NUD - Ko'olau Tenor Hawaiian Ash

Kei

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Yesterday I received in the post the storied Ko’olau K100 Hawaiian Ash Tenor that had been listed for sale in the UU Marketplace. (click link for photos/video)

I have put quite a few hours in since this arrived first thing yesterday. It exceeds expectations that were admittedly pretty high. It is one of the finest musical instruments I have ever played. The thing about ukuleles like this one - they ruin it for most of the rest of the builders out there. As you all probably already know, each of the Four Ks are bringing their own strengths to the ballgame and that's why I can't really say I place one of them above the others.

For some it is unthinkable to own an ukulele without having played it first. And while I travel more than most I don’t seem to get to many places where there are a lot of ukulele sellers (the exception being Maui – but those seem to be either Mele or hanging on a wall behind the counter). And I live in Oklahoma at the moment so the best I can hope for here is that an independent store might have one ukulele that isn’t a Kala or Ohana or any of the other usual suspects. This almost never happens. And Ko’olau in Oklahoma? Ha. I cannot say with any certainty this is the only one, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were.

So, this is the first Ko'olau I have had the pleasure of playing. And what I have learned in the past 24 hours is what Ko'olau are bringing is the build of a finely crafted guitar. Which shouldn't be surprising since Noa Bonk also builds guitars. It has the same solid feel (and substantial weight by comparison) as my Collings dreadnought. Which means the sustain just keeps on going and I can feel the vibration through my body even when fingerpicking. This ukulele is nothing short of amazing.

All credit to @Rkrout for his patience through my not insignificant dithering. Outside of the tuners (which are obviously of the highest quality available - and I'm getting counseling for my Gears-n-Ears Aversion), there is nothing about this thing that I would change. The back of the headstock and the heel are satin finish while the back of the neck is glossy (!) from extensive play. Awesome. The color shifting is something I find endearing; this thing is beautiful but not a showpiece. I wouldn't change any of this character and unique sophistication. It is a player from top to bottom. If this thing could talk - and I kind of think it has been talking to me for a day now - I think it would say "I am supposed to be played, and frequently." And so it shall.
 
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Wow! Looking back at the seller post... lucky you! Great price on a very high performance instrument. I can be a bit selective when looking at used instruments, but Ko'olau and Pono are great because you can trust the construction even if you don't necessarily know the history of the instrument--if it was stored the best, how hard it was played, etc. These are like the Red Wing boots of ukes, or some other insanely reliable, well made brand. Huge congrats on your find and new addition to your family!
 
As one of a few past owners of this uke I agree with everything you say about it. It was one of my main players until my Chuck Moore came to me. Like you said, a great uke can make your other great ukes spend to much time in their cases which is the only reason I sold this one and my Collings. I love seeing this one being enjoyed by a fellow UU strummer! Enjoy... Rick
 
As one of a few past owners of this uke I agree with everything you say about it. It was one of my main players until my Chuck Moore came to me. Like you said, a great uke can make your other great ukes spend to much time in their cases which is the only reason I sold this one and my Collings. I love seeing this one being enjoyed by a fellow UU strummer! Enjoy... Rick
So YOU are partly responsible for this sweet glossy neck! And the sweeeeet open sound.
 
It's quite a beauty! Congratulations!
 
So YOU are partly responsible for this sweet glossy neck! And the sweeeeet open sound.
I love this aspect of our community. I think it's so cool how many of our members enjoy playing ukuleles that have passed through other members' hands. It's good juju.
 
Aha! So you're the one who posted the 4K pic on FB that I commented on. Congrats! I can honestly say, I don't recall seeing a pic of all the 4K's together in one pic by a single owner. That's pretty cool!!

I just got my Ko'olau a couple weeks ago now and can attest to both of these two statements...
Which means the sustain just keeps on going and I can feel the vibration through my body even when fingerpicking.
When I was first playing an arpeggio, I was vibrating so much that I stopped and thought to myself "what was that?!?" Then I played again and realized that the uke actually vibrates up the neck quite a bit, making my left hand vibrate!! 🫨 I've played plenty of ukes and never recalled that sensation before. Pretty wild!

The back of the headstock and the heel are satin finish while the back of the neck is glossy (!) from extensive play. Awesome.
Interesting to know this isn't just on mine! It definitely must be a thing. I initially thought Corey played waaay to much and made it glossy and maybe he either had rough hands or perhaps too much chicken grease! 🤣 (it's been mentioned on the podcast, as recently as the last episode.. in reference to Jaco Pastorius)

I half thought about getting it re-satin-ized, but don't know the best way to go about it or if it's worth it. I do love the feel of a satin neck!
 
I don't know how I missed this one going back to the Marketplace, but my wallet is glad I did.

Congrats and here's to your many years of enjoyment ahead with this special instrument!
 
Congrats! The more I play my 2022 K100 Koa the more I like it. It's a pretty light bodied tenor. Way lighter than a 2017 Pono tenor. I haven't weighed them, but it feels lighter than my Koa 2017 Kamaka HF-3, 2016 Kanile'a K-1T, & 2017 Ko'Aloha KTM-00 tenors.

But I understand that all of the K-brands have become a little lighter with recent revised designs of their tenors.

Enjoy your ash K100. I was quite intrigued about the sound of the ash wood compared to the more usual tone woods.
 
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