We started off at the KoAloha/ Rebel booth. This first one demo’d has been asked for many times and it’s finally in production, the KoAloha Opio Tenor! It’s everything I’d hoped it would be. KoAloha tenor tone, but with that mahogany warmth, and for half the price! You’re gonna love it, I guarantee! Next we see their new KoAlana line. As I mentioned in Day 1’s blog, these are laminate instruments, but take a listen. They sound great and will compete in the entry level price range. KoAloha is now covering all price points and doing it well! We’ll give you one more sound sample from KoAloha for now, the new “Rosette” series tenor. Just a bit more cost than a regular KTM but with a tasteful and unique rosewood rosette.< Next Corey plays some of the Rebel ukes I was telling you about. These solid wood instruments range from around $400-$1200 dollars and the quality is among the best you will find in their price range. The first two are a thin body soprano and concert. I thought these had a loud, punchy, "KoAloha like" tone. The next two are from their custom line with artistic, detailed appointments and an open bell like tone I really like. I think you'll be impressed with these tenors. They'll be up at the shop in about a week so stop by if you can and try for yourself. Next up we hear a concert and tenor from custom Japan builder Teruyuki Tashiro. This is a one man custom shop and the quality and design reflect their higher price range. They are as comfortable to play as any of the best ukes I've played. They're very light in weight and have fantastic volume and sustain. I'll give detailed pictures and more videos when we get back to Hawaii. Next we'll look at a new line from Kala that's been years in the making. This is their custom built line made in Petaluma California by a group of 7 talented luthiers. For a few years they have been making Ubasses and Banjo ukes but this is the first launch of their regular ukuleles they call the Elite series. The tone is big and warm more indicative of the best Hawaiian makers. We saw the early prototype for this line but they have really improved in every aspect. Corey first samples a gorgeous Koa tenor and after gives us a quick listen to their 10 year anniversary model redwood topped koa tenor. The next elite model is a concert, also with a perfect gloss finish but with koa binding and a tasteful koa wood rosette. This is sampled by an old friend of ours, Neil Chin. Neil also samples for us the basic model satin finish Elite. One thing Kala just implemented for their custom shop is the UV cured finish that Kanile'a and Taylor guitars uses. This is quite an investment and tells me that Kala is ramping up to achieve a steady production from their California shop. We are promised to be the first to get this wonderful new line so keep a look out for them here and at our website.
There’s some other new models from Kala’s regular line that we’ll highlight tomorrow. Here’s a sneak peek.
Last stop for the day is the Ko’olau booth were I caught a slew of amazing musicians. First is a musician from Berlin Germany named Andreas David. Andreas gigs full time in Germany with ukulele. Every year the ukulele becomes more recognized worldwide as a serious instrument and it’s beautiful voice is getting discovered daily by professional musicians. Here Andreas samples a BN-30 spruce rosewood baritone nui. We had a few of these models already but will be getting another dozen or so at the beginning of march. Mr. David then samples a spruce/koa Ko’olau CS that will be available at our store.
Next we get a real treat with some rippin’ jazz musicians you most likely already know. Hawaii’s own Abe Lagrimas Jr. and Reggie Padilla serve us some rip-roarin’ bebop like double shot of espresso. Enjoy!
Tomorrow I’ll post a few videos of Benny Chong with Abe, as well as sound samples from D’angelico, Kanile’a, Kamaka, and many more pics and highlights from NAMM 2015.
So even though I’m behind a day I’m off to the Kanile’a party and I’ll try to post Day 3 and 4 before I head back on monday. Can’t miss the Kanile’a party though. It’s always a rager. Last year Bruce Shimabukuru poured a glass of water on his head and did the worm! I didn’t see Bruce this year though. Maybe we’ll get Corey to do that. Now that would be a good video!