4 Of The Coolest Koa Guitars

Aloha Koa!

Hawaii is an amazing place. The surf, the beaches, the Ukelele! Even better than that though is the Koa tree.

The Acacia Koa is native to Hawaii, where it is the second most common tree. According to The World Resources Insitute: “Guitars made from Koa were an innovation of the early 19th century, when Mexican cowboys known as paniolos (from españoles) came to the islands to help wrangle livestock. They brought their own language and culture, including their guitars”. This led to the development of the Ukelele and other Koa dependent instruments.

With its unusual natural colour and sheen, it’s hard to ignore this rare but magnificent wood. Here are 4 of our favourite instruments made with Koa:

Merida Diana DG-16KOAGS

A beautiful travel-sized model, the DG-16KOAGS is a great guitar for players with shorter reach or those who want to carry their guitar from place to place. Don’t be fooled by the size though, this model still projects and then some. In terms of Koa-cred, this model has a solid Koa soundboard, with laminated back and sides for a wide dynamic range.
In terms of price point, quality and tone, this is a very good guitar.

Epiphone Limited Edition Wildkat Koa Archtop Guitar

Our electric selection, this Limited Edition Wildkat model comes with all the accoutrements; Bigsby B70 tailpiece, P-90 dogear classic pickups, and most importantly a stunning Koa body top. This model is an eyecatcher and surprisingly low priced for a limited edition model.

Taylor K24CE Electro-Acoustic

Taylor have a wide range of Koa models across various price points, but at the very top end is the K24CE model, as played by Taylor Swift. It’s no coincidence that the popularity of Koa wood guitars skyrocketed after Swift was seen performing with one.

This K24CE comes in a Grand Auditorium shape and projects wonderfully. It is a prime example of why Koa is so desirable. As you’d expect with a top of the line instrument, its sound develops over time; starting out bright, but developing a wider midrange and a more resonant tone the longer you have it.

Another important thing to note is the work Taylor are doing to improve sustainability in guitar manufacturing and Koa sustainability, They have joined forces with Pacific Rim Tonewoods and the Paniolo Tonewoods project in Hawaii, both of which seek to establish sustainable sources of Koa in the islands.

We can’t write about the jewel in Hawaii’s crown without mentioning at least one Ukelele:

Tanglewood Tribal Spirit Tenor Ukelele

This Tanglewood Tenor is a high performance Ukelele with a Koa body. It offers great output courtesy of the TEQ-TUT pickup system and also has a cut-away to ensure easy access to those high notes; not something you’d usually associate with the Ukelele. The die cast tuners and Rosewood bridge consolidate its high end instrument feel.

If you’re after an instrument with a unique look that plays beautifully, you can’t go too far wrong with Koa! If we’ve whet your appetite and you want to see more, check out our full range here