Ko’olau CS – Sinker Redwood/ Hawaiian Mahogany

Today we were handed a new tenor from Noa at Ko’olau and it’s quite impressive. The refinement of a Ko’olau really sets them apart.

This is one of the lightest Ko’olau ukes I have played, partly due to the Madagascar rosewood and bridge. This wood is very light yet dense and has become Noa’s favorite for the bridge and fingerboard. Bone bridge pins also have become his top choice. All of us here at HMS are in awe of ukes like this. It’s truly a pleasure to see, play, and hear this level of musicality and master craftsmanship.

This CS tenor has a sinker redwood top that was harvested on the west coast in the 1920’s. The middle of the tree was submerged in water at the time giving the dark stripe in the center of the top. The mahogany was grown here on our island and this is what Ko’olau has to say about it-

The other Mahogany we use is Swietenia Mahogani, or commonly named West Indian Mahogany, Spanish Mahogany, or Cuban Mahogany. This type, the West Indian Mahogany is more expensive due to being considered commercially extinct, however over 100 years ago this Mahogany, Swietenia Mahogani was planted here on Oahu. Although we have relatively few Swietenia Mahogani (or as we call it Hawaiian Mahogany) on Oahu, on occasion we are able to acquire this rarely harvested lumber. Our cost of acquiring this lumber is higher than most Koa. Hawaiian Mahogany is a beautiful red-brown color, but more dense and closed grained than the more common Swietenia Macrophylla. As compared to Swietenia Macrophylla, Hawaiian Mahogany (Mahogani) is slightly heavier and more dense. Weight is 40 lb/ft and specific gravity is .64.

The pattern you see on the back of this ukulele is the beginning of spalting. In the crevice of the trunk where the tree branches start, if water sits long enough it seeps into the wood and causes this effect. Hawaiian mahogany is rare, but this piece is truly one of a kind.

Aloha friends. A hui ho!

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