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"Kelii" Handcraft Ukulele from Hawaii
 
         
 
KELII SOLID MAHOGANY SOPRANO Sound Sample
 
KELII SOLID KOA TENOR Sound Sample
 
         
         
 
KELII LONG NECK SOLID KOA SOPRANO Sound Sample
 
KELII SOLID KOA CONCERT Sound Sample
 
         
 

Kelii (pronounced "Kay-Li-Ee" as told by the shopkeeper at Lahaina Music in Maui) has always seemed to be the forgotten brand among Hawaiian made ukuleles. While ukulele enthusiasts routinely talk about the "K" brand Hawaiian ukuleles (Kamaka, KoAloha, Kanile'a, Ko'olau, and G-String - OK, so G is not K...), Kelii usually seemed to be left out of the conversation. Yes, there has been discussions about Kelii ukes among various ukulele forums on the internet, and pretty much all of it positive, you will probably agree that compared to the other "K" brands, Kelii is very much a minor player when it comes to brand recognition.

The first thing you notice when holding the Kelii tenor is the very thick neck profile. It feels very thick and wide compared to all other ukuleles I have. But the second thing you notice while holding it is that it's a very light ukulele. Despite the thick neck and thinner than normal body depth, it feels very balanced and light in my hands. I really like the feel of the neck and am definitely impressed with the weight and balance Kelii achieved with this ukulele. Besides the aforementioned thick neck and thin body depth, it has more of a "bowled" back than most ukuleles I've seen. It's not really bowled like an Applause uke, but the curve is more pronounced than other traditional tenors I've tried. Other unorthodox touches include rosewood nut and saddle. Kelii is the only maker to my knowledge that uses rosewood for nut and saddle material. I don't think it affects the sound or anything, and it makes for a more unique ukulele.

This is a standard model Kelii tenor and has the bare minimum of adornments (i.e. no bling whatsoever). However, it does have some pretty nice koa. From the pictures posted here you should be able to see some light curls on the koa body. It is nicely bookmatched and well put together. The workmanship is perhaps not the most flawless I've seen, but certainly pretty good. A peek inside the soundhole shows a pretty tidy interior with almost no glue residue. In keeping with the slightly unorthodox style of the Kelii ukulele, the bracing inside appears to be done using koa instead of the more common spruce braces. Also, instead of kerfed linings for the top and back, it uses a solid un-kerfed strip of wood bent to the shape of the top and bottom. Perhaps using these braces and linings saves on production costs, but I'm not entirely sure.

When I first got this ukulele, the action was a bit higher than I'd like, so I sanded down the saddle and got it to a more comfortable playing height. In about a week or so after that, the action felt lower than I had set it at, indicating that the neck had moved a little bit. The relative humidity here during the winter is about 20, so I think a little bit of neck movement is entirely within reason, even with 2 humidifiers in the case. And since it has not reach the point of buzzing, the low action is welcomed. As setup right now, it is easy to play and offers a very pleasing sound. I think the sound gives off an "island" vibe more so than my Kanile'a and Kamaka tenors. It has more of a woody sound with good sustain and volume. It sounds like something Iz would be strumming while singing Over the Rainbow. Check the soundfile at the end of the review to hear it for yourself. Personally, I prefer the more "robust" sound of the Kanile'a and Kamaka, but I think the Kelii offers a very high quality sound and is certainly distinctive. For all the unorthodox qualities it has, I think it probably is the most "traditional" sounding tenor out there.

Overall, I think Kelii definitely belongs with the other Hawaiian "K" brands. I hope they get back to regular production of Kelii ukuleles soon because they are certainly a great value. Right now they are pretty rare, so if you come across one, better grab it before it's gone.

 

 
     
 

Kelii soprano koa/mahogany review

Features 9

* Brand new, made in Hawaii 
* 12 frets to body, 16 total
* Solid curly koa top
* no pickup
* neck, body and sides are solid mahogany
* Satin finish
* Soprano
* Rosewood bridge, fretboard, saddle, and nut
* open geared tuners

Sound 10

* How does it suit your music style I primarily strum and sing. Perfect sound for strumming
* It's difficult to describe the sound... very rich, full sound with clear treble and deep resonance. For a soprano, it is very resonant and sustains well. Has that traditional woody sound that I was looking for. Not at all nasally or thin.
It might sound good amplified, and I might consider adding a pickup later down the road for performing. Otherwise, it is loud with that koa bark. 

Action, Fit & Finish 10

* Because I got it from Musicguymic, it came perfectly set up. Frets are smooth on the edges.
* Top is bookmatched
* Bridge and saddle seem to be set just right
* Did the ukulele contain any flaws? I can't find any flaws at all on the uke. All edges and seams are smooth and perfectly aligned. I scrutinized it for any problems when it arrived. I can't find anything to complain about. Even the label inside is straight. No messy gluework.

Reliability/Durability 10

* Will this ukulele withstand live playing? It feels very well built. I don't have any reservations about gigging with it.
* Does the hardware seem like it will last? yes
* Is the finish good enough to last, or does it seem thin and easy to wear off with lots of playing? I haven't had it long enough to test the finish, but it is a satin finish that allows the woodgrain detail to come through.

 
     
 

Kelii Ukulele สำหรับผู้ที่แสวงหาความเป็นเลิศทั้งด้านศักดิ์ศรี ชาติตระกลู และสุ้มเสียงที่ไม่เป็นรองใคร ออกแบบโดย Casey Moore ชาว Newtown Aiea Hawaii ซึ่งเป็นอูคูเลเล่ที่ผลิตในฮาวายแท้ๆ เริ่มตั้งแต่การคัดสรรไม้ที่มีคุณภาพ , การทิ้งไม้ไว้ให้แห้งสนิทนานนับปี จนกระทั่งทุกขั้นตอนของความพิถีพิถันในการผลิตด้วยมือ จนออกมาเป็นอูคูเลเล่ที่มีคุณภาพคู่ควรแก่การเลือกหามาไว้เป็นอูคูเลเล่คู่มือของผู้ที่สรรหาความเป็นหนึ่ง...

Kelii Ukulele แบ่งออกเป็น 3 series

1. Bronze Series - เป็นอูคูเลเล่ที่ทำด้วยไม้ Solid Mahogany ทั้งตัว ซึ่งจะให้ความนุ่มนวลของน้ำเสียงตามสไตล์ Mahogany และยังไม่ลืมที่จะแฝงความเป็น Original Hawaiian ไว้ที่ปลายเสียง ซึ่งเป็นการเพิ่มเสน่ห์แห่งเสียงเพลงที่จะทำให้คุณหลงไหลได้ไม่ยาก...

2. Silver Series - เป็นอูคูเลเล่ที่ด้านหน้าทำด้วยไม้ Solid Hawaiian Koa ส่วนด้านข้างและด้านหลังทำด้วยไม้ Solid Mahogany ซึ่งจะให้สุ้มเสียงที่ไม่เป็นรองใครและมีเอกลักษณ์เฉพาะตัว

3. Gold Series - เป็นอูคูเลเล่ที่ทำด้วยไม้ Solid Hawaiian Koa ทั้งหมด ซึ่งเป็นที่ยอมรับว่าเป็นไม้ที่ดีที่สุดสำหรับทำอูคูเลเล่ ที่จะให้น้ำเสียงของความเป็น Hawaiian แท้ๆ และยังมีลายไม้ที่สวยงาม อีกทั้งยังมีคุณค่าสำหรับผู้ที่ครอบครองตราบนานเท่านาน...

 
     
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  Bronze Series
   
           
  Detailed Product Features :    
Price
 
 

Body : All Solid Mahogany
Neck : Mahogany
Fretboard : Rosewood
Nut : Rosewood
Bridge : Rosewood
Saddle : Rosewood

 
Soprano :
Bht 8,900.-
 
 
Soprano Long Neck :
Bht 10,900.-
 
Concert :
Bht 13,500.-
 
Tenor :
Bht 17,900.-
           
  Silver Series
 
           
  Detailed Product Features :    
Price
 
  Body : Top - Solid Hawaiian Koa , Back/Sides - Solid Mahogany
Neck : Mahogany
Fretboard : Rosewood
Nut : Rosewood
Bridge : Rosewood
Saddle : Rosewood
 
Soprano :
Bht 10,200.-
 
   
Soprano Long Neck :
-
 
   
Concert :
Bht 15,500.-
 
   
Tenor :
Bht 19,900.-
 
           
  Gold Series
   
           
  Detailed Product Features :    
Price
 
 

Body : All Solid Hawaiian Koa
Neck : Mahogany
Fretboard : Rosewood
Nut : Rosewood
Bridge : Rosewood
Saddle : Rosewood

 
Soprano :
Bht 11,800.-
 
 
Soprano Long Neck :
Bht 13,900.-
 
Concert :
Bht 17,000.-
 
Tenor :
Bht 21,900.-
           
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