Thoughts on KoAlana by KoAloha?

gustophersmob

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Howdy!

There is a KoAlana concert on FMM that I'm interested in as a companion for my KoAloha soprano. I would plan on using it to play live and most likely put a K&K pickup in it. This particular one is solid sapele with a unibrace. It was made in 2012 in Guam.

How are KoAlanas overall? From my very limited understanding, they were originally made in China and were very poor quality. Then at some point they moved to Thailand and the early ones had issues with breaking with humidity changes. The later Thailand ones seem like they're fine, from what I read. I'm thinking this one made in Guam was between the Chinese and Thailand made ones?

I'm also a bit confused because it seems like they were at times solid woods and then laminate, with special runs of solid wood mixed in. It also seems like they may not all be unibraced and some have more "traditional" bracing.

This one appears to check the boxes as a good KoAloha companion: solid wood, unibrace, not made during the rough production periods (as far as I know). Anything else I should be aware of or look for?

Thanks in advance!
 
I bought a KoAlana tenor in the summer of last year as my upgrade uke from an Aklot concert. I thought it was great for the cost and I enjoyed playing it much more than my Aklot. I ended up getting a Cocobolo in a raffle and decided to restring my KoAlana with baby baritone strings. One of the frets developed a buzz because of this. Ultimately I wasn’t playing it because I liked the Cocobolo so much more and sold it at a guitar center. I can’t say for certain on the difference of quality of tenor vs soprano that are 10 years apart but I am leaning towards this being a good fit for what you want it to be.
 
Even KoAloha themselves will tell you not to buy their 2012 KoAlana models .
Don't know the details but it was a production run with problems .
Contact KoAloha for more info .
 
I had a Koalana soprano maybe a 2020 or 2021 that was pretty but not a player. The intonation was terrible and it had no happy resonance. After about 3 months I gave it away to a raffle for a good cause. In the KoAloha showroom if you contrast with the real thing or even Opio there is no similarity at all. Maybe the old ones were better?
 
Older Koalanas had an issue with ?cracking or something, due woods not being properly cured or factory humidified... there are old threads on that. New Koalanas are still made overseas but have a different feel than Koalohas, same nut width but different spacing or something, pointed out in a HMS podcast...and they didn't give a glowing review. Since this one on FMM is supposed to be a limited edition for HMS, you might contact them to see what they know.
 
Thanks, everyone for your feedback! Good suggestions to reach out to KoAloha and HMS for more info.
 
I heard that Koaloha designed the Koalana ukuleles to give them away to school groups and other charities.Their surplus supply gets sold to retailers. Sound quality isn't great for the price, but some people buy them for the Koaloha look and feel.
 
Never played one, but from what I've heard, the Koalanas are laminate and use a more standard bracing style, not the unique unibrace that Koaloha and Opio use. Also, although they use a wide 38mm nut (like Koaloha and Opio), there is no edge binding on the neck, so the frets run all the way to the edges, allowing a wider string spacing at the nut (which I like, see pic). I wish that Koaloha would offer this, since their string spacing at the nut is a rather thin (for me) 27mm.

That one on FMM (Limited Edition, in 2nd pic) is different than standard Koalana, with solid body, and a more Koaloha-like neck/nut with neck binding, frets starting well inside the neck edge, and thus narrower string spread at the nut.
 

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I got one of the laminates c. 2014. It was a fine player. Loved the wide nut and the neck profile generally. Have no idea why I sold it, but I was rehoming a lot of ukes back then for what now seems like silly reasons.
 
The seller has been helpful in providing info. Apparently tis is a Thailand made one, he had an error in the listing. It’s solid wood and unibraced.
 
You should contact KoAloha before buying it .
I recall them telling me don't buy the ones made from Sapele .
 
Yeah, I came across that as well. It certainly looks like a nice uke. But this one in particular does seem to be from the time period where they had issues. Although after 11 years, its probably OK.
 
Yeah, I came across that as well. It certainly looks like a nice uke. But this one in particular does seem to be from the time period where they had issues. Although after 11 years, its probably OK.
I would not conclude that they are probably OK because all of these reviews are from 2012. If they had issues, they likely would not go back on the TUS site and revise a review that was long forgotten.

The feedback from KoAloha and a KoAloha dealer (as mentioned above in posts) would be updated and better information as they would have dealt with the issues that surfaced to issue a warning against buying one of their products. But they can also say that if it has lasted ten years without an issue, then it should be okay.

So back to contacting KoAloha and TUS for more enlightenment. Include an inquiry about what what be a good alternative for your situation of having a soprano and wanting a concert size that would play similarly.
 
I would not conclude that they are probably OK because all of these reviews are from 2012. If they had issues, they likely would not go back on the TUS site and revise a review that was long forgotten.

The feedback from KoAloha and a KoAloha dealer (as mentioned above in posts) would be updated and better information as they would have dealt with the issues that surfaced to issue a warning against buying one of their products. But they can also say that if it has lasted ten years without an issue, then it should be okay.

So back to contacting KoAloha and TUS for more enlightenment. Include an inquiry about what what be a good alternative for your situation of having a soprano and wanting a concert size that would play similarly.
What I meant is that this particular uke on FMM is probably OK. It has survived for 11 years, so whatever early issues a lot of these KoAlana's had, this one appears to have avoided it
 
Let us know how it is once you receive it :)
 
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