Lehua Ukulele

The early Lehua ukuleles were made in Mexico, but more recently they have switched their production to Portugal. Their ukuleles are made Australian Blackwood (part of the same family of Acacia wood as koa). The Lahua ukuleles have an uncanny resemblance to Cordoba ukuleles (which are also made in Portugal). I think it's a fairly safe bet they're from the same supplier.

On Video

Jason of the UkeWarehouse demonstrates the long neck Lehua.

On eBay

Lehua Tenor Ukulele Review

This is what they say on their website;

“The tenor ukulele is the largest instrument in our line. It has the brightest and strongest sound. The Classic model is bound with real wood and has multiple black-white-black wood purflings on the top and sides. This model can also be supplied with a low G string upon request.”

When I first unpacked this uke, I was immediately taken back with the wood, mine is built from Acacia Blackwood, an Australian native tree. The feel of it is amazing, there is a warmth in the wood that I have never experienced when feeling up ukes (and yes, I did say ‘feeling up’). The tone is something I don’t know much about, being one that has never had any formal musical training and playing instruments for less than four years. However, everyone that has a play on it really enjoys it. Currently I have it strung up with Hilo high G strings, they are on their way out so I will probably change them to Aquila strings in the coming months.

Since then, the uke has its place firmly entrenched in a stand next to the lounge and gets picked up and played every day, usually during the adverts whilst watching TV. Trudging through lessons and finger excercises I know that eventually I will get to the point where I can keep up with my girlfriends family (all very talented musicians) when they all jam together.

My first experience playing this uke in public was at a local ukulele club here in Australia. I played a tab that you and Brian Hefferan developed for the Sailor’s Hornpipe (I grew up watching Popeye cartoons, so I had to do it!) it was my first solo performance (aside from accompanying some freak on ice playing ‘cows with guns’), and it went off very well.

Either way, I’m not too good of a storyteller and my PhD thesis isn’t going to write itself so I will end this. If this does happen to make it in your top three please feel free to edit the fuck out of this! I truly appreciate all of your efforts in creating chord sheets, tabs and stories, you are a true testament to the versatility of this little instrument and I wish you more of the great success you have achieved in your endeavours. If it wasn’t for your and the efforts of the Ukulele Underground contributors I would have long ago dismissed the uke as an instrument that would never sound right playing modern songs, or of alternative genres.

Girlfriends are awesome! Especially when they give you instruments like these for Christmas!

Review by Albert Munoz

3 Comments

  1. Chris February 16th, 2011 5:49 am

    I own a Lehua Traditional tenor and a Cordoba 25TK acoustic/electric tenor. I doubt they come out of the same factory. Cordoba says their instruments are manufactured in China, and the Lehua website says theirs are manufactured in Portugal. Here are my observed differences between my Lehua and Cordoba: Different quality of tuning gears. Cordoba’s gears are of superior manufacture and smoother turning (I’ll soon be replacing my not-so-smooth Lehua gears with Gotoh UK700 gears). Corboba has a thin satin open-pore finish. Lehua’s satin finish is closed-pore, smoother and nicer to the touch. Both have solid acacia top, sides, and back. Not much of an arch on the back of either one (almost flat on both). Saddle design on Lehua is slanted slot. Cordoba has a straight slot design. My Lehua’s tone is a bit louder and fuller than my Cordoba 25TK. The Cordoba came with a very nice, not too high, factory set-up. Lehua’s factory setup is just as good, but Lehua’s plastic saddle material is too soft (strings have dug slight grooves into the top of the saddle, so I’ll be replacing both Lehua’s saddle and nut with better quality Tusq® saddle and nut. I’m willing to spend the extra bucks on upgrading the Lehua, because I love the full rich harmonics of it’s tone and hope it will sound even nicer with the Tusq® saddle and nut upgrades. The Lehua is my favorite of the three ukes I own. I have Aquila Nylgut strings on all three (absolutely the best strings for brightness and sustain in my opinion).

  2. Frank J June 24th, 2011 4:07 pm

    In 2001 we went to Maui on our honeymoon, staying in Ka’anapali, and during our regular trips to Lahaina passed a little music shop. Finally, I couldn’t resist the temptation any longer and made a stop, walking in and telling the salesman that as touristy as it may have been, I wanted to buy an ukulele. Whether he was just a good salesman or a real uke ambassador he took plenty of time showing me the different models, from the cheapest toy specials to the koa & mother of pearl inlaid models. Ultimately I decided to go for the middle, wanting something that wasn’t necessarily trashy or a decorative ornament, but something of quality.

    This lead him to show me a Lehua tenor, made in Portugal with Mahogany (which I have re-confirmed by email with a company rep). The size was right just right; I had also considered getting a pineapple-body model, but it was just too tight for my hands. While not as elaborate as a koa piece would be, I like the rich color and simplicity of the body. Playing over the years, the neck has worn perfectly for smoothly sliding up and down, the tone is nice and full, and after all these years the sustain is remarkable. In the ten years I’ve had it, I’ve only had one issue – I mistakenly left it too near a radiator one winter, and the bridge came undone. (This is when I learned the importance of maintaining humidity.) I can’t really comment on the saddle and nut as mentioned above, outside of the fact that not finding any problems is a plus. I look forward to playing this for many, many more years, and given the past ten, should fully be able to.

  3. AnalogJeff January 5th, 2012 1:55 pm

    My first ukulele was a Lehua, a Concert bought at Bounty Music in Kauai back around 2004. The solid Acacia body is gorgeous to look at. It got sporadic playing for many years until I got inspired after hearing Jake Shamikuburo late in 2010. I restrung it with Aquila strings. The sound blew me away. It has a real open, fairly bright sound with a beautifully full midrange. Where it lacks in the sound is in its sustain. If you’re only used to sub-$300 ukuleles, you’re probably not familiar with the sustain that better models have. I have subsequently bought a KoAloha Concert and a Sonny ‘D’ Super-Concert and both have incredible sustain, much longer than this one. However, the loud, full, rich tone that the Lehua possesses is probably better than any $300 or less ukulele I have heard and those aspects of the sound rival my more upscale ukuleles. I have played the Lehua for others, even those with upscale instruments, and they “wow” at the tone. When they play it, their enthusiasm for how it plays does not reach nearly the same level.

    Playability is partly subjective, but the action is not the lowest or the quickest, certainly not compared to the KoAloha (which is known for that, among other things). I recently had the action on my Sonny ‘D’ lowered. I would probably want to do that for the Lehua, as long as it didn’t ruin it in other areas. Compared to the KoAloha, the Lehua has a different fit in my arms. The bridge and sound hole are placed a bit differently on the two instruments, so where your hand is placed on the fretboard is different, too.

    So I can’t say that this will be the best sub-$300 instrument for you, but I would say to also take a look at the Kanilea Islander models. Their solid mahogany Concert is about the same price. It sustains better than the Lehua, but has a darker tone, being mahogany. The Lehua is definitely more open sounding and its midrange is fuller. In my opinion, Acacia (Australian Blackwood) is more beautiful than the mahogany, but that’s personal preference.

    Workmanship? Quite good, but I’d say that the Islander model is a hair better in terms of fit and finish.

    The main thing is how it sounds and plays, right? I think the Lehua and Islander are better instruments than the entry level Ponos (though the Ponos might sustain better than the Lehua, they tend to sound reined in, dynamically.).

Got something to say?