Hawaii brings to mind idyllic beaches, volcanoes, lush forests and of course the ukulele. It is indeed a traditional Hawaiian musical instrument that was originally made exclusively with koa wood. It is precisely koa from Hawaii that we are going to talk about today. Let's see what it is more exactly.
The basics of koa Hawaii
Koa Hawaii, also called Hawaiian koa, Hawaiian koa or Acacia koa, is an endemic tree of the Hawaiian archipelago. Koa wood was once used by Hawaiians to make one-piece canoes. They took a large trunk, dug inside and got a boat. The peculiarity of this tree lies in the fact that when young it produces characteristic leaves typical of the Fabaceae family. Once adult, the leaves take on a very simple shape and look more like sickle blades. Around the world, koa is considered the traditional wood of the ukulele. It is actually a Hawaiian variety of acacia, its name means bold, fearless and courageous.
The characteristics of the Hawaiian koa
The Koa Hawaii has an average specific gravity of 0,55. It is a large tree that usually reaches 15 to 25 m in height. It grows rapidly since it can reach up to 9 m in height in just 5 years. As already announced above, the leaves of the koa Hawaii change over time. Namely, it is a tree with pale yellow flowers.
Uses of Hawaiian koa
As we have already mentioned, the ancient Hawaiians took the trunk of the Koa to build a canoe. Then koa was used to make surfboards. Until now, koa wood species is widely used in carpentry on the islands of Hawaii. It is thus exploited to make furniture, wood carving, etc... Since the invention of the ukulele, koa has been used for its manufacture. Over time, the whole world of lutherie adopted it to make guitars, violins and other musical instruments. Throughout the world, the Koa Hawaii is still associated with the ukulele. Enthusiasts of this small stringed instrument still prefer it to other species such as mahogany and maple. The sound is a bit tight at first but it opens up and softens with use. In addition to the traditional side which gives the koa an exceptional value, its overexploitation has made it rare over time. Thus, a Hawaii koa ukulele is currently considered a luxury instrument.