How is your ekoa instrument aging?

Shaw

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For those of you with ekoa instruments like the Blackbird Farrallon or Clara, how are they aging? We must be close to 10 years on some of these instruments. Do they live up to the reputation of competing with carbon fiber?

I’m a small collection, primarily concert player. My main ukulele is a Collings UC1. I sincerely love this ukulele. It checks all my boxes. That said, I find myself feeling some anxiety about taking care of it because it’s so much nicer than any other instrument I’ve owned. Specifically, I’m meticulous about humidity and surface scratches which sometimes detracts from my limited playing time. The ukulele one of my few sources of peace and sometimes I wonder if I’d be better off with a Clara.
 
I have both a Clara and Blackbird. Both with gloss sunburst finishes. Neither has any issues. If I had to pick only one to keep it would be the Clara. It's louder (and Blackbird has a soundport) and very comfortable (assuming a strap is used). And if I wanted to minimize the care to keep it "pretty" I would go with the stock color and finish. No fingerprints and would hide scratches better.
 
I have both a Clara and Blackbird. Both with gloss sunburst finishes. Neither has any issues. If I had to pick only one to keep it would be the Clara. It's louder (and Blackbird has a soundport) and very comfortable (assuming a strap is used). And if I wanted to minimize the care to keep it "pretty" I would go with the stock color and finish. No fingerprints and would hide scratches better.
That’s a great thought. I certainly like the gloss sunburst look, but I can see how that would be more susceptible to scratches. I’ve also learned that, personally and over time, I care much more about playability and tone than aesthetics.

If the ekoa truly can withstand humidity and temperature changes over time like carbon fiber, it might make an ideal workshop ukulele while the Collings stays in the house. I’ve used cheap beaters for that in the past, but I don’t have too many indulgences and could probably get away with 2 nice instruments that serve different functions.
 
I have a Farallon from fall of 2016, and other than a few scratches on the top there is no change I can see or hear. Mine is a matte finish, as that's all that was available then, and I prefer its understated elegance. It's by far the best sounding uke I own, but I have to admit that if I'm going to a jam I usually grab the Klos Hybrid Tenor. The Farallon may be almost "indestructible", but it's at least $1900 to replace - so we're talking Kamaka prices here.
 

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I have a Farallon from fall of 2016, and other than a few scratches on the top there is no change I can see or hear. Mine is a matte finish, as that's all that was available then, and I prefer its understated elegance. It's by far the best sounding uke I own, but I have to admit that if I'm going to a jam I usually grab the Klos Hybrid Tenor. The Farallon may be almost "indestructible", but it's at least $1900 to replace - so we're talking Kamaka prices here.
Excellent points. Even in all carbon fiber, the Klos concert is $500+ cheaper than the Clara, which is not insignificant. Klos also offers the new carbon timber and that narrows the gap a bit. The Clara just has a je ne sais quoi in aggregate that the Klos seems to lack for me, but I could be convinced otherwise.
 
I am taking a break from the editing of my review video of the Klōs Concert (I don’t think people know how long it takes to do the editing on these videos), and just looking here on UU as a momentary diversion. That is slated to post next Friday (1/5/24) and I’ll follow up with a head-to-head battle with my Blackbird Clara.

My Clara is an older model, and I have no way to tell how old it is, but it does have geared tuners. I bought it used at a great price. It is the stock model with no radius, I think it predates the sunburst.

I’ll let the head-to-head speak for itself, but if you look at the entry models, there is a $500 difference between the Klōs and the Blackbird.

But the question is about durability over time, and I don’t see any issues with my older Blackbird—and its age is why I think I was able to purchase it for the price I paid for it. While I adore that instrument, I cannot see paying more for a new base Clara than a KoAloha or Kamaka. I understand inflation and I understand the cost of living in California…but the K brands are based in Hawaii, which I do not believe is any lower in cost of living than California…and may cost even more.

I once said that if I had to limit my collection of instruments to two instruments, it would be two Clara models; one high G, one low G. That still might be true. And don’t get me wrong—I LOVE my KoAloha models, and wouldn’t part with them unless I had to (e.g. extreme financial issues or death), but the durability and sound of the Clara models was unmatched. I might still go that way if I had to; but the Klōs cannot be ignored—and the fact that Klōs are now offered at The Ukulele Site also reflects the quality, sound, and playability of the instruments.

I would steer most people interested in a Blackbird to watch the used market—and to be cautious as people are asking for much of the initial price (or more) on used models, and there are very few ukuleles that I would buy used that were selling for that much (Just buy new at that price).

Do they live up to competing with carbon fiber? Yes, it is clear why Blackbird went with eKoa. I would love to review one of their Carbon Fiber models versus an eKoa (I know I could always ask Steve/Besley to borrow his for such a comparison), but I am sure there were sonic benefits with eKoa. I don’t know what “Carbon Timber” is, and have asked Klōs if I can do a head-to-head comparison.
 
I had a sunburst, glossy Fallon tenor but sold it cause I prefer to use my old black carbon fiber tenor. It still looked great but I kept going back to my first one. I also have an EKOA Blackbird Savoy guitar from when they first came out. It has the cleanest sound. Even though I have wood guitars like Taylor and others, I find I always go back to the Blackbird EKOA. Seems to be as good now as it was when I got it.
 
I have both the carbon amd the ekoa tenor ules. Carbon since 2017 and ekoa since 2022.

These are my only ukuleles if you don’t count a banjolele. I gig with them, travel, etc etc. They keep their form and intonation. Both like to excel with different sets jof string brands. Both are set for low G.

I used to have a Koaloha…great uke…sold it during a period when I thought I could not maintain natural wood ukuleles.

Today I can take care of a traditional ukulele, I would even consider a top notch 6 string but all in all I am happy with the Blackbirds. If I had to nitpick I would complain about the tuners being relatively looser than I want it to be. I think they may be adjustable but I have not had the presence of mind to deal with ot.
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Weren't there some issues with the KLOS customer support for some issues that affected some of their ukes?

I think it was a pretty hot topic a few years ago. Has it all been ironed out? Or am I completely misremembering things?
 
I’m a small collection, primarily concert player. My main ukulele is a Collings UC1. I sincerely love this ukulele. It checks all my boxes. That said, I find myself feeling some anxiety about taking care of it because it’s so much nicer than any other instrument I’ve owned. Specifically, I’m meticulous about humidity and surface scratches which sometimes detracts from my limited playing time. The ukulele one of my few sources of peace and sometimes I wonder if I’d be better off with a Clara.
I have a Clara and it is a fine ukulele. But it sits next to my PC and is NOT my main player since I have others that I enjoy more.

It sounds like the Collings is "The One" for you. It is then unlikely that you would like the Clara more (maybe the same). But in a side by side, odds are you will prefer your Collings. If so, then enjoy it. Be meticulous, but realize that you can enjoy it just as much if it got a scratch on it. It should last your lifetime. And I assume humidity in Florida is not as critical as if you were in the desert or lived where it snows regularly in the winter. Here in the Bay Area in NorCal, I always have the two I am playing (in addition to the Clara) out on wooden stands and ignore humidity changes since it is usually from 40 - 65%.

Certainly, so not sell the Collings before you get a Clara or any other.
 
I am taking a break from the editing of my review video of the Klōs Concert (I don’t think people know how long it takes to do the editing on these videos), and just looking here on UU as a momentary diversion. That is slated to post next Friday (1/5/24) and I’ll follow up with a head-to-head battle with my Blackbird Clara.

My Clara is an older model, and I have no way to tell how old it is, but it does have geared tuners. I bought it used at a great price. It is the stock model with no radius, I think it predates the sunburst.

I’ll let the head-to-head speak for itself, but if you look at the entry models, there is a $500 difference between the Klōs and the Blackbird.

But the question is about durability over time, and I don’t see any issues with my older Blackbird—and its age is why I think I was able to purchase it for the price I paid for it. While I adore that instrument, I cannot see paying more for a new base Clara than a KoAloha or Kamaka. I understand inflation and I understand the cost of living in California…but the K brands are based in Hawaii, which I do not believe is any lower in cost of living than California…and may cost even more.

I once said that if I had to limit my collection of instruments to two instruments, it would be two Clara models; one high G, one low G. That still might be true. And don’t get me wrong—I LOVE my KoAloha models, and wouldn’t part with them unless I had to (e.g. extreme financial issues or death), but the durability and sound of the Clara models was unmatched. I might still go that way if I had to; but the Klōs cannot be ignored—and the fact that Klōs are now offered at The Ukulele Site also reflects the quality, sound, and playability of the instruments.

I would steer most people interested in a Blackbird to watch the used market—and to be cautious as people are asking for much of the initial price (or more) on used models, and there are very few ukuleles that I would buy used that were selling for that much (Just buy new at that price).

Do they live up to competing with carbon fiber? Yes, it is clear why Blackbird went with eKoa. I would love to review one of their Carbon Fiber models versus an eKoa (I know I could always ask Steve/Besley to borrow his for such a comparison), but I am sure there were sonic benefits with eKoa. I don’t know what “Carbon Timber” is, and have asked Klōs if I can do a head-to-head comparison.
Fantastic insight! Thanks for taking the time to share this. I’ll look forward to that head-to-head.
 
I have a Clara and it is a fine ukulele. But it sits next to my PC and is NOT my main player since I have others that I enjoy more.

It sounds like the Collings is "The One" for you. It is then unlikely that you would like the Clara more (maybe the same). But in a side by side, odds are you will prefer your Collings. If so, then enjoy it. Be meticulous, but realize that you can enjoy it just as much if it got a scratch on it. It should last your lifetime. And I assume humidity in Florida is not as critical as if you were in the desert or lived where it snows regularly in the winter. Here in the Bay Area in NorCal, I always have the two I am playing (in addition to the Clara) out on wooden stands and ignore humidity changes since it is usually from 40 - 65%.

Certainly, so not sell the Collings before you get a Clara or any other.
This is where I’m landing. Perhaps I can justify a Clara in addition to the Collings (especially if it lives in the workshop like I mentioned earlier), but I’d probably regret letting go of the Collings. I think I’ll keep my eyes on the secondary market for a used Clara at a more justifiable price.
 
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