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View Full Version : Kala Rasta Tenor and Makala Dolphin Review



phanzo
02-10-2010, 07:01 AM
Ok so I got 2 new ukes in the mail yesterday. The first is the new Kala "Reggae" Tenor. I got it strung with Low G Kala Reds but it had some issues in the setup process. Apparently the Low G's are too thick to use without adjusting the saddle. So Mike (UkeRepublic) put in a piece of metal under the saddle to sit it up for the Low G and C strings. It works decently well but after the shipping, it seems the saddle has settled a bit and I am getting some buzzing on the 2nd fret G string. I'm going to keep the strings the way they are for a few days and see if it gets any better. If it doesn't, I think the first thing I will try is getting a High G Kala Red from a local dealer and try that, without the sheath under the saddle. Right now, Mike has an Aquila G string on there bc it is a little less thick and buzzes less.

Anyway, I will have to update on the string thing later. For the record though, I REALLY like the sound of the Kala Reds, the buzz is the ONLY issue.

As for the rest of the uke, it's pretty nice. There are various MINOR flaws (which I would be much more upset about had this uke been more expensive and not colored the way it is). Speaking of paint...Kala really needs to produce bottles of touch up paint for their ukes, bc the paint chips VERY easily. The color of the uke is awesome looking. The bronze frets look really nice. Mike setup is awesome, no sharp frets and the intonation is pretty spot on. There are some dings and scratches, which is pretty lame since it's BRAND NEW. Besides that, it's awesome! I'll have to make a video with it sometime soon. It has a nice FULL tone and has a nice mellow tone. Not quite as mellow as my Mainland Mahoganies but more mellow than many other ukes I've played.

As for the Dolphin, this is my 1st one. Everything I have read and heard is CORRECT. It's awesome. Sounds awesome, feels awesome, looks amazing (I got the Orange Burst). The only issue AGAIN is the paint. It came with a small chip in the paint and I would love to be buy some of the orange paint to touch it up. It is strung with Aquilas and is a blasty blast to play.

Videos will have to follow. Work is CRAZY busy nowadays though, so it may take a while...

PaulGeo
02-10-2010, 07:05 AM
Congratulations on your new ukes... looking forward to the videos.

Fitzy
02-10-2010, 09:08 AM
There are some dings and scratches, which is pretty lame since it's BRAND NEW. Besides that, it's awesome! As for the Dolphin, this is my 1st one. The only issue AGAIN is the paint. It came with a small chip in the paint and I would love to buy some of the orange paint to touch it up.

Dings, scratches and chips on both? I think that would bug me

phanzo
02-10-2010, 10:20 AM
Dings, scratches and chips on both? I think that would bug me

yea, it does bug me. I just really like Mike (UkeRepublic) and don't want to bother him with sending them all the way back to Georgia and having to replace them. Not to mention, the cost of shipping there and back would be MORE than I paid for the Dolphin in the first place. I think the fact that the paint chips SO easily is a problem with Kala and NOT with UkeRepublic.

It does make me a bit sad that I am afraid to "beat up" my "beater" uke because the paint chips SO easily. I understand that the uke is cheap but when the main attraction to the uke is the paint color, you would think it would be a bit more durable. And the same goes for the Rasta one. For $150+, you would HOPE the paint wouldn't chip when you bump it into something. And I mean BUMP...not slam or bash...BUMP. They're ok NOW, but who knows what they'll be like after a couple weeks of playing. These things should last a LONG time and I shouldn't have to worry about screwing them up within the first 24 hours...just sayin'

Ronnie Aloha
02-10-2010, 10:30 AM
Dustin,

I wouldn't be happy receiving the ukes in the condition that you did. There must be a way to make the paint more durable than what Kala is currently employing.

phanzo
02-10-2010, 11:33 AM
Dustin,

I wouldn't be happy receiving the ukes in the condition that you did. There must be a way to make the paint more durable than what Kala is currently employing.

I agree Ronnie, but what should I do about it?

Melissa82
02-10-2010, 12:40 PM
I agree Ronnie, but what should I do about it?complain to the manufacturer.

phanzo
02-10-2010, 01:38 PM
yea, the more I look at it, I am seeing tons more flaws. All kinds of knicks and dings and scratches, paint chips, etc. I asked Mike about it but haven't gotten a response yet. I guess it's time to email Mike at Kala and get some info on this bc it's pretty ridiculous. I would expect this from a factory seconds or a used one, but not something that JUST came off the assembly line 2 weeks ago. Disappointing...period.

And for being my first Kala purchases, I'm pretty disappointed with both. That means Kala is batting .000 in my book. Hopefully after an email is sent, they can redeem themselves. The sounds quality is GREAT, the build quality is POOR.

Fitzy
02-11-2010, 02:40 AM
Dustin, the question I have is do you think all of those dings, scratches and paint chips, which are on both instruments, got that way during shipping? If not, then they had to be in that condition when they were packed into a box and sent to you. I agree with you that Kala needs to address some of these quality control issues with paint, ect., but I think your immediate problem has less to do with the manufacturer and more to do with who you bought them from. I've read other threads where people who had a specific ukulele on backorder would get a call from the merchant telling them up front that the instrument had arrived, but had a blemish or minor finish problem, thus leaving it up to the customers to decide if they still wanted it. If it were me, I'd be sending both the Dolphin and the Rasta Tenor back to UkeRepublic for an exchange - and with the hope that they will credit you for the shipping charges . . . if, however, your ukes were in mint condition when they left UkeRepublic, then the problem lies with Kala because it appears these specific ukes don't hold up well to every day conditions . . . just my 2 cents . . . peace, brother.

kenikas
02-11-2010, 11:45 AM
Sorry to hear about problems with your new uke's! I do have to say though we've had two Dolphins since August that my grandkids play regularly and the paint is still perfect on them, and they aren't at all carefull with them. I'm very interested to hear what you find out from Kala, keep us posted.

luvdat
03-17-2010, 10:35 PM
complain to the manufacturer.

Kala's combination of design goofiness (Acacia saddle and BTW range of acacia used vs. catalog photos) and QC once things get popular has taken them off my list permanently above a certain price point. When I get beyond the great necks, I remain for the most part nonplussed, esp. past a certain price point. And BTW, let's not romanticize these "companies": they are for the most part factories...and I'll continue to call them factories.

Nuprin
03-18-2010, 02:40 AM
I have a Dolphin for my beater uke and have definitely bumped it into a number of things. The paint still looks fine...no chips or anything. Maybe I've just been lucky but, from my experience, the paint is pretty durable.

haolejohn
03-18-2010, 02:54 AM
I have bought over 50 dolphins from UkeRepublic. Some are great with paint but many have some issues. I personally think it is a kala QC problem. These plastic ukes are having more troubles than the previous dolphins.I personally don't get upset over a few dings on a factory massed produced cheap ukulele but I am a little different than others. I do get upset over cracks in paint along the neck that I have encountered on numerous of the newer dolphins.

krazy4ruke
03-18-2010, 04:47 AM
Aloha
sold my old gibson mando and bought 4 kalas ,a KA-KTE -CT-C 4 me ,for the wife a KA-ASAC-T, AND 2 makala DOLPHINS FOR THE GRANDKIDS . GOT THEM online FROM MUSICGUYMIC.

My wifes 's acacia tenor was finished perfectly and sounds and plays great.
My solid cedartop electric cutaway sounds great, plays great (after i lowered the action a bit), but the finish on the neck left something to bre desired. both sides of the fretboard are sloppy, like someone was sloppy with a file when drerssing the frets.
Musicguymic said this was typical for the kala necks, I might expect that on the Makala's, but not on a $350 instrument. I kept it anyway because it's so nice to play and it projects so well, and I can plug er in!

So imo they are inconsistent, best to get one from a music store where you can see/play them. unfortunately mine doesn't carry many and the $ in my paypall acct was calling loudly to me to hurry and buy.

I also have an old soprano mahog kkeiki that I got in a pawnshop for $35 many moons ago that has issues, but that thing barks!

UKISOCIETY
03-18-2010, 05:03 AM
My dolphin is my beater uke and it shows - especially on the top of the headstock. The rim of the body top has some nicks in it too. I think the paint job is a bit fragile, but since it's my beater I don't care. Still sounds amazing!

Paul December
03-20-2010, 01:42 PM
Hey Dustin, how did things end up? Did the seller exchange them for you?
I hope you didn't get hit with return shipping costs.
I was thinking of getting one, but this thread has kind of scared me away.

phanzo
03-20-2010, 02:09 PM
Hey Dustin, how did things end up? Did the seller exchange them for you?
I hope you didn't get hit with return shipping costs.
I was thinking of getting one, but this thread has kind of scared me away.

I assume you are asking about the rasta tenor?

I am fortunate that I get all of my ukes through Mike at UkeRepublic. He is an AMAZING guy to deal with and he had no problem exchanging the Rasta uke. What I ended up doing, turned out to be one of the best uke decisions I have ever made. I upgrade from the Rasta tenor to the Kala Thinline Tenor for just $40 more. It became, right out of the box, my favorite uke, hands down. It has a wonderful bright tone (which is what I was looking for since all of my other ukes are solid Mahogany (except for the Dolphin, obviously, and the Lanikai that hangs on my wall :)) and is extremely loud for it's size. I couldn't be happier! I actually leaned back on it the other day when I forgot it was in my chair and cracked the top a bit. I think it only cracked the finish bc it still sounds great and the crack has gotten any bigger.

As for return shipping; I paid to ship the Rasta back via ground for $12 and he shipped the Thinline to me priority for $40. So I think I did ok with that :)

The Rasta had a nice mellow tone, but my setup with the Low G is what caused the buzz. It turned out that I had gotten one of the recalled ukes, which is why the paint was so "chippy." I wouldnt say "Don't get it" but I would say that for a little bit more money, you could get a much stronger uke. The paint job wasnt as nice as I had hoped either....and that was pretty much the reason I bought it.

All in all, it worked out great for me. I'm happy as can be with my Thinline and that's all that matters :D

haolejohn
03-20-2010, 03:06 PM
Those thinlines are very impressive.

phanzo
03-20-2010, 03:12 PM
Those thinlines are very impressive.

I couldnt agree more. And I thought that it would be overly-bright with the Aquilas on it, but they're really a match made in heaven:love:

freckleduker
07-07-2010, 12:32 PM
This is my very first post (not that it matters, but I thought I'd share). I just ordered a rasta tenor Kala on ebay last night for an amazing $75 shipped. It's a "blem" uke in which the ad states the blemish is a very minor body blemish and does not affect playability, hence the great price tag. My first uke about a month ago was a Mahalo U-35 (sparkly pink, no less). It my "learner" uke and it's done OKAY, but I definitely needed something better. I'm curious to see how the paint holds up on it since that was the major attraction for me. For the price though, I won't complain to terribly much. I'll post a video of the ukulele once it arrives and my meager skills at playing it.

cletus
07-08-2010, 07:32 PM
Welcome to UU freckleduker. I hope your "blem" is a gem. Looking forward to your vids.

freckleduker
07-09-2010, 09:17 PM
Thanks. I'm hoping for a blem'd gem as well. I'll post some vids soon on my youtube profile name of stinkylungs.