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View Full Version : Kala vs Ohana, generally (circa 2015)



Photojosh
02-02-2015, 07:47 PM
Kala and Ohana are both fairly well regarded as far as Asian made ukuleles. Considering similar construction instruments (i.e. solid mahogany baritone or spruce top laminate sides tenor), is there a reason to choose one brand over the other these days? General quality? Setup from the factory? Sound?

There's some info in the archives. But sometimes it's worth updating this sort of stuff. Models, factories, materials, etc all change over time.

kohanmike
02-02-2015, 08:37 PM
I bought a Kala solid cedar top/laminate acacia koa body tenor cutaway acoustic electric with stock Aquila strings about 10 months ago that's my best sounding and playing uke. I only tried one Ohana that belongs to a fellow band mate and I thought it did not have as good projection or sustain, and the action was too high, it actually seemed like it was not set up. My Kala was set up by McCabe's and I specifically asked to make the action as low as possible.

So the lesson to learn is, with either choice, make sure it gets set up properly.

Ukebum
02-02-2015, 08:39 PM
I am currently in the market for an Ohana TK-35G. In my very limited experience, the Ohanas seem to have a better, more quality sound than the Kalas. I have played both while browsing in the local shops and the Ohanas, in my opinion, have played similar to much higher priced instruments. The Kalas on the other hand seemed a little flat. Take my opinion for what it's worth because there are a lot of much more experienced people here in the forum, but that's what I have concluded while comparing the two brands.

PhilUSAFRet
02-03-2015, 01:19 AM
I'd say it depends on the model, but I'd give Ohana a slight edge, tone wise for equivalent model.

deschutestrout
02-03-2015, 03:41 AM
I'd say it depends on the model, but I'd give Ohana a slight edge, tone wise for equivalent model.

And, for any make uke, it also varies greatly from uke to uke, even within the same model ... different piece of wood will sound different, slightly different set up will play different, one having strings on it for an extra 2 months may sound and feel different, etc. I have a Kala solid spruce, flamed maple ... was one of two at the shop. TOTALLY different ukes! Mine was the one to buy...so I did :D

stevepetergal
02-03-2015, 04:05 AM
I have owned a few Kalas and played dozens, (every store seems to have them). I haven't seen one yet with decent intonation. I have played only a couple of Ohanas. They were better in this respect.

deschutestrout
02-03-2015, 04:13 AM
I have owned a few Kalas and played dozens, (every store seems to have them). I haven't seen one yet with decent intonation. I have played only a couple of Ohanas. They were better in this respect.

I own a Kala and have owned another and both had decent intonation. I believe it depends on the store, and how it happened to come from the factory. Kind of fries me that Kala can't do a basic set up on ALL their ukes prior to shipping them out in crates.

phil_doleman
02-03-2015, 08:33 AM
I prefer Ohanas. Within their range they have what I would call a few 'stand out' ukes. The 35 range are great. Solid, nice looking, good sounding ukes that play well, and I recommend them to students. I myself have the TK35-5 (5 string tenor). The vintage Martin and Nunes look-a-like models are also lovely ukes.

deschutestrout
02-03-2015, 09:04 AM
And, between the two, I'd go with a Mainland :rolleyes:

Photojosh
02-03-2015, 09:07 AM
Thanks for the thoughts so far everyone.

mikelz777
02-03-2015, 09:12 AM
And, between the two, I'd go with a Mainland :rolleyes:

I wouldn't be surprised if Mainland and Ohana were the same ukes or at least made in the same factory. If you look at them, they are very similar to each other.

hibiscus
02-03-2015, 09:57 AM
Have owned several Ohana's and highly recommend. On the other hand, my Mainland Mango is fantastic!

Captain America
02-03-2015, 10:13 AM
I believe Mainlands are chiefly made in Indonesia while the Kala are Chinese. I have no experience with Ohana, I believe I strummed one or two once. I have been more than impressed with my Kala La Salle tenor; it's totally wonderful in every respect and I expect it to be in my funeral pyre when I die.

vanflynn
02-03-2015, 10:22 AM
I'm sure that it depends on the price range. My experience is with the <$300 Ohana's and Kala and I prefer the Ohana for overall workmanship.

Brian W
02-03-2015, 12:17 PM
I'm sure that it depends on the price range. My experience is with the <$300 Ohana's and Kala and I prefer the Ohana for overall workmanship.

I have to agree with vanflynn's assessment. I have an Ohana SK-35, and I have been really impressed with the overall workmanship and playability of a solid-wood soprano that only cost me about $200 dollars (and that included a gig bag) . I have played, though never actually have owned, numerous Kala ukes in the price range between $100 to $300, and was never as impressed with their overall build quality compared to the Ohana's.

katysax
02-03-2015, 12:49 PM
There is a local store that always has multiple Kalas and Ohanas across their range in the shop. I've played a number of them several times over the last couple of years. For the price I like both the Kala and Ohana and with any different uke one might be better than the other. I like them both better than various other Chinese ukes I 've tried. I'd give Ohana the slight edge in quality, but I think it depends on the uke.