Ohana Custom DTK-2 Deluxe Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

9 Jul 2023

Ohana Custom DTK-2 Deluxe Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

Well here's a ukulele I didn't see coming in 2023, and an exclusive first independent review! This is the brand new Ohana Custom Shop DTK-2 Deluxe Tenor.

Ohana Custom DTK-2 Deluxe Tenor Ukulele

Ohana are an extremely well known 'household' brand that most ukulele players will have heard of and perhaps owned. Rather like Kala, they operate in the beginner through to mid range of the ukulele market releasing largely Chinese made instruments from their HQ in California. I've been quite vocal about some of these established brands before suggesting that they were getting a bit 'samey' and some other newer names like Flight were stealing the march with innovation. To be fair to Ohana though, I had noted a little earlier in the year that they were pushing out some new models such as the excellent TK-260 tenor I looked at, but this.. well, this is quite something else!


For this new release Ohana have taken the plunge into the luthier built instruments made in the USA. In this case Employing their own in house luthier to work directly with the Ohana owner to create a small volume run of totally hand made instruments. Kala have already gone down this route with the Elite series and more recently the Revelator, but I believe this is a first for Ohana. So, no.. I certainly didn't see this coming. A luthier built Ohana hand made in Long Beach California. It was hard to hide my excitement when Alex at Southern Ukulele Store asked if I wanted to be the first to look at this, something he is able to do because SUS have some exclusivity for this first run! I didn't need asking twice!

The DTK-2 Deluxe is a modern shaped tenor ukulele with a pleasing rounded double bout with fat base reminiscent of many other high end ukuleles of the modern era such as the Moon Birds. This one is made from all solid, hand selected Hawaiian Koa, and that 'Deluxe' tag is not mere marketing. Just look at the flaming on this which is gorgeous in the very well book matched pairs of woods. This has a 3D quality to the shimmer and is a seriously nice example of true Koa. It's just lovely I think. To be fair though the top and sides are far better than the back.

Ohana Custom DTK-2 Deluxe Tenor Ukulele body

The bridge is anything but a parts bin choice and is rather a hand carved pin bridge made of ebony. I love the shape and how thin the side wings are as well as how tidy and well finished it is. It's familiar yet different if that makes sense. Sitting in that is a bone saddle with a string spacing of 43mm. The pins themselves are made of ebony with abalone caps.

Ohana Custom DTK-2 Deluxe Tenor Ukulele bridge

Decoration of the body is sympathetic to the koa, and not overbearing or detracting. Around the top and back are rosewood binding strips which adds just enough detailing to the edge without the need of adding mother of toilet seat around it. The sound hole rosette is a work of art too - a wooden inlaid ring made of Myrtle and walnut with small abalone details pulling them together. I think it's a lovely design and, again, doesn't dominate but rather works with the body woods. The body is then finished in a poly gloss which looks thin and very well applied. I can't find fault with anything so far.

Ohana Custom DTK-2 Deluxe Tenor Ukulele decor

Inside deserves a review of it's own. Naturally, it's extremely tidy with the Ohana label formed on a thin piece of wood. The bracing goes down the Kanile'a route with thin pieces that have been 'cut through' to reduce weight whilst maintaining stiffness.  Rather than just drilling holes though, even these are decorative! I can't work out the full bracing pattern but the upper bout as and extra couple of mini braces set on an angle in the top shoulders.  They are also attached to the top and back on 'feet' rather than glued all the way across in order to leave the top to vibrate that bit more. Then there are the linings - notched, but not in a way I have seen before, more of a zig-zag effect. Does that affect the instrument? Probably not, but it's unique and another mark of attention to detail and I believe has less mass. Honestly, i've never been excited by talking about kerfing before, but there you go!

Ohana Custom DTK-2 Deluxe Tenor Ukulele inside

The neck wood isn't specified, but it's largely one piece with a slight stack on the heel which is capped with more ebony. It's also finished in satin so nothing grippy here. It tapers to a roomy 37mm (30mm G to A) and has a carving feature at the nut which I always like which acts like a bit of a stopper on the hand on first position chords. Nice. It's not fat in profile either so two boxes ticked for my preferences.

It's topped with more ebony which is in great condition. It's edge bound too to hide the fret ends which are dressed wonderfully regardless.  There are 19 of those joined at the 14th. Abalone dots serve as outward markers at the 5th, 7th, 10th, double 12th and 15th and you get white side dots too. Oh, and that slight wavy curve on the board end is very attractive too.

Ohana Custom DTK-2 Deluxe Tenor Ukulele neck

Beyond the bone nut is a headstock which is not your normal Ohana shape, but carries a similar wave curve to mirror the end of the fingerboard (I like it when design cues tie together). It's faced in more koa and in the top right corner has an ebony inlay to the plate holding the Ohana 'O' logo. Alex at SUS may have a heart sinking moment here, but... I'm not a fan. I just think that black inlay is too stark on what is a classy looking uke in other departments with decoration that blends together well. I think a slightly less dark wood would work for me more here. Sorry Ohana! Of course - this is one of those subjective parts to my reviews and it wouldn't be life and death for me.

Ohana Custom DTK-2 Deluxe Tenor Ukulele headstock

The tuners are just superb too. Here we have high end Gotoh gears with the height adjustable posts - UK700's I think. Very nice choice for a tenor.

Ohana Custom DTK-2 Deluxe Tenor Ukulele tuners

Finishing it off is a good quality Ohana branded hard case and a set of D'Addario strings with a wound low G. Personally I'd want a regular high G, but again - totally subjective and I never adjust scores for strings unless they are total garbage. These are not total garbage. And the price.. of course this is not cheap, but then it's commensurate with the other USA hand made brands, and even one or two far eastern ukes at £1,999. Remember, this is hand made in the USA and not the normal Ohana line so I totally get it. The comments SUS made in their teaser video on this point are interesting though. For me, the name on the headstock matters not a jot though it might do for some. Personally I think that matters is how well it is made and how it sounds. On the first measure I think you can tell I am enraptured by this one. On the second.. well... let's have a play..

Ohana Custom DTK-2 Deluxe Tenor Ukulele back

First up, it's a lovely instrument to hold. It feels like a light build at 715g and balances perfectly at the 12th. Set up is, naturally, spot on too. Volume is good though I suspect the tone woods need opening up on this as it has a certain softness to the volume that I suspect will improve with time. Sustain is very nice indeed and not just on account of the low G - all the strings sing.

Ohana Custom DTK-2 Deluxe Tenor Ukulele sides

As I say, I am not a fan of the wound low G tone (though I know many of you are) so I find that dominates in the tone a little for my ears and would swap it out (and I would say that about ANY high instrument with a wound low G). But that aside there is a very clear richness to the tone here that good quality koa provides. This has lows, mids and trebles turned up to the max and all in harmony with each other - very balanced and characterful. I don't think an instrument like this is designed for more trad peppy fast strumming though and I find the strummed tone is more pleasing when done more laid back or used as strums and fills to accompany melody playing. Still, it's clearly a very grown up 'high end' tone that is just lovely to listen to.

I could play this fingerpicked all day. It has a wonderful rich chime to the notes wherever you are on the fingerboard that is incredibly melodic, zingy, yet laid back. Just glorious. But hey, I can't do an instrument like this justice and precious few of us can. Check out the videos published by the guys at SUS for a better idea of how a talented player can make this sing. It's very very good.

For me, this has knocked me sideways a bit. At first glance I thought 'oh, it's Ohana doing a Kala - make an Ohana style uke in the USA and charge more', but I think this is much more than that. This is a ground up development which sits totally aside from the normal Ohana line in shape and build specs. In fact had this arrived with aNueNue or, heck, even Kanile'a on the headstock I wouldn't have been surprised. As a counter point to that though - if a brand puts their name to something like this (modern shape, wide nut in particular) it begs the question as to WHY they would not bring the rest of their line in check with that? The Islanders spring to mind as to the Ko'Alana ukes. How can you still market off the peg generic Chinese ukes built to the old standard 'samey' template yet put your faith behind this which is clearly wonderfully different? Something to think about perhaps?

That aside, this is a stellar instrument that deserves a lot of attention regardless. As I say above, the name on the headstock doesn't matter a jot to me. It's a cracker. 


Model: Ohana Custom DTK-2 Deluxe
Scale: Tenor
Body: Solid Hawaiian Koa
Bridge: Ebony, pin bridge
Saddle: Bone
Spacing at saddle: 43mm
Finish: Gloss
Neck: Unspecified
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 19, 14 to body
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 37mm, 30mm G to A
Tuners: Gotoh, height adjustable gears
Strings: D'Addario low G
Extras: Ohana hard case
Weight: 715g
Country of origin: USA
Price: £1,999


Wonderful looks and decoration
Superb build quality
Extremely comfortable neck
Excellent tuners
Good volume and great sustain
Classy rich balanced koa tone


Calm the headstock logo down!


Looks - 9.5 out of 10
Fit and finish - 10 out of 10
Sound - 9.5 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10









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