Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Koa impluse

Over the last few weeks, I let my curiosity get the best of me and pulled the trigger on 2 tenor ukuleles that I probably should not have gotten given how many tenors I already have in my possession. It didn't help that musicguymic lowered the price on both of these tenors while the Microsoft cash back deal was at 25% & 30%. So I essentially got the Kelii tenor for about $350 and the Kanile'a super tenor for $580, assuming the cash back actually happens. If not, they were still good deals, so I was comfortable pulling the trigger on them. (I will really need to get rid of some ukes from the "inventory" though :P)

The reason I wanted the Kelii is because it has a slightly longer tenor scale at 17.25" and I had not tried one in Hawaii. I've heard good things about Kelii ukes for a long time now so I've been curious about them. It seemed that Kelii ukes are in the class of other Hawaiian made ukes (such as KoAloha & Kanile'a) at a much lower price, so I wanted to see for myself.

As for the Kanile'a super tenor, I had been curious about it's larger body since I first saw it online. I thought it looked really ugly (reminded me of a fat kid's face with puffy cheeks) but when I was in Hawaii last year and saw a few in person they didn't look as bad, and I liked the deeper/fuller sound the larger body produced. MGM had one in his ebay store for a while that looked like it had some really nice koa. When he put that one up for sale a on black Friday, coupled with the 30% cash back, I could not resist it.

So now I find myself with 2 new koa tenors basically bought on impulse. The Kelii arrived last week and the Kanile'a arrived this week. Both are impressive in their own ways. I've only had them for a very short time, so I can't really review them. But here are some quick thoughts:

Kelii Tenor:

-Nice bright sound. Very good sustain.
-Action was a bit high, and there wasn't much room to lower it.
-Good looking wood. More curly than the average production ukulele.
-The back is much more rounded (a bit of a bowl shape) than other traditional ukes.
-The thinner than normal body does not compromise sound or volume at all.
-Has a nice and beefy neck. Feel thicker than any other tenor I have. I like it.
-I really do not like friction tuners on a tenor ukulele.
-I'd probably slot it in at the #8, behind the Honu concert and in front of the Compass Rose tenor on the most recent ranking list.

Kanile'a Super Tenor:

-Nice deep sound. Boomy. It's near custom level.
-Feels good to play. Has some of the "feedback" that the custom ukes has.
-I think changing the strings to Worth might improve the sound. The Aquilas seem a bit restrained. The sound is not as crisp as it could be. If the Worth strings provide a crisper sound, this would really be an outstanding uke.
-The action is a bit high, but there is a lot of saddle to take down.
-The super tenor shape is still kind of ugly to me, but it does serve it's purpose.
-The large body seem to have less internal volume than my William King long-scale tenor. It's not as deep and long as the King.
-The neck is probably thinner than average. It's actually thinner than my Kanile'a supersoprano that's over a year old. Perhaps Kanile'a changed their neck thickness between then and now. I kind of prefer a thicker neck but this one feels good and I have no issues with it.
-Right now I'd rate it at #4 on the ranking list.

What I really need to do now is to move some ukes from my collection. I suffer from TMUS: Too Many Ukes Syndrome!


Michael Locey, Anahola, Kauai said...

If you want to sell the Kelii tenor at a reasonable price, let me know. Hope the action can be improved just a little?
I made the mistake of selling mine to a friend, and now I miss the wider nut and thick neck.
I had geared tuners. put on.

Michael Locey, Anahola, Kauai said...

Congrats on all the great instruments and great blog!

GX9901 said...

Hey mLKauai,

Thanks for the comments! A big reason I got the Kelii is due to your high praise of it. I think I'll probably hang onto it for a while. But should I decide to sell some day, I'll let you know.

Come to think of it, it might be fun to put on a set of geared tuners on it. I'll have to investigate. :)

Stacey said...

If you ever consider letting go of the spruce and ebony Pono with the cutaway, please drop me a line. I fiddled with one at my local music store last week and totally dug it!

Which uke should I bring on my next trip to Oahu???

What's the maximum you'd spend on a ukulele case for your best uke?

If you could steal one of my ukes, which one would it be???

How curly do you like your koa? (preferably on a uke)

What's the maximum number of ukes a perfectly sane person should have???

Poll: How often do you play the ukulele???

Poll: Which guitar company's approach to ukes do you prefer???

Poll: What's your favorite type of headstock???

Poll: The new basic Collings concert uke (UC-1) sells for about $1k, your reaction is: