Where Are Your Ukes Made?
This is a common question we're asked. The answer is: China. However, it takes a little explanation.
When we founded Nalu, our goal was pretty simple: we wanted to make a quality, solid-wood ukulele with an overall sound profile and appearance as close to custom, handmade ukuleles as possible...and at a price more people could afford. Our first inclination was to make Nalu in the United States. Unfortunately, that proved too costly. So we started looking abroad - in Indonesia, China, Korea and the Philippines. Korea proved problematic for a number of reasons. In Indonesia, we were turned down by a number of factories because our specifications were too demanding and would slow down their production facilities. In China and the Philippines, we looked at a number of options, but rejected them for a variety of reasons - too poorly constructed, poor quality control, and more. However, with one group, we found someone willing to work with us as we desired - sourcing wood from a higher quality source, a willingness to meet all of our assembly specifications and, most importantly, the ability to hand assemble and hand finish every single ukulele. This means that we are able to take advantage of their high-end manufacturing technology (CNC routers, lathes, etc) and lower-cost workforce, but still get a high-quality, nearly hand-made ukulele.
What's the best wood for an ukulele?
There isn’t a “best” wood. It really depends on what your eyes and ears prefer. Mahogany, the wood we use in our Ahua and Hokua lines, produces a balanced tone with an emphasis on the midrange and a nice dynamic range. Spruce, which we use on our Kaiko’o line typically sounds brighter, while Zebrawood, again used in our Kaiko’o ukes, produces well-defined basses and trebles, with good volume and excellent distribution of voices.
Why don't you make a Koa model?
While we do have access to beautiful cuts of Koa, the supply of Koa is dwindling due to mass production harvesters. We think it is best to save it for our friends in Hawaii and smaller luthiers.
How are Nalu ukes different?
First, before you even pick it up, you notice the unique "wave" design elements, beautiful woods and striking inlays. But then you pick it up and realize just how amazing these ukuleles sound. We've spent years designing, choosing wood and components, and testing to put together these great sounding instruments.
Next, read the question above that explains our building process. It's unique and, by design, delivers tremendous value.
Lastly, it’s important to know that we maintain a constant state of “constructive dissatisfaction” with our ukes that keeps us looking for ways to improve upon what we already have.
What are the different sizes of ukulele?
A Soprano is the smallest of the ukes, followed by Concert, Super Concert (a Concert body with a Tenor neck and Tenor scale length), and Tenor. Lastly, the largest of ukuleles, is the Baritone.
What is the pick-up used in Nalu ukuleles?
Nalu uses a Mi-Si Acoustic Trio pickup in our ukuleles. The Mi-Si Acoustic Trio is an active, battery-free preamp. All you have to do is charge it for 60 seconds using the provided Mi-Si Power Charger, and it will provide up to 16 hours of performance time.
Can I customize a model?
Why would you want to? They’re great as they are. All kidding aside, Nalu is currently exploring customization options but does not offer customization at this time.
What are the best strings to use?
Again, like the “best wood” question above, it depends on your ears. Everybody has their favorite string. At Nalu, we've tested and played nearly every string possible and we've selected a string developed by Jason Arimoto and marketed as Ukulele Creations' PhD strings as the best string for Nalu ukuleles. Our ukes have always sounded fantastic...but these strings make them sound even better.
How often should I change strings?
Depends on how hard and often you play. Look for wear and tear and a loss of ability to tune them. Then, when you replace them, replace them as a set.
How should I care for my ukulele?
Wash on gentle cycle with similar colors. Tumble dry on low heat. No, seriously, take a look at our Uke Care page for all you need to know.
Can I get any of your ukes as a left-handed ukulele?
We don’t currently make a dedicated left-handed ukulele, but our existing ukes can be strung left-handed. However, it is possible that some adjustment to the nut slots may be required. This can be done by a local luthier or respected guitar shop.