Koa Pili Koko Deluxe Soprano Ukulele Review

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If you have been searching for an affordable solid wood ukulele with a traditional Hawaiian look and sound, you should take a look at a new line of instruments created by luthier Casey Moore of Kelii Ukuleles. The Koa Pili Koko ukes are not made of Koa as their name implies, instead they are constructed from a relative of the Acacia wood family which looks similar to Hawaiian Koa. These instruments are imported from China, but are setup in Hawaii.

Specs:

21-1/4″ overall length
9-3/8″ body
5-1/4 upper bout
4-3/8″ waist
7″ lower bout
1-3/8″ at nut
13-15/16″ scale
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The top, back and sides are all constructed of solid Acacia, along with the headstock cap. Mahogany is used for the neck.

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The wood grain is very pretty as you can tell from these images.

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The wood really does look like Koa doesn’t it?

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The construction is top notch. I could find no problems with the workmanship on this instrument. All of the wood seams are perfectly smooth and the finish is well done. Mcfadden’s Lacquer (Nitrocellulose) finish is used, giving the Koko a very nice semi gloss appearance. It’s not visible in these images, but the finish does not completely fill the pores in the wood. If you hold the ukulele at a certain angle, you can see tiny pits in the finish. This doesn’t both me, but I did want to mention it.

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When I purchased my Koa Pili Koko from MusicguyMic’s eBay shop, I opted for the deluxe model, which has some added pizzaz in the way of Mahogany top body binding and hand inlaid Paua Abalone purflings and rosette.

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The standard and deluxe models both have a Rosewood fretboard, bridge, nut and saddle. I really like the contrast of the Rosewood against the Acadia. It is very striking visually.

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Open geared tuners with White plastic knobs are used.
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The action on the instrument that I received is great. I’ve found the Koko very easy and comfortable to play.

Using my trusty Intelli IMT-500 digital tuner, I verified that the intonation is right on the money up and down the neck. No problems found.

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For such a small instrument, the Koa Pili Koko has a surprisingly loud voice. I really like the tone too. Here are a couple short sound samples to give you an idea of what this instrument sounds like. My Koko is strung with Worth Clears.

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YouTube video

Right now you can buy (from MusicguyMic’s eBay shop) the Koa Pili Koa deluxe soprano for $219.00. The standard version sells for $189.95. I really don’t think you will be disappointed in this sweet little ukulele. If you already have one or end up buying one, please do leave a comment to let me know what you think of this instrument.

27 Responses to “Koa Pili Koko Deluxe Soprano Ukulele Review”

  1. Thanks for the review. This is the uke that’s currently testing my economy drive. Although I might go for the concert version. I have no will-power so it probably won’t be long until I cave in.

  2. My only concern about this ukulele is the wood nut and saddle. Every ukulele I have played with wood nuts and/or saddles are very muted with almost no sustain. bone or synthetic bone seem to be the best option.

  3. Listen to my sound bites and see what you think. I think it sounds very nice. Not muted in the least.

  4. Julie, Aldrine told me about this ukulele and said it was a great deal. Now after seeing your pictures, I’ve been calling all the music stores in my area to see if they carry it. Suprise! NONE of them do. I’m going to attempt to call Musicguymic and see if I can’t just go and buy one from him directly without having to go through paypal and the USPS.

    Thanks for the review!

  5. rayan:
    I think Musicguymic is the only person selling this new brand so far. I keep forgetting that you’re in Hawaii :) Lucky! Please let me know what you think of the uke if/when you do get a chance to check them out. I sure do like mine. It’s crazy, but I think it is my new favorite of my small collection. Even more than the KoAloha I have. :)

  6. Ruben…

    I just wanted to say that the quality of your site is exceptional. On top of all that it really complements the content that is provided by your site….

  7. […] read in the 50-55% range, so I thought I was fine. Then the crack appeared on the back of my Koa Pili Koko uke, even with the hygrometer showing that the humidity level in the case was 60%. Grrrrrrr. It […]

  8. […] ideas from all of you out there in ukulele land. What’s in it for you? How about a brand new Koa Pili Koko Deluxe Soprano ukulele with a zippered […]

  9. Hello! Very nice site, thanks. I wanted to tell you I purchased the Tenor deluxe version of the Koa Pili Koko Ukulele from MusicGuy Mic on his Ebay store. Initially I was very happy with the purchase, but as others have mentioned a long crack quickly developed along the center back, AND the front below the sound hole. I have been keeping it humidified as directed. I am sending it back for a replacement, but it looks like I will be paying shipping charges to Hawaii, unless MGM will reimburse me or give me a shipping code. I hope it doesn’t happen again. Has yours ever cracked Julie?

  10. @tommybro500: Actually yes, the original Koa Pili Koko that I had purchased cracked on the back. I thought it was a fluke. MusicGuyMic replaced it for me and I ended up giving it away in a contest. I’ve not heard from the winner if he had the same problem.

  11. I can’t speak to the Soprano, but I got a Concert version from Lahaina Music (www.lahainamusic.com) while on Maui over the Christmas holiday and I could not be happier with it! The wood is beautiful and the finish is great. But, what sold me was the sound! As Kerry, the guy who showed it to me said, you won’t get more “bang fro your buck” than with the Koa Pili Koko ukulele. He was right! I tried the Cordoba 25CK and the Mitchell MU100 on the mainland before I left and the sound from my Koa Pili Koko is as good if not better than those. For fit, finish, sound and price you will be very happy choosing a Koa Pili Koko. Casey Moore, you have a winner here!

  12. i just bought a KPK Tenor for only 180 shipped ( straight from hawaii ).

  13. Hi Julie,

    Thanks for a great site. I’m new into ukuleles and have been researching my first purchase. I was all set on a KPK Tenor, but when I email Musicguymic, he said he’s discontinued the line because the market was flooded with fakes.

    Have you heard anything to that effect? I’m wondering if that has to do with all the cracked ukuleles being reported by you and others…

    Sad, because the sound of this ukulele is truly beautiful at the price point. If you have more information or know where to get a genuine model, I would love to hear. Best.

  14. Great review. My girlfriend and I both got one of these in the soprano size. I decided to go for the deluxe with the mother of pearl inlay. They sound fantastic and play very well. We purchased them in Oahu, Hawaii on our trip. I got mine with a hard case for 160 and hers for 120 without the inlay.

  15. I bought a KPK one year ago. It’s my first string instrument. The sound is great. However, the tuning…. hummm. My Yamaha digital tuner showed how bad tuned it is, something that my ears had already noticed. Today I handled it to a luthier in order to try to improve tuning. The strings seem to be to far from the arm.
    I thing it is not fake, since I payed $ 300 in Oahu.

  16. Just received a KPK deluxe tenor today. It looks beautiful and I think it will play great, once I change out the ridiculous metal C string. Why do people metal strings on ukes? All it does is create a bunch of atonal vibration and buzz. I’m relatively new to the uke world, but I don’t understand this thought process. Thanks, enjoy your site.

  17. Just purchased my first uke – a deluxe concert KPK. After doing some research, seemed like this was a much better way to go that the cheap plywood ukes that are literally only $80 less and have the terrible looking dark brown stain finish. I was thoroughly impressed with the KPK I received, as nice, if not nicer than the best ukes in my local music stores. It sounds great. I decided to trade out the wood saddle and nut with ivory colored plastic ones. The resulting sound is a bit brighter and I think it is worth doing. Bought a guitar saddle and nut at my local music store and sanded them down to match the wood ones that came on the KPK, finished them with 1500 grit sandpaper which brought out a nice shine.

  18. Anyone know why to get KPK except Musicguymic on Ebay.?

    I & my friend tried to locate the store in Hawaii but unable to find it. I check with some makers at Hawaii all of them said KPK no longer produce in Hawaii. Now, made in china. I found many brands in the same of KPK, price is reasonable same as another that made in china.

  19. Just recieved a KPK Deluxe Concert from pilikoko.com. Absolutely LOVE it! Exceptional service from Jason over there – him dealing with a very nervous buyer over here in Australia (me).

    Beautiful looking instrument, and it being my 2nd uke I was advised to change the nut and saddle to bone, which was done for me while the uke was being set up.

    Arrived after only 1 week in perfect condition, and looks and sounds awesome! Could not imagine a better uke for me. Love it!!

  20. I bought a KPK concert from Musicguymic a few years ago. It looked beautiful and sounded nice just as everyone here agrees.

    But within 6 months it developed some problems: the seam down the center front, below the bridge, has raised up, and there is a tight crack about 2-3″ long in the lower back. Several people here mention similar problems. Perhaps the wood is not prepared correctly, or not seasoned enough, or something?

    The uke still sounds pretty good and I plan to keep it, but I can’t say I’d recommend it to others.

  21. This is a wonderful instrument, much better than the laminated Cordoba 110C that was my first uke. I recommend a solid wood uke to non-begginners (If you play guitar reasonably well stay away from beginner models. Ok, what about this axe, well I love the narrow neck profile which allows me to wrap my hand around it and reach 6-7 frets. The neck on this baby reminds me of a Taylor acoustic. I paid $250 including shipping from Hawaii to Florida for my tenor size KPK deluxe uke (if you have fat fingers get the tenor, the concert is a drop too small). I was going to buy the solid Koa Martin TK-1 for $499.00 Twice the price which I really couldn’t afford. This is a great instrument at a great price what else is there to know?

    DR. Roy

  22. Has anyone having problems with their KPK contacted the manufacturer regarding their issues? If so what was their response. I jut received my Delux Tenor. a couple weeks back and absolutely love it! I’m hoping not to have any condition issues but am curious to hear how KPK treats these issues.

  23. Am seriously considering the purchase of a KPK Deluxe Acacia Tenor. Thought I would do a bit more research and came across this great discussion. It has been really helpful and I appreciate everyone’s comments. My initial enthusiasm has been tempered a bit by the reports of cracks appearing on the body. That has to be every uke players fear. It appears that the KPK ukuleles are not available from MGM and haven’t been for quite awhile. However I have conversed with Jason (at PiliKoa) regarding availability etc. Would hope to hear more from some owners of these ukes. Need a little bit more push to make the jump and purchase one. In addition it would be interesting to know if the cracks are appearing in just the mahogany ukes or just the acacia ukes or both. My other uke under consideration is a Moku Mahogany Tenor.

  24. Don’t buy it there right cracking problems I kept mine safe and it has a crack in the back i have koa pili koko

  25. So I have had my KPK tenor for about 8-9 months now and the first one that came did develope a crack in the bottom seam. It also had bubbles and runs in the finish in several places. The instrument sounded phenomenal but at 250.00 I wasn’t happy with the cracking or finish so I returned it and received a new one with a perfect finish, bought a hard case and a humidifier and so far this one hasnt had any issues. I am in Arkansas which was not on his list of humidity challenged areas but he said he was adding it. It did take sending pics and several emails back and forth to get it returned and I did have to pay for shipping but overall it took about 2 weeks to get my replacement. Overall despite the shaky start and issues with the first one I really love the look feel and sound of this ukulele. I would recommend them just be aware of the possibility of these issues, no matter where you live but a hard case and humidifier for your new baby!

  26. Deluxe KPK Acacia Tenor is what I bought. Again the second was has not developed any issues in 8 months+.

  27. Are any more owners having their Pili KoKo’s developing cracks or other issues?
    For those who have had issues did Pilikoko.com resolve the issues satisfactory. Thanks.

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