LOCALS Ukulele

LOCALS are a brand of ukulele that have cropped up on eBay recently and ,I must admit, I know very little about them. I Googled them and the first result was me - no help at all. So everything I know comes from their eBay listings: they're solid koa, made in Hawaii and, "the finest quality of ukuleles as like KAMAKAs or MARTINs but only half the price." The boldness of that claim coupled with the fact no one is talking about them make me a little suspicious.

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20 Comments

  1. Paul December 3rd, 2009 7:57 am

    My dad just got back from Hawaii with a new uke in hand the other day. I saw it was a Locals ukulele, I had never heard of it before. After my first chord I fell in love with it! Im surprised how little there is about them on the web. LOVE IT! A++++

  2. Woodshed December 7th, 2009 8:45 pm

    Thanks for the review, Paul.

  3. Tim Steinhoefel January 23rd, 2010 1:24 am

    I bought a locals uke in hawaii a few months ago from a small shop I personally love it but I dont have much experience with ukuleles however from what little I do know it is great quality

  4. Noela Castro April 29th, 2010 12:47 pm

    Aloha, I am the maker of Locals Ukuleles. I work out of home garage in Makakilo-Oahu, Hawaii. Just a little about myself and how I got started. I started back in 1996 with K.C. Moore of Kelii Ukulele Company. Kelii just started his company about 2 month before I started with him. It’s been 12 years of helping him to build the Kelii product to a household name in this industry. Every ukulele that went through there had my detail finish on it. Along with shaping all necks, which after got its final C & C machine made copies, to bridge design, head stock, intonation and so on. In 2008 it was time for me to move on and fulfill my own dreams and goals. So here we are today, “Locals” Is just one label I started. In May of 2010 be on the look out for “Ka’Ohana” Ukuleles. I am proud to say as a 60% blood Hawaiian, that these ukuleles have a true Hawaiian sound with the finest quality of craftsmanship. And, to all of you who bought one of my ukulele’s, I say with much Aloha and Mahalo for keeping our culture and heritage alive today. Aloha

  5. Brad Erickson July 24th, 2010 6:09 pm

    I’ve played ukulele about for about five years was recently visiting family in Oahu and looking to get a better ukulele. I played a lot of instruments in music stores and also met a number of builders/dealers who had tables at places like the Aloha Stadium flea market, the Hula Festival and the 40th Annual Ukulele festival. Most of the instruments I liked were about $700 and up which was out of my range. I met Zachary from Locals and Ka’Ohana at the Hula Festival and played their instruments which are Koa, made in Hawaii by musicians yet starting at $300. To my ears, fingers and eyes, these were comparable to instruments selling for triple the price. I think my next ukulele will be a Ka’Ohana six-string. By making them in a garage, they appear to keep overhead way down and offer these exceptional instruments at an affordable price. For a serious musician on a budget to be able to support local artisans and get an instrument like this is a rare opportunity.

  6. John August 7th, 2010 5:51 pm

    I just returned to the Mainland from Oahu and purchased two ukuleles while I was there. One was a “Locals” suprano, and the other was a “Ka’Ohana” concert size. Let me just say that for the price, one will not find a better uke anywhere…especially in Hawai’i! I own a beautiful, cutom-made “Kamaka” tenor and I have to confess that I enjoy the quality, tone, etc. of these two instruments just as much as the “Kamaka”. I don’t mean to compare and no disrespect, but until one plays and hears one of these fine instruments, there should be no critisism. Mahalo Noela for designing such excellent instruments!

  7. Ted May 17th, 2011 8:38 pm

    I purchased a Locals Tenor Ukulele at Bob’s Ukulele in Honolulu last Summer. I had spent the previous 3 months backpacking the South Pacific and wanted to purchase a descent ukulele in Hawaii before I returned home to the Mainland. I purchased it for $550 with a case, but just saw the suggested retail price for a Tenor was $799 on the Le’ale’a Ukulele website, so I’m not sure that really means anything cuz SRP is always higher anyway. I just went to Bob’s site and he doesn’t even list Locals as a brand he carries, so not sure what to make of that either. I am an experienced guitar player, but not very experienced in the Ukulele so I don’t really know what to compare the sound to. It sounds awesome to me with a great and rich sound, but again I don’t really have a frame of reference for comparison. Overall, I am satisfied with my Locals Tenor Ukulele.

  8. Norm Hoznor September 7th, 2012 6:57 pm

    Ive got a Locals tenor. Its a wonderful uke! I own Kelii tenor a Koaloha super concert and a Kamaka long neck concert the Locals is as good as any of them. Great finish.great build, wonderful tone! Noela does an amazing job. For the price you can not beat this uke,

  9. Richard January 1st, 2013 7:57 pm

    I just purchased a Ka’Ohana tenor ukulele yesterday. It is an awesome instrument. The tone is amazing. As a guitarist, I find the fingerboard of the tenor very easy to play. The Koa wood is irridescent. For the quality of instrument, this could easily sell for double or triple the price at a high end guitar store on the mainland. (I am already thinking about buying an 8 string tenor on my next visit.) Mahalo bradha Zachary for such craftsmanship and sharing the aloha.

  10. steve January 4th, 2013 10:42 pm

    I bought my tenor a few weeks ago from Zachary. I wanted a quality ukulele that was made by hands that cared. When he let me play the lot of tenors in his efficiently crammed workshop, it was like he was introducing me to his family. I picked out the one that spoke to me and expect to have it near me until I pass it on. My stubby guitarist fingers can chord up the neck just fine and it stays in tune after hard strumming or bending – really.
    I love the hand-finished fit to everything. The body’s nicely flamed and he did a great job matching the grain. From some angles I see the math and science of it’s construction, but others show the flow of art. Deep color and grain in the bridge and an overall finish that makes the thing sound like it is breathing. Damn fine job.

  11. Javier Andrade February 23rd, 2013 7:39 pm

    I to spoke with Zach and he was very warm and welcoming over the phone. “Definetly felt the aloha spirit thru the phone” There was ZERO pressure on purchasing a ukulele at the time of the conversation! Like what was said above, I’ve heard very little about this company. And have only seen a few ukulele’s in person, but the one that I did see were BEAUTIFUL!
    I plan on going back to Oahu in April / May so when I do I will definetly stop by a see bruddah Zach’s shop, he even invited me too :) I can’t wait to purchase one of his beautiful instruments!

  12. Ray March 11th, 2013 7:25 am

    While on vacation I purchased a Ka’Ohana, Koa tenor ukeulele in June 2012 at The Music Exchange in Kailua-Kona. It is an excellent instrument. While I am new the the ukulele I have owned and played Taylor guitars so I know quality when I see and hear it.
    I visited several music stores as well as the Holuloa Ukulele Gallery (saw several beautiful custom, local made ukeleles here). The custom ukuleles started at around $900 and looked and sounded beautiful. I paid somewhat less for my Ka’Ohana and am very satisfied with the quality and sound.

  13. Steve Haines June 30th, 2013 2:42 am

    I also purchased the Ka’Ohana tenor uke at the music exchange in Kailua-Kona! Love it. Are you considering adding a pickup to it? If so what kind? I have no idea but I would like to add some volume.

  14. Zachary Noela Castro September 2nd, 2013 11:29 am

    Aloha Steve, First of all mahalo for taking interest in and your purchase of a Ka’Ohana Ukulele. I do take pride in what I do and offer you my email if you any questions concerning your ukulele. I do install pickup upon request and you could email me at ohanawoodcraft@msn.com for more details. I prefer using Fishman products on my own personal 6 sting Tenor which I play out at Germaine’s Luau as Musical Director. The set up take a little time to install and to adjust the under saddle pickup for tone, volume and action. Once again mahalo,
    Aloha,
    Noela

  15. Zachary Noela Castro September 2nd, 2013 12:27 pm

    Check out one of the ukuleles I made and sponsor Justin Young with Colbie Caillat Tied Down Ukulele Acoustic Live @ House Of Blues on you tube. Back then in the early 2000′s I was experimenting using different woods. For Justin I made a mango back and sides with a spruce top with a tortoise shell rosette Concert. Put a mahogany tenor neck, rosewood fretboard and bridge, grover tuner keys, pickup with volume control. And what a lot of people don’t know is that in the early 2000′s I used the label “Ohana Ukuleles”. I was making them and selling them. Then in 2008 I get a call from California a Mr. Loo. He told me to stop making the Ohana label cus he had register and grand fathered the name nationally. Well,my bad! and if you find one of those early Ohana ukuleles with the inside label of the petroglyphs family,that’s a keeper like Justin’s one. So that’s why we have Ka’Ohana today. The name of my first hawaiian musical trio.

  16. Zachary Noela Castro September 2nd, 2013 12:46 pm

    Two months ago July 2013, met up with Brother Nolan Conjugation a long time friend. We talked about ukuleles and how I can help him with his classes of student learning to play. My uncle, Kata Maduli came up with the idea of a signature series. So, today you have the Brother Nolan signature series made by Ka’Ohana Ukuleles. Now you can be strumming along to the song of “Big ship sailin’ on the ocean!”
    Aloha,
    Noela

  17. robert nettle December 29th, 2013 10:54 pm

    Hello,
    I wanted to buy my son a ukulele for Christmas. I wanted one that was made in Hawaii. After reading some of the feedback and then talking to Zach, I decided to take a chance with a Ka’Ohana Ukulele. I have only seen pictures of his ukuleles and it was hard to buy something without seeing it in person. I am glad I did. Awesome is the perfect word to describe it. It is everything that Zach said it was. I placed an order with him during the holiday season when he was swamped. He assured me he would be able to make my uke and have it at my door before Christmas and he delivered.
    Mahalo

  18. Bryan January 14th, 2014 7:15 am

    Just received my Ka’Ohana tenor last week. Right away I noticed the absence of glue or heavy chemicals, just a wonderful oil. It’s a very traditional ukulele. No binding or rosette, just an innocent and honest ukulele. It’s made very well. Feels like he chose the best wood out of his pile. The wood shimmers like a Koa fractal. I found myself wanting to play so that it has a chance to express itself, it really wants to sing and make smiles, just like Zach. I really am just inspired to play it. I picked my Lanikai LU21TE up after playing this for 3 hours tonight and the Lanikai felt like a big stupid toy so it’s on Craigslist. The Hilo strings are much too young and different (I’m a Nylgut guy) for me to comment on intonation but so far no issues that I can tell nor any that are going to develop; going up the fretboard with a capo and my Peterson there was really nothing that would indicate intonation issues which is a deal breaker for me so I’m happy. Sound decay of each note is smooth with zero warble in the chamber. While the fretboard is flat and not curved I don’t have any bar cord struggles that cause distraction. Amaj9 and A#maj felt fine as the strings are nice and low. Sound is warm yet crisp as Koa should. I love the black nut and saddle. Tuners are very stiff. The A string sounds wonderful especially around the 5th fret and up, just very sweet with a wonderful little pop if wanted. Played this next to Jake’s Missing 3 and it sounds just like the recording which was inspiring, considering that’s a $5K uke. I’m all for paying extra for a name but this really is quite the deal. Currently Zach gets his business by word-of-mouth and he’s busy – thats about as good a testimony a luthier can get.

  19. Kevin O. January 18th, 2014 11:22 pm

    I came back from the Island of Oahu just this morning. I found Zack and his beautiful line of ukuleles on Craigslist (Hint for anyone in Oahu on vacation or business). First, let me say… Like everyone else has said on this thread, he KaOhana/LOCALS Ukuleles that he produces are worth 2x or more than what he sells them for. They are AMAZING quality, and the sound is on par with KoAloha and Kamamka (as others have said).

    But there is even more to this “review” and that is the review of the MAN behind the Uke. Zach is a man who loves his craft and really expresses the spirit of Aloha. Meeting him was just as incredible as the instrument he has crafted.

    The brand of his Ka’Ohana truly is “The Family” and I can’t wait to visit him the next time I am on the Island.

    If you are considering any handmade HAWAIIAN uke, you are doing yourself a disservice to not seek out Zach and play one of these beautiful ukes.

    Mahalo, Zach!
    A Hui Hou

  20. Suri March 26th, 2014 8:17 am

    My dad came back from Hawaii on the last year March with a uke for my 21-year-old birthday gift, it was LOCALS, although I don’t know that much about how to play the uke( neither do my dad ) , I was really get amazed by the sound of the LOCALS uke. It is so beautiful and seems like I heard about the sound of the deep ocean far from me, the sound reverberated a dark and bright dream which makes me feel in the childhood garden.

    I guess I am the 1st one who got this unknown brand uke from Hawaii, I live in Beijing, seems like a Chinese young lady’s long story with the LOCALS UKE. Wanna know more about the story of my uke and the LOCALS brand as well. I LOVE MY UKE, and I will bring my uke to everywhere when I move to another country, it inspiring me a lot when I have no idea about my design projects,sometimes when I feel sad or get confused about art.

    Aloha from Beijing,
    Suri Tan

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