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View Full Version : Kala Custom: Maing Me a Believer with Each Additional Uke



Ukulele Eddie
10-07-2015, 07:12 PM
[title was supposed to read, "Making Me a Believer..." sorry about the missing 'k'!]

Sometime ago, we had a thread on Kala's new custom line out of Petaluma, California. Many of us questioned using their existing brand on truly custom, much more expensive ukes. To this day, I think they should have used some sort of derivative brand name, but...

...with each uke that I've seen/heard on HMS (my only source for evaluating this particular line), I am becoming more and more of a believer.

The Series 3 soprano and tenor available now on HMS both sound and look wonderful to me. If that sopano was a long neck, I would have clicked "Add to Cart" already.

Anybody else suitable impressed?

Strumdaddy
10-07-2015, 08:01 PM
I'm very impressed with the sound.
Funny though... the "Kala" logo makes me pause. Guess I have some inherent uke prejudice.
Still if they where to sponsor me, I'd play one happily and wear the t-shirt and cap. Hypocritical and shallow, ha?

the flat tire
10-07-2015, 11:11 PM
They are nice and tempting...

ukeeku
10-08-2015, 02:47 AM
The ones I have played have not been worth the money yet. There are better ukes in the same price range.

ukuleleden
10-08-2015, 04:30 AM
When I first saw the announcement of the Kala Elite series, I was both excited and skeptical that what was being offered was not much more than a flashier attempt to exceed my favorite all solid wood Acacia KA-ASAC-T. Well, after playing a 2 Koa Tenor, I discovered that was not necessarily the case. Indeed, Kala has upped the ante with their Elite series with great sounding instrument that felt great to play and was a very nice looking instrument with a high-quality build that rivals any other high-end instrument I played including Kamaka, Kanile'a , Martin, and others.

Of course the perception will be that any Kala instrument is a less expensive instrument. Notice I didn't use the term cheap, because I don't feel the Kala instruments are cheap in the realm of quality. On the contrary, they are very good instruments for the value they offer. But that is the problem that many may have when looking at any Kala instrument that goes above that psychological price level of say $500 or greater . But like others have pointed out elsewhere, Kala is not the first company that produced non-luxury products and turned into a luxury product maker. This has been done by many other manufacturers in different industries with great success, such as Honda creating Acura and Toyota creating Lexus. The obvious difference here is Kala is still calling itself Kala with "Elite" attached to it's name, versus coming up with a new luxury name to differentiate from the base brand. But I think the use of a "Elite" after the already familiar brand-name is quite sufficient in what they are attempting to do. Any success will come from the idea that the company has an established customer base already familiar with their products, and now has a a higher-end offering for that same consumer base.

I feel that as long as Kala maintains a very high quality control and somewhat limited production of their elite series as they have seemingly done since the launch, they can be successful if they can maintain the line long enough for the consumer to adjust to the concept.

So far I like what I see, and could see myself buying a Kala Elite based on the sheer fact that I had a very high quality and great sounding instrument in my hand with no concern of being snobbish about the name on the headstock with price point at or above $1k or greater.

ukeeku
10-08-2015, 05:56 AM
When I first saw the announcement of the Kala Elite series, I was both excited and skeptical that what was being offered was not much more than a flashier attempt to exceed my favorite all solid wood Acacia KA-ASAC-T. Well, after playing a 2 Koa Tenor, I discovered that was not necessarily the case. Indeed, Kala has upped the ante with their Elite series with great sounding instrument that felt great to play and was a very nice looking instrument with a high-quality build that rivals any other high-end instrument I played including Kamaka, Kanile'a , Martin, and others.

Of course the perception will be that any Kala instrument is a less expensive instrument. Notice I didn't use the term cheap, because I don't feel the Kala instruments are cheap in the realm of quality. On the contrary, they are very good instruments for the value they offer. But that is the problem that many may have when looking at any Kala instrument that goes above that psychological price level of say $500 or greater . But like others have pointed out elsewhere, Kala is not the first company that produced non-luxury products and turned into a luxury product maker. This has been done by many other manufacturers in different industries with great success, such as Honda creating Acura and Toyota creating Lexus. The obvious difference here is Kala is still calling itself Kala with "Elite" attached to it's name, versus coming up with a new luxury name to differentiate from the base brand. But I think the use of a "Elite" after the already familiar brand-name is quite sufficient in what they are attempting to do. Any success will come from the idea that the company has an established customer base already familiar with their products, and now has a a higher-end offering for that same consumer base.

I feel that as long as Kala maintains a very high quality control and somewhat limited production of their elite series as they have seemingly done since the launch, they can be successful if they can maintain the line long enough for the consumer to adjust to the concept.

So far I like what I see, and could see myself buying a Kala Elite based on the sheer fact that I had a very high quality and great sounding instrument in my hand with no concern of being snobbish about the name on the headstock with price point at or above $1k or greater.

I would agree that some of the China made $500 ukes may sound and play better than a $1,000 uke, BUT the elites are $1500 starting. You can buy a pretty awesome K-brand uke made in Hawaii for that.

katysax
10-08-2015, 06:10 AM
Yes the price is high and the name on the uke is associated with lower priced ukes. But my experience with the California made u-bass models has me open to considering the possibilities. I am also very impressed by the quality they give you in the Asian made models.

Doc_J
10-08-2015, 06:49 AM
Similarly, Lanikai has a competing Hawaii-made Malibu tenor with MSRP at over $2K. I believe it is made by Imua. In the $1k- $2k range there are lots of other excellent choices.
I'd guess resale values of these premium Kala and Lanikai ukes would be lower than competing K-brands, or Mya-Moes or others .

ukuleleden
10-08-2015, 09:03 AM
I would agree that some of the China made $500 ukes may sound and play better than a $1,000 uke, BUT the elites are $1500 starting. You can buy a pretty awesome K-brand uke made in Hawaii for that.

I think the one at $1,500 street is their top of the line model, the 3 Koa . A quick net search showed the 1 Koa is street priced in the $899, and the 2 Koa at $1,099. I'd like to find a few locally to play for a while to get a more sure-footed opinion. But $899 for an all solid Koa ukulele that they're giving special attention to in their California shop sounds appealing if they stand up to their Hawaiian made counterparts. I like to be surprised by well build great playing and sounding ukuleles no matter the name on the headstock or in the sound hole.

I'm sure resale may not be as good as say a Kamaka or Kanili'a, but I'm not an investor of these instruments and don't look to sell unless it is something that I don't care to use. So resale may be barrier to some who like to buy and sell a lot, unless of course these catch on and prices go up over time as they sometimes do...

ukuleleden
10-08-2015, 09:11 AM
My closest Lanakai dealer recently stopped carrying the Lanakai brand, and I was actually looking forward to them bringing in some of the Made in Hawaii models to try. I have to look around for another area dealer now to so that.

hawaii 50
10-08-2015, 09:20 AM
I think the one at $1,500 street is their top of the line model, the 3 Koa . A quick net search showed the 1 Koa is street priced in the $899, and the 2 Koa at $1,099. I'd like to find a few locally to play for a while to get a more sure-footed opinion. But $899 for an all solid Koa ukulele that they're giving special attention to in their California shop sounds appealing if they stand up to their Hawaiian made counterparts. I like to be surprised by well build great playing and sounding ukuleles no matter the name on the headstock or in the sound hole.

I'm sure resale may not be as good as say a Kamaka or Kanili'a, but I'm not an investor of these instruments and don't look to sell unless it is something that I don't care to use. So resale may be barrier to some who like to buy and sell a lot, unless of course these catch on and prices go up over time as they sometimes do...



Thanks for doing your homework.....the base price for the Calif built Hawaiian Koa Kala is $700-$800.00(soprano) range....I played them at HMS and they are the nice the tenors sound as good as the other K brands..the guys a Kala have put a lot of thought and energy into these ukes.....

hope they do well...:)

tangimango
10-08-2015, 12:33 PM
I really want to see whos the first to buy one :p, they seem great quality.

Brian1
10-08-2015, 01:58 PM
Would these be considered custom ?
http://www.kalabrand.com/EliteUke.html
Or is it simply an elite (aka fancy) series ?

I looked into these, I called Kala and was told there are a few options available, but it does not seem like they are building them to order. They did say they were not a dealer and that If I wanted something special I'd have to go thru a local dealer. (Which to me means I would not be able to price shop) But what they consider to be "custom" is not what I consider "custom". When I asked about the "custom inlay" they offer they said there are a few choices. But really could not tell me what the choices were. (or even direct me to more information)

They also say they have a custom foam padded case, that sounds like a stock case that they had designed. To me "Custom" means the built to a client's specifications. Not "pick one form column A and two from column B". If I was to order a "custom" ukuele I would at least want to be able to choose things like the size and shape of the neck, the size shape and location of the sound hole(s), if it had a sound port and where, as well as what if anything it had on the head stock. the number and size of frets. It doesn't seem they have those options.

I think the elite series looks nice and are probably pretty good and is even a good deal I don't want to sound like I am poo-pooing them but I was a little confused about the word custom both on their website and in the thread so I am only trying to clarify.

Farp
10-08-2015, 02:31 PM
I have not had a good experience with Kala in the pre-elite days. I started a thread last March. You can see it here: http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?106050-Konsidering-a-Kala.

The flames came hard and often with that posting, but I stand by my personal experience--the Kala company blew off my problems in searching for a decent baritone ukulele when I wrote to them. I can handle the flames. As has been said, "This ain't my first county fair." Personally, if the company brushes off a sincere concern on a $300 (street price) ukulele, why would anyone lay down a grand or more--especially when there are other K-brands with strikingly stellar records?

hawaii 50
10-08-2015, 07:47 PM
Would these be considered custom ?
http://www.kalabrand.com/EliteUke.html
Or is it simply an elite (aka fancy) series ?

I looked into these, I called Kala and was told there are a few options available, but it does not seem like they are building them to order. They did say they were not a dealer and that If I wanted something special I'd have to go thru a local dealer. (Which to me means I would not be able to price shop) But what they consider to be "custom" is not what I consider "custom". When I asked about the "custom inlay" they offer they said there are a few choices. But really could not tell me what the choices were. (or even direct me to more information)

They also say they have a custom foam padded case, that sounds like a stock case that they had designed. To me "Custom" means the built to a client's specifications. Not "pick one form column A and two from column B". If I was to order a "custom" ukuele I would at least want to be able to choose things like the size and shape of the neck, the size shape and location of the sound hole(s), if it had a sound port and where, as well as what if anything it had on the head stock. the number and size of frets. It doesn't seem they have those options.

I think the elite series looks nice and are probably pretty good and is even a good deal I don't want to sound like I am poo-pooing them but I was a little confused about the word custom both on their website and in the thread so I am only trying to clarify.


interesting....your builder lets you tell him the size of the sound hole and where it should be on the uke and you tell him where to put the SSP and fret size....I thought that was the builders job....:) I never did anything like that....but I did ask for a certain neck thickness(if I already did not know how the necks were) and choice of woods for the build....

if you don't mind me asking who are the builders you use?...

Brian1
10-08-2015, 08:18 PM
interesting....your builder lets you tell him the size of the sound hole and where it should be on the uke and you tell him where to put the SSP and fret size....I thought that was the builders job....:) I never did anything like that....but I did ask for a certain neck thickness(if I already did not know how the necks were) and choice of woods for the build....

if you don't mind me asking who are the builders you use?...


Yes
With discussions with the builder you tell them what you want. His job is to consult with you and let you know what problems those desires might cause. There is a difference between something that is made custom and what is simply hand made.
Is it that strange you would tell a builder if you want a custom sound hole ? or a cutaway ? or how many frets to the body ? If you want your name on the fret board ? the shape of the headstock ?

I have some hand made ukuleles I don't have one that I'd consider custom. But I meet with builders who do this sort of work regularly.

ukuleleden
10-09-2015, 02:44 AM
Would these be considered custom ?
http://www.kalabrand.com/EliteUke.html
Or is it simply an elite (aka fancy) series ?

I looked into these, I called Kala and was told there are a few options available, but it does not seem like they are building them to order. They did say they were not a dealer and that If I wanted something special I'd have to go thru a local dealer. (Which to me means I would not be able to price shop) But what they consider to be "custom" is not what I consider "custom". When I asked about the "custom inlay" they offer they said there are a few choices. But really could not tell me what the choices were. (or even direct me to more information)

They also say they have a custom foam padded case, that sounds like a stock case that they had designed. To me "Custom" means the built to a client's specifications. Not "pick one form column A and two from column B". If I was to order a "custom" ukuele I would at least want to be able to choose things like the size and shape of the neck, the size shape and location of the sound hole(s), if it had a sound port and where, as well as what if anything it had on the head stock. the number and size of frets. It doesn't seem they have those options.

I think the elite series looks nice and are probably pretty good and is even a good deal I don't want to sound like I am poo-pooing them but I was a little confused about the word custom both on their website and in the thread so I am only trying to clarify.



The one custom order build I did (a Martin guitar) was done by working closely with the builder's dealer. The dealer worked with me on all the specs to be submitted for review and a price estimate. Once the order was confirmed, the dealer handled everything ensuring that what was built matched the original custom specs. This eliminates any problems that may arise and the dealer is your buffer and will ensure that your purchase is accurate. Without this buffer of a dealer, you will have more of a burden to ensure the process is completed accurately.

This is why most manufacturers have dealers in the first place to provide the buffer for more focused customer service. Whether Kala will do full blown customs, or just minor changes, I Would again have one of their dealers find out for certain.

Brian1
10-09-2015, 06:54 AM
The one custom order build I did (a Martin guitar) was done by working closely with the builder's dealer. The dealer worked with me on all the specs to be submitted for review and a price estimate. Once the order was confirmed, the dealer handled everything ensuring that what was built matched the original custom specs. This eliminates any problems that may arise and the dealer is your buffer and will ensure that your purchase is accurate. Without this buffer of a dealer, you will have more of a burden to ensure the process is completed accurately.

This is why most manufacturers have dealers in the first place to provide the buffer for more focused customer service. Whether Kala will do full blown customs, or just minor changes, I Would again have one of their dealers find out for certain.

Not to sound contrary but if something is submitted for review that implies it must be with in certain guidelines. I don't know if that would be considered "custom" which to me means "made to order" ... Of course a builder can come back and say "we can't do that" or not take the job.(this happens to me a lot)

To me it seems the dealer in the situation you mention is a buffer but not for the customer, a buffer for the manufacturer. The dealer becomes like the costumer service person you complain to when your cable goes out. You may have paid for cable to watch the "big game" but if the cable goes out in the last half the best you can hope for is a partial credit. THere is only so much they can do to correct any problems.

And yes, one would have more of a burden to make sure the process is completed accurately anything not mentioned to the builder and doesn't turn out right to the customer is not the fault of the builder.

I once had custom displays built for a trade show and "assumed" or "forgot to mention" that I expected them to break apart for storage. That was a costly mistake on my part it was not the fault of the builder who couldn't read my mind.

AndrewKuker
10-09-2015, 12:00 PM
“Custom” is a word commonly used for small shops not running an assembly line operation. Maybe that word shouldn’t be used. Regardless, most every builder will be offering options within the confines of what they are comfortable with and what they have found to be best for their builds.

The builders I know all have certain guidelines. They have templates and jigs to cut their fret slots to a certain scale, attach their necks at a certain fret to body and glue their bridge accordingly, pre made molds determine the shape of the body and their stock of woods will determine what your choices are.

Ordering a custom is already a leap of faith for you. I think it’s best to not be locked into something when no one really knows how it will come out, including the builder. I know when my brother tries something new he does it first to make sure he likes it. He won’t take it on as an option you can order until he first has experience with it and decided he likes it. He builds how he builds so a custom order would have to fit into that. Perhaps you wouldn’t consider him a “custom” builder. However, I think it’s a respectable way to operate and in everyone’s best interest.

In the case you mentioned above, if you put in an order with a dealer and they did not relay the information correctly, the fault would go to the dealer and there should be no cost to you. It's the same as putting an order in directly with the maker and them not getting the specs right. Humans do make mistakes, but usually after an order you will receive an invoice or build sheet with details. If everything is confirmed it should all go well.

Captain America
10-09-2015, 11:07 PM
Interesting thread about the California made stuff; my take on it is that they're serious about what they're doing, perhaps because as a uke company, they need product diversification (witness the guitars).

With respect to customer service, the usual way (tradition) is for dealers to service the stuff, not the company. In the case of Kala, I'll point out that a large Austin, TX based dealer gave me a real runaround on a Kala. .. but shockingly, the Kala folks themselves were enormously helpful and made a fix for me.

ukuleleden
10-10-2015, 05:21 AM
Not to sound contrary but if something is submitted for review that implies it must be with in certain guidelines. I don't know if that would be considered "custom" which to me means "made to order" ... Of course a builder can come back and say "we can't do that" or not take the job.(this happens to me a lot)

To me it seems the dealer in the situation you mention is a buffer but not for the customer, a buffer for the manufacturer. The dealer becomes like the costumer service person you complain to when your cable goes out. You may have paid for cable to watch the "big game" but if the cable goes out in the last half the best you can hope for is a partial credit. THere is only so much they can do to correct any problems.

And yes, one would have more of a burden to make sure the process is completed accurately anything not mentioned to the builder and doesn't turn out right to the customer is not the fault of the builder.

I once had custom displays built for a trade show and "assumed" or "forgot to mention" that I expected them to break apart for storage. That was a costly mistake on my part it was not the fault of the builder who couldn't read my mind.

Yes, my example was taking an otherwise production instrument platform assembly and having custom modifications applied during it's build process. Specifically, when I ordered my custom Martin guitar, you have to choose which core model design to be customized. i.e. D-12, D-14, 000-18, etc... Once you choose the platform which incorporates their standard build requirements, you can then choose the items you want customized that typically aren't found on their regular models such as choosing different tone woods like Koa or Maple where a production model may use Mahogany or Rosewood, and then such as items as rosettes, binding, fretboard and headstock inlays and so forth.

I would think even a non factory builder would keep your "custom" order within the confines of their base build concepts or requirements I f their brand Name is on the instrument. In other words they likely wouldn't allow a customer to spec a build that jeopardized a quality instrument that would reflect negatively on them as a builder.

Brian1
10-10-2015, 08:03 AM
I would think even a non factory builder would keep your "custom" order within the confines of their base build concepts or requirements I f their brand Name is on the instrument. In other words they likely wouldn't allow a customer to spec a build that jeopardized a quality instrument that would reflect negatively on them as a builder.

If your dream guitar is a version of an existing model yes you can often get the model you want made out of you own wood choice. To me my definition of "custom" is not the same thing as "standard" with a different wood choice.

There are folks out there that would make you a double neck, 8 string, fanned fret, soprano, resonator with your family photo engraved on the back if you are willing to pay for it. I don't know if many ukulele builders are out there willing to do this most of them have smaller shops and don't divert much from their normal process. From the videos that outline their process some (a few) appear to outsource a few parts of the build that isn't good or bad its just the way it is. These places can and do work with a customer to a certain degree to meet their needs. But have enough business to not have to deal with requests that are outside the ordinary, while others are not tooled up for the project. I wouldn't even approach some of them if I wanted the double neck soprano described above.

ukuleleden
10-12-2015, 03:23 AM
If your dream guitar is a version of an existing model yes you can often get the model you want made out of you own wood choice. To me my definition of "custom" is not the same thing as "standard" with a different wood choice.

I agree with you 100% as long as the order/build request isn't going to an established large(r) manufacturer such as Kamaka, Martin, Collings, and other high/semi-high volume builders. There are less than 5 independent Luthiers that I have come to known that would take on a true custom build that would do most if not all of a customer's specs that fell within a reasonable request, but be prepared to accept the final product as-built and pay the price they demand for it. I think those are fair terms for an independent builder who's most valuable asset is their time.

Personally, unlike my Martin guitar that incorporated wood, binding and inlay changes, I have yet to not find something in a production ukulele format, including some very nice limited productions that I decided to purchase, which left me feeling I needed to go a the custom-build route and spend a lot more for something that may not be all that different from a production model. Credit that to the manufacturers who are offering a lot of choices in their production instruments, save for your example of a instrument that goes off the map into something unique like 8-string design variations, etc. In that case, the independent luthier is the way to go...

Brian1
10-12-2015, 05:29 AM
I agree with you 100% as long as the order/build request isn't going to an established large(r) manufacturer such as Kamaka, Martin, Collings, and other high/semi-high volume builders. There are less than 5 independent Luthiers that I have come to known that would take on a true custom build that would do most if not all of a customer's specs that fell within a reasonable request, but be prepared to accept the final product as-built and pay the price they demand for it. I think those are fair terms for an independent builder who's most valuable asset is their time.

Well I agree that the time is a big factor in any custom. I am not sure I see the big distinction mentioned when dealing with known manufactures (and I may be misunderstanding you) If one of the named manufacturers decides they are willing to find the materials they need to make their standard instrument with a few extra choices such as type of wood, it DOES make it different, but it doesn't meet my definition of custom when they are only changing the materials and not their tooling. If they decide to make a carbon fiber body instead of wood that could possibly fall into the category of "custom". If they normally use ceder and you are willing to pay a little extra for spruce they don't keep in stock, I wouldn't see that as custom, it may be "customized" or I would probably just say "personalized".

If I go to the car dealer and say I would like model "X" but I would rather it had leather seats they simply tell me they will order one with leather seats. It is far different than taking that car to a custom shop where they might cut the car apart and make physical changes some of which they may need to design and build themselves. If I want to hand out pens at my business I can order them with my company logo I don't order custom pens I get stock pens and have them print the company name on them. If I want to hand out pens that are shaped like ukuleles I may have to have injection molds made that don't already exist. In both those cases the first is not a custom order imo, the second is.

The way I understand things is that most ukulele makers have shapes they make. They normally make a few different sizes. They often have forms and side benders that make their products uniform. And once they have the right equipment they make good consistent products. (a good thing) At some point some (not all) are almost putting together kits.(kits they make from scratch) That isn't a bad thing either. That process can bring the price point down while keeping quality high. Others may have a similar process but do "custom" inlay designs that will only go on ONE instrument in the entire world. And if that inlay design is created at the request of the client the inlay would be "custom" but the ukulele may or may not be. (depending) If the inlay is not at the request of a client then the artwork is simply one of a kind the way I see it. Again I am not suggesting one ranks higher then the other.

hawaii 50
10-12-2015, 08:22 AM
wow this is the ultimate high jacking of a thread IMO....:)

I like the sound/tone of the new Kala Elite ukes...I have seen a few of them and like them anyone else get to see and play them yet?

Ukulele Eddie
10-12-2015, 11:08 AM
wow this is the ultimate high jacking of a thread IMO....:)

I like the sound/tone of the new Kala Elite ukes...I have seen a few of them and like them anyone else get to see and play them yet?

Thanks for bringing it back on topic, Len. Yes, I was looking for others' subjective thoughts on their tone and especially interested in hearing from others like you who may have played or heard them in person. That's not to say online impressions don't matter -- sometimes we won't have an opportunity to see/hear/play one in person.

Given the volume and quality of Ukes you get to see/hear in person, your comment offers some validation to my still developing ear.

Brian1
10-12-2015, 12:25 PM
Well it might have gotten a little bit off topic in post #15 but there is a reveiw of these with sound samples

http://www.theukulelereview.com/2015/06/18/kala-usa-elite-series-1koa-in-three-sizes/

The review mentions the neck is a little beefier than the imports and the one thing that stuck out to me on the Tenor video is that the book matched top did not not seem to match up very well.

hawaii 50
10-12-2015, 12:48 PM
the neck is a little wider too...but feels good....I think if you play guitar the neck would be good for you

http://www.theukulelesite.com/kala-usa-koa3-t-tenor-package.html

Nickie
10-12-2015, 01:36 PM
I haven't been able to see, let alone play, one of these yet. The local dealers just aren't stocking them, maybe due to price. I was on the Kala website recently, drooling and window shopping, but I didn't see at $1500 model. I was looking mostly at the "Comfort" series, because I want a beveled armrest, but the price (7-800) shied me away, for now.
Our friend Mim may be bringing one to our festival, TBUG. It only comes in a tenor, which I never play, but who knows? The only mass produced tenor I've tried that I liked was a Boulder Creek, the rest left me wanting more tone.
But I think Kala is improving over time, and even though it's not a label that speaks "Dream Uke" to most of us, I sure won't discount it from my future if I like the sound/playability/price/appearance.
And look at their innovation. Who ever heard of a U Bass before Kala built it?
My inexpensive Kala is the one uke I've had the longest, and is the only one I probably won't ever let go of until they pry it from my cold lifeless hands. I'm anxious to try an Elite model.
It's hard to believe that one company is responsible for putting out over a quarter million ukes a year! There are bound to be mistakes made. Wood and people carry big variables in their character.

anthonyg
10-13-2015, 01:16 AM
Like many I guess, my first ukulele was a Kala. I've moved on to more expensive and better ukuleles but interestingly I picked up a Kala Spalted Maple tenor the other day in a store and was quite surprised at how good it was. Very light and very expressive. A nicely built instrument.

My view is that the Elite series is about giving Kala a flagship model to improve its reputation rather than being a major money spinner. Yet, I think that Kala has been working hard at improving their mass market models too.

Anthony