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Thread: Why friction tuners?

  1. #1
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    Default Why friction tuners?

    Specifically, why does Koaloha still use friction tuners on their concert ukes? I have a nice mango tenor Koaloha with geared tuners so, when eyeing up the possibility of adding a concert Koaloha to the herd, was surprised to see the friction tuners on that model.
    Klos Tenor (carbon fibre)
    KoAloha Tenor (mango)
    Maui Music Tenor (koa)
    Lone Tree Tenor (driftwood red cedar, black cherry, western maple)
    Kamaka Long Neck Soprano Pineapple (koa)

  2. #2
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    My understanding is a combination of looks (rear-facing, specifically), weight, and cost. I recall an interview with one of the KoAloha folks sometime last year (or 2019? I have lost track of time...) where they were asked about this. They said that they have not yet found an alternative that was cost effective (or some phrase like that) but that they are working on it. I think it was an episode of the Ukulele Site's YouTube "podcast", but I don't recall which one.
    Mainly a concert player.

    Beansprout alto (myrtle) | Martin Konter | Kala Elite Soprano | Rebel Double Cream mango concert
    KoAloha Silver concert | Blackbird Clara | Kamaka HF-2 (special) | Kanile'a K-1 C | Bruko #6
    Anuenue UC200 Moonbird Concert | UkeSA Pineapple Sunday concert (acacia) | Pop's Pineapple Sunday (koa)

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluze View Post
    My understanding is a combination of looks (rear-facing, specifically), weight, and cost. I recall an interview with one of the KoAloha folks sometime last year (or 2019? I have lost track of time...) where they were asked about this. They said that they have not yet found an alternative that was cost effective (or some phrase like that) but that they are working on it. I think it was an episode of the Ukulele Site's YouTube "podcast", but I don't recall which one.
    How "cost effective" does it have to be for the prices that Koaloha charges? Don't Kamaka and Kanilea use planetary or geared tuners on all their ukuleles these days?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by man0a View Post
    How "cost effective" does it have to be for the prices that Koaloha charges? Don't Kamaka and Kanilea use planetary or geared tuners on all their ukuleles these days?
    That is a question that I am afraid *I* can't answer.

    I get where they are coming from, as far as the cost argument goes. There is a substantial difference in cost between friction tuners (even really good ones) and, say, Gotoh planetary tuners. At the same time, for a premium instrument, with a premium price, that cost difference for the tuners just doesn't seem nearly as important.
    Mainly a concert player.

    Beansprout alto (myrtle) | Martin Konter | Kala Elite Soprano | Rebel Double Cream mango concert
    KoAloha Silver concert | Blackbird Clara | Kamaka HF-2 (special) | Kanile'a K-1 C | Bruko #6
    Anuenue UC200 Moonbird Concert | UkeSA Pineapple Sunday concert (acacia) | Pop's Pineapple Sunday (koa)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by man0a View Post
    How "cost effective" does it have to be for the prices that Koaloha charges? Don't Kamaka and Kanilea use planetary or geared tuners on all their ukuleles these days?
    I always wondered why car manufacturers went cheap on a part that cost less than a dollar more. I was told that you multiply it times millions of vehicles and it starts to add up... never quite bought into the argument.

    KoAloha uses the frictions on their sopranos and concerts. And they are some of the best friction tuners out there. They likely started with them 25 years ago and had few issues. Many do not like geared tuners sticking out on these sizes and the balance is changed. The Gotoh planetary tuners have become popular the past few years. But adding what might be another $50 - 100, supply issues, and redesign considerations is something I am sure they have considered. Their Silver Anny sops and concerts have black geared tuners to match the headstocks and the Red Label Silvers have Gotohs.

    They have limited production and sell them all. That may enter into this discussion as well. Or maybe they still have a stock of thousands they have to use up.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by man0a View Post
    How "cost effective" does it have to be for the prices that Koaloha charges? Don't Kamaka and Kanilea use planetary or geared tuners on all their ukuleles these days?
    Let's see, I guess Kanile'a and Kamaka are the main competition.
    Let's also assume that using Gotoh UPTs add $100 cost to the KoAlohas to allow them to keep their gross margin the same.

    Currently, Kamaka HF-1 is $1000, Kanile'a K-1S is $900, and KoAloha KSM-00 is $825.

    Kamaka HF-1 comes with a hard case, assuming it is worth $75 (because it is a very nice case and you'll want a nice case to go with your nice uke), that brings the Kamaka price to $925.

    Kanile'a K-1S comes with a soft case, assuming it is worth $35 (because it looks just like the $35 soft cases I see on Amazon), that brings the Kanile'a price to $865. However, chances are, you want a hard case for it, so truly you have to put in another $50-$100; anyway.

    KoAloha KSM-00 becomes $925 with Gotoh UPt tuners. Compare it to Kamaka at $925 and Kanile'a at $865.

    I guess the big questions is...
    Will you buy the KoAloha at its new price?
    Last edited by clear; 01-06-2021 at 03:30 PM.

  7. #7
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    BTW, just to comment on the KoAloha's friction tuners. I own a KoAloha KSM-02, their longneck soprano, which has the same scale length as the concert.

    I don't find the friction tuners very difficult to use. It took a bit of getting used to, which lasted maybe 2 days. I must admit that I can't as easily adjust them to within +/- 0.5 cent accuracy, but the same could be said of the Gotoh UPTs.

    KoAloha's friction tuners aren't bad.

  8. #8
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    For me having friction tuners would be a plus!

  9. #9
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    Good quality friction pegs are light and easy to use. On the few ukuleles I've had with guitar-style tuners I have almost invariably ended up replacing them with friction pegs, out of preference. The only exception has been a Romero Creations XS Soprano, which is enough of an oddball that the decent tuners it has aren't worth the faff of changing.

    There are plenty of people who see quality friction pegs as a plus. Kiwaya offer both sorts on some of their lines, the guitar-style versions denoted with a -G I believe.
    "If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair." - Samuel Johnson

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluze View Post
    ...cost effective...
    Yep That's you answer. A few dollars for friction, close to $100 for Gotohs.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

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