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View Full Version : NUD: Kale Elite Custom Tenor



OhioBelle
10-02-2016, 01:08 PM
I've been holding out on you guys. My new baby has been home since Wednesday-eve and I'm just getting around to the NUD post. This one is such a game-changer for me, I felt as if this particular NUD post had greater significance. I needed time to do it justice.

I also wanted to get better pics in natural light, but western Ohio's moody autumn weather isn't cooperating. So I am including the HMS link so you can see their beauty shots, and hear/see the video of the fabulous Kalei playing a sample.

http://www.theukulelesite.com/kala-usa-custom-tenor-4custom-t-spruce-top-lebanese-cedar.html

(BTW, anyone know the melody? Is it from Polani?)

So - why is this uke my game-changer? It has clarified for me what sort of player I desperately want to be. I reserve the right to strum happily on a soprano, but this low-G tenor is precisely the sound I've heard in my head. Chord-melody, fingerstyle, I am ready to learn.

There has been great debate about the brand-name on this headstock. In fact, one of those debates led me to this uke. I will be forever grateful to have stumbled upon that post, and happy that I took a deep breath and jumped. I now own a spectacular instrument that is way above my ability at the moment, but that inspires me to strive to be worthy. Everything about it seems perfect - the weight (lighter than my Pono), the silky spruce, the glowing ember color of the Padauk, the fibrous grain of the Live Oak (State Tree of my home in Georgia!), the pink and cream swirls of the Lebanese Cedar, and the voice - oh the voice! the rich lingering sustain combined with the intoxicating smell coming from the sound hole to make me swoon! I am a professed sniffer of sound holes, so this smokey scent of pine resin mixed with warm cedar was an unexpected bonus.

What IS this stuff, Lebanese Cedar, used on the back and sides rather than the soundboard?

Here are a few pics I took upon unboxing. You will note the ubiquitous presence of Chief of the BCIS (Bengal Cat Inspection Squad).

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JustinJ
10-02-2016, 01:13 PM
I love the warm rich tone of this uke. It's a beautiful uke but I listen for the sound and this uke has it.

To add to the nice sound is a lovely instrument. Congratulation on your new uke. I hope it inspires you to practice and play better.

Ukulele Eddie
10-02-2016, 01:49 PM
Awesome! Congrats on a very fine ukulele!!

kvehe
10-02-2016, 02:10 PM
Beautiful!

Mivo
10-02-2016, 02:26 PM
Can't have a box and a cat without the latter ending up in the former in no time. :) Always love it when you get a new uke: adorable cat pics!

Congrats on the new ukulele!

OhioBelle
10-02-2016, 02:44 PM
Can't have a box and a cat without the latter ending up in the former in no time. :) Always love it when you get a new uke: adorable cat pics!

"What's a uke? I get a new BOX!"

Camsuke
10-02-2016, 03:18 PM
Congratulations OhioBelle.

Joyful Uke
10-02-2016, 05:22 PM
Beautiful! And I love the sound.
And the cat is beautiful too!

Enjoy the great ukulele.

whmeltonjr
10-02-2016, 05:22 PM
I remember seeing the link to this being posted a couple weeks ago, and then being almost instantly bought by you. Glad it showed up and you are enjoying it. It sure does sound and look good.

Rakelele
10-02-2016, 07:15 PM
Congratulations, you made a great pick! I also enjoyed reading your acquisition story in the "head count" thread.

DownUpDave
10-03-2016, 12:42 AM
We talked about this ukulele and you know how much I love the sound. Congratulations on buying a very special instrument. You have discovered what a world class ukulele is all about and how it can change and inspire you. I am also a died in the wool sound hole sniffer and a great aromatic scent is like icing on the cake.

Osprey
10-03-2016, 03:24 AM
What a wonderful sound! Congratulations on a beautiful instrument.

WCBarnes
10-03-2016, 04:42 AM
I will have to admit, my eyebrows raised quite high when I saw that Kala was coming out with their Elite series. I had no idea who would pay that much for a Kala vs a traditional "K" brand. But WOW!!! The sound of your ukulele is amazing!! I closed my eyes and just enjoyed the melody that was being played. This ukulele is worth every penny! Congratulations on your new addition! It is absolutely beautiful!

johnson430
10-03-2016, 04:58 AM
Congrats. Glad to see you are so happy with your new uke. Playing a uke you love makes you want to pick it up more and learn new things. (or that is the case with me)
You made a great purchase.

UkeInTW
10-03-2016, 05:57 AM
Congrats. Absolutely love the sound on that uke. I dont know the song that Kalei is playing, but I dont recall it being on Polani.

cliwilnew
10-03-2016, 06:16 AM
The Lebanese cedar is beautiful. A stunning uke that is many levels above my current playing ability, but hopefully someday. Enjoy!

OhioBelle
10-03-2016, 03:09 PM
Thank you all so much! This uke is definitely above my current level, but I am so incredibly moved and inspired by her beautiful voice. It's magical.

Nickie
10-03-2016, 04:22 PM
Ahhhhh, such a lovely uke! You picked good! I haven't played an Elite Series yet, but hopefully someone will bring some to TBUG next month. And I get to try them before they're gone, like last year!
Never think a uke is beyond you. Sneak up on it!
Love the kitty!

OhioBelle
10-04-2016, 01:52 AM
Thank you Nickie! I love that "Sneak up on it!"

Sounds more like something my cat Fiero would do, so I'll try to take a page from his book.

I mentioned that it's lighter weight than the Pono. I definitely know what the words "responsive top" mean, now. I can do as little as BREATHE on it and feel it vibrate.

Al Davison
10-04-2016, 03:06 AM
That is a beautiful instrument!

wayfarer75
10-04-2016, 03:26 AM
What a lovely uke, enjoy!

hollisdwyer
10-04-2016, 03:43 AM
A wonderful sounding and beautiful looking instrument. Congratulations!

Voxshades
10-04-2016, 04:47 AM
Congrats on the beautiful Kala. I dig the binding & the rosette. Love the cedar top. Cedar seems to hit a sweet spot to my ears. Not overly bright as some spruce tops nor too mellow as some mahogany tops.

The headstock photo on the HMS site is interesting. Perhaps it's angle of the photo but it appears that the distance between the nut & the tuners is longer than most ukes. The neck remains narrow farther past the nut until the headstock fans out to the tuners. Personally, I wish more uke makers would do this. It makes playing at the first fret feel less cramped.

Looks like you got a winner!

actadh
10-04-2016, 07:24 AM
Very nice! What a wonderful ukulele.

OhioBelle
10-04-2016, 12:49 PM
Congrats on the beautiful Kala. I dig the binding & the rosette. Love the cedar top. Cedar seems to hit a sweet spot to my ears. Not overly bright as some spruce tops nor too mellow as some mahogany tops.

The headstock photo on the HMS site is interesting. Perhaps it's angle of the photo but it appears that the distance between the nut & the tuners is longer than most ukes. The neck remains narrow farther past the nut until the headstock fans out to the tuners. Personally, I wish more uke makers would do this. It makes playing at the first fret feel less cramped.

Looks like you got a winner!

Thanks, Vox! I definitely agree this one is a winner! I hoped it would be when I heard the video, and I knew it would be when Andrew at HMS told me that his own daughter picked a Kala USA out of all the ukes in the entire store as her birthday gift, and he told me mine was a good one.

As for the headstock past the nut, good eye! You are more observant about my uke than I. You're absolutely right. There is a good inch or so above the nut before the shape tapers towards the tuners.

The top IS actually spruce. Unspecified spruce, but based on the golden color, I'd say sitka. The Lebanese cedar is actually used on the back and sides. I did some research and that type of cedar, a true cedar, has been used in woodworking and instruments since ancient times. It's much harder on the Janka scale than the other cedars commonly used as tops, which explains its use for other purposes on my uke. Kala used some other unusual woods to beautiful effect as well. The live oak around the sound hole and in the center of the three piece back is something I've never seen, although I have seen Kala use Padauk for bindings and inlay on their Asian-made models. In the HMS pictures, it looks blood red to me. In real life, it is a glowing deep orange, lit from within like the dying embers of a bonfire. Neither my cell phone pics or the pro shots from HMS show the true color, or the rich internal glow. I am as besotted with its looks as I am with its sound!

Edited because I forgot to mention the strips of Padauk bracing visible through the sound hole. They wanted this one to be as lovely on the inside as out!

Voxshades
10-04-2016, 03:07 PM
The top IS actually spruce. Unspecified spruce, but based on the golden color, I'd say sitka. The Lebanese cedar is actually used on the back and sides. I did some research and that type of cedar, a true cedar, has been used in woodworking and instruments since ancient times. It's much harder on the Janka scale than the other cedars commonly used as tops, which explains its use for other purposes on my uke.

I should have read the specs. I would have sworn the top was cedar. The color is very similar to a cedar topped guitar I have. Either way it truly is a beauty.


lit from within like the dying embers of a bonfire
what a great description!

OhioBelle
10-04-2016, 04:15 PM
Hey Vox, yeah, the spruce top does have a cedar-esque coloring to it, doesn't it? I once had a Taylor GC8 with similar looking spruce. I wonder if this spruce has a bit of age on it? Or if they put a toner on top? No mention in the specs, and if it had been aged, or even - GASP! - torriefied, seems like that would have been a reason for Kala to brag. An older piece of spruce could partly explain the rich sound coming from it, too.

Wonder if the folks at Kala would tell me? I believe I shall ask!