Solid Koa

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Highest Quality Ukulele: Ohana, Kamaka, Martin...?

Hey! I am an avid ukulele player and I have been playing a soprano lanakai for a while now but I'm thinking of getting a higher quality (and, yes, more expensive ukulele.) The highest quality ohana, all the kamakas, and some of the martins are all around the same price (Martins, however, get the most expensive overall). IZ played a martin and they're by far the most expensive (up to $3000), but I played the highest quality ohana and it was beautiful. Kamakas have a really good reputation. If there's another brand that's better let me know. Basically, what is the best soprano (concert or tenor is also okay) ukulele on the market?

It depends on what you are really looking for. Something expensive? Or something that sounds better to you (and others hearing you play)?

Older martin ukuleles (solid mahogany) will fetch a premium because they were made in Nazareth, PA and the mahogany sweetens over time. I know several Hawaiian afficionados that swear by them -- but they bought them new many years ago, or they found a bargain at a swap meet (no more bargains on eBay). Most would not pay the "collectors premium" on them today. Most new Martins are made in Mexico. The exceptions are the VERY expensive ones with tons of paua (or abalone) inlay work -- a visual collector's item. If you can finad a Tenor or Soprano Martin (over 20 years old) for under $500, in good shape, ask to play it and buy if you like the sound.

That said, the other alternative is a solid Koa ukulele made in Hawai'i. The top ones (IMHO) are KoAloha, Kamaka, and Kanile'a. Koa only grows above 5000 feet in Hawai'i and cannot be harvested unless the tree is felled by natural means (lightning, wind, volcano, etc.). That makes the wood rare and expensive. On top of that, US labor costs make these ukulele more expensive.

Kamaka ukulele have been the favorite among islanders for so long, they are an institution. Many people go for a Kamaka because of reputation. The factory has limited output and they are very hard to find -- further driving the cost up. But they are sweet instruments in the right hands. It is the instrument that Jake Shimabukuro plays -- you should listen to his "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".

My money goes to Kanile'a and KoAloha. Which are a little easier to find and don't have as much of an add-on premium as Martin and Kamaka.

Kanile'a has the nicest finish of the two -- using a technique learned from Taylor Guitars to use UV light to cure micro-thin layers of finish. These instruments have a very high gloss without the thickness that might restrict the resonance of the koa wood. Their "Super Tenor" is the best of the bunch.

My personal favorite based on price and tone, though, is KoAloha. I have two KoAloha tenors. One a standard four-string low G and the other strung like a small guitar with six strings (a custom order). I play the tenor four string every week in kanikapila and I am constantly asked what make I am playing and receive many comments on the sweet tone. Then they ask if they can play it and are reluctant to give it back to me because of the feel and touch to play. Danial Ho, Herb Ohta Jr., David Kamakahi, Riatea Helm, Brittni Paiva, and George Kahumoku all play KoAloha Tenors.

Many of the other ukuleles are made overseas to keep the labor costs down -- making them affordable for most people. Lanaka'i is one of these. they are sweet sounding, the quality has vastly improved over time and they are the best value but not what the "professionals" play.

Discover Solid Koa On eBay Below:

Solid Acacia Koa Concert Ukulele Kit No Polish Aquila strings KITKC03 53
Solid Acacia Koa Concert Ukulele Kit No Polish Aquila strings KITKC03 53
$70.00
Solid Acacia KOA TENOR Ukulele KIT No Polish with accessories VNKITKT29
Solid Acacia KOA TENOR Ukulele KIT No Polish with accessories VNKITKT29
$70.00
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Baritone Guitarlele Butterfly Inlay HU1429 HU1433
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Baritone Guitarlele Butterfly Inlay HU1429 HU1433
$190.00
Alulu Solid Curly Acacia Koa var PQ Island Tenor Ukulele Hard Case BU583
Alulu Solid Curly Acacia Koa var PQ Island Tenor Ukulele Hard Case BU583
$126.00
Alulu Solid Acacia Taiwanese Koa concert Ukulelehard casenatural grainHUA159
Alulu Solid Acacia Taiwanese Koa concert Ukulelehard casenatural grainHUA159
$200.00
PukanaLa PT SAW2 Taiwan hand made all Solid Spruce  Acacia Koa Concert ukulele
PukanaLa PT SAW2 Taiwan hand made all Solid Spruce Acacia Koa Concert ukulele
$550.00
Concert Ukulele 23inch Cutaway Thin Body Travel Ukelele Kit Solid KOA Top Back
Concert Ukulele 23inch Cutaway Thin Body Travel Ukelele Kit Solid KOA Top Back
$174.99
Waikiki solid spruce concert ukulele koa back and side with bag very nice sound
Waikiki solid spruce concert ukulele koa back and side with bag very nice sound
$100.00
KoAloha KCM 00 Concert ukulele with All solid Hawaiian Koa
KoAloha KCM 00 Concert ukulele with All solid Hawaiian Koa
$1,220.00
PukanaLa Model PU K3 All Solid Acacia Koa K Series Professional Tenor Ukulele
PukanaLa Model PU K3 All Solid Acacia Koa K Series Professional Tenor Ukulele
$239.96
ISUZI EUB K1 Solid Top Koa Electric Ukulele Bass Active
ISUZI EUB K1 Solid Top Koa Electric Ukulele Bass Active
$388.63
Solid Acacia Koa Concert Ukulele Kit No Polish Aquila strings KITKC03 22
Solid Acacia Koa Concert Ukulele Kit No Polish Aquila strings KITKC03 22
$85.00
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Baritone GuitarleleClassical MOP inlayHUA397F
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Baritone GuitarleleClassical MOP inlayHUA397F
$119.00
Alulu Tenor Ukulele Solid Curly Acacia Koa var PQ Island Hard Case UKT293
Alulu Tenor Ukulele Solid Curly Acacia Koa var PQ Island Hard Case UKT293
$109.00
Loopy Solid Acacia Koa concert Ukuleleabalone rosettehard case HU249
Loopy Solid Acacia Koa concert Ukuleleabalone rosettehard case HU249
$79.00
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Pineapple Shape Concert Ukulele Eagle MOP inlay HU852
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Pineapple Shape Concert Ukulele Eagle MOP inlay HU852
$119.00
Bruce Wei Solid Acacia Koa Tenor Ukulele Hibiscus Soundhole Bag UC17 2685
Bruce Wei Solid Acacia Koa Tenor Ukulele Hibiscus Soundhole Bag UC17 2685
$329.00
Bruce Wei Solid Acacia Koa Tenor Ukulele Mop Inlay Bag UG17 2879
Bruce Wei Solid Acacia Koa Tenor Ukulele Mop Inlay Bag UG17 2879
$92.00
Bruce Wei Solid Acacia Koa Concert Ukulele Mermaid Inlay Bag UG15 2752
Bruce Wei Solid Acacia Koa Concert Ukulele Mermaid Inlay Bag UG15 2752
$319.00
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Tenor Ukulele classical MOP inlaid hard case HU792
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Tenor Ukulele classical MOP inlaid hard case HU792
$180.00
Alulu Solid Curly Acacia Koa var PQ Island Tenor Ukulele Hard Case BU445 BU450
Alulu Solid Curly Acacia Koa var PQ Island Tenor Ukulele Hard Case BU445 BU450
$126.00
Ashbury AU 34 CONCERT UKULELE Solid Koa rosewood fingerboard From Hobgoblin
Ashbury AU 34 CONCERT UKULELE Solid Koa rosewood fingerboard From Hobgoblin
$596.59
Ashbury AU 34 CONCERT UKULELE Solid Koa rosewood fingerboard From Hobgoblin
Ashbury AU 34 CONCERT UKULELE Solid Koa rosewood fingerboard From Hobgoblin
$627.84
Koloa KU 725 700 Series Solid Koa Concert Ukulele
Koloa KU 725 700 Series Solid Koa Concert Ukulele
$179.99
Solid Acacia Koa Tenor Classical Head Guitarlele Dots Inlay HU1499 Alulu
Solid Acacia Koa Tenor Classical Head Guitarlele Dots Inlay HU1499 Alulu
$175.00
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Tenor Ukulele Abalone inlaidhard case UKT208
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Tenor Ukulele Abalone inlaidhard case UKT208
$126.00
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Grain Pineapple Shape Concert Ukulele BU616 618
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Grain Pineapple Shape Concert Ukulele BU616 618
$108.80
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Baritone Guitarlelebutterfly MOP inlaid HUA605F
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Baritone Guitarlelebutterfly MOP inlaid HUA605F
$180.00
Bruce Wei Solid Acacia Koa Concert Ukulele Cow Boy Inlay Bag UC15 2287
Bruce Wei Solid Acacia Koa Concert Ukulele Cow Boy Inlay Bag UC15 2287
$51.00
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Tenor Classical Head Ukulele with Hard Case BU600 BU602
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Tenor Classical Head Ukulele with Hard Case BU600 BU602
$180.00
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Tenor UkuleleAbalone rosetteHard case UKT241
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Tenor UkuleleAbalone rosetteHard case UKT241
$180.00
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Pineapple Shape Concert Ukulele BU656
Alulu Solid Acacia Koa Pineapple Shape Concert Ukulele BU656
$169.00


Recently Purchased Solid Koa:


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