The wood is what makes koa ukuleles so special. Koa wood is highly valuable because it is rare. The trees grow only in Hawaii. They are sensitive to grazing animals, which is one of the reasons koa wood is so rare. The trees never have a chance to mature because they are eaten away by animals. Additionally, the area in which it grows is endangered, with many threats, so there is not a lot of space for the trees to grow. In summary, these ukuleles are expensive because finding the koa wood to make them is difficult.
Koa wood is so desirable for ukulele construction because it produces such a rich and high quality sound. It is the traditional wood used for making ukuleles.
People enjoy the look of koa, too. It has many different colors, and the rippled pattern of the wood transfers nicely into the look of the ukulele. Koa wood makes a good ukulele because it is traditional, produces an excellent sound and looks amazing. What more do you want?
The Koa is the largest tree native to Hawaii. A full grown tree can be as high as 100 feet tall with a truck that is 5 feet around and sometimes bigger. The leaves of the tree are often lacy and then change to a sickle shape as the tree matures. It does not grow elsewhere in the world.
It grows rather fast and is quite valuable. It is a hardwood that is used in many ways to construct everything from canoes to furniture to ukuleles. It can be compared in weight and strength to black walnut wood. It is heavy with a specific gravity of .55 and very stable. When a finish is applied the wood becomes highly reflective.
Here are a couple ways Koa is unique and distinct from other woods: