KoAloha are the absolute cream of the crop in unique Hawaiian Koa Ukuleles. Over the past ten years we have been honoured to behold several Ukuleles built by the senior factory Luthiers including Paul Okami's Monstera Ukuleles and Sceptres and Pineapple sundaes from 'Pops' Okami himself. Very few Red labels have been made available since 2012 and this most recent Red Label custom shop instrument is only the fifth ever to find its way to the UK. The task here was to take the ever popular KTM-00 and turn the design on its head in the name of evolution. If you want the desirable artisan nature of something like a Sumi or a Da Silva but with the Hawaiian heritage - Perhaps KoAloha Customs are what you are looking for?
It's not an easy task to improve on what many perceive as perfection (big claim I know!) but the resulting Ukulele is a gorgeous Engelmann Spruce topped Tenor with some gorgeous carefully selected Premium Curly Hawaiian Koa. You can't go wrong when you've beautiful cosmetic and well thought out tonal upgrades firmly woven into its DNA. It is still a KoAloha but not as we know it. To be frank - the only way any of us here at SUS could think to improve the tone of a KoAloha is with a Spruce top. This instrument is a folk machine. It sounds dynamic with more attack and a crispness that you don't get from a Koa top, it's so lovely.
KoAloha's famous unit brace rib system is replaced with a uniquely voiced traditional ladder style bracing on the top and back. When comparing this Ukulele to a KTM-00 the difference in tone is immediately apparent. In place of the bubbly exuberance of the standard model there is a warmer bass register that in no way interferes with KoAloha's famous volume making this Uke a real wall of sound and tone - a finger pickers ideal Ukulele. To strum it sounds like a tiny flamenco guitar!
The headstock KoAloha Customs logo in Abalone is gorgeous as is the soundhole rosette. It strikes that balance between being a bit blingy and not too much at the same time.
Let's talk about the bear claw effect in the top! What is that you ask? When a top has 'bear claw' marks in it, its a series of small swirls that look like bear claw marks running off angle to the grain. This is especially rare on Spruce and is very hard to capture in photographs.
I haven't even mentioned my favourite bit yet which is the hipshot tuners. They are so precise, they don't look as traditional as something like the Gotoh Planetary tuners but they are solid with an excellent precision not normally found on any Ukulele. A massive bonus and something we hope we continue to see on KoAloha customs in the future.
Solid Engelmann Spruce Top with bear claw effects
Premium Curly Hawaiian Koa, Back and Sides Ebony Fretboard and Bridge Mahogany neck Figured Ebony Headplate Abalone Custom Logo (KoAloha wing) inlay on headplate and soundhole rosette Abalone fret markers Custom Maple plate label in the soundhole Hipshot Tuners High Gloss Buffed Finish Free TGI ABS Moulded Case included