Dark versus light koa

rainbow21

Well-known member
UU VIP
Joined
Sep 30, 2018
Messages
2,758
Reaction score
4,289
Location
NorCal
On the HMS/TUS website today, there are two new concerts. One (#22261) is reasonably dark appearing. Next to it is a much lighter one (#22264). My question is whether the appearance is more due to the wood pieces they choose or to the dyeing process they select. Do they have a choice to make it lighter or darker?

Having asked this, which do you prefer? I definitely like the darker koa ukuleles enough to not purchase the lighter shade ones. I have owned two darker KoAlohas which I considered beautiful.
 
Could be natural, could be dyed, could be both.

I have a very blonde koa Kanile'a tenor which I adore. I will also, once again, have a favorite, very dark natural koa Kamaka tenor.

It seems as though the mid tone striped koa with a sapwood center stripe is favored these days. It's not my favorite, but can be beautiful.

Of the two concerts you listed, I mush prefer the darker one.

Screen Shot 2022-01-30 at 3.45.23 PM.png Screen Shot 2022-01-30 at 3.45.40 PM.png
 
... here's a light one on Mim's , it's $50 less than the darker one on her site .
If the sound is the same I would consider the lighter ones , even at the same price .

1_a75ad6d5-ec76-40ab-a660-d83b599f353b_940x.jpg
 
Last edited:
I think that koa comes in many colour variations and mostly has a beautiful golden colour, with more or fewer dark stripes. I don't think it is very common to dye it, though I suspect that Taylor has dyed a few of their koa guitars dark to make them look more uniform and like kitchen cabinets in small condos.
 
I had dark KoAloha's but I purchased an Anniversary Tenor and asked Pops to select one for me. The one he selected is pictured here. I will also show my previous. At first I was not sure, but I have come to love the look of it. It makes it totally different and it sounds lovely-- just lovely.

View attachment 138556View attachment 138557
I'm quite tired of the darker koa with the center color with sap streak. (Even though I have a Kanile'a pineapple like that.) But that's just me.

I really like the blonder wood. Especially with the single dark stripes near the outer edges of the lower bout. It's very striking. It will also get a little darker over time. Especially if you keep it outside of its case.
 
Last edited:
On the HMS/TUS website today, there are two new concerts. One (#22261) is reasonably dark appearing. Next to it is a much lighter one (#22264). My question is whether the appearance is more due to the wood pieces they choose or to the dyeing process they select. Do they have a choice to make it lighter or darker?

Having asked this, which do you prefer? I definitely like the darker koa ukuleles enough to not purchase the lighter shade ones. I have owned two darker KoAlohas which I considered beautiful.
I really like the mid- darker tone for koa wood- and not too "curly" or stripey. Here's a wood database entry on koa wood; seems it is not considered endangered but the supply is going down due to pasturing and the baby koa plants are tasty fodder for ruminants.
https://www.wood-database.com/koa/
 
Yes, lots of variation in koa, I can appreciate both plain or striped varieties. Here's 3 Kanilea tenors at Aloha City Ukes. From these, I'd probably prefer the models with more grain.


View attachment 138543
The OHA model still hasn’t grown on me. But the price does make it prettier!
 
Those ACU photos looks really weirdly distorted, the uke in the first pic appears to have an upper bout as big or bigger than the lower. I believe the prices on mims simply reflect the old and new Kamaka msrps.
I've noticed that about almost all the photos ACU posts. I think it's because the person taking the picture is standing up, pointing the camera down towards the uke on the floor. As I swipe to see additional pics on ACU's site, the pics get much better.
 
Koa has a lot of variations, which leads to some being darker and some being lighter (blonde). I spoke with someone at Kanile’a about it, and they said there are some tonal differences. Darker instruments have a darker/warmer sound while blonde instruments are brighter. Also, sapwood is harder than straight grain, which may impact the soundboard a tad.
 
It seems you see a lot more highly figured wood than years back. FWIW- I recall an experienced builder of fine ukes saying that in his opinion the less figured woods sounded better. Of course, that is all subjective. Sometimes we listen with our eyes!
 
Top Bottom