to the Kamaka. A little weird at first but I got used to it.

    You commented on quite times. Not sure if you asking if its good for playing quietly? I would say yes or maybe. But what is nice about both is that you can step on it and play super loud. I don't really have that same experience with my Kanilea.

    You might ask why did I sell the Kamaka. I have a bad case of UAS and commissioned a custom uke and wanted to offload one of my ukes to help pay for it. To me, both sounded similar but I favored my koaloha more because it was newer and had the ebony fretboard and headstock. Really superficial but that's what happened.

    P7160647.jpg

    I love this pic. and it is actually very interesting. I didn't realize how much bigger the Kanile'a body is and how much smaller the KoAloha body is. I know their bracing is pretty different and the KoAloha uses slightly thicker edges without kerf lining (?) I think.

    I have an older KoAloha tenor, and two Kamaka tenors. The KoAloha is boomier and with more bass. It is also louder. I think the newer body style tames that down and emphasizes more of the mid and high notes so it is more balanced. I don't think you can go wrong. I don't know about the new ones, but the old KoAloha tenor neck is slimmer than the Kamaka which is a little more beefy.

    Good luck!
    Everyone I know who is into the ukulele is 'crackers' so get yourself a few and enjoy yourselves - George Harrison

    Some of my faves right now: *Kamaka HF-3D2I *Kamaka HF-3D Anniversary *Kamaka HB-2D *Sumi Kobo Spruce/Maple Tenor *Blackbird Farallon Sunburst *Blackbird Clara *KoAloha KTM-00 *Concert Flea

  10. #10
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    I bought a KoAloha tenor scaled concert body solid acacia.......... & my UAS stopped, (it might work for you too).
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

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