Koloa KU-600/ Silver Creek Soprano Full Review

8

May 10, 2010 by Tim


The Head of the Koloa

I am perplexed by this ukulele. first of all it goes by two names, Koloa KU-600 and Silver Creek soprano. Why? I have no clue, but they are the exact same instrument. Either way this is a review for both. (Side note: if it is a Silver Creek, it is one of The Music Link’s brands) 

The other part that I struggle with is the overwhelming feeling that I should really like this ukulele. It is solid wood, super high gloss, looks like the tuners are high end, and is sturdy as a rock. So why am I not in love? 

As I look it over I can imagine a group of people purchased ukuleles from all the major ukulele makers and decided what they liked from them all, but they really had no idea on how those things worked together to make an instrument to compete in the price point it is at. read the review below to see the good and the bad of this ukulele. 

Specs:

• Solid Mahogany Top, Back & Sides 

• Mahogany Neck 

• Deluxe Adjustable Friction Tuners 

• Bone Nut & Saddle 

• D’Addario Strings 

• Scale Length: 13-9/16″ 

Looks

First look: (5) I have never seen such a high gloss instrument. This thing is so reflective that I use it as a mirror, believe me I know what shinny is, just take a look at my bald head. Most ukuleles have binding and ornamentation, but this one is very sleek and plain and this is good. My first impression when I saw one in a store was “Man does that look expensive” One of the other striking things on it are the large tuners. they look like the ones you find on Kamaka ukuleles. 

Click to Enlarge

Fit and Finish: (4.9) It is almost perfect, and I looked it over from head to heel and only found one issue. Between where the fret board ends and the sound hole there is some cloudiness in the finish. I felt every edge of it looking for a part that was not touched and smoothed. The body edges are all rounded, frets are filed back, the butt of the neck to the body is even with the back and is almost seamless. Craftsmanship is really well done. 

 
 
 

Sound

Depth compared to a standard soprano

Sound Type: (Shallow and muted) The best way to describe the sound is to call it trapped. It is in there but seems to be stuck. I know it is weird to say but I think it has to do with the top. I do not have calipers to measure it but it is definitely about 50% thicker than most ukuleles I have. I even changed the strings to Worth clear CM to try to liven up the sound and let it escape. The other thing that may affect the sound is how deep the body is. Most ukes are 2.5″ deep, where the koloa is just under 3″. this can make a difference in the sound and make too much room for it to make good sound. That also explains why the hard-shell case does not work with any of my other soprano ukes. If this was a sub $100 I would not say any of this, but for the price it seems like it should be better. 

Intonation: (4) Better than most sopranos that I have been playing lately. I find that playing an A that the C is sharp, not the case as much with this ukulele. From open string to the 12th fret it is pretty much dead on. 

Volume: (3) Back to the trapped sound, it is not all that loud. You can’t even feel the body vibrate when you play it, so I am assuming that the soundboard is not vibrating much either to produce volume. 

Sustain: (4)  It holds a note for a reasonable time, but without volume it fades faster than most instruments. If you like the old time short sustain this is that kind of ukulele. 

Feel

String Height: (Low) I prefer low strings, with this it is well done and as low as you will find. It does not buzz and you barely have to push down to get a clear sound. A lot of care was taken to get it just right. 

Neck Radius Depth: (3/4″ and Very Wide) One of the selling points to this instrument is the fact it has a wide neck. It starts at about 1.5 inches and it ends at just below 2 inches. Most sopranos start at about an inch and get up to 1.5 inches. If you have large hands or issues with movement on a soprano, this is a great ukulele for you. Plenty of room get your fingers on the right strings. 

Frets: (5) Well dressed. Can not feel anything when you run your finger down the sides of the neck. Also it is a flat fret board, it is preference, and makes no real difference. 

Koloa Tuners

Tuning: (2) If you buy this, change the tuners out, they just plain suck. sorry to be blunt, but they are a huge pain to try to tune a ukulele with. I either went sharp or flat, never really could get it tuned in less than 7-10 tries per string. I tried adjusting them a million times. Tuning gets a 2 because it at least stays in tune when it is finally in tune.  I think they thought if Kamaka had them them, they should, except Kamaka tuners work.

Comfort: (5) The edge of the body is nice and rounded off so you won’t get a nasty line in your arm and it is also very light and easy to play. The tuners make it seem like it would be head heavy but it is nice and balanced. I also like how solid it feels. 

Final Thoughts

Please do not get me wrong, if you own one of these or are thinking about getting one, and you want something that is crafted really well, this is your instrument. The people that made it really tried to make a top notch ukulele. Also if you have big hands and want to play a soprano (Because you think those that play anything but are cheaters) then this is the best you will ever find. 

I kept this for two months to make sure that it was not just a new ukulele thing. It did open up after a while, but I feel the sound is just a little dull for me. I play my Lanikai CK-S, 1920’s Richter, and Rogue (With the same strings that I put on the Koloa/Silver Creek) and they are all louder and more full sounding. All I can say is find one and play it. It is a dream to play and hold, just don’t lose your mind trying to tune it. 

The case that came with it, sold seperatly,  was really nice. It is bullet proof (have not tried it) has a humidistat built in.

Case with Uke in it

Humidistat at the head

Case
 
 
 

All Rating on a scale of 1-5
Click here for an explan5tion of reviews

First Look 5
Fit and Finish 4.9
Sound Type Shallow and muted
Intonation 4
Volume 3
Sustain 4
String Height Low
Neck Radius Depth 3/4″ and Very Wide
Frets 5
Tuning 2
Comfort 5
 
Places to buy on the web: 
Silver Creek $149 Musiciansfriend.com
Koloa $149 Amazon
Silver Creek $149 Amazon
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8 thoughts on “Koloa KU-600/ Silver Creek Soprano Full Review

  1. Odowakar says:

    My Koloa KU-600 rattle strings on frets on the 1st and 2 place.

  2. Joni says:

    One of my students has this uke. He’s only 9, so I am not too concerned. But, fe couldn’t be more proud of the thing–it is pretty nice. But, I’m like you–it appears that it has everything it needs to make it a great uke, but I just don’t feel the love. And, what IS up with those giant tuners? Great review!

    • Tim says:

      THANK YOU. It is good to hear that I am not crazy. It is not a bad uke, it is just not great like the sum of the parts make it seem like it should be.
      Thank you for commenting about it.

  3. Lance says:

    I just bought one of these a week ago and I have to tell you that mine is fantastic. The store owner played several for me so I could hear them to help me choose. It was only so so until I asked him to put Aquila strings on it. This made a huge difference. Mine actually rings so loud and pure that I have to strum softly in my apartment so as not to wake my neighbors. I know this sounds weird but the sound seems to be getting better too as time goes by. I don’t know if it’s the strings or the instrument, though. I probably payed too much for mine ($219) but I’m very happy with it. It’s plain, sure…but it’s the sound that counts. It stays in tune and doesn’t buzz on any fret. Heck, I feel like I got a bargain. My only complaint is the fret spacing. So small! But I suppose that’s normal on any soprano uke. Anyway, good review and thanks!

  4. Sven says:

    A review I submitted to online retailer. I saw Tim’s excellent review after I bought it. Here’s my take on it, solid goodness, growing on me, but not Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto.

    “The Silver Creek Ukulele is purchased as an all solid upgrade from my laminate one hundred dollar jobbies. There is an outstanding, detailed online review of this ukulele, which is the same as the Guitar Center Koloa U-600 model, on a website ukeeku dot com. Search it and enjoy Tim’s review, which I agree with. My SC has a wonderful gloss finish and is a deeper red-brown mahogany compared to some lighter colored mahogany ukes. It has friction tuners which, frankly, are no issue whatsoever to use. You just have to be gentle and nudge them, rather than cranking them like geared tuners. These are slightly large and thus head heavy, this soprano plays well with a strap or uke leash. It’s without a flaw in workmanship in mine. When I got it, it sounded dead. Thick body, all solid, seemed to kill tone and resonance. That is, until I jettisoned the D’addario stock strings and put on a set of soprano Aquilas. What a ginormous difference! And, since I have had it for five months now, it has “opened up”, as they say, and it’s sounding better and better every day. I like the fret spacing and would have given it a three star before the Aquilas, and a solid four star overall rating now. Please note that I’d give it a 5 star rating within its price range, but certainly for more money there are better ukuleles. “

  5. Thanks for the reviews and rebuttal reviews, I am one of those people with XXL hands that wants to play a soprano uke so I am going to give this one a shot. I got a great price($85 out the door). I am also going to take the advise and get a nice set of strings and then we’ll see how it goes from there. Thanks again.

  6. Grey says:

    Did you adjust the tuners with a screwdriver first? Once I tightened mine, it tuned great and stayed in tune.

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