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Thread: Finally got to try a Kamaka

  1. #1

    Default Finally got to try a Kamaka

    This past weekend, I happened to be in Greenwich Village and popped into Matt Umanov Guitars to do some browsing. Since I was waiting for my wife and my sister to finish window shopping, I had some time to kill, so I got to try a Kamaka HF-3 tenor uke.

    I've been waiting to get the chance to try one, particularly because I own a Koa Pili Koko tenor and wanted to find out for myself if there was any truth that they even hold a candle to Kamakas, since KPKs are solid Acacia -- a relative of the Koa family.

    I was more than pleased to find that there is truth to the claims that KPKs are similar (NOT better!) in tone to Kamakas. To me, the main differences were build quality (the HF-3 was flawless) and the Kamaka was louder, due to its deeper body (KPKs are shallower in depth).

    The best part, for me, is that it re-affirmed to me that my KPK was an excellent purchase. I mean, I simply can't afford to spend more than a grand on a Kamaka. But it's good to know that what I've already got is pretty darn good...

    Play on!
    Sean V

  2. #2
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    I'm gonna by playing a Kamaka HF-3 for the first time tomorrow

  3. #3
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    Aloha Sean,
    The KPK's are the best bang for a buck in my opinion. I have a Tenor Deluxe and a Concert Standard and love them both. I recently bought a Solid Koa, Slotted headstock, Double Puka Mele Tenor with Fishman Matrix Pickup that is an amazing instrument, both in looks, sound, and playability but paid 4 times as much as the KPK. That said, I still love my KPK for what it is and the sound is pretty darn close but alot quieter........................BO.................

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    I just want to point out that trying Kamaka's out in stores you get the standard Kamaka strings and in my opinion they do not do the Kamaka justice. But those KPK's are a good bang for the buck. I am glad you are enjoying yours. I had a concert that my kids are enjoying.
    RoxHum

    "Music self-played is happiness self-made"


    Sopranos: Donaldson (Myrtle), Kamaka (Koa), 2 Mainland's (Cedar/Rosewood & Mahogany),
    Nahenahe (Mahogany) (Thank you Stan)
    Concert: Mainland Classic Mahogany (low G)
    and one flashy white and gold Titano accordion

  5. #5
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    I have had two KPK's and a ton of Kamaka's...ha ha KPK are the best bang for the buck out there...I recommend them....both of mine were so different in sound even thnough they were
    the same models...one was bright and the other was deep and rich....

  6. #6
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    I've had the Koa Pili Koko soprano, concert and tenor some months ago, send by Jason, all standart finish. The tenor really has the best sound of three sizes in comparison with other hawaiian K brands: warm sound, loud, woody tone, good shape in the front and in the back curved body and in the neck, good finish. I just do not regret having sold it because it was to help to paid my HP-3. The KPK concert, compared to other K concerts, is also very good, but not as much as the tenor (the KPK concert that I tested had some buzz on the G string). The KPK soprano was one of the worst of the sopranos I've ever played, almost completely silent, no tone with many strings (worth, koolau, aquila). The acacia koa in the soprano was very thick, thicker than the acacia koa in the tenor model.
    Brazilian uke player
    Tenor Kamaka HF-3
    Soprano Famous FS-1

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by roxhum View Post
    I just want to point out that trying Kamaka's out in stores you get the standard Kamaka strings and in my opinion they do not do the Kamaka justice. But those KPK's are a good bang for the buck. I am glad you are enjoying yours. I had a concert that my kids are enjoying.
    I hear this over and over,.....that Kamaka ukes arrive new with their strings that are not the best sounding ones for these instruments. And i have to wonder WHY? Why isn't a respected maker using whatever string set sounds BEST to market and present their lineup?

    I just don't get it,.....great sounding strings are dirt cheap compared to what their instrumnets run,......certainly "cost" isn't a serious factor. I do think they do their customers a disservice, however, in that they are almost forced to upgrade strings immediately on what was a rather substantial purchase to begin with.

    I do realize everyone has a favorite string set, and will gravitate toward that selection,.... so maybe Kamaka figures they can't have a string set on that would match everyone's ultimate choice. Fair enough,....except that whatever string set they put on seems to NEVER be the string set of choice to an end user. Something wrong there.....

    It would make more sense to use whatever set seems to be popular for that make, and as i don't own and have never played a Kamaka not sure what most folks use.

    But common sense tells me if Kamaka presents their brand at a show and is using inferior strings that don't let their work shine,......they for sure aren't presenting their product line in the best way. Maybe it's tradition,.....the strings used now are the same as used for decades. Strings have improved over the years, and whether it's Aquila Nylgut, Worth, or some other string maker,.........Kamaka should go with a better sounding string. Their customers deserve that.

    BTW,.....anyone know what strings came on the Jake model tenors?
    Last edited by joejeweler; 11-29-2011 at 08:12 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joejeweler View Post
    I hear this over and over,.....that Kamaka ukes arrive new with their strings that are not the best sounding ones for these instruments. And i have to wonder WHY?
    Having owned (so far) 4 Kamakas and having immediately changed the strings out on each one, I wonder the same thing. My best guess is that maybe for more traditional Hawaiian playing the sound of the stock strings is considered optimal? That, and the fact that in the hands of a *really good* player the stock strings don't sound bad at all. I'm just not that good yet and can use all the help I can get

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by janeray1940 View Post
    Having owned (so far) 4 Kamakas and having immediately changed the strings out on each one, I wonder the same thing. My best guess is that maybe for more traditional Hawaiian playing the sound of the stock strings is considered optimal? That, and the fact that in the hands of a *really good* player the stock strings don't sound bad at all. I'm just not that good yet and can use all the help I can get
    I think even just with strumming, the blacklines I have on mine have a life of their own that the stock strings didn't have. More resonance, fuller sound, more sustain, the whole package. I can't really see that the stock strings would be superior for Hawaiian style play, though I could be wrong. But I agree, I loved my Kamaka with the stock strings, but when I changed them... WOW. There was no comparison. It was a totally different instrument. I even had a spare set that came with mine that I threw on before I put my new set of Blacklines on, just to see if the other set made a difference. I felt the same as I did before. It still sounded good, but dead compared to my other strings.
    A ukulele pickin' dreamer and disturber of the peace.

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    Quote Originally Posted by janeray1940 View Post
    Having owned (so far) 4 Kamakas and having immediately changed the strings out on each one, I wonder the same thing. My best guess is that maybe for more traditional Hawaiian playing the sound of the stock strings is considered optimal? That, and the fact that in the hands of a *really good* player the stock strings don't sound bad at all. I'm just not that good yet and can use all the help I can get
    Maybe they got like a few million yards of those stings in bulk spools sitting in inventory to use up first before changing 'em.

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