Kanile'a OHA KO-1-T Solid Hawaiian Koa Tenor Ukulele w/Gigbag #2301044
The Hawaiian ukulele brands and luthiers are the front of the pack in terms of ukulele artistry and engineering, the past of the instrument we all love and in many cases its future.
Kamaka survived some turbulent years in the 1970's by moving production of some models to Japan, KoAloha grew and inspired countless new players over the last decade with the Thailand made OPIO range... Kanile'a themselves have been pioneers of affordable ukes with wide nuts with the popular Islander series. I am delighted to announce that Southern Ukulele Store are the only dealer in Europe to offer Kanile'a's new OHA series of ukuleles.
The OHA series was originally produced in 2019 as a means to give players in the mid-range price point a Kanile'a Ukulele they could develop and grow with. It became unsustainable with the higher cost of living in Hawaii for Kanile'a to continue building these ukuleles in house in Kaneohe bay, HI and in 2020 they began prototyping and tweaking a new range of instruments with a high end small workshop in China. This prototyping stage went on for several years as Kanile'a sought to create the most faithful Kanile'a uke possible... if it's going to have your name on it, you want it to feel like its namesake!
In recent years, we have seen a huge amount of development in Chinese high end ukuleles with everyone from aNueNue to Flight's A10 series - it is no surprise that Kanile'a decided to take production of an affordable-professional quality ukulele to a small team in the far-east. What surprised us is how much DNA it shares with the original Hawaiian custom ukuleles.
What is an OHA? Well the word 'Oha' itself has a few meanings that include 'spreading and thriving' as well as to 'show affection and joy' to a loved one. The model itself is actually a hugely upgraded version of Kanile'as previous Oha series. They have completely recreated the special ingredients that make a Kanile'a, including hand selecting and sending each piece of koa for these ukuleles in Hawaii, the Kanile'a dimensions/proportions, special modern TRU-R bracing and lightness to the build. The neck width, depth, nut width and string spacing all carry the Kanile'a DNA and when you line them up against a Hawaiian model' it isn't immediately identifiable which one is which!
So what is different to a Hawaiian Kanile'a? A handful of things are changed back to spec's Kanile'a themselves used to use in the mid 2010's... The Hawaiian Kanile'a ukes have an ebony fingerboard and bridge with ebony bridge pins and a fast curing but very expensive UV gloss finish.
The OHA series go back to the traditional Indian rosewood fingerboard and bridge combination with black plastic bridge pins and a more conventional polyester high gloss finish. This makes the OHA's feel a bit stiffer from brand new but my, oh my how they resonate when you play those open chords. They arrived to us with Aquila strings out of the factory which were fine but we decided to switch to clear fluorocarbon to give our customers what we feel is the most definitive Kanile'a experience possible out of the box.
The 1 series Ukuleles feature the same spec as a Kanile'a K-1 ukulele. Hawaiian koa body with no major aesthetic bling but good wood topped up with an dark faceplate and white mother of pearl headstock K logo. They also come in a great padded bag marked up with a Kanile'a logo.
What's an OHA tenor like? How does it compare to the other great choices at this price? Well, thats a fantastic question and the answer is that it slots very nicely in against the cream of the crop... brands like Rebel offer that feeling of KoAloha and Big Island in their own way are kind of like Kamaka. L.Luthier offers something akin to the best of aNueNue but perhaps the closest thing to a Kanile'a would be a Flight A10 which isn't really that similar. The introduction of these OHA ukuleles really does set the ukulele world up for something special. Hopefully remaining at a pricepoint that doesn't break the £1000 mark.
Solid select Hawaiian koa top, back and sides
Indian rosewood fingerboard and bridge
17'' scale length
TRU-R touch relief bracing
White MOP inlay and fret dots
Kanile'a open geared tuners
High gloss finish
South American mahogany neck
38mm nut width (30mm string spacing at nut G to A)
Kanile'a padded gigbag