KoAloha Sceptre Tenor Review

I’ve been lusting after a KoAloha Sceptre for a long time. So much so that as soon as the Southern Ukulele Store got one in they contacted me for an easy sale. With these things, there’s always the possibility it’d be a let down once I got it. So…


Size: Tenor
Construction: Solid Koa
Frets: 20 (comfortably playable: 17)
Fretboard Koa
Nut and Bridge: TUSQ (man-made ivory substitute)
Neck: Koa
Tuners: Grover geared tuners.
Finish: Gloss.

Strum Test

Sister Kate

Picking Test


Craig Robertson – Staten Island Slide

Sustain Test


C-string open. A-string 3rd fret. A-string 15th.

Intonation Test


12th fret harmonics followed by 12th fret fretted.

The Good Stuff

Playability: My Flying V experiences have taught me to be wary of unusual shapes. So I had some trepidation picking up a Sceptre. But it immediately felt very comfortable to play. Sitting down my arm naturally rests on the first curve and standing on the second. The beveled edges are a nice touch too.

The action is perfect for me. It’s very easy to play and doesn’t create too many buzzes and flubs even with my sloppy playing.

Construction: Flawless as far as I can tell. No fudging or corners cut.

Volume: Alvin Okami makes a big deal about the volume of the Sceptre. And he’s right to. It’s very loud. But he demonstrates the volume by playing loud. Which isn’t when you notice it most. It’s when you’re not playing loud that you really notice the response. When you’re fingerpicking on it you don’t have to force it to get decent volume. You can play very softly and still hear it. Which gives you a lot of dynamic range to play with.

Look: It is one sexy plank of wood. It’s not to everyone’s taste. But I love it.

Smell: Light and sweet.

The Not So Good Stuff

Hmm. There’s not much I don’t like about it. If I’m being really harsh, the tone of it isn’t very rich and I’m not completely sold on the koa fretboard. The shape does cause some storage issues and renders most stands useless.

That’s about it.


After yesterday’s discussions, I decided to do a Sceptre version of Carmina Burana to compare to the Ohana version. I tried to keep everything else the same – even the shirt (thus provoking more “you looser does you only has one shirt lol” comments).

Ohana Version
Sceptre Version

The extra volume does distort the Sceptre version (although to be fair, I was closer to the mic). The main thing that strikes me is how clearly the higher notes sound compared to the Ohana. And it was certainly much easier to play up there.


I love it. Right now I want to redo every video I’ve ever made with this ukulele.

View Comments


  1. Emily July 7th, 2010 6:26 pm

    I’ve got ukulele envy.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. CharlesHugh July 7th, 2010 8:20 pm


  3. J-Hob July 7th, 2010 10:49 pm

    That does sound really really nice – very open and free. The ohana sounds almost strangled by comparison.

  4. Rob NY July 7th, 2010 11:10 pm

    As I write this, I’m boarding a plane to England to steal it as you sleep.

  5. Foinnse July 8th, 2010 9:52 am

    Sounds great, as J hob said the Ohana sounds a little strangled or subdued next to the Sceptre….. cool name too! :)

  6. Luapelele July 8th, 2010 11:21 am

    Great review Al,
    It was one of my easiest sells ever.
    I wish we’d ordered more, as I have had so many enquires.
    I have ordered more, now i just have to stop myself having one.

  7. Bossarocker July 8th, 2010 11:51 am

    That is well fit.

  8. Phredd July 8th, 2010 2:32 pm


    I am so happy for you. I know you have wanted that baby for a long time. It sounds amazing!!!! I love my longneck soprano, and I’ve found many of the same things to be true of mine that you mentioned in your review of the sceptre.

    Congratulations. Your playing deserves a work of art such as that.

  9. Woodshed July 8th, 2010 9:39 pm

    Emily: Thanks! Working on the pussy magnet song right now.

    CharlesHugh: Understandable!

    J-Hob: It does. I can hardly stand to play the Ohana now.

    Rob NY: Good luck. I’ve hired extra security.

    Foinnse: I’m not so sure about the name. Every time I hear it I think ‘septic’.

    Luapelele: Glad to fill your coffers. It’s good to see you’re getting a few KoAlohas in.

    Bossa: It’s a long time since I heard that phrase.

    Phredd: You’re such a sweetheart! Thanks.

  10. andy July 9th, 2010 7:11 am

    hAhAhA – LOL that was a grate review. Your the bestest!

  11. L.bo Marie July 10th, 2010 4:03 am

    as always, thank you for the smell review.

  12. Dan July 10th, 2010 7:10 pm

    Congrats on the new uke.

    Question: is it comfortable to play standing up?

  13. Woodshed July 13th, 2010 6:01 pm

    andy: Cheers!

    L.bo: I can’t understand why other reviews don’t mention it.

    Dan: Yeah, no problems playing it standing up.

  14. Herby660 December 2nd, 2010 10:46 pm

    Great review. Just bought one myself..What strings are you using out of interest.



  15. Woodshed December 3rd, 2010 10:35 pm

    Herby: I use Worths. KoAloha recommend them and they sound good to me.

  16. Herby660 December 3rd, 2010 10:49 pm

    Cheers many thanks. The Sceptre is so interesting to play. I have just migrated from guitar to ukulele. I wish i had discovered them sooner.This site is great..

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