Kanile’a is one of the popular local builders on the island. In fact we sell more Kanile’a in store and on line than any other high end ukulele brand. That’s because they look beautiful, sound great, and while they aren’t cheap by any means, they’re quite the value all across the line.

Joe and Kristen Souza run this humidity controlled and technology advanced workshop in Kaneohe with a team of talented craftsmen. They recently acquired a forest on the Big Island that they are planting Koa trees on and utilizing fallen trees with excellent wood. And that is one aspect that Kanile’a really has an advantage. They have amazing, and I mean amazing koa all the time! It’s ridiculous. How can you not be drawn toward such beautiful koa, and finished to perfection. They’re rich in tone, look gorgeous, and are reasonable for what you get. You can view available models at our website HERE. This is a look at a few of the models. We have had hundreds of different Kanile’a models and they always introduce more. So check this out for a fun overview, but regularly check the website because we try to grab from them weekly.

K-1 Soprano

Corey gives us a “raw” sound sample of the soprano Kanile’a in both the gloss finish and the “natural” finish.
The Kanile’a soprano is appealing to many players more comfortable with larger sized ukes because it has a 1.5″ nut width, is 14 frets to the body, and has the side geared tuners found on concerts and tenors. This gives you the classic soprano tone but with more of the feel of the larger sizes.

Super Sopranos

The super soprano is a soprano size body with a concert length scale. It has a soprano sound with a bit more brightness and a little more range and space on the fretboard. The DLX models from Kanile’a have upgraded Koa wood with more figuring than the standard models but not as much as the the premium models.

K-1 Concert Natural Finish

The Kanile’a concert has a rich tone and excellent feel. They come in various finished, woods and wood grades, and scale lengths. This is your basic K-1 Concert with the natural finish. This finish is still a lacquer UV cured finish but without the reflective gloss final coats and buffing. This gives it the natural wood look and feel many prefer.

K-1 Concert Gloss

One of the reasons Kanile’a is so popular is their gloss finish is that professional level “glassy” look you see from guitar companies. The K-1 C is a very affordable instrument for being 100% made in Hawaii with Hawaiian koa and with a gorgeous finish to show it off.

K-2 Concert Premium

When you go from K-1 to K-2 you get top binding and a rosette. The two examples above are both with the upgraded “premium” curly koa. Figured koa like this is rarely found on anything but the most expensive custom ukes. Kanile’a offers their premium koa upgrade and give you a chance at a gorgeous Hawaiian instrument at a very fair price. The new version also available from this model offers ebony for the fingerboard and bridge and Hawaiian sand for the inlays. Corey goes over this new model below.

K-4 Super Concert

The super concert models have a concert body size with the scale of a tenor. The K-4 has premium koa, top and back binding, and abalone purfling and rosette. Below is a super concert in the K-3 line. Those have top and back binding and a Maple rosette.

KCS-SCP Concert Long Neck Premium Koa Slothead

The KCS models have ebony appointments, Hawaiian sand inlays, and a slotted headstock. They come in each size that Kanile’a makes as well as each of their wood grades. This is an example of their premium koa upgrade. Below the video shows the same model but with the standard “select”” koa. (Still very beautiful!)

K-1 T Tenor

This is a best seller for us and I think you can see and hear why. Coming in around a grand, the K-1 Tenor is a stunning value in a totally Hawaiian made tenor with a fantastic look and tone.

This model also comes in with a new option of an ebony fretboard and Kailua Beach sand inlays. Corey goes over the new features of this model.

Ku’uipo Tenor

Ku’uipo is Hawaiian for sweetheart and this specialty model from tenor features a heart-shaped sound hole and their ebony/sand appointments. This model comes in concert and tenor and either has deluxe wood as you see above or premium like this beauty below.

KPE-T Premium Koa/ Ebony Tenor

A long time favorite from Kanile’a, the KPE series features upgraded koa, top biniding, and their ebony faceplate and fingerboard with Kailua Beach sand inlays. This is such a great idea and works perfectly!You can see the grains of sand sparkle as you look closely, and you get a piece of the Hawaiian beaches forever.

Two of the different styles of slotted headstocks Kanile’a-



Diamond Super Tenor

Kanile’a offers their super tenor with a larger lower bout for a bigger more dynamic tone. This model has a diamond inlay at the fretboard in sand and their “cobra” slotted headstock. The cobra slothead, like the KCS models, is thinner, lighter in weight, and pairs with the Gotoh “stealth” 18:1 geared tuners.

2016 Platinum Tenor

Each year Kanile’a does a special “Platinum” model for that year only. In 2016 the features included their scoop cutaway, smooth arm bevel, and thin slotted headstock.

Willie K Signature Tenor 5 string

Willie K. is one of Hawaii’s most fascinating artists and musical talents. His signature model has a tone of cool specs including a low and high G, 19″ scale (normal tenor is 17″), this super cool asymmetrical rosette, and his signature in the fretboard inlayed with sand. Astounding tenor for an amazing musician. We did a live recording at our NAMM hotel room with Willie. Check it out below-

Maoli No

Corey goes over the features on this incredible offering. Also below is a video of a discussion with Joe Souza on his reforestation project on the Big Island.

K-2 Baritone Premium

Kanile’a makes a wonderful sounding baritone ukulele. This is a K-2 but of course they make baritones in the regular K-1, the K-3, and the KSDLX. Below are some examples of Kanile’a baritone models.

GL6 K-2P

Kanile’a makes a very unique and wonderful guilele they call the GL6. This is a 6 string baritone sized instrument tuned A to A like a guitar with a capo on the fifth fret or like an ukulele with two lower strings. It’s comfortable, has a beautiful tone, and appeals to both the guitar and ukulele player. The video below shows it in the spruce top.
Older video from outside of our shop in Haleiwa, shows the regular GL6.

There are many many other models from Kanile’a… we have 595 Kanile’a videos at our vimeo channel as of now. Definitely more by the time I publish this website. And the models are always changing and evolving along with new additions. So like I said at the intro of this page, check models at our website HERE regularly to see what’s new.

Mahalo for visiting. What are your thoughts on Kanile’a? Leave a comment or question below. Aloha!

Comments 18

  1. I got my first Kanile’a a few months ago and I am sorry to say that my other ukes are not getting as much attention as they are used to. My Kanile’a is the most remarkable instrument that I have ever played. The tone is rich and silky and thanks to the great set up I have not had to do anything to it since it arrived other than tune it. Would I get another Kanile’a. Yes! In a heartbeat.

  2. My Kanile’a Tenor with the Hawai’ian islands inlay is the jewel of my collection. I have 16 ukuleles at last count. My Kanile’a and Mya-Moe are head and shoulders above the others. The Kanile’a gets about half of my playing time, the others have to duke it out for the rest 🙂 Where it excels the most is playability. Great action, easy play, perfect intonation. You can’t ask for much more.

  3. Even since I gotten my Kanilea Kuuipo Concert, my other ukes aren’t getting much attention at all. The gloss looks of it, the sweetness of the sound and the play-ability of the uke from the low string action setup by HMS. No matter she is called Kuuipo (Sweetheart). Because of such a wonderful uke that I have gotten, I got poison-ed so badly that I eventually I bought another Kanilea K4. If you ever encounter a Kanilea in a shop or a friend that owns one, please request to try it. You will not regret it.

  4. I am the proud owner of two Kanilea ukes. Both are excellent. They have this sweetness and clarity to their sounds that just make me keep going back to them. I am starting to feel guilty about not playing my other ukes more.

  5. I received my Kanilea Baritone K-1 on Wednesday. At first I was worried about the lack of volume since my other Ukes are a bit louder but the tone is so sweet it caught people’s attention from across the room. I love it. It is also extremely beautiful.

    Why the cheap plastic pins though? Strange to have such a beautiful instrument with plastic that shad obvious manufacturing seams.

  6. I have two amazing Kanile’a tenors and am shopping for a third. Can’t beat the craftsmanship and tone, and they are just beautiful to look at. Hats off to the Souza ohana for going the extra mile for a green footprint and for making some of the best ukuleles money can buy.

  7. My wife and I recently visited the Kanile’a shop and had the pleasure of taking their shop tour. Everyone there was so friendly and willing to share their insights and information about what goes into the making of their ukulele. We currently have a Kanile’a Concert & Tenor ukulele, and absolutely love the look, sound, feel and craftsmanship they put into all of their ukulele.

  8. Kanile’a makes some amazing ukes. Arguably the best gloss finish out of all the top K-brands that looks like glass. The TRU bracing system makes them nice and light and a joy to play for hours.

    Only minor caveat (if you can it that) I should mention is that it has a flat fingerboard (K1 at least) and slightly “thicker” neck which might not appeal to players with small hands.

    That said, it’s one uke I won’t ever part with.

  9. When I first wanted to upgrade to a Hawaiian made instrument, Kanile’a was my first choice, and I still think it is the best choice. Seems like these guys are always trying to improve their products, experimenting with bracing and different finishes, adding more options to their lineup, like slotted headstocks, arm bevels, or side sound ports. To me, this is a great way of combining innovative techniques with the traditions of the islands. And yes, they constantly offer the nicest Koa.

  10. I purchased a Kanile’a Islander as my first ukulele. It had a balanced and sweet sound in comparison to other toy-like sounding ukes I tried out at another store. It also felt nicer since the fretboard is wider than the ukuleles I checked out. The only downside to the Islander was the fact that the sound did not project as much as the others around its price range and build.

  11. What can you say about these guys .They have the most unique supply of beautiful Koa of anyone out there at a regular guys price .
    Great build ,tone ,well a sound of their own ! and value value value . one of my favs to play

  12. I personally feel like Kanile’a is the perfect blend of classic styling with several modern touches. The koa they use is stunning – and they spend their time and money to replant koa trees, which is a nice touch. Easy to play, nice range of options at different prices and epic “hawaiian” sound. Great builders.

  13. I love my Kanile’a concert. Beautiful tone. And my colleague just bought a Kanile’a tenor and is delighted with it.

  14. Absolutely love my Kanile’a K1 concert uke! The koa wood is stunning. The sound is bright and happy, though very subjective to humidity (the humidity where I live fluctuates wildly). It stays in tune even when I don’t play it for awhile, which is nice. I love the feel of it and don’t think I could possibly be happier with any other uke 🙂

  15. I’ve had my KANILE’A CONCERT KOA – ISLAND TATTOO ukulele for three years now. Hawaii Music Supply set it up beautifully. It’s my go-to for a concert uke.
    I bought it for a few reasons – one being the different look than most ukes – the tattooing. I love that it gets lot of comments when I play it out. It plays like a dream. The tone is like no other. One of my favorite ukuleles!

  16. I bought a Kanile’a concert this year, and I really love it. I have the natural finish which I prefer especially for the neck. It has a full, rich, round tone that I think is especially well suited to linear (low G) tuning. It almost sounds more like a tenor. The nut/fret board is wider and I had a new nut made with wider string spacing to take advantage.

  17. I have a k1 concert dlx. I like the looks and tone a lot… But I find it harder to strum bar-chords than in any of my other ukes.

    I think this is partly due to the flat wide neck (I have small hands), but mostly due o the frets being set (or sanded down) too low . I dont know if it is a factory issue, or a set-up issue (got it from HMS), but the low height of the frets means that if I don’t press really hard and very close to the fret, there is always some string dead or buzzing. This does not happen on my other ukes.
    So, bar-chord aficionados beware. Especially if you have small hands, I suggest you try before you buy.

  18. First day!!! A tenor, beautiful—really beautiful—and plays like a dream. I have a Kamaka Tenor and I think this uke is superior in every way. It is just a yummy instrument.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *